Shagged the Thread

Had a bit of a problem last night, where the collet on the CNC router went on smoothly, but after a cutting job, it had jammed on solidly.  I suspect the collet was slightly oversized (or heated up more than the threaded shaft) and slipped a thread, causing a cross-threaded situation.

In any case, what it meant that once I managed to get the collet off, the thread on the router shaft was shagged.  Badly.


In hindsight, if I had known it was going to be that bad, I would have been better off grinding a gouge in the collet, and used a nut cracker to snap the collet in two to remove it.  Hindsight is so 20:20

In any case, I now had a threaded shaft that nothing could be screwed onto.  I went shopping around for a die (as in a tap & die), but finding one that was 25mm proved a bit tricky.  Tried Total Tools, but not only did they not have anything close to the size I needed, but the guy serving me didn’t even know how to use a digital caliper.  How can you work in a tool shop, and not be able to use such a fundamental tool?

I ended up having a chat with one of the fitters in the mechanical workshop at work, and while they didn’t have an odd shaped die, they were able to lend me a thread file, and some lapping paste.

The thread file worked a treat, getting the thread to the point that I could get a collet threaded on.  Still bloody tight.  But what really fixed things up was the second stage, adding some lapping paste to the threads, and running the collet on and off the shaft.  And it worked.  After an hour or so of threading it on and off, cleaning, filing, I had the thread back to being about as smooth as it was, if not better.

The thread has been damaged a bit from the experience, but at least I have been able to recover it enough to be operational again.

Ever heard of a polissoir?

No, me neither!  Although in saying that, it was probably referred to in the bible for finishing: A Polishers Handbook, by Neil Ellis.  If you haven’t read or come across this before, it is well work the small investment. You can order it here.

And no, there is nothing behind that endorsement, other than it being highly recommended, and essential reading matter.

In saying that, seeing as there is a new edition (much newer than my current copy), and I don’t remember whether polissoirs are mentioned, it might be time for me to be reacquainted with it as well.

front cover 25%.jpeg

back cover 25%.jpeg

Anyway, back to the polissior.

It is an 18th century tool (if not from even earlier) for applying, abrading and polishing a wax finish.  Simply made from a tightly bound bundle of organic material (such as straw), it is then dipped in molten wax to charge it up, and then (once cooled) rubbed over the surface of the timber.

Polissoirs_001_adj.jpgThe polissior both burnishes the surface, and applies the wax, driving it into the pores (where open grain timber is used).

The excess wax is removed, either with a wooden scraper (or the other end of the polissior), then the surface buffed with a cloth.

There are a few on the market, such as the one pictured above from Skagit BroomWorks and Henry Eckert Fine Tools have a version as well.

One chapter ends, another begins

Long time friend and woodworking show personality David Eckert has decided to move on from the Henry Eckert Fine Tools company.

For those who are less sure of what that company is, let’s just say that they probably have a drool-cleaning budget at the wood shows, as they sell the Lie Nielsen range of handplanes etc (and have featured on here a number of times, again, complete with drool.


So it isn’t all bad news – Henry Eckert Tool Works is now being run by one of their previously (obviously passionate) clients, so they will still be at the wood shows, still with the same sort of product lines.

In the meantime, David has another tool business, to slowly develop some Australian made products (among other product lines), which you can find here: The Toolworks

So while faces will move about, the products we know and desire are still available, and hopefully even more will become available through David’s newer project!


I knew I would have to be patient, and finally after a 6 month wait my Chopstick Master has arrived from Bridge City Tool Works

And it is as beautiful as a tool can possibly be made.


At approximately $US200 (plus postage), it is not exactly a cheap way to get some eating utensils.  But it is designed to do one job as perfectly as possible (as all BCTW tools are), and it does just that.

Now before you completely loose your mind over the price for making chopsticks, let me point out that it does come with the BCTW HP8 handplane as part of the kit.


If you were planning to get this plane on its own, BCTW sell it for $US250.  Yes, you read it right.  By buying the Chopstick Master, I actually bought the HP8 plane for $US250, and got the rest of the chopstick master kit for -$US50!  That to me is a very reasonable price.

(Ok, I am sure there is some false logic in there, but that is what I am telling myself!)

So how does it work?  You can certainly watch the videos from my original post, and I would really encourage you to read the story about the process that resulted in the invention of the Chopstick Master by John Economaki.

What it boils down to, is a jig that accurately holds the chopstick blank at the required angle for a block plane to shave a taper.  That’s it in a nutshell.  But there is more to it than that, and the devil is in the details.  After shaving 2 faces, the final two won’t cut, as they need the blank held at a different, higher angle.  The Chopstick Master has this second setting and away you go again.

The blank is held at an angle, so the plane makes a shearing cut, and uses the entire width of the plane which is clever in itself.

The blank is then turned 45 degrees, and the last 4″ or so is shaved again, producing the octagonal bottom end.

What really makes a chopstick though, is the pyramidal finial on the top end.  The original jig needed a saw blade to cut that, but the 2nd gen (which I have) positions the chopstick so the handplane cuts each face of the finial to form the perfect pyramid, and nothing beats a planed finish.

It took me a little longer than the promised 5 minutes to make my first set of chopsticks, but that was from reading the instructions, and making sure I got it all right.  Before long, I had a pile of very fine shavings, and two near perfect chopsticks.  I have no doubt the next pair will be even better now I have it all worked out.

The jig comes with a red insert, which is used to make Chinese chopsticks, which is 5mm diameter at the bottom (I wonder if the colour was deliberate?)  I also got the 2mm insert (green), which allows you to make a Japanese choptick.

The combination of disposable chopsticks used in China and Japan (alone) is over 69 billion pairs a year.  That is 2.55 million m³ of timber, or 38 million trees.  A YEAR!!!!!

Interestingly, a single pair of quality, reusable chopsticks can fetch anywhere from $1 (for an every-day chopstick), to over $100 based on the finish, material, and decoration.

I can see more chopstick making in my future!karatekid.gif

A Comment

It is great to see Bunnings have stepped up with the demise of the competing Masters stores.

Went in tonight to buy about 20 sheets of 2400×1200 3mm MDF.  Couldn’t get a park in the store because they had filled all the parking bays with their trailers (it certainly wasn’t closing time).  Then went to get the sheets – they had 2.  When asked if there was any more, it was “that’s all we have, what can you do?”

Asked if I could get the equivalent in smaller sheets at the same price “nup”.

Back to the old days it seems.  Didn’t take long.

Portable Extraction

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Festool CT36L dust extractor.  It has the handle and the overhead boom arm for the vac tube, and just does its thing as well as I’d want.

The only negative I’ve had, is when I do want to use my tools out of the shed – whether that is in the house, or off site.  It is a big bugger!   Even moving it around the workshop if I did want to use it on the other side of the shop (given mine is becoming increasingly cramped), I found I was just not using it when I should.  Lazy.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 1.19.35 PM.png

So I’ve been investigating the options.  Still sticking with Festool for my solution.  I love it, and can’t find a reason to change (yes, I know $$), nor am looking for one.

I will admit, I have a couple of Ozito vacs in the workshop.  One doing dust extraction from the CNC, and the other from the Kapex.  I would have put a Festool CT17 on the Kapex, but no long life bag!  But I am getting ahead of myself.

So I wanted a unit that had auto start and stop (all Festool have that), and would be regarded as portable.

That gave an initial list of

CT17, Mini, Midi, CTL SYS mini

Next, long life bag, because as much as I will spend money on Festool, I hate spending money on dust extraction bags, especially when they are $10 a pop.  I am sure there is plenty of false logic there, but so be it!

That dumped the CT17 – it was close – it was the cheapest, was small and portable, had variable speed, but the lack of a long life bag was a deal breaker.

Now I had 3, with quite a cost range, and different features.  If I didn’t already have the CT36, then the midi would have won hands down, but it covered more criteria than I was wanting for this unit.  And in the end, the CTL SYS mini won out.

It is a weird machine, in that it doesn’t look like a vacuum.  It looks like a systainer.  In fact, it is a systainer! In fact, 2 systainers.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 1.00.29 PM.png

The top one is the cable store, and vac tube garage.  The bottom one is the dust extractor.  The only negative, it doesn’t have variable speed.

Other than that – very portable, and I can combine it with other systainers for off site work (such as my TS55 circular saw).

down-s-ctlsys-584173-a-24a.jpegI haven’t made too much use of it yet – I have my sander plugged into it currently, it starts, stops, sucks, and isn’t really any louder than the sander so it seems good so far.  I’ll make more comment on its performance when I have had more experience with it, especially as the dust bag fills.

I could couple it up with a cyclone unit, such as the Oneida, but that would start to work against why I chose this unit over a Mini or Midi.


Picked the unit up from my usual Festool dealer – Ideal Tools.  You can chat to Anthony, get some advise, order it and it turns up with free delivery, often the next day (or so!)  Rather dangerous! 😉

Welcome to 2017

Happy New Year y’all!

To start, a bit of a recap, as 2016 was an interesting year all round.  Global events aside, of which there were quite a few, but there were plenty of developments in the local arena as well.  

2016 saw the demise of Masters after running a very curious head-to-head campaign with Bunnings.  It also saw the Woodworking Warehouse disappear, and the bones of both got well and truly picked over.

I took some long service leave and the family had a tour of western USA for a month – awesome trip!  We got a new shop-dog, who is proving a lot of fun.  Keeps stealing things from the shed though – mainly offcuts, but occasionally I find all sorts of things scattered in the backyard.

While I technically started in 2015, The Toymaker (OzToymaker) started last year, including a modest Etsy store, which has been really interesting to develop.  Still small at this stage (and it may stay that way), but it has been a different outlet for my activities.  The rush to Christmas was particularly interesting, with sales going from one or two per week, to one to two per day, up to one or two per hour in late November/early December. 

I continued to write articles for The Shed magazine, although I may take a sabbatical from that soon.  Still, my favourite build from last year was the dog house – pleased how that came out.

Really, too much to recap an entire year, but let’s just say it has been interesting.

So on to 2017, and there is sure to be lots coming this year as well.  My daughter has her 10th birthday, and a few months later, Stu’s Shed will also turn 10.  That is a lot of blogging!

I’ve been doing some work with Sass & Spunk Styles in 2016, and expect there to be a lot more happening in that space in 2017.

I’m sure there will be some new additions to the workshop, and some departures.  I really need to move some tools out, that are not getting sufficient use, and some new ones in.  I’m hoping to upgrade the drum sander soon (yes, that has been the plan for some months now), and there is the potential of adding another CNC to the workshop, but will see how that goes.  As to departures, that is not finalised yet, but there are definitely some machines at the top of the list for consideration.   The gain in space in the workshop would definitely be welcome.

2017, let’s see what you have to offer!

%d bloggers like this: