Latest tool addition – Table Saw

After 5 years,  a table saw has seen it’s way back into the shop.

Skillsaw table saw front within custom wooden stand

Skillsaw table saw front within custom wooden stand

Skillsaw table saw back with the dust collection hose attached within custom wooden stand

Skillsaw table saw back with the dust collection hose attached within custom wooden stand

Portable Contractor Table Saw 

Well the idea of adding a table saw in the shop has been in the works for a little while.  Various model, brands and a whole bunch of criteria were looked at and one of them that kind of won over the other was the space factor.  

I have a one car garage and although I did have a bigger saw in the past in the same space, I did not have the same tool combination as I did back then.  

So basically price and space came as a deciding factor and I know it comes with some compromise but was willing to work with these compromise

back in the past

about 5 years about, I made the choice to buy a band saw (long time wanting this tool) and decided to get rid of the table saw in favour the combo of a track saw and the band saw which I already wanted to buy anyway.  

The bet was that I could get buy with these 2 tools to do most of the tasks that I needed and with the use of some hand planes, I were to be alright.  Maybe not the quickest way of doing things but could work out.  

Well it did for a while, somewhat.  For the finish purpose, the rips were not too bad and worked out pretty good with the hand planes after the bandsaw and sometimes with the track saw.  

The main complaint was efficiency for sure but also getting an easy way to be able to rip easily to a consistant width boards of various width.  Larger boards was not too bad with the tack/tracksaw but the smaller width was a problem and this is another factor that made me look at getting a table saw to be added to the shop.  


So the choice to go with the contractor table saw was for a space perspective and price but more on the space side of things.  

Different model were looked at and the Bosch, Dewalt and SkillSaw were in the top selection and not necessarily in that order.  Finally decided to go with the Skillsaw worm drive saw.  Not there latest and greatest that they announce on there web site but will do for what I will do.  

Mainly, it was for the ripping capabilities of the work drive that convinced me and people had good reviews.  Granted that I don’t expect it to behave like a 3HP in a cabinet saw and really am aware of this, but for what I will do for the scale of work, this should do plenty for now. 

Access to the controls are easy access and the adjustments were really easy to do and only minor tweaks were required to the saw I received.  Dado insert from the manufacturer and special nut must be baught if dado sets are to be used.  I did not get them yet, but this might be additions later on.  

As for the stand, I built it based on the following Video from Happy Wife, Happy Life table saw stand.  It was adapted to my table saw.  Very good job on the build.  Did not want to buy the official stand from the manufacturer as it lacked the potential of storage below the saw.  

Go visit the following SkilSaw Workdrive Table saw site for more details on the saw itself

skillsaw tablesaw blade insert

skillsaw tablesaw blade insert

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment


Various tools cabinet

While I am building the hand tool cabinet, I got inspired to build another cabinet for the tools that did not really fit into this more hand tool cabinet.  It now holds the various tools into 2 cabinets. 

Various other requirements

I baught last christmas Wera screwdrivers and used the included holders that came with the kit but were a bit cheap and taught I could do better then the holders.  This is what it looked like.

Installed the screwdrivers near the workbench

Had other tools that were in a tool holder on the floor.  Pliers, scrapers, pliers and bunch of other tools that were just a mess and not really organized and collecting dust.  I am building a hand tool cabinet and was thinking on the the design I am using from Fine Woodworking and could not find a proper way to hold these tools. Wanted some options opened in this tool cabinet so decided to expand on more then the screwdrivers

Tool Holding

So as many of you, went on other social media and image banks for ideas to hold pliers and such other tools. As with many things, these are a combination of the found ideas the other did and the tools I got with the material I got at hand.  

I also have the luxury to have a cabinet that I could reuse as it served as my router bit holder cabinet.  Since the my router bits are now stored within the base of my router table I had a nice cabinet that I could reuse to convert for some storage.  

Various tool Cabinet

Various tool Cabinet

This is the first part of the cabinet that I reuse/converted to the Screwdrivers and Pliers.  It is mounted on french cleat to a wall that is close to my work bench.  It allows me store the big rulers behind the cabinet and in front of the wall.  

Pliers holder

Pliers holder

Because of the space constraint to clear for the screwdrivers, I decided to add a second small cabinet to store the other items that could not fit into the first cabinet.  

Various tool Cabinet

Various tool Cabinet

This smaller cabinet stores small mallet, lager cutter and hammers (left side of the cabinet).  

Here is the end result 

Various tool cabinets

Various tool cabinets

Pretty happy with the result.  It is now better organized and found new floor space.  

