Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Category: Workshop

Making a Boggs Inspired Shave Horse

Chair making deeply interests me.  The sensuous curves of a Maloof rocker and practicality of a ladder back captivate me.  Despite this, I have yet to build more than a few Adirondack chairs.  So, I signed myself up for Jeff Miller’s chair building class in November.  In the meantime, I decided to learn all I could about chair making.  Along the way, I determined that I would need a shave horse.

You use a shave horse to hold chair parts for shaping with a draw knife or spoke shave.  It consists of a seat and clamping apparatus.  A good shave horse allows the user to easily adjust clamping pressure, while maintaining a comfortable seating position

So, I scoured the Internet for information.  Eventually, I decided to build a horse similar to one Brian Boggs designed several years ago.  In case you didn’t know, Brian Boggs is a talented chair maker from Asheville, North Carolina.  His shave horse sits on three legs, uses a foot operated treadle, and clamps with an adjustable lower jaw.  Additionally, the user builds the device to suit his or her own body.

Shave Horse

I have already milled most of the lumber.  I have shaped the sides and started on the legs.  Once the base is complete, I will install the jaws, treadle, and seat.  If all goes well, I should complete the horse within a week.

Stay tuned for progress.

The Workshop Build: Lessons Learned

No matter how well you plan, there will always be things you’ll wish you’d done differently.  So, I’m here to share a few things I wish I’d done differently with my shop build.

Completed Workshop

Wall Space

Wall space is sacred.  If you’re limited on space, plan the locations of outlets and ducting carefully.  Make sure you have enough uninterrupted wall space for lumber storage.  I ended up with a few duct drops I wish I planned more carefully.  So, carefully catalogue everything you plan to store on the wall.


Maintain as much headroom as possible.  There are one or two spots in my shop where I constantly hit my duct runs with lumber.  Why I didn’t run the ducting 6 inches higher, I’ll never know.  I will raise everything in the future as time allows.


Don’t skimp on electrical.  Determine how many receptacles you need and then add 50%.  I thought I had planned for sufficiently, but I already wish I had more.  It’s always easier to do it all at one time.  In my case, it will be much more difficult to add any electrical now that the drywall is up.

What I did Right

  • Storage – I have plenty of it considering the small size of my shop.
  • Lighting – I installed plenty of efficient LED light fixtures.  So, there isn’t a dark corner in the shop.
  • Efficient Design – Placing my tablesaw and jointer in the center of the shop made for efficient movement around the shop.
  • Dust Collection – Dedicated ports keep me from disconnecting/reconnecting machinery and save time.
  • Air Conditioning – A comfortable shop ensures that I am able to work year round.  Installing it myself, saved me lots of money.

A Hand Tool Cabinet: Interior Doors and Tool Holders

The main cabinet and doors are complete.  That means it’s time to finally move on to tool storage.  But first, I need to make some interior doors.  The interior doors provide additional tool storage.  And, unlike the main door boxes, the interior doors are simple to make.

The interior doors are nothing more than a hard-wood rail and plywood panel.  The hinges mount to the the rail, and additional tool holders mount to the plywood panel.  The plywood panel is rabbeted into a groove in the rail.  It’s dead simple.  However, I did hand cut mortises for the hinges.  This added some complexity, but it looks nice and adds strength.

I mounted all of the interior doors to cleats.  For the door boxes, I made a long thin cleat.  Then, I used a spacer to mounted it to the side of the door box.  Up top, I made a small shelf, and mounted the cleat to the shelf.  Here, the cleat is wide.  This prevents any tools handing on the doors from hitting the side of the case.  Finally, I installed magnets to the case and screws to the door panels to act as a door catch.

With the interior doors complete, I moved on to tool holders.  I made a nice start, but haven’t finished them all yet.  Tools like chisels and squares are easy, while others are a bit more complicated.  For example, my marking gauges are proving a bit more difficult.  Stay tuned to see how I tackle this.

Aside from a few tool holders, the only thing left to built is a plane gallery at the bottom of the main case.

Don’t forget to check out my previous post: Hand Tool Cabinet Doors

For the next post in this series, click here: Finishing Touches

A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Doors

No tool cabinet is complete without doors.  The doors on this cabinet are shallow boxes.  As a result, they effectively double the storage capacity of the cabinet.  So, with the main cabinet complete, it was time to move on to the doors.

The doors consist of a box and face.  The box is dovetailed, while the face is frame and panel.

I started with the boxes.  First, I cut the dovetails much like I did for the main cabinet.  Then, I pre-finished the parts with a few wash coats of shellac.  Finally, I glued the boxes together and moved on to the face panels.

The joinery for the frame and panel faces is simple.  The rails and stiles get grooves along their interior length.  Additionally, the stiles get a tenon that fits into the groove on the stiles.  Then, I cut a rabbet on the panels.  This allows the panel to fit into the grooves in the frame parts.Since the panel is made from plywood, I glued everything together with little worry of wood movement.  The panels sit flush with the frame on the interior side of the door.  This makes mounting tool holders much easier.

