Float like a butterfly

I asked Muhammad Ali recently what is favourite activity is, and the answer wasn’t a surprise. “I box”

So I trundled off to the Apple Store to see what their latest product was, and again the answer was “iBox” (with the iBox2 due out about 9 months later).

Next it was over to Professional Woodworkers Supplies to find out what their latest woodworking product was.  Can you guess the answer? i-Box from Incra.

Seems to be a bit of a trend happening here!

Given we are all pretty familiar with Ali’s boxing, and not everyone is an Apple fan, let’s stick with the third product and have a closer look at that.

Incra are renowned for creating items that bring incredible precision to woodworking.  And the iBox is no exception.  Unlike the other box jigs, the iBox has a completely variable finger size to exactly match the size of the cutter (whether that is a router bit or a dado blade).  It also has a microadjustment capability but my first use of it seemed to also cause the two sides to no longer be aligned.  The best option I found from a bit of trial and error was to get the width of the finger right in the first place!

Incra i-Box

The jig has good protection for the operator – both the block guards (red) so the operator is not exposed to the blade, particularly after the cut, as well as the perspex shield which discourages contact with the blade, and stops chips being flung up from the rear of the blade.

For all the safety items, what really sets this jig apart is the variable finger.

View from above

The finger is first zeroed off the blade during the initial set up.  If you have a left-tilting saw, you won’t have to redo this calibration even when changing blade or using a different dado width.

Using a test block, cut an initial slot then use this slot to accurately set the finger width by turning the adjustment knob.

Adjustment knob

Not only does this set the width of the finger, but the mechanism also moves the finger the same exact distance from the blade that the finger is wide.

Width set of a smallish dado blade stack

Underneath the jig

From underneath you can see the adjustable finger (not a lot of the mechanism itself).

Narrow finger setup

I also tried the jig with a single blade rather than a dado stack – worked very well with a basic blade, as well as with the large variable kerf achievable with a dado.

Fingers cut with a dado blade

The result looks pretty good to me, and very easy to set up and create.

Fingers cut with dado, and fingers cut with a single blade

It is a very effective jig – looking forward to seeing what else it can do (such as variable central finger width).

Available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies. Unless you want to try the Apple store 😉

Steak Knives, Take Two

When I first made some scales for the steak knife set (from Professional Woodworkers Supplies) about a year ago, things were going well until almost the final step when excessive tearout occurred when the roundover bit got a tad aggressive. That project has been set aside for a little longer than I expected (or realised when I looked at the date of the first effort!). So time to try again. I’m not sure if this specific set is still available, but there are plenty of other knife projects available here.

Unhandled knife kit

I didn’t take a photo of the knife kit again this time, so have recycled the first photo here. Now on with the new attempt (and yes, there is a more successful conclusion!)

To start, I have a new timber for the blanks (for a bit of variety!) This time the handles will be black hearted sassafras. The blanks have been roughly sized, and ready to be machined accurately.

I have improved the method I use to sand thin stock on the drum sander by making a sled.

Thin stock sled for the drum sander

With a piece of MDF, I have attached a thin fence to one edge with a couple of 4mm dominos.

Thin stock sled in operation

The sled carries the blanks in and through the sander – the increased area of the base works well with the sander to ensure no slippage occurs when the blanks impact the sanding drum, decreasing any chance of snipe or burning. These were sanded to 8.2mm to match the knife bolster.

Next, cut an angle on one end to match the knife blank. In this case, 36 degrees, which is easily done using the Incra Mitre Gauge HD, and even better when coupled up with the Mitre Express.

HD Gauge from Incra

Mitre Express

The Mitre Express makes machining small items safer, and minimising tearout.

Knife Scales

The resulting knife scales ready for the next stage. I needed to drill 3.5mm holes, but found my drill bit that size had the end snapped off from a previous job. So for a bit of a diversion, off to the Tormek and the drill bit sharpener jig.

Tormek DBS-22

This jig quickly turned the broken tip of the bit back into a well-formed, razor sharp bit, better than new (originally a 2 facet bit – this jig allows you to develop 4 facets on the tip).

Preparing the scale for drilling

With double-sided tape, I attached one scale to the knife, then the second scale to the first. This allows me to drill both sides simultaneously, and any breakout can be minimised.

Drilling the blank

After drilling, I drew around the handle, then detached the knife. After roughing down on the bandsaw, I sanded right to the line using a combination of the disk sander and spindle sander.

The scales are then glued to either side of the knife, and the pins inserted. They are longer than necessary, and get cut and sanded to size once the glue sets.

Handles ready for final shaping and finishing

The knives were then returned to the disk and spindle sanders to finalise the shape.

From there, I used a random orbital sander to sand all sides, and round over the edges (done with the ROS held upside down in one hand, and the knife handle bought to the sander). After a while I decided the microcuts were becoming a bit excessive, so finished the job wearing a kevlar carver’s glove.

