Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Ok -- it's the little things in life that sometimes gives me a little joy. One of those things was getting my grandfather's ShopSmith finally up and operational. My dad had gotten it and had rebuilt the speed changer and added wheels to it, but then decided to just get a brand new one with all the goodies. I finally got it all setup with the newly welded legs and was just itching to cut anything. I found a little 1x2 board in the garage and plunked it down on the miter guage holder. I put it forward into the blade and it was jumping up and down and not at all happy. I tried it again and was met with the same issue, so I decided I'd quit while I still had all ten fingers . . . Peggy appreciates that aspect. :-)

I went back upstairs to read the manuals again and this time I caught one little point that I remember my dad remarking on -- the way the blade was facing on the arbor (attaching it to the machine). He said it was backwards, and sure enough, I double checked it and it was. I don't know how long it had been like that, as he had just boxed up what he could find and brought it from my grandparents home. With some quick action on the arbor flipping I was back in business and soon had a perfectly cut piece of wood. Yea!

Peggy and I have been planning to build some nice book cases for the basement to handle all of the books we have, but I think our first "get our feet wet" project might be something simpler, like perhaps a roll-out pantry for in the kitchen. That's something I've always wanted to tackle, and I think that it would be just enough to let me get a feel for how the thing should work and that. I'm thinking of a lot of different gift ideas for Christmas also . . . some other ways to see how this thing works and that. I'm quite excited to do some projects, because I've been kind of limited by the tools I had available to me. Now I have quite a selection of tools for accomplishing a wide variety of things. The only remaining thing to get is time!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New toy

This is my newest toy, it's my grandfather's ShopSmith. It's a 1985 model that he bought used about several years before he passed away. My dad got it and rebuilt it and was going to use it, but then he decided to just go and buy a whole new setup. I helped them sell a wood stove and had been hinting that I was looking for one and he said once things were all settled I could have it. Well, on my birthday my parents came over and Peggy hinted to have them bring it over. (The papers on the floor was from a batten board painting project.)

The only problem with the ShopSmith was in my grandfather's basement, the legs on one side were continually exposed to water and rusted away. I have been watching on Craigslist for parts/pieces for these and thought I found a really good deal one day. I had emailed/called on one particular ShopSmith in Kingsville, MO. One night Peggy and I drove out in the pickup truck to see the $100 special. First of all, any directions that involve "turn at the hood in the yard" should give you a little clue on what is up. The end panels on the $100 Craigslist one were ok, but the rest of it was totally trash, the aluminum tables were so badly pitted it wasn't even funny. The guy wasn't there when I showed up, so I don't know if he would have accepted $25 for the unit or not . . . because that's all it was worth!

So my thoughts of getting another end panel faded, so I came up with a better solution. I was considering some fancy metal work, but then opted for the brute force method. I took two peices of angle iron and welded them onto the end panel where I cut away rusted metal. (It ended up about 3 inches shorter when all the bad metal was removed.) I checked my work, and found that even though I carefully angled the ends on the iron, the Shopsmith was still only touching the floor at the highest spot, hence it could scoot around a bit on the concrete floor. I decided that the legs could have been just a tad longer, so I took another piece of angle iron and put it across the two legs and welded it together when the angle iron on the floor. That gave a much wider base and tied the two legs together. The wheels on the ShopSmith helped in that regard, but now the tie-in really makes the unit solid.

The best part of the whole experience was spending time with Peggy in the garage. She got to watch me weld with the old mask I had, while I tried out the new welding mask. My old mask had quit "lightening" and was stuck permanently dark. That's great if you can weld in the dark, but I have a problem getting the MIG gun and sparks going all in the right direction. It was great for Peggy though because she could watch, and she even said she would like to give it a whirl!

So that's the latest and greatest in the garage right now. All this is actually preparation so that we can start building some new book shelves for in the basement. This has been like a series of dominoes in the chain of events that needs to happen. I needed the ShopSmith to build the shelves, and once I got it I needed the welding mask to fix the leg. Now I've got the leg fixed, and I also bought a used router also to help out with the project.

After the ShopSmith experience, we were a bit hesitant on finding another good deal, but thankfully we did find one. I finally stopped by the person who was selling it and found a very nice Sears Router in a case with some new bits. I was going to haggle a bit on the price, but the seller was getting rid of it because her dad was in hospice care. As Dave Ramsey says, there are good deals, and there are times to know when you known you don't need a good deal. I opted for the full purchase price of $50, which was still a great deal with the bits. I like to have a clear conscience.