I never realised

I have just arranged for those pulleys to be couriered from Sydney to Melbourne, and the price range is phenomenal when you get quotes.

One company had quoted online for about $40 (but I couldn’t find their website again – forgot just what Google search I’d used, dang it!)

I then got another online quote (was around $60) through a company that uses one of the main courier/freight companies.  Thought I’d just check with that freight/courier company directly how much they’d charge, and the quote came back at almost 3x the price. ($158)

Rather bemused, I didn’t proceed, and did some more online checks, and again got figures much closer to the $60.  So I rang up again, and with exactly the same details, they then quoted $170.

What sort of rip-off bull is the courier industry running?

I did challenge them on the price – they had no answer why they cannot quote the same amount twice in a row, and their answer about the cost difference ($59 vs $170) is because I am not a regular customer.

Seriously?  How about any other industry that treated their customers the same way?  Go into McDonalds and a regular pays $5 for a Big Mac, and a non-regular is expected to pay $15?  How about Australia Post – post a letter regularly and it is $0.50, but if it is once in a blue moon, $1.50?

I can understand some variance for customer loyalty, and regular purchasers of a service, but to sting a non-regular for so much seems criminal – the price obviously has no reflection on the actual cost to conduct that business.  The distance is the same, the parcel is the same size and weight, fuel is the same, driver time is the same.  Sure, give regulars a discount, but charging a non regular 3 times the price is like saying “sure, we will deliver your parcel, but we are not interested in you, or your business.  If you want to send it anyway, here’s some bullsh*t price you can either accept or not, either way, we don’t care about you”.

So thanks.  I’ll remember that next time I am looking to do business, or establishing a long-term business relationship in the future.

A SawStop Virgin

Hilarious watching the reaction of a newby to what happens when a SawStop activates. Here Matt Vanderlist demonstrates on his new saw while videoing what happens.

No- Matt is not the newby….his wife behind the camera is 🙂

Damn- I still want one of these saws!

Guess what was on the menu that night in the Vanderlist household 🙂


These are an interesting concept as found by the Roving Reporter, from Easy Wood Tools.  It is a concept I have seen elsewhere, but these look a well refined solution.

easyEach has a carbide tip, so sharpening on the fly is not necessary, as the tool dulls with use, rotate the cutter, and finally replace it.  Of course, if you have the Tormek Sharpener with the Blackstone Silicon wheel, then you can resharpen the carbide cutters.

Haven’t seen these in person, so I don’t know how they shape up in reality, or how they would compare to my Hamlet chisels for example.  Although carbide cannot be sharpened to the same degree as tool steel, in practice most wood turners don’t sharpen their chisels to the nth degree in any case, and the long durability of a carbide edge has a lot of appeal.

(Not the) Sale of the Century

This isn’t the big tool sale I hinted out a month or so ago (which is still on its way).  I need the new shed to be commissioned so I can sort through the machines and tools that will be going in there, and leave (and sell) those that are not.

In the meantime, I am still applying the same principle to other items around the house.  Last week I got rid of a 1000l water tank, and a small shed/bird aviary/cat run.  This week there will be some more items up, including this desk hutch.


More details via the eBay site. Auctions start at 0.99c (this one still is at the starting price).  Obviously I’d rather not sell it for 99c, but it will go for what the market decides it is worth!  I apply that same principle to anything else I sell on eBay as well.

Day on the tools

Nothing like a day on the tools to blow the cobwebs away.

This is what I’ve been working on – a cat run for the new place. Rather than a small run with perhaps a couple of tunnels, it wasn’t that much more to box in the entire side of the house. This makes it easy to get to the rear door to the garage without having to go through gates to the run, and the structure doubles up to carry shade cloth to shield the northern side of the house. I noticed the blinds on that side were always down, and when raised, the carpet was very faded. Shielding those windows will help that, as well as decrease the whole heat loading on the house.

The gate frame came up well, and the ease of assembly (and low cost) of this fence system means I will definitely use it again for fabricating other structures.

The Triton Steel Cutter got a good workout for this, and using the metal fencing wire clips, and a wire twist tool made the job as easy as it could be- the right tools for the job.

May not have been woodworking, but at least something was getting cut, joined, built.





Hard Yards

In the next day or so, issue 2, 2013 of ManSpace will be on the shelves


No idea how I managed to get my articles across the line for this issue – those were some hard yards!  I’d just finished a major evolution at work (relocating about 550 staff and students in a major building reorganisation), and then as I was writing the articles themselves I was physically packing and moving house.

My articles in the current issue include:

Sharpening Drill Bits (3 pages), looking at the Drill Doctor vs the Tormek w DBS jig

Nova Comet II Lathe (2 pages)

6 Step Project – creating a kid’s blackboard (3 pages)

Let me know what you think of them!

For those who cannot get ManSpace, along with their Facebook page, they now have their website up and running ManSpace.

If you go into “In the Shed”, then “Tips and Tricks”, you will find 9 articles I wrote for previous issues. (The deck article is not one of mine!)


