The flowers are not mine!

Something went wrong with the previous template I was using at WordPress, and it become somewhat unstable – a flower motif suddenly appeared! I’ve given away trying to get it resolved, so there’s a general change of the layout scheme of this blog.  I might try adding some other new features at the same time….

Update:

Good and bad news I’m afraid. The changes to the old template are being retained, so I’ve decided to stop using it altogether and activate a new theme. It’s going to take me a couple of days to get everything just the way I like it, so there will be a few changes, (including a new banner), so sorry about the mess in the meantime. (Well it looks messy to me).

The good news is I’m going to be able to do a little more with this new template, so overall, some improvements on the way.

The other good news – I’ve nearly finished another video, so not much longer to wait…. (possibly sometime Monday is my best guess).

Bandsaw Blades

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A collection of new blades, from 1/16″ to 5/8″. Not sure if the 1/16″ blade will work or not – getting it to stay on the wheels proved a bit tricky today during a quick test run, but I didn’t have time to fine-tune things. It is narrower than the stated minimum blade width for the Triton 12″ bandsaw, but I don’t see why it couldn’t work. The bandsaw itself runs smooth enough to potentially take the blade as far as I can tell. The tyres on the wheels might need some flattening to help stabilise the blade, but I’ll need to investigate further. (Bandsaw tyres typically have a camber as part of the design to help keep the blade running true.)

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Closeup of a pretty mean-looking 5/8″ 3TPI resaw blade. Note the apparently heat-treated tips of the blade – hardened to stay sharper for longer. This heat treating is not done to the whole blade, otherwise it would become too brittle, and wouldn’t survive the fatigue of being flexed around the 2 wheels of the bandsaw for long.

Unless you only use the bandsaw for one job, you really need a collection of different blades, and be prepared to change the blade based on what the job at-hand is. This collection gives me blades for scrollwork, general purpose sawing, circle and curve cutting, as well as resawing – splitting a log into boards, or splitting a board into two (or more). Even so, the 5/8″ is on the small size – the gullet isn’t particularly large, so feed rate will play a part in ensuring a quality finish.

These blades were sourced from

C & S Saw Service
17 Stewart St Mt Waverley
VIC 3149
ph: (03) 9802 1040

Cost was about $80 for the four blades, including GST and delivery (courier).

Update: This has come up in conversation a few times in the past couple of days: bandsaw blades, particularly ordering from places such as C & S Saw Service are generally not ready-made, so it doesn’t matter what bandsaw you have. When you order the blade, you let them know what length of blade you need for your saw, the blade width you want, how many teeth per inch (TPI), and you can even (sometimes) specify what shape of tooth, how the blade is made (such as bimetal, case hardened, carbide tipped etc) how aggressively the teeth are set etc. They then go to their coil stock, and cut and weld the blade for you.  If you don’t know how long the blade should be, measure one that you already have that fits – either make a mark on the blade as the start/finish point, or measure from, at to the weld.  (If you have one that has broken, that task is even easier 😉 )

If (when) a blade breaks, don’t throw it away. Depending on how much work the blade has done (and therefore how much fatigue cracking has developed), the blade can be rewelded for a fraction of the cost of a new one. One way to assess whether the blade is repairable, is looking at where it has broken – was it at the weld, or elsewhere on the blade? If it is at the weld, it is probably repairable. If elsewhere, (and you didn’t do something stupid to cause the break (been there, done that!)), then it is possible the blade has reached end-of-life. If in doubt, the blade suppliers will be able to give a pretty informed recommendation.

Furniture-making course

Some photos from the last course at Holmesglen (identity of participants has been blurred).  The next furniture-making course I’m running is March 08.

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Giving the Triton 15″ Thicknesser a workout.

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Just some of the bags of sawdust generated from the thicknesser!

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My version of the barstool (made during the course)

Didn’t come out too badly – a perfect height for the workshop!

Some new tools for the Oz Market

It has been a while coming – I had an email conversation with Mr Gewiss a bit over a year ago suggesting that SawStop was coming to Australia. It now sounds like Feb 08 will see it hitting our shores. Now this isn’t a saw table for the faint hearted, or the light of pocket. Coming in a little over $4000, it is quite expensive, but in saying that, it looks a quality build, and with the actual Saw Stop feature, $4k could be quite cheap. (I’d love one!)

The saw has a unique ability to detect (via current leakage through the blade) if it is in contact with you. Given the speed of the blade and a cut vs the speed of reaction, if you realise that your hand (for example) is in the wrong place, it is generally way too late. The Saw Stop mechanism when it detects this situation reacts very very quickly, slamming an aluminium block into the blade stopping it near instantly, and the mechanism continues, dragging the blade below the surface of the table out of harm’s way. The blade is destroyed in the process, and the actual mechanism needs replacing once it fires, so the total cost is over $300 each time. However, the alternative is a lot worse. The mechanism can be disarmed for situations where the material being cut has the potential to cause the mechanism to fire unnecessarily.

For a very graphic demonstration of the process, watch the video on their site of what happens to a sausage! www.sawstop.com

Tormek haven’t been sitting on their hands either, with the release of the brand new Tormek T7. I don’t have many details on this tool as yet (it is a wet-stone grinder), but I’m hoping to have a lot more detail for you in the near future (and video…..). Some initial details – it has a 200W motor, driving a 250mm diameter / 50mm wide 220 grit grinding wheel at 90RPM.

Available in Australia through the Promac distributers. Looking forward to having a much closer look at this unit 😉

Triton BBQ and other stories

Was down at the Triton factory earlier (yeah, ok – I’m obsessed!) getting ready for this weekend. For those that don’t know (and are local(ish), I’m going to be at Chelsea Heights Mitre 10 Mega on Saturday from 10 till 4 with a collection of the new Triton tools.

We will have:

13″ Thicknesser
15″ Thicknesser
12″ Bandsaw
Wet & Dry Sharpener
Belt & Disk Sander
3 in 1 Sander
Spindle Sander

and other bits ‘n’ pieces.

Saw one amusing thing in one of the backroom workshops at Triton – a Workcentre 2000 that has been converted into a gas BBQ.  What every one-eyed Triton supporter needs in their workshop at home 😀

Ordered some new bandsaw blades for the 12″ bandsaw yesterday. A new (and local) supplier for me, so will be interesting to see how the blades compare to my old supplier.  I was able to get a 1/16″ blade so am very interested in seeing just how fine that blade is, and how it performs (and how long it lasts!).  A blade that fine is for light scrollwork only – in the past I’ve been using 1/8″ blades for this sort of work.  I’m partway through making another dinosaur to add to my collection, and such a fine blade will definitely make life easier.  So what is coming is: 1/16″ 24 TPI, 1/8″ 14 TPI, 1/4″ 6 TPI, and 5/8″ 3 TPI.  Will give a more detailed report on the blades, and how they perform when they arrive.

…….Yesterday

and so another course comes to a close.

This one was a bit different, mainly because it was brand new – I hadn’t run a course (advanced) before, and it was interesting starting a course with people that had already been on one of the introductory courses with me (or at the same level).  Part of the barstool (the seat) was made up by dressing and biscuit joining a number of boards together, then shaping the resulting panel on the router table.  By lunchtime of the first day, we had pretty much gotten to the same point that the previous course takes 1 1/2 days to get to (particularly given all the extra info that gets covered – setup, basic safe tablesaw practices etc).

So another fun, and successful course.

Was a bit stressful at the start though, I must say.  Was expecting, and had equipment etc for 4 people as expected, but at the last minute, 2 more had booked on, so at the start of the course I was running around trying t get additional stock found etc!  All came good in the end.

Tomorrow…….

Another course at Holmesglen coming up – making a barstool. Hope to take a few WIP photos, but once I get into it, all other thoughts go right out of the head!

I was trying to arrange a collection of extra clamps for the day, but left my run way too late unfortunately (was hoping to get hold of some Irwins). So off to Bunnings I went, and found a whole collection of imitation ones, all 600mm going for $5 each. You beauty! Bought 12 for the course – cost all of $60, and that is how much just 2 good ones would have set me back. These clamps will do the job I need – sometimes these cheap Chinese (crap) imports are all you need. I do tend to steer clear as much as I can, but just sometimes……..

