Has Stu’s Eco Shed had to revert to Brown Coal?

For some really strange reason, the Federal Government did not have any idea that when they offered Solar Power subsidies of $8000 for people to fit 1kW solar power units to their homes (which can fully pay for a 1kW unit, fully installed) that people would actually take them up on the offer.  The government have suddenly realised that they didn’t actually budget enough for it, and have prematurely ended the subsidy.  They budgeted for a bit over $150 million, and had to pull the pin when it got to $700 million.  Strangely how little warning was given for pulling the pin – hours, not even days.  With the original budget being exceeded by so much, didn’t they notice when 150 mill had become 300 mill, when 300 mill had become 600 mill etc?  Bet that didn’t happen overnight.

I got my application in on the 18th May, but I haven’t been able to contact the company as yet to find out if they actually submitted the application to the government in time to get the grant.  If not, then Stu’s Shed is going to have to continue to rely on the amazingly ecologically friendly brown coal power generation.  With the premature and surprise ceasation of the current rebate, there is no way that we will be able afford (or justify) the additional $4000 – $9000 odd that is expected to cost the household under the new proposed rebate scheme. (I have continued to try to get more info, and it is possible that we are lucky to have the application submitted in time.  Lucky for us, unlucky for all those who thought they had until the end of June.)

Pretty disappointing decision I must say.  Glad I don’t have investments in the solar power industry – bet they are hurting now, given all the panels they would have ordered expecting sales under the old scheme, that will not sell now that the price has been put out of reach of the average income earners, or at least will have to cover the cost of warehousing and loss of interest until those panels do sell under whatever new scheme is rolled out.

Oh well, back to sawdust, and away from politics.

Timber Harvesting in the Solomon Islands

As a follow-up to the timber-of-the-month featuring Queen Ebony, as sourced from the Brisbane Wood Show, SITCO Australia have sent some photos through to me of the timber being harvested.

Some AMAZING heavy, thick planks of Queen Ebony.  I’m imagining a heavy-topped Queen Ebony workbench – it would look incredible.

2 cutters operating surrounded by S.I Blackwood trees

2 cutters operating surrounded by S.I Blackwood trees

Fresh cut Ebony

Fresh cut Ebony

Queen Ebony Chainsaw cut

Queen Ebony Chainsaw cut

Some amazing planks coming off the chainsaw there.  When we shop for timber around the traps here, we often seem to scavenge for scraps that look good.  It is amazing to see whole trees of quality timber (and remember this is eco-timber – working towards accreditation for best practice, which is an excellent direction for Pacific Island nations to work towards – long-term sustainable businesses.

Free Hand chainsaw

Free Hand chainsaw

Stu’s Shed Woodworking Course at Holmesglen Tafe

Looking for a quick gauge of interest if this course was offered by Holmesglen (Chadstone Campus) as a 2 day / weekend course.

The current course being offered is the Introductory Triton Woodworking course, but for the past year it has failed to gain enough attendees for it to run.  I am therefore looking at what might be a better approach, to still fill the need for an introductory course to woodworking machinery.

It would still cover Triton because that is the hardware that Holmesglen has, but the focus will be on generic procedures and practices, rather than focusing solely on the Triton range (and potentially the Bosch range if the rumours turn out to be true).

Equipment covered would include the tablesaw, router table and bandsaw, plus miscellaneous hand power tools etc that have been seen on this website (and some still to come, including the Leigh Dovetail, the Mortise Pal etc)

The current course costs $340, and runs 8:30 to 4:30 on the Saturday, and 8:30 to 1pm on the Sunday, so I would imagine Holmesglen would stick with that length and pricing.

So the question is, and based on a very short brief provided here, would this course be worth getting off the ground?

Festool RAS115 – The Termite

Sometimes visiting the letterbox can be a pretty amazing experience!

A certain benefactor of Stu’s Shed decided (as quite an amazing gesture) to give me a Festool RAS115.  He wishes to remain anonymous, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be stoked even so!

The RAS115 is dubbed “The Termite” by Festool.  It is not a sander (although it does use hook & loop abrasive (aluminium oxide)), but a material removal tool.  It is more like the Arbortech than a sander for its stock removal.  It is an orbital sander, not a random orbital sander.  It is designed to use 36 grit sandpaper, not 600!  It even came in a systainer, so I finally have a second one to join up with my Cooltainer 🙂

Festool Systainer

Festool Systainer

RAS115

RAS115

Classic Festool packaging, keeping everything needed for the tool all in one place.  Must admit though – the manual leaves a lot to be desired.  Perhaps the translation from Deutsch missed out a bit…..

The Termite

The Termite

No fancy casing, colour schemes, addons, or lasers.  This is a tool designed for one thing.  Doing the job you bought it for.

Speaking of which…..

Quick bit of shaping

Quick bit of shaping

I haven’t had any real time to give it a good workout, but it sure cut through the timber without any trouble.  If you’ve ever used a belt sander and seen how quickly it can mistakenly mill into the surface, imagine a tool that gives you that stock removal capabilty with a significant sense of control.

Of course, there will never be RAS115 races….

This is a common event at the US Wood Shows, particularly the AWFS in Las Vegas.  Guess they don’t have the same strict regs (and doomsayers) as downunder.  Sadly, I was actually offered a Press Pass to the AWFS this year, but can’t afford to fund my own trip. Oh well, one day perhaps.

Back to the Festool:

Innovations

Innovations

I’m not up on all the innovative features built into this tool – there are certainly a few!  One that was interesting is this geared handle that rotates the chip collection system to optimise where the collection occurs from.

A second handle can be added (handle supplied) to provide even more control.

So an interesting tool, an amazing price, and a much appreciated addition to the shed.

Garden Sized Kitchen Blender

Had a play with one of those mulchers recently – you know the ones, sold to mulch up your garden waste and turn it into, well, mulch for your garden beds and trees.

Garden Mulcher

Garden Mulcher

All I can say about it (given the model I tried wasn’t new, and probably needed its blades resharpened), who in their right mind took a kitchen blender…..

Kitchen Blender

Kitchen Blender

……and scaled it up so it can handle garden waste???

FWIW, the kitchen blender shown here is an image I sourced off the web, and is the brand used in the “Will it Blend” gags shown on such shows as Letterman, where they do such things as throw an iPhone into the blender, and see what it can manage.  As a marketing tool, pure genius.  If Blendtec were sold in Australia, I’d be pretty sure I’d have one in my kitchen (not because I specifically need a blender, but because it is pretty cool seeing what this one can do!)

Anyway, back to my point – just because the design is great for kitchen use (and some of those “don’t try it at home” videos), doesn’t make it a great design for chopping up small trees etc.  Perhaps it is, but boy is it a noisy and violent ride!

Garden Mulcher Knives

Garden Mulcher Knives

(Personally, that is NOT the solution I would have come up with if asked to design a garden mulcher blade design!)

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