Category: Workshop

Everything in the woodshop

Dollars Against Dust

Exciting news in the AMT Workshop! We are embarking on a plan to improve the air quality in the AMT workshops. We estimate that we should see a 35% improvement in air quality in the shop. That is a lot of good considering that the AMT workshops serve over 400 people a year.

The plan is not very difficult but it is rather costly, coming in at $1100 almost precisely ($1105.72 is the boring real number). Unsurprisingly, this is where you all come in, we at the shop need to raise $750 to make this plan a reality the other $350 will be matched by AMT.

What is this plan we hear you ask, well, the plan is to:

  • Installing two 400 CFM air cleaners in each of the shop spaces meaning we would cycle and scrub the air in each space approximately every 4 minutes (slightly longer in the front room and slightly shorter in the rear room).
  • The new air cleaners will be remote controlled (meaning no climbing on tables to get to them).
  • These air cleaners will have timers to run for an hour after you leave the shop, meaning the air should be nice and clear for the next person coming in.
  • On top of this we want to revive the once active air quality monitor in the shop, so we can really see what the shop air quality is! (an air quality readout is what the big blank TV in the corner used to display).

“HOW CAN I HELP” we hear you clamor, well, in one of three ways we say!

Donate to the Cause

Making a cash donation directly to AMT means that 97% of your donation goes to the project and it is tax deductible.


Buy a Raffle Ticket

Donate via raffle tickets for a chance to win cool prizes like redwood burls and original art. $5 per ticket, drawing at the general meeting on December 13th.


Buy a ticket to the “Ask an Expert” fundraiser

Get expert advice on your projects including those important gifts you are making this season at our “Ask an Expert” fundraiser December, 6th from 6pm – 9pm.

$10 for members
$25 for non-members

 $10 for Members

 $25 for Non-members


Big empty room

AMT Expansion 2018

This month AMT turns 8 years old and we are growing! We have rented an additional 1200sqft suite in the building. We have a Work Party Weekend planned June 1-3 to upgrade and reconfigure all of AMT. All the key areas at AMT are getting an upgrade :

CoWorking and Classroom are moving in to the new suite. Rad wifi, chill space away from the big machines, and core office amenities are planned for CoWorking. The new Classroom will be reconfigurable and have double the capacity.

Textiles is moving upstairs into the light. The room will now be a clean fabrication hub with Electronics and 3D Printing both expanding into the space made available. Photo printing may or may not stay upstairs — plans are still forming up.

Metal working, bike parking, and new storage including the old lockers will be moving into the old classroom. But before they move in the room is getting a face lift by returning to the cement floors and the walls will get a new coat of paint.

The CNC room and workshop will then be reconfigured to take advantage of the space Metal vacated. We aren’t sure what that is going to look like beyond more workspace and possibly affordable storage for larger short term projects.

Town Hall Meeting May 17th • 7:30PM • Plan the New Space

What expansion means to membership

The other thing that happened in May is after 8 years our rent finally went up. It is still affordable enough that we get to expand. Expansion also means increasing membership volume to cover the new rents and to take advantage of all the upgrades. We are looking to add another 30 members by winter.  Our total capacity before we hit the cap will be 200 members. We feel that offering more classes and the best bargain in co-working will allow us to do this. Please help get the word out!

The New Suite in the Raw

Big empty room

Aquarium Stand

This is an aquarium stand that I built at Ace Monster Toys. It is made of maple 3/4 plywood and walnut edge banding. I used the old craftsman table saw and the ryobi router table to cut and shape the parts. If I had to do it over again I would use the CNC router. It would be far far safer, faster, and the results would be cleaner and more square. I would probably also use strips of 1/8″ walnut instead of the iron-on edge banding, because it would be much more durable and age better.  After designing the piece in sketchup, I made some test pieces to practice edge banding on. The idea is to use the edge banding to hide the screws and the ugly edges of the plywood.  It was a challenge to cut up the 4×8 sheet of plywood with a handheld power saw. A panel saw would have been better.  After getting the pieces small enough to fit in my car, I took them to AMT and cut them to size on the table saw. The problem was that, even with my own brand new blade, the saw would not cut perfectly square, and the measurements on the fence were not accurate. It was very frustrating and the results were not perfect.  I used the router table to cut dadoes and rabbets where the walnut strips would go. After assembling the box, I used an iron to iron on the walnut edge banding, which I trimmed with a razor.  At this point I took the stand home for finishing, and added some wheels. The stand contains my canister filter and CO2 tank. I am very happy with the result, but if I had to do it over, I would use the CNC.