You may notice the knife bolsters are no longer polished – while shaping some of the bolsters got damaged unfortunately, so it was better to have them all sanded evenly to match. It may look a bit exaggerated in the photo, but ok in reality. Not the preferred result, but such is life.

The knives have already been used a couple of times – it is rather cool using a knife you’ve made the handle for, and the knives themselves are heavy, very sharp and slice steak to perfection.

Forgot to mention – they were finished simply by rubbing them down with Ubeaut Foodsafe Plus mineral oil. This is ideal for chopping boards, salad bowls, and of course, knife handles.

Finished knives


(just reread this post the following morning- I really shouldn’t write entries at 2am: so many typos, including the title. “Sneak knives”. Either that is autocorrect gone mad, or I have!

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season……

You are deep into a sharpening session on your water-cooled sharpener, and the next job would be best done with the wheel turning towards the edge, rather than away from it. What do you do? What DO you do? I know what I do – compromise! I know the T7 (in my case) weights 14kg, plus around 3kg in water (the wheel soaks up about 2kg, and there is an additional in the waterbath). I could pick it up and spin it around, then back again for each job, but I don’t.

And I am not the only one. In fact, it must be rather common as Tormek have come up with the RB-180. A rotating base for their sharpeners.

RB-180 from Tormek

It is specifically designed for the Tormek footprint, and has rubber feet so the complete unit doesn’t start slipping around on the bench. I have found there can be a little movement between the sharpener and the rotating base. I may put down something a bit more anti-slip, but I didn’t notice it causing me a problem during my first sharpening session since putting the new base under my sharpener.

The rotating base has a very low profile – particularly important for those people who have already taken the time to ensure their sharpeners are set at the optimum height.

Underside

Looking at the underside for a sec, and you see those rubber feet, and the lock for the rotation. Also the cross reinforcing to provide stiffness.

Fitting Simplicity

Fitting the base is just a bit easy – pick up sharpener, put down the RB-180 (with the lock facing the front), place the sharpener on top. Done deed.

Simple push down on the locking lever, and spin the Tormek around.

Turning

Turning…

Done

So a useful addition, particularly for the 17kg (wet weight) Tormek T7. It has been a while since I’ve seen this side of the sharpener – looks like it is due for some dusting!

I took the splash guard off for this, as where I have the T7 there isn’t a lot of room, and therefore even more reason for the new base. Check out http://www.promac.com.au for more information and to find an authorised dealer near you.

A visit to Sea Shepherd

Headed down to Williamstown yesterday to see the MY Steve Irwin.  While there, I was very pleasantly surprised to find the MV Brigitte Bardot was also in port.

Before heading down, I had a check of what they were requiring (there is always a list of needed supplies), and found some woodworking-related items on there, so took them about 4x 10″ saw blades, a couple bottles of yellow PVA glue, some Tung Oil, and two boxes of router bits (1/2″ and 1/4″).

Guess it isn’t a lot, but it all counts.

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Got to tour both ships which bought back lots of memories.  The Steve Irwin was originally built in 1977, around 11 years newer than one of the ships I served on, but still has a similar feel to the decor.  Strangely, it still had speaking tubes installed – a common way to communicate with the lower deck areas (such as the engine room or Captain’s quarters).  Something more usual on ships from WW2 than ones built in the late 70s!

The Brigitte Bardot is an interesting vessel, but sadly it isn’t an Earthrace/Ady Gil.  With a maximum speed of 24 knots, it is nothing compared to the top (short run) capability of 50 knots. (Our tour guide claimed it was 28 knots, but there is no way something that looks like this can only do 28 knots! That’s only 52 kph)

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The basic ship tours don’t get you down to my old (equivalent) stomping grounds, (being the engine room/MCR (machinery control room)) but perhaps I might have another chance to do so before they sail on the next campaign.  Have to see if there are any other tools I can take down there.

Tribute to James Krenov

, a YouTube published (and woodworker), is doing a series of video tributes to past woodworkers.  The one shared here (linked across from YouTube) is on James Krenov.  An interesting brief summary of one of the great woodworkers.

 

Definitely check out some of the other videos has published – there are some really interesting titles and subjects, looking back at early trends and developments.  It is done in a style that looks as vintage as the topic!

Vesper Sale Pt2

Forgot to mention, Chris is offering 10% off the hand tools he makes for anyone willing to brave the weather!

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Vesper Timber Sale

I’m down here at Chris Vesper’s workshop 93 Gomms Rd Somerville, Vic at a timber sale, where Chris is selling off excess stock. There is Huon, Beech, Jarrah, Bubinga, Red Gum, on and on.

Awesome for me, I’m the only customer, but I can’t buy it all! The sale is only going until 1pm today, so if you want a chance at Chris’ significant collection, this is your chance.

Definite bargains to be made, as this is your only chance, and it all has to go.

3.25 hours to go!

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