Band Saw Blade

I was due to replenish my band saw blades form the last purchase I made.  I have always used the highland woodworking wood slicer saw blades.  As it was primarily to resaw or rip, I took a pretty large blade (3/4″) blade.

My band saw is a Lagune LT3000 16″ band saw and the length of the band is 132″.  granted that there are longer blades then that, it was still pretty significant blade, specially with the 3-4 skip tooth configuration

 Looking around for new blades

Not that I disliked the blades, they gave very good results.  But being in Canada, last time I ordered 2 blades, the shipping was nearly as much as the value of the 2 blades.  I also added the exchange rate, being in Canada.  

This is not a complaint, don’t get me wrong, but I was interested to see if there was not an alternative closer to home which would give me comparable performance but cheaper in price.  

After looking around for different alternative, I found the Tuff Tooth web site through research of other blades.  Price were pretty reasonable and they are a Canadian company, even better.  Shipping cost were pretty minimal also. 


I have been running 3/4″ blades since I own the saw, about 5 years ago.  I have been pretty satisfied with this dimension, but sometimes, having a smaller blade would of been appreciated.  

So I decided to go with a 1/2″ and 1 3/4″ blade to try out and see how would compare.  I also went  with the 3 tpi which is pretty agressive cut. For what I do, the band saw blade is not the last blade to touch the wood so have a not so finish surface is ok with me.  There will always be another tool that will pass after to better the surface, being either a plane, other saw or sand paper.  

I should be able to test out the new blades pretty soon and report back for results. 

Power Tools – Router

One of the first handheld power tools that I bought was a router.  Probably the first portable power tool was probably a sander to better finish the surfaces of the pieces I did.

My first router was a Dewalt DW616 combo kit, which included both the fixed base and plunge base which made it a great combo kit.   I made good use of this kit but 2 things made it somewhat inconvenient.  No variable speed and had pretty bad dust collection, as for many routers of the time 

Hunt for the upgraded router

With these 2 things to try to upgrade, I went hunting for the the best that could be afforded and covered the variable speed and better dust collection as some of the cuts generated lots of dust. 

About 7 years ago, I settled on the Festool OF1400

Festool OF 1400EQ

Festool OF 1400 EQ (USA version)

I also wanted an edge guide that was pretty good and after seeing a demo in a road show, this is what I got.  At the time, 7 years ago, my opinion and my use, this was one if not the best router out there for what I was looking for. 

it has variable speed and what I taught on the of the best dust collecting system that could be offered at the time.  The clear dust shroud and the below the base chip catcher for edge treatment would do one for the best job I saw.  I was pretty much on a mission at that road show and many of the dealers were represented so I had the chance to see pretty much all that had routers to present. 

To this date, I had nothing to complain at this router and had been running flawlessly for the past 7 years.  OK granted, I am not in the shop day in day out, but it still tackles the main criteria that I still hold true since then.  I do not regret my decision and I even dove into more and more into the festool system since then.  I bought the track adapter for the router, that uses the same rods as the edge guide so that you can leverage the festool track for straight cuts

Now Today

The question bears to ask, would I choose the same model as about 7 years ago ?  well, maybe, maybe not.  The router market is not the same and new model has come a long way since then. 

Quite frankly, I have looked a little bit about 3 years back at the market and same changes were already noticeable which would make my decision more difficult today if I had to select a router for my shop.  I might still choose the Festool line of product.  Does it bear the price now as it did then, don’t really know.  Until I really need to change, I guess I will not know until then….  

Router table – Storage and dust management

I have equipped my shop with a router table for quite some time now and had set my target on the Jessem router table combo.  My local dealer had combos with the table top, stand and 3HP router.  Had my eyes on the standard kit with the white top, fence, lift and open base.  

The router table Kit

Finally had the chance to get one, in an local auction but nailed the Mast-R-Excel kit with a Milwaukee 3 hp router for about 1/2 price of what new would of costed at the time.  

Have been really satisfied with the table and router so far and have used for many tasks.  Dust collection is pretty good with the fence, but….    but the dust collection below the table is, as with other opened base router table, pretty bad.   Even with the below the table port of the Mast-R-Excel.  

Big chips never gets properly collected by the port below.  So doing so raised panel operation is pretty much a no dust collection, really.  For finer dust, it does an ok job but still having a lot more escaping below. 

Storage and dust collection Below

So began the search for storage and dust collection for the below portion of the router table to capture as much dust as possible.  It is not the number of examples that are missing and paralysis by analysis was pretty much going for a little while.  

