Sometimes I like to build and design on the fly. When I do, I often work at making it a challenge for myself by creating some parameters. Here is a typical list:
- It must serve some purpose.
- It should have as few parts as possible to serve that purpose.
- I can only use materials already available in my garage.
- Do my best to use materials “as is” instead of custom cutting everything.
- Initial idea to finished product can only take … (usually an hour up to an afternoon, depending).
I’ll be the first to admit not everything that comes out of this process is a gem. I have, however, solved some interesting problems in this way.
Case in point – I bought a Triton MSA 200 Multi-Stand. My initial purpose for this devise was to catch long boards coming off of my table saw. It can adjust to different heights and angles, but the interesting thing about this particular stand is it’s ability to clamp boards. I asked myself, “How can I take advantage of the clamp to make the stand more useful?”
Project purpose: A removable tabletop to set tools out of the way while I’m working on a project. Sides on the table would keep items from rolling off and hitting the floor.
Number of parts: 6 – 1 table top, 4 sides, and 1 part to clamp in the jaws.
Materials in the garage: I came across a square piece of 1/4″ plywood leftover from another project for the table top, two stray strips of 3/4″ plywood for the sides, and a chunk of 2×4 needed for the clamp the stand.
Using materials: The 1/4″ plywood could be used as I found it. The 2 strips of plywood needed to be ripped in half to give me the 4 sides. From there I’d need some dadoes along the lengths and miters on the corners. The 2×4 chunk just needed the edges squared up on the table saw.
Amount of time: I couldn’t see why this would take more than one or two hours (not counting glue drying time).
After squaring up the 2×4, I screwed it to the bottom of the plywood table base so I could clamp the whole thing in the Triton and complete assembly of the sides.
Next I ripped the plywood strips in half to create the 4 sides. Using dadoes would allow me to glue the sides on easier and I wouldn’t need any nails. Being under my self imposed time limit, I chose not to set up my dado stack and instead ran all 4 pieces over the table saw twice, moving my rip fence over 1/8″ on the second run to get the 1/4″ width I needed. I took two of the sides, marked where the 45 degree miters would go, cut the miters, and glued them to the table on opposite sides. So far, so good.
When the glue was dry enough, I cut the 45 degree miters on the other two sides and attempted to place them along the table. Here’s where things got difficult. They didn’t fit. I had gauged the first two sides correctly … if I had not decided to cut dadoes. They were too long and would not allow the the second two sides to fit correctly.
Suddenly this was taking too long and felt more like work than fun. Rip off the glued-on sides and use something else? I couldn’t take parts off without causing damage. Toss the whole thing across the garage and forget it? Even though my self-imposed timer was tic, tic, ticking along, I wanted to see it through.
The solution: My 45 degree miters would become rabbet corners. The glued-on sides would have to be cut flush with the edges, and there would be enough length on the second pair of sides to cut the rabbets.
The sides wouldn’t allow the project to sit flat on my table saw, but after some careful balancing, using of my rip fence as a guide, I managed to get them flush. Once the rabbets in the second pair of sides were complete — Voila! I had tight-fitting 90 degree rabbeted corner joints and a tool table that took about 4 hours total.