Friday, November 21, 2008

Odd note...

For those who are curious, all of the new shop pictures to date have been taken with my iPhone. The camera in that thing is pretty good... but clearly the daytime pictures have turned out better. The pictures in that last post were taken tonight, and the fluorescent light isn't doing anyone any favors. This picture, on the other hand, was taken a few days ago, in broad daylight. For a phone, I think the picture quality is pretty good.

A place for everything... almost.

So, this week, we got our hands on some used pallet racks, and we set them up for plywood storage. We'd planned for a while to set up some sort of rack to handle this kind of thing, and to designate part of the bench room as materials storage. We got the lumber rack up weeks ago, and finally got it secured recently. And I got a bunch of lumber moved from pallet storage to lumber rack storage. I think it still needs to be arranged to be more accessible by species, so I don't have to juggle a huge pile to get to the boards that I want. But it's no longer on a pallet, which is progress.

Chris is starting to wind down his adventure with the table saw, but he's ventured into a whole other world with his jointer. He's taken it completely apart, and he's going to strip it down this weekend and repaint it. The table saw needed new bearings, which he got, and pressed onto the shaft. He'll have the saw up and running sometime next week, I'm sure. The jointer... we'll see what happens there.

My space has started to settle into a workable configuration. I rearranged it a little bit, and from here on out, the major work that needs to be done is on a detail level, getting things put away, sorted out, and so forth. I also need to look into things like filing cabinets, to be able to put things away that need putting away. I've worked out a design for a new bench, which will be fun to build, I think. Nothing ground breaking, but it'll have a few new things for me to get used to, and it'll be narrower from front to back, which will make some things easier to get done, I think.

Tonight, Don and I came close to wrapping up construction of the frame for the third of what will be three assembly tables. Two of them will be 4 foot square, and the frames for those are done. They still require tops and shelves, but the frames are assembled and mobile. The third one will be 4'x8', and it's overbuilt, so that we can use it to move heavy loads of lumber from the loading dock, onto the elevator, and up to the space, in a pretty easy fashion. To date, we've been loading plywood onto pallets in an offset kind of way, and trying to get the pallet jack, which has 4 foot forks, to move a stack that's 8 feet long... with limited success. Previous carts were undersized, and difficult to control. This table is big, with casters that are rated for heavy loads, and large wheels to make it easy to cross the seam between the floor and the elevator. It's not fully assembled yet, we ran out of lag bolts. But it's getting there. When they're not being used, the assembly tables will be stored under the bottom shelves of the plywood rack.

The end of shop construction is in sight, which is good news. There are still a few big projects to be wrapped up, but the major stuff is almost done. Soon, there will be industrial lighting in the machine room, too, and then we'll be able to put the outfeed table for the table saws in place. The radial arm saw station needs to be shimmed, and surfaced with masonite. The floor needs to be sanded and refinished, too. But ductwork is just about complete, and we'll soon know for sure if the dust collection system is up to the task of taking care of such a large shop. But even if we do need to get a bigger cyclone system, it won't be too long until everything we need is up and running. After that, it won't be long before the kinks are worked out of various small systems, and we'll be ready to start getting profitable work done. It'll be a good feeling.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Current State of Affairs

So, I finally got around to taking pictures today. Basically, the shop is kind of a mess. We're in an in-between stage. We've gotten a lot done, and the shop is almost there. We still have a list of things to get done, but the big things that will provide functionality are almost finished.

Tonight, Don and I broke down a stack of plywood and 2x4s that was sitting across sawhorses, and had become sort of a workstation on its own. Originally, it was a pile of materials to work from, but it just sort of settled in for a while while we were working on benches and work surfaces to be used around the shop. So, it's been there for a few weeks. Don and I had gotten the frame close to wrapped up for a large outfeed surface for our table saws, and realized that the pile on the sawhorses had diminished enough that we could dispense with the whole thing entirely. And like that, 32 more square feet of workspace cleared up, and the shop opened up a little more.

But even though things are coming so close to being workable, it's still largely a contingency-based arrangement. For instance, the current chop saw station is actually arranged on top of my table saw. A saw used as a space to use a saw... the irony of it. A couple of scraps are nailed together to provide support for long pieces hanging off of the chop saw, and a couple more scraps are nailed together, and they get strap-clamped to the extension table to allow accurate repetitive cuts. All of this cobbled together improvised work is happening on top of a Saw Stop table saw, which is a great and accurate piece of equipment in its own right.

My space in the bench room is a mess. I have a small bench out to work on, the desk I'm using for general organization and officey type stuff is on the floor, and there's an auxiliary bench set up to hold various things as work is being done. And I have wall shelves mounted, and some other things in place. But there's still some tweaking to be done, and I think some of the big things will get rearranged a little bit.

Ductwork is almost complete in the machine room, which is good. We're hoping the dust collectors we have are strong enough to do what they need to do, because otherwise we'll need to get something bigger to service the whole shop. This is a hard thing to contemplate, since we already have to lay out for plumbing to be done in the finishing room, because of the loft.

This is the loft. This is the reason we need a plumber. Before, we just had the office, and it had a drop ceiling. The ceiling tiles were made of a material that would dissolve if it got wet, which means the general sprinkler system would dissolve the tiles, and put out any fires that were in the office. But now that we have the loft in place, the plywood that's there will get in the way of any water coming down, so we need sprinklers inside the room. It'll be a great storage space up top, but we hadn't really considered the sprinkler thing before, so that's going to cost us a goodly chunk of change.

Bit by bit though, it's all coming together.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Missed a week in there somewhere...

So, it's been a couple of weeks. Last weekend I was in NJ, helping my best friend get hitched. Great time had by all. :)

No pictures this week, because I'm retarded, and haven't taken any. I'll try to get a few put up on Monday. Basically, we've moved into the bench room, and the nice clean floor now has stuff on it, like benches and work tables. We also put up a loft on top of the finishing room... and promptly got noticed by Jim, who pointed out that we might need to get sprinklers inside, once the loft was up. The way it was before, it was an office, with a drop ceiling, that had dissolvable panels, in case the sprinklers went off. So we made a few calls, and it looks like we're going to need to get sprinklers installed in the finishing room. It's the right thing to do, but it's going to be expensive. Oops.

And another thing... while Chris was sawing panels for the floor for the loft, I noticed that the nice new floor got slippery pretty quickly with dust on it. We're still talking about redoing the floor in the machine room... but I think that if we do, we're going to have to mix some sand in with the finish. It won't go down as easily, I don't think, with sand in it, but it'll keep the floor nice and grippy... which is important when you're standing at a machine.

Harvey has been notably reclusive this week, and we're starting to wonder what he's up to. Normally he hangs out on the peak of (what I'm guessing is) the elevator shaft of the building across the way, and we can see him up there looking around at his demesne. But lately at dusk there have been huge murders of crows flying by, and he just hasn't been in plain sight. It's possible that the pair has migrated away, but this late in the season...? Who knows. Maybe they just moved to a different building that has a more convenient heating vent. I just did a quick bit of research... turns out Peregrines were taken off of the endangered species list 9 years ago. Still, it's good to see them around.

What else is going on...

Chris took one of the armatures out of his Oliver table saw. When we fired it up this week, it made an awful sound, turns out it had a bad bearing. So Chris dismantled the motor for that arbor, and pulled the bearing off on Friday night. I was impressed... it's a huge bearing. Certainly bigger than the wheel bearings on my pickup truck. Chris' saw is a really impressive piece of work in general, and I have to say, I'm a little envious. I'll put up a post about that later this week, even though it's not my saw, so I feel a little weird writing about it. Still, it's part of the shop, and I think it's cool. And really, Harvey doesn't belong to me either, but I don't feel bad writing about him.

We've in the final stages of setting up shop. We're putting up ductwork for dust collection. Wiring of the space is almost complete, we're just waiting on HPS lights for the machine room, since it's still really dark as the sun goes down. This afternoon I dropped in and transferred my lumber from a pallet, up onto the lumber racks that we stabilized on Friday. And I put some shelves up by my space in the bench room. We have a small list of things that we want or have to do, but it's a shrinking list. It's looking like the shop will be up and running in the very near future.

Then I get to start building things again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shiny new floors, and moving a little farther forward

So, to the left is a picture of Chris and Don sanding the grime from the floor. It's a pretty good shot to show how grimy everything was. If you click on the picture, you'll see a few details. First, there's a clear demarcation between the unsanded, darker surface in the foreground, and the clean surface that's left behind. Chris is working the belt sander. Don is behind chris, pulling a dolly that has a shop vac to collect all the dust raised by the belt sander, and a drum that's hooked into the vacuum hose to separate out the bulk of the waste, to help keep the vac from filling up.

To the right is the new, finished floor. Night and Day, I'm telling ya.

Speaking of night and day...

This is a picture taken, at night, from the very far end of the machine room. Well, technically, it's a ways back from the machine room, into space that is currently unoccupied. You can see darkness around the edges of the picture. You can see the lighting provided by fluorescent lights in the machine room. And you can see the bright yellow square that is the door. We had high pressure sodium lighting installed in the bench room, and wow... those things are incredibly bright. Wonderful, white light. So, given the gross disparity, we're now thinking about getting some installed in the machine room, too. The amount of light these things give off is amazing. It's like daylight.

As I was leaving that night, I took a quick shot of the river, off to the left of the building. It's a fuzzy picture, but you get the idea. There's a bridge to the left, crossing the Merrimack, and another mill building across the river. Casting a shadow to the right is the building across the parking lot from us, where Harvey the peregrine falcon lives... with his mate, I found out today. It's not one falcon, it's a mating pair.

How cool is that?