Safety Week Monday (Dust)

This week marks the 5th safety week I’ve been involved in, so today, rather than revamp some articles for this one thought I’d try something a bit different.  A bit of a survey / quiz around the topic (don’t worry, answers are anonymous).  Feel free to flesh out your answers in the comments if you want.  Multiple choices are fine.

(updates: Jeff’s answer reminded me to ask: if you care to share, could you describe your dust extraction system(s) and air filtration system(s) for us? I’d be interested, and others may be as well.

Even “none” is a valid response- you may have good reason (or not). Perhaps you do all your work outside, or don’t feel you can afford one, or only use handtools, and your dust extractor is a brush and pan!)

Get a Grip

Came across an interesting product from CRC recently: CRC Belt Grip.  Had never heard of the stuff before now.

CRC Belt Grip

Had a thought it might prove useful in the workshop – belt driven machines everywhere.  Planer, thicknesser, tablesaw, drum sander, bandsaw, drill press, lathe, belt sander, hand power planer, at least in my workshop.  Your mileage may vary.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I was thinking about how much slippage there may, or may not be.  How much power might be getting lost.  I’m thinking about testing one of the machines out to see.  Does anyone know how to test for belt slippage?

Anyone come across this product before?  Opinions?

I Shot the Sherrif

“But I did not shoot no (Dust) Deputy”

As I demonstrated recently, I can fit (with a bit of a violation of a systainer) a Dust Deputy to the Festool Cleantex.  If you don’t have a systainer to do that to, or you prefer a commercial solution, or……you prefer being able to use a plastic bag to actually collect the dust, while still enjoying the benefits of cyclonic dust separation, then this is for you.

The Ultimate2 Dust Deputy, from PWS. On top is the familiar Dust Deputy, and below a systainer-like collection bin, that will lock to the top of a Cleantex using the standard connectors.

Dust Deputy Ultimate2

The Cleantex hoses fit straight onto the Deputy (as you’d expect).

And the point of difference with the original Ultimate: the plastic bag.  Much more convenient for emptying, and you can avoid the billowing dust when you do (which is a point of difference between this pre-separator and pretty much every other one I’ve seen on the market).

You can’t just jamb a plastic bag into the collection bin of other cyclone separators.  Give it a try if you don’t believe me!  Go on – I’ll wait 🙂

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Back yet?  So what did you find – bet it was the plastic bag sucked straight up into the vacuum port of the cyclone!

Now have another closer look at the front of the Ultimate2 and you’ll notice a little tap to the left of the handle, with a thin clear tube attached.

Vacuum Port

It is in the off position here when I took the photo, but what it is doing, is drawing a vacuum from around the outside of the plastic bag, allowing the bag to remain in position.  If there was air around the outside of the plastic bag, when a vacuum is drawn inside the bag, and container by the Cleantex, that air would try to follow taking the plastic bag into the vacuum tube.

So what stops the plastic bag being drawn into this port, blocking it?

Well inside the handle there is a foam insert, allowing air to pass through, but dispersing the flow so the plastic bag doesn’t get sucked in that tube.

To draw a vacuum in the tube, at the other end it connects directly to the port that connect to the Cleantex itself at the inlet.

There is no valve this end. The tube pushes straight in and is held firmly by the connector.

I’m still a bit mystified that there is enough air drawn through this tube to create a vacuum outside the bag that can cope with the amount of vacuum drawn inside the bag.  But I guess the people at Oneida have figured that out so I don’t have to think about it.

I did find the sealing around the lid was insufficient straight out of the box – too thin, and too short.  This problem was easily solved with a additional length of stickon dense foam (window seal/draught stop, from Bunnies).

As far as how well it worked – brilliantly.  I tried overwhelming it with large piles of dust, I tried large volume generation (such as surfacing with the Torque Workcentre), and it handled it all.  And if there was any fine dust that did get through, the vacuum’s HEPA filter dealt with that.  Not that I saw any evidence of dust getting through: the HEPA filter remained clean, at least to the eye, even after 2 days of surfacing redgum.  The dust from redgum is very distinctive, and dark, so if any had gotten through I’d expect to see it in a discolouration on the HEPA filter.

So that is the Ultimate2 Dust Deputy from Oneida: It will significantly extend the life of the HEPA filter in your vac (assuming you have one), makes emptying easier (instead of having to lift the entire vacuum motor off the top of the Cleantex to access the bag). And saves you significant money in bags for the vac.  The paper ones are expensive to keep replacing, and the long-life one (which is empty-able) is $375 for my Cleantex.  For an extra $22.50, you can have all the benefits of cyclonic dust separation, and not have to change your consumable bag for a VERY long time!

The Ultimate2 can be purchased here.  As far as I know this is the only supplier of the “2” in Australia.

(As to the lyrics, excluding my addition, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist that the line is wrong, I chose the Bob Marley version, rather than the Eric Clapton one!) 😉

On Dangerous Ground

Over the past few days, I have been reading a book just released about Gallipoli.

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Obviously with ANZAC day just gone it is rather fitting (and no doubt the timing of the book launch on the 16th April was influenced by the significance of the 25th). It is by Professor Bruce Scates of Monash University, and it has a significant point of difference from his previous offerings……

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…….in that is a fictional story, rather than a non-fiction, scholary offering. In saying that, this is not just a bit of fictional whimsy, but has strong roots in facts. Written by someone who initmately knows the topic, the thoughts and influences of the men and women of the time, the language, the military hierarchy, the academic politics of that time and this.

While reading, it is well worth keeping in mind that you really are getting to experience the situations the people and locations as they really were through the eyes of someone who has walked the hills and land many many times while piecing together the true history of that time and place, rather than through the eyes of an author basing a story on a few photos and assumptions.

In a couple of years time, the world will be commemorating 100 years since the start of WW1, and days such as ANZAC Day are set to eclipse ones such as New Years Eve 1999-2000 as we take the opportunity to perhaps really begin healing from the collosal impact that The Great War had on the world. For Australia, the 60000 dead (not counting all the casualties that also resulted when soldiers came home with diseases from far off lands- 88000 came home sick), and 171000 wounded, POW or MIA came from a total population 1/5 the size it is today.

Bruce’s book also portrays another character, that of the historian, and the role they play both at the time of these major events, and when delving back through the flimsy threads of evidence to discover the truths that have been hidden and lost under the detritus of time.

Perhaps not your normal shed reading material (or perhaps it is!), but a story written by one of Australia’s leading historians gives voice to stories long muffled in slowly decaying boxes of historial material.

On Dangerous Ground: A Gallipoli Story by Bruce Scates.

Coming to a Newsagent (or a letterbox) Near You

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The magazine is going from strength to strength: even from an insider perspective it would be fair to say that it is maturing nicely. The cover this month looks great, and really lifts with the selective varnishing.

I have another 3 articles in this edition, and I’m particularly pleased with them. The editor does a great job turning my raw text and photos into a finished, formatted product. It is always a leap of faith to hand over articles to someone else to make the final decisions in editing: what photos are used, and how, what text survives and what hits the editing floor.

This month, subscribers have a chance to win a small edition (uh… I meant addition…talk about a Freudian slip!) to their space, so long as they can best explain (photographically) where it would fit….

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Must be about the last one not in captivity: not for much longer!

The mag is still $6.95, or $5 for subscribers. Not bad for pocket change!

A Passion for Finishing

What is it about the French?
French toast.
French kissing.
French polishing.
French revolution.
English mustard.

So many woodworkers hate finshing. They invest so much time, effort and passion into creating the item, but let it all slip away by not taking the time to get the best finish possible. And yeah, I’m just as guilty. I try not to be, and it isn’t necessarily for a lack of desire, but a lack of knowledge.

When we do try to finish, we rush it, jump for easy solutions, a finish in a can, a wipe in a bottle. And there are some excellent modern solutions for sure. But we know there are some great finishes, from a time that really understood timber, and the one that is the best known, revered (and feared) is French polishing. It is the finish so many others claim to emulate.

Instead of ignoring French polishing, why not embrace it? You could read up on it, learning all about the tools, techniques, formulas and methods from an expert, or find an expert to learn from by doing a class. Perhaps one that not only can demonstrate a good French polish, but can pick one out on antique furniture. Even one that is a master craftsman, International Member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen in Britain, and member of the Victorian Antique Dealers Guild. Guess that describes one person: Bryan Neville Beechey! (I included all three names as he sometimes goes by one or the other).

He runs courses in French polishing, and has written the book!

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Click here for more info on the book, and courses, and his website on French Polishing.

Click here for a pdf preview of a few pages of his book

I was lucky enough to have Neville give me a signed copy when I met him at the Ballarat Wood Show. I haven’t read the book closely yet: need some quiet time to really digest all the info contained therein. Perhaps we should encourage Neville to run some courses in Melbourne (if he doesn’t already!)- why should only Colac have well polished furniture? 😉 I see the future: a French Polishing class over a weekend at the Woodworking Warehouse, and I might finally finish my Hall Table properly (no- still not done 😦 )

If you have been fortunate to have done Neville’s course, let us know in the comments, and even better, show us some of the resulting articles!

PWS Sale

Professional Woodworkers Supplies is currently having a stocktake sale with some really decent savings. They are meant to only be available to their subscribers (those who have chosen to sign up fir their emailed newsletter), but this time they are also being made available to Stu’s Shed readers.

The page of their stocktake sale items is here.

Their current newsletter (which also lists the sales items) is here.

Check out the idea of “Bird’s Beak Shelving” – very interesting concept indeed!

