Saturday, June 21, 2008
Long Time Coming
Sorry to be so long in updating this, but things have ben very hectic. Last I posted, I promised to post more frequently. Oh boy was that a crock.
Anyway, as the blog is going to focus more on things of interest, here we goooooooo......
I'm going to break this post up into a couple of sections so that they are properly "classified" here in Thingamablog. As we discussed, the focus of the site is now going to be:
So read on for more of the above!
Friday, June 20, 2008
Back to the workshop....
With the kitchen remodel out of the way, it's now time to turn my attentions to the workshop and tools, languishing since Katrina.
The house we bought has an unfinished basement which I claimed as a workshop. This has taken some getting used to because there is no natural light and it shares the space with all the mechanical equipment for the house. It is also significantly smaller than the space I'm used to working, but it's bigger than the tin shed I had way back when we lived in Metairie. So particular focus has been spent on maximizing space utilization.
When I tore the old cabinets out of the kitchen I knew I wanted to be able to use them again and putting them in the basement space seemed ideal. I got about 90% of the cabinets installed against the outside wall for a lot of storage. This allowed me to start unpacking boxes of stuff from the garage in Slidell some of which I hadn't seen in nearly 3 years.
Of course I modeled the whole thing in SketchUp and this is what the workshop will look like...
You can see the cabinets on the back wall and the placement of the tablesaw on the left and the band saw and thickness planer on the right. The new Makita Sliding Compound Miter Saw from Tyler Tool is on the cabinet and further along the wall is the jointer-planer.
Looking at it from another angle shows the layout more clearly
Getting all that done, now the focus was getting the tools whose stands all perished in the flood workable again.
In a previous post I talked about the stand I wanted to build for the table saw I foresaw a problem in limited means to cut sheet material so I had designed the base primarily out of dimensional lumber. Taking the opportunity to utilize my new SketchUp skills, I migrated that design into SketchUp.
If you rememeber it looked like:
I even went so far as to by all the dimensional lumber but I just couldn't bring myself to build this. Don't know why. Last summer, I built a TV stand out of plywood for the house in Ashburn using nothing more than a circular saw, jig saw and a belt sander. Not to pat myself on the back it turned out pretty good. If I could cut the plywood for that, I could certainly cut plywood for a tablesaw stand. I decided to fall back to my original design (made form MDF, ugh) but made even more modular.
What I came up looks like this:
This is much more to my liking and it will be transportable if need be. It's made of of four boxes (two of which are identical) that I will bolt together using through fasteners. Simple yet effective and much nicer looking.
Only now what do I do with all the 2 X 4 's I bought?????
Dang. Maybe I'll give them to Habitat for Humanity with the rest of the kitchen appliances.
Stay tuned for the jointer and thickness planer stands!!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Some time back (don't remember exactly when) I was reading my monthly issue of Fine WoodWorking magazine and there was a piece about designing furniture with Google's free SketchUp 3D modeler. I read the piece with some interest as I've been designing woodworking projects in SolidWorks for a long time.
The problem is designing casual woodworking projects in SolidWorks is it's akin to taking a Formula 1 race car to get a gallon of milk at the grocery. While it certainly can be done, it's not the most cost or time efficient methodology out there. Some time back I had casually reviewed SketchUp (I honestly don't remember which version) and had been underwhelmed. In any event, I downloaded a copy and began investigating.
Spelunking around, I found some on-line tutorials and began to play with SketchUp. It's a completely different mindset than SolidWorks and no where near as powerful, but it was just the thing I was looking for to hash out casual woodworking projects. The neat thing about SketchUp is being free, an amazing user community has sprung up which includes a 3D model depositry hosted by Google.
While all this was going on, my wife and I purchased a house in Reston that is definitely a fixer upper. We knew from the outset that it was going to need a complete kitchen makeover, so I decided to use the opportunity to fold SketchUp into that process. After flailing around with a design for a while that neither Melanie nor I liked as a result of the odd dimensions we had to work with, we got the opportunity to see the kitchen of a neighbor who has a similar floor plan as ours. She had completely transformed the space into a way we hadn't imagined so we immediately asked her if we could steal the idea (which she admitted wasn't hers!). Taking the new layout the new ideas and building them into the layout I had been building of the floor space allowed us the opportunity to get a really good feel for the design. We had decided early on to use CraftMaid cabinets in the kitchen and fortunately enough CraftMaid offers 3D AutoCAD models of their cabinets which can be imported directly into SketchUp
Spending a lot of time tweaking the layout resulted in the following:
Using the basic layout, we got the cabinets ordered from Home Depot, some $15,000 worth, and began demo. Some 4 1/2 months later this is what the kitchen looks like:
Which is pretty close! SketchUp is a pretty amazing tool.
One of the things we did was open up the big space in the wall leading to the living room which greatly increased the feel of space in the kitchen. The SketchUp models really gave us a good feel for this.
Some wonderful SketchUp resources are:
- Google of course
- Go-2-School has a great series of on-line tutorials, highly recommended!
- Sketchucation has a plethora of resources including a really great forum section and some add-in Ruby scripts that are mandatory.
The one thing that SketchUp (the free version at least) doesn't do is create 3D pdf's. I got used to having those in SolidWorks and they are really great. But for the price, I can't complain!