Author Topic: Small shop/modular work surfaces (AKA how to cram 10# in a 5# sack...)  (Read 71454 times)

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Offline Richard/RMW

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I am getting geared up for my winter project, planned to be the renovation of my little workshop. Since I expect to be buried in this particular backyard, this seems to finally be the time to “do it right”. Doing it right is what I am trying to define, plan and execute; the purpose for starting this thread is to brainstorm and get suggestions from fellow FOG’ers. Let’s start by describing the current situation, then outline some general concepts.

I live on Brigantine Beach NJ, just north of Atlantic City. Lots on the island are small, it having been developed in the 1920’s as a summer resort. In our case the lot is 50’ wide, and 125’ deep. Total impervious coverage is limited to 40% for the house footprint and another 20% for driveways, etc. After we built the house and other hard surfaces I ended up with about 200 SF of excess allowable impervious coverage for the shop and anything else I may want to build in the future. The existing shed on the property was already 120SF and we decided not to expand the footprint.

The structure was decent construction; stick-built (2 by 4’s and plywood, 8’ to the underside of the collar tie) so all we did was drag it to one side and install 5’0” double doors to ease access. Later we added a deck of sorts, 1 by 6 PT on a 2 by 8 structural frame, resting on concrete pavers. This deck is about 17’ wide by 20’ and when the weather permits I can setup outside for stuff like cutting plywood, etc. This is the outside:

199879-0

Inside I have ~ 11’6” by 9’6” of space to work with.  I decided to run 24” base cabinets along the rear wall, this give me tool and hardware storage + the surface for bench machines. There are 12” overhead cabinets above this area. Here are some of the drawers. I bought gobs of these red bins and they really helped bring order to the chaos in the drawers:

199905-1

199907-2

199909-3

199911-4

I also have big stuff, including this 14” + deep drawer with a 2 tons arbor press, tapping gadget, bench vise and extra 14” blades:

199913-5

Lastly typical tools/supplies:

199915-6

199917-7

Overall the cabinets hold a lot of stuff with very little wasted space. This leaves me about 7’6” by 11’6” for everything else. My MFT/3 and CT26 sit on either side of the door opening and this leaves a “T” shaped open floor area where I can move from the door to the cabinets and to either side.  My challenge is to maximize the use of the available space and gain better access to tools. Here are 360 degree photos of the current setup:

199881-8

199883-9

199885-10

199887-11

199889-12

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199893-14

199895-15

199897-16
 
I do woodworking as well as fiddling with metal and plastics, machining small parts by hand and CNC. So far the woodworking has been mostly related to finishing off construction, i.e. shelves and cabinets, but in the future I want to do furniture and even boats. The shed also provides me the only place I have to sit out of the weather and enjoy a cigar, often while smoking/cooking on the grills. I don’t want to cram it full of stuff; my strong preference is to have open space and benches/tools that can be configured for the project du jure.

I have been experimenting with French cleats and wall racks with stainless and wooden dowels, the idea being to come up with a modular system for hanging clamps, guide rails, etc. I also have a gob of the 80/20 “extension arms” that are posted elsewhere on the FOG hanging on the wall. I suspect my final setup is going to rely heavily on these arms in lieu of fixed/solid topped workbenches. Wall racks:

199899-17

199901-18

199903-19

This year I finally got power to it, 60A of 220V in a small subpanel. When I wire up the rest of it I expect to have (2) 20A/110V circuits and (1) 30A/220V circuit. This will let me run electric heat while still using my largest tools.

To complete this intro, here are some of my guiding principles (for lack of a better word):

  • If it is not used in the shop, it is not stored in the shop. This includes excess material, more on this in a later post.
  • Everything that touches the floor, where practical, will be on casters.
  • Everything stored in shop cabinets will be behind doors/in drawers to reduce clutter. The exception will be things hanging on the wall racks.
  • Nothing will be stored on the floor.
  • My to-be-built work surfaces will be modular, to allow different configurations as needs change. This is going to rely heavily on 80/20.

Once completed I will post some Sketchup plans of the shop as it stands today.

