Tuesday, September 9, 2014

dock box carpentry

There was a time when I had an oversized garage with a table saw and a long workbench with a drill press, belt sander, vise and rows of drawers filled with a variety of tools. Now, instead of a garage, we have a dock box and the trunk of our car. I thought that there might be some interest in the simplified set of tools that I am using, a cordless drill, circular saw and router.

This is my combination table saw and router table. It is a simple plywood construction shown with the circular saw mounted underneath. The trigger on the saw is not easily accessible or lockable. So, I strapped it down with a tie wrap and the saw is turned on and off by plugging and unplugging the power cord. I know that this is unsafe on a variety of levels but knowing that is exactly what makes me doubly cautious. Plus, the circular saw is not nearly as powerful as a real table saw and not as likely to kick back violently. So far, I have had no accidents or even a close call.

I mounted the saw under the table such that the edge of the saw's base is parallel to the table edge. After making a plunge cut to bring the blade through the table top, I laid a guideline the full length of the table that is aligned with the side of the blade. I measure and make marks relative to the guideline at both ends of the table and clamp a board on the marks to serve as a rip fence. It's a little tedious but works very well.

A piece of half inch plywood screwed at a 90 degree angle to a 1x2 inch rail that rides against the edge of the table makes a usable mitre guide. I added a strip of wood to the top to clamp stop blocks for repeated cuts.

This the same table with the router mounted underneath. The clamped on fence and miter guide are useful with the router as well. With a 1/2x1 inch straight bit and 1/4 and 1/2 inch quarter-round bits, I can make all of the joints and decorative cuts that I need for boat projects.

This is my favorite new tool, a portable drill press. Our rigger let me use the real drill press in his shop to drill a variety of holes through a 3/4x2 inch strip of teak which I use as a drilling guide.

There is something about my "no line" glasses that makes it impossible for me to line the drill up for a hole perpendicular to a surface. The drilling guide is a huge help.

This is another indispensable tool that I use often. Many times, the most difficult part of a job is just getting the workpiece to stay put while you hammer, drill or file on it. A solid vice can be a life saver. This one is mounted a 1 1/2 inch ash board. The board has feet at both ends so that work can be clamped directly to the board as well as in the vice.

For me, the key to getting reasonably accurate work is to build a jig for everything. This a drilling jig that I used to locate the holes for hinge pins in a spice rack project.

With patience (the really hard part), you can finish projects that you can be happy with, even though the tools that you are using are limited.


Anonymous said...

Very smart, Walt. I like the multi-purposing of several tools and minimal materials. Does your table disassemble for stowage?

I've thought of doing something similar, but have difficulty getting cuts accurate enough to use as a reference for other work. Unless I do them on a. . . table saw! I still own a cheap table saw and live in a house, so it's really not an issue, I guess.

You might have success and satisfy safety concerns by plugging your saw into a power strip and using the switch on it for on/off. Mounted on the table's side, or even left on the ground and operated with your foot could be more convenient. Or more dangerous, who knows!?


mikeroddy said...

Really enjoyed this post. Found it from smallboatprojects.blogspot.com. Love your resourcefulness. I have a Pearson Triton and in the midst of a restoration I often think about how much easier it would be to have big, stationary shop tools... but better to get creative than pine for what is not to be on a dock.


Karen said...

Great article, great pictures!

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