I love building custom furniture. However, it’s rare that I get orders for custom builds. These bunk beds were built for Peach Creek Ranch, a wedding an event venue serving the area.
It’s no secret that I post videos to Youtube, but Youtube is also where I go to learn new skills and gather inspiration. Jay Bates is one of the Youtube Woodworkers I really enjoy following. His projects are well thought out, not overly complicated, and he uses materials that everyone reasonably has access to. I used his plans for my bunkbeds.
I modified his EXCELLENT plans to squeeze a double “L” shaped bunk bed into the space available. I was downright scarred about halfway through thinking that it wasn’t going to fit. (I forgot to allow for the posts, and the thickness of the baseboards, but with a few modifications it all fit). Dimensional lumber is cheap and easy to get. I spent an hour at Home Depot digging through the pile to find the best boards. Furniture built with 2x lumber seems “blocky” to me so I planed it all down to 1 1/4″ thick and ripped it a little narrower. 2×4’s and 2×6’s can be quite beautiful after 3 passes through a thickness planner. This made six bags full of shavings.
I tried to use my shop vac but ended up rigging a box and drop cloth up to catch all the shavings.
The ladder was very easy to make. I used my miter saw to cut some dados and then glued and screwed the rungs to the rails. It’s very strong.
This project was a lot of fun. And the couple I worked for are some great people. If you live in the Brazos Valley and would like custom furniture or built-ins made contact me.
After almost a year I’ve made 10 big modifications to my trailer design and layout. Mostly these have been gradual improvements as I’ve had both time and money. Some were bad ideas, but even our mistakes can lead us to drastic improvements. If, of course, we learn from them. Enter Trailer 2.0
You can catch up on everything trailer related by checking out my YouTube playlist by clicking here.
If you don’t feel like watching ten 10-minute videos here’s the gist:
Trailer: Cargo Mate 6ft x 12xft V-nose, ramp rear door, side door, tandem axles. I bought this trailer used in early 2016 after cleaning out my savings.
My only shop: This trailer is my only shop. I don’t have a garage, I don’t have a carport, My entire shop (save some specialty tools) fits in this trailer.
It’s a PORTABLE shop, not a mobile shop: Meaning, the trailer acts as a tool room. All my tools, workbenches, require set up on location. They aren’t set up in the trailer. The advantage is I’m able to set up the “shop” where and as the specific job allows for the best workflow. Instead of walking all the way from the work to the trailer for every cut.
Efficiency is the goal: The popular term right now is LEAN. Which can be summed up by: Eliminate Waste! Eliminate wasted space, wasted movement, wasted weight, waste materials… all with the goal of eliminating wasted time. I’ll also note that safety is naturally built into this mindset.
I try to strike a balance between ease of access and space savings. I lean towards ease of access. I work by the job, so the more streamlined I can make getting the right tool without moving unneeded tools the better.
Everything in it’s place and a place for everything. This is the ultimate goal. I’ve gone so far as to label drawer, bins, shelves. I’m not there yet but I’m getting closer.
Make it easy. When it comes to organization if it’s not easy to put back it probably wont be. I’m learning this with my safety items. They’re hard to get to so I don’t use them as I should. Other things, however, are easier to put back in their correct place than they are to misplace. <[That’s the goal]
I use passive restraints as much as possible. Bungees and latches slow me down. They also are forgotten, greeting you with a mess at the beginning of the day. I’m trying to remove these from my trailer, and rely on ledges, gravity, and friction to hold things in place. My table saw hold down is a perfect example of this.
I love it!: Yes I wish I had a large climate controlled building to work out of. However, I get twice as much done out of my trailer than I ever did in my set up shop. I just want the large building to back the trailer up to. I now laugh at people who complain about their two-car garage shops being to small. It’s not you just need to get organized.
For most carpenters, the miter saw is an absolute necessity. It’s a little funny since for the woodworker the table saw would be the most important stationary/bench tool. Now that I’m in the field, it’s the miter saw that sees the most use. Probably 3 to 1 compared to the table saw. (I couldn’t function long without either)
The Delta stand was nice but didn’t hold up to bouncing around in my Rolling Workshop. Neither did my Craftsman miter saw, but that’s a different post.
I replaced my saw and decided to ditch the Delta stand for my own “Shop Made” miter saw stand. Most of the really good crown guys I’ve come across have made their own unique stands to fit their workflow and the type of work they do. Therefore take my design with the idea of using the concept for your own needs rather than making an exact copy.
Getting a different type of miter saw stand like this DeWalt was something I debated for a while. In the end, it was better to make what I wanted/needed than use a commercially available stand. The issue with the manufactured miter saw stands is that they are made as a “one-size-fits-all” product and that just doesn’t work. They’re are too many different miter saws and a huge variance in how they are used. Therefore making your own is the way I thing most people should go.
The stands for table saws are different in that they just hold the saw in position. The table saw itself is all the work surface you need, other than a simple out-feed table. Miter saw stands are asked to do a lot more.
My stand had to do several things.
The first was to break down into a compact package that stored easily in my trailer. The Delta Stand took up A LOT of space. I wanted the stand to break in to 3 pieces: The base, and two extension wings. (I mounted a piece of plywood to the saw itself, so four if you want to be picky)
The second thing was that I wanted at least 4ft on each side of the blade to hold material. I also wanted a large surface that I could lay a 2×12 on without it falling or tipping. Each wing is 4ft long and this gives me almost five feet of support on each side of the blade. That is plenty for my work.
The third thing is that I wanted the stand to be made from on sheet of 3/4″ plywood. Home depot carries some nice Radita Pine 6-ply plywood that I really like for cabinets, jigs, and just about everything. It’s $30.00 a sheet in my area.
I didn’t really have a design in mind when I made the stand, just a concept. The stand definitely needs some improvements, but as far as the idea goes I think it is solid. I’m going to keep refining and tweaking it. One there I may show you how to build this design. But for now I’m just sharing my “proof-of-concept” for you to use for inspiration for your own.
Also here is another DIY stand that a carpenter made to meet his needs. It’s what inspired me to make my own.
This will be the last post of this series. There was a lot of painting, drywall repairs throughout the rest of the house. All of which were fairly basic and not “wow” transformational. The Kitchen, however, was the crowning achievement of this project.
The credit for this Kitchen doesn’t go to me but to Wright Custom Woodworks. All I did was paint and install the hardware. Bo, completely changed and refaced the cabinets to a nice modern-classic look. He’s also a great guy. I’ve recommended him to several people for custom cabinet work, and will continue to do so.
Here are the Pictures: Click on them to open the gallery.
I made this display shelf for a repeat customer who has purchase several of my projects. I used reclaimed southern yellow pine and used a vinegar/steel wool solution to age the wood.
For this project I purchased and used for the first time the KREG Shelf Pin Jig. It is a straight-forward and simple jig for small projects. If you drill shelf pins for a living then you’ll want something different. If you’re a DIY’er or a small-scale shop like me this is a great tool to have for occasional use.
The dimensions for this project are 4ft from the base to the top shelf. I staggered the sides 2-4 inches above that. It is 3ft wide and 12in deep. The center section is 18″ wide the two sides are around 8″ wide. I forget the exact measurements.
I was recently asked “Where do you want to be in five years?” This question always catches me unprepared. I have an idea, but it’s vague and unrefined. Below is what I want to accomplish for my business by the year 2020. To sum up everything you’ll read below; the ultimate goal is continuous improvement. I want to grow as a person, a husband, a father, a woodworker/carpenter, and business man. Also I want to enjoy what I do and my life. The best way I’ve found to do this is to run my own business.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain
Here are my goals, in no particular order.
15,000 Youtube Subscribers. Right now I am gaining approximately 200 subscribers a month. To reach 15,000 I’ll need to start gaining an average of 250 a month starting immediately. I’d love to reach an average of 300 subscribers a month by 2020. To reach this goal I don’t plan on making any huge changes to the way I make and produce content.
I still plan on using my Iphone to record all my videos. When the Iphone 7 comes out I will probably upgrade to that which should give a big camera upgrade over my 5S. Yes the Iphone is limited compared to dedicated cameras, but it’s fast, simple, and effective.
I’m saving up to purchase a Macbook for video editing and audio recording. I’m currently using Windows Live Movie Maker 2012. Microsoft has not updated this program in 4 years. It works but is lacking many features that Imovie for Mac has. There is also the benefit of being completely in the Apple Ecosystem for standardization for my business. (Although I’d rather spend the money on a premium miter saw).
For projects I’ll keep documenting all the changes I’m making in my work trailer and things that make my work better. These videos seem to get a better response than furniture builds. I enjoy furniture so there will still be the occasional furniture piece.
To improve the quality of my videos I’m going to slowly acquire gear to make my videos better. I need a good microphone, a tripod that doesn’t require duct-tape, easy to use lighting, and various shop made mounts to position the camera for the best shots. I’ll also continue to improve my speech, editing and story telling abilities. (Eliminating “Umm…and-so” from my everyday speech is difficult, I want to speak with more precision and confidence.)
My Wife and I want to Restore Old Homes. We love the old style of the Victorian, Craftman, and Farmhouse homes. Every-time we drive by a neglected house of this style we both want to help and love it. And yes! We do watch Rehab Addict. Last week, we were in Fort Worth for our son’s medical appointment. We stayed in a hotel and went to the Zoo. On our way to the Zoo we drove through the historic district. Saw many abandoned buildings and homes…we were drooling. In particular we drove by an abandoned fire house. How cool would it be to turn that into a furniture making and refinishing shop?! Upstairs could be an apartment and office space. This will also give me great content for my Youtube Channel.
The way we will start this process is to buy our first home. Before we moved to West Texas we almost bought a home that needed a lot of work. Sadly we are currently renting out the parsonage that used to be part of my salary went I worked for a church.
Self-Employment actually hurts you went trying to buy a home. I’ll need two years of tax returns to qualify for a mortgage. So we will have to rent, find an owner finance home, or we’ve even considered buying an RV and living on some family land for a few years while we stock pile money to buy a home.
An RV/Tiny House will give us the freedom to purchase a home that may not be immediately move in ready. There are however obvious downsides to living in an RV.
My five year plan for home ownership and home restorations is to buy a livable classic style house that needs some work fix it up then sell it for a profit and move into another house about the same condition as the first house originally was. So by 2020 I want to be close to selling our first fixer-upper and moving into our second.
I want to be a far better craftsman than I am now. I have a lot to learn. There is a great deal I can learn on my own. Youtube is a great source that I have used to learn many new skills. There are also publications like the Journal of Light Construction, Fine Homebuilding and THISisCarpentry that teach skills and best practices. However, I am seriously considering going to work for a GOOD high end carpenter to apprentice under. I don’t think I would work for someone permanently but the opportunity to learn both the trade and business from a more experienced person may be worth the trade-offs of working independently. Either way I want to continue growing and improving my craft.
By 2020 I want to have one or two good apprentices. I work primarily alone, but occasionally I run into situations that it would just be better to have a helper. I’ve been a “Teacher” for most of my adult life while serving in ministry. Teaching and training young men to be good carpenters and honorable men is something I want to do.
I want to use my skills to serve local churches. Many churches lack the skilled members to maintain their facilities. I can’t always work for free but I can provide my skills to local churches at cost and even a discount. Being self-employed also gives me the freedom to go use my skills on mission trips. Of course being in a place financially to do this is important.
I want a bigger/better truck. I am super proud of the fact that my truck, my trailer, my tools, and my business are all completely paid for. The way I look at it I went into business for myself to make money, not go into debt. So from day one of starting Dailey Woodworks I’ve paid for everything with cash. My 2003 F150 is fine for what I do but a F250 would really be better. I have the small 4.6 V8 that struggles to keep my trailer at highway speeds. My wife’s 5.4 Expedition (F150 with more seats) pulls it like a champ. Also my truck only has a 5.5ft bed making it hard to load long materials in the back. 4 doors are a must since my truck is also used for my family. A F250 4-door with a 6.5ft or 8ft bed will be better all around. When I get this truck I also plan on installing a ladder rack, winch, generator, etc to really turn it into a great work rig. But my old F150 has proven to be super reliable so I’m not desperate to replace it.
Tools – I want all the Tools. Like my HVAC friend says “If buying new tools all the time isn’t part of your business plan, what’s the point.”
So there it is, my five year plan. I want to thank Rick Seigmund, Founder and Host of the Work Strong America Podcast for asking me this question and helping me create a defined vision for what goals I want to accomplish. Having this down on “paper” and out for the world to see is a huge motivator. First it helped me figure out exactly where I want to be headed, and sencond there’s an accountability that comes from people seeing the article and seeing whether or not I’m achieving my goals.
A man’s heart plans his way,but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 HCSB
Since going into business for myself in November of 2015 I have been working out of my truck. I did as much as possible to organize my toolbox, and have efficient space saving tools (such as my Multi-purpose slab). I did the best I could with just a truck, but it seemed like everyday I would have to make multiple trips to and from my shop.
Sometimes it took two trips to simply get the tools I needed to the jobsite. The rest of the time were the inevitable trips back home to get the one tool forgotten. In the trades time is money; the faster and more efficient you can be the more money you can make. Speed and efficiency also benefit the customer. Being highly organized means the job is completed faster, and a contractor can charge a lower price because he makes up the difference in time saved for more jobs. Furthermore, I was limited in that I was “stuck” only bidding jobs within my small town.
I knew I wanted an enclosed cargo trailer. I’ve known I wanted a trailer since before self-employment was thrust upon me (A true blessing in disguise). My modular shop cabinets, which I build over a year ago, were built in anticipation that I would eventually go into business for myself and have a cargo trailer workshop. I’m determined never to go in debt for my business, and I am proud to say I found the exact trailer I wanted and was able to pay cash for it. Dave Ramsey would be proud.
The trailer I wanted and I bought is a 12ft long by 6ft wide cargo trailer with a V-nose, tandem axles, and a ramp door. My trailer is a 2014 Cargo Mate. I found it used on Craigslist for a fair price and the previous owner took very good care of it. I hadn’t heard of Cargo Mate before this, but the build quality seems higher than many of the other trailers I looked at.
I detail the reasons why I wanted a trailer spec’d this way in the YouTube video below. 6ft by 12ft seemed to me to be big enough to actually be able to work out of, yet small enough to pull with my F-150. I have the smaller 4.6 V8 in my truck so it cant pull as much as my Expedition with the larger 5.4 V8. The 5.4 doesn’t care that there is a trailer behind it, but the 4.6 definitely notices. The V-Nose is primarily for aerodynamics but gives additional storage options. My Father, Father-in-law, and an uncle all recommended that I only consider getting a trailer with tandem axles. Their reasons were as follows: Safer (four wheels vs two in a blow out), Pulls better (tracks better, rides over bumps smoother), Easier to load (It’s not a teeter-totter), and carries twice the weight. The weight of the loaded trailer is going to be whatever it needs to be. Having tandem axles means I can load out the trailer how I need/want to and still be far under the maximum payload. Based on my estimates I am going to be slightly over the limit of a single axle, leaving plenty of payload for materials. The ramp door is a convenience and a back saver. I can easily roll my tools up the ramp instead of lifting 70+ pound tools several times a day. I’m glad I listened to the advice of others and got this option.
Turning this trailer into my rolling workshop is a lot of work, planning, and thinking through how I want to work in the future. It’s also a lot of fun! I’m enjoying the design, trail and error of making this trailer uniquely mine. I am certainly taking inspiration from other contractors, most notably Ron Paulk’s Awesome Rolling Tool Box.
My rolling workshop is continuously evolving. Since I’ve never worked out of a cargo trailer before, I couldn’t simply build it out from the beginning. Here’s a Mark Twain quote “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” My trailer build happens in spurts. I work out of the trailer and fix what doesn’t work for me. Below are Trailer Builds 1.2 and 1.3
Trailer build 1.4 should be along shortly. I’m doing my best to document every improvement as I go.
On my truck I have a standard cross-box style tool box. It’s your basic aluminum box that I got at Tractor Supply Company for around $300. It carries my roadside stuff, basic hand tools, ratchet straps, etc. Since it’s just one big open box, nothing is ever organized…until now.
I started with some plywood trays. Most truck boxes have a lip about half way up where you can add a tray. The plastic trays at Tractor Supply are about $40.00… um not gonna happen. I used 1/2in plywood that I had on hand and made two simple trays; one with a middle divider, one without. They were made with glue and brad nails, super quick. If you make trays be sure to allow clearance for the tool box latches. I had to notch out a place for the latches so I have to make sure the trays are positioned correctly when closing the lid.
Below the shelf that the trays sit on I made an awesome divider system. I took two pieces of 1/2 inch plywood cut dados in them every 3 inches. Once that was done I glued them to the inside of the tool box with some Liquid nails. My dividers are made from 1/8 inch hardboard.
This is the best thing I’ve ever done for my truck. It seems like I can hold twice as much AND I can find it! Watch the Video Below
Now that I’m a full-time carpenter/small business owner I work primarily out of my truck. How you work, how organize your tools, and how you plan projects drastically changes when you go from a nice well thought out and organized shop to an F150. The biggest loss in this transition is a sturdy workbench. This is where the Multi-Purpose Slab comes in.
A Multi-Function Slab is a poor man’s version of the Festool MFT (or Festool Multi-Function Table). I made mine from a 3/4 Sheet of MDF and paired it with Dewalt/Stanley Metal Adjustable Height Saw Horses (these are great sawhorses). This combination takes up minimal real estate in the 5.5ft bed of my truck. I would love to take my Paulk Total Station to the jobsites, but it doesn’t fit in the bed of my truck. That’s the advantage of the Multi-function slab: it’s compact and lightweight enough to maneuver into small working locations. The Paulk workbenches don’t share that advantage.
Isn’t this “Multi-Function Slab” just a glorified plywood and sawhorse combo? Yes, yes it is. The advantage is that the Plywood/MDF is planned out and layed out to make work go smoother. That’s why you keep this instead of the typical use of scrap on sawhorses for a make shift work bench. What makes it better is that you think out how you’re going to use a work bench and put in clamp locations and dog holes so that it becomes a valuable tool.
I modified Steve Olson’s original design to work with inexpensive Bessey F clamp rather than the expensive Festool clamps. To do so I drilled a grid of 1 1/4 inch holes on 6 inch centers. I then had to create a rabbit on the underside for the clamps to pop into place. My Paulk Workbench is made from 1/2″ ply and I didn’t have a problem with the clamps on it, the thicker slab left more material to bind on. The various handles and clamp slots I made with a can of wipe on poly. The rectangular shape makes nice looking cutouts.
[A note about Festool: Just because I’m making a knock-off doesn’t mean that I think Festool tools are overpriced and not as good as the “fan-boys” claim nor do I think a professional needs the “top-of-the-line” tools to do quality work. If/when I can justify the cost of such premium tools then I may or may not invest in top-shelf equipment such as Festool.]
Cost wise the Festool MFT 3 is $665 from Amazon. Would I buy one? Maybe if I ever decide to invest in the Festool ecosystem. Now let’s add up the cost of making your own MFSlab.
$30 – 4ft x 8ft x 3/4in MDF sheet. Cut to 3ft x 5ft and a second 4ft rip is left to act as a shelf
$80 for a pair of good adjustable height saw horses. I can say enough good things about these Stanley/Dewalt Horses. They are very good.
That comes out to be $158 which is $507 less than the Festool MFT. Even if you factor in what your time is worth it’s still drastically cheaper. I painted mine to protect it. I try to bring it into the shop overnight so it doesn’t get rained on but if and when I need to replace it, it’s inexpensive to do and only took about an hour to make.
If you’re a carpenter of have extremely limited space this is a great tool to consider adding to your arsenal. If I was woodworking back in my college days this makes a great workbench store in an apartment or even under a bed.