Finally, I finished the doors be installing them to the main cabinet.  I sourced my hinges from  They have loose pins for easy installation.  Additionally, the hinge mortises helped a lot with alignment and installation.  I used a centering vix bit to drill the screw holes.  Then, I mounted the hinges and inserted the pins.  Then, I hung the cabinet on the wall with the help of my lovely wife.  Everything went together fairly easily.

Next, I will make interior doors to further increase storage potential.  Additionally, I need to make a plane gallery and tool holders.  Stay tuned.

Check out my previous post here: The Case

Additionally, you can check out the new post here: Interior Doors.


Dovetails on the Table Saw?

I’m currently building a Mike Pekovich inspired tool cabinet.  Mike built his cabinet for a Find Woodworking video series.  In the video series, Mike uses a custom ground blade to cut his dovetails on the table saw.  The idea is brilliant.  Tails are dead square, and you zip through them with lightning speed.  Additionally, the kerf of your table saw blade is the only thing that limits the size of your pins.  And because you only have to layout the tails on one board, you save a load of time on layout.

Consequently, I remembered meeting an associate from Ridge Carbide Tool at a recent woodworking show.  Like Forrest, they make various saw blades right here in the United States.  So, I checked out their website, and discovered they made dovetail table saw blades.  I placed an order, and was pleasantly surprised when the saw blade arrived just a few days later.

I purchased an 8-degree blade for left-hand tilt saws, but Ridge provides many other options.  They grind the bevel on one side, so you’re able to get deep into the corners of your tail boards.  This reduces that amount of paring required.  Additionally, the blade seems very well made.

Using the blade is simple.  Mark your pins.  Then, adjust the angle of your table saw to match the angle of your blade.  Next, adjust the height of the blade to baseline of your tail boards.  Finally, make a few test cuts, and cut your tails.  I like narrow pins, so I just align the blade to the center of the pin mark.  Then, I flip the board and align the kerf in the tail board to the kerf in my auxiliary sled.

Since I made an auxiliary fence specifically for tails, I mark the location of each pin on the fence.  I use the mark as a reference for the rest of my boards.  This keeps me from having to mark my pins of every board.

At the moment, I still cut my pins by hand.  However, that may soon change.  I am very happy with the Ridge Carbide’s product and the process of cutting dovetails on the table saw.


A Hand Tool Cabinet: Lumber Selection

Cherry Lumber

Work is slow on the tool cabinet.  However, I scored a good deal on the lumber for the project.  As a result, I now have 40 board foot of nice cherry.  The mill listed the lumber as 4/4.  However, the it’s all closer to 5/4.  Additionally, the boards are all straight, clear, and over 9-inches wide.

I cut all the boards to rough length, and thicknessed them to 1/8th-inch over final thickness.  Now, I will wait another week or so for the boards to acclimate.  Then, I will finishing milling them at start work on the case joinery.

I would love to use cherry plywood for the door panels.  However, I’m can’t find anything 1/2-inch thick.  It seems to be available in 3/4 only.  If I can’t source cherry plywood, I will use maple.  It’s easy to source in 1/2-inch, and should give some contrast once the cherry darkens.

If you know of an Atlanta area dealer that stocks 1/2-inch cherry plywood, let me know.  Thanks.

Check out my previous post on this project: The Mockup

You can also check out my next post here: A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Case

Improving the Porter Cable Drill Press

The 15-inch Porter Cable drill press is an excellent value.  It’s cheap, accurate, and powerful.  However, it has one huge drawback for the woodworker: the table.  It sucks!  As a result, I made an auxiliary table to help me get the most out of this tool.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information on making an auxiliary table for this model.  So, I inspected the drill press and came up with a game plan.

Porter Cable Drill Press Table

My design consists of two sandwiched pieces of melamine, and oak edge banding.  It also has a slot in the middle for replaceable inserts.  Finally, it has t-tracks for a fence and hold-down.  I used a plunge router to create the slot and a dado stack to fit the t-tracks.  Easy stuff.  The hard part is mounting the new table to the existing one.

Ultimately, I decided to mount the auxiliary table using two hex bolts.  The bolt heads are countersunk to keep the surface obstruction free.  Since the existing table doesn’t have mounting holes, I drilled them myself.  This was easier than I anticipated.  As a result, the table is easy to remove and adjust.

I built the fence from scrap melamine.  The fence attaches to the table with star-knobs and bolts.  I also added a hold-down.  Now, I no longer have to hold my work-piece with my bare hand.  Yay safety!

While still in the workshop, I made about 15 zero clearance inserts.  I cut these from the same material as the top.  As a result, they sit perfectly flush.  Hopefully, I won’t have to make any more for some time.

The new table presents a big improvement to the Porter Cable drill press.  So far, my only concern is the height of the fence on the right.  With smaller material, the drill-press handles may interfere with the fence.  If this becomes and issue, I’ll just cut a notch in the fence.




