From Bird Houses to Larger Woodworking Projects
Lately the questions have gone from what grit sandpaper should I use on my bird house project, to what the best tool and method to rip plywood for shelves. It seems the hobby woodworker is now ready to take on the larger woodworking projects, and getting organized is what everyone is into. It seems that beginner woodworkers are having trouble with finding the right tools and how to cut their project down to size. This is a common problem, and there is no one answer that will work for all, because not everyone has the same work space, or budget. Also you will want to ask yourself if large woodworking projects is something that you will be doing enough to justify buying new tools.
Setup For Larger Woodworking Projects
If large woodworking projects are going to be an on going part of your woodworking then setting up your work space to handle 4′ x 8′ material will make the most sense. First tool is a table saw, and even if you only do small to medium woodworking projects a table saw is still the best tool a woodworker can own. Not all table saws are the same though, so this is where your budget comes in. I always say buy the best tool that you can afford, and to fit the size of your shop, and do your own home work as to which brand. Everyone including me have their own reasons for buying the tools they own, so do your own home work. It will make no sense to buy a Rockwell Unisaw if your shop is to small to use it, so match the size of table saw to your shop.
Larger Woodworking Projects – No Table Saw No Problem
Before we go on with setting up the permanent work space, let’s say this will be the only time that you will do a larger woodworking project. I would still say if you can afford it buy a table saw, but if the budget says no, and woodworking is only a now and then affair, there is other tools we can use. If you do any type of woodworking, from closet shelving, to building a shed or deck, the one tool you must have is a circular saw. With the circular saw you can use a edge guide with clamps on each end to take the place of a table saw. To rip a 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood for your shelving project, just mark where you want to cut clamp down your edge guide and cut using your circular saw. This will take a lot longer than with the table saw, because you have to reset the guide for each rip, but the results are the same.
Table Saw Setup For Larger Woodworking Projects
Back to your workshop, you have the budget, bought a very nice table saw and you want to set it up to handle 4′ x 8′ material to rip or crosscut by yourself. The main problem will be to support your piece so you can run it through your table saw. You could go out and buy a couple roller stands to support your material, but this is not very stable so hard to do by yourself. I think the best way is to make three portable benches, that when needed at the table saw to handle large material they can be wheeled in place, and when not needed can be used for other purposes in your shop.
If you decide to build the portable benches here’s a few thing you should keep in mind. You will want to use casters to make portable, make sure you use casters that lock, the last thing you want is you bench moving when you are ripping material. Height of your benches is very important, they need to match the height of your table saw, and remember you are using casters. The top surface is another consideration you will want a durable and slick surface, so your material slides easy. This will be a multi-purpose benches so think it out so you can get the best use from them. This is your shop, so make your benches something you can be proud of.
Cutting Grooves For Larger Woodworking Projects
We have covered two ways to rip 4′ x 8′ material, now what if you wanted to cut grooves in your plywood for the shelves to fit into. With the table saw you need a dado blade set, make your adjustments run you material. Setup once and run as many pieces as you need. With the other method where we use the edge guide and clamps, we will need to buy another tool. For this type of cut we will need to use a router and a bit the proper size for the groove. Then we follow the same setup method as when ripping, and we must reset for each groove.
As you can see if you will be doing large woodworking projects it just makes sence to setup your shop with a table saw and proper support benches. It will save you time and your mistakes will also be cut down. Building large woodworking projects will save you the most money, carpenters to build shelves in you garage will charge sixty to seventy buck an hour. Why pay someone else to do something that you can do, all you need is the right tools and a little practice and you can go from making birdhouses to any of the larger woodworking projects.