Building an ABS Pipe File Rack (Part 3)

This is part 3 of my ABS pipe file rack build. You can find part 2 here.

After looking through my scrap pile for an appropriate sized piece for the bottom of the rack, I found another section of Chinese elm that I could use.

It was just long enough to use once the ends were squared off. I ripped a 5/8″ strip off one side to use as a lift strip to keep the tubes up off the bottom. If that doesn’t make sense now, you’ll see it better once it is complete.

Cutting Slots for the Bottom

I started by taking a measurement for the slot off the bottom piece using a Veritas Dual Marking Gauge.

I then use a wide chisel to further define and deepen the outline of the slot.

At this point, I can use my beloved router plane to clear out a layer of wood.

This cycle of chisel to router plane is repeated until I reach the desired depth. I suppose that I could use a chisel to hog out more wood in a single pass as I do with a dado but I find it hard to control. The router plane takes a bit longer but the end results are much cleaner.

Prepping the Bottom

More for practice than for need I decided to put the lift strip in a groove in the bottom. To do this I marked out the edges with a knife and then ran the router plane down to make the grooves.

I was then able to glue the strip into the groove, ready for final assembly.

Final Assembly

As everything is sitting in slots or notches, I simply needed to glue the joints and clamp everything.

To finish up, I trimmed the ends of slats flush and put a coat of orange shellac over the entire file rack.

Finally, I fit the ABS tubes into place and filled them up with the files and rasps.

Here is a close up of how the lift strip on the bottom holds the tubes up. This allows any dust on the files to clear the tubes rather than collecting in their bottoms.

Hope you enjoyed it – thanks for reading!

You can find part 1 of the build here.



Building an ABS Pipe File Rack (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my file rack build using ABS tubing. You can find part one of this project here.

My design for the file rack is to contain the ABS tubes with two solid end pieces attached by strips at front and back. These strips will sit in notches in the side pieces. At the bottom will be a flat panel with a set of 3 small strips running lengthwise across it. This will provide support for the bottom of the tools. It will also have a gap where saw dust and such can escape the bottom of the  tubes.

Cutting the notches

I started by laying out the notches. No measurements here, just laying things out so they look good. I made my marks directly from pieces using a knife and a Veritas marking gauge.

The lines are a little hard to see but here they are cut in below.

Given that this is just a utility piece, I could go straight to the saw now. However, I like to take advantage of a chance to practice my “first class cuts”. I do this by taking a chisel to cut a trench to the waste side of the knife line that forms a trench for the saw to ride in.

This helps to keep the edges of the joint crisp and clean since they will be visible in the finished piece. As I mentioned, the Chinese elm is not working as well as I’d hoped. You can see that even with the knife and chisel work, the edges are not particularly clean.

A quick cut with a back saw forms the edge of the notch.

I put a couple more kerfs into the waste section and then use a chisel to clear the bulk of the wood. It’s important to work from both sides here and at an angle moving up and away from the base line.

The result is a slight ridge in the center of the waste. This can be subsequently removed and smoothed with a router plane.

Note that I’ve clamped a second piece next to the one I’m working on. This provides the needed support for the base of the router plane when bridging the notch. In this case, I was using the other side but any offcut with a straight edge will do the trick.

A quick check of the fit of the notches. You can see the checking that I talked about in my earlier post. Doesn’t look great but this is for the shop and shouldn’t impact the function.

Finally do a dry assembly to check things. The tolerances are tight enough that it holds together by friction until I insert the tubes, then I needed clamps for support.

Next steps are to build the bottom, assemble the file rack, and put on a finish of some sort.

Thanks for reading!






Building an ABS Pipe File Rack (Part 1)

Over the years I have amassed a number of files and rasps. Since storing these tools loosely together damages their cutting edges through contact, I had been storing them in old wine boxes. I used the separate compartments in the boxes to hold one file each. It achieved the desired outcome but was neither efficient nor elegant. I finally decided it was time to make a proper file rack for them.

After spending some time looking around at different options, I settled on something that looks like an over-sized spice rack that uses ABS pipe to compartmentalize the files. In hind sight, I could also have used PVC, which may have been a bit cheaper, but I already had some ABS in hand so went with it.

Here’s the build process I used.

Cutting the ABS

The first thing I did was to cut the ABS pipe into lengths. For this I used a large Rigid No 133 pipe cutter that I picked up off Kijiji a number of years ago. It is basically a giant version of the pipe cutters commonly used in plumbing for cutting copper pipe.

I think that I actually sourced it to do some plumbing but, once you have one of these and realize the number of things you can use ABS and PVC pipe for, the sky is the limit. Using a pipe cutter insures that your cuts are always square and finished looking – things that are not always true when cutting with a saw.

And so began the cutting to break down the 6′ lengths of 1 1/2″ ABS pipe I had.

Given the range of files and rasps I had to deal with, I planned on two layers of pipes. The back row is 10″ long and the front row is 8″. After some time spent on cutting I had 19 tubes ready to go.

Building the File Rack Frame

One of the reasons that I had put off building this file rack for so long is that, for some reason, I was obsessing about the type of lumber I would use for it. I was originally thinking about building it out of cherry or butternut, both of which I have some planks of sitting in waiting. Given the utilitarian nature of the project, I’d save these nicer woods for a project that will be more visible.

However, a few years ago we took down a number of Chinese Elms from the back yard that had come end of life and were constantly dropping branches, mostly onto our neighbor’s roof. I split a few lengths of trunk and set them aside to dry. The wood isn’t as nice as I’d hoped but will work for things like this so I grabbed a chunk to use in this project.

A bit of time with the band saw, jointer, planer, and table saw and I had wood for the sides prepared.

The ends of the long pieces have a bit of checking but because its utilitarian project and the joinery should help with any further splitting, I’m not going to worry about it. I still have to figure out what to use for the bottom of the file rack – haven’t decide whether to put in a piece of plywood or mill another chunk of the Chinese Elm.

In the next entry, I’ll cover cutting the joints and putting the file rack together.

Thanks for reading!

Part 2 of the build can be found here.


Zero Clearance Insert For My Table Saw

I decided, somewhat on the spur of the moment, that I would finally make the zero clearance insert for my table saw that I have been meaning to make for years. It is something I should have done long ago, not so much for the reduced tear out when cutting sheet goods as for the increased safety of preventing thin off-cuts from falling in along the blade.

It turned out to be pretty straight forward though there were a few gotchas. For those that are interested, here is the process that I followed:

Sizing the blank

The first step was to cut the blank. I used 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood as it is straight, stable, smooth, and slightly less thick than the metal insert that came with the saw. FYI, the saw I have is a Rigid job site saw. Its a great saw with a lock for blade depth which is something that I was unable to find in any other job site saw. That may have changed over the last number of years however.

I set the fence to cut the blank to width by registering off the original metal insert.

And checked the width of resulting blank.

I then used the original insert to mark the curved ends at the end of the blank. The cuts on the end of the blank were made on the band saw followed by a disk sander and file to smooth and finish the edges.

I then test fit the new insert into the saw. It looks like it doesn’t fit but that is just because, on this specific saw, the blade doesn’t actually go down far enough to allow the new insert to sit fully in place.

Cutting the slot and additional features

In order to fully check the insert fit, I had to fire up the saw and have the cut driven up into the new insert.  The result fit so well that I couldn’t easily remove it again so I also added a finger hole to pull it up and out if needed. Another requirement was cutting a keyhole at one end to accommodate the screw that holds the insert in place in the table top.

Leveling the insert

Its not really clear in the pictures above but, even though the insert is actually thinner than the original plate, it was still sitting proud of the table top. It turns out the that the trunnion assembly actually sits slightly closer to the top of the table than the rests for the insert that are molded into the table top. With the original insert, this wasn’t an issue as it was full thickness only at the edges. As the new insert is a constant thickness, it made contact with the trunnion assembly (seen to the left of the blade in the picture below) before it made contact with the insert supports.

The answer, while not elegant or pretty, was to use a chisel to remove a layer of the insert on the bottom side to provide the necessary clearance. If I make another insert in future, I may use a router to do a cleaner job of it. For now, it is on the bottom of the insert so not visible when installed.

As a result, the insert now sat level but below the level of the table. In order to correct this, I used the same strategy as in the original insert. I drilled 4 holes, one in each corner of the insert, and threaded them to accept grub screws.

With the screws in place, I am now able to adjust the insert to bring it up flush with the table. I also rounded over the edges just slightly to avoid any interference as stock moves over the insert during sawing.

Finished Product

That’s it – the insert is now installed and working great. I actually made a second one as well in case I need to either do dado stack or angled work with the saw, either of which would destroy my straight insert.

If I do this again (which I might now that I have the bugs worked out), I think I may use stock that has a composite surface to reduce friction and improve the finished look. But, for now, things work great so there is no rush on a replacement.

Thanks for reading!