Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Spring Clear Out?

There is one resolution that I made several weeks after the arrival of the new year; when I first returned to my workshop in 2012 and realised that I really don’t have sufficient space to work in… So, although this is something that I’m sure I investigate once every six-months or so, I really need to look carefully at the machinery and power tools I currently have at my disposal… Which ones do I really need? Could I manage sufficiently without one of those? One thing I’m very short on is floor space – and that, to me, is more important than any tool that you can buy.

If you can’t move comfortably within your space then, you’re putting yourself at risk, each and every day. When you’re tackling a larger job (something too tall or wide to stand on the bench), where will you be able to work on it?

So, I’m going to look closely at some of the machines that I would consider selling, starting with my Axminster AW106PT planer/thicknesser

I can hear you! Yes, I’ve always believed this to be one of the most essential tools in any workshop (unless you enjoy preparing all your timber by hand). Personally, it saves me a lot of time and, as more of a ‘weekend woodworker’ these days, I don’t have an awful lot of that to spare, working five (four-and-a-half) days a week.

This machines has good capacities (10in wide planer/jointer, with a thicknessing depth of 7in) but, in a narrow workshop, I’ve always found it highly inconvenient to have to spin the machine 180° when changing between planing and thicknessing modes, so that the outfeed is always pointing towards my extractor.

Even if I was to run a short length of 100mm soil pipe along one of the walls so that I could connect the extractor without having to move the planer, there would still be the obstruction of the two tables, which don’t stand perfectly vertical but hang back slightly, beyond the line of the machine’s footprint. Also, the fence has to be removed and stored elsewhere.

In short, I’ve never been a great fan of combined planer/thicknesser machines and this is the second of its kind that I’ve owned. Alas, I’m rambling on without a cause here because, as you should already know, I recently bought myself a stand-alone 6in planer (jointer) and I’ve removed the tables and fence from the other machine to make that in to a reasonably quiet and sturdy thicknesser.

Although I’ve posted details of its completion on a couple of the UK woodworking forums, I haven’t yet shown you the complete table saw/router table station, which I promise I will do very soon.

That was started in November, with some hope that I’d be able to use both machines within my increasingly confined workspace. It took a while for me to finish this but, it didn’t take long at all before for me to decide that this was the first item on my list which has to go!

I’ve received one offer from an anonymous member of one UK forum (albeit, lower than my asking price) and the unit is currently on eBay as well. Last time I checked, there were five watchers with six-days still left to run. In it’s place, I’ll be making my first floor-standing router table from 18mm MDF. Slightly larger than the 600x450mm top of my old benchtop one. More on that to follow soon!

It seems hard to believe that I’ve had the monstrous Startrite 401e bandsaw in my workshop for over two-years now. I still remember the day it was delivered… Stood vertically on its pallet, it almost fell off the lorry as the tail-lift was lowered! As it was too tall to fit under the door, we had to leave it on the drive way until I could claim further assistance – with snow falling from the sky above, the race was on for me to get  it ‘weatherproofed’ with tarpaulins and ratchet straps. Oh, how the Black and Decker Workmate did suffer, as we slid the saw in to its new home…! 😉

You see, I know that, one day, I’m going to have to go through much of that all over again! Why wait until I move (whenever that may be)? Why not just replace it with a smaller model right now and get it all over and done with?!

When it’s set just right, it is a beautiful saw, capable of ripping through the deepest of timbers. I’ve successfully cut oak veneers around 8in deep and yet, it still leaves me with the impression that it is capable of so much more. With the imminent sale of my small table saw looming, it will always be the main ‘workhorse’ of my workshop. I guess I would be made to sell it now, after all. 😛

As far as drilling machines go, I’m quite happy with both my pillar drill and hollow-chisel mortiser. Neither commands much of a resting space and they’re not the sort of tools I’d like to buy again.

I’ve spent the last year or so toying with the idea of upgrading my Makita LS1013 mitre saw. It’s not essential and, of course, I’d only be buying something similar to serve the same purpose. It would be nice to have a saw (like the LS1016L) with a crisp, accurate laser line and space-saving rails around the back. But, I cannot quantify this one as an ‘essential’ for sale item.

Staying at the same end of my workshop, I have a 12in Hegner disc sander sat on top of an Axminster M900 woodturning lathe – that, alone, should tell you something!! I’ve talked before (back in November) about replacing the disc sander with an edge sander of some kind but, do I really need a lathe of this size? It’s rarely used but still, I can’t deny that it’s sometimes useful to have one. Maybe one day I’ll get bitten by the woodturning bug… This very morning, I received an e-mail from someone (initially asking for firewood) who may be in need of my ‘turning services as he looks to replace the broken rail on a chair.

I’d certainly consider down-grading my lathe but, still feel as though I need a sander of some sort for sanding external curves and convex edges.

Unless I’ve forgotten anything (I’m not including the extractors or my WorkSharp 3000), that leaves only my bobbin sander; the Jet JBOS-5. Yes, I could always make-do with a similar set up in my pillar drill. This one is a bit of a luxury item but, in all honesty, it doesn’t consume much space at all and almost slots away beside my mitre saw station rather neatly.

My table saw/router table is already receiving interest on eBay. Before I make any other decisions, I’ll see what space it frees up and will also try to crack on with the design for the router table, so that I can (speaking figuratively) hit the ground running as soon as the big one is gone. There are a couple of power tools that I’ve ear-marked for sale but, perhaps I’ll save that for another post, hey! 🙂

Thanks for reading.


4 responses to “Spring Clear Out?

  1. John 03/04/2012 at 22:30

    Hi Olly,

    I’m following this topic with interest.

    As you know I’m beginning to build myself a workshop in a single garage and I’m keen not to do my usual trick of spending money I can ill afford on things I won’t use very much!

    I’m wondering whether a morticer which I could also use for drilling and a 10″ to 14″ bandsaw (preferably something with a 6″ or 8″ depth of cut) would suffice (plus some extraction/filtering).

    I’m interested – if you could only have 3 machines what would you choose?


    • Olly Parry-Jones 04/04/2012 at 18:19

      Hi John,

      Three machines:

      Bandsaw – you can rip timber, sheet materials and cut curves. It’s often regarded as being ‘safer’ than a table saw, regardless of the ‘inferior’ quality of the finished cut.

      Pillar drill – for obvious reasons! You could also use it to remove the bulk of your waste when mortising and it’ll make light work of drilling larger holes, which can be surprisingly hard, if you’d ever attempted it with a hand-held drill of any kind!

      Thicknesser – to some extent, I believe you can survive without a planer/jointer, if you really had to. But, a thicknesser is a real work-horse. Flattening one face and squaring an edge to it is achievable with hand tools. But, doing the donkey work and removing several millimetres of thickness – that, is where you really need the benefit of a machine!

      …If I could add two power tools to that list, I’d go for a router (possibly ½in) and a circular saw (skil saw).

      Some mortisers can also be used as drilling machines but, they’re only single speed and you’re quite limited by the capacities.

      • John 04/04/2012 at 23:46

        Thanks Olly,

        I guessed you’d choose the bandsaw, but it’s interesting to see your other two.

        I was thinking that a morticer acting as a drill would be better than a drill acting as a morticer, but your point about speeds is a good one and forstner bit plus chisel and mallet will always be an option (plus the lack of table rotation may prove limiting, I suppose).

        Do you think you may end up with your 6″ planer plus a bench thicknesser, or are you more likely to revert to using your 106 for both?

        As you know, for me the planer-thicknesser choice boiled down to the SIP at 8″x8″ and the Fox at 10″x5″ PxT max capacities. I may live to regret not choosing the Fox, but I don’t think. I could have gone too far wrong with either.


      • Olly Parry-Jones 05/04/2012 at 18:47

        For as long as I can, I’d definitely like to keep the planer and intend to use the AW106PT solely as a thicknesser. I’ve not yet seen a bench-top with a anything other than a loud brush motor. Planers and thicknesser make enough noise when they’re cutting. I greatly dislike any tools that make a racket while they’re simply running free from load.

        Once I’ve sold the TS/RT station, I should have enough room to use both planing machines, even after I’ve built the new router table.

I welcome your thoughts.

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