Local Manufacturing

I was down at Triton’s factory earlier today – always like having a look around, and had a chance to pick up a replacement top for the workcentre (need mine to look good for demos / videos / photos etc).

It struck me as I was watching the top being assembled just how much I appreciate having things manufactured in my own country – being able to actually see the work that goes into producing something.

For example, the tracks that get riveted to the top (which are straight) would become warped by the riveting process, leaving the ends sticking out proud of the surface if not for the fact that before they get inserted, they are put into a press and pre-warped to counteract the rivets’ forces.  That is just so cool.

It is a pressed metal top, so it isn’t as robust and inherently flat as a cast and machined top, but I was also impressed that before the top was handed over, it went onto another table and had a straight edge put across its surface, and any slight high or low spots were then subjected to another press to remove them.

It is no wonder that the Triton Workcentre occupies so many home workshops in Australia (and elsewhere).  It may not have the 0.001″ accuracy of my new tablesaw, but it is definitely more than sufficient for a majority of home workshops.  I know they have their detractors, but to put it simply, if it wasn’t for the fact that there was this range of tools that escalates the backyard shed into a small woodworking workshop, and that it was (and is) Australian made, then I can say with a pretty high level of confidence that I wouldn’t be pursuing this passion (obsession) today.

Local industry, despite the extra costs, are worth supporting.  I know they will all fade and be gone soon enough to a Chinese or Indian factory near you, but until then….

Reminds me actually of a tour I did a few years ago (must be 10 years ago now – where does the time go?) of the large engineering firms in England.  There’s a country with a large manufacturing arm!  Wonder how they are traveling these days?  I went right through the Rolls Royce Gas Turbine plant, and Dunlop Aerospace Braking Systems (Dunlop may make tyres, but then you also need good brakes to stop an aircraft, and that is some amazing engineering if you consider what those components actually go through – it may feel gentle inside the plane, but those wheels and connected components are slammed heavily into the ground with a very heavy plane above them, and the forces are quite unbelievable!), and a number of other heavy engineering industries.  Fascinating things to see, and a real loss I believe if it all gets shipped to 3rd world countries just because they pay peanuts instead of wages.

However, it is hard to deny that we have tools in our workshops now that we’d never have dreamed of owning in the past because of it.  I still think though, that we will rue the day that we lost our own manufacturing capacity.

Table Saw Research

I’ve been doing some research about the various cabinet saws out there, specifically looking for something to upgrade to after selling my Triton after many years of reliable service. I’m sure this will be a recurring theme until the final decision is made, but here are some initial observations and considerations.

I have not had an opportunity to actually use any of these tools in anger, so my opinions and observations at this point are tempered by that.

I’m not looking at the contractor’s saw – they are a compromise, minimising weight and cost in preference for portability. They certainly have their place, and many perfectly successful workshops have them, but I am strongly influenced to head towards a full cabinet saw (personal preference, and perhaps because I have done my time with a Triton Workcentre, I’m looking for that quantum leap in this upgrade, and not just another short step).

For the top, (other than a select few unusually made from granite, which I’m not sure if they are even in Australia, and then can’t use that incredible MagSwitch technology!), they should be cast iron, with ideally 2 mitre slots, one either side of the blade. The blade itself will typically be 10″ or 12″ (at additional cost), with a splitter (and/or riving knife), and guard. Power ranges from 1.75HP to 3Hp (and beyond if you have 3 phase power available – I don’t).

There are some fundamentals that the unit MUST comply with:

Click here to read full article

Dare I Admit?

That I started doing a bit of cleaning around the shed today?  Found a whole heap of amazing stuff that I completely forgot that I had!

On another matter, I’m working through (in my head) an idea for the site – another page like Stu’s Shed TV which will be SSC-TV (although I haven’t come up with a good name as yet)  Basically – Stu’s Shed Commercial-TV, where businesses can organise with me to provide their demonstration videos on my site.

I want to keep a close rein on the quality and quantity of what’s provided (I’ve seen some pretty bad ‘demo’ videos out there), and I’m not thinking of limiting it to movies – for example a Triton page would be good if it included PDFs of old manuals, stuff they no longer provide through their website. I’m taking with Triton at the moment about their commercial DVD (the one they sell in Bunnings), as to whether they want that on the site, downloadable for free.  As much as they do make a little money from DVD sales, this wouldn’t stop that completely, and they make a lot more money if they sell a workbench or saw etc, which I think would be enhanced by as many people as possible getting to see the equipment used.

So if anyone has any particular opinions about the concept I would be interested in hearing them (email or comment on this post)- I’m not convinced yet whether I should do this, or whether it would detract from Stu’s Shed TV, and that must remain my primary video content provided.

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