If you could ...

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start all over again in this hobby / business / trade, what mistakes did you make the first time around that you'd skip on the second go around?
I'm kind of looking for arrows pointing to where the land mines are.
I think I'd skip HF for my mainstay tools EXCEPT where I had carefully specced the exact tool I needed to buy and HF had a tool that EXACTLY met that spec or exceeded it. I just bought a Milwaukee 5625-29 router and it's a real eye-opener. Can't get anything like this at HF.
I also think I'd downplay my willingness to do custom work and put more effort into building inventory to sell from.
And I'd also give more thought to cost tracking so I'd be collecting needed data from day one.
I find that I have a LOT of pen blanks cut from unremarkable wood. Skip that ... anything that isn't eye candy is firewood.
I've got others ... but I'd like to hear from you.
Bill
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Bill wrote:

It's easy to say that I would have not purchased a small Craftsman table saw 7 years ago, and instead saved up for a really nice table saw. Then again, 7 years ago I had no idea that I'd be so into woodworking years down the road - so maybe that $200 saw shouldn't be considered a mistake.
Here's one though: We decided that buying rough cut lumber beat the pants off of dealing with the garbage available at HD/Lowes, and purchased a 6" Jet jointer and a planer. A year and a half later, I'm wishing that we'd gone with an 8" jointer, with longer tables. (Why does it seem like most of the boards we end up with are 6.5 or 7 inches wide?!?!)
Mike
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And when you have that 8" jointer, it's remarkable how many nice boards are wider than that. Now, if only I'd have bought that 15" Northfield....
It never ends.
Back the what the OP said, I'm not sure (as a hobbyist) I would have done anything different. Maybe I could have avoided a few turkeys masquerading as tools, but for the most part it's been a learning experience. An education costs money. No way around that.
BTW, in the beginning, all my tools were Craftsman. Not all were bad. The floor standing ones were good, the hand held ones (power) were/are uniformly bad. In every case they provided a learning experience. Not only in how to use it but also what to look for in a better example of it's kind.
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Same reason that if you had the 8" your boards would be 8.5" wide.
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Mike wrote:

Ha! This is exactly why I started with a riser block when I bought my 14" bandsaw. It wasn't because I wanted to resaw 12" boards. It was because I wanted to resaw 7" boards.
After the delta benchtop jointer mistake, I jumped right to the 8" grizzly dj-20 clone.
I can't believe I actually had foresight for a change. :-)
brian
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Not a mistake at all. I did the same thing, not knowing if I had the talent to do reasonably decent woodwork; turns out I can do OK. I used that saw for two years and gave it away and bought a Delta contractors saw.
I do regret buying that Craftsman router though. I've not bought a cheap tool since so it was a lesson learned.
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That's easy. When I built my shop (hobby), I would have made it twice as large and immediately installed a 60 amp subpanel.
Frank
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wrote:

And I bet if you had built twice as big, you'd still wish you had more room. :)
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wrote:

My first shop was 480 sq.ft. Second one is 1060 sq.ft. Wish I had 2500. :-(
Max
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Want change? Vote out the incumbents.



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Frank Boettcher wrote:

So how big would you make it to start? I'm in a three car garage now that I share with a motorcade of bycicles and a lot of yard equipment. So really, it's like 2.5 instead of 3. For me, I feel like it's not enough space. And considering that I'd like a separate finishing room and a separate room for the DC and compressor, what should I aim for? 4-car garage size? Should I make the steel building taller so I can build up inside?

Agreed. I went with the 100, not for the extra juice, but for the extra breaker positions. The flexability of a subpanel makes a big difference. And the 100 would allow a 3-phase converter if I really go off the deep end.
brian
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wrote:

My current is just under 400 sq.ft., dedicated only to woodworking. I did a layout that works for me at 1000 sq.ft. and was planning to move and build same. Katrina changed those plans, so I am now contemplating staying put and doubling the current to 800 feet which is all I can get on the lot without removing some very established native trees (that provide great shade for the shop).
The 1000 ft layout included a finishing booth, but with swing away walls. I'm not sure I can get that in the 800 ft layout but going to try, however both have separate rooms or actually closets for an air compressor and a cyclone dust collector.
What I need most is a separate assembly table. I currently use my extension and outfeed tables for assembly. Not the best.

That was my biggest mistake. When I started I only ran one 120V circuit from the house main and split it to two circuits in the shop. I had no 220V tools. When I added them I ran another circuit to handle them, again from the house main. Worked OK, I'm normally a one man shop. But with an air compressor and dust collector kicking on on demand I'll need more. Plus I like to edge joint/trim leaving both tools running while I do so, sometimes with a friend doing one of the operations. So when I add on I'll pull wire for a 60 amp sub. and scrap the other two circuits. About the same amount of work to run the sub as to run each of those individual circuits.
Frank

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Frank Boettcher wrote:

We haven't bought the lot yet, so the shop plans (and long term plans for a couple other extra buildings) are definitly factored in to the house shopping.

That's interesting. I was thinking that I would try to seal the finishing room in an attempt to keep out as much dust as possible. The swing away walls will make that tough. On the other hand, you'd get that space for other purposes if you need it. There's also the problem of getting big pieces in and out of the finishing room.

Separate the compressor and DC? I had planned to put them in the same room. It seems a waste to devote an entire room to just the compressor no matter how big it is, but it would probably help the air filter and longevity of the compressor.

I agree. My table saw is integrated into a cabinet with the outfeed table and side tables. I'm always worried about dropping glue on the cast iron under the workpiece and not catching it before it rusts. It would be nice to have a big table with a surface that would make glue pop off and a hand crank to raise and lower it. I don't have the space now though.

Over-do the conduit diameter even though it will cost a lot more. It will make pulling the wire *a lot* easier (damhikt). Buy the separate big radius curves or bend your own rather than those small 90 degree fittings. Also, if you cut your own conduit, buy that expensive reamer thing that reburs the insides of the pipe ends. Otherwise when you pull the wires, it will rip the insulation and make the pull harder to do.
Other people here have recommended separate 120 circuits for tools vs lights. The reasoning is that if a power tool trips a circuit breaker, the lights won't go out. I agree with this completely. Especially since my TS is back on 120 now. I'm far more likely to trip the breaker. So that's two 120 lines. I also bought an 80 gal upright compressor that runs on 240. That one gets it's own breaker. Same for the DC. So that's three 240 breakers. We're up to eight positions which I think is the limit for 60 amp boxes. I'm considering adding an electric heater to the shop. I would probably put that on it's own 240 circuit also.
For the OP, I would also give a lot of thought to, and spare no expense for, dust collection from the start. It's always been an after-thought for me. In the new building, I'm planning to have an elevated wood floor with removable plywood panels and 2x6 or 2x8 sleepers on the concrete slab. This will allow me to run the DC and electric through the floor. With a steel building, you can make the eve height whatever you want so the loss of headroom would be a non-issue. I also plan on running separate small diameter pipe for high velocity dust collection shop-vac style. Then I'd install either one of those GUV things or a home central vac type thing in the DC room. Oneida (iirc) makes this mini cyclone for shop vacs now. I'd use that also.
brian
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wrote:

Dust will be an issue. Still going to have to clean up the shop and run the air cleaners for a while before spraying. But better than what I have now. The back yard in good weather and taking the whole shop out of service to apply a finish schedule in bad weather or in the fall when the leaves are dropping. And no exhausting or containment of overspray in the shop.

On the addition, on either side of a drive in door there is a short (5') dead corner. Going to make each a closet that will house the two items. Sound and dust containment

The run is considered dry, protected, and isolated from contact so I'm considering Type-SER cable, however, would need to go to 4/3 wg to get the 60 amps. If I pull through conduit, I can go to #6 instead of #4. SER would be easier, I think.

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wrote:

Jeez, guys. What are you all building in your shops? Passenger jets? I've got 1050 sq ft that I share with a small bathroom, washer, dryer, chest freezer, water heater, and furnace- and there's a stairwell right in the middle of it. To tell you the truth, it's enough space to do most projects in, even with a reasonably complete compliment of full-sized tools that are *not* on mobile bases, and the lathes even have their own room to boot (part of the 1050 sq ft) It's not like I need room to dance in the shop. Might need to use the shed or garage for a short time if I was making a full set of kitchen cabinets, but that's about it. Ditto for the electrical- even with seperate breakers for each major machine, I haven't needed a subpanel yet.
Just have to wonder if the shop really needs to be bigger in a lot of cases, or if it just needs a little rearranging.
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On Thu, 26 Oct 2006 04:29:30 -0500, Prometheus

Ditto for the electrical- even with seperate

The issue in my case is distance from the house main panel to the point of use in the shop. About 150' of wire per circuit. Much better to run one large wire set and avoid multiples and the voltage drops associated with long runs. It would have been better, more cost effective to start with the sub panel, and certainly less labor crawling through the attic every time I need a new circuit.

