New Carb-i-tool Wheel Cutter

I while back, I was waxing lyrical about the virtues of the Carb-i-tool Wheel Cutter, and more recently again for the wooden vehicle exercise.

Since I acquired my wheel cutters (40mm, 50mm and 60mm), Carb-i-tool have come out with a redesigned cutter to address requests they have received over the years to have a raised hub, rather than a recessed one.

From what I can gather, this new wheel profile will be replacing the old design, so once the original stocks are gone only the raised wheel hub version will be available.

I happen to like both for different projects fwiw.

Old and New Wheel Cutters

Old and New Wheel Cutters

The old profile is shown here to the left of the new cutter.

Please note, as I have pointed out before, that these are NOT for the router, despite the initial appearance to be like a router bit.  They are a large profile, with no anti-kickback features, and are not designed for router speeds.  They are designed to be used with a drill press, and even then if you don’t adequately clamp down the timber they can still grab and spin it at significant enough speeds to really hurt, as my fingers can still testify.

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Old vs New Wheels During Cut

Here you can see the old and new profiles being cut side-by-side. You slowly plunge the bit into the timber, cutting the profile, and when it is fully formed, you stop and flip the workpiece over, and using the centre hole as the guide, cut the wheel from the opposite side until it comes free. (Check out the video on Stu’s Shed TV).

New and Old Wheels

New and Old Wheels

Here are the resulting as-formed wheels.  One thing I haven’t tried which will be an interesting exercise, is to use one profile from one side, and the other profile for the other side and see what sort of wheel that produces.

The rim on the edge of the wheel is very thin and easy to remove.  You can carefully snap it off with your fingers, or sand it off (which is how I’ve been doing it recently) by inserting a short dowel as an axle, and gently rubbing the wheel up against a (running) disk sander, tilting it at  slight angle so it sands and spins at the same time.

In any case, these wheel cutters can be used to extract every bit of use from your offcuts, leaving you with a mountain of wheels, and a bin full of religious waste (very holy). Given the profile is solid tungsten carbide, you will get a LOT of wheels from these cutters before they even need sharpening, and with commercially produced wheels costing around $A0.55 for a 38mm wheel $A1.50 for a 50mm wheel and $A2.20 for a 63mm wheel, the cost of the cutter will be recouped in no time at all. (I’m sure there are other suppliers that are potentially cheaper, but that was the result of a quick Google search finding one of the main Australian suppliers).

Hmm $2.20 a wheel – perhaps I should start making them commercially after all – I’d only have to make 20 an hour to have a reasonable income 🙂  However, before anyone else asks – no – I’m not selling wheels!  If you want some – go buy a cutter and make your own!

The wheel cutters each cost around $A115, or 52 wheels.  Given one of my toy trucks needs 18 wheels, that’s only about 3 trucks worth! (Or 13 toy cars – see – it isn’t that expensive)

Developing the Prototype

The initial prototype worked out quite well, so I’ve started designing a range of vehicles. The drawings look rather childish, but they are actually part of a bit of a trial of some new IT technology.

The LiveScribe Smart Pen is a ball point pen with a microprocessor, and a camera. Without going right into the technology, it records what you actually draw on the page, and then transfers it to the computer.

Some quick designs

Some quick designs

I’ve then taken these and whipped them out on the bandsaw in pine.

Cut-out on Bandsaw

Cut-out on Bandsaw

Creating Windows

Creating Windows

Windows were then cut using a forstner bit.  The car bodies were then sanded using a combination of the linisher and spindle sander.

Next, I needed a bunch of wheels, and obviously the Carb-i-tool Wheel Cutter comes into its own.

Creating Wheels

Creating Wheels

In the past I’ve created wheels one-by-one as required, but when a bunch are needed, nothing beats a batch job.  All are cut on one side, then when the board is flipped over, the centre holes guide where to continue the cuts.  In pine I get a lot of tearout, so tried different timbers with a lot more success.  My first attempt with Vic Ash resulted in a significant grab and the age-old helicopter effect.  LDV would be proud.  My fingers weren’t so impressed.

Finished Wheels

Finished Wheels

The wheels are cut out, but they still have a central lip that needs removing.  This was done by mounting it on a piece of dowel as a temporary axle, then running the wheel against the disk sander (lightly).

Cars

Cars

Holes were cut for the axles into the car body (slightly oversized), and full width axles cut, and ends rounded.  The wheels were then glued to the axle.

After playing with these prototypes for a bit, I returned to the ‘shop, and drilled a couple of holes for headlights, and added a small rod of dowel to be the exhaust pipe.

Headlights and Police Lights

Headlights and Police Lights

For a police car, I added an extra couple of bits of dowel to be the police car’s flashing lights.

