Approaching milestones

The site is approaching a couple of milestones, picking up net additional followers each week.

Not sure which will be first (and they are related).  The first is being about 50 off having 2000 followers overall.

This is made up of direct subscribers (email and WordPress blog followers), Twitter (which is already over 1000, and not surprising given the rich content that Twitter now displays), and Facebook.

Facebook is the other milestone, now only 30 off 500 followers of Stu’s Shed.

The 2000 is a bit arbitrary, as there are over 240 RSS followers which are not counted, and I have no idea how many iTunes followers.

Vac in a bucket

Take 2

With the vac stuffed unceremoniously into a rubbish bin, with acoustic absorbing material all round. Sides, base and top.

A gap at the back for the motor cooling air to escape, and the silencer sticking out the top, new measured sound level: 79dB

Likelihood of the vac dying prematurely due to overheating? Probably now at 85%!

But at least it is quieter!

Get inspired

Some of the recent ads by look pretty good to me! (And yes, I provided them the photos so they used them with permission).

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I know there have been one or two others, but haven’t been able to find them.

The designs (plans) came from

Fitting a silencer

Thought I’d try out one of the exhaust silencers on the ShopVac to see what difference it could possibly make.

The design is pretty basic – a tube with an opening and exit the diameter of the exhaust of the vac, and a wider diameter between with a foam tube inside.

When fitted to the outlet of the ShopVac, there was a noticeable difference, although not particularly significant.  The noise is more the motor than the exhaust it seems.  Nor does the silencer work particularly well in its as-supplied state.


And yes, given how simple the design is, you could easily make one at home.

What I am thinking is to block the outlet, and cut slots around the circumference instead, and see if that makes more difference. I’ll research that another time.

Out of interest, I measured the sound levels in the workshop.

Outside (at the time): 40dB
Inside workshop: 38dB
1m from Sherwood dust extractor: 77dB
1m from ShopVac (no silencer): 86.5dB
1m from ShopVac (silencer): 84dB


Litres of dust

Picked up the cyclone separator from Hare & Forbes as Phil suggested (thanks again for letting me know about it!)

Photo 29-08-2015 11 38 46

It is quite reasonable quality – I’m happy with it. Has a window to sight when the bag is full, and it can take a plastic bag as well.  You would normally expect the bag would be sucked up into the cyclone, but there is a secondary hose to the base of the collection bin, so some of the suction pulls a vacuum under the bag and holds it in place, until the weight of dust can take over.  This doesn’t cause any loss in power – once the bag is sucked down no further air will leak past so this doesn’t sacrifice any performance.

So working from the dust extractor out.

The extractor inlet is 8″.  This is pretty phenomenal, and at full power can really suck your hand against the grate.

I have sourced an 8″ to 2x 6″ Y piece, but not from your normal expected suppliers.  I couldn’t find anything 8″ from the normal woodworking suppliers, but found a hydroponics supplier in NSW that had exactly what I wanted, and at a really good price.  For $30 (+$12 delivery), I got a galv metal Y piece.

Photo 28-08-2015 08 54 03

The equivalent from one of the woodworking suppliers has a 200mm (8″) to 2x 5″, for $110.



The outlet for the cyclone is 180mm, so close enough to 8″.  It comes with a reducer to 6″.  I haven’t been able to find any 8″ hose, so am contemplating running dual 6″ from the cyclone to the extractor.  Either that, or I have a spare 6″ inlet for the extractor going to waste.

Until I get the 6″ pipe, I am currently running dual 4″ from the cyclone to the extractor, via a Y piece at either end.

The inlet to the cyclone is 6″, and it comes with a 6″ to 2x 4″ Y piece.  I have currently connected it to my 4″ pipe run, so performance is down at every transition.  (Effectively I have reduced the 8″ inlet for the extractor all the way down to 1x 4″, so not ideal!)

Fired it up, and fine dust does manage to get through to the filter bags, but I don’t have a problem with that – the cyclone is there for bulk material separation in this case.  The smaller cyclones I use separate everything, and even fine dust doesn’t get through, but this is not a cyclone for that purpose.

In saying that, I sucked up about 100L of sawdust, primarily MDF, and about 500ml managed to find its way into the collection bags of the dust extractor.  It is much easier to empty the bin of the cyclone than remove the bags from the extractor, so this will make a lot of difference.

I am still contemplating where the extractor and cyclone will sit – it might need another small (and tall) external enclosure – will give that more thought.

Compare the cost of this setup though, to a dedicated cyclone extractor.  That has 2200cfm through 3x 4″ inlets, and costs $3300.  I don’t know what flowrate I am getting through the cyclone, how much it is reduced from the 2900cfm of the extractor, but total cost: $1285.

I still want to boost the overall performance, and either 8″ to the cyclone or 2x 6″ will help, but no matter what, you can only suck so much through a 4″ pipe that connects to the machine.

Deep throat revisited

It is actually called a Big Gulp, but got your attention!


I got this hood back in 2008, with the idea of using it on the lathe.  I never really was able to get it working well enough for me – just not enough draw from the dust extractor.

Think I might have just solved that problem.

