The Hands-On Expo is Coming

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And as a reader of Stu’s Shed, you can get 2 tickets for the price of one.

For shed dwellers nirvana is a shed full of tools, finished products, accessories, timber, materials and plenty of free advice for the tricky bits!
Get a taste of shed heaven at the Hands-On Expo with woodwork, auto, metalwork and DIY tools, tips and techniques.
Stu’s Shed Special – save money with 2 tickets for the price of 1.   Click here to take a mate for half the cost.

2 for 1: Stu’s Shed Special

Print out the PDF form and take it along on the day for you and a mate to get in for the price of a single ticket. The form is valid for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. (I’m planning on being at the Melbourne Show, hoping to be at the Brisbane one, and have no idea about Sydney!!)

Even better, send it in – pre-purchasing your tickets so you don’t even have to wait in line on the day – you can walk straight in and not queue up!

I’ve got myself a FUBAR!

Seems silly, but I’ve wanted one ever since I saw one, and not because it will prove to be quite useful, but because somehow, someone working for Stanley managed to get FUBAR accepted as a product name.

The Stanley FatMax Xtreme FuBar is a wrecking hammer / wrecking bar in one, and as such looks a pretty useful device anyway:

The FUBAR

The FUBAR

This is the larger of the two versions available (it is definitely bigger in real life than it looks in the photo), and they are normally between $50 and $70 depending on whether you shop at Bunnings or Mitre 10.  I got this one on sale (new) for $15 (that sale is over now unfortunately – one of those “grab it while you can” things).

Oh, and why is FUBAR such an unusual name for a product (especially in Australia)? It is an acronym from my Navy days (and does get used elsewhere as well), and stands for “F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition” (or “Repair”, depending on context).

I can’t think of a better name for a wrecking bar.

MC1000 Microclene Extension

The MC1000 is designed as a room air filtration unit, but sometimes a more local collection is useful.  Rather than having to relocate the dust collector itself, Microclene have an optional extension tube for the inlet.

The tube requires (minimal) assembly – you have to stick it together.  To keep the tube from falling off, it has polyurethane stick-on buffers around the top edge that catch on the edge of the lower filter.  Once it is assembled, to remove and replace the extension tube, you need to unscrew the filter.

Now as much as the extension tube would be useful, having to remove the filter each time to install it and again to remove it would become a pain.  So I upgraded it.  Didn’t take much – just a small length of velcro.  I’ve initially replaced the glueline used to stick the tube together, so now I can open up a short amount at the top so the extension tube is easily removed.

Velcro Upgrade

Velcro Upgrade

If the stick-on buffers fall off over time, I will simply replace them with some more velcro – might even do it sooner, so I don’t have to keep opening the tube up to remove it. Either way, it sure beats removing and replacing the filter.

MC1000 in "Room Air Filtration" mode

MC1000 in "Room Air Filtration" mode

MC1000 in "Localised Collection" mode

MC1000 in "Localised Collection" mode

The MC1000 will be seen in a video shortly (currently still inside the video camera!) as I talk about primary, secondary and tertiary protection from airborne dust. For the video I used the Festool Termite, and you should see its dust production capabilities!!

A Little Visitor

Had a knock at the door while working on the router table:

jessinshed-1Growing up fast!

Right Said Fred

It’s crunch time. With the router table that is.

I spent some time yesterday getting the table together properly, drilling the final holes to join each wing together (some holes were missing – fell out in transit).  It didn’t go well.  The machined plate (the one I had with the insert hole cut out) had serious warps – stress relieving both the original stresses once the webbing had been cut, and the results of heat from the machining process.  The warping was both longitudinally, and laterally, and even after all the care in bolting the sections together trying to take out as much as possible, it was still excessive to the point that I finally thought that the only solution will be abandoning the project.

