Topping it off

The top of the Torque Workcentre is sacrificial and occasionally requires replacement.  In the first instance, the most economic solution is to simply flip the top over to get twice as much use out of the sheet.  However, Torque Workcentres have come up with an upgrade that means it was worth me creating a new top to incorporate the additional functionality.

Starting with a full sheet of 16mm MDF, the TWC is also the ideal tool to begin breaking the sheet down.  The new design needed narrow strips of MDF, which is also a good thing when it comes time to replacing the top again, as only the sections damaged will need replacement.  Even if the amount of travel of your particular TWC isn’t long enough to cut the entire sheet in a single cut, it is easy to complete most of the cut with the saw passing through the sheet, then locking the arm position and finish by pushing the remainder of the sheet past the saw.

Even if you are only using the TWC to roughly break down a board, it still has it all over doing it by hand where the cut can end up quite wavy/offline.  Given I have the benefit of having a tablesaw, breaking the sheet down to near the final size, then running it through the tablesaw gave me the best of both.  I find a full sheet too unwieldy to easily run it through the tablesaw, so prefer to do an initia rough breakdown, then finish cutting accurately on the tablesaw.

Completing the cut before transfer to the tablesaw.

Given the length of the boards, I set up outfeed support – using the Triton Multistand.

For additional safety, again especially given the length of board, I set up a featherboard to help control the board as it was fed through the saw.  In this case, I’m using the latest from MagSwitch – a reversable featherboard that attaches to the universal base.  Something that we have been waiting for, for years.

To fit the channel (which is the new addition from Torque Workcentres), a slot cutting bit is used.  Now although I have a dedicated router table, I also have allowed myself the provision to transfer the router and base to the side of the tablesaw, so I can use the tablesaw fence.  To allow the bit to be enbedded in the fence, I use a section of aluminium to be an auxiliary fence.  It is attached to the main fence with a couple of wooden clamps.

The benefit of using the router as part of the tablesaw, is the fence – the tablesaw is designed to handle long lengths, so where that is the job, moving the router from one table to the other is a few seconds work.

It is a very easy job – with a slot cutting router bit, run a slot down either side of each section of the top.  Takes no time to set up and complete.

The slots then engage on the wings of the aluminium extruded channel.  In this case, I am attaching the new top directly onto the old.  It will mean the base is thicker, and means the top of the workcentre is now above the channel at the back, so if I run the circular saw (in crosscut) right through, it won’t cut up the rear channel.

The front edge got the usual treatment, using the mini roundover plane from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  It doesn’t wreck the line of the top, yet softens the edge, removing the sharp MDF edge that can go as far as inflicting a cut, so rounding the edge is an excellent solution on a number of levels.  This mini plane makes it so easy, and does an excellent job.

The channels are screwed down, holding most of the top in place without additional fixing.  For the outside lengths, a few screws up from underneath takes care of them.  I’ve left an extra amount of width for the front board to ensure the front track is well covered.  The tracks allow hold downs to be used where that is the most appropriate securing method.

I’m certainly not abandoning the Walko low profile, horizontal clamps at all – I just haven’t had time to redrill the required holes yet!

So once again, another small improvement to continue the development of the Torque Workcentre.

6 Responses

  1. Whats the clearance between the top surface of the tracks and tabletop?dont want to be cutting them up along with the sacrificial mdf

    • Sorry about the delay – took a while to have 5 seconds to get out there! Clearance is over 5mm, so plenty in other words!

  2. Stu
    Just wondering why you did the cutting and routing on the table saw and router table rather than the TWC itself? Are these tools more accurate than the TWC?

    • No doubt I could have done these jobs on the Torque, but given I have these dedicated machines, and have many years of using them I tend to prefer them for these sorts of operations.

      No doubt I could have done all operations on the TWC, but why use one machine when you have 3?

  3. Talking of accuracy, how about some info on how good this machine is, and also how much setting up is required between tool changes?

    I have heard that radial arm saws are really only any good for rough ripping of wood and accurate cuts need to be done on a dedicated table saw.

    Your insight would be appreciated.

    • Any tool is only as good as the amount of time spent setting it up. If there is a significant change in the tool operation (change in orientation, change of attachment etc), then more setup is required. It is more a case of how long the tool remains accurate once it is set up which reflects on the quality of the tool.

      A digital bevel box is particularly useful, especially for the Torque, and it makes fine tuning the tool quick and easy.

      There are a whole bunch of articles on the Torque on here- and video which should go quite a way to demonstrating how setting up the machine can be done. It is more difficult to get the same amount of accuracy as on a dedicated tablesaw or router table, but probably easier than a Triton. Even so, with a bit of work I used to have my Triton working very accurately. I see the Torque as more of a bulk material removal than as a finishing tool. Like comparing a thicknesser to a drum sander. Both can do a very similar job, but depending on the job required, one can be a better choice than the other, but I’m most happy having access to both. Same with the Torque. I could get away with it being one of the only tools in the workshop, but am even happier having both so I can always use the best tool for the job at hand.

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