On the Job

iPhone August 452

There is so much to be said about being a parent and still getting things done. This little guy is so full of life and fun, it makes things like housework, job work, and yes even woodworking seem like the most dismal accomplishments in the universe.Sometimes the best you can do just has to be enough. At the end of the day it is better to have a list full of unaccomplished tasks and a happy child, than the reverse. So, superheros it is. I’ll be Flash and you be Flash, and Woody, and Buzz riding on cool airplanes. You will only be 2.5 once, Littleman. I don’t plan on missing it.

PSA: Gold Spray Paint

iPhone August 033Been working on a few projects for our new arrivals nursery and gold has really been the order of the day. We were originally thinking of doing a focal wall with big textured gold stripes, so we went looking for a gold spray paint that would match our vision. These cans seriously look like they could be the same color, one is just “hammered” and the other is not. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Before you spray paint anything, test it in a similar material. It will save you time, effort, clean up, and disappointment. For example, we would have been extremely disappointed had we painted anything for baby sister’s room with the Rust-oleum Hammered Gold Spray Paint. The coloring was very green, or brown, or something not really looking like gold. Even letting it dry did not change the hue of this paint at all. This was definitely a paint you would consider using on outdoor furniture, or something of that sort. Unfortunately that was not what we were doing.

As for the Rust-oleum Metallics Gold Spray Paint, we were really hesitant to try this one. This too looked like it would come out a green gold and would not provide the kind of results we wanted. In fact, of the two cans of metallic spray paint, this was the one we were most hesitant to try in the first place. However, Pinterest lead us to it, so it must be good right? Well, at least right in this case. This gold spray paint is bright, and yellow, and very much the metallic luster it claims to be. There is a bit of a gold tint, but nothing appalling. We used this paint on the edge of a decorative mirror, on the base of the crib, on hardware for the dresser–on pretty much every surface and material. The results were just beyond expectations.

Two thumbs up for the Metallics Gold Spray Paint and one thumbs down on the Hammered version.

Bike Rack Shelf

Bike Shelf 01

Well, I have officially experienced my first self inflicted dry spell. First the severed thumb, then the garage grounding, and then, even though I was fully capable of working in the garage, there was the dry spell. Things at work have been super busy for me lately and the last thing I wanted to do on my days off, if I even had any, was spend time in the garage.  I  just wanted to spend all my free time with my family. This has been going on for a couple of months, hence the lack of anything new and fun appearing here. Well, that is officially over. The dry spell has been broken. It took us a few steps to get here, but we made it!

First thing first was cleaning out the garage. It was really hard to be motivated to work in a space that was crowded and full of junk. Things had been collecting in the garage, there were heaps of stuff everywhere, and finally I had a spare weekend to just gut it out. The In Laws came over and we knocked it all out in one morning. Thanks so much to those guys who came over, it was awesome! 

Next up, I needed some motivation. I am the kind of guy who likes new projects. I will make the same thing over and over, sure, but what I really needed was something new I could design and work on. This motivation came from my wife. She needed something for an event, and she came up with an idea for something we would be able to contribute. It was new and interesting, and a few other people were excited about it too.

Finally, I needed a deadline. I only had two days to design, troubleshoot, and finish these Bike Rack Shelves. At first I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to do it. Then, my wife showed me pictures of a bike shelf and got excited about it too. Now I had to try, just for her. I like doing projects for her. Really her’s are the projects I usually end up liking the most. We glanced through a few different designs together and then I had what I wanted to build inside my head. I went out to the garage, checked my supplies, and went to work on making three of these wooden bike racks. 

The first design was fine, but not perfect. I had the measurements a little off for the bike size. So I trimmed it down and put them all together in just two days. It was a rush, and just the sort of thing I needed to light my fire about woodworking again.

She took my finished projects to the event and reported back that most people really liked them, so that made me happy. What is even better? I now have a couple of custom order bike racks for my father in law. He has five bikes and nowhere to put them. I have a bunch of mandatory overtime right now, but when that is over I am excited to get back in the garage and work.

Materials: two are made of plywood, one stained and one unstained, while the other is made of curly maple and purple heart.

