Monday, July 15, 2013

Stabilizing the ShopStand

I carved my banjo neck using the ShopStand I bought used from a guy who wanted out of lutherie. It worked great except I used it bolted to a piece of MDF the way I acquired it. That was a pretty terrible way to work, involving a lot of shims and instability, so I figured eventually I'd bolt it to the floor. Luckily I discovered StewMac's tip to bolt it to a patio block before I started busting up the basement floor. Never content with just following directions, I had the additional idea to attach wheels to the block for portability and add a hardboard subbase so the floor doesn't get scratched.

Here it is (I probably should have had help carrying the block downstairs, but I made it):

Drilling through concrete is pretty fun. I've got no beef with the Harbor Freight rotary hammer and masonry bit set.

Outcome: sort of. It basically works and is holding together for now (that's a phrase I know from parenting).

The first problem was attaching the hardboard to the bottom. I wanted to glue it. First I tried epoxy, but that didn't work at all. Then I loaded it up with 3M Super 77, which worked for a while. It stopped working after I blasted the snot out of the block with the rotary hammer and pounded five drop-in anchors down with the setting tool. (Yes, there are only four bolts visible; the information you're missing is there is one broken bolt/anchor pair hidden in there.)

The second problem (related to the hidden hardware mentioned in the previous paragraph) is that drop-in anchors (this kind) don't work very well in soft patio block concrete! Witness this bottom-facing crater caused by the worst installation:

Anyway, like I said it works and I didn't throw out my back. I'll try to vacuum up the crater and reglue the subbase now that everything is in its place.

Clamp rack

In researching shop organization, I found plans for a rolling clamp rack with shelves that looked simple enough. My clamps were all taking up shelf space under the bench. Why not?!

It started with a trip to Menards and pile of lumber in the back of the minivan. I downgraded to red cedar 1x2s and 1x3s for the legs and shelf edges and pine plywood to keep the cost of materials reasonable. I cut the 7 degree bevels with a circular saw. The individual shelves and legs are joined with glue and a Harbor Freight brad nailer that performed admirably. The finish is four coats of shellac sprayed with an HVLP compressor gun and one coat of wipe-on poly.

Assembly was significantly more painful than anything from Ikea. For that reason (and all the other work), if you're considering this, I would first recommend checking out this rolling shoe rack from The Container Store. I discovered it in the catalog after completing the job. Who knows if it's sturdy enough for clamps, but it is on sale for about the price of my materials.