There is a reason why you’d buy a shed from a reputable dealer, and get them to do the construction: so the quality of the assembly does not reside on you, when dealing with more and more extreme weather events.

Tonight there is a small breeze around Melbourne



80+km/hr winds traveling across the property, and into what will be the main vertical wall of the shed side. That is some severe weather out there.


I received the invoice today to pay to start the building permit process.  Probably the fastest bill I have ever paid.  The digital ink wasn’t even dry before the bill had been paid, and the receipt (as proof) sent back.

So time to break down the timeline and see what it may mean.

1 October – 13 October: Obtain building permit

14 October: Place order for concrete

14 October: Order placed for shed

14 October – 10 November: Shed manufacture (I am really hoping we can hit this window – this is the highest risk to the program)

19 October  – 20 October: Clear out current 3×3 shed and deconstruct

21 October: Order skip

28 October – 29 October: Block clearance including skip for waste removal

30 October – 31 October: Casting slab

11 November: Shed arrival

11 November – 24 November: Lead time for shed assembly.  Once construction starts, and the slab is in, I don’t see why the assembly can’t be booked in, so it happens only a few days after arrival, rather than a few weeks.  That would bring shed assembly forward to around 13 November through to 20 November.

25 November – 1 December: Shed assembly

It would be tempting to have the electrician in straight after and get the power sorted out as well, but going to take a more sensible approach and use the shed as is, with the Promac generator providing primary power (especially 15A), and some 10A being run from the house.  That will give the time over the Xmas break to get a reasonable idea about tool layout, and the corresponding power requirements.

I have the lights sitting in the garage, so they will be up very early on (light is one of those mandatory things!)  They currently have 10A plugs on each, so temporarily wiring them up will be easy.

I have to remember to run some piping under the slab for the dust extraction, and mid-floor power.

It feels like it is still going to be a long time – another 2 months!  But when I break it down like this, there is something happening almost every week so it will really feel like it is moving quickly.  It won’t take much to knock this program right however, and if it moves to the right much, it will clash with Christmas and that would be disastrous (as that would cause another month delay, and at a time when I would be on leave and actually able to make use of it.

Going to need new carpet after all this – have worn an absolute track over the last 6 months!

I Tawt I Taw a Combo Saw

Combination machines are often underrated, or overlooked when considering workshop machines.  If you have the space, then a machine dedicated to one task must be better than one trying to be all things to all people right?

It is the public gym vs infomercial war all over again, in some minds: don’t buy a machine that can only do one thing, buy this workout zone for home and get 99 functions in 1.  Sounds great, but we also know for these sales pitches, the resulting contraption is built cheap.  After all, you don’t get 1 for 10 easy payments of $99.95, but they will throw in a second one for free, and an exercise mat to boot.

If you have the workshop floor area, why would you consider a combo machine, when 2 or 3 individual machines, each dedicated to the one task must be better.

Well that is not always the case.

There are a number of reasons to consider a combo machine in the workshop.

1. Price

Overall, it will typically be a lot more expensive than one of the machines it is replacing, but add them all together, and the price starts becoming rather competitive.

2. Floor Space

Unless you own the Taj Mahal of sheds, we are all space-poor to one degree or another, and some machines can be combined to minimise their overall demand on space, especially where they can share common infeed and outfeed areas.

3. Increased Capacity

If you buy a jointer, a 6″ jointer is a reasonable price, an 8″ adds about 60% to the price, and a 12″ about 4x the price.

It means as a stand-alone machine, few will be able to justify a 10″ – 12″ jointer.  But if you get a combination jointer-thicknesser, a 10″ or 12″ capacity for the jointer is not uncommon.

It makes me really wonder why the stand-alone jointers of that size are so expensive?  You can buy a 15″ thicknesser for a fraction of the price of a 12″ jointer.

4. Access to machines you otherwise wouldn’t get

A combo machine like a jointer/thicknesser is just that, a couple of machines combined.  But what about the multi-machine combinations?


The MiniMax C26 for example combines a 10″ tablesaw (with sliding table), a 10″ jointer, 10″ thicknesser, a spindle moulder, and optionally a mortiser to boot.

You may be looking for the typical combo of the saw, jointer and thicknesser, which means the spindle moulder and mortiser are bonuses – you may not have planned on buying them otherwise, but who’d say no if they are included?


So let’s look closer at the C26 particularly, as it is one that I saw at my recent road trip to Gabbett Machinery.