Been quiet the last few days – sorry – been completely under the weather. (And it was quite a storm)

How Energy Efficient is your Shed?

A bit of a strange question isn’t it?  I wonder how many of us have given any thought to the question (including myself).

I was reading through the latest Choice magazine, and came across an interesting letter to the editor, where the person had been concerned that their Ryobi 2000W SCMS (Sliding Compound Mitre Saw) handle was still warm a day after use.  The person suspected a fault and contacted customer service and found it was normal, as a transformer for the laser continues to draw power even when not in use.

So I started thinking about tools in my workshop, and just how much stand-by power I might actually be consuming out there.

There are a lot of transformers out there – from battery chargers to laser-equipped tools, a stereo, and potentially other tools that consume standby power for no good reason.  Including my air compressor that I occasionally forget to switch off.

In the case of some of these tools (such as the gentleman above’s SMCS) that should be unplugged when not in use for safety if for no other reason.  The rest, well, perhaps it would be good practice to ensure that as far as is practical, power is isolated so as not to unnecessarily add to the power bill.

Episode 14 E = mc Square

Episode 14 E=mc Square.

Squares (or tri-squares) are an essential part of every toolbox. In this episode, we have a brief look at various types of squares, from the cheapest through to some superb versions that are available. We also look at how to test a square for accuracy before buying it.

Particularly featured is Incra’s Guaranteed Square, available from Professional Woodworker Supplies. Their guarantee is that the angular accuracy, from heel to toe of this square is accurate to within 1/1000th of a inch, making for a square with incredible accuracy. Cost is $A112.50. It is made from a hardened material (not sure what the base material is), which has been anodised for durability and finish. Also from Professional Woodwork Supplies is a Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. Not strictly a square, but it is easy to use it as such, and accurate to within 0.1 degrees. This one will set you back $77.50. Since getting to use both these around the workshop, I have found them essential tools, and both can now be found in my shop apron, as they get used constantly.

From Australian Wood Review magazine is their multi-square. This is an accurately machined 45-45-90 set square, and is excellent for both measuring and checking angles. It is excellent for setting blade and bit heights, as well as checking for square (and checking other squares). Cost is $35 for the imperial version (currently on special), and $45 for the metric version. Drop this one on the floor, and you don’t have to think about buying a new one!

Finally, for those who love quality hand-made hand tools there is a Colen Clenton square, with an ebony stock, and a recalibratable blade. This is a fine tool, beautiful to look at and use. They are available through the HNT Gordon website.

BTW, sorry about the quality at the start of the video – think a camera is definitely needing a service. Hope the other videos shot around the same time are not too badly affected 😦

Update: Having a look at some of the feedback, and yes, there are a whole heap of other squares on the market, including some combination squares that are apparently very accurate. Unfortunately, I can only review what I have, or have come across (or in a couple of instances were generously supplied), which is pretty much the same situation for many woodworkers. If other suppliers/manufacturers would like to have their items included in a side-by-side review, please drop me an email.

Tool of-the-month (November)

The tool for November is the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge (featured in Video Episode 14) from Professional Woodworker Supplies.

In simple terms, you place this tool on one surface, zero the scale, and then move the gauge to another surface to find (and possibly set) its angle relative to the first. Hmm – thought I said simple terms.

For example, here I am zeroing the gauge on the bed of a planer, as I want to ensure the planer fence is exactly at 90 degrees. It doesn’t matter if the planer itself is level or not, so long as the angle between the bed and the fence is 90.

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Next, I move the gauge (which is magnetic) to the fence of the planer to check its angle.

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Here I can see the fence is 90 degrees +/- 0.05 degrees.

It seems a simple concept, even a novelty, but within a very short time I found it to be invaluable. No longer relying on the coarse gauge on the tool (where you’d often be lucky to get within a degree or 5), you can set extremely accurate angles.

Some examples that come to mind – the angle of the table relative to the blade of a bandsaw, or the table to the drill bit of a bench press, the angle of the blade relative to the table of a tablesaw.

It is an apron tool – one you keep in the pocket of your shop apron it is that useful.

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