The Carbatec Bench

The final push, actually the easy bit – the bench assembly.  With the Veritas vice in place, the four legs are bolted to the underside of the bench, and the vice(s) fitted.  Because I had added the Veritas, I had a vice left over so added it to the back of the bench behind the drawer.  It only needed 3 holes to be drilled to fit it there, so no biggie.

The shelf is then bolted to the legs which provides a significant amount of rigidity.  The vices are then screwed down, and the drawer assembled and fitted.  Anyone who has ever bought anything from Ikea will have no problem putting that drawer together.  The entire bench assembly should only take about 30 minutes.  (Again, instruction manuals be damned).

The standard vice is a very simple animal- the two bolts at the rear of the guide bars are removed, then the base is unscrewed.  The front jaw added then the unit inserted through predrilled holes in the bench skirt. The rear bolts are tightened, and the base screwed to the underside of the bench.

This was then repeated for the other vice that I fitted at the rear of the bench.  No point letting one go to waste!

With all the vices and fittings in place, it was time to turn the unit over.  Bloody heavy thing – weighs in around 80kg.  Perhaps not as heavy as a full wood one, but enough.

The bench in position in its new home.  (fwiw, the rear vice looks high because it has the removable jaw extension added).

With the Veritas in prime position, and clamps all around, this bench is ready to work. I’m debating whether to put my metal working vice on the bench as well – may do, especially if I park the Festool Vac under the bench.  The benefit of having the boom arm!

The bench can move a bit when pushed on, but it is pretty good.  There is some spring in the legs (unavoidable), but the majority of the movement would come from the feet.  If you were serious about bench stability, I’d not use the feet and instead would bolt the bench to the floor, and/or use a bracket to secure the bench to a wall.

I still have some holes to drill in the Veritas Vice jaws, so I can add some bench dogs.  The plastic ones that came with the bench will probably go in the bin, and instead I have picked up some Veritas ones from Carbatec, which fit a standard 19mm hole.  These will be perfect on the Torque Workcentre as well, as soon as I drill the new matrix of holes for the Walko clamps.

I got a set of Veritas Bench Dogs for the bench, and a set of Veritas Bench Pups for the jaws. Will see if that is enough for my typical use, not that they are particularly expensive, and they have a great, heavy feel.  With some holes in the side of the jaws of the Veritas Twin Screw, it will also allow large sheets to be clamped vertically to the side of the bench as necessary.

I also found these Veritas Surface Clamps, which also fit into the same 19mm holes.  The knurled knob tightens the clamp into the hole, and the arm moves freely up and down the shaft until a load is applied when it then locks into the ridging on the shaft.  These too will be extremely useful on both the workbench, as well as on the Torque Workcentre.

So the whole thing has come together nicely.  A combination of an easily assembled bench (that I didn’t have to make), and some quality fittings to finish it off.

One day, this bench will allow me to follow the reasoning of Douglas Adams (and the Deep Thought computer – a computer designed by pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent race of beings to answer the question of life, the universe and everything (42), and then to design the computer that could explain the question) and use it to build THE bench.  But not for a long time yet!  This bench will keep me out of trouble for a long time, and more than likely will only help me contruct another if I happen to acquire a much larger shed that would give me space for a second one!

Over the coming weekend, I’ll try to get some photos of the bench in action, particularly the Veritas Dogs and Pups (and Surface Clamps) and how they work with the vices to secure items down.

FWIW, the standard (unmodified!!) version of this workbench is expected to be seen on “Better Homes and Gardens” tonight (Friday 20 May 11) on channel 7 at 7:30pm when the Amazing Race teams appear and complete some building challenges.

Domino Course at Ideal Tools

The Domino course was a 1/2 day affair over in the Ideal Tools training facility/showroom in Williamstown, with Terry Forgarty presenting.  Terry would have been one of the first people in the world with a Festool Domino, given that they were available in Australia very early on (before the US I think), and he bought his out of the very first batch, so a very early adopter of the technology.

He is a custom furniture maker, and so his Domino gets used in most projects, so as a daily power user, he is well qualified to talk about the tool.  He also has a diploma in Fine Furniture from the Perth Wood School – a 2 year intensive course which would be incredibly interesting, demanding, and rewarding (if you could afford the commitment!)

The Domino course is a bit hard to nail down exactly what it is – it depends on your perspective, and therefore what you would get out of it.

For me, as a prospective owner it showcased the product and just how versatile it is, and how your persepectives of a product can differ (dramatically) from reality.  I was pretty sure it was an interesting, and expensive tool, and based on the ravings about it on the forums, that it was a precision tool.  It is a much better viewpoint when you can actually see the tool in action to really appreciate where these various comments and opions are coming from!

For others (and the majority of attendees on the course) were owners, but not heavy users (some had owned it for a year or more, and only cut a joint or two with it).  For these, it was a reclarification why they bought the tool, how to use the tool (basics, cleaning etc), and how much more versatile the tool could be.  For these, and new owners, it certainly gives you a better appreciation why you have paid for it, and how to get value out of it.

There are then the ones who are very familiar with the tool, and for these the course shows some of the new approaches to techniques, joining panels, some different jigs, and other uses that may not have occurred to them.  One big benefit from this (and this holds true for other tools as well), learning the versatility of jigs to greatly expand the usefulness of any given tool is a lesson definitely worth learning.

Terry covered a number of points, jigs and techniques, which I won’t go into heavily here, but some quick points were, removing the caps off the riser to increase the tool’s effective range by 25mm, how to create Domi-dogs (bench dogs with dominos!), his shelf pin jig (covered in the YouTube video), including home-made wooden shelf pins, some of the accessories for the Domino, his Domino drawer handle, the Kapex, and creating a 3 component intersecting joint with domino reinforcements.

The drawer in the photos is his one from the previous Hall Table course, where instead of wasting the quality timber offcuts, they were joined to make a particularly noteworthy drawer base.

So all in all, a very interesting and informative afternoon, and definitely worthwhile for both prospective owners who need a little extra shove to understand why they really do want to buy the Domino, as well as for existing owners to get the most out of their investment.  There was plenty of time for questions, comments, and posing of extra challenges for Terry and his Domino to solve!

Drill Press Table Drawer

When I first added the Pro Drill Press Table, I found I had a (minor) issue with the height winding handle hitting the tabletop (or having to mount the top further out from the main upright than I wanted).  My solution was pretty simple – I placed some spacers under the table to raise it up above the handle.

Effective? Yes.  Elegant? No.

Michael (who is loosely affiliated with Professional Woodworkers Supplies (who supply the Pro Table)) saw my solution, and came up with one that was blindingly obvious – instead of boring (and useless) spacers, why not put a drawer in there?

Once I had finished kicking myself, there was no question but to do the same to my table.  After all, the extra storage for all the drill bits, clamps, keys etc was something I desperately needed.

I have documented the build in a video, but here are a couple of photos of the resulting unit, made from melamine, and pockethole joined together.

Drill Press Table Drawer

Drill Press Table Drawer

The video shows a 2 drawer unit, but once I had put it in place, I decided that it was just too high, and so cut it down to a single drawer.  One of the benefits of the pockethole joints is not only are they very strong, they are very easy to disassemble too.  You can’t actually see them in these photos – with the caps in place they have blended in a bit too well!

You can see the drawer unit sits forward of the back of the Pro Table – this is to give the handle the space it needs.  At some stage, I’m very tempted to extend the handle to make for easier access.

Talking of handles, the drawer handle was chosen very specifically.  Because I work up against the unit occasionally, and especially when moving past the drill press, I wanted a handle that was unlikely to catch on clothing etc. And it looks the part. (And because it attaches with 2 screws, it is more able to cope with a heavy drawer).



No sooner had the drawer been built, than it started filling with drilling paraphernalia.

At least now it is all in one place, and easy to find.

(Yes, that is a set of Triton drill bits you can see.  Bit of a collector’s item these days, along with the Triton countersink.  What – never heard of a Triton countersink?  I have one.  And some Triton branded carpenter’s pencils!)

I Hate Feeling Rushed

And I always stuff up when I do.

Been working on modifying the Pro Drill Press Table with the drawer unit that was demonstrated in the video drawing last week.  I got SO close, but time was against me, and the final part of the project I wanted to finish was the drawer fronts.

And that’s where the day ended prematurely, as I made a wrong cut (the first wrong cut of the day), and ran out of materials.

The rest went ok I think – the unit is constructed, all pockethole joined together, the drawers in place and functional.  Just needed the cosmetics of the drawer fronts and I would have been done.  Oh well – minor delay.  Even all videoed for another installment.

The Jig Drawer

Strangely, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my “Jig Drawer” before.

I was using it over the weekend when it occured to me that it may never have actually been referred to here.  I have a Jig Drawer. No, it isn’t where I store my various jigs, but where I store the components that may be useful in jig construction.

The Jig Drawer

The Jig Drawer

It is full of useful and interesting bits and pieces, many as it happens from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  There are knobs, hold downs, T Track Bolts and T Track nuts, high tensile bolts, grub screws, butterfly nuts, plastic Incra positioning track (metric and imperial), T Track and Mitre Track sliders and stops, and a stack of other assorted bits and pieces.

Whenever I am constructing a new jig, this is the drawer I first turn to, to get the hardware needed, and even the inspiration for the required jig.

It is nice to be able to make a jig properly, with decent knobs etc rather than some block of wood offcut from A, combined with a few nails and old screws from B, and lumps of particle board making up the body of the jig.

So that is my Jig Drawer, and now you know.

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.

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