1. Price

C26 Stand-alone
10″ Saw w sliding table $5400 $1900
10″ Jointer $1400 (8″)
10″ Thicknesser $1500 (15″)
$2000 (10″ combo)
Spindle Moulder $1300
Mortiser +$500? $860

Ignoring the mortiser, as that price is a total guess, the C26 at $5400 compares very closely to $5200 of the stand alone machines (if you still consider the combo jointer/thicknesser), or $6100 of totally independent machines.  There are

2. Floor Space

C26 Stand-alone
10″ Saw w sliding table 5.2m2 4.9m2
10″ Jointer 1.3m2
10″ Thicknesser 0.9m2
 (or 10″ combo) 0.8m2
Spindle Moulder 0.5m2
Mortiser 0.7m2

C26 footprint 5.2m2 (that includes the area of the sliding table with the arm out at an operational position).

Standalone machines 8.3m2

And this is just the foot print of the machines themselves, not including the typical amount of space you’d leave around each machine for access, or the infeed and outfeed areas, which is significant!

There is no question about it – a combo machine saves a fortune in shed space.

The increased capacity is primarily around the jointer – getting a 10″ jointer or larger is exceptionally expensive stand alone, but not so much so when part of a combination.  The 6″ jointer I have has always been quite a limitation for me – couldn’t justify getting a larger one, but have often found it to be a limitation.

As to machines you wouldn’t otherwise have, that is a personal issue.  For me, I don’t have a mortiser or spindle moulder, so that would be the win from having a combo (not to mention the increased jointer capacity). The other thing I don’t have is the sliding table, which can prove exceptionally useful if you are trying to do a lot of crosscutting on the tablesaw.

So unlike cheap exercise equipment sold on late-night TV, a serious combo workshop machine is something well worth considering when looking at setting up a workshop.  They are not cheap, but as shown, it is comparable to the machines they replace, and they save a fortune in workshop real estate.  As I am discovering with the current shed build, workshop floorspace is worth a small fortune, and being able to save many multiple square metres is worth a lot, much more than the cost of the machine.

The Minimax C26 in particular was from Gabbett Machinery.


Spindle Moulder

Been a long time since I even thought about spindle moulders.  Last time was when I was lamenting the fact that router tables are the poor cousin of the primary workshop machines.  That situation has not changed significantly in the intervening years, although some companies have come out with some pretty nice aftermarket versions.

There are some router tables around – cast iron tops, no motor, some fence that looks like it hasn’t changed in design since the ’30s.  Whoever designed them I’d seriously question if they were a woodworker, let alone if they used the table they came up with.

The spindle moulder is the machine the router table should have been, and there is quite the range.  The reason I wrote them off before is if it came down to a router table or a spindle moulder, the router table won simple because of the range of bits that I have.  Yes, you can fit router bits in a spindle moulder, but they have a top speed of around 10000-12000RPM.

A router table can reach 20000-25000RPM whereas a spindle moulder typically only gets to 10000RPM.  That is fine for the much larger spindle moulder cutters, but is slow for the small diameter router bits.  Perhaps not as restrictive as I once considered.

However, I now have a couple of different spindle moulder cutters from and they are quite spectacular.  I’m looking at them and thinking that it would be really useful to to be able to use them in the workshop and therefore the whole spindle moulder concept has reemerged.

There are a few definite advantages to a spindle moulder (although you’d have to ensure the model chosen had these- no point getting a machine and missing out on the very advantages possible).

Other than the overall size, moulding cutters etc, a spindle moulder is not restricted to the one direction of rotation.  If the item you are working on would be better approaching the cutter from the other direction, this is achievable.

Secondly, you are not restricted to working with your cutter (or router bit) perpendicular to the table.  A spindle moulder can be set at an angle, thus significantly increasing the range of profiles that are possible by presenting the cutter or router bit at an angle to the work (or rather, at an angle that is not 90 degrees!)

I am sure there is more to the whole concept, but I don’t have that real insider’s knowledge of the machine (yet).  However, there is another machine that I will in all likelihood be getting a lot more familiar with before even the potential of having a spindle moulder surfaces…..more on that if things come together…..(intrigue….)

In the meantime, these are the cutters I have that I will be reviewing shortly, and both are really piquing my interest.

cutter1This one is a planing head, and is about the size of a fist, or a slightly shorter version of a jointer head.  The difference between it and a jointer head is that bearing at the base.  You can use this head to surface a material that isn’t flat – it will follow a template, and that makes it like the offspring of a jointer and template copying bit.  Why be restricted to making something smooth and flat, when it can be smooth and curved?

