Site Visitors

Saw a significant drop in visitors to the site yesterday! Either I’ve gotten boring…..or quite a proportion of the visitors were too busy watching the Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final yesterday!

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(The spike is the result of me posting a video, the dip is centred around the AFL Grand Final. Overall, we are slowing trending upwards 🙂 )

Hmm – how to bring this back to being something about woodworking?

Geelong gave Port Adelaide an absolute shellacking, with a 119 point win. There you go, got to the end of the post, and even managed to apply a finish 🙂

Woodwork 101 – Router Bit Speeds

A question that comes up on a regular basis, is how fast do I have the router for the different bits?

Obviously, this is only really applicable for variable speed routers. It doesn’t mean that the information here is not applicable for fixed speed routers, but instead indicates at what point (ie at what bit-size) that the fixed speed router should not be used.

What we are really concerned with is the tip speed – ie the speed at the outside edge of the bit.

For example, we have 2 bits – one 80mm diameter (approx 3″) (a panel raising bit), and a 13mm bit (approx 1/2″) (a straight cutter). Our router is set at 22,000RPM.

The tip speed of our 13mm bit will be around 54km/hr (33mph). Whereas our 80mm bit has a tip speed of 330km/hr (206mph).

The large bit is therefore running way too fast for optimum performance and safety. However, it is not a matter of running every bit at dead-slow. A router after all is a high rotary speed tool – the bits are meant to run fast. If you run too slow, you risk chatter, kickback, and tearout. If you run too fast, you risk burning of the wood, and catastrophic failure of the bit.

Here are some suggested (maximum) router speeds, which can be used as a starting point for determining the optimum bit speed. Now unlike any other table that I’ve seen for router bit speeds, mine gives plenty of overlap. This is because I have researched the various recommendations out there and the general consensus seems to lead to a suggested tip speed of 100 – 150 km/hr. If you are uncomfortable with higher speeds, or are going to make a heavier pass, removing large amounts of material, then tend towards the lower end of the scale. For final passes removing very little material, tend towards the upper range.

I have also based them around a router with a speed range of 8000 – 22000 RPM.

00mm – 35mm: 22000 RPM
20mm – 40mm: 20000 RPM
30mm – 45mm: 18000 RPM
35mm – 50mm: 16000 RPM
40mm – 60mm: 14000 RPM
45mm – 70mm: 12000 RPM
55mm – 80mm: 10000 RPM
65mm – 90mm: 8000 RPM

Determining the final speed also needs a few other things to be taken into consideration. Sharpness of the bit, quality of the bit, quality of the router (the bearings, and the collet), density of the material being routed, and material feed rate. (I refer to material here, rather than just wood, as it is feasible to use a router on some metals (such as aluminium), and plastics. However, I am not covering the other issues involved in routing different materials. Even wood has a phenomenal range in material characteristics that I can’t take into account here.)

It is generally a very good idea to make test cuts until you are familiar with the working properties of the material.

Another point is how much material to remove in any one pass. A straight 1/2″ cutter can generally handle a single pass (in softer material such as pine), but taking 2 passes leaves a better finish, and places less load on the router and the bit. In some instances (such as dovetails), multiple passes with the same bit isn’t possible, but even then, you can use a small straight cutter to remove the bulk of the material before switching in the final bit.

For something like a panel raising bit (80-90mm diameter), you may think that running it dead slow and going in one pass is the answer (with a slow feed rate). It isn’t though. The tip speed may be high (150km/hr at 8000RPM), but the centre of the bit is only running at 15km/hr – not enough for a good finish (and never mind the huge load placed on router and bit removing all that material in a single pass). The only answer then, is multiple passes (or removing some of the bulk material on the tablesaw or bandsaw).

A final hint? Listen to the bit – it sound ‘funny’ when at the wrong speed. You get used to the sound that a correctly set router bit makes.

Oh, and one last thing. Any bit over 50mm is a router table job only. Even smaller bits benefit significantly by being used in this manner. Sometimes handheld is the only way, but if I have a choice, I use the router table every time.

Clubhouse Furniture

It may not be every kid’s dream to have a playhouse, but it is for many, and what better than having one fully furbished! A wooden stove and sink make great additions for hours of imaginative play, and quality, handmade wooden furniture beats modern commercial plastic junk every day of the week.

These designs use standard pine stock available from all hardware stores, and can be made without needing a vast array of tools. You can easily customize the designs to suit the range of tools that you have, and your skill level. A table mounted router is not critical, but it certainly will make the job much easier.

There are common elements to both units, and so you will find that it is much easier to make both at the same time, rather than making one after the other. No doubt, once you finish these units, you will have requests by other children (or their parents) for more of these, but at the very least, I would expect an invite to a (playhouse) dinner!

The basic construction principle is frame and panel, and is joined together using your favourite technique. I used biscuit joints throughout my version, but you could use dowels, pocket holes, or even butt joints reinforced with wood screws. The raised panels themselves can be made with specialist rail & stile router bits, or more simply with a half-lap frame, or even a mitered frame.

Exploded CAD view of sink

CAD view of Sink Unit

To start, create the side walls, using 42x19mm pine, and 90x19mm pine for the base. The panel is cut from a sheet of 6mm plywood. The panel is fitted by rebating a 10mm groove all round the frame, and the panel is cut 20mm oversize, so it fills the rebate completely. The back of each unit is made the same way, sized to match the unit. I made the sink unit wider, so I could fit 2 smaller doors, rather than a single large door. As I decided to decorate each door with a 3D pattern (the Dolphin, from Carb-i-tool), this dictated the minimum width of each door, and therefore the width of the cabinet overall.

Detail of Door

The front of the unit is a pine frame, made in pretty much the same way as the side and rear panels, but without the insert. The doors were then attached to the front using self-closing hinges. This meant the doors would not tend to swing out on their own accord, and I didn’t have to add extra hardware to keep the doors shut. The doors themselves are a mini version of the side panels, with commercially produced wooden knobs.

The stove is a little different, as there is no frame for the front. Instead it has the control panel at the top, and a baseboard holding the sides together. Wooden wheels are used as dials (made using the Carb-i-tool wheel cutter, but you could also use a holecutter equally as well), and another is cut down to provide a latch to hold the oven door shut. The lower panel has a 45 degree taper, matching a 45 degree taper in the bottom of the oven door.

The oven door is made by joining two boards together (using either biscuits or dowels), then the oven window is cut out with a jigsaw. You could, if you chose, make a replaceable insert to fit behind the oven window, and on this glue pictures of what is currently cooking, so the child can change the picture, depending on the meal. The handle is easily cut with the jigsaw, and attached by glue and screws. The 45 degree taper on the lower panel and the door is very important. Firstly, so the oven door can open (very important), and secondly for strength. When the oven door is fully opened, the tapers meet, providing extra support for the hinges. When the child then climbs on top of the door to clean the oven, it helps to stop the hinges from breaking off.

Stove Unit

Oven Detail

The floor is made of 19mm pine, for the extra strength needed if the unit is used in a game of hide & seek! Under the floor are support uprights, to transfer any weight directly to the ground. You can leave the bottom of the units flush with the ground, or use a jigsaw to cut a bit of a decorative lower edge.

The top of the stove and sink are made with either 19mm pine, (which needs to be joined to get the required width), or 12-15mm plywood. In the photos, the sink is pine, the stove is ply. The stove elements are made using a jigsaw and a home made circle cutting jig (simply a board with a nail that the jigsaw is affixed to). You could also do this with a router, a scrollsaw, or ideally, a bandsaw.

Sink Unit CAD

For the sink unit, an opening is cut with a jigsaw for the sink itself. The taps are again made with a wheel cutter or holecutter, and the faucet cut with a jigsaw.

Sink Unit

Sink Cupboard

The sink itself is a real feature of the entire set. You could buy a plastic container to be used as the sink, or you could do what I have done here, and make your own. It is made by cutting a number of U shapes (these do not have to be accurate at this stage), which are glued together to obtain the required width of the sink. If you were really keen, you could use a different wood for every second U shape which would produce a stunning effect. Once the shapes are glued together, you need a bandsaw to cut out the inside of the sink. If you do not have a bandsaw, you need to cut the U shapes very accurately so you are able to avoid this step. Next, glue the front and back onto the sink, and when dry, cut the outside of the sink shape. That is it to get this stunning sink. If you intend to let the sink be filled, you need to use a waterproof glue, and provide some form of drainage, and to seal the sink so water cannot rot it.

Exploded CAD View of Sink Design

Depending on access to the individual components, I round all corners off to remove sharp edges, and potential splinters. The finish is a matter of personal preference. In this case, I left the cabinets unfinished, so the parents of the child they were for could choose whether to paint, stain and varnish, poly, or leave as raw timber.

All in all, it is a very satisfying project, that is not particularly difficult, and can be made in a weekend.