Dimensions: L H W

*The last image in the gallery is from here, I added it so you could see how it works. I didn’t even find this design until after I had already finished making the bike rack shelves. They are pretty close, but still slightly different.

Marble Race

01 Marble Race 037

Finally it is finished. After a broken arm, a severed thumb, and a lot designing and troubleshooting the Marble Race Masterpiece is finally finished. At first this did not seem all that complicated to build. We came up with the types of tracks we wanted and simply started making them separately. Once we had two or three of the levels finished that was when things started to get complicated. We had to figure out a way to stack them all together. We picked an order, then had to change it around. We also continued to add to new tracks to the Marble Race until we had seven total levels.

At first we wanted to see if we could avoid gluing each level in place, you know, to make it easy to disassemble and ship if necessary. Sadly this brilliant plan was not meant to be. The four posts for the tower began to twist and warp because the tension was so high. In turn, this caused some of the tracks to slip out of alignment and marbles would fall off and fall out in all the wrong places. So, in the end, we bit the bullet and glued it all together. We coated it with a polyurethane protector. We even added a base (not pictured) to catch all the marbles when the race was over. It is stunning, and really really fun.

Our little boy loves to run marbles on this track. He has to stand on his tip-toes to even reach the start switch, and he cant see the first two levels just yet, because he is such a shorty, but once it hits eye level he smiles and follows the marbles running down, down, down. He always tries to catch the marbles in the plinko section before they drop down to the next level. It is pretty fun to watch him get so animated and excited with his fists full of colored marbles.

Here are the tracks in order:

1. start switch and two straight tracks

2. zig zag

3. helix

4. two straight tracks into bowl funnels

5. plinko

6. switch plate

7. half pipe

Top 5 : Tools in the Garage

Starting a garage workshop has taken a lot of time, quite a lot of money, and needless to say, a number of tools. Over time I have quickly come to see what tools work well for my needs. I love to work on a variety of projects, everything from heavy duty furniture to small detailed puzzles. As such, there are certain tools I just could not live without. These are just my top 5 tools I have in my little workshop.
Ryobi 15-Amp 10 in. Table Saw
My table saw is a love hate relationship. I hate how dangerous this thing is, but I love how useful it can be. Really the best thing about it is I can rip wide boards in half. I buy the cheaper value lumber and get twice the product. Boom! Also, I love how simple it is to use. Before I got a table saw I thought I really didn’t need it, but now that I’ve lived on the other side, I can’t seem to figure out how to do things without it any more. In my dream world I will one day be able to afford a “Saw Stop” table saw. I’ve just seen too many people with missing fingers to not fear the power of this tool.
This is the saw that I use the absolute most, without any question. Even though this one took a part of me with it when I sliced my thumb, I will still love the infinite uses this saw provides. I bought this saw back when we were building our backyard awning, wow over 5 years ago, and have used it on virtually every project since. I hope to upgrade to a larger one some day, but will never get rid of the one I have now unless it completely breaks.
PORTER-CABLE 8-Amp 12-Speed Drill Press
My Drill press has been one of the best tools in my shop for many reasons. First, I can make perfectly straight holes in my projects with this tool. Second, I can install a drum style sander in the chuck and use it as a sander for curved and small pieces. Third, I found that I was able to use it to polish the brass rods for the clock projects I have made. The drill press seems like such a simple tool, but it has been worth its weight in gold, so a special thanks to my wife for gifting this to me for xmas.
Ryobi 32 in.x 16 in.Universal Router Table
4. Router and Router
I have two of theses in my shop and it still isn’t enough. An old woodworking friend of mine once said that you could tell the quality of a woodworker simply by finding out how many router’s he owned. Its the truth. This tool was used to make the tracks for my marble runs, decorative edging on the entertainment center, rounded corners on the dresser, and the handles on the bed drawers. There are so many different uses to a router and so many different router bits that this is the ultimate tool and can easily become one of the most expensive when all is said and done. The router itself is not all that pricey (in comparison of other power tools) but after you get the router bits and a router table if you want one, the cost starts to add up fast. However, this is another dangerous tool that can easily grab the wood and cause some major damage to the project or the person so I am extra cautious when using it.
DELTA 1.3-Amp Variable Speed Scroll Saw
This has to be my favorite tool that I own, not because its the most useful (because its not), but because it is the most fun. With this tool I can make all the small intricate cuts in wood. With my scroll saw I’ve made animal puzzles, jewelry, clock gears (in fact build an entire clock with this tool alone), helix marble run, and so much more I can’t even remember all the things I’ve built with this guy. I also like that it is so easy to use and there is only a small risk of injury and no chance of loosing a limb.  I can’t wait to explore all the other ways to use this tool.