1000 OK. 800 probably OK. 400 all the rearranging in the world isn't going to get me there.
Frank
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On Thu, 26 Oct 2006 09:15:40 -0500, Frank Boettcher

Now that makes some sense. I guess I'm spoiled by having the circut breaker for the house on one wall of the shop.

Yep. I was poking fun at the guys who say [ I've got a 4,000 square foot shop, but if I'd have been thinking ahead, I'd have made it 12,000 feet, because there just isn't enough room! ]
400 square feet is a little tight, but you can still do some good work in a space that size.
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Prometheus wrote:

What you have is about the size of a four car garage. If I had the whole three car garage, I'd have enough space, but no separate room for the DC, compressor, or finishing.
I also work on cars though and I'm thinking about space for a lift. And it would be nice to have a separate area for pottery and a kiln and other things like stained glass or sculputre. My 14yo daughter would spend a lot of time there. Then I start thinking that it would be nice to have a sparate weight room so I can work out after the kids go to bed and not worry about the noise. Oh, then I can put in a hottub... and a separate bathroom so I can just change over there rather than having to come back to the main house. Then a few months ago my wife (who worked in an emergency room and is staunchly anti-pool with little kids around) agreed that a pool would be ok if it were indoors in a separate building and could be locked up. Then I could swim in the winter. lol Anyone got a spare million lying around?
brian
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wrote:

Aha! The plot thickens. I guess I can't argue with that, as I've been contemplating expanding the shed so I can start a machine shop to complement the wood shop. Start adding multiple uses in, then I can see the value of a giant building. I just have this persistant image of people making pukey ducks in aircraft hangers when someone claims they need over 2000 sq feet for a woodworking hobby. (A business is, of course, a different story altogether)
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Instruction. If I had it to do over again, I'd get lots of expert instruction from day one. It's too hard to try to discover everything about woodturning on your own. Getting started right can save years and years of mistakes and frustration. Musicians take lessons, athletes have coaches, why would we as woodturners want to give up the advantage of instruction and learn the hard way? I know it's fun to tinker and figure things out for ourselves, but it's called "learning the hard way" for a reason. Woodturning should be fun. How many beginners experience catches or are afraid of their skew? How fun is that? And learn from true experts - they won't start you down the wrong path like some less-than-experts who only think they know what they are doing. Learn to be versatile. Learn many ways to make a cut, mount a blank, apply a finish, or anything else we do. Then you can choose the most ideal method for each particular instance and not do everything the same way because it's the only way you know. Knowledge is the key to fun and success in woodturning. Books, videos, demonstrations, and symposiums are all sources of woodturning knowledge, but private instruction is *BY FAR* the best way to mastery. Do yourself a favor, treat yourself to some lessons, and maximize the fun and satisfaction from your time spent at the lathe.
-mike paulson, fort collins, co
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On Wed, 25 Oct 2006 15:52:15 +0000, Mike Paulson wrote:

While I have not yet had any private instruction, I did just recently view my first video (Woodturning: Fundamentals of Sharpening) from AAW. It was a good thing to see skilled hands performing this essential skill.
I'll take that back ... I took a class at Woodcraft in using the router. In that case (and having been an instructor myself) I don't think I got my money's worth. But there are any number of individuals (including a couple I know locally) who I'd like to learn from. Although I'll agree that the education I might get from it would be more than worth the expense, traveling somewhere in order to pay a high tuition for a week or even a weekend, just isn't possible for me just yet.
I had high hopes for that router class, but the joints I made (using the instructors jigs) were better than the ones he made using the same jigs. Printed material for the class consisted of Shop Notes photocopies and he touched on too many topics to actually teach any of them ... finally ending the class a half-hour early so some of the guys could go watch some game or other.
Even so, I'll be keeping an eye out for a local class from a better instructor.
Good tip.
Thanks, Bill
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