As this thread develops I am looking for input and ideas. I expect to post progress reports for each phase, and hope to brainstorm different problems as they arise.

That’s it for now.

RMW
 
 
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 07:58 PM by Richard/RMW »
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline RobBob

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My shop is about the same size and I also use an outside area for cutting up large sheets and long pieces.  I will be watching with interest.

P.S.  Where did you get all of those red bins?
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 08:47 PM by rljatl »

Offline duburban

  • Posts: 901
So much potential ! I'd like to see a time lapse of a boat build that sticks way out the front door.

Can you comment on your array of parallel guides?
helper: i used a festool "circular saw" to do something simple and it made it really hard

me: exactly, it makes simple cuts complicated and complicated cuts simple

Offline Wooden Skye

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Richard,

My shop is close to the same size so using the space efficiently is my challenge as well.  This is an idea I have been kicking around, just not sure if it is possible or is the type brainstorming ideas you are interested in.  I am about to build a new miter saw workstation.  It will be 8' long and 28" wide.  I am planning for drawers and systainer storage.  The idea I am trying to do is if I drilled the top of the bench like an MFT, if I left a 2-4" space by 4' long space under the bench top, I would like to build a pullout bench top 24" wide for larger assembly table.  The part I am struggling with is how do I attach to where it will rise and be level with the main benchtop.  This would allow me a larger assembly table, but not take up much space.  My initial thought was to use the kitchen hardware for bringing a kitchen mixer up to a counter top, just not sure it will mount or hold the weight of the second top and potential project. 

I will be following this closely.
Bryan

TS 55, (2) 1400 Guide Rails, 1900 Guide Rail, MFT/3, Domino DF 500, 2 domino systainers, ETS 150/3, RO 90, CT 26, (2) OF1400, RO 150. RTS 400, LR 32 set, PS300 jigsaw, 3 abrasive systainers, (2) sys toolbox, (2) sys mini, clamps and other accesories

Offline madmaguire

  • Posts: 64
French cleats are really one of the best systems for organizing any shop. Versatility at its best!  From what I can see you are organized already and with your plans for pegs and French cleats I'm sure it will come together for you. Good luck and will be watching as well.
One thing you can always count on is change!
Cheers
John
Cheers

Offline elfick

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Where did you get the red bins?

Offline Wenyce

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Wow that is a nice floor sweeper (broom).

j/k great looking setup you have there, definitely great eye for organization. Hopefully i'll get my place looking like that some day.

Offline panelchat

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The project and lot/house details are really interesting and a nice organizational challenge. I especially like that nothing is stored on the floor. do you accept visitors from the tri state area who might be passing by??
also- what is that Nevadan Pennsylvania plate?

Offline wow

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Even though I have more room than you do, I have been trying to de-clutter my shop. And my life, for that matter.

 [embarassed]

I made some similar decisions:

• Nothing on the floor unless it has to be. IF it has to be on the floor, ask 'why' until you're sure there is no other answer. It's amazing how much stuff I've found other homes for when I challenge myself like this. (Sadly, I still have too much junk!)

• Everything that can be on casters or rollers is - or will be. This aids in seasonal 'deep' cleaning, but also allows me to set up a manufacturing 'cell' if I'm doing a big project or a lot of something.

• Anything that can't go on casters goes on a pallet. This typically means lumber, sheet goods, and large supplies.

• Anything that has to go on a pallet goes on a plastic/fiberglass pallet. Wooden pallets are either too fragile or too heavy, and look like crap. If it goes on a pallet, it goes on a good one.

• Anything that doesn't fit well on a pallet goes in a 'crate'. These are typically 'vertically oriented' items. I picked up some 3-sided plywood crates designed to hold stacks of paper for publishing. I got them dirt cheap - I think I paid $5 each. I don't have any pictures right now, but I'll try to take some when I can get out to the shop again. They are ~ 32" wide x 28" deep x 34" tall. They hold 3,000 pounds each, are stackable, and can be easily moved with a 'mini' pallet jack - even when stacked. (The forks on my mini pallet jack are only 32" long instead of the usual 48" - which makes it VERY maneuverable. Cute, too!)