Prototypes

Prototypes

Here is a transporter, a bus, sportcar (2 exhaust pipes), police car and a city car.

Wooden Truck

Wooden Truck

A car transport truck. At the front of the trailer is quite an overhang, so the turning truck doesn’t impact on the trailer.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten to date.  The next step is going to be to produce a high quality version, and in parallel to create some patterns of the design in MDF or similar.  Future vehicles will be produced by screwing the template onto the desired stock, rough-cutting it out on the bandsaw, then finishing the job on the router table with a pattern following bit. The screwholes will be planned to coincide with the locations of windows and/or axles.

Carb-i-tool Mitre Lock Bit

The miter lock bit is one of those that is seen as an easy solution to making quick strong joints, but so many sit unused in the router bit collection after the purchaser has given up trying to work out how to use the bit.

It isn’t too hard, but there are some definite steps to achieving the required accuracy.  Once you know them, using the bit really is straightforward, and can produce a joint that is mechanically strong as well as increasing the glue area of the joint by about 75%.

The bit is large, and can only be used with a table-mounted router.  Also, the router needs to be variable speed so you can set a suitable rpm.

Mitre Lock Bit

Mitre Lock Bit

This is the bit to the right – the item in frame to the left is the end of the Wixey Digital Height Gauge I was using to set the bit up accurately.

There are two primary orientations of joint that you use this bit for.

Producing a strong panel:

Panel Orientation

Panel Orientation

I’ve coloured one side so you can easily see the joint itself.  This is produced by running both boards through the router table, one with the good side down, and the other with the good side up, then flip one board over.  The joint is much stronger than a straight butt joint, with significantly increased glue area.

The other orientation is to produce a 90 degree joint:

Corner Orientation

Corner Orientation

This joint is created by running one board through the bit horizontally, and the other board vertically.  (The joint shown here is rotated 90 degrees, so that might be a little confusing if you are trying to work out how it was done!)

As you can see, this joint has an extremely strong direction – moving the pale-coloured board is resisted by both the glue joint, but also the mitre-lock itself.  This is an excellent joint for items such as drawer fronts, where a lot of load is placed on the joint as the drawer is opened.

Drawer Orientation

Drawer Orientation

In the example here, the pale board would be the drawer front.  Now, you could be even cleverer, and have the front of the drawer in that orientation, but the back of the drawer in the other – so the front resists the forces of pulling the drawer open, and the back helps hold the two sides together.

You can also combine 4 together to produce a wooden pillar etc.

Lock Mitre Bit Pillar

Lock Mitre Bit Pillar

Note that each side is identical – ie it has one horizontal cut and one vertical one.  This doesn’t do a lot, but does mean the whole pillar kind of clips together.  There isn’t a huge amount of mechanical strength in that, but it all helps.

In any respect, the joint is quite an easy one to measure up for, because you cut the boards to the final required width before machining the joint.  There is no need to factor in the width of the timber (such as for a butt joint, where 2 sides are much shorter than the actual side of the drawer, or for a half blind dovetail where you have to factor in the material used in the joint itself).

Now the secret of using this bit is in the setup.  There are not one, but two critical dimensions.

One is the height of the bit, and the other is the fence position.  Both need to be very accurate for the joint to work (and meet neatly at the corners)

First setting is the bit height.  The middle of the router bit must be set to 1/2 the thickness of the timber.  If this is out, then everything else will end up wrong as well, and you have no chance of working out what to move where to correct the joint.

The example here is timber that is 19.5mm thick, so the mid point of the bit needed to be at 9.75mm.  This was easily achieved with the Wixey Digital Height gauge.

Wixey Setting Bit Height

Wixey Setting Bit Height

The difficulty is determining what is the centre of the profile.  Now other writeup’s I have seen on the web have it pointing to a corner of the cutter, but unfortunately, this is close, but wrong.  The actual middle of the profile is halfway down the underside of the ‘wing’.

Mitre Lock Bit Centre

Mitre Lock Bit Centre

Set this point to 1/2 the thickness of the timber.

Next, you need to set the fence position.  This is also set so that the 1/2 way point of the vertical orientation of the profile is exactly 1/2 the timber thickness from the fence.  This point also shown in the above-image.

Mite Lock Fence

Mite Lock Fence

Detail of vertical centre

Detail of vertical centre

Fence Positioning

Fence Positioning

The Wixey certainly is an advantage for setting the fence position accurately as well.

Once both these settings have been made, you are ready to start cutting!

