Plans, projects and how-to's for home machinists

I Bought a Dewalt Table Saw

I’m adding drawers to a workbench and the original plan was to cut all the wood with my circular saw, chop saw and CNC router. The carcass I made with those tools came out well, but it would have taken far less time and been much easier to make with a table saw. I still have to make the drawer boxes and they are going to require many more parts that have to be precisely cut and equally sized. To make a long story short, I bought a table saw to make them. 

It’s a $600 Dewalt DWE7491RS “15 Amp Corded 10 in. Job Site Table Saw with Rolling Stand.” I read many reviews on Amazon before buying it, but I purchased it from Home Depot because it would be easier to return if there was a problem with it or if I didn’t like it. I had to order one because they are very hard to find in a Home Depot or Lowe’s store right now. I couldn’t look at one first, but I did examine a smaller and similar Dewalt table saw. 

I’ve owned a several other table saws and I believe that the fence is the most important part. If you don’t like the fence, then you won’t like using the saw. So here’s what I look for:

  • You should never have to worry about the fence staying parallel to the blade.
  • You should be able to move the fence easily and be able to easily make small and precise adjustments.
  • It should be sturdy and durable.
  • The fence rails should be long enough to let you make rip cuts that are wide enough for your needs.

Dewalt seems to have the highest rated portable table saws on Amazon, by a large margin. The saw I bought has a 4.8 rating and more than 2,700 reviews. Their fences seem to be one of the biggest reasons why people like their table saws. 

Dewalt uses rack and pinion gears at both ends of the fence. It’s a method that I have not seen other table saws use. Most fences just slide along a front rail and are held in place by a lever or knob activated clamp.

I have a very small workshop and I’m a very infrequent woodworker. So I wanted a saw that wouldn’t take up much space. I strongly considered buying a Dewalt 8-1/2 inch table saw that costs $399 ($200 less). It’s small, but still too big to store on a shelf and I wouldn’t want to store or use it on the floor. So I would have to build a nice stand for it that would probably cost at least $100 for the wood and casters. It would also take time to build that I would rather use for other projects.

That made me more willing to spend $200 more for a bigger and more powerful saw that also came with a nice stand. The deal was sealed when I found out that the stand folds so that both it and the saw take up very little storage space.

The saw also has a some other features that I like. Reviewers say the riving knives can be very quickly and easily removed and reinstalled. You can also attach a shop vac to it.

This model, the Dewalt DWE7491RS, can make rip cuts up to 32-1/2-inches wide and it has a 3-year warranty.

Adding Drawers to a Workbench


I want to add drawers to the workbench I built for my Shapeoko CNC router. I’ve never made any so I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can so I don’t make any expensive mistakes. If you’ve never added drawers to a workbench and you might want to someday, then watch the video above.  It’s one of the best ones I’ve found. 

I’m going to use 1/2-inch Baltic plywood for everything — the drawer sides, the drawer bottoms, and the frame. In case you’re wondering, 4×8-foot sheets currently sell for $45 at Home Depot. And ten pair packs of medium-duty self-closing full-extension drawer slides cost from about $60 to $110 on Amazon, depending on the length, for ones that are both popular and highly rated. This project will use eight pairs and I’m probably going to use these.

I’m using Fusion 360 to play with the layout. The drawer slides need 1/2-inch on each side of the drawer boxes. The false fronts are going to extend about 1/2-inch above and below each drawer with a 1/8-inch gap between them. The dimensions show the total height of each drawer, including the 1/2-inch thick bottoms.

One thing I’m still unsure of is how deep (not high) to make the drawers. The opening in the workbench where the drawers will go is 35-inches (wide) x 25 (high) x 30 (deep). There are 22-inch long drawer slides, so I could make the drawers that deep. But should I?

Maybe I shouldn’t turn down extra storage space, but it seems like 18-inches will be deep enough. The drawers of my rolling steel tool cabinets are 16-inches or less.

I know that drawer boxes made with dovetail joints are the strongest. But it looks like you can also build durable drawers with pocket screws and glue. That method is much easier and faster and I’ve got other projects to work on, so that’s how I’m going to make mine. If I make the drawer sides with my CNC router then I may add some slots and tabs which will increase their strength and help with their assembly.

All the parts could be made with my CNC router except for the sides of the frame, which are too big. But, I’m not sure I’m going to use it.

The drawer sides and bottoms will get cut more precisely with the CNC router because I’ll be making them with a circular saw if I don’t. However, the CNC will take much longer to cut the parts out and it will waste more wood. It’ll also take time to CAD and CAM the parts, but I want the practice.

I really like the video above.  It shows you how to size the drawers for your opening, how to make the drawers, how to space and mount the drawer slides, and how to attach the drawer fronts with an even gap around them (using playing cards!).  And it shows you how to do it all without having to purchase any special jigs or tools.  
Continue reading Adding Drawers to a Workbench

Ryobi Tool Storage Ideas

My collection of Ryobi One Plus cordless tools keeps growing. While looking for a better way to store them I came across Ryobi Nation, where I found some very good storage ideas, plus lots of ideas and plans for other things to make.

I found many tool storage designs there and many of them hang the tools from slots, usually upside down. Unlike them, this design has adjustable width slots. It’s a little more complicated and also more expensive, because it uses aluminum T-slots, but I think the extra time and cost is probably worth it. It can hold Ryobi tools that most of the other designs can’t, like a Ryobi brad nailer, and a trim router. It also holds most tools upright, not upside down, so that they are easier to grab and use. 

I like that the tool storage rack is separate from the cabinets, because I don’t need those.  I also like his use of French Cleats to mount the tool rack and storage cabinets.  

There are no plans, but Steve Mosley’s design should be easy to reproduce. Besides the backboard, there are just two parts, which you need to make a lot of copies of. My Shapeoko CNC router should be able to make them quickly and easily.

The Kreg Mini Trak he uses seems to be a little pricey, there are some less expensive alternatives available.

Adjustable Width Ryobi Tool Storage

A Pivot to Robotics

I’ve been interested in robotics for a long time and my desire to build a large outdoor rover was the reason I used to buy a mini-lathe about thirteen years ago. That led to a desire to learn how to machine metal, and that led to

Then I decided to start a nonprofit makerspace about eight or nine years ago. That turned into a second full-time (and unpaid) job for five years which did not leave any time for this website, or for making anything.

I’m no longer involved with the makerspace and I like to keep busy, productive and learning. So this last winter I turned my attention back to robotics because it encompasses a lot of my interests and skills:

  • I’ve had a lifelong interest in electronics and I have a degree in electronic technology (which I’ve never used professionally).
  • I’m knowledgeable about computer hardware and I’m pretty certain I could have been a very good professional computer programmer if I’d wanted to go down that path. Unfortunately, my coding skills have become very old and rusty, but I’m working on them.
  • I like designing and building mechanical things and I have the tools and skills to make almost anything.

I’ve built a fairly large number of robotic rovers over the years and I’ve recently come up with some innovative ideas that I want to tell others about. As a result, you are going to start seeing some posts on about robotics, computer vision and machine learning, single board computers like the Raspberry Pi, and computer programming. 

Those topics don’t fit the name of this blog or what I’ve written about in the past. But there’s no point in spending time writing an article if almost no one is ever going to see it, which is what would happen if I created a brand-new website about robotics. MB is no longer highly ranked by Google like it once was, but it is still very visible on the Internet and it gets a lot of visitors. So what I post on here will get found and read.

To prepare for new posts I’ve done some overdue maintenance on

  • The site has been secured with HTTPS and you will now see a green padlock next to the URL in the address bar. 

This was done with the help of Carol Rehnberg of 4SiteSolutions. I am very picky when hiring someone to work on my websites because I have not been impressed by most of the web designers and system admins that I’ve interviewed. I think Carol is very knowledgeable, has good judgment and is trustworthy. 

Her rates are also very reasonable and she works fast. She charged me for less than an hour of work to fix my SSL problem even though she knew my budget was much higher. So I recommend that you contact her if you need some website maintenance done or a website designed. 

  • I’ve started culling old posts that have not aged well or which were not very interesting in the first place.
  • Broken links are being fixed.
  • I’ve started to prepare for an overhaul of this site’s design by looking at other websites for color and layout ideas, and to see if I can find ideas for making this site more usable and for improving its search engine rankings. 

Random Quote

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

— Charles Darwin.