Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Learning Revit, #1

So, I'm knee deep in learning Revit. Oh, my holy God. I've instantly turned into an idiot. I forgot what it was like to be such a dumb newbie at a CAD program. But at the same time, I can't help but feel great about the potential of what is to come, both personally, professionally and in the industry as a whole.

When I started to learn AutoCAD - Release 2-point-something back in 1987 - I had no idea the depth of the program. Learning it was simple - I "got" about 80% of it after two or three classes. Of course, we had to learn only a smattering of commands printed on a plastic sheet taped to a graphics tablet, so the entirety of the program was more or less self evident.

I felt that I had mastered the program after about 6 months of professional use. But as time wore on I discovered methods of working which made me realize it would be years before I could actually make that gloat. After constant use, I developed insights, techniques and muscle memories which helped drive me to look into customization and programming in AutoLISP to accomplish more. That led to a whole new understanding of the innards of the program which continues to this day.

What I loved about AutoCAD - up until fairly recently - was how it handled under my fingertips. It was one of those magical programs which just felt wonderful to use. I just knew how to do things easily and could think ahead of the program, so I would tend to think through a drafting problem in my head and be able to easily translate that into a series of commands. It helped that AutoCAD's command syntax was initially very much verb-noun based, like a normal sentence.

For example: "I want to Move These Things from Here to Over Here" would translate to

Command: Move
Select objects: [Pick some things]
Select object: [Hit to finish picking]
Start point: [Pick a start point]
End point: [End point]

It just doesn't get much easier than that.

Even after migrating (read: kicking, screaming, yanking of hair, etc.) from a tablet to a mouse, I found the act of drawing geometry, snapping, zooming, panning, and other hand-intensive operations just worked, and worked correctly and elegantly. Mind and mouse operated as one, and one developed the innate ability to think 12 steps ahead of any editing operation.

That's why people bought those silly 16-button puck monstrosities. I knew folks who could play those things like Rick Wakeman. It was like driving a finely tuned racing car, where your finger flips the flappy-paddle gearbox without even thinking. Or, as in my case, with playing the drums - you do not really concentrate on what you are playing at the muscle level, you think about the music. The hands, fingers and feet just seem to go.

Sadly, with today's releases I do not believe this is the case, as program bloat, interface bling and useless feaure-itis have turned a once-mean, lean and clean program into a pile of programmed mush. It seems I have a crazy number of UI elements yelping for attention, like a bunch of 4 year-olds at a birthday party after the cake and ice cream.

Worse, you have to now really worry about what your mouse hand is doing. In the olden times, you could wrench your mouse around and tell it who's boss. Now, you have to be really careful about moving, picking, mousing over and so on. The least little twitch and you end up picking the wrong thing or firing off the wrong command or OSnap.

Palettes of various kinds, which were quietly sitting hidden on the side now scream out when I have the audacity to mouse a little too close to the edge. And of course, the ones I need aren't anywhere to be found - and when I do find them I can't get them to go the Hell away fast enough. Even my status bar looks like the dashboard of a Russian spaceship.

Even the much-maligned Ribbon, which I actually do sort of like, sometimes - like, say, Wednesdays - is a screen hog, and slow to respond to as well. In 2010 I like the layout - well, it's the best it can be given the complexity and enormity of the program. But it just looks klunky and doesn't scale with a resolution over 1024x768, leaving you a nice fat chunk of valuable screen space which is rendered useless.

Wait. What was I talking about, again? Oh yeah, Learning Revit.

Revit isn't so much about learning commands, it's about learning to build in software. Like AutoCAD circa 1987, there's isn't a whole lot of varied stuff to deal with. It's an extremely FOCUSED program. Once you get past the idea of BIM vs dumb ol' CAD (which takes about 3 minutes, tops), it's a fairly level learning curve to get through the core mechanics. You have the basics of inputting architectural objects (walls, doors, windows, floors, roofs, etc). And you have a basic set of modify commands at your disposal that are familiar to any AutoCAD user, but built with a touch more intelligent design. Sketch-based design is just huge and an integrated part of the overall core workflow. Commands like Offset and Array work in a way we could only hope for in AutoCAD-land. And the Align command is simply beyond brilliant.

After that, you have the Project Browser; View properties; Levels and Grids; Schedules, Rendering, Project Settings, Constraints, Parameters and so on. For the most part, all excellently implemented and a real eye-opener for a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breather like me. Run through the tutorials and you Get It.

Then you hit families. Specifically, parametric families. Hooo boy. Wow. Just, wow.

There is an amazing amount of power contained in what really is a simple framework that allows you to create a fabulous wealth of intelligently designed building components that do exactly what you want them to do. Combined with Parameters and formulas, they are, I guess, most closely related to a marriage of AutoCAD's Dynamic Blocks, ACA's MVBlocks, and Constraints (easily the two best new features of the past 6 releases). You get an incredible architectural tool combined with (bonus!) an elegance and ease of use which is exhilarating to work with.

In contrast with most new features in AutoCAD, which if actually useful would be great if not combined with some new UI fiddly doodad which irritates your senses.

After 22 years of working with AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture, you get a little jaded. You may now and then see much potential in the software, yet with every new release, more often than not you are hit in the head with some software design dumbness which obliterates any excitement you may have had in a demo. So you stop looking at the potential in some feature, because to get to that Promised Land is simply Too Hard. You see features that are shaky at best; and to properly implement, would take an inordinate amount of training time. Worse, you have in ACA the ability for some untrained numskull to get their mitts on the drawing (to get it changed and to the engineer STAT) who, when seeing all this AEC object stuff, will without hesitation explode it down to dumb linework just to get something out the door.

But when you learn a new CAD program like Revit, everything old becomes new again. You see the potential, but you don't know any of the gotchas, and are still dumb enough not to understand all of the limitations. With experience comes wisdom, and without the ability to "cheat," you know that you have no choice but to make it work. When you look at the exceptional work of others, you see that just about anything is really possible.

I'm just pissed I didn't start learning this stuff sooner.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pimping Ain't Easy

Even for a Sith Lord:

Thanks to James for the heads up.

Should Cut Lists Be Banned

Gel Huey over at Popular Woodworking magazine had an interesting post on using cut lists in woodworking. See it for yourself here.

His main thesis is that cut lists are hazardous to your health, due to inaccuracies, mistakes in cutting, and so on. I agree. To a point. I think every woodworker should know how to draft plans, elevations and sections from scratch to create a full set of working shop drawings. This practice will show much more valuable detail than any cutlist ever will. Luckily, I've been using CAD and 3D software in architectural firms since, oh, about forever, so I find this process to be natural. I'd hate to try to build anything without at least a basic set of plans, even if it's just a simple sketch on a napkin or a board.

Cut lists, then, are simply schedules of the parts required to build the piece. If done correctly, there should be zero difference between the data on the cut list and what is shown in the shop drawings. Ideally, the sizes would listed in gross LxWxD dimensions, and would include descriptions and remarks, such as 'TBE 3/4"' (Tenon both ends 3/4").

But they're hard to create accurately by hand. Translating even the best drafted plans and elevations into a cutlist is asking for trouble, as you mistake a "3" for an "8", or forget to add tenons to your rail dimensions, and so on.

And cutlists by themselves aren't adequate anyway. It can only tell you the absolute minimum amount of wood the project will take. You cannot use a cutlist and go blindly cutting down stock; it doesn't account for the variables in the material itself. Grain direction, sapwood, checking, knots - all of the things that make wood, well, wood - always have to be handled on a board by board basis.

So, taken as a single thing, a cutlist really is not that helpful. I don't think you can get away with a cutlist without a set of shop drawings.

This is one reason why I, like many woodworkers, use SketchUp extensively for furniture and cabinet design, and to create my shop drawings. I may also use a cutlist plugin (there are several freely available) which can lay out parts on a board to make a decent estimation when shopping for lumber. Good cutlist plugins will also take into account sheet goods, hardware and the like.

With SU I have developed a particular process which (so far) has worked really well, so I minimize the reliance on cutlist plugins. In general I spend WAY too much time in SU nailing down every detail - as well as I can given the modeling limitations of the software. I'm not going to model a ball and claw foot, for example, but I can at least block it out. of course, as most of my projects are for the shop, they are often rectangular, regular and easy. But I design and refine like crazy; it's not odd to spend an entire weekend refining a simple shop cabinet, because I always think through the intent and usage of the piece, and how it fits into the shop.

When designing projects, I get component happy. I make sure every part is a component (which can then be reported in the cutlist). I make "assembly" components composed of their nested components. A run of cabinets would have a base assembly component and a wall assembly component, each of which would have individual cabinet assembly components, each of which has the components for the side panels, shelves, door parts, and so on. Drawers are themselves assemblies of smaller components. For good measure I may also add flat 3D text to each component which labels them right on the part.

Like I said, cutlists don't tell you the best way to lay out parts for production. I do this in SU as well. I copy and explode my assemblies and by hand lay out all of my parts on top of simple rectangles that represent full sheets of plywood, MDF, 1x6 boards, etc. I space each component out by 1/8" to account for the saw kerf, and dimension each unique component right there. This way I not only enumerate how many board feet or sheets of plywood I'll need, but visualize how to best lay my parts out to maximize yield and minimize the number of saw cuts needed.

I am also very careful to account for mirrored components, which is one reason I copy and explode the assemblies into their sub-components, then move/rotate them into position on the sheet or board.

This step is pretty critical for me, because I don't (yet) have a truck and cannot (yet) purchase full 4x8 sheets of plywood without getting them cut down at the store. With a comprehensive cut plan, I can get my plywood cut down at the home center lumber yard into smaller pieces which will fit in the car. For example, I know for a fact that I can get a full 4'x8' sheet cut down into one 16"x96" strip and two 32"x48" pieces, so I plan my sheet good layouts to be close to these dimensions. Regardless, I always work hard to maximize the size of my cutoffs for future use. Having 12 1/2" wide strips of plywood isn't as useful as one 6" wide piece.

After the design work and layout is done, I then create separate Pages in SketchUp for the plans, elevations, and sections, along with part layouts for sheet goods and boards to cut. While I hate using Layers in SU (the interface is beyond awful), it is here that they come into play. I make a layer for each page, then put the parts layouts into their page layers so I can turn off all other layers in a Page. When you update the Page you then save the layer state, so each Page shows just what I want.

After this is done, I fire up Layout 2 (included in SU 7). I insert the SU model and create individual Sheets for each Page. In each Sheet I have a single viewport to show the SU Page. I can then label the Sheet with text as needed, and I now have a complete set of shop drawings.

When I get the chance I'll post my latest shop project, an outfeed table for my table saw which includes a standalone cabinet along with a fold-down torsion-box assembly table.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Installing Windows 7

I got this question this AM:

Windows 7. Whazzup wit dat? Do I install it? Do I use Vista? Stick with XP? Go with 32-bit or 64-bit? What?

I would ABSOLUTELY use Windows 7 x64 over Vista. In fact, I would prefer using carving out 1’s and 0's on stone tablets before using Vista. I have no words of caution, really, as it does everything I want.

I highly recommend the 64-bit version, particularly on decent hardware and for large apps like AutoCAD/ACA/Photoshop/Revit/etc. I installed it on several Dell laptops, and it was incredibly fast and effortless. 32-bit XP is but a toy by comparison, and I only use it as a Virtual Machine OS for dealing with minor incompatibilities (e.g., using an old Epson scanner that will never have a 64-bit driver, or backpedaling to IE7 for web-app compatibility reasons). I'm sure that by the time Windows 7 ships, most incompatibilities will be rendered minor or soon to be fixed. Nothing that would be a show-stopper.

