If at First …

As print readers of the Woodworker’s Journal know, we design a good number of the projects that are featured in our pages. And that is especially true of our shop projects. For example, in the April 2012 issue of the Woodworker’s Journal (on newsstands soon), we present a downdraft sanding cart. If I must say so myself, it is a very nice and truly functional project. How do I know that? Well, because I’ve tried it, of course. But, you might ask, how did we know it would work properly before we built it? Good question. How can we be sure our projects, specifically ones like this, whose primary feature must be functionality, are all we want them to be? It is a short answer, really: we build prototypes. We test out the ideas that we have with knocked-together mock-ups made from MDF, plywood or whatever we have lying around the shop.

In the example of the downdraft cart, I had a really great idea of using a dust port at the bottom of the vacuum chamber and a dust hood at the back of the sanding area — both hooked up to a single dust collector. The only problem was that it sucked — or, actually, did not suck very well at all. So, we scratched that idea … We also had the concept of making wings that folded down to create a reduced area in which to sand smaller pieces — thus increasing the airflow around the small pieces and therefore collecting more sanding dust. This idea, like the previous one, bit the dust. (Sorry: puns are a weakness of mine).

After several incarnations and input from most of the staff (people located from the East Coast to the West Coast and points in-between), we arrived at the cart you will find in our magazine pages. It controls and collects dust while sanding, it is a good size, has some nice additional features — in short, it works great.

Which is one of the nice benefits of using one of our plans to build your projects. We have already done the trial and error — testing and refining —  that are required to get a really useful project. And, while I am sure that our readers will find ways to improve even this well-thought-out offering, I am confident that if you give it a try, you will be happy with the results.

Rob Johnstone

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About Rob Johnstone

Rob Johnstone has been part of Woodworker's Journal's since 1997, becoming editor of the print magazine in 1998 and editor in chief in 2007. He began woodworking at age 13 in his family-owned cabinet shop and, as an adult, trained to become an accomplished luthier. He eventually opened his own cabinetry and custom fine woodworking business. Rob has brought many of the most well-known authors in woodworking to the Journal's pages and introduced Woodworker's Journal Online Survey. When, in his free time, Rob isn't woodworking, he enjoys hunting for sharp-tailed grouse with his bird dog, playing music and/or listening to his son's rock band and cooking on his high-tech stove.

2 thoughts on “If at First …

  1. Dear Mr Rob Johnstone,
    I wish to build this dust champer and work it in my workshop, but I can’t find out what are those black(brown) rings .Can you tell me how to make those rings.

    Best Regards

  2. They are grommets, what he did was drill over sized holes in the 1/8 in peg board (or whatever) and use Firewall grommets to not only narrow the size of the opening but they are buna rubber and they also help to keep you work piece from slipping.You can get them at almost any large automotive supply house or order them from somebody
    like Aveco.

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