RSS Feed
  1. A Laptop Floor Desk

    December 20, 2012 by BigJim_admin

    My oldest daughter asked for a floor desk for her laptop and for writing. She does not like sitting at a desk and it actually hurts her back to sit at her desk for expended periods. But, she loves sitting on the floor Indian style. But, she doesn’t have a good, stable surface for her laptop and for writing – she writes quite a bit… Actually, a LOT!

    So, she asked me to build this interesting little desk ting for her. Of course, if it involves wood, I am all over it! During a garage sale in September where she was over visiting, I had her sit in the driveway (hey, it was a busy garage sale!!) and we took a scrap board to do some rough modeling of size and height of the table. What we came up with was a surface of 36″ x 24″ with a 12″ radius cutout. this allows her to tuck the table in close to her and rest her arms on the sides. The legs will be 14″ tall so the surface will be just about 15″ off the floor.

    I finally got to the project this weekend and managed to cut  the board (3/4″ MDF) and will do the legs in the evening this week. the legs will fold so it is compact and can be stored when not in use. I have a batch of fir 2×4’s that I will use to make the legs. I also plan to trim the edge of the surface with 1/2″ strips of oak to protect the MDF from chipping and edge damage.

    Lastly, I will coat the MDF with polyurethane to make the surface durable and keep it from chipping as well.

    Here’s a couple pictures of the desk surface before and after freehand routing the 12″ radius cutout.


    With the layout lines…

    2012-12-16 16.09.34



    After the cutout with my new router… (sitting on my little box freezer)

    2012-12-16 17.36.31


    Soon as I get the edge trim on it I will post an update – same for the legs and the finished product.


    Roy – thanks for looking at the site, and, for asking for final pictures of the table. I COMPLETELY forgot to update this posting!!

    Here you go…

    Completed lap-desk!!

    Completed lap-desk!!


    2013-02-23 20.57.05



    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  2. Woodshop safety rule #1 – SAFETY EQUIPMENT!

    September 27, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    Safety is PARAMOUNT!!

    Well, DUH! What is safety without the most important thing besides your brain? The items that will keep you safe in your shop of course!!!

    ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear eye protection no matter what you think… if you skip wearing eye protection even one time, it will be the time that something flies into your eye – trust me, I have done exactly that. Here’s the deal with eye protection – you don’t realize how much stuff goes airborne in the shop because frequently it is very fine/small particles floating around. Even those tiny bits can wreak havoc on your eyes. But, you must also consider the larger items that could conceivably cause great injury to your eyes. Broken drill bits come to mind along with small wood trimmings flying back at you from a table saw. Those two examples have caused more than one person to go to the emergency room and occasionally lose an eye too.

    Hearing protection is important too because damage to your hearing cannot be repaired, and is additive – in other words, the more loud noise you are exposed to, the worse your hearing becomes over time. I know this first hand because of my extended exposure to turboprop engines, small gas turbines, diesel powered support equipment and from firearms during my Navy career. I suffer daily from tinnitus and about 35% hearing loss in both ears. It is not at all pleasant and terribly annoying every day.

    Other things you may consider are nitrile or latex gloves, especially when working with chemicals or some exotic woods that have been known to be allergens to some people. Dust masks are very helpful because many woods, when cut, produce dust that is actually poisonous, or can seriously aggravate asthma or give other trouble with your breathing.

    Working with heavy items? Consider steel-toed boots to protect your tootsies from getting a broken toe. Lifting a lot of heavy things can lead to back injuries – using a back support might be in order unless you’ve got someone who can help you lift the heavy items. Leather gloves can be helpful when working with rough cut woods that frequently give off some thick and painful splinters.

    But, truly, the most important piece of safety equipment you can have at your disposal is always close by – it’s between your ears – use your head, slow down and think, especially when doing a new activity, using a new tool you’re not accustomed to using, or dealing with a situation where two people would be a safer way to carry out your tasks.

    Next entry? Ya, I got a Unisaw for $300!!!

    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  3. WOODSHOP SAFETY RULE #2 (OF THE TOP TEN) — naked crosscuts? NO!

    September 24, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    OK, got your attention, didn’t I? Woodworking naked is not recommended for a lot of reasons and I will let you figure that bit out, OK? But, you do want to think about what you are wearing in the shop because your power tools are spinning invitations for loose clothes and long sleeves. You’ve probably seen the “test” of getting clothing caught in a spinning table saw and it actually showed that the blade was generating so much air movement, the clothing didn’t get caught at all.

    Ya, try it at your drill press where it is not spinning nearly as fast and not generating a lot of air movement. That sleeve is very much going ot get caught when you least expect it. I have done it, twice, and fortunately, no major injuries occurred, but some pretty nasty bruises were there for a while. I still have all 10 fingers and have not had any major gashes or broken bones in the shop, but it happens all the time.

    Clearly, comfort is important, so don’t wear Danskins or your 80’s lycra dance outfit, but do wear stuff you can move in easily. If you are waearing long sleeves, roll them up and out of the way. Never wear a tie in the shop – DUH!

    Jewelry is something to carefully consider as well. Any loose, dangling stuff should be removed and put aside until you’re finished.

    Just think a moment about what you’re wearing as you step into the shop and see if it is task appropriate clothing. You could even go as far as having a set of clothes just for woodworking, sort of like a uniform. I do this – I have 3 pairs of jeans that are only for the shop. I have 3 long sleeve shop shirts that have buttons to hold the sleeves rolled up when using power tools. I have a pair of boots just for the shop, nothing fancy, just dedicated to the shop. I have a leather shop apron too.

    Finally, safety rule #1… The right stuff

    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  4. WOODSHOP SAFETY RULE #3 (OF THE TOP TEN) — don’t be influenced…

    June 18, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

    Intoxicating substances and woodworking are a dangerous mix. Stay out of the wood shop if you are even remotely under the influence of any intoxicants or substances, even PRESCRIPTION drugs that may skew your judgement. You’ll be so sorry if you lopped off  finger, or worse, because you were not clear-minded.

    While it may *seem* harmless for the weekend woodworker to crack open a beer (or six) while working on a project, don’t fall prey to the temptation. You’re going to be much less likely to encounter a problem if you’re clean and sober when working with your tools.

    Listen, California is trying to legislate table saw safety technology – let’s not be stupid and actually end up with legislation about whether we are sober and not under the influence when we are doing what we LOVE – working with wood is something we do because it is FUN. Drugs and alcohol have no place in the woodshop anyway, and if it is truly FUN for you, then why risk ruining it, possibly forever, by drinking or taking drugs?

    Next safety rule #2… woodworking in the buff?

    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  5. Woodshop Safety Rule #4 (of the top ten) — SO POWERFUL!!!

    June 16, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    Disconnect Power Before Blade Changes

    Keep in mind, this applies to EVERY machine yo uhave that has a blade…

    Bandsaw – table saw – jig saw – ETC!!!!

    Whenever you need to change a blade or bit on a power tool, always disconnect the electricity to the tool. PERIOD!!!

    SAFETY FIRST, right??

    NOTE: Don’t just check to see that the switch is off – UNPLUG IT!!!!

    Switches could get bumped or malfunction – never, EVER trust mechanical items… More than the fair share of  woodworkers have lost fingers (or worse) by forgetting this simple but very important rule. I’ve seen woodworkers even go as far as to affix the blade wrenches to the power cables so there is NO chance they’ll forget to disconnect the power.


    Stay smart and safe folks…

    Next safety rule #3… Don’t be a dope, OK?

    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  6. Woodshop Safety Rule #5 (of the top ten) — Just use 1…

    June 14, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    Seriously, one at a time and it becomes a safe shop…

    Try Using One Extension Cord

    Here’s a tip I read about and have begun to use…

    For all your 110-volt tools in the shop, use one heavy-duty extension cord. Not one per tool, but one TOTAL. This forces you to switch the cord from tool to tool before the next tool can be used. This way, you remember to plug and unplug the power when moving from one tool to another, and you’ll be more aware (pronounced: SAFE) of the need to disconnect the power when making bit or blade changes.

    SEEMS like a no-brainer, but not so much. I am a safety FREAK, and I read over and over about people making mistakes with power.

    Try it – it may SEEM like a hassle, but the real hassle is when you lop off a finger and then you’ve only got 9… THINK ABOUT IT.

    Next safety rule #4… Respect the power!

    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  7. Woodshop Safety Rule #6 (of the top ten)

    February 28, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    How to be a “clean cutter” every time…


    Clean cuts are key to good woodworking. Without clean, crisp cuts, your woodwork looks shabby, makes your projects look amateurish and can also be a safety matter. No one likes to buy new blades and bits for our tools – they’re EXPENSIVE! But, using worn down blades and bits is a bad move no matter how you look at it.

    Kinda funny that I am even making note of this, but it is actually a problem with many shops. Since I am primarily speaking about safety, let’s cover that first.

    Dull tools are dangerous because they can cause the woodworker to push harder on a work piece to get it cut through. When pushing hard on a work piece, you increase the risk of slipping off the work piece and hurting yourself. You also risk burning up the blade or even causing the power tool to overheat. All could turn into serious matters quite fast. Just doesn’t seem worth it to me, and, I think nearly everyone reading this would agree. But those blades can cost some serious bucks!

    Oh, and…  Dull tools may also kick back more often, and harder. With table saws, kick back is one of the most feared events for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we don’t like being injured by wood missiles or projectiles. Drill bits can get bound in the work piece and become a violent ballerina on the drill press table!

    Sharpening devices for drill bits have become more affordable, so you could invest in one of those for drill bits. Saw blades are another matter. I did recently spot an ad for a sharpening service that uses CNC machines to sharpen circular blades. Looking online there are a lot of options available, local and all over the US. Looking at one such place, it appears that blades from 6 to 40 teeth are only $8.50. 41-60 teeth are $12.00 – not too bad when you consider some of the high end blades from Freud and others can range from a reasonable $40.00 on up to $99.00

    Buy one of the $99.00 blades and have it sharpened 3 times (a combo blade with 40 teeth) and your cost for that would be:

    $99.00 – blade
    $25.50 – 3 sharpenings
    $15.00 – shipping for 3 sharpenings
    $139.50 TOTAL —   vs. $297.00 for 3 blades – NOT BAD!

    Keep in mind, you can only sharpen a blade so many times before there is not enough metal left to sharpen it. but, even if you sharpen that blade 3 times, it’s a lot less expensive than $99.00 a pop when it dulls. Shoot, you can even have them retoothed for about $1.50 per tooth + sharpening costs.

    In any case, dull cutting tools make for an unsafe work shop, and, makes for frustration, slower work, possibly damaging or destroying your work pieces. Seems to me that keeping things sharp is the way to go.

     Next safety rule #5… Don’t get over extended (not credit cards!)

    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  8. Woodshop Safety Rule #7 (of the top ten)

    February 21, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    You need to be a METAL HEAD!!!


    Seriously, you  need to have metal in your head, or at least on you mind all the time when working with wood. Metal can be the worst thing to have in your wood when you are sawing, sanding, planing, jointing, etc. a piece of wood. Where would I ever encounter a piece of metal in my wood you ask? Shoot, just last week I picked up three pieces of wood at Lowe’s for a small project and one piece was riddled with staples. Staples? YEP – depending on the wood and such, the handlers will staple various pieces of paper and tags onto the wood.

    This means that you, as a safe and sane wood worker, need to inspect your wood before you apply any cutting tools to the work piece. A visual inspection is usually good enough, but what if you are using used or reclaimed wood?

    Totally different situation at that point. Personally, I have a metal detector that I use for metal detecting, especially when I am digging for coins and such in parks and other places. But, now, I see ads for “specialized” metal detectors especially for woodworkers. Trust me, if you already have a handheld metal detector wand, you’re set. But, if you do not have one, consider getting one if you;re going to be using a lot of reclaimed wood.

    What the heck is reclaimed wood anyway? For me, I advertise in Craig’s List for broken furniture and I pick it up and break it down for reclamation. Recently, I got hold of a really nice oak dresser that was in shambles, as a dresser, but for a supply of wood, AWESOME! I also dismantled a 1960’s mahogany desk that my dad bought, but never used. Now, it is a nice supply of mahogany for some projects I have in mind. BUT – when I get ready to use a piece of those reclaimed items, I will certainly scan it for metal.

    The point is that you need to pay a little attention to new wood, and a lot of attention to anything you scavenged or reclaimed/recycled. It’s important not only to preserve your tools blades, but for SAFETY – I mentioned missiles in my last article, but if you think a big piece of wood is dangerous, imagine a piece of metal like a nail or screw flying through the air and into your eye or other part of your body. DEFINITELY not a good thing for a woodworker!!!

    So… be a metal head and check your wood for metal items EVERY time you select a work piece.

    Next safety rule #6… be a clean cutter


    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  9. Woodshop Safety Rule #8 (of the top ten)

    February 20, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    Doing the opposite?


    Well, not really DOING the opposite. Actually, it’s more like going against the direction – of the cutting tool. As woodworkers, we cut wood down to size, not build it up like in ceramics or other arts. Since we reduce the wood, we need to cut it. When cutting with power tools, we cut so the wood is going against the cutting teeth. Like on a table saw where there is risk of kickback, it’s because the teeth are moving towards the wood as we glide it forward into the spinning blade.

    If you’ve seen people using a sanding drum on a drill press to thickness sand a thin piece of wood, the drum rotates against the wood as you slide it into the drum. Same situation for a circular saw – you push the saw forward into the wood, and the blade is rotating with the teeth hitting the wood (going into), making the cut.

    OK, so there you go, 3 illustrations of the “opposite”, but why do I even write about this? AHAH! Well, it’s really simple logic, but imagine if the blades went the other way? Now, as you push the wood forward on your table saw, the teeth catch and suddenly that pretty piece of maple is a small missile hurtling across your shop at mach 3! The circular saw – yep, it becomes the missile and flies right out of your grip and hits your cabinets across the room -or worse, your car. Not pretty, huh? Same for the drum sander on the drill press – wooden missile again!

    Wait? What about the band saw? It doesn’t really have the same issues, exactly. It’s sort of flipped up on end, isn’t it? Yep. Well, it still needs to obey the same rules of the other cutting devices. (yes, the sanding drum does cut, just in tiny little pieces). Reverse the direction of the band saw blade and I will guarantee you that the wood will rise up in rebellion right off the table and up into the upper guides, wrecking those brand new Carter guides you just installed. BUMMER!

    Of course, none of us would willingly, knowingly reverse the blades on any of our power tools. RIGHT?

    SO… What’s the purpose of this article? Just to make you think about how those machines are cutting the wood. We so often just head out to our shop, flip on the power and cut, cut and do some more cutting without thinking much about the HOW. How does that blade do its cutting work? WHY does it rotate against me?

    Just remember that whatever machine you are using, the cutter/teeth should cut into the wood, not with the wood.

    Next safety rule #7… becoming a metal head


    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…

  10. Woodshop Safety Rule #9 (of the Top Ten)

    February 19, 2012 by MrMeasureTwice

    Process, process, process!


    Yep, you read that right – PROCESS. Everyone has some sort of process when working in the shop. Some of us are more loose in our processes than others, but we all follow processes. Before I explain exactly what I am talking about, let’s examine the word, just a bit…


    [ pros-es; especially Brit. proh-ses ]


    1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end: to devise a process for homogenizing milk.
    2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner: the process of decay.

    There you go,  we all know what process means. Now, we can get into what I am trying to explain to you. When I talk about process I am talking about the steps you take to accomplish a task or set of tasks. A process is systematic, as noted above, and is something that is fully repeatable. And, since we are talking about safety in this series, I am targeting safety processes that will help you not hurt yourself or others (or your tools).

    Process 1 – never reach over or around a running table saw/miter saw blade to remove cut-offs. ALWAYS stop the machine and wait for the blade to stop moving – completely – before going after waste material or cut-offs. Personally, I use one of my pushing sticks to remove those items, even though the machine is stopped. It’s just a good, safe process to follow when removing stuff. I do that because there is always a sliver of a chance that I could somehow bump the power on the machine.

    Relax your process for one moment and your nickname could be changed to the nine-fingered woodworker – not one you would brag about to anyone.

    What about bandsaws? SAME PROCESS. That blade is humming along for a good 10-20 seconds on some bandsaws, so just live with the fact you lost that time and don’t lose any digits from your hand. It’s simple, safe and the right thing to do.

    As I learned many years ago, SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT. I truly belive that and that is why I am taking the time to write these top-10 tips for shop safety.

    Next safety rule… #8… doing the opposite


    May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,

    – Jim “Mr. Measure Twice” Marchetti
    Measure Twice, Cut Once…