Some of the standout items from the sale (and these are ones that appeal to me, or are particularly heavily discounted) are:

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Custom Steak Knives
$40.00, down from $87.50

There are a couple of other knives available, also for around 1/2 price. These make good gifts, both as projects for woodworkers, and as completed items with custom-made handles.

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Pro router top (fence & insert seen in photo not included)
$75, down from $175

I’m not positive, but I think this top was designed to fit on top of the Triton router table. These discounted tops may not- the hole may have been cut into the wrong location for that purpose – ask PWS if that is your specific intention.

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There are a couple of Incra rules (these are awesome for accuracy – check my article on accuracy here

Incra Guaranteed Squares are also significantly down in price (these are nice squares, good weight, very accurate).

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The Router Table Free-Hand Guard is also on sale, down to $30. These are excellent for any router table, providing guarding, dust extraction and freehand start support (it significantly decreases a chance of a kickback if you have some form of starting post to rest the workpiece against, and rotate it into the cutter when freehand routing)

I’ve adapted mine with MagSwitch magnets for my cast iron router table, but there are plenty of other ways of mounting the guard, depending on your router table type.

So have a look through the list: there are plenty of decent deals in there.

Fundamental Rules

Formula. Our lives are defined by formula. The mathematical depiction of reality.

E = mc2

F=ma

s = ut + (1/2)at2

So many of these derived so long ago, and yet still perfectly accurate. Nature defined.

There is one that is again, so simple, so exact. a2 + b2 = c2 This one has only been around a short while….about 2500 years! Known as the Pythagorean theorum, by the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of Samos.

Italiano: Busto di Pitagora. Copia romana di o...

Pythagoras of Samos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is such a simple rule, a theorem in geometry that states that in a right-angled triangle the area of the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares of the other two sides. And the easiest version to remember is a 3-4-5 triangle. If your triangle follows this rule, you are guaranteed that the angle between the two shorter sides is a perfect right angle.

So if this rule is so perfect for ensuring you have a right angle, then why not have a tool based on such a perfect formula?

As a limited run (also known as “One-Time Tools”) from Woodpeckers, they have released a range of “Pythagoras Gauges“, available through Professional Woodworkers Supplies. The link takes you the set of all the sizes available as a set, but you can also purchase them individually, pricing ranging from $30 to $100.

They are accurate (I don’t know to what degree, but Woodpeckers don’t work to coarse tolerances!), and a lot cheaper than the equivalent square. The largest is around 1 metre (on the longest side): a square made to the same tolerances, to the same size would cost a fortune! Or be as (in)accurate as a carpenter’s square. The smallest is 178mm on the longest side, perfect for small boxes.

They look unusual compared to a traditional square, but what is important is accuracy and functionality.

If all three points are each touching a side (or corner), then the object is perfectly square. If not, then it is very easy to see not only which way the side needs to move to achieve ‘squareness’, but by how much.

I see one improvement that could have been made: additional marks on either end of the long side would have been possible to demonstrate to a very fine amount how much off from square the object is.

But other than that, a very interesting application of such an ancient theorum!

Wine without a home

Bit left-of-field, but if you have a collection of wines that you want to cellar (and don’t just buy-to-drink there and then!), and you don’t have a cellar there is still hope!

Spiral Cellars create an actual cellar in your home, by digging the equivalent of a well under your home, including a spiral staircase and lining the walls with storage.

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Very cool concept. And a lot of advantages too- creating the room to add the storage, and a great environment for wine: controlled, consistent, accessible….and a GREAT feature for your home! And what a talking point!

Deja Vu in orange

Hope you are not holding anything liquid above your keyboard right now: I guess you are already sitting down!

I have a new addition for the shed (although it won’t be a permanent setup, but one bought in when required):

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Bet you never saw that coming!

I was putting the table together today, and was again struck (as I was when I first came across Triton), by the quality of the engineering design, and the manufacturing (understanding, and given the limitations of pressed steel).

The amount of thought that went into the product, the design concepts: superb. It is good to have had a chance to put a unit together again: reminded me of what attracted me to Triton in the first place.

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The fence is a big part of the innovations: from the adjustable (& removable) hold-downs…

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The moveable fences, which can also have shims inserted behind. I remember when the spring-loaded fence attachments were released as an upgrade, making setting the fence position so much easier than it was previously.

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The guard, which doubles as a freehand router post and dust clearance is also clever in its simplicity, and ability to be detacted and fitted directly to the table top.

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The microadjusters, allowing 1/10mm adjustment to the fence position, and also for creating rebates and rabbets the exact thickness of a board, without the use of a rule or caliper.

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This is the upgraded base- allows the Triton router to be quickly mounted and removed without additional clamps. Remember when that upgrade came out as well!

So not sure where all this will lead. More Triton content probably! We’ll see what comes next.

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