Renk Workshop: The pursuit of perfection on a shoestring budget

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Renkenstein, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    So I have a couple years in the shop behind me and I've found methods and tools that work for me and my humble shop. I've made a few purchases and build a couple things in an effort to increase productivity and efficiency. After my last build, I decided I needed to improve 3 things to really get my quality to the next level, and ensuring repeatability.

    1) I want/need/deserve a better router table. My bench-top clamp-down table served its purpose, but the legs were becoming wobbly, so I need a new one. The table top was also 3/4" thick, and the router bolted to it, so I lost quite a bit of bit height. I want to go with a similar design, but I want it free standing and to have a router table plate that will make changing bits easier and more accessible. I also want some form of dust collection, and the option of building a router lift later.

    2) I want to build a neck pocket jig, as seen here: Myka Neck Pocket Jig
    I've been using the 3 MDF boards trick, and I think I can do better. I believe something like this will do the trick. Undecided if I want to make it out of hardwoods or if I should make it out of aluminum and/or steel. I'd like it to be adjustable to do a flat pocket or an angled pocket.

    3) I'm going to make one of these top gluing fixtures: Ruokangas Top Press
    I've been using regular C clamps and F clamps, and I've come to the conclusion there has to be a better way. I feel like the time spent getting clamps ready, positioning them, clamping them down...it's a time waster with too much room for error and irregular amounts of pressure from clamp to clamp. My dad has some steel unistrut steel channel that we're going to weld together to make the frame and use threaded rod and bolts for the screw presses.

    I think these 3 improvements will really help me out going forward and are a big next step in growing my shop and fine tuning it for lutherie. Do y'all have any processes and tools that you think could be improved on? I'm interested in hearing other's ideas.
     
    VictOr358 likes this.
  2. Jason720

    Jason720 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    14
    On the top press look into getting some old car jacks from a scrapyard. You could take the acme bolts off then weld the nut to the frame. Probably cost about the same as the threaded bolts if you can fine them.
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  3. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I like that idea! That's the kind of suggestion I'm looking for. I managed to get most of project #1 done with stuff I had laying around the shop. I've got the router table built out of the top of the benchtop predecessor, and I built legs and boxed in the frame beneath the top. I'll be drilling a hole in the back for dust collection and wiring up a switch of some type. This thing will make changing bits a lot easier, keep a leash on the dust, and be a lot safer.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    My old man is coming up from STL this weekend, so hopefully he'll be able to help fix the corner to corner teeter, or I may just install elevator bolts on the bottoms of the legs. I can't ever seem to make a bench or table that doesn't wobble....haha

    I'd like to get some sort of fence happening on the table, as well as a router lift. For now the fence will be a board and quick clamps and the lift will remain the router base.
     
  4. Jason720

    Jason720 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    14
    Tables can be a pain... it is a little easier to build from the bottom up. Make the legs level to the ground and make adjustments to the top instead of trying to adjust each leg.
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  5. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Another great idea. That's actually kind of what I did with my workbench. I cut the legs, then shimmed the benchtop on top of the legs. Don't know why I didn't think of that this time. Thanks!
     
  6. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Finally got around to building the dust hood for my drum sander. Why didn't I do this sooner?!? The amount of dust in the air went from heavy to zero. Thinking hard about getting a dust collector.

    [​IMG]
     
    jkes01 likes this.
  7. poro78

    poro78 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Likes Received:
    415
    Location:
    Turku, Finland
    Oh, the shop envy.
    (My "workshop" has transformed into a storage room, I really need to get the extra junk out of there ASAP - 3 instruments on my build list and nothing is happening...)
     
    Renkenstein and VictOr358 like this.
  8. VictOr358

    VictOr358 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2013
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Moscow, the original one
    My two kopecks here.
    If you use bare (ply)wood or a particle board for a working surface for power tools, I'd suggest to cover it with tinned/zink'd steel sheet or at least spray some lacquer on top.

