The New Penguin Workshop
I'll be detailing my newest hobby here, along with pictures of my projects and eventually even detail drawings.
My shop takes up most of my garage. In addition to the traditional host of hand tools, I've bought several "real"
power tools to make my work easier. The most prominent of these tools are a table saw,
sliding power miter saw, band saw, drill press,
and plunge router. I currently work primarily with plywood and dimensional lumber, so I haven't
found the need for a planer (yet).
Delta Platinum Edition 10" Unisaw
with the 50" Biesmeyer fence. Beautiful tool. Ask anyone, and they'll tell you that a good table saw is the cornerstone
of a good shop. A critical item to get here is the mobile base, unless you're sure you have a permanent place for the
saw. I also picked up the stacked dado-head cutter - a very important piece for the type of projects I build.
DeWalt 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Nice multipurpose tool. It takes the place of a radial arm saw and a power miter saw. I had considered getting a saw
with a 10" blade so I could share blades with my table saw, but it just didn't seem that important, as I really liked
everything about this saw.
Jet 14" Band Saw
Different types of cuts require different saws, and I decided that I needed a band saw for some of my finer cuts. The
saw I got was a good compromise of price and size, plus Amazon was having some great deals at the time.
Delta 12" Bench Drill Press
I wasn't sure I needed a drill press, but they're not terribly expensive, so I went for it. I waffled over a floor
model vs. a bench model, but since I had a good bench to bolt it to, and I still feel I won't need it as much as
some of my other tools, the bench model just seemed to fit.
Porter Cable 2 HP Plunge Router
Extremely useful hand tool. Good for many purposes, including edging (for safety and decoration), cutting, making
dados, and jointing (a neat trick I learned from the Router Workshop). I've also got a nice set of router bits and
some accessories for various functions.
A friend of mine always suggests building one project for yourself, then one for the shop. Then another for
yourself, and another for the shop, and so on. So far, I've completed my first personal project, and am working on
my first shop project. All my projects (so far) are totally original; I make up my own plans and execute them.
Before getting my own shop, I made a couple of project in other people's shops: one in a friend's shop, and another
in a shop class I took at the local high school in 1999. I'll list all my projects here, in reverse chronological
order. My preferred medium (as you can tell) is oak, though I'm branching into other hardwoods, also.
Large display table
in design and construction
My current display cases and shelves only house about 20% of my paperweight collection,
so I need to make more. My current plan is to build a seven-sided table with a "wedding-cake" tiered design. The
table will be about 4 feet in diameter and should hold around 92 paperweights in 5 concentric rings (28, 21, 21, 14,
7, and a single piece in the middle). So far I've been eyeballing the angle (25-5/7 degrees), and it's worked out
OK, with only minor adjustments. Of course, once I get the tabletop done, I need to figure out how to make a nice
7-sided pedestal base...
The table top is cut from 1/2" birch plywood. The way I'm cutting them, there will be a 1/8" gap between the rings.
I haven't decided whether to make the risers out of 1/8" plexiglass or to rabbet some thicker wood, which would
provide more support (but may not be as functional). I'll band the edges with solid birch to cover the plywood
edges. The difficult chore will be the pedestal stand, for which I will use either plywood or hardwood depending on
how fancy I decide to get.
Display shelves (February 2001)
The Caithness Collectors' Society puts out a special limited edition piece every year. I have the complete
collection from 1979 through 2000 (22 pieces) and I decided to build a couple of shelves for them. There are two
shelving units, each housing 11 pieces on 2 shelves (in a 5-6 configuration). As with my first set of cases, these
are all lit from underneath with low-voltage landscape lighting. The shelves are build mostly from 1/2" oak plywood
with 3/4" solid oak as the side pieces.
These were the first project I made in my own shop. I originally started them in my shop class in 1999, but my
design was flawed, and I aborted the attempt. My redesign, however, was a rousing success, and these cases make a
beautiful display area for my paperweight collection (or at least a fraction of it). I
made them from 1/2" birch plywood, 1/4" oak plywood (for the back), oak flooring, oak moulding, and 1/4" plexiglass.
The lighting is cheap low-voltage landscape lighting from Home Depot. I use the bulbs, wiring, and transformers, and
throw away all the rest. The 88 watt power supply works perfectly, as I have 20 paperweights per case with 4 watts
per paperweight, and a little power to spare for those weights that need a little extra lighting.
Mounting plaque (October 1999)
I made this in the local high school's shop (Pinole, CA). It's a very simple project - just a piece of 3/4" oak
plywood with the appropriate holes drilled (and countersunk), and some oak moulding to hide the borders.
Bookshelves (January 1997)
I made these in a friend's workshop in San Francisco. Looking back, I probably should have used oak plywood instead
of dimensional lumber to reduce cost and the possibility of warping, but I haven't had a problem yet. They house my
entire video, DVD, and CD collections, as well as my old stereo speakers (Boston Acoustics A-100). The materials are
1x6 and 1x8 oak, and 1/4" oak plywood for the back.
In order to build up the shop, there's a lot of work to be done. Tables, shelves, storage cabinets, tools, and so
on. Here are the projects I've made to improve my shop, in reverse chronological order.
Another incredibly useful fixture is a router table. I could go out and buy one, but it seems like a lot more fun to
make one myself. Besides, I'm running out of ideas to improve my shop.
Since I do so much with plywood, I need a good way to cut large pieces. I've been using the table saw, but 4'x8'
sheets are unwieldy, especially when working alone. So, I'm planning on taking my handheld circular saw and building
a jig to turn it into a panel saw.
Workbench (May 2000)
I needed somewhere to mount my miter saw, and I also wanted an extended fence for it, so I designed this table
system. My original plan only called for the table, but then I reasoned, "why not use all that space underneath",
and decided to add the drawers. The tables are made from Delta extension tables (now there's another story), 2x4
lumber for the legs, 3/4" plywood for the sheathing, 3/4" and 1/2" plywood for the drawer material, and 1x12 pine
boards for the drawer fronts. There's also some 1x4 pine that I used for strapping to improve rigidity and