The Drill Press

The drill press was overlooked in my shop for many years, presuming I could do just fine without another tool. Now, that I’m wiser, it seems apparent to share why I now own a drill press and urge you should too.

Drill presses to start are precision machined tools. And, as such, they are capable of WEN drill press
drilling holes in precise locations at accurate and repeatable depths.

If/when you’re in the market to purchase a drill press there are a few items to determine before your purchase.

CHUCK: likely the most important aspect to quality of your drill press, its quality can vary between machines. I suggest selecting a drill press who’s chuck operates smoothly from being drawn to its smallest size to its largest. Be sure to check all key holes, as they must all work the same. Additionally, check the runout (wobble) of the chuck, as its vital to the accuracy of the resulting hole. The runout should be minimal throughout the entire extension of the chuck’s vertical (quill stroke) movement.

QUILL LENGTH: while you get what you get, ensure you’re choosing wisely. Check the actual working length of the quill. As I found out, the actual length versus the stated length differed a lot. Please choose carefully!

TABLE SIZE: Yes, it makes a difference! While there are some great options for drill press tables, that help hold larger pieces of material, there will likely be times, you need to use only the table that came with the drill press. Please make sure you choose the best size for your work.

TABLE MOVEMENT: A lot of bench top drill presses don’t have a geared vertical movement. Having a geared movement helps with ease of use if you’re trying to adjust a small amount for your work.

HEAD & POST: The distance between the post (vertical item connecting the base to the motor/chuck assembly) and the chuck will control the distance from the edge you can drill your work. Measure the distance and determine which product offers the best fit for your style of projects.

QUILL LOCK: Crazy important! Quill locks vary greatly from machine to machine. I suggest you look for a quill lock that’s reliable, has fine tuning and is easy to see while working. As you’ll find, not all quill locks are made equal.

MOTOR CAPACITY: Like all other aspects already highlighted, the capacity of the motor (horse power) will control the size of work you can safely handle the drill press. Yes, the sharpness of the drill and the amount of available current also affect the operation, however each of them can be adapted to aide the operation of the drill press. Again, please choose wisely.

SPEED: Most drill presses are belt driven. Some have limited speeds due to the number of pulleys available to change the chuck speed. If your project are made up of a variety of woods, having the flexibility of speed options will help your projects be more enjoyable.

ON/OFF: WHERE’S THE OFF SWITCH?! Isn’t something you want to think of have someone ask you. Choose a machine that has its power switch close by for safety sake!

BENCHTOP OR FREESTANDING: This question is likely answered for you by your shop Freestanding drill pressfloor plan and project types. Either will allow sitting or standing. While the benchtop has the flexibility of being tucked away when not needed, its quill length is less than the freestanding models. Inverse to the benchtop, the freestanding will need dedicated floor space, its style can handle much taller materials.

Like all choices we make for our shops, studying, reviewing and testing the options for a drill press are vital to selecting the best fit for you and your shop.

Happy woodworking!!

Thoughts and suggestions…email

Wood Shop Comfort

Our shops MUST be comfortable. They must be warm during cold days and cool during hot days. Astounding statement…right?

Okay, after once you’re through laughing, let’s discuss the importance of heat/cool for our shops. Possibly, all of you believed the importance of the comfort of our shop is for us the woodworker.? If so, you 50% correct! That’s much better then being 10% correct, so congratulations. While we humans are important, our tools, the ones that transform the raw materials into our final products, they need to be comfortable too.

The conditions of our shops, weather hot/muggy or cold/dry just as they affect our bodies, and transforms us into lethargy and carelessness. Our equipment is affected similarly. Maintaining a comfortable shop helps our shops run smoother, resulting in great memories and projects.

While air conditioners and heaters would be our default sources to manage the comfort zone of our shops, there’s another element that is a bit more cost effective and would help in the overall cost of running our shops. Insulation, is the best defense to managing the heat and coolness of our shops. Insulated floors, ceilings and walls if vital to keep the conditions in the shop stabilized. The amount of insulation needed for your shop differs by your geographic location. Recommended R-values vary based on average outside temperature, relative to suggested conditions for our living spaces.

Once you have the correct insulation packed into the floor, ceiling and wall cavities, finding the correct size of heat and cooling unit(s) is the next step. Air conditioners and fuel heaters would likely be the next thought for managing air comfort. However, lets look at one more item before employing their uses.
Have you thought of fans!? Depending on the available shop space, a ceiling or wall
Ceiling fanmounted fan would be very effective to managing heat and cool air by Floor fancirculating and maintaining comfort. A ceiling mounted fan will push hot air down, helping with heat loss. Floor models, are very useful moving air too, especially if you’re limited on ceiling height.

