Space- the final frontier

My ‘old’ tablesaw did find a new home in the end, and with it gone, I discovered something very valuable had been trapped under it for an absolute age.  No, it wasn’t some rare coin, nor a tool that had been misplaced.

It was open space.  The absence of something being in the way, blocking up the shed any more than it needs to.

I’ve been out to the shed quite a few times since, and it still catches me by surprise that I can see a gap, that there is somewhere I can easily stand or move around.

Having space is a valuable thing.

I have a lot on my plate at the moment – realistically I have had for the past couple of years, but it has been insane for the last 6 months particularly.  Some of that has been self-inflicted, and a lot has been work related.  I have a bit of a break coming up, and at the far side of it, I have a hope that there will be some time that I can just reinvest back into the shed.

Of the things I want to achieve out there, the first is a massive tidy-up.  No so much that it is really messy (although it is), but I’ve never actually finished moving in since it was built.  There is still a lot of tools, and consumables sitting in boxes and crates, waiting to be unpacked and homes for them found.  Some need to be moved onto new homes too.  eBay or whatever.

Secondly, I need to finish the shed off (which in part is a continuation of the first point), but there are things I have changed, machines that have moved etc that have compromised their access to power, and particularly their access to dust extraction (and that also gets back to the mess that is building!)

Thirdly, the machines themselves need maintenance.  Whether it is ensuring there is no rust, the cast iron tops are polished and sealed, and importantly, that I finally set some of them up properly- retuning them for accuracy etc.  I know for a fact that one simple job that I still haven’t done is ensuring the tablesaw top is set perfectly parallel with the blade.  I know it is out, and I am able to compromise for that, but why do that?  I have the tools I need to be able to set it up very accurately, so why haven’t I?

Finally, and this is probably going to be a step further than I can achieve, but I’d like to reassess some of the machines I have.  Are they what I want to keep working with, are they suitable to my needs.  Do I really need a 15″ thicknesser, and only a 6″ jointer?  Would a combo machine better suit my particular requirements (and save on the footprint as well)?  I tend not to like limiting capacity, but on the other hand, I cannot remember the last time that I tried to run something that tested the width capabilities of the thicknesser.  I have regularly run into the limit of the jointer on the other hand.  If I had a better (and larger) drum sander, that might well result in the best combination for what I need in my workshop.

So that’s a bit of homework for me for the shed.  It just needs one other particularly limited resource: time!


Apparently, it’s a thing!
Loving this ad campaign pulling the p*ss of guys who dress like lumberjacks, without having a lumberjack bone in their body!



Material: acrylic

Time involved: 2 hours machining, 2 hours assembly

Cut parameters: cut speed 10mm/sec, plunge speed 10mm/sec, DOC 1mm


Pens & Swords

While the pen is said to be mightier than the sword, why not have both?

This latest kit from (combined with the Knight’s Armor Pen Kit from Penn State Industries) is something a bit special!


An awakening force

Despite the shed (my shed) being primarily a woodworking haven, it doesn’t mean that I am limited to just working with timber.

The tools we have can also work a range of other materials, including some metals (non-ferrous), plastics, and other man-made materials (corrian, carbon fibre etc)

I recently gave the workshop a chance to work with acrylic again, as I wanted an acrylic Imperial Walker.

It took some work, and a lot of time, but I am pleased with the result!

(As you can see from the background, I try to ensure my office has a bit of character!)

Are you Hipster or Lumberjack?

Of course, the time is quickly coming when we won’t have a problem making the distinction, as

And we can get back to identifying on a simpler scale




Swiss Army Keys

The Swiss Army knife is an institution known worldwide.  Compact storage of a wide range of tools, so the surprise isn’t that someone didn’ty apply it to other objects, but it has taken so long for it to be realised.

This particular Swiss Army knife belonged to my grandfather, so it has particular meaning for me.

I had seen these kits on Kickstarter, so was particularly interested when I came across them at one of the local markets.

The product is called KeySmart, and it can be locally purchased from Keyring Solutions here in Australia.  They are also at the Berwick market this weekend if you are in the area and want to see them in person.  (And check out The Toymaker while you are there 😉 )

It comes with a couple of threaded rods, spacers, and two outer case pieces that you see here in blue.  By threading all your keys on either end, they become a very compact package, and turns a bunch of keys that stick out at all angles and directions into a very compact unit that sits comfortably in your pocket.

The spacers allow different thicknesses of keys (or odd numbers) to fit neatly, and surprisingly comfortably in your pocket.  These are my house keys (and obviously the large car keys dont fit in the unit, but can be conveniently clipped to the side), so there are not too many to deal with.  There are other tools you can also add, such as a bottle opener (which is in the set here), and a USB key which can be a convenient thing to have with you.

However, the real test, and what I really wanted to try it out on was myh work keys.  I have a large set of all the areas I am responsible for, some are very large, twin barrel security keys, and in a bunch it was like shoving a porcupine into the pocket, without any exaggeration.

This is the result, and I am genuinely thrilled with the outcome.


 This is the larger model of the KeySmart (extended) and I have used some of the optional extender kits to be able to fit everything in.  There would be no reason why I couldn’t have kept going if I had wanted to.

You may think it would be really hard to now find the key that you want, but instead it is the opposite.  You very quickly learn where your primary keys reside in the device, so it is really easy to locate them and flick out the desired key, just like you would do with a Swiss Army knife.

A pretty cool solution to a problem that we have ignored (and put up with) for a long time! 

Keyring Solutions also have some other interesting and innovative products also sourced from Kickstarter type campaigns.  Hoping to be able to have a play with the Chipolo, which is another very interesting product, and one that I should have attached to my keyrings!  If you have a habit of loosing things, keys, bags, phone etc, then it is a very interesting invention indeed…..


Despite not making any serious effort in recent times (and therefore grateful thanks to the efforts of a colleague in putting parties together), my TS10L has finally found a new home.

Not only does that help the bank balance (obviously), but I actually get paid to increase the usable area in the workshop!

The new owner did not have a use for the rails or fence, so they are available if anyone is interested in making an offer.

The rails are 52″ long, and it is a solid Biesemeyer style fence.  It should be reasonably easy to get it to fit on a number of tablesaws, so if you were interested in increasing the overall cutting range of your saw, have a think about this one.

A lower-quality one is available from Carbatec for $449 (new) with 30″ rail (760mm), whereas this is 52″ (1320mm), and a much sturdier fence with HDPE sides.  Looking for offers around $350.

What is it?

One of the Men’s Sheds recently got in contact with me to try to help identify some tools that were in an old chippies toolbox.

Does anyone recognise what these are, and their purpose?  Either end of each is a lead sphere.

I don’t have a good answer, but it strikes me that they may have something to do with balance, and/or heat.  If one end heats up faster or hotter than the other, whether this is a trigger for what these are attached to, or a way or measuring differential temperature.

Anyone have a more knowledgeable answer?


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