A Wrap

Been a big week, and it is only Tuesday (ok- now Wednesday – fell asleep while writing this!)  Decided on Saturday that it was time for me to hand over the reins of the courses I was running at Holmesglen Tafe.  The courses are in safe hands however – a friend of mine is taking over (also an ex-Triton demonstrator), and given he still has a Triton workshop, he’s more qualified than I am these days!

My Triton equipment decreased by one the other day – the pad on my ROS parted company from the tool, and given the lack of Triton spares, the ROS is now relegated to the “no longer useful” corner.  May get around to finding a new pad for it one day, or adapting it to something else – who knows.  The batteries on the Triton drill also died a-ways back, so that has been retired as well. It’s going to be a long hard road for Triton to return, when even the ever-faithful are loosing faith.

The Melbourne Timber and Working with Wood Show is on again this weekend (Friday to Sunday) at the Melbourne Show Grounds.  I’m going to be there – you’ll find me with MagSwitch on the Carbatec Stand.  There will be a number of the MagFence kits available (I really like the kit – the fence for the bandsaw particularly, plus it comes with two MagJigs which can be used in any number of home-made jigs as well), but don’t leave it too long- they do sell out! They have been proving VERY popular ever since they were released. Don’t forget the “Universal Featherboard” and other new releases as well.

MagFence Combo Kit by MagSwitch

MagFence Combo Kit by MagSwitch

If you have been wondering about the merits of MagSwitch, I’m more than happy to have a frank discussion about them.  I find them to be really useful in my workshop for all sorts of reasons, and I have a number of jigs based around them which I will be bringing to the show.  I might even bring my MagBroom along (just don’t laugh at it too much – it does actually do the job I intended!)

It is good to see all the woodworking companies that are at the show – I’ll be sure to check out all the timber or woodworking products, or woodworking techniques being promoted by the various exhibitors.  I’m particularly interested in seeing the relevance of “Amazing Super Health” or “Step Forward Orthotics” for woodworkers.  There are not too many irrelevant exhibitors when you go through the list, just don’t understand why they are allowed at all.

The Floorplan and Exhibitors List are here, so you can plan your assault.

Australian Wood Review

The latest issue has just hit the streets, and as always has lots of interesting content. Including a full-page review by yours truely of the Excalibur EX21 Scrollsaw.  For obvious reasons, I can’t reprint the article here – if you want to see it, you have to buy the magazine!  However, any feedback on it (or the previous review of the Pro Drill-press table) is welcome.

issue_61

Not been having much luck recently with the short courses at Holmesglen – I don’t have any visibility of the overall performance of courses at the moment, whether overall attendance is dropping, or if just hobby pursuits are having a bit of a downturn in the current economic crisis, but my recent introductory Triton woodworking course, and shed course have both been cancelled for lack of numbers (hard to run a course with 0 attendees), and the same has happened for this weekend’s toy making course.

Bit of a shame really – was looking forward to that, and have done quite a lot of preparation work for it.  Have a number of tools just waiting in the wings to be taken along for people on the course to get to play with (including thicknessers, bandsaws etc), so I guess they can all be moved back into deep storage again – there isn’t another one now until Feb 21, so there is no point having the extra workshop space taken up with them for another 3 months.

The Rejuvenating Properties of The Shed

Did I ever need yesterday (and a whole heap more required, but I’ll take what I can get!)

Took a day off work yesterday because I really needed a bit of time out to recharge the batteries.  Not to sleep (although with a 20 month-old, sleep is a thing of the past!), but just to ground myself – my blood/sawdust ratio was obviously getting periously low!

And I had (and have) so many things to play around with.  I could take a week and not break the back of everything that could be done, but even a day out there sure helps.

There will be a few item-specific posts about the individual activities, but overall the day went such:

Unloaded the new tools down to the workshop. New tools? GMC are being very supportive of my activites which is very cool, and so there are some new tools to review, and use both in my workshop, and at courses I run etc, such as the upcoming toy course.  (Still looking for bookings for it (through Holmesglen), but there are going to be lots of ‘toys’ to play with, while making toys to play with!!)

So I had a Triton 3 in 1 to get down there, and boy, is that thing a monster.  Not physically large (still a reasonable size), but it feels like it has been carved from a solid lump of steel.  61kgs to be exact.

I also had to (sadly) pack up the Excalibur EX21 Scroll Saw that I have been reviewing for the next edition of the Australian Wood Review magazine.

Once there was a little space, I also had a small GMC benchtop drill press to assemble, the GMC 18V AllNailer to unplack and charge, a CMT Dado set (on loan from Carbatec), and I think that was about it.

Not sure about the AllNailer as yet – the first few nails I’ve driven, some have easily gone full-depth, but others don’t seem to have been able to penetrate to much more than 20-30mm of remaining nail.

I tried cutting a wheel with the 1/3HP GMC drill press (I’m hoping the Triton one will become available soon), and although I managed a 50mm one (in pine), it sure struggled.  The stalling was one thing – that’s just a fact of life that I was pushing it a bit hard, but each time that I did (and I did stall it often), I had to wait 30 seconds for the coil’s thermal cutoff to reset.  I’m guessing what was happening was – each time the motor stalled, the coils in the motor would get hot (immediately), and that there is a thermal switch in there that was tripping.  However, it is a VERY sensitive switch, so even a brief stall was too much for it, and the saw wouldn’t turn on again until the coils cooled.  Interestingly, the first side of the wheel went easily, and it was the second side that was problematic.

Once play time had ended, I went to work on a few prototype parts for a child’s table and chair, including trying out the Mortise Pal for making loose tenon joints using the router (rather than something like the Festool Domino (which looks great, but is miles out of my budget)).

So that’s a bit of an overview of the day.  I’ll go into more detail of the individual events later.

At least I feel a little refreshed.  More needed!!

Sunday Ramblings

Had a pretty good woodworking weekend (by my standards anyway).  As mentioned before I made some sawdust yesterday for another video – again not a how to (yes, I really do want to do some how-to’s again!), but a review of the GMC Unlimited Rebate Planer.

While talking of reviews, the one on the Full Width Planer has been quite popular with our regulars, and with a couple of our younger readers / watchers – gidday Jack and Tom 🙂

Northwood’s latest email newsletter has been sent out, with an interesting dig at Carbatec (not that they actually say Carbatec, so I’m reading between the lines and there isn’t anyone else I can think of that fits the specific bill).  Like other smaller independent suppliers, they have had some results from the deranging of Triton and GMC from Bunnings.

I’m sure it has a huge impact on GMC, but I can’t help but think that (to drag out an old cliche) it (the deranging from Bunnings) could be a blessing in disguise. They have already been bringing out a range of tools that continues the product improvement directions they have been heading for a long time (and for those that doubt that, you should see the GMC Tablesaw I have in my shed, purchased in 2001).  There are also a lot of developments in the retail sector as mentioned. I’m sure there will be a lot more news over the coming months on that account.

Had the Triton club meeting today – a massive 10 people turned up which is a real contrast to its heyday (which coincidentally was when I was President of the club) when membership was well over 70. It is disappointing, and I think it really does spell the end of the club realistically.  As numbers keep dropping, it becomes very difficult to invite new members along, as there isn’t a sufficient core of regular members there to meet. It’s almost to the point that a (potential) new member walks in the door, is welcomed, and you could next offer one of the committee positions (of course that doesn’t happen, but you know what I mean!)  The dropping commitment is particularly noticable, as I have to be there, so there is a long term, ongoing commitment there that I have to fill each and every month, so it is a shame when others don’t have the same commitment (and no, I’m not meaning any specific individual here, it is a generalised observation).  I have to be there, because for OHS and liability reasons (for Holmesglen) a member of staff MUST be present for the facilities to be used, and of course I am that person because of the short courses I run for Holmesglen.  FWIW, I have been a member of the club for over 6 years now, 2 as president.

So that’s enough rambling at this stage – more to come when I discuss today’s activities (post -club meeting).

Toymaking Course developments

Just a brief addition – the date has been finalised for the inaugural course at Holmesglen- 29 and 30 November.

Also, GMC are being very supportive of the course, and have agreed (in principle at this stage CONFIRMED!), to supply me with some extra tools that I can use for both the courses I run, as well as getting reviewed here.

These include the Triton 3 in 1 Belt, Disk & Spindle sander

Triton 3 in 1 Sander

Triton 3 in 1 Sander

A drill press (at this stage the GMC DP250LS (The Triton is not currently available)), which will be great for wheel cutting, and well, drilling holes and the like. Perhaps some small item turning as well (axles etc).

