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.
Having the right tools when you are puttering around making things is invaluable and having those tools near at hand is a wonderful thing. When revamping the Electronics Area and turning it into a place you are not afraid to work from the pit of darkness and despair it used to be, I noticed we didn’t have the necessary tools needed to do the job. Also we had no place to put said tools even if they where available, so I decided to m
odify the standard tool rack I developed for my workbench at home. It is a standard rack with basically vertical piece of wood between two frames, like an I beam. On each side of that vertical piece you put a collection of PVC tubing to hold whatever you want to hold. The trick is to have an idea of the tools you want to have on it and lay those out before hand, so you know what kind of tubing and how much you need. Some #6 screws, a drill press, bandsaw and CNC up the wood bits and away you go. Rubber feet on the bottom make sure it doesn’t slide away from you as you reach for that next screwdriver. The tools selected for the rack are based on my own experience in doing electronics and detail work. Precision screwdrivers are a must but so is a regular #2 Phillips and flathead. The #2 and #1 Phillips are probably used more than anything. From there it all makes sense to have enough tools but not too many. You can go crazy on the tool rack but it starts to get too large and would take over the tabletop if you let it. Keep it basic and know what you use.
I wanted to hang my most-used tools on the wall just over my workbench/desk.
Pegboard might seem like the obvious choice, but I’ve never really liked it: The hole grid dictates positions that never seem quite right, and there’s always some tool that just doesn’t work with the standard pegboard hardware. Also, that hardware can be surprisingly expensive once you get everything you need (and the extra parts you think you’ll need but never use).
At the other end of the spectrum live craftsmen who create a custom holder for each tool, complete with six coats of varnish and an elaborate french-cleat mount system. I don’t live there. Not even in the same town.
Instead, I just wanted a simple plywood board to host any random screws, nails, cup hooks, or screw eyes that do the job. Whenever the mood strikes me, I want to be able to just hang something up, without having to go find some weird hardware or make a custom fixture. I don’t want to think about it; I just want it done.
Today, in the intro to woodshop class, I spotted a 2’x4’x3/8″ plywood sheet just perfect for the job. No blue tag, so it became mine. This was my first woodworking project at AMT. I finished it in about 45 minutes this afternoon.
I wanted to stiffen it and separate it from the wall in case I drive one of those cup hooks a bit too deep. I bought two 1×2 strips at the home center and made a simple frame. It’s glued and screwed to the tool board with wood glue and #8 wood screws. I have no photos of the exciting build process, since Hugh only suggested the contest after I had it done. (He gets the laptop if I win, btw. I really don’t need two.)
The only power tools I used were the chop saw and two drills: One to drill pilot holes and the other to drive screws. Sure speeds things up. This is the kind of project that could be done at home, but it’s just so much nicer to work on a proper bench with enough clamps to hand, the extra drill, etc.
Back at my workshop/office, I discovered I no longer have a stud finder. Must’ve given that away in my
most recent purge of extraneous stuff. I borrowed a magnet from the fridge and hung it from a piece of string… which actually seemed to work better than the old stud finder. Two 3″ #8 screws hold my
board up. It seems very solid, but as I add things it might get heavy, so I’m thinking about adding a couple more. I drilled clearance holes in my board for the mounting screws, so the threads only bite into the wall studs. This way the screws can cinch the board up snug to the wall.
As you can see, I only have a few things hung so far, all with 3/4″ #6 wood screws. It took me about two minutes to do that much; I just drove the screws straight into the plywood without even bothering to drill pilot holes. The caliper is a good example of a tool that would not be convenient to hang on a pegboard, yet two screws do the job nicely on my tool board.
I still have a big mess to clean up, but I already like my tool board better than any I’ve used before. It feels nice to undercomplicate something for a change.