Here’s a basic timeline:

1. Download the Windows 7 RC1 and get the Product ID from Microsoft.

2. Download the latest version of VLITE from VLITE lets you build a streamlined installation disk of Vista and Windows 7 with only those components you want, and setup settings built in for an almost hands-free install. There’s a dedicated forum devoted to this here.

3. Vlite requires a file called wimgapi.dll, which is included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit. Unfortunately, the kit is about 200GB and the wimgapi.dll is like 300K, so you just want to download the smaller file. You can get it here. Extract the .RAR (using WinRAR or WinZIP), r/c on the INF to install the driver. After you install Vlite, copy the wimgapi.dll file to the Program Files\Vlite installation folder.

4. Extract the Windows 7 ISO to a folder (C:\Win7_RC1_Orig).

5. Copy/paste that entire folder to C:\Win7_RC1_Vlite.

6. Download all of the Vista x64 drivers for your machine. Put them in a C:\Drivers folder. Have separate folders for each component, e.g. Chipset, Audio, Video, NIC, etc.

Note that Win7 has an extensive array of built-in drivers (particularly for older chipsets), and you are probably better off using those before trying older Vista drivers from the manufacturer. Except for nVidia drivers - they have drivers specifically for Windows 7, which improve compatibility and performance over Microsoft's offerings, so download those if applicable. I also recommend the OpenGL Extensions Viewer which will tell you all of the pertinent information on your driver's OpenGL ICD.

7. Fire up Vlite, and select the Win7_RC1_Vlite folder as your source. Vlite modifies the files in the folder, so you work on this copy.

8. Vlite’s pretty easy to figure out, so I won’t bore you with the details. It’s built for Vista, but I’ve found it works exactly fine on Windows 7.

9. You can preload your drivers in Vlite – select the C:\Drivers folder in the Drivers section and it will load all of the drivers for all of the devices. Note that some driver installs really work better when done with the setup.exe, so this will at least get your chipset and NIC working, but you may want to manually install your video drivers and maybe audio. But, depending on your machine, WMMV.

10. The main important Vlite option is to input the Product ID and set the parameters for a hands-free install.

11. Vlite Hints: You can save quite a bit of space by removing all of the language files. Some “removal” features aren’t worth the effort and are counterproductive. After first doing a “bare iron” installation (removing everything I thought was unnecessary) I found it screws some stuff up, so I went back and did a more or less default installation, just removing the language files and some lame drivers I’d never use. I spend most of my time tweaking settings for my default user.

12. Once you set everything up, Vlite will modify the Win7 folder files – this is why you made a copy in step 5. This may take some time as it has to expand the CAB files, mod them, and recompress them.

13. If you are burning this to a DVD, make an ISO, and burn it using Imgburn.

14. I opted to create a boot USB drive. Windows 7 fits nicely on a 4GB USB key. You need to make the USB bootable.

UPDATE: Creating a bootable USB key is either (a) incredibly easy or (b) stupidly hard, depending on your current OS. If it's 32- or 64-bit Vista, then it's easy following the link above, because you have the bootsect.exe program. However, if your current OS is 32-bit XP, then you have some additional work to do.

I followed this link. I first formatted the USB key using the HP utility, then used MBRWizard to mark the partition on the USB key as "active."

Once the USB key is formatted with NTFS, and the first partition is marked Active, then you can simply copy the Win7 folders to the key. Note: Because a Win7 install reboots the system, I recommend that you just use the machine's boot menu during the BIOS phase of system startup instead of setting the boot order in the BIOS itself.

