Researching Saw Blades

I’ve been spending some of the last couple of days really trying to research sawblades for the new TS – looking at just what is out there, and boy, is there a LOT of blades!!

Some of this is summarising comments made on the Australian Woodwork Forums – just wanted to acknowledge that. Basically, I asked the question on there, and there are an absolute plethora of suppliers that are being recommended, all with blades that look pretty awesome.

Some of the variables that need to be considered are (and this parallels a post on here a-ways-back)

tooth design (eg flat grind, alternate top bevel, triple chip)
surface coating (none, nickel, teflon, permashield etc)
noise reduction slots and expansion slots
tooth count
carbide quality & thickness
and so on.

Some of the companies that are getting mention are

Infinity
Freud
CMT
Kanefusa
Daiko

and I’m sure there are more to come.

What I am trying to find is simply: what is the best ripping blade, crosscut blade and combination blade out there? (ie 3 separate blades, not one that does all that!)

Of course everyone has their own preferences, but trying to look past that and simple see what are the great blades! Comments most welcome!

Addendum: Been giving it some thought, and the only real way that I am going to be able to wade through this all is by actually running a side-by-side comparison of the different blades. Of course I probably won’t be able to get access to all the different manufacturers that should be included, but will at least be able to do those that I can.

This won’t be a “winner takes all” – ie I won’t say “this is the best blade out there” but I will simply put the results side by side for different situations, including any feedback I can get about longevity of the carbide and its resharpenability, price, runout etc, and we’ll see what we will see.

Big tool catalogue going online

They are not the first tool store online (for Australia), but given their product range, they are about to become a serious contender.

I speak of GMC – Global Machinery Company, which has its Head Office in Melbourne, and for the past few years has also owned the Triton brand.

In or around May 08, their entire catalogue will be available for online purchasing, according to their website http://www.gmcompany.com In addition, their 2008 product range will be released in July.

There have been a number of changes in the tool market in recent times, particularly with Bunnings signing exclusive deals with Ryobi, and at the same time putting significant pressure on the catalogue range of other brands historically well supported by the hardware chain.  Where once you could walk into a Bunnings tool shop and see an amazing array of GMC tools, they are now quite scarce in comparison.

It looks like GMC are not taking this lying down, and are pushing into a new market – online.  There have already been a large number of sales of end-of-range products through their eBay store, and from what I hear the feedback from buyers has been very positive.  GMC have been going out of their way to look after their customers, and this bodes very well for this future venture if they take the same approach to new tool sales.  Customer Service has always been absolutely critical, and they have been doing this very well with their eBay Store.

So kudos to GMC, and good luck with this new sales approach!

New Triton Tools now trickling through

I will re-release the original post (currently hidden as discussed recently), but there are a number of the new Triton tools now being shown on the OZ and US sites, so no reason to keep those models secret.

Not all will be available in each country, so collectively, announced to date include:

Biscuit Joiner

Double Dowelling Machine

3 Blade Planer

Palm Planer

12″ Double Bevel Slider

no image

184mm 7 1/4″ Laser Circular Saw

no image

Magnesium Precision Planer

(unlimited rebate depth)

no image

Ultimate Superjaws

no image

replacement for current 2400W saw not yet announced

no image

1200W belt sander not yet announced

no image

dual mode random orbital sander not yet announced

no image

lithium rotary tool not yet announced

no image

portable powered router table not yet announced

Tablesaw Engineering

I recently started a thread on a woodworking forum bemoaning the lack of good engineering on so many tablesaws out there.

To recap:

“Went for a bit of a tour of what sort of tablesaws were available out there. I haven’t covered the range by any stretch of the imagination, but I was quite surprised how …um…. average so many were.

I saw poor designs, shocking fences, ordinary guards, unwieldy splitters, poorly positioned power boxes (blocking components), and was rather uninspired. Some mitre gauges I saw I couldn’t believe existed – such crummy designs.

Overall, what the hell were the engineers / designers thinking???

I so wish the engineers that came up with the 2000 and all the decisions to optimise design while coping with the significant limitations imposed by working with folded steel had had a chance to have a crack at designing a decent saw table from the ground up. Perhaps that is the sort of thing that resulted in the SawStop. Pity I can’t afford one of them, because they at least look like they were designed properly. I’m sure there are other models out there as well that fit the bill, so I will have to ferret them out.

I mean, a cabinet saw is meant to be a major step up from a Triton WC2000, and I came away wondering why there are so many detractors of it. Ok, a solid top would be great, and a mitre slot an added bonus, but in terms of general functionality, is just the ability to angle the blade the only real gain?

Sure, I know that the solid (flat) top is significant etc etc, I mean, I do plan to get one (soon), but as I said at the start, I was rather dismayed just how many quite expensive table saws would still require me to turn a blind eye or accept compromises that I didn’t expect would be needed after moving up from a Triton.”

It did lead to a number of interesting comments and discussions, some of which directly reinforced my final choice of tablesaw.

It is perhaps then a little surprising (to me as well), that I ended up choosing a tablesaw that I had never actually seen, but such was the strength of argument. Forums are a great resource if you haven’t come across them before!

So I have been unpacking, and looking at the TS10L with a critical eye, and have thus far been very impressed. The build quality is superb, and as yet I haven’t been able to fault the machine (other than the instruction manual, but that is nothing new!) Even when it comes to placement of the switchbox, it doesn’t block any componentry and in fact as it has been placed on a corner which is not 90 degrees, you might expect them to shy away from that location – a bit complicated getting the angles right. Not so here, and that may seem such a minor thing to be impressed by, but it is small details like this that give you an idea that overall a lot of care and consideration has gone into the design and manufacture.

I still haven’t finished assembling the unit – been a bit busy with the shed itself, but I did manage to turn it on for a few seconds and cut some timber! This is not a commissioning of course – as is done in the Navy, you do tests and trials of a new ship before actually commissioning it into the fleet, so I am doing the same here! I think I am going to discover the pleasure of having a tablesaw again! I first found it when I got the Triton workcentre a number of years ago- a world of possibilities opened up, but over time I found that my enjoyment waned and I started not so much shying away from using the saw, but looking forward to other aspects of the project. Sizing the timber was not a stage I found myself enjoying anymore, and looked forward to having the timber cut ready for joining techniques on the router table, or prior to the saw – machining the raw stock.

In doing the couple of test cuts, I rediscovered something that I had forgotten existed – the pleasure of being able to accurately size timber for a project. Now this is not to criticise the Triton Workcentre, or its accuracy (which is still good for a well-tuned setup), but having a machine that you can still talk over while using it, that is HEAVY (yeah, contrary to popular belief, I like heavy machines!) and that has a good solid, flat top with real mitre slots actually tempts me to start new projects again.

I have been finding myself running the Incra 1000SE Mitre gauge up and down the slot just for the fact there is one that it fits, setting angles etc, looking forward to actually getting to use it! I haven’t done a rip as yet – still haven’t set up the rails or fence. (Haven’t even added the cast iron wings yet!) So as I stare into my crystal ball, I see a future with plenty of well cut sawdust approaching!

***Addendum*** I probably should add what annoys me most about poor engineering is in many cases there is only one of two things wrong.  Either a. ‘they’ have gone cheap, and taken a good (or at least reasonable) design and ruined it by using cheap, substandard materials when for a few cents more the right grade of steel/plastic/whatever would have resulted in a perfectly adequate machine (and not just tablesaws – this applies to everything manufactured).  Or b. (and the one that annoys me most) they have taken perfectly good material and ruined it by doing a substandard design.  Of course there is also c. substandard material with incompetent design which seems to be filling the shelves more and more recently.  There is also d. quality material coupled with inspired design which results in a product that is a pleasure to own and use.***

Shed Upgrade part XIX

It’s been a big ANZAC Day, and although I wasn’t doing the traditional ANZAC Day BBQ, I was doing plenty of “Shed Time”! I would have posted this earlier, but I was just a wee bit tired after about 9 hours solid work out there today. For some jobs it is quite a bit harder being only one person so it all takes that extra bit longer.

I had a bit of a deadline today – the weather has been fine for a couple of weeks, but according to the Bureau of Meteorology, it was meant to rain at 6pm or so, and so the pressure was on to get the shed to a watertight state.

Of course, they got it a bit wrong, and it started arriving by about 3pm, but it was initially light, and I was pretty much ready. Still, I was getting little puffs of water from the final few shots with the nailgun as I tacked the final wall panels into position!

So, the obligatory photos:

The weather started off perfectly for the day, and in fact the changing weather was perfect as well (if nothing else, providing the impetus to get the job progressed!) Once the heat had a chance to dry the roof off, I ran a length of aluminium tape along the ridgeline to seal the centreline of the roof (the tape has a sticky rubber backing and is a form of flashing. I have been using small squares of it to cover any holes in the walls and roof panels) I will still be using the ridge cap as seen here (although not yet secured), but this was to stop any water that got blown up under the cap.

Getting the side walls closed in was really good – the shed quickly looked a lot more finished when that job was done! It took a bit of work, getting the panels cut to the required length and angle, but I think it all came out pretty well.

A final shot looking out from the inside through the front wall. It raises the question of whether I would consider fitting windows at a later stage. Perhaps – the jury is out at this stage.