Line Shafts and Powering Machinery

We have not always had the luxury of small, compact, powerful electric motors for powering workshop machinery.  Instead, once workshops moved to having powered machinery at the start of the Industrial Revolution, they were using water, coal and fuel oil to to power the workshop.

Deutsch: Erste Dampfmaschine in der Dillinger ...

Deutsch: Erste Dampfmaschine in der Dillinger Hütte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It would not be economic to run tiny steam engines, let alone split a river into multiple streams, one to each machine and its individual water wheel!  So instead there was one power source that drove a primary line shaft across the workshop, which with a series of pulleys and belts drove ancillary shafts, and from there to individual machines.

Line shaft and belt driven machinery. MACHINE ...


I posted a video on one working setup at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat where they demonstrate wagon wheel manufacture, back at Episode 79

Episode 79 Wagon Wheel Manufacture
Formats available: MPEG4 Video (.mp4), Quicktime (.mov), MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)

With the prospect of a new shed on the horizon (and especially one with a higher ceiling), I have already been visualising what the workshop may look like, including giving it some real character.  The romance of the old industrial age is something that does appeal, and where I can’t convert a workshop to run on line shafts (and the OHS implications in this day and age would melt the internet), I can still have some of the relics of this bygone age around, including a pseudo line shaft or two!

I already have one pulley that I bought from Chris Vesper a year or so ago – a very nice example of one, with classic timber laminations.


While one pulley is nice, having a small collection would be even better, and so I had a bit of a search around eBay.  The timing was perfect, as I not only found the following, I was very fortunate in winning the auction.

But this was was not just an auction of a few of the pulleys, but much more rarely, some leather belts as well.

w3 w1 w4 w5 w6

With such a cool collection, I’m thinking of recreating a bit of a line shaft setup, and the belts will really add to that effect 10 fold!  Now I just have to get them from the Blue Mountains to Melbourne!


It has been very quiet around here….too quiet (just to roll out that Dead Horse Trope). Unfortunately, unlike the movies, I have no idea if things will suddenly burst into action or not.

I’ve been getting quotes, checking them twice, working out who’s naughty and who’s nice.
Been comparing shed manufacturing companies, and my local retail franchises, and there are big differences in some areas (such as attitudes, willingness to work through designs etc), and very little in others (such as available design options, and cost). I’m not mentioning company names here- this isn’t a name and shame.

I took one design back yesterday to one company, and wanted to see how much cheaper it would be to not do an American barn, with all the doors I originally planned, and go with an Aussie Barn- much lower design, no mezzanine, minimal doors and the price barely changed- about $1000 cheaper.

So this says to me that the decrease in height of 1/2 a metre across a 9 metre length of shed, (total about 12 m2) including all the support beams that decrease, and all the insulation, less 9m in guttering, the cost of a 10 m2 mezzanine, less 3 personal access doors and 2 windows, all added together is only $1000. The erecting cost was unchanged. Wow. Perhaps I should take the American barn, and add an additional 1/2 m in height, more mezzanine, more access doors etc etc. Would the price go up only another $1000? And no difference in erecting cost?

When I queried the lack of difference in price, the response was “I’m only quoting what the software tells me”

I was looking at decreasing the design to minimise cost- I thought I would make a lot of compromises to see how much difference it would make. Very disappointing.

So I then looked at what I could get if my total project budget was capped at $10k. With me erecting the shed, and without even factoring in the cost of lighting, I could not replace what I previously had (which we know was becoming unworkable). You don’t know what you had until it is gone.

I am finding it very difficult to find things to write about, as you would have noticed in the decrease in output. And all this back and forth is very draining. However, without a shed for Stu, there is no Stu’s Shed. And that is not an option I enjoy contemplating. It is a very frustrating situation.

When Pocket Holes go bad

A number of years ago (BS – before shed) we bought some dining room furniture – looked nice, wasn’t particularly cheap or expensive.

When I looked closer at the furniture once I had been getting into woodworking, and specifically how it was joined together, I found much was pocket holed. And this, rather surprisingly, included the dowel stringers between the legs. To the point that there was very little wood left of the thin-ended stringer at all.

They actually lasted a lot longer than I gave them credit for, through good fortune rather than good design, but one did break the other day, so I thought I’d share with you a photo of how NOT to use pocket holes, especially in furniture that is to be sold!


Holding Pattern

Been a bit quite around here recently – at least the last few days. All I can say it is a combination of busy days at work that are simply draining, and working in the background on a successful outcome on a potential new shed. So much is so dependent on that, for obvious reasons!

In the meantime, Professional Woodworkers Supplies have put out their latest newsletter, and some products specifically caught my eye.

For those of you building or upgrading a router table, PWS have it covered! And a couple of new related products:



The first, from Incra, is a CleanSweep, which can best be described as an under table vacuum forming (or rather, negative pressure establishing) dust extracting router shroud. The second is a height adjustable router table stand.

The last is rather interesting as well- a 4″ dust extraction swivel connector.


I’ll leave you with those – check em out through PWS. I really hope to have some good shed news soon. Fingers crossed!

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