15. I also downloaded the Windows 7 codecs package which I install after the main OS install.

Other than minor tweaking of Explorer after the installation, I must say that a properly prepared Windows 7 image makes for the fastest, cleanest installation of an OS I've ever seen.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Workshop Design Ideas

As a thinking exercise, I came up with a few ideas for designing a new, out of the ground wood shop.

  1. Size: I think about 30'x20' is probably fine. Any larger and costs escalate, and any smaller and you get into crampy conditions with dual purpose spaces which need reconfiguring based on tasks.

    I think the best of both worlds is to have it connected to a full garage, if possible. In my mind I keep thinking of having a separate or semi-attached 30' wide x 24' deep garage building with a 30'x 16' extension on the rear for the shop (30'x40' total).

  2. Basement. This is a weird one, but I think the best woodshop design incorporates a full or partial basement which houses the air compressor and dust collection subsystem, as well as an instant hot water heater and possibly a small bathroom.

    All of the DC ducting can then drop directly from the machine down to a main run below the joists. That should allow the DC to run more efficiently, as it uses gravity to pull down dust and chips instead of having to suck it up to the ceiling or something. It would also make the DC and air compressor systems completely silent.

  3. 2 layers of 3/4" subfloor on 11-7/8" LPI joists on 16" centers. It would be nice to have finished wood floors, but I could easily get by with exposed OSB or plywood subflooring. A quick stain would make it look fine. I'd have to check the span tables, but I think you can get away with 16" OC spacing; maybe drop to 12" or double up under where the big heavy machinery is going.

  4. 6" metal snap ducting for all DC piping, directly down from the machine to a main 8" run to the DC.

  5. Scissors trusses for the ceiling, 9' high at the sides with 12' or so at the peak.

  6. 8' fluorescent strip lighting using "daylight" bulbs, along with undercabinet lights where required.

  7. Environmental design includes proper orientation to maximize early morning and late afternoon light, and deep eaves to keep 10-2PM solar gain low.

  8. Transom windows at 5'-0" to allow for wall-mounted things. Full size windows over the workbench.

  9. A shop-long 24" work counter with base cabinets, face vises, drawers and pull-out bins along the long dimension, under the transom windows.

  10. Large French doors connected to the garage. Insulated door to the house

  11. Partial small upstairs office, open to the shop below

  12. 2 large filtered box fans to catch airborn dust.

  13. White painted ceiling with a stucco "rough" texture to minimze glare.

  14. Wall finishes: horizontal tongue and groove cedar, painted wallboard, and other materials

  15. Separate room for finishing, about 8'x10', with wall cabinets for finishing materials, and a central large assembly/finishing table. Air filtration to exterior.

  16. Large concrete utility sink near sharpening station.

The Garage Workshop: Initial Thoughts

(Longish post, sorry.)

Well, you say you want to do woodworking, right?

And you either don't have a basement, or it's damp, or it's your Man Cave, or otherwise unavailable for use as a woodshop, right?

And your local NCOB (Nazi Community Organizational Body) - more commonly referred to your Home Owner's Association - doesn't allow separate shops, outbuildings, sheds, covered porches, or other structures which - although you paid good money for your property and it would greatly contribute to your quality of life - may possibly present an irregular, nonconforming look to your property and are thus Oulawed, right?

Well, my friend, the Garage is probably gonna be your new home. Unless you're single and don't mind planing boards on the kitchen table.

