Day 16: Shop Problems   Leave a comment


Mrs M’s left brain helped create 15 sets of chaos boards, that are “picked and processed,” ready for glue up. These will be cheese boards, cutting boards and maybe even a bread board.

I remember the tipping point, but that is far, far in my rear view mirror.

I have a problem.

I have wood everywhere. Everywhere! The spaces I use for 24″ cut offs are full, and so suddenly I’m awash in them … because when the spaces are full, I start keeping the cut offs on the drill press table. Or the drum sander extensions. Or the router table. Then, when I have to use that tool, I have to move the cut offs to get to it … and then move them back.

It’s chaos.

After commenting on my problem at the breakfast table, Mrs M volunteered to come help.

Mrs M. Volunteered. For The Woodshop.

So, clearly, it was going to be a wacky day.

With all due deference to Jeanne Robertson and her Left Brain (there’s a great link below if you’re unfamiliar with Jeanne Robertson. Enjoy!), Mrs M brought her Left Brain into the garage woodshop and commenced to putting together some chaos boards – the ones with no real pattern. Almost everything I do has a bilateral symmetry, but Mrs M uses her Left Brain to balance some boards without symmetry, hence chaos boards. Some people appreciate the chaos more than the symmetry, thankfully, so I occasionally make a batch with Mrs M’s help, and using cut offs is the best way to do it.

With Mrs M’s help, we created a lot of space for future cut offs, and picked & processed about 30 new boards. And the day was just getting started.

From there, I needed to put away some blanks that I’d finished that were ready for my next special order for engraving. I also had several 4′ boards (I have Honey Locust again!) that needed to be put away for longer term storage; I was tripping over them as much as I was the cut offs I had just dealt with. That meant I had to pull out my short stock cart.

I use my lumber rack to store boards that are at least 6′ long. Shorter boards either stay on the floor, to get used first, or they go into the short stock cart for storage. When I need a 30″ board, or a 48″ board, that’s where I go. It tucks in beside the drill press, and has to be rolled out to access the storage beside it.

Which is fine … until this time, when I pulled on the cart to roll it, the framework came free from the rolling base. I had used too few screws, it seemed, and one of them had pulled entirely through the plywood base. Oops.

Screws. Plywood. I spare no time to make shop cabinetry. I cobbled together this cart in about 5 minutes … about 15 years ago. It lasted that long, so I believe my craftsmanship was fully paid for. However, now I needed to fix the cart quickly, because I had 4′ boards cascading across Mrs M’s path to the freezer. That wasn’t going to work for her, so I had better fix the problem if I had any hope of seeing Left Brain in my shop again.

So, you guessed it. I had a 5 minute solution. One piece of plywood, and longer screws – more screws – and I believe my short stock cart is good for another 20 years.

And, since I was in problem solving mode, it was on to problem # 4 for the day.

Two years ago, I purchased some 24″ parallel face clamps while they were on sale and never built a storage rack for them. I use these clamps on every glue up, so they see constant use … but between glue ups, they were on the floor, leaned against the storage rack beside the existing clamp rack (that only held 17 clamps).

Note: you never have enough clamps.

After purchasing those clamps on sale 2 years ago – and then even more clamps on sale 1 year ago! – I still had no permanent home for these 16 clamps. Dealing with this little bit of chaos for 2 years is bad enough, but I was rushing through putting them “away” after my last glue up of 2016, and I dropped one clamp in exactly the wrong way, and snapped the handle off. That was a $50 mistake.

That was enough to get my attention, so I solved my final problem of the day by banishing the camping chair rack to the shed, and replacing it in the garage woodshop with a purpose-built clamp rack.

It’s made out of plywood and screws. Right?



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