• Sheet goods get stored flat. I don't have one yet, but I plan to get a large cantilever rack to put up against one wall of the shop near the big door. Stock coming into the shop gets unloaded onto this rack for later breakdown. This is one of the few items that can't/won't be on rollers, but I plan to leave enough room to easily clean under it.

• Long lumber and light timbers get stored around the perimeter of the shop near the ceiling, between 8' and ~10-6' off the floor. This is otherwise somewhat 'useless' space, but is prefect for this application. I use heavy-duty standards and wall brackets that came from old retail stores. Got those cheap, too!

The toughest thing for me is knowing what to keep and what to toss. I have been served well in business by being able to see the value in something that others may not. But I find that same 'skill' causing me to hang onto stuff I should probably just toss.

I am excited to follow your progress, and I expect that you will have a few good ideas that I will end up stealing. Thanks in advance for the inspiration!
Trying to be one of the most helpful members on the FOG.

Offline Richard/RMW

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My shop is about the same size and I also use an outside area for cutting up large sheets and long pieces.  I will be watching with interest.

P.S.  Where did you get all of those red bins?

They came from Schaller. Afraid to say I probably spent $5-600 on them in 3 buys but all my small stuff has never been more accessible. Having a nook for every little thing makes it easier for me to grab/use/return, the last being the best part. Keeps clutter down on the small work surfaces.

http://www.schallercorporation.com/

RMW

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Richard/RMW

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So much potential ! I'd like to see a time lapse of a boat build that sticks way out the front door.

Can you comment on your array of parallel guides?

Yea, the whole wooden boat thing is going to be interesting. This is one of those years-long obsessions that had be subscribed to Woodenboat magazine, taking some classes and visiting the nearby seaport museums. It is something I really want to do but I struggle with long term projects, keeping focused on them that is. I doubt I will start one until I am at least semi-retired, if that day ever arrives.

Besides, the pizza oven comes first... [big grin]

RE the guides, I do have a few. Makes for easy setups for various materials widths, or leaving 2-3 guide rails setup for different width cuts when doing a bunch of drawer boxes, etc.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Richard/RMW

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Richard,

My shop is close to the same size so using the space efficiently is my challenge as well.  This is an idea I have been kicking around, just not sure if it is possible or is the type brainstorming ideas you are interested in.  I am about to build a new miter saw workstation.  It will be 8' long and 28" wide.  I am planning for drawers and systainer storage.  The idea I am trying to do is if I drilled the top of the bench like an MFT, if I left a 2-4" space by 4' long space under the bench top, I would like to build a pullout bench top 24" wide for larger assembly table.  The part I am struggling with is how do I attach to where it will rise and be level with the main benchtop.  This would allow me a larger assembly table, but not take up much space.  My initial thought was to use the kitchen hardware for bringing a kitchen mixer up to a counter top, just not sure it will mount or hold the weight of the second top and potential project. 

I will be following this closely.

Post some photos or sketches when you have them, I am thinking along the same lines of having a small/mid size stationary surface then extending it somehow. My current concept has a +/-16" deep surface fixed to the wall, with drawers/systainers under it, then a secondary deeper surface that folds down from the wall. The problem with this is if the fold-down surface is, for example, 42" deep and 48" wide then when it is folded against the wall I just lost 14 SF of wall area for hanging stuff on.

The other option I see is having the extension surface separate, figuring how to easily attach edge-to-edge with the fixed surface, and using legs to support the outside edge. I still have to store the extension surface, so it is not a great solution either.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Crox G

  • Posts: 88
Are some of the drawer pulls bottle openers?  Brilliant!  Love it.
CT Midi, ETS 150/3, OF 1400, TS 55, CXS, RO 90, MF-TB, Syslite, necktie, T18 + 3, Carvex PSC 420 EB, Ti15, Domino XL 700, Vecturo

Offline balrog

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http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=174553

This is an ongoing workshop build on another forum. Lots of nice workshop ideas.

Offline Richard/RMW

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Even though I have more room than you do, I have been trying to de-clutter my shop. And my life, for that matter.

 [embarassed]

I made some similar decisions:

• Nothing on the floor unless it has to be. IF it has to be on the floor, ask 'why' until you're sure there is no other answer. It's amazing how much stuff I've found other homes for when I challenge myself like this. (Sadly, I still have too much junk!)

• Everything that can be on casters or rollers is - or will be. This aids in seasonal 'deep' cleaning, but also allows me to set up a manufacturing 'cell' if I'm doing a big project or a lot of something.

• Anything that can't go on casters goes on a pallet. This typically means lumber, sheet goods, and large supplies.

• Anything that has to go on a pallet goes on a plastic/fiberglass pallet. Wooden pallets are either too fragile or too heavy, and look like crap. If it goes on a pallet, it goes on a good one.

• Anything that doesn't fit well on a pallet goes in a 'crate'. These are typically 'vertically oriented' items. I picked up some 3-sided plywood crates designed to hold stacks of paper for publishing. I got them dirt cheap - I think I paid $5 each. I don't have any pictures right now, but I'll try to take some when I can get out to the shop again. They are ~ 32" wide x 28" deep x 34" tall. They hold 3,000 pounds each, are stackable, and can be easily moved with a 'mini' pallet jack - even when stacked. (The forks on my mini pallet jack are only 32" long instead of the usual 48" - which makes it VERY maneuverable. Cute, too!)

• Sheet goods get stored flat. I don't have one yet, but I plan to get a large cantilever rack to put up against one wall of the shop near the big door. Stock coming into the shop gets unloaded onto this rack for later breakdown. This is one of the few items that can't/won't be on rollers, but I plan to leave enough room to easily clean under it.

• Long lumber and light timbers get stored around the perimeter of the shop near the ceiling, between 8' and ~10-6' off the floor. This is otherwise somewhat 'useless' space, but is prefect for this application. I use heavy-duty standards and wall brackets that came from old retail stores. Got those cheap, too!

The toughest thing for me is knowing what to keep and what to toss. I have been served well in business by being able to see the value in something that others may not. But I find that same 'skill' causing me to hang onto stuff I should probably just toss.

I am excited to follow your progress, and I expect that you will have a few good ideas that I will end up stealing. Thanks in advance for the inspiration!

wow - Needing to put stuff on pallets, or moving stuff with a pallet jack, those are "first world issues" from my perspective...  [poke]

Seriously though, I had those issues in my previous shop. We traded the small house with the big shop/yard and lots of trees for the bigger house with no yard/small shop and no grass or leaves to rake and a beach tossed in for good measure. Best choice we ever made, even if I gave up about 800 SF of shop in the deal.

Having no space does make you creative and judicious about buying tools. We don't even have a basement or anywhere else to store overflow, it fits in the shop (other than excess materials - more on this when I have time) or I don't have it.

I've followed some of your posts on materials, etc. You do have an eye for a bargain. Did you ever figure out what to do with the purplish composite panels you acquired?

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Richard/RMW

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The project and lot/house details are really interesting and a nice organizational challenge. I especially like that nothing is stored on the floor. do you accept visitors from the tri state area who might be passing by??
also- what is that Nevadan Pennsylvania plate?

panelchat - come on by. There seem to be a fair amount of FOG'ers in the Delaware valley, we should have a get together.

The PA plate was my attempt to hang onto my identity... born/raised in NV. Married a Philly girl THEN moved to PA to live with her. We ended up in Jersey, which is seriously the last place I ever thought I would live.

The funny thing was, over 13 years of driving with that plate, 99.5% of the people to ask about it asked me "who is Nevada-Dan?". I told them he was Pennsylvania-Anne's cousin. Nobody seemed to get it but they stopped asking.

RMW   
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Richard/RMW

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Making a little progress on the planning part of this. After standing around staring at the shop walls for a bit, and reviewing some FOG posts, I am decided to go with a french cleat system. I hope to use it not only for small stuff like tools/fasteners, but also to support one end of my work surfaces.

Because of that last requirement I am a bit leary of the typical F/C that is beveled at 45 degrees, looking for something that won't lift off as easily. The current concept is to use 1/2" by 2" material and rabbet 1/4" by 1/2", like this:

200340-0

I am thinking of using aluminum for one row on the wall @ around 35" to secure the worksurfaces @ 37", then using wood or HDPE for the rows above this that will hold less weight/not be subject to the same stresses. I suspect that wall-flatness may come into play and be an issue with this setup more so than it does with the beveled cleats. Has anyone used something similar?

Thanks,

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline RobBob

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Actually, based on my experience, I think the design you show above will lift off easier than the 45 degree French cleats.  The 45 degree cleats "stick" together because the pointy ends wedge themselves into the "v" on the other piece, but I guess your design could also fit together tightly, depending on how close your tolerances are.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 05:04 PM by RLJ-Atl »

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 735
I'm of the same opinion, I think the 45 degree French cleat system will work better than what you have illustrated. Just so you know I do trust it, I have around a 175-200 pound slab of black walnut suspended from a French cleat that is my headboard on my bed. That thing is over my head when I'm asleep. [scared] But it's not going anywhere.

A typical 3/4 inch thick cleat cut at a 45 degree angle gives you a full inch of mating surface on the angle. the weight of the piece being suspended jams the cleat together tightly. To remove the object, you need to lift straight up to disengage the cleat. You'll put a spacer that matches the thickness of your cleat at the bottom back to keep everything aligned.

If you are concerned that you will get all medieval on something at the other end of the bench and cause the cleated end to raise, just take a length of  1x and screw it to a couple studs and lock the piece down.

Offline Richard/RMW

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Hmmnnn...  [scratch chin]

Okay - I will reconsider the beveled F/C. It would be a lot simpler anyway, just cutting 3/4" ply.

Thanks for the input.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Tinker

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Richard,
I am sure your shop will have many sensible innovations.  I will be watching closely.

I am with those who wood go with the 45º French Cleats.  With 3/4" half lap there wood be a chance for the cleat tongue to rip off.  A very minor split will have a tendency to travel.  with very straight grained wood, it could travel the length of the cleat.  If using plywood and ripping cleats, you end up losing a lot of strength at the lips of the cleats.

I am planning to build (redo) my own shop and like the FC system.  I have almost no wall space along one wall and am planning to construct 2'x3'(+/) cabinets/shelves, some with doors that also contain tools or whatever.  There could be a lot more weight than I might wish to hang on a T&G type of cleat.  I am sure, from experience, that once I have rearranged all on FC's I will think of a better (?) arrangement and rearrange again. and again and................

I think the angled cleats will stand up to my own bad habits much better.

Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline wow

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I've followed some of your posts on materials, etc. You do have an eye for a bargain. Did you ever figure out what to do with the purplish composite panels you acquired?

RMW

I just figured out the first project/use for some of them. I am going to use the 1" material to make steps up to the mezzanine in the shop. They will actually be oversized - by a LOT - since I will use the area between each step for storage. Each step will extend back to a landing area, giving me up to 5' of space for storing long, thin cut-offs and 'stuff'.

I haven't yet decided if I will access the cubbies by somehow opening or removing the risers, or if I will fashion some kind of pull-out drawer or tray. Fortunately I don't have to decide that right now.
Trying to be one of the most helpful members on the FOG.

Offline Richard/RMW

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Finally made a bit of progress on the shop, after weeks of fiddling with other projects I focused on the primary MFT/sys-cart/workbench design and took the plunge. I decided to get this done first since it will consolidate some of my storage and hold stuff that I will otherwise need to move anyway to finish the electrical and other work.

The design follows several of my "guiding principals", including being modular, on casters and my standard height of 37". Yesterday I got the frame done in < 4 hours, which involved cutting the 80/20, drilling access holes for the hardware and doing a dry fit. It is ~56" long, 32" deep and the top will be 37" high.

204389-0

204391-1

204393-2

204395-3

The design is meant to use the minimum amount of hardware, as a single 80/20 corner bracket can cost $5, they add up fast. I am using the standard end fasteners for everything except the top connection of the 1530 extrusions, which will get another corner bracket.

