Deep throat revisited

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

DBGULP

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.

 

RapidAir Fittings

There are 2 main fittings used in the RapidAir system (not counting those that screw into the aluminium mounting blocks).

There are L fittings

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& T fittings

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There are also L fittings with a 3/5″ threaded end

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These are useful to screw into the manifold, and for attaching fittings to convert the system to fit standard air fittings, such as Nitto. You may need an adapter to resize the thread from 3/8″ to 1/4″. These are easily sourced from Masters in those awesome drawers in the bolt section.

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The fittings have mounting points so they can be screwed to the structure

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And failing that (or for longer hose runs) there are hose clips

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Add all that together allows some pretty sophisticated layouts, very easily

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SSYTC065 RapidAir Installation Update

Most of the system is now in place and connected up, just need a few extra connectors to finish it off.

Have shot this quick walking tour so you can see the setup that I have put in place.

As mentioned, the system is sourced through Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and it makes it very easy to create a professional looking setup around the workshop.

RapidAir

As indicated in my previous post, I have begun installing the RapidAir system around the workshop.

It is as easy as the product suggests to create a comprehensive pneumatic system around the workshop.

After preparing each of the outlets (which realistically didn’t take a lot of time), I began mounting these around the workshop.  Each set up with the inlet from the top, and drain at the bottom.  The plan is to run a ring-mail around at roof level (the underside of the mezzanine), and by using a T piece, drop down to each outlet.  The manifold has three outlets, one will feed a local outlet, the other two will supply the ring-main.

After mounting the outlets (and deciding that 2 more would properly finish the setup), I started connecting the tubing.  It is pretty rigid, so although it means it isn’t designed to go around corners (that is what L connectors are for), it does mean that each run is able to be done neatly, easily creating a professional-looking (and functioning) setup.

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The tubing is easily cut square using the provided cutter

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As mentioned, there are T and L connectors, combinations of which provide the different configurations required.

The tubes happen to still be hanging in free space, as I haven’t secured them in position with clips while I finalise the layout.

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I will change the configuration of the manifold slightly, so the standard nitto fitting from the air compressor can plug straight in.

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Proceeding very easily- another installation session will pretty much see it done.

Threading Up

Spent the time while watching the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix (well done Daniel!), getting the outlets for the RapidAir (from Professional Woodworkers Supplies) all threaded up, with thread sealant rather than Teflon tape.

Probably the slowest part of the whole install!

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There are 7 outlets set up identically (capped off rear inlet, front outlet, air inlet at top, drain at bottom), 1 which is for the mezzanine (capped off rear inlet, capped off top inlet, air in from the bottom and front outlet- no drain so lower outlets will have to be the reservoir), and one manifold, with all 4 ports with a hose connector.

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Next job is to physically mount the outlets in the shed.

Compressed Air Supply

Compressed air and woodworking definitely go hand-in-hand.  There is a whole collection of air tools to use, and they are typically quite a bit cheaper than their electric powered equivalent machines as the energy conversion from electricity to mechanical is done by a single machine (air compressor) rather than each and every tool doing the same (there is a small step of converting the potential energy in the compressed air to mechanical kinetic, but that is pretty simple).

That concept does harp back to the workshops of old, with line drive, belts and pulleys etc, but compressed air is a lot easier to move around the workshop!

Other than nail guns, impact wrenches, sanders etc, there is always the convenience of a burst of compressed air to clean out a cut, clean off a tool, and even to sweep the workshop floor!  I also have a few vacuum clamps that use compressed air to generate significant grip on the component. (Using a venturi effect to produce low pressure, then the atmospheric pressure does the rest).

Getting air around the workshop can either be with long hoses, or in my case I am going to use the RapidAir setup from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

152558The initial kit provides the tubing, and a bunch of quick-connectors, so running it around the workshop is a ‘breeze’

After running what will effectively be a pneumatic ring main around the workshop, at strategic points there will be individual tap points, to plug the tool straight in.

152559These come with the valve, and aluminium mounting block, so will fit in very well with the workshop layout.

airThis is an approximate layout for the air run, with the air compressor in a shed near the top right corner.  The red squares are air outlets, the circle is an air outlet then connected to a hose reel (which then allows air to be used elsewhere in the back yard)

I might put an outlet up on the mezzanine, and probably one by the drill press.

The ring main then allows a balance of air to each outlet (especially if there is more than one demand on the circuit at the same time), and for others to be easily added for future design changes or needs.

Will probably start installation next weekend.

Rediscovering tools

Back in the dim depths of the past, when there was still a company called GMC, selling cheap Chinese-made tools, I bought an air compressor.

It was a direct drive, GMC 40L air compressor, and I thought it might be useful in the workshop, but I wasn’t sure – the compressed air for cleaning up sounded promising.  Well that was then.

These days, I am convinced that compressed air is a great resource for any workshop, and even so I am not maximising how much I could use it. I have used it to clean up (compressed air), inflate basketballs, pool toys.  The impact driver to free rusted bolts from reclaimed timber, and nail guns obviously, large and small.

The one tool that came in the various kits of cheap air tools that I have never used is the paint/finish sprayer.  With 30 metres of lattice to paint (15 m double sided), spraying was definitely the method of choice.  My (budget) HVLP paint sprayer was missing the pickup nozzle (haven’t used it for a few years), so decided to try the paint spray attachment. (Similar to the one pictured)

Sprayer

Worked really well – perhaps not surprisingly, but I shouldn’t have been ignoring it for so long – would make an interesting finish applicator.  (I have 2, so one dedicated to paint and one to wood finishes is easy enough to prevent cross-contamination).

It was a hot day, and although I had thinned the paint right down, it became increasingly difficult as the day progressed.  A few blockages as the paint inside the container dried on the walls, then some flaking off blocked the jet.  The paint that I had watered down (thinned for spraying) was trying to form a skin, so I used a kitchen sieve to capture any lumps of paint as I refilled the container.    The 40L air compressor really struggled to keep up – I could have finished the job in half the time (or better) if the compressor had a larger reservoir, and/or refilled faster.

The heat of the day really did play a part, not only on the paint and the tools, but on me as well.  Hydration only goes so far, I needed to keep the sun under control.  A hat is fine, sunscreen as well, but I needed to really get the sun off me, and my solution would have made Ford Prefect proud.

Still, I am impressed with the air compressor – I have shown it no love for the years it has been languishing in the back shed, pumping away without care or maintenance.  The last time I emptied the tank of water condensation, about 20L of water came out!  I am constantly amazed the whole thing hasn’t failed years ago, but it keeps pumping away.  It wasn’t until near the end of the day that I remembered the compressor was still buried in all that sawdust from the failed dust bag.  When it does finally give up the ghost, I will replace it with a serious compressor with a decent reservoir, but until then, it can keep pumping away!

Back to the spraying, and it really got difficult – it was spluttering, bursting (as in a puff of paint, then just air, then paint), and often spraying so little paint that I was painting with air.  It wasn’t until late in the piece that I realised what was happening.  After the first few fills of the container, paint was building around the upper edge and lid, and it became (semi) airtight.  The air was blowing, but without atmospheric air pressure inside the container, no paint was being drawn up!  I solved it temporarily by opening and closing the container regularly, and finished the job, but in the long term it will need a hole drilled.

But despite the setbacks, and the lessons learned, it worked, and the lattice got painted.  And my sprayer finally got commissioned – only been about 10 years!

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