Small Pillar

Small Pillar

The Mitre Lock Bit is an interesting one to have in the router bit library, and this example from Carb-i-tool is typical of the quality bits they produce.  Accurate machining is a must for this bit, otherwise you never get the profiles matching, And typically for Carb-i-tool is the quality of the workmanship, and materials chosen.

Box Making Router Bits: Router Bit-of-the-Month

This month we are detailing a couple of router bits used for box-making. There are more than just a couple that can be used in the whole genre, including ones for wooden hinges, for template carving the box itself, and obviously joints- dovetails and the like.

The first is used during assembly of the box, to insert the base. There is nothing overly complex about the concept – the bit cuts a groove around the bottom of the box to a controlled depth and width. Into this can be inserted a simple flat base which is the thickness of the slot, or it can be more elaborate using a flat bottomed cove bit (or a rebate bit) to effectively create a raised panel to fit the slot.

The bit is manufactured by Carb-i-tool exclusively for the Gifkins Dovetail Jig. It is boxmaking cutter #1 in their catalogue. (www.gifkins.com.au)

The second cutter is quite interesting. It is simply a small, solid carbide spiral bit, which is used to produce the smoothest finish possible while splitting a box from its lid.

Shown here to give you a sense of scale. It is a 1/4″ bit, so either a 1/4″ router, or a 1/2″ with a reducing collet will be required. It is also highly advisable to use this bit in a router table, and take multiple passes until the lid is cut free.

Wixey Digital Height Gauge

I haven’t had a chance to give this gauge a real workout yet, but after seeing a friend’s version it looked like an absolute must-have for the workshop!

The height gauge is fundamentally a digital caliper which has been rehoused to perform one specific role exceptionally.

It is accurate to 1/20th of a mm, (or 1/1000th of an inch) which is phenomenal accuracy when you compare it to how we normally set blade and router bit height with a steel rule, and eyechrometer!

The base looks a bit chunky at first, but there is a definite purpose there – you want the unit to be free-standing, and yet you want the scale to be flush with the edge, and this is how you get that. In addition, the scale is flush with the back edge of the base, so you can use the height gauge to also accurately set fence to blade (or router bit) distance. In a few days, I will be using this feature to set up my new tablesaw to ensure the top is accurately aligned with the blade (and therefore the saw’s arbor). The base also houses a couple of magnetic strips, which further adds its free-standing stability.

It is not mentioned, but you could also use it to set drill bit depth to the same accuracy – presetting the depth stop before cutting your hole.

My primary purpose for getting the gauge for my workshop is repeatable router bit setup, where accuracy is critical – particularly if using the Incra system for dovetailing. Instead of having to make repeated test cuts and adjustments, I’m going to be getting some test pieces done, then recording the router bit height so next time I know exactly how high the dovetail bit needs to be to get the required degree of tightness in the dovetail joint. Also, as I have just taken possession of a Carb-i-tool Mitre Lock bit, again this normally needs some mucking around with test pieces to get the setup right, and I will be able to record bit height and fence position so I can quickly and easily set up the bit each time I want to use it. One of the problems otherwise is you can be reluctant to use these bits simply because of the setting up time involved. Not anymore!

So once again, hats off to Mr Barry Wixey for a superb product that is definitely recommended!

Available in Australia from Professional Woodworker Supplies. Cost at time of writing is $A112.50

Now if only I could convince Mr Wixey to produce an alignment kit for accurately calibrating tablesaws etc – being able to digitally test mitre slot accuracy, blade runout, blade squareness to table etc all in one unit. There are already models on the market, but not digital, and certainly not combining a number of different Wixey products into one package

Perhaps there should be a Wixey TableSaw kit, which includes an alignment tool, height gauge, angle gauge and digital fence all in the one package!

I’m planning on doing a video/podcast review of all the various Wixey products that are available sometime soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Imminent Arrival

It may be a bit premature (given the current, less-than-finished state of the shed), but I’m off to pick up the new tablesaw from Carbatec tomorrow.  I have a couple of friends coming around to give me a hand transporting it down to the shed – not sure how that will go, it isn’t exactly light!

It is meant to rain a bit Friday evening, so I guess that gives me a bit of a deadline to get the walls closed up.  Still deciding on the design of the door – want it to be more waterproof than the last.

Speaking of arrivals, and it will be the subject of a review next month, but a new router bit came today from Carb-i-tool, and it is something a bit special.  A solid carbide, 3 flute upspiral bit.  Very nice!

Router Bit-of-the-Month (April 08)

This month, (after a short hiatus), the featured router bit is the Surface Planer bit from Carb-i-tool.

This probably doesn’t really do the bit justice, but to give you an idea at least of what it is.  Unlike a 2 flute straight bit that is primarily designed for edge work, but gets used for all sorts of other roles (such as planing and stock removal), this bit has one purpose – surface planing.  It is a 6 cutter bit, capable of rapidly smoothing the surface of everything from bowls to boards.

