Walko vs Festool

Been doing some handheld routing on the Festool MFT, the results of which you’ll be able to see in the next video.  I’ve been using the Festool surface clamps for much of the operation, but have been surprised to find that over time, the Walko surface clamps (which are 2/3rds the price) are actually doing a better job! (Festool $150 pair, Walko $99 pair)


Festool Surface Clamp


Walko Surface Clamp

Walko Surface Clamp

(Just did an image search for both – the top 4 images of the Walko clamp all came from Stu’s Shed!)

Granted that the Festool is probably a better design, I guess, with a longer reach, the ability to secure it to the table from underneath, and I am sure there are one or two other features over the Walko.

However there is one overriding difference.  The Festool jams when you try to release it.  The Walko doesn’t.  After a while, the Festool also doesn’t slide smoothly, whereas the Walkos I have, have been going and going for years without incident.

Looking closely at the shaft of the Festool, and it is pitted along its length, dented by the securing mechanism.  Sure, I can file these off (and already have a couple of times), but it is an inherent flaw.  The metal of the shaft of the Festool surface clamp is wrong – it is too soft.  Whereas the Walko clamp has got it just right.

Not often that something is able to out-perform Festool, but in this case, something has!

Anticipation Mounts!

The latest offering from YAS Engineering is soon to become available, with the first release candidate of their new CNC mill about to make its way into Stu’s Shed.  Only 2-3 (incredibly long) weeks to go.

YAS Engineering for those unfamiliar, produce the Torque Workcentre, the Router Master and the Slab Master.

In the meantime, here is a video produced on one of their earlier prototype CNC mills.

Minecraft anyone?

Any Minecraft fans out there?

All downloaded from Thingiverse.
Steve took FOREVER. Large, and the only nozzle I have working is 0.2mm

Tried printing multiple parts simultaneously, but each time was a complete failure. So one by one by one!

Steve: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:522605
Creeper: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:83942
Skeleton: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:498342
TNT: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:548303







Common Sense tip #237

If you have your dust extractor in another part of the shed, and tend to remote start it, make sure that when you remove a dust bag that you replace it straight away.

Don’t expect to remember that the bag is missing the next time you go to use it, especially if you are going to do an entire session before realising.

‘Nuf said!

Manspace Mag #14

About to hit the shelves again. Now up to issue 14. Becoming quite a collection on the bookshelf!


Which means it is almost time to write the article for #15! No rest for the wicked.

Delving deeper into 3D

Been concentrating quite a bit recently on the 3D printer. It is a really interesting learning curve, although it has its fair share of frustrations!

So long as you are able to work out what goes wrong when it does, so you can learn and improve (technique, settings, components etc) then it is a valuable experience. The technology (at least the very low cost machines) is still pretty rudamentary, and needs constant massaging to get results. In saying that, successful prints are rewarding- fascinating to watch the process, and what is produceable is quite amazing.

Not sure how my ratio of success to failure is going – I’d probably be lucky for it to be 1:1, but as I refine things, that will continue to improve.

The first major problem I had to deal with was bed adhesion (and that can still rear its ugly head!) If the print dislodges from the bed, then it gets pushed around by the printer head, attaches (and melts) to the printer head, or at the very least is no longer where the printer things it should be, so the printer tries unsuccessfully to print in mid air. Great if you wanted a birds nest!


The birds nest, and the dog turd. Neither were what I was aiming for.

I’ve pretty much resolved the bed adhesion (mostly). The original aluminium bed is now gone, and in its place is very flat, thick tempered glass (actually some Ikea glass shelves). A regular wipe with a gluestick is sufficient for really good bed adhesion.

Why I bought the Rigidbot (RB) kit, and not a preassembled model? So I knew how it was built, and can disassemble, fix and rebuild easily, knowing how it all goes together.

A recent example:

Printing was going pretty well, but over time it was becoming increasingly obvious that there was a leak in the filament path, allowing molten filament to escape, run over the outside of the nozzle and drip into the print.

Next, I was starting to get significant shifts during the print, which is obviously not ignorable.


It got to the point that the printer jammed during the print, I’m guessing on a significant glob of plastic. Not sure what caused the shifts, but one problem at a time, and maybe the second would resolve itself.

I have a dual head, so went to upgrade the second nozzle to the correct hotend (got two types in the box, and installed the wrong ones, thus the leaks that were developing I assume).

Managed that, but then the printer would not work- gave an error about a extruder not being available. Turns out that even though I was careful, and it looked fine, the thermister was dead anyway. At the same time on the working head, one of the wires pulled out from the connector for the heater.

There was so much solidified plastic ooze, nothing could be unscrewed- not the thermister, not the heater, nozzle, even the retaining bolt.


Step 1
Tested the thermister by unplugging it. Got the same error (which just going offscreen said mintemp) (the thermister allows the printer controller to determine printer head temp. Normally around 200C for PLA plastic)

Tested again, but this time shorting out the two pins. Same error, but this time max temp. Ok, pretty sure the problem is the thermister.

Step 2
Reflashed the RB to make it a single extruder unit. That way I could fire it up enough to bring the heater online.

Step 3
While holding the heater wire in place, got the head up to 200C, and loosened the retaining bolt, and just nudged the thermister so it was a bit loose (remembering it is still providing current temp feedback on the active head)

Step 4
Turned off the RB, and while still hot, undid the thermister fully.

Step 5
Rebuilt the RB head to a single head setup using each of the still functional parts.

Fired it up, tested, and we are back and working.

So much easier having built the unit from a kit, this was a relatively easy evolution.