This morning I went through my options – more machining (where?), alternate plates (wrong shaped cavity), abandoning the drop-in plate (undesirable, but one real option), abandoning the cast iron top altogether and going with a Pro Router Top from Professional Woodworkers Supplies (most likely final solution), and a bit of a stab-in-the-dark – firing up the belt sander.

This may not have occurred to me, except for the recent Hall Table course at Ideal Tools, and Terry’s enthusiastic use of the belt sander in production woodworking.  I don’t have a 7kg Festool, only a cheap’n’nasty GMC with a small contact area.  Oh well, you work with what you have.

Nipped off to the hardware store for some new belts for it – 40, 80 and 120.  I fired up the 80 grit initially, but it wasn’t achieving much, and when I got too close to the newly machined edge of the cavity, the belt caught and ripped itself off the sander.  Bugger – ok, change to a 40 grit (significantly aggressive looking thing) and go again.  I blew one of the 40 grit belts as well, and was going to throw them in the bin until I remembered the Blowfly – I can use the cloth-backed paper in the blowfly and at least get some more use out of it.

I treated the top in the same way as you would flatten a wooden tabletop – just a lot harder.  Sanding, sanding, checking, sanding – hmm – seems to be working.  Using a straight-edge to check progress, and testing the insert in place (sanding was only done with the plate removed).

Sanding the top flat

Sanding the top flat

The 40 grit did cut significant tracks into the top, and they will take some removing, but that will happen over time (hitting it with 80 grit ROS each time I condition the top until it is scratch-free).  But actual progress was being made. The top was finally becoming flat.

Sanding Sanding Sanding

Sanding Sanding Sanding

I then hit it with the ROS, first with 40 grit, then 60, then 80 (although I needed to do more with the 40 grit realistically).  Would have gone longer, but the ROS shredded its mounting pad.  So that was enough to call the sanding evolution quit for the day.  I then gave it a quick polish, so it was a bit protected.  Used a paraffin wax block, then instead of the normal kitchen green scourer, I decided the Spider should put in an appearance.  Boy did that save some elbow grease!

Spider for Top Regeneration

Spider for Top Regeneration

So that is where I got to – there is a lot to do with the table, but the top seems to be a go.  The base is still a long way from an optimum solution.  In the meantime, I used the router in the forward position for a different job.

Table in Use

Table in Use

Sure is nice having a functional router table again!

SSYTC015 – The Walko Workbench

As initially discussed here, the Walko Workbench from Ideal Tools can be set up in a number of different orientations, depending on your requirements.  In my case, and as seen here, it provides a narrow workbench that I can easily break down and remove to free up space, or repurpose easily to a different role (assembly table, panel saw etc)  It is covered in dogholes which is excellent when working with the low profile Walko surface clamps.

Wood Identification on the iPhone

The developers of the I.D. Wood App for the iPhone & iPod Touch contacted me a couple of months ago about their new application for identifying timbers using the iPhone.

I.D. Wood App

I.D. Wood App

I had some immediate thoughts about how this sort of application could be very useful, which I shared with them.  Some of the possibilities included:

Being able to photograph with your iPhone camera a sample of timber which appeared on one side of the screen, and all the timbers in the database would be available on the other side (one image at a time), and you could flick through until one matched.

Being able to add your own timbers to the application.

Being able to use the application to catalogue your current timber collection.

Unfortunately this application is unable to have this sort of functionality added, as once it was installed it became apparent that this is not an App in the traditional sense (a program), but instead is an eBook, so is denied a significant amount of the functionality that would be otherwise possible.

Lots of US Timbers

Lots of US Timbers

One comment made by another early installer of this book was that it primarily focuses on US timbers.

My feeling is it is going to take some time and development for this app to actually become a useful woodworking tool, and perhaps breaking away from the whole eBook concept will be the only way for it to really progress.

I will certainly monitor further updates to see if more timbers etc are added – there has only been 10 added since the App’s release, so has around 60 or so timbers in the database (one Australian).  It will need it in my opinion, to be worth the $4 asking price (most apps are around $1.19)

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