Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Necessary Storage Unit

  Through the winter I've become weary of carrying adhesives into the house from my very cold shop. I have three electric heaters, but running them all trips the breaker, and running one big one only maintains the garage at about 40ºF.  I don't leave heat on all night, so our Pacific NW chills of 20ºF at night don't do my finishes any good, either.  The solution was a heated cabinet for storage of all these shop necessities.

  I started with drawings to design a tall skinny cupboard to fit an available space. I had 60" in height, 15-1/2" in width, and 10" in depth to work with.  I did a lot of scribbling and gathered some plywood and old shelving salvaged from a kitchen remodel years ago.

  I cut pieces and added in the shelves, leaving 1-1/2" open space at the back and 1" open space at the front of each shelf for air flow to carry the heat throughout the cabinet.

  Then I turned four bun feet out of oak because it would wear well against a concrete floor.

And cut foam board to lay in for insulation on all inside surfaces.  The thermostat at the top of the cabinet is wired in series with the 60 watt light bulb at the bottom, so as I set the temperature it turns the light on and off.  (Credit goes to George for helping me with this.) The light bulb is protected by a wire cage taken off an automotive trouble light so if something falls, the bulb won't be broken.

All assembled and the hinges added on.  Four small rare-earth magnets hold the door closed. I still need a knob or handle on it.  The top overhang on the right side is to store four cam clamps I have nowhere else to put.  I'll be adding some hooks on the right side for various things, too.

And here is the inside with the light on, fully insulated with foam board.

  I've photographed it outside, and will be putting it in place after testing it all night as our temperatures drop.  I have an independent thermometer to place inside for a reading.

  It's such a sense of accomplishment to complete some new shop furniture.  I love getting my storage more organized and freeing up space where all these things are scattered around, and now drawn together in one place so I know better what I have.  

  So, enough with the shop organization for now.  On to some real projects!

copyright Barb Siddiqui, use with permission only

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Woodworking: Where To Begin?

 Tom Iovino's  'Get Woodworking Week'  was conceived to encourage more people to try their hands at the craft.  Encouraging beginners to adopt the attitude "I Can Make This" has long been one of my focal points.  Here are some pointers to get you started if you've ever thought of making anything out of wood.

  Okay, so you've decided you want to try woodworking, and you're full of questions. 'What will I need?' and 'How do I begin?'  Well, you don't know it, but you are tremendously lucky, because with little effort you can find a wealth of information and guidance at your fingertips. Woodworkers just happen to be a set of the most generous, helpful and willing instructors on the planet. They love their craft so much, they are always excited to have someone express an interest and ask questions.  And the internet?  If you google a question, the number of sources for its answer may be overwhelming.  I'll help with that with a few links at the bottom of this post.

  First off, you'll begin assembling a tool kit depending on what beginner's project you decide to tackle. We buy tools as we need them, not in kits or bundles.  Learning with hand tools before power tools will teach more about the wood and how it reacts than jumping right in with thousands of dollars and outfitting a powered shop. Think of it this way: to work wood, you'll need something to cut with, to drill with, to measure with, to glue with and to clamp tight with.  Oh, and a library.  Here are two books I'd recommend reading, to better help you understand how all this works:

This one, because the author explains many ways of making any joint you may need or want. He shows many home-built jigs for assembly and several methods for each procedure.

        And this one by Andy Rae, with tips, tricks, recommendations,        
        alternatives and guidance in all things wood.

  And if you have special interests such as carving or turning or fireplace mantels, here is a long list of woodworking books for you to consider:    Book Reviews at

  The next step is deciding on a project to start with. The internet references below can help with that, but consider deciding to make something you want to do, for a specific purpose. Maybe a coat-hangar shelf or a bathroom shelf. You can see it in your mind, with hooks on or pegs.  You know it has to fit a space, say 22" long, because a wall gets in the way if it's any longer than that, or it won't look good hung beside a mirror if it's too close to it. Think of something you want to make, and where it has to go. Consider its stability. For example, if you need another book shelf and you want it to stand on the floor, it may be more sturdy if the bottom shelf is wider than the top shelf, so heavier loads can be stored down below and anchor it against the wall by weight.  Learning by doing will teach you these things, but thinking ahead can save you some misdirected time.  You can always go to a woodworking forum and jump right in to ask a question, too.

  So, to begin, here are some internet references to get you started.

Fine Woodworking's  has tips, plans and lots of resource listings.  is a great resource for finding suppliers and retailers for wood sold close by.

Tips from  
has a listing of my past Starting Points columns and lots of help for beginner's projects.

 Be sure to check out other Wood Bloggers' Get Woodworking posts from Tom Iovino's Blog at Tom's Workbench.

If you decide to set your mind to attempt this, you're in for a very satisfying experience. Nothing beats hearing a family member or neighbor say,  "You mean you built this?"  in awe of your abilities.
Go ahead, Try It.