I wanted and still want to gather all the router accessories within the organization that would be build in this cabinet, serving the double duty of storage (bits and other accessories) and with the dust collection aspects of things.  

And I did want to work within the confines of the opened base.  Did not want to change that as it still had the advantage of costing zero and had adjustable feet making it easy to change place and making it level with the uneven floor of the garage. 

The end result

As mentioned, just too much good ideas available and all very functional.  I wanted to minimise the amount of material that I wanted to buy to retrofit the base and deal with the different issues I mentioned  above. 

Some Material I had : 

  • Plywood, different dimensions and thickness that I could play around with
  • some hard wood that I could leverage for bit holders and incorporate within the table to store them
    • dealing with some bits that are pretty tall (molding bits for Ogee) and large diameter for raise panels make it some odd storage options
Router table storage

This is my router table with some storage in the rough below the table

Here is the big picture of the table with rough frame work of the storage. 

So you can see that the router and lift is enclosed in a compartment.  There will be some piece of plywood in the back with a hole for dust collection.  I will put in another piece in front that will be removable.  Here is a close up shot of the compartment : 

Enclosed router lift

Enclosed router lift

There is a bigger compartment at the bottom that will be used for storage of the bits and other router related accessories.  It will be sealed in the back with a piece of plywood and in the front, doors will be installed. 

Storage compartment from my router table

Here are some other pictures of the router table 

Tool Cabinet – Outer Shell Redo

Here is the outer shell after the first glue up

Outer shell of the Tool Cabinet on edge

Tool Cabinet on edge

Well it is not anymore.  I was able to salvage the sides and top/bottom for different parts but for the outer shell, I had to mill more lumber to be able to redo it.

Why Redo the Outer Shell

There are multiple reason to have done this.

  • Not square from the get go
    • When I originally glued up the outer shell , it was not square although I did a dry run
    • the shelf was cut too long and not properly fitted in length when glued the outer shell together
  • Crappy dovetail
    • Personally, there gaps that I am willing to tolerate, but not that much.  I should of not glued it up like that from the get go and should of cut the strip to redo them

So back to square 1.5…. Not quite from scratch but pretty close.  But I am not really discouraged by this, just doing what I should of done from poor job and maybe trying to go too fast or too tired when cutting the joints or what ever the reason.

Even though this is shop furniture, I still like them too look good and don’t want to redo it in whatever time because I did a not so good job.  It does practice and shop time and good organisation of tools.

The lumber is now dimensioned for the outer shell and the dovetails are layout on the main vertical members and now time for sawing to perfection.

Enough writing, lets go woodworking.

Simple is better

Some times, simple is better.  Trying to overcomplicate things is where you loose time for something that is not really worth it.

Sometimes it is worth it to try a new technique or something that you are learning, but not this time for me.

Around Christmas time, I received some gift certificates for a local tool shop (Outils Pierre Berger) and had spotted some sets of screwdrivers that I had been looking for a while.  They are Wera screwdrivers set.  I had tried these screwdrivers and felt good in my hand and was the occasion to pull the trigger on them.

Installed the screwdrivers near the workbench

Installed the screwdrivers near the workbench

They came with sets of hangers that you can hand in different places.  Until I started redoing my tool cabinet to store the different tool set, I found that I did not really have a good place to fit it in.  Did not really want to make new tool holders to fit in the cabinet.

They have since been lying on my workbench without a proper place to hold them and when I was reaching for one of the screwdrivers, I always reminded myself that I had to do something to hold them properly.

So I started with French cleats and tried to arrange something with some scrap wood lying in the shop to construct the assembly and would be long enough to span between the studs.

Well I tried and failed with the french cleat.  I will not go into the details of the assembly that I tried but finally decided to abandoned this install and just found 2 pieces of wood that was big enough to screw 2 screws in the stud (so tall enough) so it would not move and have enough width so that the holder would fit on each of the piece of wood.

All that to say that it was a simple install, just procrastinated long enough and ultimately took about 5 minutes to install and 8 screws and now they are accessible and and I am very happy.

Tool Cabinet – Carcase Assembly

Carcase Assembly

The past week was concentrated on completing the carcase assembly frame and have the joinery completed and fitted.  It is a cabinet carcase with dovetail at the 4 corners. Last post covered the dovetail cutting process all done by hand and now was time to fit all 4 corners of the main assembly.

Tool Cabinet Carcase dry fitted

Tool Cabinet Carcase dry fitted

Tool Cabinet Carcase

Tool Cabinet Carcase

It has been a while that I cut dovetails and it really showed and fitting them was a pretty experience.  A bit too much gaps to show but  still tight enough for the structural side of things.  It holds pretty as we speak and it is only dry fitted.