Now, that we’ve looked at some great ways to maintain a comfortable shop with low cost Wood stoveideas, we now need to look at ways to use alternative heat sources. I’ve always loved the crackling of wood, and our shops likely have wood scraps,
so why not put a wood stove in our shops? Outside of the risk of burning down our shops due to having an open flame near a lot of fuel, I personally feel its a great source.Gas heater

Alternatives to wood stove units, there are a variety of electric and gas equipment to heat the air for comfort. They’re use can easily maintain a level of consistency, especially when used with a ceiling fan, and a thermostat.

Wall mount ACAir conditioners, are awesome! I love their cold air! However, I hate their energy costs. However, theirs a high degree of comfort provided by their use. Like the heat sources, using a ceiling fan can/will help maintain comfort throughout your shop.

There are a variety of ways to maintain comfortable wood shops. Based on my experience, combining forces will help with shop costs and create an environment you and friends will want to enjoy while working on projects.

Thanks for reading!

Thoughts and suggestions…email

Wood Shop Layout

Wood shop layout seems to be a bit of a misnomer. As a woodworker, all we want to do is build great projects!

One of my most favorite sayings, although it gives me a shutter each time I say it, “How You Do Anything Is How You Do Anything”.

If that’s true…applying that logic to our shops…if its not organized and clean, we’re screwed!

I’m not suggesting less efficient shops result in terrible and ugly projects, however I’m noting the process through which a project is built, and its final product, could have been completed for efficiently.

Personally, I can attest to enjoying a wood working project…any project for that matter…when the area around me is comfortable and efficient.

Last week, I posted many items related to planning a shop that’s efficient and well planned.

Based on interest in those shared videos, you’re looking for ideas, tools and suggestions.

While all of our shops have many items that are standard, the footprint of our shops is not typical.

To learn more about shop plans and layout, here’s a list of books and sites to help:

How to Design and Built Your Ideal Woodshop

Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building You

Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop

Shop Improvements: Great Designs from Fine Woodworking

Thanks for reading!

Thoughts and suggestions…email

Wood planer

With table saws, any board length can be achieved simply by measuring and cutting. Making a cylindrical project is achieved by using a lathe. Making a board flat MUST be done with a plane!

Prior to “modern” woodworking, a hand plane was the tool used to make a board flat, along with sanding. Today, while hand planes are still vital for our shops, the use of thickness planers is very popular.

A thickness planer has three main parts. The cutter head, which houses the knives, two rollers which move from one side of the machine to the other and a table, located below the roller and knives, which is adjustable to control the resultant thickness of the board.stationary-plane

Our shops will likely consist of two types of planers. The stationary cabinet style, comprising of its own base, heavy comparatively and much larger than a portable type.

With the advent of modern science…actually market demand, a lighter portable-planemore portable version of this planer has become available. The portable version, like the one shown here, maintains the same capabilities as its stationary cousin, while making planing rough lumber a bit more economical.

Operating the planer is relatively straight forward. The amount of material being removed is controlled by raising/lowering the cutter head. Feeding the board into the machine is controlled by the roller and head speed. This operation, similar to the hand plane, may take a number of passes and adjusting the cutter to get to the desired thickness and/or parallel surface results.

The plan is that the board that comes out of the machine flat/parallel. However, there is asnipe
condition you need to watch for, unlike the hand plane, which is called snipe. Snipe, while not desired, can be controlled by adjusting the tables at each end of the planer, adjusting the roller heights or planing for the snipe by planing a board longer then needed and cutting off the excess.

Thanks for reading! I trust this was helpful. If you need help finding a planer or have thoughts about this blog, please send to

Wood lathe choices

Just as handsaws have been disproportionately used less with the advent of circular and table saws, the treadle lathe has been replaced with electric lathes.

Lathes are used for a variety of  woodworking projects. Pens, bowls, chair legs and parts for furniture are a few popular projects that we woodworkers use a lathe to sculpt. Image result for wood lathe images

Choosing a lathe is the first and most critical step, ensuring a functional tool for the type of work you’re planning. The length and diameter a lathe can effectively accept is the biggest and most important decision.

Couple references that will help in your choosing the correct size lathe:

Swing – a 12” swing over the bed (bottom), means the distance from the bed to the center of the chuck is 6”. So, the largest diameter of piece you can turn is 12”.

If all you’re turning pens, you don’t need a full size lathe. Any bench top type will work. The bench top usually can handle 8” to 15” lengths. Turning larger projects will require a full size lathe and the most common is a 12” x 36”. And, if you’re turning bowls, you will want a lathe with a swiveling head or out board spindle.Image result for wood lathe images

Let’s talk speed. Typically, more speeds is better. If you’re turning big stock or roughing a piece, you’ll need to use a slow speed for safety’s sake. The smaller the diameter or as you finish the piece, the faster you go the better!

