Local Manufacturing

I was down at Triton’s factory earlier today – always like having a look around, and had a chance to pick up a replacement top for the workcentre (need mine to look good for demos / videos / photos etc).

It struck me as I was watching the top being assembled just how much I appreciate having things manufactured in my own country – being able to actually see the work that goes into producing something.

For example, the tracks that get riveted to the top (which are straight) would become warped by the riveting process, leaving the ends sticking out proud of the surface if not for the fact that before they get inserted, they are put into a press and pre-warped to counteract the rivets’ forces.  That is just so cool.

It is a pressed metal top, so it isn’t as robust and inherently flat as a cast and machined top, but I was also impressed that before the top was handed over, it went onto another table and had a straight edge put across its surface, and any slight high or low spots were then subjected to another press to remove them.

It is no wonder that the Triton Workcentre occupies so many home workshops in Australia (and elsewhere).  It may not have the 0.001″ accuracy of my new tablesaw, but it is definitely more than sufficient for a majority of home workshops.  I know they have their detractors, but to put it simply, if it wasn’t for the fact that there was this range of tools that escalates the backyard shed into a small woodworking workshop, and that it was (and is) Australian made, then I can say with a pretty high level of confidence that I wouldn’t be pursuing this passion (obsession) today.

Local industry, despite the extra costs, are worth supporting.  I know they will all fade and be gone soon enough to a Chinese or Indian factory near you, but until then….

Reminds me actually of a tour I did a few years ago (must be 10 years ago now – where does the time go?) of the large engineering firms in England.  There’s a country with a large manufacturing arm!  Wonder how they are traveling these days?  I went right through the Rolls Royce Gas Turbine plant, and Dunlop Aerospace Braking Systems (Dunlop may make tyres, but then you also need good brakes to stop an aircraft, and that is some amazing engineering if you consider what those components actually go through – it may feel gentle inside the plane, but those wheels and connected components are slammed heavily into the ground with a very heavy plane above them, and the forces are quite unbelievable!), and a number of other heavy engineering industries.  Fascinating things to see, and a real loss I believe if it all gets shipped to 3rd world countries just because they pay peanuts instead of wages.

However, it is hard to deny that we have tools in our workshops now that we’d never have dreamed of owning in the past because of it.  I still think though, that we will rue the day that we lost our own manufacturing capacity.

Dust Collection Options

As I recommission the shed, and the equipment within, I am paying quite a bit of attention to the whole issue of dust extraction and collection.  Even though I currently have a 1hp 4″ system that I plan on running to each machine, it just doesn’t seem to be enough.

I’m currently investigating the options, and am looking at the possibility of upgrading to a 2HP collector, and even including an air filter unit.

My ideal would be a cyclone collection, but the budget doesn’t stretch that far!  I might have to resort to the cheap-man’s cyclone option, rather than a specifically built all-in-one collector.  It’s all going to have to be manual blast gates as well for the same reason.

Tool Sales, New Books and Staff Training

I was wandering around Bunnings earlier today, trying to find an intercom for the shed (preferably one that was a mains wire type (one that transmits through the house’s power line)).  Apparently they no longer sell them (but I could choose from a selection of those fake CCTV cameras for as much as a cheap real one).  Nor does Dick Smith, or apparently Jaycar.  I feel like asking if anyone has noticed that noone is stocking them anymore!  I did check the Jaycar site, and they are listed there, so either the site is wrong, or the sales staff were.

Back to the point – there is currently a large collection of sales items in Bunnings at the moment – lots and lots of very cheap GMC, and some Triton as they are ditching the product lines.  You can get a GMC framing nailer for about $125, Triton 1400W routers for $99 (for a $280 odd priced router, this is a bloody good price!!), drop saws, jig saws, mitre saw stands, air compressors etc etc.  There are definitely some bargains to be had, and I’d hesitate to say, this is a one-off event!  If you were contemplating an air compressor, or a router, now is most definitely the time to consider accidentally deliberately dropping the piggy bank.  Of course if you like premium tools, then you tend not to shop at Bunnings for tools anyway, but we all started somewhere.

I also dropped into Carbatec for a quick peak, and noticed that they have dramatically increased their range of books – some really interesting titles in there, on subjects including Pen Turning, Box Making, Tablesaws etc etc.  I didn’t have time to look too closely, but I suspect some of them will definitely find their way onto my bookshelf!

Finally, while leaving, I noted that they were having an after-hours staff training session, and apparently this is a weekly event.  Must say, that really impressed me – the fact that they are taking the time for the front-line staff to get to actually know the products that are on offer, rather than what seems to be the norm in many places.  Wonder if they’ve ever considered having an after-hours session like that once a week open to the public.  I’d certainly make dropping in to attend part of my weekly heading home routine!

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