I checked for square in all 4 corners and all was good.  Just one corner that I saw some small amount of light, maybe 1/64 to 1/32 which to me, is not worth playing with, fearing to change something and make it worst.  Will adjust the dimensions of the other components if required.


Towards the lower end, there is a shelf that is through tennonned in the carcase assembly which will stiffen the whole assembly.  Although the main wood is cherry, I did not have wide enough boards to cover the shelf in one piece but had a maple board from another project that was a left over and for the most part, was large enough

For the most part, it was a clean board except for one corner that had a broken/damaged edge.  I decided to go ahead with the board as one edge was going to be going towards the back of the cabinet which will be hidden once all assembled.

tool cabinet shelf

tool cabinet shelf

I may need to adjust the placement of the tenons on that edge based on the plans but that should not be an issue.  It’s length was derived based on relative dimensioning of the carcase assembly that is now dry fitted

Next Steps

Next steps is to fit the shelf and the joinery with the through tenons in the carcase. Will then be able to glue up the carcase and start working on the external doors for the dimensions.

Will also be ordering the hinges for the external doors so that when they are completed, I will at least be able to hang them.  I may not be ordering all the hinges that the plan calls for as I have not finalized the tool placement inside the cabinet.  Some internal hinges I might forgo altogether as I might not be going with the storage options as is. Part of the customization of the storage based on the tools that I have.

Tool Cabinet – A fresh new start

Few years back, I built a tool cabinet out of Fine woodworking which got me going for a good while.  Well up until now.  I never properly evolved the tool cabinet and never built the doors and hung them to offer storage.

Here is what it looks like now

Tool Cabinet

Tool Cabinet Pre Rework


I was able to adapt it to different variance of tool inventory, but as I mentioned, I am now in a phase to better organise my tool with a new tool cabinet.  Came an article from again Fine woodworking from Mike Pekovich on his take of his new hand tool cabinet for his shop, having outgrown his own.

I have the privilege of being an online member and was able to follow the video series of the build of the cabinet and followed some of the advise as to planing for the tools at hand and then some.

I have a pretty good idea of the organisation that I plan to put into the cabinet and the tools that will go into which part of the cabinet.  Which plane I have and where they go with also some plane that I know I have my eyes on.

Also some other tools that I will plan for appropriate storage and follow the advise to plan for future tools.  I already know of some of them that will eventually come and know the dimension from the toolmaker website so planning the tool holding around those dimensions will make it a breeze to store in due time.


I will be using a variety of material to build the tool cabinet.  All of the carcase will be of hardwood and the dimensions will be adapted based on the material that I have.  Most cases, the hardwood will be a little bit thinner then what the plan states.

I will also use relative dimensioning of the different parts.  The casing is pretty much with the dimensions stated in the plan but for the rest, it will be based on the real build and not exactly what the plan states.  Parts have been rough out to approximate dimensions and will be adjusted as the build progresses.

So stay tuned for the next update for the tool cabinet

Tool maintenance

This story starts with my planer that I never did any tool maintenance other then changing the blades when dull and cleaning up the roller once in a while.  My planer is a Dewalt DW735 and one of the thing  that I’ve notice since I bought it was that when the rollers got dirty, feeding a board was more difficult.

This was the case this morning and also adjusting the height for planing was pretty hard to turn the wheel on the side of the planer.  Dust collection was still pretty good, but some functions were lacking for a little while.

As I was planning stock this morning, it became very hard to push and the height adjustment became really hard.  So I took a break from the milling and cranked open the top of the planer.

I don’t remember the last time I opened it for blade change, but it’s been a while and when I lifted the cover, I found tons of dust in the compartment.  I really was not expecting this.  So I started the compressor and took the vacuum hose and started the cloning process, getting the most of the dust with the vacuum and then freeing debris with the compressed air.

A very good cleanup that I guess was really overdue in the case of this particular tool.   Now it functions as if it was brand new, well close to it.

Takeaway on tool maintenance

The morale of the story is that a tool well maintained will better perform and last longer.  The tool maintenance regiment will vary tool per tool and that it’s a power vs hand tool.  There is the consumables that needs to be replaced (typically a blade or sharpening of the blade) or sharpening of blades in hand tools.

But there is other stuff like calibration that is not done as often but I feel that depending on the tool, still needs to be done on a certain schedule.  For myself, I am not in the shop everyday, but some tool see  more use then others.  I now now that taking a peak at certain parts of some tools will need to be done more often.

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