The Garage is actually a very natural selection of space for the at-home woodworker. Most Garages have the following desirable features:
  1. It is separated from the house - if not as a separate building, by at least a 1 hour fire rated wall, by code. This means that dust and noise are much more self contained than would otherwise be the case in a basement (or kitchen table). Once dust gets into your homes ventilation system, it ain't getting out without a lot of money spent.
  2. It may house your main service panel, providing easy access to add additional circuits.
  3. Big doors to the outside for hauling machinery, wood, supplies, etc.
  4. Most people don't mind it being a little on the dirty side. Ever seen a clean, tidy garage that wasn't a cover photo for Handyman Magazine? Yeah, me neither.
  5. For attached Garages, they have taller ceilings than the main house. For a non-split-level home, the main floor level is probably at least between 10 and 13 inches above the garage floor, but the ceiling line most likely remains constant. My house with 8' tall main floor ceilings has a little over 9' in the garage.
  6. Using it to store your car is purely optional (depending on dispositional status of Spouse/Significant Other/Reason for Living/etc.)
Garages have their downsides to deal with, however:
  1. Concrete floors absolutely SUCK to work on for any length of time.
  2. The floor slopes at least 3" down to the door opening, making it more difficult to properly register machinery setups and build cabinets (although we will solve both issues).
  3. They may or may not be insulated, making woodworking more of a seasonal activity, depending on climate. My garage is fully inside the main house "box," yet the insulation is only in the ceiling and the common wall of the house - the garage itself is outside of the house's "thermal envelope." If you think of your house as your body snugly wrapped under the covers on a cold winter night, the Garage is your cold left foot that isn't under it, only here you can't scootch it back under the covers. Our Garage Workshop project will solve this issue.
  4. They are most likely severely lacking in electrical outlets - "receptacles," in proper electrical parlance. By code, you need a minimum of single 15 amp GFI (Ground Fault Interrupt) duplex receptacle and one or more non-GFIs for overhead garage door openers. Builders are notorious for providing the bare minimum for everything, so this is typical. We'll solve the electrical problem with a subpanel upgrade and lots of new properly sizes receptacles.
  5. The lighting usually sucks, usually provided by a pair of puny 40W incandescent light bulbs that makes everything look like it has the flu.
  6. The common "fire wall" with the house is an important barrier. Remember that running cars give off carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas. Garages also store gasoline, oil, and other highly flammable liquids. Thus, anything you do that penetrates this barrier in any way can be seen as a serious problem with local codes, your insurance company, and your health and safety.
    However, it is my FIRM belief that major work (electrical, HVAC, construction, etc) needs to be properly permitted and inspected for your own protection, and the process "should" catch any issues with this important barrier.
    Otherwise, you run a risk where a disaster such as a fire may not be compensated by the insurance company if they found out you did work which was against code and was not permitted. Even if it did not contribute to the disaster.
  7. Wood shops absolutely eat space. But unless for most garages are way too small, even for cars, unless you drive a Mini. Mass builders of new homes make garages so ridiculously small as to be quite unsuitable for their intended purpose. For most homes built in the last 10 years, even a two car garage is barely adequate for a single car, much less two. I've seen garages built which were so tight that you could not open the doors. Meaning YOU COULD NOT EVEN GET IN AND OUT OF THE CAR.
    On top of that, you have your NCOB (er, HOA) which explicitly bans external sheds to store mowers and other yard-like implements of destruction, so the garage is already swamped for space.
  8. Using it to not store your car is In-No-Way-Jose-Feliciano optional (again, depending on dispositional status of Spouse/Significant Other/Reason for Living/etc.).
This blog will focus on the design and implementation of turning a normal two-car 21'x21' garage into a Workshop Paradise, as well as document project logs and so on. We're going to cover these main topics:
  • The givens: What we have to work with. The first thing to do is establish a full initial survey in all three dimensions, which is critical to the planning process. It's also important to properly survey your available building services - electrical, plumbing, HVAC (heating/ventilation/cooling). I think it's really important to completely document in sketches and drawings of how your home's systems are laid out, from the basement to the attic, so you can figure out how to extend them into the workshop properly.

  • Planning: We need a clear vision of what we want the final thing to look like. Most at-home woodworkers use both hand tools and machinery in varying doses, so the workshop I build is clearly a unique case. But what I come up with may provide insight to your design and your thought process.