This is the dust extractor I have just purchased, from Timbecon

557867-DC-2900_1Looks small in the picture, but it is quite the monster.  3HP, 2900cfm, 22.5″H2O static pressure.  8″ inlet, 400L of dust collection capacity. $900.

I was watching a timelapse I made of a process on the CNC, and I’d occasionally come in with a shot of compressed air to keep the working area clean.  Occurred to me that this would be right where the big gulp would come into its own – firstly sitting behind the CNC, drawing air and therefore any airborne particles away from the cutter, the workshop, and me.  And secondly, to catch any and all dust that gets sprayed back when I do use the compressed air.

You may wonder why I don’t have collection right at the cutter –  two reasons.  Firstly, I don’t want to pull the small parts up and out from where they are cut during nesting operations (particularly when they are only held down by the vacuum table), and secondly, it gets in the way of the camera!  I still have a lot of refinement to go, but these sorts of things are popping into my head now the issue of dust extractor power has been taken care of.

Given I also now have capacity spare in the dust extractor (as mentioned, it can take 1×8″ (200mm) in, which is the same cross section as 4×4″ tubes simultaneously.  Using anything less than 4 is only restricting flow, it doesn’t mean that the one or two being used are suddenly given a huge power boost (sadly)), I can plan to do some simultaneous collecting – such as one collecting on, or near the tool and one down at floor level where shaving accumulate/can be swept (or kicked) towards etc.  If I don’t close the blast gates to every tool other than the one being used, that won’t cause a real problem either.  It is going to take a bit of planning to reroute the dust extraction system to maximise the flowrate, even if that means running a much larger trunk line, or dual smaller lines across the workshop.  Who would have thought a 4″ (100mm) pipe would be regarded as a smaller line?!

One thing I am going to work on, is positioning the dust extractor in one of the storage areas I have alongside the main shed, so I don’t loose any valuable floorspace in the main shed, and minimise noise (not that the unit is particularly noisy).  The unit is 2600mm high (mostly those bags), so I will have to work out how to make it work with a lot less head-room.  The main workshop has no trouble with that height, and even a lower roof would be ok (the bags could just press against the roof – it would decrease overall airflow, but not massively).  However, where I have to put it, this may prove a real test.  What I will need to do is come up with a way to allow that much air to pass through something that has a lot less overall height.  Pleated filters may work (increased surface area because of the pleats means less overall height required), but I want to see what else I can come up with.  Ballooning bags perhaps?  (same surface area, larger diameter, and therefore less height).

The other ‘issue’ I see, is drawing that much air out of a workshop draws the same amount of air in from outside.  Where it could be really hot (summer) or cold (winter) – neither of which is desirable.  So instead, my thought is to place a filtered vent from the area the extractor is stored back into the main workshop.  That way the shop air is recirculated, not lost.  So long as I am not then pumping micron-sized particles back into the workshop (which is what filters are for), I don’t see this would be a particular problem.

Watching the timelapse, I see a huge amount of sawdust on the floor of the workshop (bad collection practices).  I think that will become more and more an issue of the past.


Solent Mk4

With its roots firmly entwined in a WWII aircraft (the Short Sunderland) that combated German U Boats and was in combat in the Korean war, the Short Solent was operated as a civilian carrier in Australasia, the UK and the USA in the late 40’s and 50’s.

This model, from has been, without question, the most complicated build that I have assembled so far.  224 individual parts may not be the most of any model (not that I have been counting), but the assembly took a couple of nights.  And plenty of glue.  The hot glue gun is proving particularly useful for these models.

Made from 3mm MDF, using the #45190, 1/16th straight router bit from on the TorqueCNC.

SolentPhoto by Kara Rasmanis

Sucking in the sides

Back to the vacuum table for a sec.  I’ve been cutting out a bunch of designs on the CNC, for a school fete in October – while the machine sits idle during the week, there is no reason for it to do the same on weekends.

The vacuum table makes a huge difference – designs can be cut out without tabs, which saves a phenomenal amount of effort.  Just the time saved between removing a sheet and securing down the next is enough to be significant.

I happened to glance over at the vac this evening, and more specifically to the Clearvue cyclone-like separator (I have the older version of the mini, where they had departed from a traditional cyclone design).  The collection bin on the separator had almost completely collapsed from the vacuum that was being generated.  Lucky it hadn’t caused the lid to spring a leak, otherwise I would have lost what was being cut, and probably the cutter as well.

It makes very evident that this is generating a pretty significant vacuum, and therefore there will not be a great deal of airflow.  Problem with that is the vacuum cleaner itself.  I expect it relies on the airflow for cooling, and without it, I’m probably slowly cooking the bearings.

While the bearings can survive some heat soak, they will be mounted in plastic, and that will not be enjoying the temperature at all.  When that fails, releasing the bearings and therefore the shaft of the motor, the failure will be catastrophic.  Something that is still on my mind.

Just as an aside, after testing out the new dust extractor yesterday, cleaning up around the CNC, I kept using it today after each job, and was easily able to keep the whole work area satisfyingly clean.  This is despite having had to temporarily reduce the 8″ opening to a measly 4″ (in hindsight I should have checked what the inlet was on the unit – I need to get a multi-inlet, or drive a whopping great cyclone unit with the thing).

Thought I would be alright – drop down to Bunnies and get some plumbing fittings to carry me over.  Except they don’t have fittings that run to 200mm!  Let alone tubing.

Based on cross section area of the inlet, I can connect 4x 4″ inlets simultaneously, as the cross section area of 4x 4″ is the same as 1x 8″.  Anything less than that is restricting the extractor’s performance.  Either way, I have some thinking to do to maximise the dust draw from around the workshop.  And where the extractor will permanently reside.


Had a thought, and took another look at the Oneida Super Dust Deputy.  Interesting – the version available in Oz is steel, but in the US there is also a couple of statically conductive resin versions.  One that is the equivalent of the steel version is a whole $US170.   Even if the libs go and dump us with paying GST on overseas purchases, $US170 equals $A267 at the current exchange rate.  There is an XL version, with 6″ inlets and outlets.  That is interesting, but as it is not available here, a bit academic.

The steel Super Dust Deputy has one problem for me (other than being $A500), it is only for 350-850 cfm.  I can now generate 2900cfm!  Hmm – wonder what a home-made Thein could handle?

Update 2 – fixed up my maths – the Sherwood has an 8″ inlet, not 6″!

East Meets West

For many years, Timbecon was very well known as the Perth-based woodworking retail company, which also frequented the wood shows on both coasts (which is how I mainly became familiar with the brand).

As of earlier this year (as previously mentioned), Timbecon now have a store at either side of the country, with the opening of their Coburg North (Melbourne) store.  So I decided to pay it a visit.

I’m not particularly familiar with the northern suburbs, so my GPS took me right to the store front, mainly via Eastlink.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 19 23It doesn’t have a huge storefront, but I was surprised to see just how much they had fitted into the retail area.  I can’t imagine the location will remain this size forever – I see some expansion in their tea leaves!

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 22The store has a good balance of large machines (the occasional purchases), and lots of consumables (the regular purchases – glues, finishes, sandpaper etc etc), and workshop necessities (such as clamps) (and more on them in a future post).

Photo 21-08-2015 10 40 22

Found a small bin unit at the back of the store with some cool wheels (and cheap) that will make plenty of toy projects.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 40 17 Photo 21-08-2015 10 40 12

In the heavier machine range, Timbecon have the Sherwood machines, and the first thing that struck me was that there had been a bit of a colour change, and the original bright orange has been replaced with a much more stylish burnt sienna colour, (and portions of black) and the machines look really good in this scheme.  I know the colour of a machine is the least important factor when choosing one, but it doesn’t hurt to have a good looking workshop!

The 8″ jointer looked interesting

Photo 21-08-2015 10 41 36as did a retrofittable copy attachment for a lathe

Photo 21-08-2015 11 07 24There was a lot more than this to look at, but I got distracted by everything to look at, and forgot to take many more photos!

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 37 Photo 21-08-2015 10 39 08A very interesting ball joint for a 4″ dust extraction system – forgot to pick that one up when I was leaving – don’t have a particular use in mind, but wanted it anyway!

I was particularly interested in the dust extractors, being one of the long-term primary issues I have been having with the size of my current workshop, and something I have been wanting to deal with.

The unit I had seen on their website was there (now in the burnt sienna) – a 3HP dual bag unit for $500.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 12That is the one – in between the large single bag unit to the right, and the huge-looking unit behind it to the left.  After speaking with Hague (the manager), he suggested I have another look at the larger one.  For not much more, it had a significant performance boost.   I will go into a lot more detail in another post, but a quick glance:

Let’s put that into context.  This is a 3HP dust extractor, which is the same as many other dual bag collectors.  Where one well-known brand has a flow rate of around 2100 cfm (cubic feet/minute), and the ‘ultimate’ unit – the Powermatic has a flow rate of 1900 cfm (and costs about $2000), this Sherwood unit costs $900, and its flowrate is a massive 2900 cfm!  (Not sure how much pleated filters drop performance, but by their pleated design, the total area is significantly higher, so you’d hope they would provide a performance boost, rather than a decrease).

This extractor isn’t on the Timbecon website yet (there is a big upgrade happening at the moment, so expect a lot of additions over the next month or so), but there are a few of this model available in store.  Although one less than there was when I arrived!  At that price, and performance, I couldn’t resist. (And again, not meaning to pre-empt my upcoming post, but once I assembled the unit and turned it on, this unit sucked.  Big time.  But not in a bad way!

I ran out of time before I got to see everything, so will have to drop in again at some stage, but in the meantime they will be at the Timber and Working with Wood show in September, so I’ll have another gander then.

Best of “The Shed”

A new book, just released in time for Father’s Day, from The Shed Magazine


Cost is about $NZ20 (plus postage), so that is about $1 per project.

Very  curious to know what the projects are, although I think it highly unlikely any of mine would have made the cut.

Can always live in hope 🙂 but I expect there were a lot of great projects that missed the cut- sure there was no shortage to choose between!

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