Rockem Sockem

Anyone seen the construction on the corner of Springvale Road and Cheltenham Road?  Looks to be a brand new Masters, directly across from a major Bunnings store.

Talk about taking it to your competition.  An interesting game to play, not sure who the winner is in the area.  Certainly not either store, and not even the locals.  A game without winners is like playing chess with a sledgehammer.



The GoPro camera range is relatively new on the market, part of the wave of cameras made possible by developments in digital technology. They are normally associated with the sporting world, providing POV (short for 1st person point of view) shots, and equipment/vehicle-mounted shots and views.

I have decided to add one to the lineup, to provide some interesting and unique views to the shed videos. There are a few drivers for this- one being the upcoming shed build, which I want to capture in a series of time-lapse shots which is one of the strong points of this camera. It is very light (and small), so some different viewpoints are a lot more achievable, as well as being extremely weather-proof. It can operate up to 60m deep in water, so a bit of rain will not phase it in the slightest.


I would have absolutely killed for a camera like this back when I was heavily into diving, and to provide some really interesting perspectives on the ships I served in the Navy. While directly involved in damage control (fire fighting, flood control etc), and various evolutions (refuelling at sea, equipment maintenance (such as inside the ship’s boilers), it would have been an awesome device.

Another driver was where I have been looking at the ability to capture high speed footage. My normal video captures at 25 fps (frames per second), which means slowing the footage down immediately becomes choppy. A dedicated high speed camera is around $17k, so that is out of the question. However, this camera can manage up to 240 fps at its highest rate (low res, but still fine for web-based), and 100-120 fps for high def video. Slowing an event down 10 fold is now possible.


The camera shoots high definition video, as well as 12MP stills (and those can be up to 30 images/sec). I’m going to use it to provide some unique views and POV shots and angles.

I’ve picked up the camera early so I can get some experience with it. Have had it mounted in the car for some tests, and have already captured videos of cars reversing up Eastlink to a missed turn, a car using a footpath to get into a service station, another car skidding around a corner (idiot), powering on and loosing control. 3 trips, 3 idiots.

Total Sale

Headed along to the “Insider” evening at Total Tools in Carrum Downs. Thought it’d be like so many other ‘sales’ we go to, but I was wrong, surprisingly wrong.

As I was approaching (and still 1/2 a km away), I could start to see a significant buildup of parked tradie-type vehicles. Utes, Utes with trade trailers (the locking variety), 4x4s, but not the Toorak Tractor variety but real workhorses. Lots of vehicles with materials of their trade on the roof etc. The side street outside was lined on both sides of the narrow one way with these, for almost a km.

This was an ‘exclusive’ evening, by invite only (although there were obviously lots of invites). I even got a phone call to see if I was coming.


At the entrance, there was a red carpet, and the reception, with a Karcher demo area and Milwaukee pergola.

Inside was just as amazing. All the usual, with shelves stacked even more than normal, and sales tables packed with goods.

But the real surprise were the crowds. Hundreds of people, almost exclusively tradies, all very animated, and keen to buy. There was hardly a person without something they had picked up to purchase. Standing around, chatting with their contemporaries, or the various staff and demonstrators. Even Festool had a manned display in dispersed among the aisles.


At the back of the store was a spit roast company serving rolls filled with roast pork or beef, gravy and coleslaw. Beer and soft drink, and all free.


That was a sale, and yeah, I was impressed. If other sales (or even the wood show) had such a crowd, all enthusiastically buying (and not watered down 90% with tyre kicking), the industry would be in a very good shape indeed.

Forgot to mention the give-aways. Over $3k worth of door prizes as a raffle. An iPad, nail gun, socket set, football tickets to name a few.

A couple of roast pork rolls were harmed in researching this article.


News on the street is that Australian Wood Review has been taken over by Yaffa Publishing.

Linda Nathan will remain the editor for a few years, so that will provide some significant continuity.

Good thing, since I just renewed my iPad subscription!

Shed Archaeology

I couldn’t progress the pen making very far without the pen mill, and my scrounging didn’t turn it up anywhere.  Probably easier just to get another, and at the same time get one that actually works well.  The designs typically sold I find to be pretty ordinary – they are either blunt and cut so painfully slowly you are tempted to use extra pressure (which can result in chipping and/or burning), flop around inside the brass tube (despite apparently being designed for that pen type), and I can’t think of what other combinations of issues I have dealt with over the years.  Has anyone found a good one?

Heard of sandpaper versions, but not sure where they are sourced from (and what issues they have).  Think there is a definite market for a better way to square off the ends of a pen blank in line with the brass insert.

Standing at the lathe a bit later, in contemplation mode, and heard a familiar tick, tock.  The shed clock.  It was in another stack of crates nearby that I hadn’t looked through, so did the balancing act with them and went for a bit of a look.  Didn’t find the mill (but wasn’t really looking for it) – was hoping to find the tailstock of the Comet II (but it wasn’t there), but did find the other thing I was hoping to uncover: the Nova Titan II Chuck.

I previously thought I had found it, but that turned out to be a SuperNova2 chuck – fooled by the size for a second.  Once I saw the Titan, there was no possible mistake – it is bloody massive!  Will have a look around to find a suitable blank to mount up.


Can’t wait for the day when I can start unpacking these boxes and crates properly, and rediscovering things.

While looking for a better mill, I did find this mandrel saver at Carroll’s Woodcraft.

planetmandrelsaverIt is specifically for pen turning, and doesn’t push on the end of the pen mandrel (which can cause it to bend slightly if too tight, causing an off-centre oscillation).  Instead, the mandrel feeds through the mandrel saver, which instead pushes directly on the bushings.  This means there is no need for the knurled knob either, and therefore no slippage caused by it being slightly loose, and no distortion of the mandrel.  Very interesting.  If the ends of the blank were milled correctly, getting the mandrel saver a bit tight shouldn’t be an issue, as the load passes through the first bush, through the brass centre, through the second bush and into the headstock.

There is a MT1 and MT2 version (both pictured).  Again, if anyone has used this and has an opinion, I’d be interested to hear.  I’m quite tempted to try it out myself in any case.  To now I have used a live centre with a very blunt point with which to engage the hollow end of the mandrel (a sharp point tends to wander, causing a similar issue as if the live centre was pushing too hard).

Wonder what other developments are out there?

Creating Sawdust

After yesterday’s post, I decided to see just what I could do about it, even if in a very limited way.  One of the ideas was the computer-controlled side of woodworking – laser or CNC, but neither are particularly affordable.

Dropped into Carbatec, if nothing else than to have a bit of a tool-fix.  Picked up (as in literally, rather than purchased!) some Festool tools, such as the XL Domino and the TS55, played with the Kapex for a few secs.  I know, desperate stuff.  I might see if Carbatec would be interested in lending me a machine for a while – be a good way to experience the CNC Shark (or similar).

Chatted with the manager for a bit, who remembered some kits from one of their recent open days – for a bow saw they had made one Saturday of which they still had a spare.  That’ll keep me out of trouble for a little bit.

So this evening, I went into the garage, and after a spot of mountaineering was able to uncover enough of my woodturning tools to be able to do some pen turning.  About the only thing I couldn’t uncover was my pen mill.  I also can’t get to the drill press, so blanks have to be pre-drilled, and I still have some left over from Carrolls Woodcraft – some purple heart blanks from the Ballarat wood show in 2012.

Found an extension cord, and got the Nova DVR powered up.  Boy, is it a quiet machine!  I know I haven’t found everything, because other than the pen mill, the Nova Titan chuck is still MIA, as is the tailstock for the Nova Comet II.  I know they are in another box, as they were in a different part of the shed during the mad pack.  I wasn’t too worried about that at the time, but then I wasn’t expecting to be shedless even for this long.  They will resurface, just not at the present.

Made a little sawdust – have obviously forgotten everything (again), especially all the techniques Robbo showed me, so I was back scraping instead of cutting, but at least good timber was being reduced to shavings and scrapings.  It is a start at least.

Photo 25-05-13 21 45 20

There isn’t much room, trip hazards everywhere, tools lost in the detritus.  I feel right at home!

Thanks to the Woodwork Forums

I was pretty sick a bit over a year ago with Bells Palsy, and at the time I didn’t realise that there was a thread started on the Woodwork forums wishing me well.

I just tried replying to the thread, but as it is too old, I couldn’t.  So instead, I’ll say it here.  Thanks guys – I’m touched.  Sorry I didn’t see the thread before now, but I still appreciate the gesture.

FWIW, recovery has been about 90%, so pretty fortunate all up.  An interesting experience, and the couple of MRIs didn’t find any concerns, and actually found there was a brain in there somewhere!

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