WT99 – Improv Woodworking

On today’s show, we’re talking about outdoor workbenches, woodworking with humidity in mind, Marc’s new shop, and the concept of “Improv Woodworking”.

What’s on the bench?

Shannon is working on his Corner Cabinet and Spring Pole Lathe. Matt’s 2012 resolution is finally coming true, and Marc just returned from a teaching trip at the William Ng School and is finishing up his little Step Stool project.

Around the Web

Marc’s Interview on Ravinheart (Spray Finishing)
Vic’s Video Shop Tour
Register IWF Atlanta Aug. 22nd – 25th
2013 Desert Woodturning Roundup
Evenfall Studios Woodworking Library
Smart Head Shaving Horse

Listener Emails

Chris Spak asks:

The problem I have is that I don’t have an indoor space to build a workbench and the table that I use to pot plants is just getting destroyed by racking forces. I would like to build a bench, but because of space issues, it will need to stay outside 24/7/365 in south central PA with all of its seasonal extremes. The bench could have a tarp draped over it and there is a smallish overhang near where this would most likely be, but that is about it for cover and shelter. Of the woodworkers that I have talked to about this subject, most don’t have an answer. The only answer that didn’t involve the phrases “that’s a tough one” or “move” involved building a base out of cedar and having a top of white oak. If you have any thoughts of a route I might be able to take, let me know.

Shannon suggests using air-dried Douglas Fir from a reputable hardwood dealer as well as sealing the end grain and keeping a tarp over the piece. Marc mentions possibly thinking outside the box and using materials other than wood for more stability.

Aaron Cashion asks,

I recently installed a 3 speed Rikon air cleaner in my basement. Due to low ceiling height, I screwed it directly into the floor joists. Yes, you can see where this is going. Needless to say the entire first floor shakes when I turn it on. Any suggestions on how to keep it close to the ceiling, and isolate the vibration? I was thinking maybe some rubber strips or some sort of springs. Keep up the good work.

Marc and Matt suggest suspending the unit from the ceiling using I-bolts and S-hooks. Shannon suggests possibly mounting the unit on a wall instead.


Roberto moved to Illinois! Wants to know what he should keep in mind when building furniture in a humid environment.
Marc recommends he check out the Woodshop Widget!

iTunes Reviews

Thanks to the following folks for leaving us a 5-star review in iTunes!
Michael Ingram, Umbria Bob, Jeff Branch, Iachan, and Stevetilling.

Just a quick note that our next show will be a special call-in show to celebrate our 100th episode!

12 replies on “WT99 – Improv Woodworking”

100 episodes (coming soon), WOW.
Guess you guys didn’t get the memo that this podcasting fad couldn’t last more than a year, in our fast changing world.
The best part…
is (you three and friends) keep getting better.
Thanks, I’m looking forward to the 2nd 100 episodes.

Thanks for the shout out. “interesting character”..hmm…I’ll take it. Great show, guys! It IS hard to believe #100 is next up! The show is better and better all the time. Your timing off each other is excellent. I knew, sooner or later, the chortle would become popular! Thanks for the hours and hours ….and hours of entertainment!

Love listening to you guys. 99 shows!!! I guess that means I’ve got about 85 more to listen to before I’m caught up.

I wanted to comment on Marc’s comments about going to Trade Shows. I don’t think there’s any need to feel guilty about not wanting to go to any more of them, nor do I find any irony in promoting them for others. Most of us don’t live and breath woodworking like you do. I’m sure that, after a while, there’s only so many times you can look at somebody’s variations on a band saw or jointing paraphernalia before it all runs into one big blur. Tool trade shows have to become more of the same after a while and if you’re not looking for the latest toy, you’ve probably already found the tools you have suit your needs quite well. By the same token, there are things that others can benefit from at that shows. No conflict for me at all to hear both points in the same conversation.

I also wanted to comment on Shannon’s comments for the guy that moved to IL. I think he hit the nail on the head (pardon the pun) in saying that no real adaption was needed. For the most part we buy our materials in the same area that we work with them. It’s typically not green lumber that needs to season or adjust. It really shouldn’t involve much acclimatization unless our shop environments are drastically different from what is outside around us. I think Marc and Matt both touched on this as well.

Anyway, great show, great links, welcome back and I look forward to listening in more.

Re: Chris’ workbench: I know the Conventional Wisdom is that white oak stands up well outside, but personal experience (in the Pacific NW, anyways) says that’s not the case. I’ve had a couple of pieces of 8/4 sitting outside in the weather for a couple of years, they hold up the tongue of a trailer (the board proved to have two many stress cracks in it to be usable for woodworking). These peices haven’t held up well at all. While they don’t show much rot, they have cracked and checked very, very badly, and warped considerably.

Also, Doug Fir is not weather resistant, either. Some old-growth fence posts I have are in remarkably good shape, but any wood you can get today rots pretty quickly.

I think Marc’s right and this calls for a non-wood solution (e.g,, metal legs and some type of stone or synthetic surface, maybe with a wooden top that could be taken outside when working). Woodworking outdoors does limit you to certain days and times of the year, though.

I live on the east side of NW WA, which is dry. I built my pergola out of Douglas Fir I bought as a package from a small sawmill operation up near Colville. Everything was freshly cut 3″ x 6″, 4″x 6″ and 6″ x 6″. The structure is not in direct contact with the patio, but sits off it using Simpson post brackets. It twisted some, more because I didn’t really know what I was doing and took too long to make my pegged mortise and tenons. I used 5″ lags to affix the corner bracing. But, it has been quite stable beyond the initial twist that was from the quick dry time from live to the desert RH. I finish it every couple years with Behr solid stain. I think if you get a quality Doug Fir package, address the wicking of moisture up the feet, and give it proper cover in inclement weather, it will do…OK. Without a somewhat controlled environment, you can’t expect anything that isn’t man made specifically for an application to withstand the swings of Mother Nature.

Thanks for the suggestions about the bench. I realize that this is not the best of situations and the bench will go south faster than if it was indoors, but it is what I got and I’ll make it work for me.

You were looking for some small projects to do while your shop is in storage. Try building a knife. You can buy a blade and put some scales on it. All I use is a sander and a buffing wheel.
See northcoastknives.com, or texasknife.com

Just my 2 cents


WTO Guys, regarding the listener that had the vibration issues from mounting his air cleaner tight to the joists, there’s a doo-dad for that. A company called Mason Industries makes a mounting pad that isolates the equipment from what it’s mounted to with an ingenious rubber section. The second page of the pdf on this link has the model RBA which would be more than enough for the air cleaner. It’s less than two inches thick and could be mounted up a bit on the side of the joists with a block to keep it nearly tight to the ceiling.

Hope this helps. http://www.mason-industries.com/masonind/_doc/pdf/BR.pdf

Michael Bonn

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