    That nasty fine wood dust has a tendency to build up.
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  9. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    It's MDF. I use it for most of my work surfaces. It's flat and soft enough so it won't mar my workpieces. On my drum sander, I've got the deck doubled up, so it's 1-1/2" thick for extra rigidity. I had thought of using melamine, but never got around to it because the MDF worked so well. I haven't noticed fine dust buildup, but if it ever gets wet it'll swell and raise....that's the only con I've noticed.

    Now that I added the vacuum dust hood, hardly any dust is left on the deck. It gets sucked right up off the drum.
     
    VictOr358 likes this.
  10. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I liked your post, but I don't like it Poro. Back to work! Splinters await!
     
  11. Duplex Dave

    Duplex Dave Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    90
    Location:
    West
    Ah, the pursuit of the perfect shop...
    I bought a house 4 years ago that has a separate structure for my shop. It's about 450 sq. feet. Although I have been collecting lutherie tools for about 20 years I'm still not ready to go, but getting close.
    I really like how you are making your machines/fixtures. It is truly necessary to have this talent for what we do.
    The 2 jigs you posted in the OP are very cool. Especially the clamping jig.

    In my pursuit I have purchased a welder and am currently teaching myself to weld while building fixtures. The one I'm working on now is a steel stand that will hold the 6"x48" belt sander necessary for building acoustic guitars. It will be bolted to the floor.

    I recently welded some plates to the legs of a bench so I could attach casters. I need most of the tools to be mobile.

    Sorry for the long ramble. I chime in on this forum, but have no instruments to showcase. Yet....
    Shooting for full speed building this summer.
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  12. rusdfh

    rusdfh New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2013
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    22
    You get ready to build that top press thingy soon and need some cutting and welding done let me know. It looks a little over the top for the job but I suppose its better to be over screwed than under
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  13. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2013
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    473
    Location:
    Norman, OK, USA
    Renk,

    To seal the ply and mdf, I'd recommend picking up some minwax poly sanding sealer at Home Depot. Apply it with foam brushes. It's pretty cheap and easy to apply. It's very wet, so it'll lay down thin. That should keep the stuff from picking up moisture and deforming on you.
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  14. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Half my shop is made out of necessity. I built the drum sander on a whim last winter, not knowing the full potential of the tool. I found that my style of building eliminates the need for some tools, and I'm glad I jumped in the deep end instead of waiting until I had every tool I "thought" I needed.

    Case in point: I hadn't done a fret level and recrown on any of my guitars because I didn't have a crowning file. Well, I didn't realize those are a relatively new invention for the lutherie world, and a triangular file is still widely used. After asking a local tech to sit in on a fret level and recrown and getting rejected, I watched Sully's vid on the subject and got to work. The results were fantastic. Lowest action and best playability of all my guitars...no joke.

    Anyway, the moral to all this rambling is this: don't let lack of tools stop ya. My first 2 attempts at building a guitar were a fkn mess. My 3rd was successful, and my 4th turned out to be the guitar of my dreams.

    You're not the first to tell me that it may be over-engineered. I want something that can do the job and I can get the piece glued, positioned, and tightened down within 5 minutes, rather than pushing the limits of the open time.

    The more I've thought about this, the more I'm leaning toward a plywood sammich with bolts. Draw out my body shapes roughly 1" bigger around the perimeter on some 3/4" birch and drill some holes within the edge. I could even regulate pressure all the way around the body by using a socket driver and the clutch on my screwgun. Big fender washers would help distribute the pressure.

    I do still have some spray shellac and spray poly from the last build. Would either of those work, ya reckon? I've still got cans of wipe on poly in both gloss and satin as well.
     
  15. Duplex Dave

    Duplex Dave Active Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    90
    Location:
    West
    I put shellac on lots of wood things in the shop. It's awesome, one of the oldest finishes know to wood workers (aside from oils). Couple coats with some light sanding in between, quick and easy. Just not for any thing that will be exposed to solvents and you're good.
     
    Renkenstein likes this.
  16. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Sounds good. Thanks man. I'll prob hit some templates while I'm at it.
     
  17. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Scratching the last 2 off my list. These 3 additions to my shop have improved my results exponentially.

    First, the top press fixture. I was really over-thinking things on this one. I got back to basics and thought of a plan that would turn out to work better than I ever imagined.

    [​IMG]




    Long story short, I bought a handy panel of 3/4" birch ply(the flattest sheet available) a bunch of carriage bolts, lock washers, fender washers, and nuts. All 1/4", but the lock washers are 5/16" so they fit around the little square nubbin on the underside of the carriage bolt head. I made the template an extra inch around the outside edge of the body style.



    [​IMG]



    Put down wax paper, put the body in the fixture, spread glue, place top, put top piece on and put on fender washers and nuts on the bolts. I got a nut driver and a 7/16" deep well socket. The drill's clutch will give at the same pressure on every nut, giving consistent pressure around the body. Snug them up by hand first then switch to the drill. Start with a light clutch setting and tighten in a crossing pattern, like you were changing the tire on a car. Repeat on a higher clutch setting, maintaining the crossing pattern until you are satisfied with the joint. Squeeze-out all around should let you know when you've got a good joint.



    [​IMG]

    Bolts are spaced evenly at 3-4" apart. No clunky clamps in the way, so squeeze-out should be a breeze to clean up at the edge.

    [​IMG]

    I had this cranked down as hard as the drill could go and there was no deflection on either piece of plywood. This should work a LOT better than my random clamps. It also makes the body a LOT easier to handle. You can even hang it up on the wall out of the way as it dries. I imagine with longer bolts, I could even glue 2 bodies at a time.

    The results:

    [​IMG]

    Nice squeeze-out all the way down. I cleaned up a bit of it before I realized I hadn't taken a picture.

    [​IMG]

    This is a good sign....all the way around.
     
    Blackegg, skeels and jkes01 like this.
  18. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    ...aaaand the neck pocket jig. I made a couple alterations to the Myka pocket jig, namely adding toggle clamps to hold the body in place, and I made one side adjustable to allow bodies of different sizes and shapes.

    [​IMG]




    Results:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    Neck pocket passed the gravity test with flying colors. It was a bitch to get that neck seated, but it finally fit. I used 2 pieces of masking tape on each side. I removed one of the layers of tape and routed the edge, but I left one on. Next time I'm definitely going to remove both pieces for the final pass. That should be a lot easier to fit the neck. Better too tight than too loose(that's what she said).
     
    skeels and jkes01 like this.
  19. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    480
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Mannnn, it's about to get real up in hurr...I've got a PIN ROUTER on the way!!! I've got an expert machinist fabricating, and from what I've seen the tolerances will be tite-tight-TOIT! I kind of stumbled into this opportunity, and I'm so thankful the guy is willing to take on this project for me.

    Progress is going great, faster and better than I had hoped, actually.

    [​IMG]




    This is the adjustable dovetailed steel sliding assembly. It will be mounted on a steel arm welded to this base:

    [​IMG]



    It will have an MDF or melamine deck with swappable steel pin inserts. The steel frame is almost perfectly level and can be dialed in with minimal shimming. The steel dovetailed sliders will operate on a tight tolerance threaded rod. Once I get templates made this is basically a hand operated CNC that will take me from blank to body in an exponentially reduced amount of time...not to mention open a whole new realm of possibilities for roughing in neck shapes.


    Here it is in action:

    [​IMG]
     
    difalkner likes this.
  20. difalkner

    difalkner Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Bossier City, LA
    Nice progress and a really cute helper! Have you used/tried Parchment paper in lieu of wax paper? Much better. Walmart has it on the same aisle as the wax paper.

    Your fixtures are looking good and look like they'll give you some needed consistency. Good job!

    David
     
    Renkenstein likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice