Today’s the Day on Ebay

A bit of an era draws to a close today (although it is a bit of a soft ending). My Triton 2000 Workcentre and 2400W Triton saw will sell in a couple of hours time. Feeling a bit nostalgic about it.

Back in Christmas 2001 when my wife and I were married, I had a lathe on the wedding registry (little thing, but unbeknownst to me at the time, it was the key to a massive door that had been there in my periphery since almost forever). So I had this lathe, and I needed a bench to mount it to. Around our new property (bought 6 months earlier) there were a number of redgum sleepers, and I thought a couple of them would make a great lathe stand. I did have a handsaw, but no circular saw, and this was the justification I needed to head down to Bunnings and get one.

In Bunnings, I had long admired (from a distance) these amazing orange tools that looked to be for the professionals – workbenches that I hardly recognised what they were for (in hindsight, they would have been a Triton 2000, a router table, superjaws etc). But they looked GOOD.

So I went to get a saw. Dad’s had an Hitashi for a long time – serious looking tool, and so I had an idea of what I was wanting. While there, going through all the models, one that stood out was an orange beast – 2400W, 9 1/4″ blade (price tag to match), but it dawned on me that one day, I might, just might get one of those cool looking workbenches, so I might as well have the saw that matches. Boy, was that a good call.

Got home with this thing, and if you know me, you know I love toys (uh…, and this thing looked mean. When I took it to the sleepers, I was in shock – it sliced the sleeper like butter, and that was it, I was hook line and sinker into Triton at that point.

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Sometimes it is bloody frustrating being a novice

Headed down to Carbatec today, with my Christmas $$$s burning a hole in my pocket. Wanted to get a few extra things for the lathe, after learning a bit more about it all with the visit to my friend’s shed last weekend.

Couldn’t find a curved toolrest for my Jet mini lathe – more research required.

I did pick up an asymmetric 1″ (25mm) heavy duty scraper (and yes Soren – it has a long handle!!) (For those wondering what I’m on about- as you can see from the photo in the previous post, my latest 3 (and now 4) chisels all have a substantial handle on them. I’ve discovered how much I like having something decent to hang onto while turning. Yes, I know a real turner makes his own handles….. and I might too when life decides to slow down from the million miles/hour it is currently running at). I’m hoping it will do the job that I want – it is a great chunk of HSS (high speed steel) – about 10mm+ thick.

I also bought some extra jaws for my Teknatool Nova G3 chuck. This is where the frustration starts creeping in.

The jaws that came with the chuck are 50mm. They hold primarily on the external rim of the jaw (ie you insert them into a hole (which can be as shallow as a couple of mm), then expand them with the chuck to grip the workpiece. In the case of the bowl I am practicing on (see photo in a recent post), I haven’t gotten the hole in the base with quite enough diameter, so I thought I might as well get a smaller set of jaws, which will be useful for other jobs in the future. Having a look around, there were 45mm jaws (too close to 50mm thought I), 25mm jaws, and 35mm jaws, both in a bowl jaw and a spigot jaw. Hmm – confusion growing a little. Reading the box, it suggests that the 35mm spigot fitted nicely in the gap of sizes between the 25mm and the 50mm. Not sure what the spigot term meant, but it wasn’t much more for those, and they did say that they can grip both internally and externally. Cool – bonus – they can do the job I want, and for not many more $$s than the standard 35mm I can do this spigot thing when I learn what it is (something to do with vases and goblets apparently). Fitting that gap between the capacity of a 25mm jaw set and a 50mm jaw set is exactly what I’m looking for.

So, get home, open box, get out the “Accessory Jaw Manual” and had a quick read. Huh? Apparently the 35mm spigot jaw’s minimum size for expanding is 53mm. What the? How is buying a 35mm jaw set to have one smaller than a 50mm jaw set end up being wrong? This is the frustration. I’m sure if any turners read this, they’ll be going “of course”, but for a novice, this is the sort of thing that jumps up to bite you time and time again. I even went to my Richard Raffan “bible” – the Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Turning. Not a mention of a spigot, or that some 35mm jaws are larger than 50mm jaws.

I guess why I’m saying all this, is I do appreciate where people new to woodworking are coming from – I’m still learning different aspects myself, and it is these traps that keep tripping us up frustratingly, that would be good if an introduction to a subject actually covered what you need to know, without being written too simply, or patronisingly. (Just because you are new to a subject doesn’t mean you’ve also lost your brain!)

While I’m on the subject of frustration for novices, I guess I would have learned a lot of this by joining a turning club, but so far I’ve been really put off. I haven’t re-broached the subject for a few years now, but my experiences went like this:

One club wanted me to go to an individual member’s house before joining, so my turning abilities could be assessed. Like that isn’t a daunting concept for a novice. I’m just starting out, and someone thinks I want my abilities judged and criticised? Sorry, but no.

Another club (and I’m not naming names here), seemed interested in getting a new member, so I was chatting to one (at a woodshow) about the club etc, and me wanting to learn more. He asked what sort of lathe I had (this is before I bought the Jet mini), and I said that I have a GMC (this is a $100 lathe, so I am under no false illusions about it being a first-rate tool. Never-the-less, I have made plenty of pens, including my apple one with a captive ring (posted here a while back), turned some pretty round spheres in redgum etc). Irrespective, the conversation didn’t get any further. The instant I uttered the fated word “GMC” the member turned his back on me and walked away mid-sentence.

So now you know why I’ve never joined a wood turning club to learn more. Disappointing really. So I’m doing what I do with most things – jumping in feet first and learning as I go. Reading books, watching videos and making sawdust. I’ll probably pick up heaps of bad habits, that will end up restricting me before I unlearn them, but at least I won’t be insulting people, or being a tool snob.

Woodwork 101

I’ve decided to start a new part of the blog and podcast called “Woodwork 101” (shortened to WW101).  The intention here to provide information that is specifically for people just starting out getting into woodworking as a hobby, and the sorts of things that I have come across that I found invaluable – whether this is sources of information, such as books or DVDs, or descriptions of tools and processes that once I understood them really pushed my woodworking to the next level.

One could argue that this whole blog is that anyway, but doing a quick scan, I can see a few posts that would fit the concept, but a whole heap of others that don’t, and I’m not intending on changing the overall focus (or lack thereof) of this blog to just limit it to the first steps along the woodworking path.  Hopefully, there will be something for everyone.

I am intending to have video/podcasts to complement the WW101 entries, where applicable.  They may not come at the same time however – I don’t have time to be THAT organised!  Nor will they be in a particular order, again, that would require me to be a lot more organised than I am.

So as always, feedback, comments, critiques, requests for info or for future articles/video (podcasts), tools you would like to see etc are all welcome.

Welcome to Fans of WoodTalkOnline!

For those that don’t know, Marc (The Wood Whisperer) (and Nicole) and Matt (Matt’s Basement Workshop) have been collaborating on an audio Podcast available through iTunes, called WoodTalkOnline.  There is an associated website where they post their show notes and is rapidly expanding with other articles, so are definitely worth checking out.

To the fans of their respective (and collaborative) shows, who have found their way down under to Stu’s Shed, welcome indeed.  Hope you enjoy your stay, have a gander around and feel free to drop back anytime!  I’d offer refreshments, but this is still only Web 2.0 – we will be waiting a while yet for Web 7.9!

Comments, questions, feedback, requests etc all welcome 🙂

Welcome – Part 2

A little about myself: yeah, it will have some coverage in the “About Stu’s Shed” section as well, but “you’ve read it here first folks”

Where in the world do I start? I am – Stuart Lees, BE(Mech), APSNZ.  Born in Australia, raised in New Zealand, now living in Melbourne. I am married, and my beautiful wife and I are blessed with our gorgeous newborn daughter.

I did a Mechanical Engineering Degree at Auckland University, specialising in materials, metallurgy and welding engineering. From there, I went into the Navy (RNZN) as a Marine Engineering Officer, and served primarily on HMNZ Ships WAIKATO and TE KAHA.

HMNZS WAIKATO Exercise Kakadu 2 Me on-watch in the Engine Room HMNZS TE KAHA

I was a bit younger and fitter back then (sigh).

I then moved to Melbourne, and have been in a few roles here: consultant on the ANZAC Ship project, Emergency Procedures Trainer, Communications Supervisor for the Australian Grand Prix, Motorcycle Grand Prix and Super V8 Clipsall 500. My current role is the IT Trainer / Project Manager / Helpdesk Supervisor for a Faculty at Monash University.

So onto woodworking. I’ve been actively involved in woodworking for about 5 years now, and currently teach a couple of woodworking short courses at Holmesglen Tafe, as well as am the instructor for the Triton Woodworkers Club, Holmesglen (I was also president of the club for a couple of years, but recent commitments mean that others now have to carry that role).

On the occasional weekend, you can find me at one of the hardware stores demonstrating Triton woodworking products, and obviously we will see quite a bit of Triton during the podcasts. You’ll find me on one stand or another at the Melbourne Working with Wood Show, oh, and there are a quite a few magazines out there with articles of mine in them – House & Home magazine, and Australian Toymaker being the main two.

So that’s a brief introduction – I’m sure more will come out in the future, particularly around the launch of my sister blog which will be used to podcast a number of photo essays I have in progress. For what it’s worth, I was awarded an APSNZ (Associateship of the Photographic Society of New Zealand) in ’99 for my photographs taken while in the Royal New Zealand Navy.


So keep an eye out for that, and the associated website that is getting a bit of a rebuild. Busy busy busy!!!


so until next time,



Welcome to Stu’s Shed

Enter if you dare!

There have been a number of iterations of this space, as a blog attached to (my website for the Triton Woodworkers Club in Melbourne, Australia), then as a bit more of a stand-alone version, and so the seeds were sown for this space – Stu’s Shed. Bit of a proof-of-concept initially, but so far I am very happy with the various aspects that I have been trialling, with the main one being the inclusion of video, and podcasting.

So, if you are familiar with iTunes (or even if you are not!), I now have an official iTunes Podcast called…… Stu’s Shed. The videos shown on this site will automagically also appear in iTunes, so you can download them to your favourite mp4 player (such as my current favourite, the 80GB Video iPod), or watch them on your computer (of course though, they can also be watched directly from this blog).

The first few videos are pretty basic, shot purely to be shared via bit torrent among members of the Woodworking Australia’s Woodwork Forums ( However, with minor repackaging, and conversion to an iPod compatible format, they are available here.

Downtrack, I am hoping to expand the series dramatically, both with the topics covered, and the production value…and hopefully pick up some sponsorship along the way. I’m hoping too, to include some guests, as there is an absolute wealth of talent out there – so the more we can include to see, the better.

I have been doing a lot of work in the digital video arena over the past few years – time to put some of it into practice for myself. I typically shoot with 2 digital video cameras, but that’s kind of tricky when you are also the subject! Fwiw, I am using both Mac and PC, and tend to stick with the Adobe range of software – Premiere for video, Photoshop for still images (photos).

So anyway, welcome, I hope you enjoy the visit and that there is something here of value to you, and to quote a now very famous shopkeeper “Thank you, come again”

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