Thumbs Down

thumbs down


Well, we have some sad news. Spencer, Mr. Workbench himself, had a bit of a disagreement with our compound miter saw and the saw won. It took a bit of his fingernail and flesh as a consolation prize. This just goes to show that no matter how comfortable you are around power tools, accidents still happen. It is so important to be careful and use proper safety when you tackle any kind of project. And now, if you are even the least bit squeamish you might want to stop reading and just skip along to another one of our delightful posts because it is about to get real, and even a little grizzly up in here.

On the morning of the accident I was going about my morning business of feeding our 14 month old son his breakfast. He was still in footy pajamas and I was nursing a box of Kleenex trying to get past what had been my worst night’s sleep since catching a dreadful cold. Spencer was out in the garage hoping to finish a custom project for a customer. Suddenly, from the garage, I heard a shout. A very loud, very painful shout. I knew immediately something bad had happened. The garage door opened, Spence shouted up the stairs that we needed to go to the emergency room, and a whole lot of scrambling happened.

While I drove Spence sat sweating in the passenger seat gripping his thumb in a hand towel and Blakie sat quietly in his car seat. I dropped Spence off at the ER and ran to go fill up our empty tank of gas. By the time we got back to the hospital Spence was trying to talk to a nurse. He was sweating bullets and looking very white. After intake we were moved to a small little room where a nurse came to check things out. I swear, every practitioner who uncovered Spencer’s thumb made a little grimace. I glanced over a couple of times and, in their defense, it was a little grotesque, but it certainly could have been much worse.

Spence got a shot of anesthetic to numb the pain and then we waited. We had to wait a while, which was not a problem. There was a teenage boy in the ER with a serious, life threatening infection and he needed to be tended to. While we waited I read to Blake and tried to take Spencer’s mind off of his severed digit. Blake fell asleep, Spencer got another shot for his pain, and the Doctor came to check it out. He made a little face too. Surprisingly there was not a lot of blood, but there was a bit of finger missing.

After looking things over the Doctor said there wasn’t anything to stitch, so the best thing they could do was clean it and bandage it up then just let it heal on its own. Another option was to remove Spencer’s nail, but the Doc didn’t recommend it. So Spencer was wrapped up and released. When we got home he even examined the floor of the garage in search of the tip of his finger. Know what? He found it. Yuck! Luckily I didn’t have to see it. Throughout the rest of the day he was in a lot of pain, but I was just glad he would recover and his injury wouldn’t likely even be noticeable once it healed.

Now I get to re-wrap his bandages, ew, and not allow him to work in the garage for a very long time. As you might have guessed, this means things will be even slower around The Workbench, but we hope to have one prototype to show you all soon. I’ll give you a hint, it is another marble run!

See you on the flip side and THUMBS UP!

Welcome to the New Year

Well, we cannot believe a new year is upon us and our business has been up and running for over half of a year now. Crazy!

Things have been going really well and after the Bijou Market we ended up selling all of our inventory. Granted, not all of it was sold at the market itself, but the venue definitely helped to get our company name out there in the real world instead of simply online. The Holidays treated us well and we are really excited to start working on new things for the New Year.

Some of these new things, we hope, will include Mr. Workbench projects as well as some Mrs. Workbench projects. We also want to get you acquainted with our shop as well as some of the tools we love and love to covet. We want to make this blog a little more DIY friendly instead of merely a listing place for our products. We also hope to make a few videos for fun.

Granted these changes will all be a bit of a learning curve, so give us some time to get things together. Also, Spencer is still recovering from his arm injury. That paired with the winter weather is really slowing us down.