It’s really looking like a shed again, here with all the noggins in place, and some cross bracing for the front walls ready for the panels to be added. Note the sky is changing….. the rain is definitely on its way. Of course the sky has looked like that for much of the week with DSE doing a fuel reduction burnoff in the State’s forests – there has been an inversion layer over Melbourne for the week, trapping the smoke so each day the amount of smoke has been getting worse and worse. Hopefully with the change in weather that will all dissipate as well.

Light has gone, time has run out, and the rain has arrived. Good thing the shed was ready! There is still plenty to be done – all finishing jobs (and of course the minor matter of the door!) The capping has to be secured, guttering done, and why it turned out to be convenient that the rain arrived a little early – it gave me the first indications of how watertight the shed was. There is one leak under the wall – not unexpected, but I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t! Nothing a little sealant, and guttering won’t fix. Certainly the shed remained a lot drier than the earlier version!

The ‘door’. There have been plenty of different ideas provided by visitors to this site – thanks for them all! They included sliding doors, sliding aluminium doors, a vertically hinged door, and there is still the option of the traditionally hinged door. Not sure which way it will go in the end. I’m most tempted by a sliding door, but that will require some significant track which I haven’t found as yet. The cost may be prohibitive as well – hinges are a LOT cheaper!

Wixey Digital Height Gauge

I haven’t had a chance to give this gauge a real workout yet, but after seeing a friend’s version it looked like an absolute must-have for the workshop!

The height gauge is fundamentally a digital caliper which has been rehoused to perform one specific role exceptionally.

It is accurate to 1/20th of a mm, (or 1/1000th of an inch) which is phenomenal accuracy when you compare it to how we normally set blade and router bit height with a steel rule, and eyechrometer!

The base looks a bit chunky at first, but there is a definite purpose there – you want the unit to be free-standing, and yet you want the scale to be flush with the edge, and this is how you get that. In addition, the scale is flush with the back edge of the base, so you can use the height gauge to also accurately set fence to blade (or router bit) distance. In a few days, I will be using this feature to set up my new tablesaw to ensure the top is accurately aligned with the blade (and therefore the saw’s arbor). The base also houses a couple of magnetic strips, which further adds its free-standing stability.

It is not mentioned, but you could also use it to set drill bit depth to the same accuracy – presetting the depth stop before cutting your hole.

My primary purpose for getting the gauge for my workshop is repeatable router bit setup, where accuracy is critical – particularly if using the Incra system for dovetailing. Instead of having to make repeated test cuts and adjustments, I’m going to be getting some test pieces done, then recording the router bit height so next time I know exactly how high the dovetail bit needs to be to get the required degree of tightness in the dovetail joint. Also, as I have just taken possession of a Carb-i-tool Mitre Lock bit, again this normally needs some mucking around with test pieces to get the setup right, and I will be able to record bit height and fence position so I can quickly and easily set up the bit each time I want to use it. One of the problems otherwise is you can be reluctant to use these bits simply because of the setting up time involved. Not anymore!

So once again, hats off to Mr Barry Wixey for a superb product that is definitely recommended!

Available in Australia from Professional Woodworker Supplies. Cost at time of writing is $A112.50

Now if only I could convince Mr Wixey to produce an alignment kit for accurately calibrating tablesaws etc – being able to digitally test mitre slot accuracy, blade runout, blade squareness to table etc all in one unit. There are already models on the market, but not digital, and certainly not combining a number of different Wixey products into one package

Perhaps there should be a Wixey TableSaw kit, which includes an alignment tool, height gauge, angle gauge and digital fence all in the one package!

I’m planning on doing a video/podcast review of all the various Wixey products that are available sometime soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Progress planning

I’m thinking of investigating whether a sliding door would be a better option for the shed door, so will investigate what tracks may be available. Bunnings probably don’t have any good enough (particularly for outdoor work) but it would mean a door 2m x 2m without the hassle of working out how they meet in the middle, and all the opportunities for water to get in (so long as I make it wide enough with plenty of overhang.

Speaking of which, the guys pointed out a slight problem last night. I was cutting off the ends of the steel where the valleys were folded up (was only on a few sections, but even so), well that is what you are meant to do with it under the ridgeline to stop water blowing up under the ridgecap. Bugger. Too late now of course. So instead, I am going to run a (wide) bead of silicon down the entire length in the middle to seal the gap where the 2 roof panels meet. (As much as silicon is a big no-no inside the shed, this is on the outside, so is a legitimate use) 😉 😀

It’s apparently going to rain Friday afternoon, and over the long weekend, so I have better have this shed closed up, and quickly. There is just no chance to work on it during the week which is frustrating – I just want it finished so I can start organising that chaos which is my all important tool collection.

%d bloggers like this: