Invisible Progress

More progress made today on the kitchen, but not much to actually show for it. A lot of the day was spent doing the same sort of activities as the past few: machining timber to size, joining it up with glue (and Dominos as a whole).

I am still trying to maximise the yield I get from the timber, keeping any offcut of decent width, or length, and surprisingly so much of it is able to be used. I had a whole stack of offcuts, all thicknessed up just in case, and saw they were the perfect size and thickness for the base of the units. What is more, the pile was exactly the right number, and they had already been cut to length, which was exactly the length I needed. I’m sure it isn’t coincidental (being cut from stock that was the right size), but it is cool when it happens in any case.

The tops of the unit are done, excluding the machining (cutting a sink opening, and machining the elements into the stove surface).

Speaking of sinks, I have started preparing the material for the wooden sink.


Sink Laminations

This time I am doing it how I always planned, and envisaged it to be – laminated with contrasting timbers. The light timber is the Tassie Oak, the red timber is Australian Red Gum.


Rudimentary Form

To create the final sink, each lamination needs to be machined before glueup. Way too hard afterwards! So a whole bunch of clamps later (I’m rapidly running out), I managed to get it all glued up, ready for the net stage.

So a day where progress seemed slow to non existent, but it will prove itself during assembly, where all these stacks of dressed timber about the place will transform into the various parts of the project.

Carcass and Top

Gave the toy kitchen project a good nudge today, despite the heat!  I would have hoped to have more done, but it takes time dressing boards down from scratch, resizing and all.  And I’m designing as I go as well!

Carcass Front

Carcass Front

This is the front of the carcass, partially assembled using Dominos to ensure it all lines up.


Centre Detail

To deal with the central post, I used the Domino to punch right through, then a longer Domino (50mm) so there was enough proud to have plenty of depth for the cross members.


Testing carcass depth

With the front and rear portions of the carcass glued up, it was time to join the two together.  Rather than use the sides as a structural member, I decided to complete the carcass separately, then attach the sides afterwards.  To get an accurate length for the remaining pieces, I clamped the sides to the carcass, then measured.


Starting to take form

It also provided the first real chance to see how the unit was coming together.  One side is to be where the sink goes (and cupboard underneath), and the other side is the dishwasher (with tambour door – more of an industrial form of dishwasher!)


Carcass glued up

These were also Dominoed, then the whole lot was glued and clamped.  The old adage that you cannot have too many clamps is so right.  I had all the Bessey clamps, and the two Jet clamps, and still had to resort to some others (that don’t have the same clamping force).  Another thing: as much as I always thought that Jet and Bessey were the equivalent of each other, with pros and cons to both, I have started to significantly favour the Bessey.  The ease to resize the clamp plays a big deal in being happy with the clamp as a whole, and the Jet is painful compared to the Bessey.


Laying out the tops

Just before I ran out of shed time for the day, I got a bunch of shortcuts/shorter sections, and dressed them up.  Then between the stove and the cupboard/sink, I found I had just the right number.  Not bad for an eyechrometer!


Commencing glueup of the tops

After sizing  to length, they were glued, and clamped in the Frontline clamps.

So that is where it sits at the moment.  Tomorrow the other top will be glued up, and progress made on the features that will turn this from an elaborate set of cupboards into a kitchen.

Small Steps

Probably seems like each ‘progress’ report is no different to the previous with the cot build, but there are a lot of small steps in between.

Lots of small other things too – floating tenons (aka dominos), holding everything together.  Little bit of thought required in setup for the Domino to ensure everything aligned, particularly where there were different thicknesses of materials, and offset joints, but once I got into it, the mortises were all cut in no time flat, despite there being about 40 to do.  They add so much

During glue-up, the Bessey K body clamps really started to shine.  The more I use them, the better I like them.   Increased my collection with a couple of 1250mm ones from Carba-Tec, along with a couple of Bessey extenders.


With all the components pretty much completed, what the final product looks like is becoming increasingly apparent.  And reflecting the multitude sketches of the various aspects of the project.

Building a project from pre-designed plans is a great way to learn woodworking concepts and techniques, but all the real problem-solving has been taken care-of.  It is not the best way to build, but I really enjoy building, designing and problem solving all at the same time, as in creating without pre-designed plans, and working out each step as I go.

Woodworking is a great mental exercise.

Baby Bed Build Bis

Had a change to take another crack at the cot build this weekend, which was good – more progress.

After last weekend, we had the bed itself built (as in the surround and support for the mattress), so today it was time to build the side rails. Oh, and fwiw we are referring regularly to ensure compliance with the Australian Standard for cot design, so the maximum clearance between mattress and bed, height of sides, gap between slats etc etc are all being carefully adhered to.

Once again, we started with a large chunk of timber (around 250×45) and began machining it down.

A combination of jointer, thicknesser and tablesaw gave us the rails and stiles as the frame for the sides.

Despite having them for years, this is about the first time I have actually used the jointer MagSwitch featherboards. They worked very well to ensure even pressure across the jointer cutter. A quick tap down between passes to ensure even pressure is maintained as the board becomes thinner (I do 0.5mm passes on the jointer, so not a real issue in any case). And in case you were wondering, we jointed an edge so we had something straight and true to run up against the tablesaw fence, then ran the board through the tablesaw to get 2 lengths a bit over 90mm wide. From there, we started machining the boards from scratch, jointing a side, then an edge. Next onto the tablesaw to rip the boards in half, so they ended up 20mm thick after machining.

We then spent some time testing and preparing to make the slats for the sides. A number of test pieces, and setups done to fine tune the operation. We started with the Domino – when we need mortices, why not use the best tool for the job?! So with a 10mm cutter, and set to the widest mortice setting, we got a 33mm slot, and thus our slat size was determined. We then made one, and tested it for strength. That went well too.

With all setups done, all the spare pieces, offcuts from other pieces of this job were run through the tablesaw to create the number of slats needed, with a number of spares. Each was then tested, bent and abused. A few failed, but the majority were perfect, and will be able to survive even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s kid.

Still need to actually create the mortices in the rails, but will do that after some sanding and finishing.

To get the required slat placement, the Domino grows wings. It makes cutting the required mortices so incredibly easy, and accurate.

Now I know there are two main groups out there – those who cannot understand how any tool can be worth as much as a Domino, and those who love the tool. Unfortunately, I used to belong to the first camp, but since first using the Domino and then more recently (last couple of years) owning one, I cannot help but reside in the second. Awesome machine. Yes, I know – hideously expensive. But very, very cool. One of these days, I’d love to become permanently familiar with the Domino XL too.


That’s not a Domino…

This is a Domino!!

and just in case you were wondering just how big that is….

These are the size of Dominos the original machine can handle:

The Domino, and the Domino XL are two different machines, with appeal for different applications, so it isn’t a matter of one superseding the other – the XL cannot work with the small Dominos, which remain the primary choice for furniture construction, box making etc etc (where you want to use a floating tenon joint of course!)

The Domino XL is…well, I’m not sure why you need such a monster, but where it does get used, you can be sure that joint will survive anything thrown at it!!  The strongest of workbenches, the heaviest of doors, yes – I can see how useful the XL would be.

Maxing out at 70mm for the depth of cut is pretty impressive for a hand-held mortiser.

30mm – 140mm Dominos, widths of 8mm to 14mm.

Have to add this to my wish list 🙂

Tis the Season to Repair

Kindergarten is about to start again, so typically, I have a few jobs I promised that have been left until the 11th hour.

Not much to do – a few of my road signs from last year that need running repairs (turns out 4/5 year old boys are more into javelin or whacking things than I imagined, and the signs were not designed for such abuse.)

Couple of seats needing the seat rescrewed, and a few play trees that have become separated from their bases.

I made some new bases, rounded the edges, then glued the trees to the base. In the process, it occurred to me that pretty much every fix I do for the kinder of their wooden toys has involved the Festool Domino as my go-to tool. (And this is true of every kinder repair person I know 😉 )

Festool Domino

Sorry, but that is just the reality. When I’m looking to strengthen a joint – glued (hopefully), often doweled, (these are the joints that fail) I want to put in something more substantial, so the Domino gives all the advantages of the tenon joint- strength of the tenon, increased glue area, part alignment and accuracy of mortise position.

Three stages of repair.

First I needed to make new blocks. That was easy with some pine on the tablesaw, then through the drum sander to thin the blocks down a bit.

The edges were rounded using the 1/8″ Fastcap Plane from Professional Woodworkers Supplies. The actual plane is not currently listed on their site, but it is worth inquiring about – it is suprisingly useful. First seen on this site here. A very underrated tool. I use it a LOT!

Next, the Domino (Ideal Tools) to cut the mortises for the Domino floating tenons.

Finally, another Fastcap product from Professional Woodworkers Supplies comes to play – the glue dispenser.

Job done – next!@!!!!!!!!!!!

Dino hospital

Self-Centering Domino Jig

At last-year’s Festool press day, they ‘officially’ announced the DTS Engineering multistop jig as being a Festool product, despite it continuing to carry the DTS Engineering logo, which I found very unusual (it is either Festool, or it isn’t, irrespective of the product’s development source).  Might be a bit of a pet niggle, but so be it.