    However, one should understand that there is no such thing as the "ultimate workshop'' as initially designed on paper. Even Norm Abram's shop, which was built out of the ground for a single purpose, has its design flaws. For example, it has a concrete floor and there's no under-floor dust collection - he runs a trip-hazard flexible pipe from the table saw to the wall DC line. Egads.

    I think wood shops need to be used for some time to be fully understood. You can initially lay out your current stable of machinery and workbench, but until you get in there and start making big boards into smaller ones, you really don't know how close or far apart the machines should be, or where their positions should be for maximizing efficiency. Then you have to plan for new stuff. Do you have a 4" bench top jointer but really want an 8" full size behemoth? What if your furniture making takes you to "needing" that 20" planer? What if you are getting along with a tiny benchtop table saw and find a decent Unisaw on Craigslist for $300?

    The point is, you will always be tweaking things and making improvements. That's a self-analysis of your workflow and, really, half the fun of having a wood shop. In the beginning all you can do is design a decently thought-out solution as a starting point, and let time and experience take it from there.

  • I will need improvements to the home's building services to turn a dead utilitarian space into livable conditions: Updating the electrical system to support the machinery and other electron-pushery-utensils; installing proper lighting, adding insulation, heating and/or air conditioning for year-round comfort; adding a utility sink; and other niceties.

  • Workstations. We'll need to design stationary major work areas like the table saw, miter saw/radial arm saw, router table, drill press, bandsaw, jointer, planer, assembly, and of course, our hand-toolery kung-fu tomfoolery (i.e., a real honest to God woodworking workbench).

  • Cabinetry. One of my most basic design requirements is to have lots of cabinets with everything stored away in its proper place. There's no more frustrating, time wasting endeavor than searching for a tool in a bucket, box, or on a shelf someplace. And with dust getting everywhere - even with decent dust collection - I want clean and tidy tools with nothing stored out in the open.

    Cabinets are actually a lot of fun to design and relatively simple to build. After a lot of research I've decided to store any below-countertop stuff in drawers of varying sizes, instead of open shelves or behind cabinet doors. Drawers allow you to graduate and sort tools by function easily, keep the dust out, and provide a much cleaner look.

  • Mobility where required. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think absolutely everything needs to be on wheels, but some stuff really should be on a mobile base. When your shop is on the smaller side, the more mobile things are, the better. I picked up a 2-ton cherry picker/ engine hoist from Pop Boys for a hundred bucks which is fabtastic for unloading the latest CL find and moving the big stuff around. Too bad it weighs a ton and takes up space.

    My design will incorporate a few roll around cabinets and assembly tables, which allow me to spread out when working but compress down to a smaller space when not. Intelligently designed, I think this will allow my Fabulous Wife to park her car and still let me get some stuff done.

  • Dust collection. This aspect of shop design cannot afford to be underestimated. I didn't think it was important until I finally plugged in my table saw for the first time and ripped a 2" wide, 48" long strip of MDF. Yow.

  • We'll also need to factor in for those things that need space but you usually don't think about until you move in:
    - Raw wood storage
    - Offcut storage (these critters multiply like rabbits)
    - Hardware storage (nuts n bolts n things)
    - Air compressor. Yes, you need one. And no, it is never big enough.
    - Woodworking hand tool storage - saws, planes, marking utensils, etc. (next to The Workbench)
    - Normal shop everyday hand tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, levels, hammers, etc.
    - Handyman tools - Drywall tools, painting stuff, plumbing doodads, electrical stuff...
    - Hand power tools like routers, circular saws, drills, air guns. These can consume a lot of space as well.
    - Misc. liquids/supplies storage: thinners, glues, waxes, stains, paints, brushes.
    - Other "normal" denizens of the garage: Mowers, lawn tools, bicycles, garbage cans, cars, etc.
That's enough of a road map for now. As I get some pictures together I'll post the progression.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Assless Chaps"

A friend of mine mentioned these as being standard business attire for San Francisco.

I laughed and then realized what an awesome name this would be for a band.