GMC Drill Press 250 Laser

GMC Drill Press 250 Laser

The GMC LS1620 Scroll saw which looks a very interesting machine (and not the least of which because it can fit pinless blades)

GMC 1620 Scroll Saw

GMC 1620 Scroll Saw

And the DC750 1HP dust extractor (some of the tools I use really need 4″ dust extraction, and this looks a really portable unit.  It is as powerful as the one I have in the shed, but will be used right next to the relevant machine so 1HP will be more than enough.  Hmm – wonder if I should come up with a portable version of my 2nd stage collector?)

GMC DC750 Dust Extractor

GMC DC750 Dust Extractor

I will also be taking along a few other tools to supplement the ones already at Holmesglen for the courses, including the 12″ Triton bandsaw, so it should make for a fun course if only to get to play with a bunch of toys, and make some toys as well!

It is (as are my other courses) for beginner and novice woodworkers, so a lack of experience is actually a benefit.  If you are interested, contact Holmesglen Short Courses, but don’t leave it too long, as places are limited!

Speaking of which, there is another introductory Triton Woodworking course scheduled for the 11th and 12th October, which are always popular with those that attend.

Oh, and one other bit of news (and again thanks to GMC for this) – attendees of the courses (I assume the offer is for both – will confirm), will be eligible for a discount for purchases made in the month after the course from a couple of stores (I will be confirming which stores), so if you fall in love with one (or more) of the tools you get to use during the courses, there is an opportunity to try before you buy.

Cool huh!!

Toymaking Course

Wood Toy Making Workshop

A weekend woodworking workshop for constructing unique, hand-crafted toys – just in time for Christmas! In this age of plastic, throwaway toys, the gift of a one-of-a-kind toy is priceless. In this hands-on class, learn how to use various woodworking machines to produce toys that will be treasured for years to come. There will be a list of toys to choose from.

Holmesglen are always on the lookout for new courses, and I’ve always enjoyed running the Triton Weekend Workshops, so decided to present a toymaking one.  It is for inexperienced woodworkers, and there will be a number of different projects to choose from, depending on the age of child you are making the toy(s) for.

Depending on how the course goes, there may be more offered next year, or even to the extent of splitting it into 2 or 3 so the projects can be more targetted to the child’s age.

The inaugural course will run on Saturday 29 November 8:30 to 4:30 and conclude on Sunday 8:30 to 1pm.

Interesting tidbits

Got to read the proof of my article / review for Australian Wood Review magazine the other day. Not a big deal, but it’s always nice to get something in print. Is a full page on the Pro Drill Press Table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

Finally got to fit the Wixey Digital TableSaw Fence, and the accuracy it allows is awesome! More on that in an article shortly.

I’m in the process of writing some new (interrelated) courses for Holmesglen Tafe. They will be available for the 4th quarter of 2008 (and given the course guide is due out shortly, I don’t have much time to get them written, or at least the blurb for the Short Courses Guide). The courses will be in the workshop, and will be making wooden toys. The courses (at this stage) are going to be based around the age of the recipient child, rather than the skill of the woodworker. So they will be wooden toys for under 3s, for 3-5s and for 5+. They will either be a full Saturday and 1/2 a Sunday, or 3 x 1/2 Saturdays in a row – not sure which as yet. With Christmas approaching, I’m hoping they will get enough of a response to run (need 5 attendees as a minimum).

Got down to Bunnings to check out this weird concept of a handsaw with a laser. Turns out to be a Spear and Jackson saw. Not sure what disturbs me more – the fact that Bunnings are selling them (but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise – they are building a strong reputation for selling cheap tools rather than substance), or the fact that a supposedly reputable company such as Spear and Jackson would even consider it. Cost is $39, so not even in the $7 cheap bracket.

Laser Hand Saw

And finally, am doing a bit behind-the-scenes stuff to get an inaugural meeting of an Incra User Group off the ground. More details shortly. I was going to have it in my shed, but it is looking to be too popular for my limited (space & power) resources, so am looking at one of the local woodworking businesses (one that is closely associated with Professional Woodworkers Supplies, who import Incra, and will be closely supporting the user group).

So I still need to organise some (smallish) function at my shed. Wonder if that will ever actually happen?!

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