Episode 59 Circle Cutting on the Torque Workcentre


Big update/catchup for Shed TV

Have finally spent a bit of time rebuilding the Stu’s Shed.TV pages – they were getting very out-of-date, and also unwieldy with the number of videos now available.

So I have come up with a new main page which is pretty basic (I might pretty it up in the near future) which describes each video category and links to the same.

There is a new index page for both Shed.TV and The YouTube Chronicles, which then links to each collection of about 15 videos a page.

It seems like you have to drill down a bit further now to get to the videos, so I will play around with it to see if it does work better overall.  Think it makes updating the pages a lot easier, so that is a good thing if nothing else.

For those that subscribe, if you get a near empty email that says something about “Episode XX, The something tool doing something”, this is all the automatic system pushes out when I’ve uploaded a new video – unfortunately I can’t control what goes out at that point, and the automatic email does not include the video for obvious reasons.

So hopefully, some overall improvements (and updates), and if you have just been looking at Shed.TV and wondering why there has been no content for so long, in part (at least) it was because I wasn’t keeping up with the video indexing.

Check it out, let me know what you think (the link to Stu’s Shed TV is at the top of the website on one of the tabs)

Episode 58 Mustang Sally

When Harry met Sally

Darkness quickly descended over the pristine white cylinder, but the ensuing silence would be short-lived.  Above, through a narrow opening in the now stationary silvery white surface above, a faint glimmer could be seen, and in that reveal, many, many teeth became apparent.

Suddenly, the silence was broken with an insidious roar, primal, ancient, mindless evil.  The once stationary teeth disappear into a blur of motion, and simultaneously descend.

Contact, a brief scream, and the evil deed is done.


I’ve probably got a bit of CJ Dennis in me (A Sentimental Bloke), and evidence can still be found in my attic storage – I’m sure there are still a few original boxes that once held some of the Triton tools I bought years ago.   However, that has rarely stopped me making a modification to something many others would regard as a sacrilegious act if I felt I could improve the item in some way.

In this case, my membership of FOG is probably about to be cancelled, as I broke the religion, and when Harry (the Triton Steel Cutter) met Sally (the Festool (and yes, I feel the cringes already around the world) boom arm). (FOG: Festool Owners Group)

To be able to easily get the Festool vac around the workshop with the boom arm attached, and not crash into each, and every ceiling joist, I decided to take 4″ off the overall height.  It is still well above my head, so there has been no practical loss in functionality, but still it is unusual for me to choose to make a modification that cannot be reversed to some degree.

The deed was quick, and relatively painless.  The finished edge was clean and square, and I dressed the corners with a quick file to round it slightly, drilled a hole for the retaining bolt, then applied a smear of Silbergleit (Silver Glide) before reassembly.

Worked well, and the result is much more functional for me, but still – making the decision to actually cut into a Festool anything was a matter of just doing it before more emotional reasoning stopped me!

Guess my warranty on that item is well and truly expired!

Cause and Effect

Not the first time I’ve heard it happening, but it is rather cool to walk into a retailer and hear that they’ve been fielding a number of requests for a product (in this case Fluro Titebond (in this case something unavailable in Oz)) and have no idea why the sudden interest!

Stu’s Shed Dwellers doing us proud!

I was in Carbatec for the morning, talking about MagSwitch and it was good meeting up with some regular readers.  It was pretty quiet otherwise – I cut a stack of veneer (most of which ended up in the fireplace later in the day), and talked a bunch of MagSwitch.  Not sure if it made a lot of difference though – one of those days.  Started trying to do the veneers on one of the bandsaws at the start, but I just could not get it tuned up sufficiently – whenever I got the blade close to tension, I could not keep it tracking on the wheels.  Ended up switching over to the same bandsaw I have – the Carbatec 19″.  Tensioned up the blade, did nothing else to it and it was good to go.  Could have done with a better blade, but I still managed to rip some very thin slices using the single roller MagFence.

Talked to a couple of people about tablesaws – funny how often I get mistaken for a Carbatec employee!  One went for the contractor’s saw with a cast iron top – bit underpowered in the motor department, but overall doesn’t seem a bad saw for the sub $1k price.  The other couldn’t seem to get past the 200mm tablesaw.  I’m sure the Kapex would have been better for what they wanted (picture frames), but apparently noise was the primary consideration, irrespective of cost, or quality.

In the end, a bad day woodworking in one form or another, is still a good day! (It wasn’t a particularly bad day even so).


I have intended, for a long, long time, to get the bolts I needed to create the 3-featherboard riser for my MagSwitch Pro Featherboard.

The riser kit comes with the correct length bolts for creating a low 2-featherboard and a high 2-featherboard, but for some strange reason they (MagSwitch) don’t choose to provide the bolts for the 3-featherboard.

I’m sure I could have gone to a bolt supplier and gotten the correct length (4.5″ x 1/4″) coach bolt, but I left my run too late (I wanted it for tomorrow’s MagSwitch demo day at Carbatec (Melb)), so I had to settle for 5″ bolts from the jolly green giant and cut them down by 8mm (sorry about the mixed measurement systems!)  To cut them down I first threaded a couple of nuts on, then used a hacksaw to cut off the excess thread.  To fix any damage to the remaining thread, I then removed the nuts which removed any burrs that had formed.  It worked fine, but it would have been a lot easier if I’d been able to buy the right sized bolt first up!

I know – rather boring, but it has just been one of those items on my long list of things to get done.  A list that never seems to get shorter – bet I’m not the only one that has that problem.  You know, I don’t think people get older by default (in appearance, attitude, grey hairs etc) – it is the result of the accumulation of things on the list that weighs you down until you look old and grey.

Leg up

I really can’t remember if I mentioned this here or not – I certainly meant to!  It appeared on Cool Tools recently, and I thought it a very clever, and simple system – especially for a 1 man shop.

It is called the “Leg Up”, and is designed to help a single person manipulate a heavy, large sheet onto their tablesaw (or I imagine, equally suitable for something like the Torque Workcentre)

It comes from GorillaGripper, which is another smart product (and I think one that may be available in Australia through the jolly green giant)

Unfortunately their website doesn’t do the product justice – their video is quite convincing though.

I could definitely do with 2 of these in my workshop!

Wood Whisperer on the iPhone!

Yeah-as much as I would have loved to have an iPhone app out there (still would!), Marc and Kenneth have realised the dream!

The Woodshop Widget is now out!  A combined effort of The Wood Whisperer and Grand Unified LLC, it features a number of useful tools, as well as a feed directly from the Wood Whisperer blog.

I’ve been using the pre-release version for a while and it is cool, and now the full version is out, and is only $1.99 – if you have an iPhone this is worth a look.

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The Woodshop Widget is a handy collection of wood-related utilities, ranging from board foot calculation to shellac mixing aids, squareness testing and many other goodies. It contains a wide range of useful functionality that handles many tedious tasks simply and clearly. Mixed in with the technical stuff are regularly updated tips and tricks from The Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo, and access to The Wood Whisperer site in a mobile interface.

The Widget understands Imperial and Metric, and the local measurement system is used by default. You can change this at any time with the app settings. It also uses a custom keyboard for quick access, making editing both efficient and immediate.

Board Feet
Easily enter the 3 dimensions required for calculating board feet and get an immediate amount. You can also enter a price and quantity of boards for a total price. The local currency is automatically used when entering prices.

Decimal to Fraction
Enter fractions and see the decimal results, or enter decimal values and see fractions calculated, all in one place. Remainders and reduced fractions are automatically shown.

Shows an estimate of how much a board might grow and shrink under different conditions, based on verified information for over 230 distinct species. You can enter measured or humidity-based water content, board width, and how the board was cut from the tree (anywhere from flat to quartersawn). The amount of change is shown as you edit. Works in Imperial and Metric.

The Wood Whisperer
A “live” collection of tips and tricks, created and updated by Marc Spagnuolo, The Wood Whisperer. Tips cover such topics as finishing and shop management. This section also includes an easy way to access The Wood Whisperer site so you can keep up on the latest from Marc. You can even watch the latest episodes of the podcast right on your phone.

Mix or dilute shellac in any amounts. Enter a “pound cut” and the measurements are balanced for you. Mix as much or as little as you need, using not only gallons and pounds, but also cups and ounces or liters and milliliters. Dilute from any pound cut that you have on hand to any other concentration, instantly! Works in Imperial and Metric.

Test your framing squares, combination squares, carcasses or anything else that needs a perfect right angle for accuracy by measuring lengths. The Widget will show you how far from “right” the angle is.


This weekend is the last Saturday-of-the-month, and that means it is Demo Day at Carbatec Melbourne.

This Saturday from 10am to 12pm, I will be talking all things MagSwitch, including how they significantly contribute to tablesaw and router table safety, and their use on the bandsaw.

So come along, and find out why I am so enthusiastic about MagSwitch technology in the woodworking website.

(Think I should run a pool to guess how many will ask if they work on aluminium).

Part of the landscape

For a while now I’ve had a tool flying so far under the radar that I basically forgot to mention it at all.  Flying under the radar, but getting pretty much daily use.

It’s a tape measure, but one without any moving parts, so nothing to go wrong over time (other than the rare o-ring replacement).  In use a quick flick with a finger and it is ready to extend (rather than retract) up to its 2m length.  It is so quick and easy, you could almost call it a quicky.  Oh wait.  They did 🙂

BMI Quicky from Promac

The tape is specially treated steel with an enamel coating and has the readings printed on the convex side rather than the concave, so the readings are close to the work, minimising parallax error.

No moving parts means it is about as light as it gets, so is easy to carry in a pocket (hopefully it doesn’t suffer from fatigue because I keep clicking it open and close – think mine has already had a year’s equivalent use after one a few short months!)  It is also completely waterproof – again, there are no moving parts that water can get into causing corrosion, and it can be dried completely, easily.

I find it is very convenient that it extends automatically, rather than retracting – very useful getting the tape into where you need it, and yet packing it up is hardly a chore.

I’ve noticed that some have a rivet stopping the tape coming completely out of the plastic holder which I think is a pity – I prefer the non-riveted version so when you want it, you have a long, straight 2 meter tape that sits flat on the work.  However I guess that isn’t everyone’s preference and thus the rivet.  (If the rivet version is now the only version available, it could very easily be removed 😉 )

The Germans showing that good engineering & design is still in their blood!

Available from stockists of tools by Promac (Tormek, BMI, Flai etc)

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