February 15, 2020

Woodworking and Op Session

Canton engine 42 working the yard.


I spent the good part of last week working on improvements to my wood shop. For over 20 years I have had a cheap Ryobi router table. Every time I use it I would say to myself, "I got to get a better router table." It often provided  poor results, some operations were difficult to do safely on it, and it made a mess of the shop.  So after using it on my mailbox project, and almost ruining that project, I bit the bullet. I went to Woodcraft and ordered a new Festool CMS-VL router table with the sliding fence and hose set. While I was at it, I ordered a new larger capacity Festool dust extractor (i.e. Shop vac) and bought a nice flush trimming router  bit.

About a week later the router table arrived and I set it up in the garage. I made a few test cuts and it was like night and day. The parts were cut precisely and it felt very safe to use. But, I realized that to make the most efficient use of this table, which is an extension of my existing  Festool MFT, I needed to install it and the MFT on a rolling cart. So building that cart began my primary focus for the week.

Front side needs a few more drawers and shelves.
I made a drawing of what I wanted, knowing that I would change the plan as I went along. I used baltic birch plywood for the carcass and added some oak trim pieces to protect the edges. Like my miter cutting cart, this one is on locking casters. It is easy to move around the garage as I need it. The front has a deep storage for tools and future Festool systainers (Festools fancy word for tool storage boxes). The back side has two longer shelves to store router table accessories and parallel clamps.

Back shelves for long items
The cart is not 100 percent complete as I plan to add some more drawers and shelves. But I love how it makes my tools so much easier to use and then put away when I'm done with them. One of the upcoming tasks is to cut precise trapezoidal pieces to make the road bed for the curved sections of my O scale layout expansion. The idea is to make nice large radius curves only making straight cuts with less waste. I will use my track and miter saws to cut the parts and the domino system to precisely register each section. More on that later.


Having my fill of woodworking for the week, I was honored and pleased to participate in an op session on Paul Dolkos's Baltimore Harbor HO layout on Saturday. I was joined by Brad Trencamp and Todd Herman. John King, who was supposed to run the yard job, couldn't make it, so I did it. It was a very fun job and it ran smoothly. Paul created the switch lists prior to the session. I really like using switch lists vice car cards.

BTW if you haven't seen this month's Model Railroader, Paul did an article on Brian Wolfe's Western Maryland layout.  It's a great layout with some outstanding photos by Paul.  I had a chance to operate it in 2017. here is a little video I shot while working the yard job on Brian's layout.

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