The 45190

It sounds like another Whovian thing (or more precisely, Torchwood) (aka “The 456“), but instead, it is a lot simpler than that.

The 45190 is a router bit.  For my current activities on the CNC, it is THE router bit.

It is not overly complicated – a straight 1/16″ (1.59mm) 2 flute solid carbide cutter embedded in a 1/4″ shank.

Amana Tool 45190 Carbide Tipped Straight Plunge High Production 1/16 D x 3/16 CH x 1/4 Inch SHK Router Bit

from: Tools Today

But it is what I have been able to do with it that sets it apart.  Or rather, that it gets done what many other router bits have failed to do.

As many would know, I am cutting out a lot of patterns on the CNC, particularly from 3mm thick MDF. To get the level of detail I need, I am using a router bit that is around half that thickness so it can get right into the various corners.  But it also needs to do some miles, and that is also where this router bit has been scoring some exceptional goals.

I have tried other router bits, with some (but decreased) success – spiral upcut bits work, but have a tendency to pull the resulting piece that has been cut out, right out of the sheet.  It can then be thrown or bumped to a point where the router bit plunges through it while cutting another.  I’ve even found small pieces that have been cut out subsequently stuck on the router bit, trying their best to emulate a helicopter!

Downcut spirals work better, but they still have a problem that the dust they are carrying downwards gets deposited under the sheet, causing it to lift, and in the worse scenarios, to completely detach from the vacuum table.  Granted my vacuum table might not be as strong as a commercial one, or may not be able to carry away any sawdust produced so this doesn’t happen.

I’ve also tried larger bits (specifically 1/8″), but they do not give the same degree of detail, and the joints are not as tight.

So that leaves the 45190.  Yes, I have broken a fair few (and am again down to my very last one, that makes me nervous!) but that has always been the result of something other than cutting normally.

So far, the router bits I have broken have been:

Forgot to slow the feedrate back to 100% from a previous operation, and the router bit tried to cut 3-4 times faster than I have worked out to be a good speed for my machine for that bit and that material.

I’ve hit the clamp on at least one occasion, and a screw on a couple of others.

I’ve had a piece come loose and wedge itself against the spinning bit, and it has broken when the CNC moved in that direction.

Sadly, I have occasionally forgotten which is Y and which is Z (or have simply clicked the wrong button), and instead of lifting the bit, have tried to drive it through the material.

And more than once I’ve had the CNC get its + and – directions confused, and it has driven down hard, rather than up.

In spite of all this, when the router bit is treated correctly, it does the energiser bunny thing – it keeps going and going and going.


Check out the teeth on the dinosaur (Spinosaurus) and you will see what I mean about retention of detail.  Remember that MDF is 3mm thick to give you an idea of scale.

The straight cutter is also not the worse solution either.  The dust that is produced gets packed into the cut, which helps hold the piece being cut from moving.  The top and bottom surfaces stay pretty smooth, and only a very light sand is required.

The detail is retained, which is important, and the yield from each sheet is maximised.


So when I am doing these CNC MDF jobs, and I keep mentioning this one router bit, there is good reason. The 45190.  Its a Whovian thing!





I don’t think there is any craft or vehicle that captured my imagination more as a child than the Voyager spacecraft.  Launched in 1977, the two identical probes were sent on a journey that to date has taken them 1.97×1010 km away from Earth, past the gas giants of the solar system and then way beyond.


There is a lot of information about them on Wikipedia these days, so if interested you can read up more there.

What I was excited about recently, is that the Voyager probe is one of the models on the website.  So I made it.

Over 200 individual parts, cut from 3mm MDF, using the 45190 1/16″ router bit from (which is still going strong).  Cut on the TorqueCNC.

It took me 2 nights to assemble the model, and a lot of hot glue (which I have been finding to be an excellent way to assemble these models).

I had my friend Kara Rasmanis take a couple of photos of the model, suspended in front of a green screen, and she has then inserted in some royalty-free backgrounds, for a truly stunning result showcasing the model from the front, and back.

Even made from 3mm MDF, it is 900mm across.

FromSpace AboveEarth

For a model, cut from MDF, that is awesome!  Currently sits in my office – when I can part with it, it will be off to my daughter’s school science classroom.


Know it is getting a little repetitive, but I couldn’t resist making just one more of these.  Sure I’ll make more, but you don’t need to see them all (unless you want to!)