Pen Turning

One way that I like to document different types of timber, is by turning a pen on the lathe.  I haven’t done one for a few months, but here are some earlier examples.

Episode 11 Router Bit Carbitool Wheel Cutter

Episode 11 Carbitool Wheel Cutter

Carb-i-tool is a Melbourne manufacturing company, producing very high quality router bits in a myriad of styles and designs. One of their rather unique designs is the Wheel Cutter. It comes in 3 sizes – 40mm, 50mm and 60mm. It is not strictly a router bit, as it is designed to be used in the drill press, and quickly and easily turns offcuts into toy wheels!

The wheels have a nice profile, with a rounded rim, and indented hub. The bits have a large chunk of tungsten carbide, and will produce 1000s of wheels!

Carb-i-tool router bits can be found at a number of outlets, including The Tool Centre, Mitre 10, and their stand can also be seen (with a large range of bits) at many of the Working with Wood Shows. If you wat to find a supplier near you, contact Carb-i-tool by email at sales@carbitool.com.au, or through their website www.carbitool.com.au. You will find their current catalogue online there as well. One of the things I find very impressive is the fact that if there isn’t a bit there that you specifically need, they can make any other profile to order. They also offer a sharpening service for you router bits and saw blades, which from memory is in the vicinity of $5 for a router bit.

This is a new segment for Stu’s Shed – Router Bit of-the-month. Credit for the concept actually goes to Matt’s Basement Workshop, an American Podcast you can also find on iTunes.

Carb-i-tool have very generously supported Stu’s Shed with this segment, and have provided a number of bits that we will review over the coming months.

The background noise in the video is rain – can’t seem to do much about it – the only times I get a chance to shoot some footage recently seems to be the only time it rains around here! Seeing as we are in the middle of a very bad drought, I guess we can’t complain, but the timing is…..unfortunate! Been chatting with one of my colleagues, and I’m going to play more with how I record audio in the future. I guess while we are learning more about woodworking, I’m on quite an interesting learning curve about video production!

When all’s said and done, hope you are enjoying the results, and the authenticness of this being a real video, shot in a real shed….our own little reality show….I should have called it “Little Brother”.

Triton Workcentre Dust Bag Modification

Dust collection in the workshop is critical for having a healthy, and an enjoyable work environment. In Australia, all wood dust is classified as carcinogenic, which should be encouragement enough to have a good dust collection system, but it tends to be when every tool that you are looking for has disappeared beneath layers of wood shavings that a decent collection system is considered!

One of the things that first impressed me about Triton was that they consider dust collection as being an integral part of their systems, rather than just an afterthought. Each item in the Triton range has provision for a dust bag and/or vacuum collection.

Before the advent of the Triton Dust Bucket, the original dust bag for the Workcentre had a vacuum offtake. The original dust bag then evolved into the current passive system where a bag beneath the table collects the dust and shavings.

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Photo 1 – The current dust collection system (sourced from http://www.triton.com.au)

Funnily enough, the current dust bag lends itself very well to being adapted to active dust collection. Particularly the rigid ring that the lower bag connects to is excellent for supporting a funnel. You can choose to fit a ready-made funnel, or make one of your own. One of the best ideas I have heard recently was to cut the top of a commercial spring water bottle for a water cooler- it makes a great funnel.
You can collect the dust using the standard Triton Dust Bucket, but this results in a very narrow end to the funnel, which is prone to blocking. The alternative, is to use a full 4” collection system, where the high volume, low velocity suction and wide tubing copes a lot better with larger debris.

Since acquiring a 750W Dust Extractor from Triton’s new parent company (GMC), I have fitted out the workshop with 4” tubes for dust collection from all my major workshop tools (blast gates are used to prevent suction from tools not in use- see Photo 6 which includes inline blast gates). This provides a superb dust collection system. For the Workcentre, I adapted the dust bag with a funnel that reduces the diameter down to the 4” tubing. (Note, in future, I will be going for a much more powerful extractor – 2HP is preferrable!)

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Photo 2 – GMC 750W Dust Extractor

Now, instead of collecting the sawdust in the lower bag which requires frequent emptying, the 4” tube feeds all the sawdust and scrap wood directly to the Dust Extractor.
For the funnel, I chose to go the hard way, and make my own.
Starting with a single piece of MDF, a circle is cut with a 50cm diameter. This can be done on a bandsaw or the Triton Jigsaw Table. Next, a number of concentric circles are cut. However, these are cut with the work set at 35 degrees to the blade, producing cones.
Three additional rings are cut with straight sides. These are to produce the cylinder that the dust extraction hose will fit on. This cone is being made for a 4″ dust collection system, however there is no reason that the normal Triton hose could not be used if the cone is made to come to a smaller diameter.

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Photo 3 – The cut rings and cones

The cones are then inverted, and placed on top of each other, producing a funnel. The first ring is quite a bit larger than the next, creating a lip that will locate on the hard ring in the upper section of the dust bag.

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Photo 4 – The funnel, ready to be glued

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Photo 5 – The funnel in position, ready to be attached to the 4” tubing

I have had some questions in the past about whether the bag will collapse in, restricting the funnel, when suction is applied. I am happy to say that I have had no problems with that, and in fact the dust collection is even better than before (and not just more convenient), as air is drawn into the bag through all the gaps, preventing dust escaping. It will also be beneficial for the saw itself, as the positive suction draws clean air in through, and around the motor, and discourages dust getting into the circular saw’s housing.

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Photos 6 & 7  4” Hose connected, leading to a Blast Gate and Y section

The (Dog) House that Triton Built

Having a decent workbench really does inspire one to take projects around the home to another level.

Having a couple of furry friends join the family required some additional accommodation to be built. Rather than being content with just knocking something together, I decided to use the capabilities of the Triton Workbench to make something special.

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Photo 1 – The Basic Frame

When the puppies were very young, I felt guilty having them outside, particularly with the range of temperatures in Melbourne. With that in mind, I decided the dog house needed insulation! Photo 1 shows the basic treated pine frame, sitting on a base made of treated pine and external grade plywood. The base sits on 4 castors, so the dog house can be moved relatively easily, despite its weight.

Part of the reason for the heavy structure was so there would be room between the inner skin and the ‘weatherboards’ for some fibreglass insulation.

Next, it was time to manufacture the doorway, and a window. I went for a curved entrance, and a round window, because I could 🙂

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Photo 2 – The Window

Once the window was cut and glued up, I then split it into two rings on the Workcentre. Next, a rebate was routered in each ring to accept the Perspex window. The rings were then glued back together, ready for installation into the doghouse. (Photo 2)

The door was similar, made with an arch rather than just a rectangular entrance.

The inside walls and roof were lined with thin plywood, primarily so the insulation can be trapped between the inner and outer walls. I decided to do something a bit different with the outside walls. Rather than do the standard exterior grade plywood, I wanted to make weatherboards. With some Cyprus pine uprights left over from a fence, they were ideal for a weather-proof exterior wall. Using the Workcentre with the Triton Bevel-Ripping Guide, an edge was removed from each upright to produce the weatherboard. (Photo 3)

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Photo 3 – Cross section of the weatherboards
(Edge darkened to emphasise profile)

The insulation was pushed into place, and held there with the weatherboards. It was about this stage that I wished that I had bought the GMC nailgun! (I have since added this to my tool collection) To stop splitting of the weatherboards, each nail hole had to be pre-drilled. It was a big job, but the result looks great! The weatherboards around the doorway were shaped to the curve of the archway with a handheld jigsaw.

It was then time to manufacture the roof. Like everything else, I didn’t want to take the easy option. Some more Cyprus pine uprights were split into three on the Workcentre, ready to be made into roof shingles. The sub-frame can been seen in Photo 4 temporarily fitted to confirm it will fit correctly. The roof is quite a layered affair. From the inside to out, there is a layer of plywood, then fiberglass insulation. On top of that is the roof sub-frame, then black PVC sheeting is layered on that to ensure the roof doesn’t leak. Any water that gets through the top layer (the shingles) will run down the PVC and drain to the outside. The roof overhangs the walls, and the doorway both for heavy weather, and for asthetics.

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Photo 4 – The Roof Support

The shingles were made on the Triton Jigsaw Table, with the front of each shingle rounded (again for asthetics). These were attached to the roof frame from bottom to top, overlapping each row so rain runs off.

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Photo 5 – The completed, unpainted doghouse

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Photo 6 – Rear view of the completed and painted doghouse,
clearly showing the weatherboard construction and the window

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Photo 7 – The completed and painted doghouse,
showing the arch doorway and roof shingles.

I am assured that the doghouse meets the expectations of the new occupants! However, it turns out they also want a wine cellar, and have spent considerable effort digging one for themselves! That’s fine- so long as they don’t expect me to stock it.

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