Big Lathe Now Working!


The lathe in the woodshop is functional thanks to the new lathe stand built by Howard. The lathe is made of the motor from Rachel’s donated lathe and the frame from the old workshop lathe. Hugh, Ravi, and Jose Miguel worked together to build the “frankenlathe”.

Because the original lathe stand wasn’t heavy enough, it vibrated too much when throwing out-of-balance work. To solve this problem, Howard added a piece of a railroad rail, a giant motor, and a piece of oblong steel to the bottom of the stand. This has reduced the vibration. However, Ravi warns that users shouldn’t try to turn very big objects on there until it has been determined that the stand is sufficiently weighted down. Otherwise, the piece may be ruined or even become a projectile.

The lathe stand is made of 100% recycled or re-used wood. The lathe can be raised into a better position for taller users by unfastening the carriage bolts underneath the head and the tail of the lathe, inserting wood shims to raise it to the desired height, and then re-tightening the bolts that hold the lathe to the stand.

The lathe stand has a dust collector port under the lathe to capture falling dust and debris. This port should be connected to the cyclone dust collection system when the lathe is in use.

While the lathe table has wheels, it may now be too heavy for them so users should be careful when trying to move the lathe. Lathe tools and chuck key are stored on the bottom shelf of the lathe stand.

While use of the lathe is currently “at your own risk,” training is highly advised and the machine will soon require certification as soon as someone who is skilled with the lathe can provide a certification class.

Regarding safety, Ravi has the following tips:

Body Safety
1) get some training
2) wear impact-resistant face shield, not the dust-resistant one
3) properly align rest to reduce catches
4) Properly seat material
5) Select proper speed setting for material, size, and type of action taken
6) sharpen chisels before use
7*) don’t wear scarves, long hair or other things that can get sucked into the rotating shaft of death
*Should be higher on the list but I don’t want to remake the list

Equipment Safety
1) turn both knob and switch to off, if only knob is turned to off can burn out motor
2) be careful in handling and placing chisels so as to not damage the tips

AMT 360º How to use the New Cyclone

We have a new dust collection system!

Our previous system (which used to live in the closet) has been replaced and we now have a cyclone dust collector.
The cyclone lives in the metal shop and is hooked up to the ducts in the workshop.

To turn it on, currently you need to plug it into its extension cord. Look for the blue stickers on the right side of the cyclone:


We are interested in your feedback regarding this new system.
You can use our equipment feedback tracking with the asset tag AMT140 to report issues.
Ping us ( @fitzhugh or @pierre ) on slack in the #workshop channel if you have questions about this system!

Workshop Organization: The Story in Pictures

So we bit of organization in the workshop and put some things in storage. Everyone who showed up really did a great job. We still have some tweaks and more labeling to do… oh, and we want to make a nice map of the room.

reachable tools!
All the sleds, push sticks, and jig you could ask for.
Birds eye view.
The culling is coming.. oh, yes it is.
There really are more pipe camps… big ones in the closet.
Supply closets supplin’
All the things
Electronics sans dust… please keep stuff off the floor in hear.
The yellow zone
Drills, driver and miter boxes.
Measuring Tools
MOAR Power!!
It’s all numbers
More measuring
Next up… build a tool caddy for the lathe stand
The new home of First Aide and Protective gear
Temporary hardware
Power Tool Bins
Power tool bins with labels
Bandsaw and Jointer stored all cozy like
The jointer in its relaxed position
Space available in project storage.
Sheet goods with a little bit of effort
Scrappy keeps on scrappin’
The finest in mobile dust collection thanks to Pierre
All the under work bench tools
Under work bench tools
More under work bench tools


AMT 360º – Dust collection in the Shop

You may have noticed that we have no windows or doors with direct access to the outside. That mean that air quality can suffer especially in the shop. We have some systems for ameliorating dust and poor air quality. Even the best systems though will fail if folks don’t use them. Below is a little visual guide to turning on the 3 systems in the shop.

The Honeywell Air Filter


This is the Honeywell Air filter is a HEPA filter that is great for normal-use larger rooms. You should run it when you are NOT using one of the big dust making tools. It is most effectively used to get all the little bits of dust that the big system makes and to generally filter and freshen the air when things get stale.

The Over-head Dust Filter

overhead-filter   filter-switch-close

You should run this whenever you are working in the shop. It circulates and captures dust floating in the air. The switch is located on the same wall as the door to the shop next to the shelves with the safety gear.

The Big Dust Collector in the Closet


You should always always always connect this to the dust making tools. Seriously always. It can also be used to suck the dust out of the air but opening the gates and just letting it run a bit.


Safety Gear

Last but not least there are dust masks. Use them when you make dust.

See the wiki or contact a shop steward for more information and details around dust collection.

Reclaimed Wood Use in the AMT Woodshop

After emptying the dust bag last night, Yukari and I spent some time using the bandsaw. She cut some nice, easy plywood completely without incident. Afterwards, I picked a random piece of scrap off the pile and traced a pattern on to it to make a circle for a dust collection shroud for the new belt sander I’m leaving on loan to AMT.

The cut without incident until I got to the last little bit. In a half second that scared the living shit out of the me, the blade snapped in half and whipped near my face.

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Now, because I’m not an idiot, I was following proper safety protocol by wearing glasses, hearing protection, with no long sleeves, while also keeping my body and face as far as possible from the cut by not leaning in to see what I was doing scroll saw style. Additionally, the bandsaw functioned properly by stopping when something like this occurs (from its perspective, the blade slid off the wheel). The blade almost immediately caught in the gap and was prevented from snaking all over. This means no one was hurt and the only damage to me was an extremely elevated heart rate.

Why did this occur?

This happened because the piece of wood I was cutting had a very large nail buried inside it. The stock I pulled off the scrap pile was reclaimed wood, not obvious at first glance.

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While cutting the circle pattern, I was continually rotating the waste material off the workpiece in order to get a nice curve. Thanks to the way I was cutting, I didn’t see that I actually cut through the nail TWICE while making my circle with a blade designed for wood. Needless to say, that is not proper use of a bandsaw blade.

After this happened, I immediately contacted Hugh and explained the situation. Chris happened to wander in to the shop at the same time, and together with Hugh on the phone we talked through what happened while Chris and I investigated the bad stock.

We determined pretty quickly that there is no possible way that I could have seen the nail before beginning the cut, as it was buried ¾ of an inch deep within the wood. Chris and I actually had to chisel out an entire section to expose one of the nails and finally pull it out. The only way I would have known that there was a nail deep inside the workpiece before starting would be if I had a metal detector wand (which I’ll get to in a moment).


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It’s my understanding that this is not the first time reclaimed wood in the shop has caused an issue with our tools and equipment. I am now strongly of the opinion that reclaimed wood pieces need special rules in the shop. I propose the following changes to woodshop policy.

  1. Reclaimed wood can be used by those who bring it in.
  2. As much as possible, folks working on a reclaimed wood project should use their own blades and equipment, even if it’s mounted on AMT hardware. In other words, they are assuming the risk with their consumables, not the community’s.
  3. If a project does not use all of the wood that was brought, the reclaimed wood SHOULD NOT be placed on the scrap pile. While it’s possible for a piece of reclaimed lumber to have very obvious and easy to remove screws or nails, as what happened to me demonstrates this is not always the case. This would also have the benefit of reducing waste material hanging around the shop (This to me is the most important and most salient point).
  4. When possible, the woodshop community should purchase a metal detecting wand for woodshops. Examples: or
  5. Those using reclaimed wood should be encouraged (or even required) to use this metal detector on their wood. We could potentially even figure out a system for possibly loaning the tool out if folks are going to go on a big run to a recycle shop and want to prescreen their stock.

AMT’s Brand New Bit Box! – Initial Build and Glue Up

Working with the CNC routers and the woodshop hand routers/drills frequently, it’s become apparent that AMT needs a new place to store our community bits rather than “randomly in plastic tubs” or “wherever we want”

Enter the brand new AMT Bit Box!

Based on a design found in Woodworking Magazine, the bit box is being made out of dried poplar, some half inch plywood, and a whole lot of quarter inch dowel rods.

The example above isn’t quite the final form. AMT needs less a retail style “display” case and more a functional set of modular shelves that can be changed as its needs change. Additionally, we need a badass logo on the front.

Let’s take a look at the build as it happens!


1. Size Cuts and Dado Cuts

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Click to enlarge!

I didn’t take any pictures of the first few cuts on the table saw, but it’s pretty standard except for one thing: dado cuts. What is a dado cut you ask? Simply put, dado cuts use a special stacked blade system attached to the table saw to cut specifically dimensioned holes, grooves, and end sections. The cool perfectly lined sections you see on the side piece in this first picture are the result of dado cuts!

One problem: AMT doesn’t have a throat plate of the appropriate size for dado cuts! OH NO WE CAN’T USE THE TABLE SAW WITHOUT A THROAT PLATE BECAUSE DANGER WHAT CAN WE DO.


2. New Throat Plate for Table Saw!

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Click to enlarge!

Oh wait naw it’s cool guys. I made one really fast, gave it a linseed oil coat and some wax. Now it lives in the shop steward drawer with the other appropriate throat plate sections



2. Checking the Squareness and Design Changes

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Click to enlarge!

Here’s the pieces of the box being squared and checked for consistency and straightness. Making a GOOD, LEVEL, SQUARE box is actually one of the most difficult things a woodworker can do, which is why it’s such good practice for joinery techniques and other basics. You’ll also notice that by this point I had already drilled the mounting holes for the dowel rods. As I mentioned, I modified the original design to give us a more modular set of shelves to work with. There will still be a standard set of drawers just like in the original picture to hold random objects, but the lower and upper shelves will be removable while the bit holders themselves will rest on the dowel shots like the sleeves of your Ikea bookshelf. Want to make a new bit holder for the latest set of bits you’ve purchased? Need to store a specialized set of objects? Just cut a piece of scrap to size, mount the things you want to put in the box, and drop it on the dowels!


3. Use of Forstner Bits

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Click to enlarge!

The dowel holes were cut with the Forstner bit set that AMT has in it’s drill section. In the very near future, these might live in the box they were used to make!

For those interested in different types of bits, forstner bits (like any drill bit) makes a hole in wood. BUT WAIT! While a standard drill bit cuts using a spiraled tip, a forstner bit first centers itself using a small needle-like plunge tip and then cuts a very smooth, flat based hole.

To steal from a woodworking site that knows way more than I do: “Because they’re designed to produce a minimum amount of tear-out when exiting the material, Forstner bits are the best bit for drilling through holes. Forstner bits drill a flat-bottomed hole, making them a necessary tool for many hardware installations where a precise depth of mortise is required.”


4. Sandingsandingsandingsaning

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Click to enlarge!

All those big, flat pieces of poplar required about an hour and  half of sanding with three different grits using my finishing sander and its new wonderful connection to the central dust collection system. That hose connector was about $20 at Rockler Wood Supply, while the connector bridging the hose and the central dust intake was about $5. Both were well worth the investment in saving my lungs, the shop air quality, and cleanup in general.

Shopping Link:

Alternatively, you can roll your own using some PVC pipe, our friendly 3D printer, and some standard shopvac hose.


5. Glue Up Finished!

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Click to enlarge!

The glue up is finished! Looking at the level, you can see it’s pretty dead close to being straight and square even with the ridiculous clamp job we got going on. Now to come back  and cut/dado the doors, drawers, and bit holders. Look for this to be finished by the end of the week, and to be up on the wall by the end of next week.