A moment of clarity

I was (attempting) reading the Leigh Dovetail Jig manual the other day, when I had a moment of clarity.  The Leigh template guide does not fit the Triton routers, and that is unfortunate because Leigh have built into their template guide an eccentricity which allows for a very fine tuning of the fit, and accuracy of the dovetail jig.

My clarifying moment was that the new sub-base I was about to review, along with a number of different sized brass template guides from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, will take the Leigh adjustable template guide

Leigh Template Guide

(Image snapped on an iPhone, so sorry about the clarity)  As you can see (and I’ll do an actual review in time), the Woodpeckers Sub Base has a number of holes so it can fit a very wide range of routers on the market, including the Triton, and as part of that, allows a very common form of template guide to also be used.

Triton Spares

It has been a long wait, but there has been some progress made on getting Triton spares available again.

An ex-GMC employee took it onto himself to buy the spares as the companies went into liquidation so that they would still be able to be made available.  He has moved to the west (WA), and it is taking some time to sort through them all out again, but as he does so, they are being listed on eBay through his eBay Store.

There isn’t a lot listed there at the moment, but it will begin to populate properly in a fortnight or so.

And for those looking for Triton Biscuits, (other than through the above-business/eBay store), the company that was making them for Triton is now able to sell them directly to the public.  They are called a “Size 7 Biscuit”, available from bix.com.au

A quick preview of Frontline

You know you are onto a good thing when you have a guest in the shed, and you just have to rave about a tool you are reviewing, and this is absolutely the case with the Frontline Engineering clamps that arrived today.

I will do a comprehensive review of this clamping system in the near future (actually, I will probably do it as a combination of written and video) – there is a lot worth covering with this system.

In the meantime, I had an opportunity to have a good chat in my shed this morning with the inventor of the product (well I hope that is right!) – he certainly knew the product range and design backwards. It helped a lot getting that hands-on exposure to the product, and its various features, and it really opened my eyes to a product I have seen from a distance numerous times (as an in-store display), but not realised just how good it is to justify a much closer look.

Probably a good thing, otherwise my wallet may have already had to pay the price, and these are not cheap, but with these clamps you really get what you pay for. I’m seriously impressed by them.

Panel Clamping

Panel Clamping

The picture here is from the Frontline website (and the in-store displays), but as much as it does explain the product well, it also does it an injustice.  Sure, you do get the idea that the clamp is great at making panels, but unless that is specifically what you need, you may completely overlook the other aspects of this system, as I have until now.  You also miss out on the scale involved.  Given that the boards in the photo are around 2x4s, you start to realise the actual size of these units.

This may look to be a clamp limited to only one task (and by the look of the graphic, one that it does do very well), but it certainly isn’t a one task wonder.  The biggest thing I had not realised, is this is a sash clamp, pure and simple.  Just because it has the upper channel in all the images, this system does not require both the upper and lower channels, and by removing the upper section, you have a sash clamp with up to 4 tonne of clamping force. 4 tonnes is astronomical for a sash clamp – almost unheard of.  If fully utilised, there would be glue everywhere but between the boards.  The fact that the components have been designed and manufactured to cope with this sort of loading goes to show the quality of the tool’s manufacture.  I mean how many other sash clamps you know incorporate thrust bearings in their design?!

Where it does come to panel clamping, it appears quite unique in that it fully loads up vertically, getting all the panel components properly aligned before the horizontal loading even starts to be applied.  Glue between the boards doesn’t get wiped off as would happen if the boards were bought into alignment after the clamping had begun.  Another thing that impressed me was there was finally some real suggested clamping pressure, so the opportunity to starve a joint of glue is reduced. The guidance is once the boards are clamped in line vertically, then bought together horizontally (just), one half-turn of the clamp handle (equating to 2mm of travel) is all that is required to achieve proper clamping pressure.

So as mentioned, I will do a more intensive review of this clamp in the near future, but in the meantime, don’t do what I have in the past, and just miss the Frontline display – the amount of engineering involved in these are an ideal combination of simplicity, and elegance, and worth a much closer look.

Clamps Clamps Clamps Clamps Clamps

I’m currently working on the panel clamp review article, and it is proving hard-going on some levels.

Some clamps are easy, in fact it becomes difficult limiting how much I write about them!

Doing reviews over a range of tools in a particular genre is really interesting – you get to really see the ins, and outs o different designs, and it doesn’t take long to really become attached to some of the models.  It certainly helps decide what tools should be in one’s own workshop.

One thing I haven’t got in the shop at the moment, is a decent range of large clamps (I’m always very envious of people with a picture-perfect display of clamps on the shop wall), and doing this review is certainly inspiring me to pick a brand, and have a collection of their clamps in a range of sizes.

There are some beautifully engineered examples out there.


Got an email from Incremental Tools today, and one of the items on sale is the very book I was mentioning by Perry McDaniel

Now available in an electronic form, it includes the cutting board, and the wesbite also provides the Trivet plan for free.

Incra Projects and Techniques

Incra Projects and Techniques

And of course, this is the chopping board I have always intended to make

Chopping Board

Chopping Board

You don’t need an Incra system to make it, but it sure does help!

An Interesting Gauge from Bridge City Toolworks

Prototype Gauge

Prototype Gauge

It is not yet available for sale, but it looks an interesting (and innovative) tool.

An article on the gauge can be found here (Image sourced from their website)

The gauge takes into account the width of stock in the left-hand slot (as seen in the above-photo), and the kerf of the blade (be that tablesaw, bandsaw, router bit etc up to 1/2″)  A very simple, and clever concept.

Neil Scobie DVDs – Brief Excerpt

Some excerpts from one of Neil Scobie’s instruction DVDs, showing some of the steps involved in creating an Erosion Bowl.  On the full 85 minute DVD, Neil provides detailed explanations and demonstrations of each step involved.


Rockwell JawHorse Commercial

This is the commercial for the Rockwell JawHorse that will be featuring on FoxSports in July (in Australia).

The Rockwell JawHorse itself will also be available in July.  The Worx JawHorse (which is the Rockwell JawHorse in the USA) which has been featured on this website will be available later this year.

Latest writeup here: SSYTC009 Rockwell JawHorse

Incra Laminated Breadboard

Ever since seeing Perry McDaniel’s breadboard, I have wanted to try one myself – doesn’t look particularly complex, but it has been one of those projects I’ve just never gotten a round tuit.

tuitSo with the clamp review, and finally obtaining some purpleheart which I always planned to use as one of the timbers, I begun cutting.

First job was to get the dust extraction up to spec again – after finding the thicknesser blocked the DC inlet too quickly.  It looks a bit confusing in a photo – it is slightly less confusing in real life 😉

Dust Collector with Preseparator

Dust Collector with Preseparator

The tablesaw, and router feed directly into the DC.  The thicknesser and planer feed into the precollector.  There are 3 different sanders that happen to be feeding into there, but they don’t need as much air draw so they won’t suffer from any performance hit caused by the preseparator.  The bandsaw also feeds into that line, so will assess how it performs, but as a general rule it is also a pretty fine dust that will be fine with any lower air flowrate.

Once the machines were again online, I was able to take a piece of mahogany, and one of purpleheart and run through the inital stock preparation, with all the generated dust and shavings whisked away to the extrator.  To any really observent amongst you, yes, I have turned the DC around.  This gives me better access to the start/stop switch (and was necessary with the location of the precollector, as it pretty much blocked access to the back corner).  It also means that the demented spider of tubing is more intrusive into the shop, but again, necessity is the biggest force of nature!

Resaw with MagFence

Resaw with MagFence

I resawed both the mahogany and purpleheart, but I did my usual trick of trying to get too much yield out of the timber I have.  Sometimes a bit of wastage is necessary to get the stock you need, but it is a lesson I still need to learn.  I ended up, after dressing the timbers, with stock that was thinner that I wanted.  This does reflect that I am still struggling to find where to get good timbers from at a reasonable price.

Once all planed and thicknessed, it was time to move to the tablesaw.  For this project, I finally used the Incra LS Positioner on the tablesaw for the first time actually using it as a tablesaw fence.  I used the MagJigs to hold it down, which worked ok, but I found it did need some more holding force, so I will add an extra two MagJigs, which will be overkill, but there is no such thing as too much where it comes to locking down a fence securely.

Incra LS as Tablesaw Fence

Incra LS as Tablesaw Fence

On the tablesaw, I ripped increasing widths of timber, from 2mm to about 15mm wide.  This worked well with the Incra, although it would have been better if I had remembered that it is an imperial measuring system, not metric!  Even so, the absolute precision of the Incra worked well – it clicks into precise location without having to microadjust the fence position with a fist-tap (as is normal practice).  A really interesting look at the Incra system.

After taking the mahogany and purpleheart through the ripping process, they were then interleaved, and clamped in the Jet Bar Clamps, which are really nice I must say.  They stay balanced where they are put, whether horizontal or vertical, they don’t slip, clamp tight and really look the part.

 Mounting in the Jet Bar Clamps

Mounting in the Jet Bar Clamps

I haven’t glued these up as yet – consider this a dry-fit.

Storing vertical

Storing vertical

I didn’t realise how stable these clamps were when vertical, but the job was in the way at one point, and I went to put it on the floor, and did a double-take when it stayed quite comfortably where I placed it.  A definite bonus of this sort of clamp design IMHO.

Ready for glue-up

Ready for glue-up

This is as far as I have gotten with the project – next I will be gluing it up, topping and tailing it then rotating the ends through 180 degrees, finishing with a router dressing of the edges.  Mahogany wasn’t my first choice of materials – I wanted even more contrast between the lighter timber and the purpleheart, but even so, unfinished as it is, it still looks the goods.

Some initial findings

Not too many surprises coming out of the polls, which is as valuable as any left-field results.  If you have yet to vote, please do so as I am interested in getting as balanced a result as I can.

From the article poll, there is an increasing trend towards a desire for more how-to articles, which is a ‘criticism’ I was expecting, and it goes towards validating my concepts for what the website is about.  I will still be doing plenty of reviews, but will make more of an effort to maintain the core reason for the site.  I do find I learn a lot from reviewing products, but using them in actual projects will showcase them better, and still address the how-to aspects of this place.

For the videos, the results were a little more unexpected, although pleasing.  The vast majority are in support of the videos as they are currently presented, both length and quality/size.  There are a a few wanting short (<10 minute) videos only, but they are equally balanced by those wanting even longer videos (>60 minute), so I’ll have to take the middle path on this one, although I will try to cater to both by having some videos shorter and others longer.  There is already a Stu’s Shed YouTube channel, but it is rather unpopulated, as most of my videos are too long for YouTube’s restrictions.

So I’ll keep watching the poll results, and try to keep the site catering for everyone’s requirements.

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