Lots of other lessons learned, such as what happens when the filament tangles on the reel 8 hours into a 10 hour print.


Interesting though, it does show the internal fill structure that the slicer program creates. This is currently set at 10%.


However, despite the myriad of failure mechanisms, there are also many successes.






Next step is to rebuild the printer head with a better extruder and a better hotend. After that, well, we’ll see how the next changes work and what develops (or fails!)

A lot at this stage is printing for printing’s sake, as each one provides valuable lessons. Once that is nailed down, project design and 3D modeling will be next, as well as post printing treatment- smoothing prints with vapour baths.

Don’t worry, it won’t dominate the woodworking, but anything interesting, challenging and stimulating is going to get my attention! In the long run, it will be able to complement other shed operations.

One CNC Router Bit Set to Rule them All

Three Router Bit Sets for CNC hobbyists under a tin shed sky,
Seven for the 2D and 3D carvers to own,
Nine for signwriters destined to buy,
One for the Shed Dweller on his dark throne
In the Land of Stu’s Shed where the router bits lie.
One router bit set to rule them all, One router bit set to find them,
One router bit set to tempt them all and with the CNC mill bind them
In the Land of Stu’s Shed where the router bits lie.


This is the ultimate CNC router bit collection that I’ve found in the latest router bit catalogue from Toolstoday.com and Amana Tool

58 CNC router bits in its own display cabinet, for CNC routing timber, MDF, laminate, plastic, aluminium, steel, foam, and composites.

That is a set and a half!



Learning from mistakes

We all know the idiom about book-smarts versus street-smarts, and it holds just as true (if not more-so) for woodworking as any other pursuit.

You can read and read about a topic, watch all the videos, follow the forums and talk with experts, but I can still guarantee the first time you pick up a chisel and try to make a square object round on a lathe, you’ll discover in practice what a kickback (or chisel dig-in) is ALL about!

You can learn as much as you can from all other avenues (and that is a good thing), but the real learning curve comes from biting the bullet and trying it out for yourself.  However, jumping in the deep end without RTFM is fraught as well.  Tried that yesterday, and the result was, well, a learning curve.  No real harm – bit of time was wasted, and some scraps of timber, so that could be considered well worth the price.  As another saying goes (stolen from its association with fishing): “a bad day woodworking still beats a good day at work” (Of course you’d want to add a small suffix to that “so long as you finish with as many body parts as you started with!”)

Tried out the MLIS (multiple layer inlay stencils) from Tarter Woodworking, and while I didn’t finish with a result, the templates proved how well they would work once I refined my processes.  Trying to do it the first time and on camera just makes it that much more difficult!  I also started with a pattern that was perhaps a little more complicated than I should have, so the second round will be with a simpler form.

So the majority of the video footage is destined for the editing floor.  You can see a bit of timelapse footage that is left over.

It was a good test run of the multi-camera setup, and particularly the new audio recording arrangements.  Running a couple of high-end mics (NTG-3 and NT5 Rode mics) through a Beachtek DXA-HDV gave some great results.


Rode NTG-3

Rode NT5 Matched Pair

Rode NT5 Matched Pair

Beachtek DXA-HDV

Beachtek DXA-HDV


Template Inlays

I first came across the concept of template inlays back when I was working on a poker table concept, back in 2009.  This was a pretty basic form – a simple shape and a contrasting piece of timber.

What I have come across recently, lifts that basic concept into the stratosphere!  It is a similar concept to the multiple templates used with the 3D router carver

Over at Tarter Woodworking, the concept of template inlays has been taken to a logical conclusion – using multiple templates (and the use of different timbers) to create stunning inlay results.

Results like this Clownfish…


which happens to be one of the smaller templates, but is one of my favourites.  It is not painted on – it is multiple timbers routed and inlaid.

The templates are very reasonably priced – this clownfish template is a whole $US11.50


Bit of a confession however – I have a few templates here, begging to me to try them out and I haven’t (yet)!  I went to do so last weekend, then discovered a slight problem.  Having replaced my Triton handheld routers with a Festool, I didn’t have the adapter to fit the Porter Cable-style template guide rings!

That I rectified first thing Monday morning, so I am ready to go as soon as I find a couple of minutes to rub together.

Think I will probably tackle the clownfish first, but then, there is the Monarch butterfly to try.  That will take a good assortment of timbers to make the design come to life.

Monarch_full_with_stencil Monarch_Stencil_-_used MONARCH1

So looking forward to trying these out for myself – this weekend if all goes to plan (and I find my shed again under the mountain of mess and sawdust from last weekend’s rush build)!

Hail to the Chef

Had a busy weekend out in the shed, madly making sawdust (which is always a good thing!)

In this case though, it hasn’t generated much content for this site, as it was for the next edition of The Shed magazine.

Here are a couple of the images from the build, but if you want the full article, it will be in the next edition of The Shed (NZ/Aus edition).  If previous writeups are anything to go on, it gets about 9 pages which is pretty awesome!

A fun build – took a weekend to complete, and that is with lots of on the fly design decisions and problem solving.  I quite enjoy building without plans, and just designing as I go.  It throws up all kinds of interesting issues, and solutions that would not have been seen if it had been a sterile, plan-following build.  I’m not saying there isn’t a place for pre-build design, in fact that is the recommended route 99 times out of 100.  I just happen to enjoy the challenges of working with that 1%!


The unit was even thrown into action before I even had had a chance to finish it!  Needless to say, that has been resolved now, using Ubeaut FoodPlus mineral oil.  Came up a treat, and really useful to boot!

%d bloggers like this: