Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Category: News

A Few Tips for Workshop Demolition

Workshop demolition isn’t difficult.  Hell, it’s downright fun.  However, have a plan before you get started.

I removed all the drywall on two exterior walls of the workshop to make my life easier.  With the drywall removed, installing electrical, insulation and a new exterior door is much easier.  Here’s a few tips I discovered along the way:

  1. Have a plan for waste disposal.  Dumpster rentals are often expensive.  My cheapest option was to take a truck load to the local dump.
  2. Be ready for the unexpected.  I discovered several sizable holes in the exterior sheathing that needed patched.
  3. Don’t go Wreck it Ralph.  It works for the home-improvement shows, but it will make more work for you….especially if you’re working with drywall.
  4. Use a utility knife and cut the drywall tape in all of your corners.  Not only will this make removal easier, but it will also prevent you from damaging any surfaces you aren’t demoing.
  5. Expect critters, especially in a garage.  Have some bleach and water in a spray bottle, ready for cleanup.

Have a plan and your workshop demolition will be a success.  With demo work complete, I framed in an exterior door and roughed in my electrical.  More on that to come.

For the rest of the workshop build, check out the garage workshop build index.

My Garage Workshop Build

The past few months have been very busy.  In addition to the holidays, we moved into a new house just before Thanksgiving.  This keeps me from building furniture, but also provides a perfect opportunity to build a new shop from scratch.   No longer limited by the rules of a Home Owners Association, I can now install that mini-split air-conditioning unit I’ve always wanted…among other things

In the following weeks, I will detail my progress.  I will detail any helpful tips I discover along the way.  Stay tuned for more of my garage workshop build.



Part 1: Planning a Garage Workshop

Part 2: Workshop Demolition

Part 3: The Garage Door

Part 4: Workshop Electrical

Part 5: Installing an Exterior Door

Part 6: Insulating a Garage Workshop: Part I

Part 7: Workshop Lighting

Part 8: Hanging Drywall

Part 9: Taping and Mudding Drywall

Part 10: Paint and Trim

Part 11: Ductless Mini-split Air-conditioner

Part 12: Dust Collection: Part 1

Part 13: Dust Collection: Part 2

Part 14: Dust Collection: Part 3

Part 15: Garage Workshop Complete





I’m Back

I have a problem with slacking off on the blog towards the end of the summer.  It’s usually the heat.  However, this time I have a better excuse.  I’m getting a new shop.

The goal is to one day build a custom-house with a separate workshop.  That’s not possible at the moment, so we decided to look for something a little cheaper and save money for a few years.  We found the perfect place almost immediately.  So, for the past two months we’ve been getting our current house ready to sell, scheduling inspections, making offers etc.  To say that we’ve been busy is an understatement.  We won’t move into the new place until the end of November, so things will be quiet until then.

The new shop is the same size as the old one.  However, it’s a clean slate.  I won’t have to share it with lawn equipment.  It’s all mine (mua ha ha ha!).

The current plan of action is to:

  1. Rip out drywall
  2. Install Sub-panel and rough-in electrical
  3. Add lighting
  4. Install insulation
  5. Install window
  6. Sheetrock
  7. Install Mini-split
  8. Blow-in insulation to attic area.

There’s a lot of work ahead of me once we finally get moved in, but I’m excited.  I plan to document the process in full.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

The Beast is Out of the Cage: Minimax FS30 Initial Setup

Minimax FS30

Last night, I powered up the Minimax FS30 Jointer/Planer for the first time.

The Minimax FS30 initial setup is straight forward.  Minimax secures everything to a wooden pallet.  They even nail down the fence and accessories.  The real trick is getting her off the pallet.  This thing is heavy.

I stacked 2 x 8 scraps next to the pallet and carefully walking her off.  Once on the scraps, I employed the help of my lovely wife.  Check out her blog at  We lowered the Minimax FS30 to the ground by lifting one side and removing a board until she was all the way down.

Removing cosmoline is the most tedious part of the process.  Anyone who has ever received large machinery knows what I’m talking about.  I removed most of the goop with a plastic putty knife.  I removed the rest with lots of rags and a liberal amount of mineral spirits.  With the goop removed, I gave the beds a light coat of Boeshield T-9 and a coat of paste wax.  Don’t forget to get into all the nooks and crannies.  The cutter head and in-feed rollers hide lots of the stuff.

The Minimax FS30 doesn’t come with a power cord, so you will have to make your own.  I used a 10-2 rubber coated cable and 30a twist lock connector.  Everything hooks up to a junction box on the side of the machine.  There are two hot junctions and a ground.  It doesn’t matter which hot wire goes to which hot terminal.  Just make sure you connect your ground wire to the green ground terminal.

From there, it was just a matter of installing the knives and accessories.  These Tersa knives are great.  They install in a matter of seconds.

This thing purrs like an angry kitten.  I’m really impressed with the build quality.  The castings are beefy.  The base is constructed of heavy-duty sheet metal.  The fit and finish are excellent.  I haven’t been able to put her through the paces yet, but the initial cuts impressed me.  The only issues I’ve discovered is that the fence has a very small concavity along its width.  It’s very subtle and I don’t believe it will affect edge jointing in practice.

Stay tuned for a full review.


Embracing Electron Power: My Migration Towards Power Tools

I love my hand tools.  They’re soothing and cathartic.  But, the one thing I love more than using hand tools is designing furniture.  Eventually, I want to do this full-time.  If I want to take this passion full-time, I need to embrace electron power.   I need to focus more time on design and less on milling lumber.  My hand tools will always have a place in my work flow.

Minimax FS30

I start this migration with the purchase of a Minimax FS30 Jointer/Planer combo.  My single most tedious task is milling lumber by hand.  Milling by hand teaches you a lot about wood, but it consumes too much time to focus on design.  I purchased a combo machine, due to limited shop space.  This will be a solid investment.  Minimax has a proven track record and their corporate offices are very close to me.  I also considered Hammer, but ultimately decided to go with the FS30.

The new circuit has been run.  All I need to do is get her off of the pallet.  Free beer for any helpers!

Next, I will buy a table saw.  I love flexible European-style, sliding table saws.  However, most are out of my budget.  Sawstop is my second choice.  They build a solid saw with a proven safety record.  Following that, I will likely invest in a hollow-chisel mortiser.  I plan to build a lot of furniture with mortise and tenon joinery, so this will also come in handy.

It won’t all happen right away, but I will embrace the change and move on to bigger things.  Wish me luck!


Hath Hell Frozen Over: Cooling a Windowless Garage Part II

LG portable air conditioner

It seems that way…for now.  I would love to install a ductless mini split in the garage.  I have a limited budget, so I figured I would give a small portable air conditioner first.  If it doesn’t adequately cool the space, I will return it.

So far, it is working pretty well.  It cooled down the garage from 82 degrees to 75 degrees in a couple of hours.  I will insulate the exhaust hose, which will make the small unit more efficient.

portable air conditioner exhaust hose

Speaking of the exhaust hose.  I decided to exhaust it into the small attic space above the garage.  I purchased a 6-inch dryer vent and some 6-inch flexible duct work.  I cut a hole through the drywall and connected everything.  It took less than half an hour.  As you can see, my drywall skills need some work.

The weather is cool at the moment.  Highs are only in the mid 80’s.  I will have to wait until next week to see if this small LG portable air conditioner can keep up.  At the very least, it blows a nice cool breeze across the workshop without disturbing too much dust.  I will be happy if it can get me through the rest of this summer.  Perhaps I can save up for a mini-split by next spring.

Click here for my first post about cooling a windowless garage


My Own Private Hell: Cooling a Windowless Garage Workshop

The heat really has me down.  This past week was a scorcher.  Fortunately, the air was cool this morning.  So, I got up early and finished installing the radiant barrier in the small attic above the garage.  Time will tell if this offers any really benefit.  The forecast for the next few days is cooler.

Last week I took a few temperature readings with my infrared temp gun.  I took all readings at 4pm on a sunny day with temps in the mid nineties.  The ambient temperature was around 85 degrees in the shop.  Not terrible, but enough to have me sweating profusely when doing any handwork.  The relative humidity was around 70%.  The interior walls all read around 80 degrees, but the ceiling near the attic space read 95 degrees.  This has convinced me that the attic space is contributing to the heat in the garage to some degree.