Note – there is a lot of information from the manufacturer in the comments, that has both clarified the information, and shown some from Festool (Aust) was fundamentally wrong.

Multistop Jig

One of the big problems, and the reason I never bought one, was the negative press I was hearing, from multiple sources.  I haven’t had an opportunity to try one out for myself to substantiate the concerns, but the opinions of experts was enough for me. 

After discussions with RTS, I am going to fully reserve any opinions until such time as I have had an opportunity to give both versions a full review of my own.  You, my constant readers expect more from me than hearsay, so I will endeavour to fill this gap in my knowledge.

Roll around 2012, and the new Domino XL has arrived, complete with a significantly superior multi stop system built in.

Bit hard to see – haven’t gotten a larger photo to show, but the new system is brilliant, and I look forward to (and hope dearly) that it will be a system (or at least the concept) that can be  retrofitted to the standard Domino.


In the meantime, DTS have come up with an innovation for their product that has the critics reaching for their wallets. It will fit both the original Domino, and the XL version.

Self Centering

It is getting good feedback, and looks tempting! The jaws are interconnected- move one, and the other moves the same amount in the opposite direction. I really need to give one of these a workout for myself!

It is designed for referencing from the edge of boards only- you cannot use it to reference from one mortice to the next.

From underneath, you can see the working mechanism.

Clever, simple, good engineering.  My sort of product!

Not sure of price (at a guess, you’d get some change from $200), but something worth keeping an eye out for.

Update: These are retailing at $199 (not a bad guess eh!!) Available here from Ideal Tools.

A New Festool Domino! The Domino XL


5 1/2″ tenon length
Multiple positioning stops
2 morticing widths (not 3??)

Doesn’t do Dominos below 8mm, which is very limiting.

Ugly, ugly looking machine, but if anything like other Festool tools, will be precision personified.
Wonder if/when it will be seen down under?

It’s Time

At the Melbourne Working with Wood Show I had taken a slice of burl, and used the Torque Workcentre to start surfacing it as a demo of the TWC, and the idea quickly progressed as the timber talked, that it would make an interesting (large) desk or mantlepiece clock.

That block of burl has been sitting in my shed ever since, waiting for the project to be completed.  And after 6 months since the show, I finally got around to doing just that.

At the Wood Show, I had bought the clock mechanism I needed (from Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies) with an extra-long shaft, so I could keep the burl as thick as possible.  So back in the shed, I did some final passes with a surfacing bit on the back of the burl to get it to the final thickness I needed.  I could have used a drum sander with twin passes per layer, but it would have taken a LONG time.  And the thicknesser would have had all sorts of problems on the gnurly grain, even if it could fit.  So the TWC is by far and away the best tool for the job.

Cutting out the square mortise in the back for the clock can be done a number of different ways, router, chisel,  oscillating cutter. But when there is a tool specifically designed for cutting a mortise, why not use that!

Testing the clock fit, and with some real minor tweaking, it was a very successful method.

And seeing the Domino was out of the box, it was also perfect for attaching the stand to the back of the burl. (An offcut taken from the burl early on)

It sticks out over the bottom, ready to be cut off, then sanded flush.

Next will be finishing the front face, attaching the clock and shifting it to its final location.

Update, for those who missed it, here are some photos of the burl near original size being flattened.

Starting the burl surfacing

Revealing a surface, 5mm at a time

When I first got the idea of the clock

Offcut that will become the clock stand

Fitting a Boom Arm

Where it comes to actually working with hand-power tools there are a few inconveniences.  One being the storage of a tool that has a power cable attached, and in a lot of cases with the Festool range, they use the detachable power lead concept (although surprisingly some still have a dedicated lead, such as the BS105 belt sander).  Another being on-tool dust collection.  When you bother to use it, the power lead gets in the way, the dust collection hose is a pain, you trip over it, it snakes around other tools, catching, fouling etc.

The Festool system is pretty cool in that it addresses a number of these issues, and in part is the reason why I opted to head down that route.

When I got the vac recently (the CT36 in my case), I always intended to utilise all the advantages it offers, and that included the Boom Arm.  It is a bit high at the moment – or rather my roof is a bit low, but I’ll find a workaround for that.

(Sorry about the picture quality – just a quick snap, and as you can see from the background, lots of shed cleanup is way overdue!)

Festool CT36 with Boom Arm

I will be looking to find a more permanent storage for the vac, and the boom arm (which also carries power for the tool) will help a lot in that.  It is pretty high – to the extent that there is no problem at all for me to walk under it, the hose stops just short of the ground and yet there is still plenty of length not to find the tool at all restrained by the power and dust systems.  And of course the vac auto starts and stops when the tool is used.

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