Random carving notes

I’m in the process of (re)organizing my garage to remove clutter and turn it into a woodworking shop of sorts. Not that it’ll be what you call a well-stocked shop, even for a hobbyist. My power tool collection includes two bandsaws (see below), a compound miter saw, some drills, a circular saw, jigsaw, and belt sander. Maybe a few other hand tools. Still, one can build a surprising number of things with those few tools.

But the garage currently has a few major problems. Most importantly it’s cluttered with 15+ years of stuff, much of which I have no use for. That has to go, and I need to organize what’s left. The workbench, too, needs to be replaced. Ever since we’ve been in this place, the workbench’s primary use has been as a place to hold stuff that I don’t have a place for. That is, there’s stuff piled on it. And it’s not really designed for wood working. It’s too tall, a little too long for the space it’s in, and too deep.

I’ve been looking at shop layouts to get ideas of how I want to organize my garage work area. I have a few restrictions, though, that make things a bit more difficult.

First, the garage is primarily for storing cars. With the Mustang gone, we now have two cars and two garage bays, and I rather like the idea of parking my truck in the garage. Whatever I do, I have to ensure that I can still pull my truck into the garage.

There is an 8 foot wide area beside one of the bays (where the workbench is), so it’s possible to have both cars in the garage and still have space for other things. My idea is to organize the space so that I can store everything in that 8′ space. When I need to work on a project, I can pull the truck out and spread out the tools. So pretty much everything has to be on wheels.

My first step in that direction will be adding a mobile base to my bandsaw. Perhaps to two different bandsaws, since I recently acquired a second one. My original machine, purchased used two years ago, is a Craftsman 12″ bandsaw, built in 1987 or so. It has a 3/4 horsepower motor and with a 1/2 inch blade has no trouble cutting through a 6″ mesquite log. My only real complaints with the machine are that it’s difficult to move, and changing blades is a bit of a pain in the neck. If I want to cut up a log and then cut out some patterns I have to install the 1/2 inch blade, rough-saw the log, and then install the smaller blade (1/4 or 3/16 inch) for the detail cuts.

A friend of mine recently cleaned out his garage and gave me his old bandsaw that he hasn’t used in years. It, too, is a Craftsman 12″ bandsaw, although it’s 10 years older and only has a 1/2 inch motor. But fitted with a 3/16 inch blade it should be perfect for cutting stuff up to about 4 inches thick. Having two bandsaws should prevent me from having to change blades except when they need to be replaced.

Although my primary concern is wood carving, I’m also interested in trying my hand at building some simple furniture, some storage shelves, and other things. Before I get additional tools, I need an appropriate workbench that I can use for projects. I also need additional storage space. So I’m looking at plans for a rolling workbench with built-in storage. I don’t know yet whether that storage will be shelves or drawers. But once I build that, I can free up some of the space that’s currently being occupied by my big workbench.

Wood storage is a problem. I put a couple of 4′ x 8′ pieces of cheap plywood above the rafters, giving me a lot of space in which to store lumber, and perhaps there’s enough space up there to store my carving wood, too, if I organize things better.

The next task will be storage. Currently, we have a mish-mash of shelving units scattered throughout the garage. It works, but it’s less than ideal. I can make better use of the wall space if I build custom shelves.

On the strictly carving front, I’ve had a bad run of mistakes lately. Over the weekend I cut out blanks for three shallow spoons and two of those stirrers with holes in them. I broke one of the stirrers (cut it too thin and it snapped while I was working with it) and one of the spoons. I carved the bowl on one of the other spoons too deeply and went through the bottom. The third spoon will likely survive, although I carved it a bit too deeply, too. It’s very thin on the bottom. I found a quicker way to hollow out the spoon bowls, but in doing so got a bit too aggressive.

It’s nice having the bandsaw working again, though. I cut out a couple of animal caricatures over the weekend that should turn out to be fun to carve. We’ll see.

I’m hoping to get the garage organized in the next four or five weeks so that I can enjoy working (playing) in there when it cools off. In the summer (especially this summer), it gets unbearably hot in there before noon. But the weather in October and November and even the first part of December should be great for working in the garage.

Eventually I’ll have a dedicated workshop that has air conditioning and heating. Even then, space will be somewhat limited. So the work I’m doing now to put the tools, workbench, and other things on wheels will be quite useful in the future.