There will be 3 sections each sized for Systainers , using 28" full-extension drawer glides to get 2-deep, should be able to fit 18-20 total.  I plan to make an MFT-style top, so I will need to leave room to reach under it for clamping, etc. This will give me a large shelf over the systainers that should serve to store large squares & straight edges, as well as catching lots of sawdust...

Back to the shop to start cutting panels.  [thumbs up]

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline lawhoo

  • Posts: 171
Very nice start, Richard.  What are you using to cut the 8020?  I have aluminum blades for the TS 55 and Kapex, as well as a 14" blade for a cutoff saw that I could borrow from a friend.  I would prefer to use the cutoff saw, but it's a single-speed (3,900 RPM) Ridgid, and I wonder whether I should cut the extrusions at a lower speed.

Offline Richard/RMW

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Very nice start, Richard.  What are you using to cut the 8020?  I have aluminum blades for the TS 55 and Kapex, as well as a 14" blade for a cutoff saw that I could borrow from a friend.  I would prefer to use the cutoff saw, but it's a single-speed (3,900 RPM) Ridgid, and I wonder whether I should cut the extrusions at a lower speed.


The saw is a Milwaukee dry-cut designed for metal, only 1,500 rpm, blade is Oshlun 14" 100 tooth non-ferrous metals. I am not sure the rpm rating on the blade but 3,900 sounds a bit too fast to me. @ 1,500 it cuts beautifully.

RMW

As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Tinker

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Great so far, Richard.
I am slowly getting my shop organized.  The pictures are still in my head, of course.

I tried out doing a couple of tools chests (one under my CMS) and am trying 3 wheeled concept.  My shop floor is very uneven and often, when i roll a bench or tool into working area, if all four feet are on uneven floor, I need a shingle or two to stop the rocking. With three wheels, I stop the rocking.  the bench may not be level, but at least i can work without the work surface rocking all around.

I have tried a couple of chests, one with the single wheel in front and one with the single wheel in back.  The single wheel in back works best.  With single wheel in front, the chest becomes unstable when pulling out drawers to get at tools or machines.  the heavier the tool, the more unstable.  With the single wheel in back, I do not notice any unstability.  I have not tried doing three wheels on any work bench, but thinking of trying.

Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline lawhoo

  • Posts: 171
Very nice start, Richard.  What are you using to cut the 8020?  I have aluminum blades for the TS 55 and Kapex, as well as a 14" blade for a cutoff saw that I could borrow from a friend.  I would prefer to use the cutoff saw, but it's a single-speed (3,900 RPM) Ridgid, and I wonder whether I should cut the extrusions at a lower speed.


The saw is a Milwaukee dry-cut designed for metal, only 1,500 rpm, blade is Oshlun 14" 100 tooth non-ferrous metals. I am not sure the rpm rating on the blade but 3,900 sounds a bit too fast to me. @ 1,500 it cuts beautifully.

RMW

Thanks.  The speed was my concern, so that's good to know.

Offline rvieceli

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I think that Milwaukee has discontinued the saw that Richard has. So if you see one that is working properly, you might want to pick it up.

Offline Richard/RMW

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I've heard good things about the Evolution saw: http://www.evolutionpowertools.com/

I owned the DeWalt and hated the clamping mechanise, when I saw the Milwaukee @ Grizzly's showroom I grabbed it and sold the DeWalt.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Tinker

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I checked out the site for Evolution Saws.  Amazing.
The chop saw vid was interesting that there is almost no heat buildup.  They say "...no heat...". That is hard to believe.  But I scrolled a little more and it showed a guy cutting steel "I" beam with a handheld circular saw.  The guy was using it at nearly shoulder height and using it freehand cutting into the end of the beam cutting off the flanges. That would be quite scary to me without some sort of stabilizing support.  And the blade teeth look to have a very definite positive hook like a wood cutting blade wood have.  A smooth finish cut was the result with perfect fit and finish.  Wow!
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker