Giving Safety the Finger

The start of the 4th annual woodworking bloggers’ Safety Week is Monday, and I was wondering what to contribute to this year’s offerings.

However, after spilling claret, and being referred to as “the chainsaw guy” in the ER, I guess I found something to write about after all.

Not as serious as it sounds- the chainsaw wasn’t running at the time. It was while attempting to adjust the chain- the lock bolt was rather tight, and the spanner slipped and the back of a finger hit a tooth on the saw. Being brand new, it gouged, deep enough that it scraped the tendon apparently.

Deep enough that I had one look at it while cleaning up and I knew that was the end of my shed time for the day. Tried the local doctors, but three different clinics were too busy dealing with running noses to deal with a real problem.

Once again it proves invaluable having a good first aid kit in the shed- I was able to apply a non-stick dressing and wrap the finger properly before heading off. Sadly, I was able to do a better job than what the ER sent me home with. At least they have anaesthetic, sutures and antibiotic scripts.

So, lessons reinforced, or learned:

a. A good first aid kit in the shed is invaluable
b. Contact details for a reliable local medical clinic if one can be found
c. Leather gloves may have been useful here, but I’m also concerned if that could result in other accidents if they get caught during normal operation. Will have to check on that for best practice.
d. Remembering what direction the force being applied will carry the tool (and hand) if the tool slips. This is not the first time I’ve slipped while trying to undo an overly tight tool and had an appendage impact on a very sharp blade. I’ve done the same thing trying to undo a router bit a few years ago. That also resulted in sutures. Perhaps I’ll learn this time!
e. Having a good understanding of first aid is a very useful skill, especially when one has a tendency to spill (claret).

321EL Husqvarna

Picked up this chainsaw from Clayton Mowers yesterday in preparation for slabbing on the Torque Workcentre.


It is electric, which has advantages and disadvantages. Limited to a 16″ blade, it is 2000w, or the equivalent of a 2.8HP / 45cc petrol. That is still pretty punchy so it’ll be interesting to see how well it goes.

Not going to have the fumes etc in the shed that I would have otherwise have gotten with a petrol unit, and with Clayton Mowers running a Husky special at the time, as well as some extra horse trading, I got it with change from $440, including bar oil. Also means I will be able to use it in situations where OHS regs would otherwise prevent its use (demos, woodshows etc).

For the equivalent power & bar size in petrol would have cost $850

My preference would have been for a 24″ chainsaw, but then in a cheap brand it is over a grand, and close to $2k for a decent saw. So in context, doesn’t seem at all bad for such a reputable brand.

Now to commission it- certainly will be easy to start!

Now That’s a Knife

It’s only been 4 months since I got this set of steak knives from Professional Woodworker Supplies.  That is a pretty quick turnaround time for me these days!  Everything hasn’t gone to plan though, as I will elaborate, but I got close to achieving a good result.  I don’t like accepting a compromise – it may be that others wouldn’t notice anything wrong, but I would every time I use one of these.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Knife blanks

These four knives are begging for some stunning handles (the timber on either side are known as “scales”), and so the timber of choice is African Rosewood.  I recently bought a couple of lengths during the recent April WoodFest with the vague idea of making a box, but it jumped out at me when I was looking for what to make the knives from.  The timber is around 19mm thick, so a bit over double the thickness required for each side of the knife.  So resawing was the order of the day.

Resawing the African Rosewood

I changed the blade down to a 5/8″ blade on the Carbatec bandsaw, then racked up the tension.  With the MagSwitch fence in place (single roller), the blade sliced the timber cleanly in two.  I am so loving having the bandsaw tensioning handle below the upper wheel.  The benefits of a larger bandsaw.

Single Roller MagFence making the job easy

Can’t beat those MagFences either for resawing. Love how easy, and accurate it makes the task.

Passes through the Drum Sander for accurate dimensioning

From the bandsaw, the next step is to run it through the drum sander.  This may not be everyone’s first choice – for one you have to have a drum sander to be able to use it.  I’ve become a big fan, especially for situations like this.  These are pieces of timber way too short to ever consider running through a thicknesser, so you’d have to resort to a ROS, hand plane or similar.  Me, I like the electron-murdering whirling abrasive wheel! With careful passes, I was able to get the board down to within 0.1mm of the required thickness.

Jig to accurately cut the handles

Next job was to shape the scales.  The only important side initially is the edge that butts up against the bolster.  To save on timber (a big mistake – not how I chose to do it, but any attempt to scrimp on timber inevitably leads to undesirable results, and more timber wastage. I know this, and still find myself doing it), I cut the timber close to dimension, and drilled holes using an MDF template I made of the scale from the knife tang. I used a couple of lengths of brass rod to replicate the rivets to position each scale to be cut precisely.

Thinning down the pins

For the two pins, I needed them a little thinner than the rivets would be, so I could get the scales off the jig.  To take off a small, controlled amount, mounting the pin in the drill, then running it on the sandpaper provided a precise size decrease.

Ready to cut the handle end

In hindsight, doing it this way was a mistake. Drilling the holes for the rivets needed to be done after the first scale was glued to the tang.

Knife handles roughed out

The scales, ready to be glued on.  Rather than gluing both sides at once, the plan was to do one side only, then use a pattern copying bit to get the scale to accurately match the tang.

Gluing the first handle side on

Two part epoxy resin (Araldite) being the glue of choice.

Clamped up

There is plenty of overhang which is a good thing, but this is where two mistakes compounded.  The trying to be too thrifty which resulted in the scale slipping in a couple of cases enough that the tang wasn’t properly covered, and when the glue had set, not trimming off the excess resulted in a couple of chipouts on the router table that destroyed the handle.  The router bit here is a straight bit with copying bearing.  Straight after this, I was down at Carbatec and picked up a solid carbide spiral router bit with double bearing – the spiral has a shearing/slicing action rather than a chipping action for the next time I attempt to make more handles.

Shaping the blank to the handle

Did have a couple of successes, the bearing running on the tang so the scale gets cut accurately to match.

As good as it got

The results were looking good, and the few refinements to my technique should prove very successful.  For the handles here, I took the photos, then took a chisel and snapped the scales off. Oh well, I’d rather it right than compromise.

Colt Twinland

A recent video showed briefly the Colt Twinland Brad Point drill bit.  These have an interesting feature in the double helix of the design which makes for a much better guidance, either down the hole as it is being drilled, or in a drilling jig.

It has excellent chip clearance, which makes for a cleaner hole, and less heat generation from the cut, making for potentially less damage to the timber, and longer bit life.

Any bit over 10mm diameter has a step-down shaft diameter, so bits up to 19mm can still fit a 10mm chuck.

They are nice to use, and are exceptionally sharp.  Available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies

Episode 82 Work Sharp

Episode 82 Work Sharp

My Shed – Wood Review Comp

The closing date for votes is rapidly approaching (Friday I think), and the latest entries have only just been uploaded (something to do with Easter interference!)

All entries can be seen here

And votes are made by emailing the number of your choice to

If you are struggling to choose which shed to vote for….one of the sheds (just uploaded) may look familiar to regular readers. Probably too late to be a contender (sadly), but there is always a sympathy vote!

Mechanical Advantage

If a tree falls at the inlaw’s house, I certainly paid attention! The tree had to come down- it wasn’t doing very well, but it had a fair amount of timber in it, and the trunk had (has) a decent thickness.

Given I was looking for a trunk to test out the slabbing capabilities of the Torque Workcentre, it was perfect timing. I asked the inlaws to ensure the trunk wasn’t cut into small lengths, so have ended up with a 2m long section, and a 1/2m section. (And a whole lot of firewood as well).

Next problem was getting the trunk home- it is too heavy to lift, so I came up with a way to roll it onto the trailer. I took a couple of lengths of Cyprus Pine, each with wheels attached at either end to create a sled for the log, and used a lever to raise the log up high enough to slip the wheels under either end. The log then was able to be rolled easily, up to the back of the trailer, and my homemade ramps.

From there, I needed some serious pulling power, so a chain block was the winner. With 3m in working range, and a maximum working load of 2 tonnes, it took no effort at all to get the log up the ramp and onto the trailer. It is going to be harder getting it onto the Torque Workcentre!




So now, when the new chainsaw arrives (2000W (equiv to a 2.8HP petrol) 16″ electric chainsaw) and the chainsaw mount for the Torque Workcentre, we will get to see how the TWC performs doing heavy-duty slabbing. I went with an electric chainsaw so I could use it in the shed without concerns (minor issues such as CO/petrol and exhaust fumes). I have a small petrol chainsaw for out and about.

Going to be fun.

Now all I need to do is work out how to use the chain block in the shed for all those times I want to lift excessively heavy items. I joked recently about how useful a gantry crane would be, and now if only I had an I beam running the length of the shed, I could use that. Something will come to mind.

Episode 81 It’s Time

Episode 81 It’s Time

Vinyl Unwrap

A (fair) few years ago, I made a cupboard for the kitchen, and to do the job right, commissioned vinyl wrapped drawer fronts and cupboard doors (and they were not particularly cheap).  I’ve discovered recently that despite the cost outlay, and getting them commercially made (by Schiffer Manufacturing, which no longer seems to exist except in outdated web pages) that it still ended up a disappointment, as the vinyl is falling off every one of the doors and drawers.

Edges lifting, panels warping, delaminating

Entire vinyl coatings flapping in the breeze.

I’m going to have to work out how to fix it – will probably remove the vinyl from each panel, apply glue and clamp it up.  That might be with traditional clamps, but may also be with a vacuum press method (to get a vacuum press large enough, I have heard of space bags being used).

Last thing I wanted to have to deal with.  Fixing someone else’s screwup – especially when I’ve paid for better.

Dungeons & Dragons

The Sword Saw was a device made and wielded by the gnomes, being either steam powered or magically enchanted in AD&D.  Seemingly incredulous even in a fantasy environment, let alone a woodworking workshop!

But there are real Sword Saws, and there are more than I realised, all for the workshop.

Other than the SSP200, Protool have others in their range.


That is some serious cutting depth! 380mm at 90 degrees.

Speaking of cutting depth – how about this one for mortising!

And if overall size is of interest, what happens when you take a circular saw, and feature it in the movie “Honey I blew up the kids”?

Would you believe 165mm of cutting depth, and a 420mm blade???!!!

If that isn’t enough, then kick over to the Protool portable bandsaw

285mm cutting capacity, and again something that looks well suited to being fitted to the Torque Workcentre!

Perhaps Ideal Tools and Torque Workcentres need another chat!!

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