There are a few aspects to this blade worth mentioning:

1. It is not designed for table mounted work.

2. You require some sort of sled to hold the router above the work you need to have flattened.  There are some commercial versions, and also a number of homemade versions as well.

3. Do not consider trying to handhold this bit!

It’s catalogue season!

I was talking with a friend of mine from Carb-i-tool the other day, and their new 2008 catalogue has just hit the streets.

It’s about 30 pages larger than the previous one – lots of new bits! so that will be good to go through. I should get it in the mail in the next day or so (and it was!), and from there we’ll have to see what new router-bits-of-the-month we can find. (Carb-i-tool have always been a generous supporter of Stu’s Shed).

Their new catalogue will be on their website in about a month or so – at this stage it is still the 2007 one.

One part that has changed that I’m aware of – the wheel cutter (featured here a few months ago) has had a design change, and has a new hub design. So I hope to bring you some more details of that. The old cutters are still available, but once current stock is depleted, they won’t be replaced.

***Update*** The wheel now has a hub that finishes inline with the edge of the wheel. It means that now if you place two wheels side-by-side, the hubs will touch, more like what you’d expect in a real wheel. The change has been made as a direct response to the feedback that Carb-i-tool has received about their wheel cutters.***

There is a lot of development in diamond bits as well (for ceramics, marble, glass etc), so it will be interesting to see what is being done on that front.

Router bit of-the-month (January)

The router bit-of-the-month featured in Episode 19 is a raised panel bit from Carb-i-tool and has their typical quality features: low friction coating, high quality carbide, anti-kickback design and importantly, accurate dimensioning of the shaft. I have quite a few Carb-i-tool bits, as you may have gathered from other posts, and I always have a great deal of respect for the quality of the bits (and the subsequent quality in finish they produce), as well as the (for me) very important fact that it is a local manufacturer turning out such a good product.

There are a number of profiles available for the raised panel, it is a matter of choosing which one you feel suits the product you are making (and one that complements the rail and stile profile). This cutter is a horizontal style cutter, as opposed to a vertical raised panel bit. In other words, the panel you are routing is presented to the cutter horizontally, ie resting on the router table. I tend to prefer this type of bit, as it means the workpiece is fully supported by the router table, and I don’t have to balance the panel against the router fence. This is particularly important for large panels. So that is the positive aspect, and I feel this is the preferred orientation. However, it does mean the router bit itself has to be huge (and the raised panel bit is often the largest router bit you’d ever own). It is a huge chunk of steel and carbide that the router needs to spin, and as such, you need a strong, heavy duty router to cope with it, and essentially, one that is variable speed. (Check a post I made recently about matching router bit speed to the size of the bit).

If your router cannot cope with such a large bit, then the vertical raised panel bit is the way to go, as it is nowhere near as large a diameter bit, and the router can cope with it much easier. You do need a good, high fence to support the panel then, so that is the compromise.

I tend to use an unbearinged raised panel bit, as it leaves my options open for exactly where I position the fence, and I can centre the fence on the bit, or have it as far forward as I’d like. If the bit had a bearing, I would be limited to just how much of the profile I could expose with the fence. In any respect, I am always going to use a fence with this bit (and a router table). It is way too large to ever consider handholding the router.

Also, given the amount of material this bit can remove, it is highly advisable to take multiple passes to remove all the material. You can achieve this in 2 ways. Either by moving the fence, starting with only a little of the cutter exposed, then expose more for the second pass, then set the fence close to the final position for a third pass and finally set it for the full depth pass so that one is a very light pass (ie removing very little material) which really improves the quality.

The other method is to set the fence in the final position to start, then raise the router bit each time instead, until it is at the correct depth for the final pass. For some reason this is my preferred method, but either is perfectly valid. Both have the problem that if you want to produce another panel later, you need to reposition the fence and the bit depth exactly, so obviously, ideally, you’d have all the panels ready to go, and do the same pass on all the panels one after another before changing bit depth (or fence position), so each panel is at the same stage when you set up for the final pass. It is worthwhile also running a bit of scrap wood through the process at the same time, so that you can set it aside, and use it to help reset up the fence and bit depth if you ever do need to produce another matching panel at a future date.

Episode 19 Router Bit Review Raised Panel Bit

Raised Panel Bit. To complement the rail and stile bit featured last month, the raised panel bit is used to produce the panel that fits into the frame created by the rail and stile. The result is a very traditionally styled raised panel, used for cupboard doors, drawer fronts, and even the sides of some types of furniture.

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