This piqued my curiosity, so I took a few readings in the attic space.  The ambient temperature was around 110 degrees.  What surprised me was that the attic ceiling read  135 degrees.  I bought 3 rolls of Reflectex radiant barrier insulation the next day.  I ran out of the reflective tape, so I still need to finish taping up the seams.  As soon as I get another hot day, I will take another round of temperature readings, and report back.

Installation of the radiant barrier is straight forward.  It’s sold in various widths that correspond to common spacing of your rafters.  You simple staple it between two rafters, every 6 inches or so.  The instructions said to leave a 3-6 inch gap at the top if you have a ridge-line vent.

I’m hoping that this will lower the ambient temperatures in the garage by about 5 degrees.  The other factor contributing the my discomfort is the humidity.  I plan to buy a dehumidifier or portable AC with dehumidifier.  The portable units aren’t the best, but I think a 12000 btu unit could cool my insulated garage down to 75 degrees.  I would consider a minimalist, but I just don’t know how much longer I’ll be in this house.

What have you done to cool down your shop?

Cooling a windowless garage in the southeast ain’t easy.

Radiant barrier for cooling the windowless garage

cooling a windowless garage

Click here for part II: cooling a windowless garage with a portable air conditioner.

Better Hand Plane Storage

Plane Till

For the past year, my hand planes have sat on a little mobile cabinet near my work bench.  Here, they collected fine dust from my electron powered machines.  It wasn’t until after the weather started getting hot and humid again that I started to notice a few specs of rust here and there.  It was nothing that I couldn’t easily remove, but it got me seriously reconsidering my hand plane storage.

The goal is to create a nice hanging tool cabinet with doors, but it all starts with a plane till.  For now, the till will be hung on the wall using a french cleat.  Later, I will fasten it to the inside of the tool cabinet.  It only took about $25 and a few hours to finish.  It won’t be a huge loss if I decide to redesign it for the finished tool cabinet.

The ramp angle is fairly steep to save depth.  I will better secure the planes before mounting it to the wall.  I’m having a hard time between trying magnets glued to the back to the till ramp, or cleats.  Cleats are more secure, but less attractive.  What do you think?  Any options I haven’t considered?

French Cleat

Empty Till Web

I’ll detail the tool cabinet in a future series.  Mike Pekovich’s hanging tool cabinet formed the inspiration for this project.

I haven’t finalized the details, but I’m thinking that I will build it out of cherry with mahogany door frames.  Stay tuned.

This Place Gives Me Wood

…or will in the future.

I’ve heard great things about the guys at CAG Lumber many times over the past couple of years.  They’re located just a few miles away from my day job.  I’m not quite sure why I haven’t visited them until now.  Maybe, it was because I had another lumber yard just miles away from my house.  Maybe, it was because they’re in the opposite direction of my commute.

Whatever the reason, I decided to finally give them a visit during my lunch break yesterday.  I’m glad I did.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  They stock exotic species I haven’t found anywhere else.  Looking for spalted, wormy, or quilted boards?  They’ve got them.  They even stock reclaimed lumber.  They’re prices are fair, and the quality of their boards exceeds that of the other local suppliers.

One of my favorite aspects of their operation is that they stack all of their boards horizontally, and label the length on the end.  It’s pretty easy to locate boards of a desired length without removing everything from the stack.

If you live within a couple hours of Gainesville, GA, I highly suggest you give CAG Lumber a visit.


Putting the Sweat into Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Temp Gun

The heat has been unforgiving.  I have a new appreciation for a good rust removal strategy, as I am constantly sweating on my nice hand tools.  I am careful to keep the refrigerator stocked with ice-cold beer.  The sheer amount of cold beer consumed is straining the budget.  I have to find a way to cool my muggy workshop; one that doesn’t break the bank.

I’ve been using my infrared temp gun to track any possible sources of heat infiltration.  Most of the garage is well insulated, but there is a small uninsulated attic space towards the front of the garage.  It happens to face south, so I this is my main suspect.  I plan to buy a few rolls of radiant barrier for the roof and south-facing wall.  I will report back.  Hopefully, this will help someone else suffering a similar situation.

I would love to buy a small mini-split, but I’m not sure how much longer I will be in this house.  What have you done to cool your hot shop down?

Stay tuned.