A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Mockup

So, my hand tools need a new home.  I’ve drawn up a plan for a hand-tool cabinet that I think will work.  However, I need to be sure that it will work.  So, I built a mockup cabinet.

A mockup is quick and cheap.  More of all, it allows you to see how furniture works in the real world.

I built my mock-up out of 1/2-inch scrap plywood.  The only item I purchased were some cheap hinges for the doors.  Furthermore, construction only took about an hour.


Tool Cabinet Mockup

Hanging the mockup allowed me to workout some kinks with the exact placement.  As you can see, the left door hits the grinder.  As a result, I will hang the final cabinet a few inches higher.  This provides me with extra space below the cabinet.  This is important, because I plan to build a sharpening station in that space.

With the mockup complete, I will move on to lumber selection.  Stay tuned for more.

Check out my first post on the hand-tool cabinet design.

You can also check out the next post here: Lumber Selection

A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Design

Ever since we moved, my hand-tools have been homeless.  Throughout the workshop build, they’ve remained hidden in drawers and boxes.  So, it’s time I give them a home.  It’s time I build a proper hand-tool cabinet.

A few years back, Mike Pekovich built a beautiful hanging tool cabinet for a Fine Woodworking video workshop series.  I fell in love with his design immediately.  Not only did I love the look, but I loved the creative use of space.  The doors are shallow boxes that allow for extra storage.  So, I downloaded the plans and hoped that I could make the design work for me.

Unfortunately, Mike’s design doesn’t fit my space.  An outlet and a few power tools limit the overall size of the cabinet.  Additionally, the stud locations require that the French cleat extends outside of the case(Mike’s is neatly hidden).  That’s okay because, I can use the longer cleat to hang other things.  With that discovery, I set out to modify Mike’s hand-tool cabinet to fit my needs.

The 4-plug outlet limits the space where I will hang the cabinet. The outlet is mounted to a stud just to the left. If I used the two studs to the right and hid the cleat inside the case, I would have to move it too far to the right. I wouldn't be able to open the doors.

My space is shown above.  The 4-plug outlet on the left mounts to a stud on the left side of the box.  To hide the cleat, I would have to move the cabinet so far to the right that I wouldn’t be able to open the doors.  Instead, I plan to hang the cabinet on an external cleat that passes above the electrical box.

The design above, is what I came up with. The case is a few inches narrower and shorter.  The back is one solid piece, and I will attach a French cleat directly to the back.

The next step is to build a mock-up, and make sure that the design works before purchasing lumber.  Fortunately, I think I have just enough 1/2″ plywood left over from previous projects.

Stay tuned.

Check out my next post in this series: The Mockup


Air Conditioning a Workshop: A Follow Up

Air Conditioning a Workshop

Nothing kills my spirit like a hot, humid workshop.  In the past, I avoided the workshop for the entire summer.  So when we decided to move, an air-conditioned workshop was at the top of my list.  I figured the cost would justify itself in a single summer.  Georgia summers are long and damp.

If you haven’t yet, check out the ductless mini-split air-conditioner installation.

The Benefits

My unit is a 12,000btu Mitsubishi Mr. Slim heat-pump.  It provides heating as well as cooling.  While it is pricier than a window unit, it is much more efficient.  In fact, I keep the shop at a cool 70 degrees, and there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in our power bill.

Another plus is noise.  The unit is very quiet.  It is an excellent choice for anyone who makes video.

The unit is also small.  The indoor unit occupies very little wall space.  You’ll forget it’s even there.


  • Dust.  Workshops are full of it.  Air-conditioners hate it.  Clean your filters often.  My manual states that the filters should be cleaned every couple of weeks.  I clean mine at least once a week.  Fortunately, this only takes a few minutes.
  • Fan Speed.  A few days after the heat hit, I noticed that the thermometer on one side of my shop was reading high.  Initially, I thought it was because I hadn’t yet blown insulation into the attic.  Worse, I feared that I purchased an undersized unit.  Upon further investigation, I determined that the cause was fan speed.  The auto-speed option set the fan speed to its lowest option.  Increasing the fan speed fixed the problem.  Apparently, I don’t have good air circulation in the workshop.
  • Moisture.  The Mr. Slim does a decent job of removing moisture out of the air.  Like most air-conditioners, it works better on warmer days.  It’s the cool, humid days that give most conditioners trouble.  This is because they simply aren’t running long enough to dehumidify.  Fortunately, the Mr. Slim has a dry operational mode.  This keeps the unit just below the dew point and allows the unit to remove moisture even on cooler days.  However, if your workshop is particularly damp, you may still want to consider a separate dehumidifier.

In conclusion, the Mr. Slim mini-split air-conditioner proves to be a great investment.  It allows me to spend several more months in the shop each year than I would otherwise.  Even better, it makes the shop more comfortable and I hardly even know it’s there.  If you have the means, I highly recommend one.