Cutting at 20,000 strokes a minute

Had yet another task tonight that resulted in me picking up the cordless Sonicrafter, and jumping straight into the job at hand.  This time I had a couple of bolts that needed to be cut short, and the idea of picking up a hacksaw, or an angle grinder with cutoff wheel did not appeal.

Cordless Rockwell Sonicrafter

I went to fit a blade, and realised the only blades that came with the Sonicrafter were for wood (only).  However, I do have some dual purpose blades from Fein, so it was time to try out the adapter that is supplied with the Sonicrafter, that in theory allows all other brands of blade to be fitted. (Fein, Bosch, Dremel)

Original Sonicrafter Blade drive

Universal Adapter

When I first saw its studded surface, I had the idea that somehow the placement was designed to just manage to engage in the design of all different brands of blade, but when I then tried it out, I found that where the back engaged perfectly on the hex drive of the Sonicrafter, the studded design was only intended to be a friction transfer. I’m sure they could easily have made one to fit each brand individually, but then I am equally sure they would have run into a lawsuit or two.

So armed with what was provided, I picked up a metal (and wood) cutting Fein blade, attached it and gave it a try.  The washer (which has a raised core area) neatly fitted the blade, centering it on the tool.  I tightened it up (normally) and gave it a crack. Then, after cutting through the first bolt, I did the second.

It may not be an adapter that engages into the blade mounting slots, but it proved itself tonight as effective anyway.

An Open Door

Now the door is open to the massive range of blades, sanders, scrapers etc available across the range of brands (a just a small collection of Fein blades is shown here).

Festool Storage

Some more of the products demonstrated at the Press event at Festool included storage solutions.  The first, and very readily associated with Festool are the Systainers.  They have received an upgrade from a 4 point attachment system (front and rear, to a single point for operation, called the T-Loc.  The rear of the Systainer engages along the length with the Systainer below it, but the only locking mechanism is the one central point at the front.


The system has partial compatibility with the older Systainers- they can connect to the bottom of the new ones, but not to the top.  There is also no version of the T-Loc systainers for the larger tools – specifically the BS 105 belt sander, which comes in a systainer twice the width of a normal one.

There are some distinct advantages to the new systainer locking system – the ability to couple and uncouple the stack with a single twist of the lock.  That is good, but even better is the ability to open a systainer without first having to remove the stack that is on top.

Accessing into the stack

In the background, you can see another advantage of the new systainers – an optional handle that can be attached to the front as an alternate carry position.  The same slots where the handle attaches can instead be used for identification cards to show what is inside the systainer – no more of the labels stuck to the sides and top that fall off over time.

Carry Handle

While looking at traditional storage, this was the rather cool tool carry each attendee of the Media Event was given

Protool Tool Carry

The top edges have a heavy bar supporting either side, and a metal handle screwed to the top, that can pivot out of the way when required.

Rear of Carry

Lots of heavy-duty storage pockets on the outside, front and back

Inside Cavity

Lots of storage inside too – this is a cool tool carry. Even the storage box has been put to good use – is now a doll hospital bed my daughter is using!

While dealing with storage, there is also the mobile Compact-Workstation that attaches to the top of the Cleantex (Festool Vac), such as the CT36. This provides a very compact storage – taking up the same footprint as the vac itself.  It will still attach if the boom arm is fitted (so I was told anyway).


It provides a stack of storage options, trays, tool storage for those ready-to-use, and can still fit a systainer on top of the vac.

Hand Sanding Block

Even the arguably strangest tool in the Festool stable, the hand plane block with dust extraction has a home, and also happens to act as a bit of a lid on top of the unit.

Yes - I want one

Finally, while still on the storage bandwagon, this wasn’t introduced as part of the morning, but I can’t help but like the inter connectivity and tidiness of the systainer solution.

Festool Socket Set


CNC with Pen Plot

Came across this on YouTube – it is a homemade CNC machine the person has built for their Festool router (and ensured that the unit is all in the same colour scheme- imagine if Festool had a CNC machine available (but them imagine the price!))

What I found particularly interesting is the addition, and design of a pen holder – very nicely done.  The second video is too long to bother watching all the way through, but worth watching the start to see the concept in action.  Could prove a useful mod for other CNC units, such as the CNC Shark.

Rockin’ the Router Table

It’s never the big parts of a job that take the time, it is all the fiddly bits at the end! Same applies to finishing off the router table, but when you are not in a rush, that time is not wasted or regretted.

With “The Wire” playing on the Shed’s TV, I kept plodding through the various outstanding tasks.  It also happened that a collection of three tools that arrived late last week played an integral role in the activities.  And exemplified themselves as useful additions to the shed beautifully, from cutting openings, drilling holes, driving screws, the collection of Lithium-Ion power tools from Rockwell proved to be as fun to use, as they were effective.

First job was creating access to the router, and I wanted it to be a door that would hold shut when a vacuum was created by the dust extraction that allowed easy access when needing to switch the router off for bit changes, and use the macro-height adjustment of the Triton router.

Cutting the access way

The desired opening was marked out, and where this would often be cut with a jigsaw, the oscillating saw does a great job.  The added convenience of the cordless version was excellent.

Plunging corners

Firstly, I plunged the cutter into each corner, defining sharp corners, then ran the saw from one corner to the next to break out the panel.

Access opening

The oscillating cutter (the Sonicrafter in Rockwell/Worx speak) was then used for sanding – breaking the sharp edges of the MDF.  One benefit of the oscillating cutter is it can work right into the corner, where more classic sanders would bounce themselves out of a restricted area.

A door was then fabricated, with cabinet hinges. Support for the hinges inside the cabinet was made, with pocketholes creating a solid foundation for the door support.

Sealed Hinge Door

I created a seal over the hinge-side of the door – normally disguised by typical cabinet designs.  There are other hinges I could have used, but these were ones I had already.  A handle from another discontinued project worked well here (think it came from the drill press drawer thinking about it).

Triton Router in place

I made sure there was plenty of space below the router – makes for better shape to the air flow for dust collection.  One thing I have yet to determine, is whether extra air-inlet holes are required – I am expecting they would be, except there are large gaps under the cast iron top, so plenty of air can flow through those gaps and flow down past the router to the collection port. I may even need to reduce the gaps to increase the suction through the hole in the router table top – only testing will determine how optimal the dust collection design is.


The starter was attached to the side of the table – given sometimes the router is accessed from the front, and other times from the right side, this corner is accessible for either operation.  A hole was drilled behind the switch to feed the flex into the cabinet to connect to the router.

The upper opening you can see to the right of the switch is where I am hoping to install some thin drawers to house the Incra templates for the LS Positioner, and the template book.  The lower opening will probably store some other routers. (Yes, I have one or two!)

Wixey Digital Height Gauge

I also found a location to mount the Digital readout from the height gauge that is affixed to the side of my router.  It does jut out from there over the fence, but for the majority of operations it won’t get in the way where it is.  I have attached it using bolts with the same hex heads as the rest of the Positioner (and the supplied hex drive), and butterfly nuts on the other side, so it can be very easily removed whenever it is necessary (routing tall object for example).

Ready to Rock

Speaking of rocking, these are the complement of tools I used, almost exclusively, and I was pretty stoked how they performed.

Rockwell Cordless Collection

If they look a bit dusty, that is because they were being used, not just admired.  I was expecting them to come in a single kit, so was surprised to discover they were each in a separate package.  Although that means you’ve gotten extra chargers, I’m not objecting – just means I can have one at either end of the workshop ready to go!

Quick charger

And the collection of interchangeable batteries won’t go astray either, even though the chargers are quick (15 minutes to 75%, 30 minutes to 100% charge).

Sonicrafter - Oscillating Cutter

The oscillating cutter was used with both blades and sanding attachments, stripping paint off the cast iron edges, cutting the opening, then sanding the cuts and rounding the edges.

10mm Drill

The drill is quite lightweight, but still has a good feel, and worked well with the holecutter, as well as the Kreg Pockethole jig.

Impact Driver

Finally, the rather impressive impact driver.  Never had one before, or even used one, so this was a bit of a first.  Feels solid, and works!  Initially drives smoothly, but when it gets to a particular torque level, the high-frequency impacting kicks in driving the screw (or whatever) home.

The combination of the three proved very effective in covering a whole variety of jobs that I had on, and the ability to interchange the rapidly charging batteries is a definite bonus.

SSYTC040 Well that sucks

Jumping straight into the demos, the first item we looked at was the new Autoclean Cleantex.  Looking very much like the CT36 with the extra dimension that it can put itself through a filter cleaning cycle.

The Autoclean (with superflex hose)

Demoing the Machine

The cleaning cycle can be dialed in so it happens at a frequency that suits the job being done.  If doing a lot of heavy sanding of a powdery surface, you want a very frequent cleaning cycle, and it can become as infrequent as once every 2 1/2 minutes, or off altogether.

SSYTC040 Well that sucks

The cleaning cycle does disrupt the suction, but it is very quick so it is not an issue.  There are a couple of parts to the cleaning.  The airflow is momentarily reversed to blow through the filter, and at the same time there is a valve that literally thumps directly above the filter.

That is the theory – in practice I almost jumped out of my skin the first time the cleaning cycle activated! It is surprisingly violent (although it makes sense when you normally see a filter covered in caked plaster, MDF dust etc, just how hard it would be to get it off by being gentle). Given the airflow does reverse, it is more effective if the air doesn’t flow back up the tube, and as such there is a manually operated valve that can be attached to the front of the vac, so at the end of a dusty session, you can close the valve then activate the cleaning cycle to leave the vac ready to go the next time.

The first time I saw it activate, the vac had the new super-flexible hose that Festool have also just released, and seeing it jump significantly when the cleaning cycle hit is probably what added to the surprise just how violent the cycle is!  I am very curious just how much wear and tear it places on the machine and the components.  The filter is unique to the Autoclean as well – very flexible to get the maximum benefit from the heavy thump the Autoclean cycle imparts.

Flexible Filter

I did come away with two thoughts: first, the autoclean is impressive for those that need it – especially those doing sanding of plaster for example, and second, when I heard there was an Autoclean version (and not that long after I got the CT36), I thought it was a shame to miss out on that. Not any more – I don’t need that sort of self-cleaning vac for the work that happens in my workshop.  The CT36, which is still one of the very latest models, is still my ideal solution.  If I was doing concrete grinding or cutting, plaster work etc, then sure – the Autoclean would be invaluable.

The Green Dream Thing

Had an interesting start to the morning, and very much the result of being part of “the new media”.   I was invited along to the new product launch for 2011 of Festool and Protool products and it turns out they are only about 15 minutes from home.

There will be more specific info over the next day or two resulting from the launch (I took plenty of photos on your behalf!) so stay tuned for that.

On arrival, we met the (surprisingly small) contingent in Melbourne – only about 5 others which rather amazed me for a city of 4 million. Not sure what all the others who were also there did – I only knew of one other who was specifically media (Connection Magazines).  So does that make me pretty much it for woodworking-focused media in Melbourne/Victoria?? (Or at least woodworking focused, and interested in the quality tool end of the market).

That is either really cool for Stu’s Shed, or really sad for Victoria!

The start of the day (after a bit of an informal chat, and a bit of a look at some of their naked tools) was a sit-down presentation in their training room, where each of the new tools was introduced (via power point).

Naked Tools

More Naked Tools

Full Metal Jacket....uh.....gears

The start of what makes a good tool – real bearings (not plastic fantastic), and metal gearing.

The training/ marketing centre is a bit like the retail marketing space that is created in the premium stores.

Getting to that room takes you right past the warehouse.  As much as they don’t think it is interesting, this is shelf after shelf of Festool and Protool: how could I not get excited (oh the possibilities for a small workshop represented right there!)

So that is where I was, and in the next article or two, I’ll cover what we were shown!

Remaining Blades

These are the remaining blades for sale that were left over from the Ebay sales.  They are not being re-offered through Ebay

The price for each includes postage in Australia.

If you want more than a single set of blades, we can negotiate the postage discount.  If you want a number of profiles, make an offer!

Profile 1, Profile 2, Profile 3 $10.00 ea

Profile 4, Profile 5, Profile 6 $10.00 ea

Profile 7 $15.00

Profile 8, Profile 9 $10.00 ea

Profile 10 $15.00

Profile 11 $15.00

Profile 12 $10.00

Profile 13 $20.00

Profile 14 $20.00

Triton 15″ Thicknesser Moulding Blades

The eBay auctions for these blades end (around 2pm) today.  It will be the last chance to pick up the individual profiles you may be interested in, and these are not a common item in the shops.  I won’t be listing any left over individually on eBay again any time soon, if ever.   There are 17 blades in total on offer, representing 10 different profiles.

Postage is free throughout Australia.

Digital Millenium Copyright Act

With the recent comments on the validity of this website (and the enthusiastic defense by its many regular readers, and for that I am honestly grateful), it is again disappointing to find my willingness to allow open and relatively unmoderated commenting and communication abused, and worse, for content to again be taken from this site in direct violation of the DMCA.

The latest (rather obvious at the time) incident is under investigation, but as much as it could be interpreted as a complement in a roundabout way, content theft will always be treated very seriously. Sadly, and ironically, the site that did so this time has a quote as part of their mantra “that ‘to give’ is better than ‘to take'” Guess that doesn’t apply to “taking” content. And “Giving” by first flooding an article with comments before “Taking” is a sure sign that it was all done with the final plan to cut and paste the lot, not for legitimately interacting with other readers.

I have had many requests for permission for content to be taken from this site and used elsewhere, such as club newsletters, and permission to do so has been happily granted in every instance.  Where websites etc have discussed content on here, even taken a quote with reference back to the originating site that is also welcome and encouraged.  These are perfectly legitimate uses of this site’s content, and I also am very conscious to try to ensure where I have, I use content from elsewhere in respect of DMCA guidelines.

Using content after seeking permission, with reference back to the content source (ie this site) will rarely be denied. Taking it without permission and the result is likely to be rather less obliging.

Apologies to the vast majority of readers, as this is unlikely to affect you at all.  For individuals, if you are printing out articles, or saving videos etc for your own private benefit is perfectly fine.  It is if that content is published elsewhere without permission that the problems arise. And spamming this site will always result in a rather unfavourable response.


Being a kiwi, it was particularly disturbing to hear and see the devastation that has once again impacted New Zealand’s South Island.  Since the quake late last year there have been 4000 odd aftershocks, but this one, although not as large as the first one, was within 10km of the Christchurch city centre, and only 5km below the surface.

With all the recent events (floodings, fires, cyclones and earthquakes), the Australasian region has yet another disaster to deal with, and Christchurch hadn’t recovered from the last one before the latest “kick-in-the-guts”

Hopefully the registered “living work of art”, internationally famous and local celebrity the “Wizard of Christchurch” who traded spells with Gandalf not long ago is ok, (although has been spending time more recently in Oamaru).

So once again, almost without a chance to pause to take a breath, we stop to consider those unwillingly caught up in the latest disaster.

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