Select a lathe with at least four speeds. The slowest speed you’ll need is at least 600 rpm and the fastest would be near 3200 to 4000 rpm. Fancy variable speed models can select from zero to top speed and anything between.

The structure of the lathe is fundamentally important. Small lathes can have aluminum beds. However, beds are commonly cast iron or steel. The material a bed determines how strong and rigid the lathe is and how well is performs with pressure and vibration. A few notes; single piece construction is best and a two-piece bed is less appealing.

Accessories are important. There are a few items needing prior planning before selecting your lathe; some tools only fit on specific beds. If your work requires a duplicator, ensure
that tool is available for the machine you like.

When selecting, check these items too; the two flat sides on the bed run parallel to each other, the head-stock and tail-stock are in functioning shape. Many parts will be made of castings, ensure they are of good quality and are free from cracks. The other major part of Image result for wood lathe imagesthe lathe is the head and tail stocks. Inspecting the strength and viability of their materials will result in quality finished materials.

Motor sizes typically range from the 1/8 horsepower (hp) to 2hp. Common hobby motor size is 1/2hp to 1hp.

Woodworking Lathe Check List

  1. Bed size: 8” to 43” long
  2. Swing size: 3” to 20”
  3. Motor size: 1/8hp up to 2hp
  4. Speed: 600 to 4000rpm. (don’t get a single speed lathe! you’ll end up poking your eyes out!)
  5. Model: Bench or floor (this decision is driven by space available and project requirements)
  6. Bed: Must be stable and solid. (single piece is better than two-piece)
  7. Head stock: swivel is best
  8. Check for high quality materials and defects


Table saw

The table saw, probably the most vital tool the average woodworker uses, comes in many forms.

Determining the correct size you’ll need to largely dependent on the work you do and the available space in your shop.

There are 3 table saw categories:

  1. Bench top
  2. Contractor
  3. Cabinet

All three could work in a wood shop and all have varying abilities. Choosing the correct one is likely derived by type of work, budget and available shop space.

Bench top table saws are the lightest, under 65 pounds, are used by contractors on job sitesDEWALT DWE7480
due to their weight and easy set up. The depth of their cut is determined by the blade size, which is limited by the housing about the blade. The bench top saw likely has a fence for guiding straight cuts.
Bosch 4100-09Contractor table saws are a lot heavier then the bench top saw. While the weight is a major factor, there is a benefit to the weight, in that it the saw can take for abuse and handle larger jobs with its table size. The contractor saw fence in usually higher grade than the bench top style, which helps with accuracy.

The world of wood working changes with  our next type… the cabinet saw. The cabinet saw has quite a few appealing advantages over its cousins. First, their footprint is much smaller. Second, their table is bigger. Third, their built of materials of higher quality, as their designed to last a long time! The cabinet saw isn’t designed to be moved to job sitesSawStop PCS31230-TGP236, like the bench and contractor saws. Their weight acts as a deterrent to moving them around. And, also serves the user with many years of use and accuracy. As highlighted for the prior saws, the cabinet saw has a accurate and reliable fence. The strength and accuracy of the cabinet saw creates a desire by most woodworking enthusiasts to someday have one in their shop.

To sum up our thoughts, the best saw for a shop with limited space is the bench top. With more room and/or a desire to combine with a router, the contractor’s saw, on a mobile base. If/when you have room for a cabinet saw, the investment will last longer and the affect on accuracy is dramatically increased.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this topic.

Please send topic recommendations to

Happy Wood Working!

Wood Joinery

Wood joinery is a fascinating topic and process. Unlike poor constructed furniture that’s constructed as to be replaced within a few years, proper joinery makes a solid piece that will be cherished for decades.

There are a few joints that are quick, simple and effective. Half-Lap and Rabbet joints are great to reinforce corners, along with glue and hardware, and are quick to make and construct. These joints strengthen the corners and create a piece of lasting furniture.

Depending on the application and skill of the craftsman, there are other joints that are strong and very beautiful. Box and Through Dovetail joints look similar, however their construction is quite different. Depending on their visibility, their “finger” look can add character to any piece of furniture and are extremely strong!

Hidden joints such as Mortise & Tenon, Tongue & Groove, Biscuit, Pocket and Dado are great versions that add strength and stability without showing exactly how the corners are constructed…adding a little secret to the furniture.

This type of joinery in some cases is challenging to layout, an adventure to make, strong for longevity and fun to teach. I hope you try all of them as you grow in your craftsmanship journey.