There is a lot of similarity between a spindle moulder and router table – some tasks could be done on either.  But I wonder how the quality in finish changes between a very small diameter router bit doing a finished surface, and the much larger moulder cutter doing the same with a significantly shallower angle of attack?

A template copying bit looks like a baby, or a toy alongside this surfacing cutter.


This is not the best photo of the Profile Pro, but it gives you an idea.

cutter4 There are HEAPS of interchangeable cutters for it.

cutter5Appears to be around 140 different profiles available, plus blank cutters so you can get your own made!

While looking this up on the website, I came across some other cutters for the spindle moulder, such as this variable width groover.

cutter3And again – remember these can be used in a reverse direction if that is a better direction of approach for the work.

Some cutters (such as for the Profile Pro) are high speed steel, others are replaceable carbide.  Either way, there is no excuse not to have a sharp tool.  They are easy to remove and resharpen, or can be rotated (or disposed and replaced very cheaply).

So the spindle moulder has raised itself up into my awareness again, as a very serious workshop tool.



With the grace of a gazelle (with clown shoes), the seemingly difficult hurdle of locating the shed on the block has been nimbly leapt over – the Report and Consent has been approved by the local council without any issues requiring to be addressed.

That is huge, as it also paves the way for the actual Building Permit to go through with little issue, given the location and size of the shed having already been considered.

The ducks are finally lining up – just a few more to peg away at and the physical aspects of the shed construction will be able to get underway.


In principio Stu dixit: “Fiat lux”

And there was.

I’ve been working on the lighting grid for the shed, based around 16 double fluorescent tube fittings.  The majority of the light reserved for the main workshop floor, with some for the mezzanine.

This is what I have come up with (excluding localised light which is available for the lathe and bandsaw).

LightingI was thinking about the GPO grid, but that is probably better left for when the shed is up and the general layout is understood.

Pushing On

I did get one significant piece of news for the shed progress today: finally, a quote for the slab.

The original estimate on the shed quote pegged it around $3200, but that did not include excavation or anything. So I was expecting it to be quite a bit higher than that, and I was spot on!

The final quote is $4700, including full site excavation (removing the existing concrete slab, digging the necessary holes etc.) That doesn’t include the price of a skip to remove the unwanted soil, old concrete and whatever. Not sure how big a skip that will need- taking a guess at about 8m3. That’ll cost another $700-$800.

So $5500 all up for a 50.5m2 slab. 25MPA, F72 mesh, plastic water barrier (?), saw cuts.

Not sure if that is a lot or not. If any other company had bothered, I would have had something to compare it to.

I See a CNC project in the making


A good ol’ fashion American Barn raising

For the first time I’m starting to give real consideration to the shed build.  Still a fair few weeks away (given construction has not started!), but it is a reasonable expectation that the number of weeks can be counted on my fingers (whew!).

There are (as I see it) 3 options.

1. Pay for the shed to be erected.  Cost – about $3200 (ouch)

2. Do it myself. Time – A very long time!

3. Do a barn raising, and my thought is to pay for a site manager who is experienced in constructing these sheds to direct whatever size group that is available.

So here is the thought – I was wanting to see if there is anyone willing to participate?  I’m only looking for non-binding expressions of interest at this stage, just to see if the concept has any legs at all.

It would be a weekend (so either a Saturday, or Sunday, or both), and some time around mid-November.  For the early starters, bacon & eggs on the BBQ.  Lunch would be potentially Subway.  To finish the day, BBQ and beers/wine (for those interested).

So – if that was the rough timing, and what’s on offer, would anyone be interested in helping Stu’s Shed get established in its new location? (Remember, this is expressions of interest only!)

Probably should have mentioned – South East Melbourne!

Shed Progress (sorta)

Bit more waiting required before things are locked in – perhaps Monday.

In the meantime, the Report and Consent is still with the council – they indicated they may have a response by today (which presumably means in the mail, so again early next week to hear how it is progressing, and if there is any further work required).  My phone call to them last week didn’t throw up too many issues, but I’ll know more when I get their official response.  I am hopeful.

Had a concreter out today for a quote – again they will put it together over the weekend.  Looks like the potential for a lot of news on Monday, but I’m not pinning too much on that likelihood!  One thing to say – this was the first concreter even willing to turn up to quote.  I equate it to standing at the side of the road, waving a cheque book (or cash) and no one interesting in taking my money.

At least these guys sound competent.  Will be interested to see their quote!

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