This was a pretty easy one to cut out, but I found the design had left out a number of hull sections, so that was a bit of a problem, and the assembly directions were ordinary as well, so a number of parts got broken and needed replacing as I worked out a new assembly order.

However, neither of those took as long as tying the sails into position!!

ship-1 ship-2

Cut out with a 1/16″ solid carbide straight cutter router bit (, running at 50mm/sec, and at 12000 RPM (I’d run it much faster, but I don’t have spindle speed control at the moment)

Shed #2

It would be perfectly understandable if it has slipped from the collective mind, but there is a second shed on the property, that turned up late August last year.

At the time, it was a choice between taking out a space at one of the storage places (at $152/month), or buying a 2×2 shed for $360.  I went for the shed.

Since the shed was finally emptied on Sunday, I can finally do a cost-benefit analysis on that decision.


And I still have the shed at the end of it all!  So over the weekend just past, it was (mostly) emptied, taken apart, then relocated to its new, permanent home behind the workshop.

Photo 11-02-2014 21 33 19

It looks rather small up against the workshop – a very poor cousin.  After having seen how a ‘real’ shed is constructed, it is amazing how crappy these small sheds are.  Basically held together with a slight interference between a half-turn of thread on the screw, and the thin steel wall.  No real structural integrity, ready to blow over with the force of a sparrow fart.

Yes, it serves a purpose, and it has saved me a lot of storage fees, but it also makes me very appreciative of the real build quality of the workshop beside it.

Now it is in its final location, I again wanted to address the flooring issue.  If I went with the designed solution (steel subframe, and yellowtongue floor), it would cost $280.  Meh.

Had a bit of a look around Masters, and found the scrap timber bin, with what looked to be a bunch (10) 2.4m long treated pine 4x2s.  Marked as $1.  Asked to confirm it was treated, and if the price was right, and was told they were just wanting to be rid of it, so the price was $0.  Done deal!

Photo 11-02-2014 21 31 44Sure it has some real bends and twists, but nothing that will be a problem as a subframe for the shed floor.  And the price was right!

And then they offered some packer boards for 10 times the price, so I snapped those up as well.

Photo 11-02-2014 21 31 52

Sure they are MDF, so will not last well in the long term, but I’ll put some silver paper down underneath so it will last a little better, and again, at that price who cares?!

This shed isn’t going to be anything for the workshop, except it will mean the workshop storage won’t have to be compromised with household items (Xmas decorations, camping gear etc)

Goodnight, Sleep Tight

It took pretty much two months to the day to build the cot, given that we were snatching half a day here, half a day there.

Friday evening was the final push, and we just kept at it until all the final issues were solved (making the side rise and fall, how to assemble it, etc etc).  Took us through to about 12:30 at night, but we got it done.  It isn’t sanded and oiled as yet (that’s a job for the expectant father!) and the final bit of time he has before his world becomes somewhat busier!  Looking back at the earliest posts, and we were a bit naive in our predictions on just how long/how many sessions it would take.  Just Friday night was a bit of a marathon – not that it wasn’t a good time, just that tasks always take longer than planned!  3 sessions?  More like 5 or 6 (really lost track!)

But first I’ll back up a bit, for a quick summary / overview, and then with more detail from the assembly of the ends.  As mentioned earlier, the focus was very much on the planning and construction of the cot, rather than documenting the process.

Session one was getting the bed itself made – the surround and base for the mattress.  Everything in the project was made from Tasmanian Oak, and machined down (and out of) large slabs such as seen here:

Tassie Oak Slabs

It was glued up in a later session (clamped up with Frontline clamps), with a rail under the bed supporting the MDF bed base.  This was also drilled with a series of large holes for ventilation.

Bed section clamped up

Session two involved making the slats (and some testing to get the distances between slats right, so it was even over the cot length.  Again, the actual glueup happened in a later session.

Making the slats

All the rail components

We also resawed, dressed and glued up the pine end panels in this session.

End panels

A month then passed while we both had other distractions.

Session three commenced with a glueup of the various sections.  The bed (as seen above), and the rails.

Rails glued up

Each end panel had the 3D routing done, and the rails for the cot ends made.

Session four was time for the legs to be made.  These were each notched so the bed rested firmly on them, transferring the load directly down the legs rather than through a mechanical joint.  A T Track was routed into the two front legs, using a slot-cutting router bit.

By the end of the day (including some extra work done afterwards), the ends were done.  This is where we pick up the story.

After producing the inserts for the ends (10mm thick pine boards, joined to produce a full panel), routing the 3D pattern into each end, it was time to cut them to their final dimension.  The question is, how to use the tablesaw to cut boards with uneven ends.

There are a whole host of methods promoted, sleds that clamp down on the piece, extension tables either built into the tablesaw (or added on, such as the Triton Extension Table) etc.  Actually, speaking of which, the Triton extension table would have been great for this project, if I had somewhere to actually put it!  This project really demonstrated how tight the shed has become. Assembly, and even moving around the larger components was a real problem.  Could really do with another shed, either to spread the overall load, or to use more as a project area / workbench area rather than the actual timber shaping/component construction.

Back to cutting the panel.  The solution I used was to attach a temporary straight-edge to the board, and it ran along the tablesaw fence, so the opposite side could be cut parallel.

Using a straight edge

In this case it was simply a piece of MDF and a couple of screws into what would become waste.  FWIW, I hadn’t set up the saw at this point, changing the blade to a crosscut blade and then replacing the splitter and guard.

The top and bottom rails were dominoed onto these boards (biscuits could have been used), glued and clamped, then the whole assembly glued and clamped to the legs to form the cot ends.  This was done over a number of days (availability of clamps, and time), ready for the final session.

Assembling the panels

Cot ends

(Yes, I know you have just seen this image – as mentioned, I was concentrating a lot more on the build than on documenting the process! Sorry 🙂 )

Session five – our late night marathon to finish.

A bed takes shape!

There was a lot of bolting and unbolting of the ends as we finished off the various components and steps, and the beauty of the cot is it can be flat-packed when no longer needed.  Just with the ends bolted on, the rigidity was obvious.  An extra stringer between the ends would be ideal, but with a combination of bolts and the corners being recessed into the legs is enough.

The back rail was added, again bolted to the bed itself, and with dominos into the legs.  These were left unglued – more than enough strength left just like that.  In time if it proved necessary, a small hole and a piece of dowel inserted through the leg and the domino as a pin would lock them together.

The final job was getting the front rail so it was functional.

At first it was pretty tight – a roof screw running up and down the track.  With quite of bit of trial and error, sanding the track a bit, adding some plastic tube to cover up the exposed screw threads, adjusting the height of the screws so they run cleanly in the track, and finally lubricating the track with Ubeaut Traditional Wax.  Whatever it was (and more likely a combination of them all), it went from being a bit average, to running as well as any commercial solution.  With spring-loaded catches at the top edge that automatically engage when the rail is lifted, the cot was finished (at least as far as my involvement).  Still needs a bit of sanding and oiling, but other than that, a really successful, enjoyable build.


Side dropped to lower position

The final view

So the cot was done – getting it out of the shed was a mission – we took it out assembled, and it was a rather tight fit (leveraging it around the bandsaw).

Getting it into the covered trailer was also interesting.  Another 5mm in leg length (perhaps even less), and it would not have fitted.  Also in length – it was like absolutely built with the trailer dimensions in mind!

So that’s it – another successful project conclusion.  There is always that air of relief, satisfaction, remorse, disbelief when a project is over.  Fortunately, there is always more timber out there, and so many more projects to build!

F’ing Safety (Fences and Fallbags that is)

What did you think I meant? 😉

If a danger in the workshop can be represented by a cliff, then a fence at the top would be a very good idea.

And a fall bag at the bottom.

Safety equipment in the workshop are the fences, and the fallbags.  Some prevent the risk occurring, some protect us if it does.

A featherboard is the fence, safety glasses the fallbag.

A machine guard the fence, workboots the fallbag.

But is all safety equipment polarised between these two definitions? There is a third type though: what happens if leaping off the cliff was necessary, mandatory, inevitable?  Rather than replying on the airbag, the third type of safety equipment is the parachute.

Some safety equipment deals with the fact that the danger is inevitable, and seeks to mitigate it, without being able to prevent it.

So the mental exercise from this is twofold. First, think of all the different things (and actions) that can be regarded as “safety”, and define them as one (or combinations of) fence, parachute and fallbag.

Then, think of the various risks and hazards and decide whether a fence, parachute or fallbag (or combination of) is the best way to deal with it.

I’ll get you started: dropping a chisel off the bench towards your foot requires a fallbag (the foot now being in harm’s way wasn’t assured when you went out to the shed, but that you have tripped over the cliff means a fallbag would be rather beneficial).

Cutting MDF requires a parachute.  Dust extraction and/or dusk mask is that parachute.  Hearing protection is a parachute, safety glasses the fallbag.

An interesting mental exercise – not only does it mean you are identifying risks and hazards in your workshop and practices, but also deciding whether you are using the right combination of risk mitigation.  Perhaps you are relying on a fallbag, where a parachute, or even a fence would be better.

The Ghost of Weekends Past

Not really sure what happened to the weekend – vanished in a puff of ethereal smoke (or was that just a cloud of MDF dust that got so dense it momentarily became self-aware?).  The workshop is covered in the stuff, despite 20 cubic metres/hr of air filtration, and the 2HP TruPro dusty.  Some of the tools are insufficiently (dust) guarded, particularly the router table, which, being under significant rework has lost connection to the standard collection system.  If all the MDF dust got wet, it’d probably papier mache together into to a mold that I could cast copies of Stu’s Shed from.

Come the end of the current project, there will have to be a major cleanup/dust-off out there, and a vow (which I typically can never stick to) of not starting any more projects until the proper systems are fully in place and working.

I was out there last last night (hope the neighbours are still talking with me!) fighting to get the kitchens close to completion.

Aaron from Torque Workcentres came for a visit yesterday morning (we started the day at 6:30am to get the maximum possible done), and we got my Torque Workcentre running like an impressively well oiled machine (or not, as the case may be – inside joke).  It is working exceedingly well – the main arm that supports the tool (router typically) now glides along the X axis with the lightest touch of a finger.  There are more adjustments for the machine than I was aware of – there has been a lot of thought put into the engineering, and it really makes a difference all the subtle tweaks that can be done.  I’ll document those in future articles.

I was going to have the MDF top flush with the cast iron router table, but late last night got sick of trying to get it all sorted, so decided instead to stick with how it was originally designed, and mounted the MDF directly to the workcentre.  I still maintained the cast iron router table at one end, and just accepted I’ve lost some working range.  It isn’t a huge amount, and it may not have any real impact on me anyway – time will tell.  I was using the router table, and the Torque Workcentre happily last night, so both router positions are well justified.  If you don’t have/need a cast iron router table, then cutting an opening for the router mounting plate at the right end of the table, directly into the MDF is a good solution.

I didn’t photograph it, but I set the pin routing guide into the table – this is a metal pin with a small diameter end (7mm) that engages into a template channel so the overhead router cuts identical items.  In this case, my “channel” was a single hole, and the router was offset to one side, resulting in probably the easiest circle I have ever cut or routed.  Ever!

In this case, I was only routing a partial depth pattern – a circle cut with a cove bit, repeated in 4 locations and with 2 different diameters to produce the stove ‘elements’

Kitchen Detail

I was quickly switching from tablesaw, bandsaw, disk sander, linisher, router table, torque workcentre, drill press and Domino, turning out component after component.  When a workshop is set up properly, it is amazing how easy and quickly tasks become.

Cut an opening for a sink? Done.  Duplicate the opening on the router table? Done.  Stack-cut a handle for the oven, then round the edges? Done.  Join it accurately and strongly to the project? Done. Elements cut, wheels made. Fun stuff.

Cutting Toy Wheels

Using the Carb-i-tool wheel cutter, scrap MDF was utilised to produce stacks of wheels.  Here the Lidwig Claw can be seen being used to good effect, holding the 4″ dust collection hose right at the point of shaving and dust creation.

So a profitable weekend – just don’t know where it went so fast. There is still a few small tasks to do to finish the cabinets off, then they can head out to their new homes for painting, and playing.

Starting Toy Kitchen Build

With Christmas approaching just way too rapidly, it is well overdue for me to make a start on the two toy kitchens I promised to build for friends of my daughter.  We’ve had a few discussions on what they wanted, and it came down to three individual modules – a fridge, a sink and a stove/oven.  They also intend to fully paint the units (the kids are going to be 3), so the material of choice became MDF.


Breaking down MDF sheets

I priced some different sizes, and 2400×1200 sheets were 1/2 the price of the next cheapest.  Annoying there is such a price difference though.  It is easier to quickly break the sheets down into more manageable sizes using a circular saw, than to try to man-handle them through the tablesaw – bringing the saw to the material, rather than the other way around.  In the near future, the Torque Workcentre will definitely be the method of choice going forward.  Not that it is much different as a concept – a rail of some form controlling the circular saw through the cut.  In the case of the Torque Workcentre, it means a saw with a 1200mm crosscut capability.  In this case, I still have the loan of a Festool rail, which I have fixed to the board with a couple of Lidwig clamps.


Creating Original Side Template

Once I cut out the first side, and shaped it, it became the template for the rest of the sides.  After using a combination of the tablesaw and the bandsaw to produce the initial shape, I then held it in place using some of the MagSwitch featherboards so I could hit it with the drill-mounted Blowfly to smooth the curves out.


Pattern Copying

To then cut the rest of the sides, I used the first side as a template, and affixed it down temporarily using carpet tape.  I then ran around the outside of the pattern with a jigsaw, before moving onto the router table with a pattern copying bit to finish the job.  (A pattern copying bit is a straight cutter with a bearing)


A Temporary Pattern Copying Setup

Given the amount of MDF I was expecting to generate, I had the air filters running at full speed, and the 4″ dust collector hose placed at the optimum position to maximise the collection. (That is a Lidwig Claw holding the hose in position).


1st Kitchen Module

Using the Festool Domino and a bunch of 4mm x 20mm dominos, I then mocked together the first module to see how the design is progressing.  It doesn’t look much at the moment – adding tops and features (taps etc), as well as a door on the front will really improve the look.  I also want to break all the edges – MDF is rather sharp when cut, and rounding over the edges is the best option.

So obviously lots more to do, but at least it is a start.

Floor Dust Collection

Just a quickie – been cutting quite of MDF recently, and not all the tools I was using were fitted into the collection system, so there is a bit of mess on the floor.  In the past I’ve been connecting a super-flexible length of 4″ hose and doing the sweeping by hand, which is slow and annoying (but effective).

So instead I’ve coupled a typical nozzle to the end, and am partway through the build of a simple sled to hold it just off the ground.  When I’m happy with the height and function, I’ll add a handle to it.

Pity I don’t have one of those robotic sweepers- I could mess up the shop and find it neat and tidy the next day (and it would be rather discouraging for my recent possum visitors to boot).


4" Broom - WIP


Determining the required clearances

Originally there was no MDF portion planned, but the brackets I used were too weak for the job.  Next prototype will either place the wheels out nearer the corners of the MDF, or the MDF will be absent and stronger brackets used.   The actual clearance looks about right, although it would ideally be adjustable so I can first do a sweep to pick up the heavy shavings, then a second to pick up the fine dust.

An 11th Hour Reprieve

I have been looking what to do with my old router table, now that I have upgraded to a fully cast iron top, and was considering selling it (and the phenolic plate I got from Professional Woodworkers Supplies), but didn’t think I’d get anywhere near the $350 or so that it was worth new.

I had a sudden thought this morning, just as I was about to head out and take a photo of it for eBay, and quickly checked – given its length, it is long enough to become a bit of an infill on my tablesaw, between the fence rails.  Often this area gets filled in with a melamine or sim slab, but here I have a very stable, thick composite of masonite and MDF sandwich, which is over 1″ thick, and has some rails and a cutout perfect for dropping in a router mounted on the phenolic plate, or a router lift.  I have to shorten it a bit, but considering it is over 1200mm long, I can afford to loose a bit of its length without affecting its future use as a stand-alone router table again if it ever came to that (I doubt it!)

So unless someone desperately wants it, and you’ll have to get in pretty soon before I cut it, it has been saved from being sold at a fraction of its value, and will retain its functionality as a perfect router wing for my tablesaw.

Ok, so it may sound strange having that, considering the size of the router table I already have, but there are some times that it would be incredibly useful to be able to do mid-panel slots etc and I can use the full tablesaw fence when doing so.

As well, imagine routing the edge of a really large item – I have the entire top of the tablesaw available to act as a massive router table!  The router in this case will be to the right of the saw, so that is not ideal for small items, but i have a perfectly good CI router table with an Incra fence for that – this is just a huge bonus!

Yay – I like it when the brain throws up new ideas! 🙂

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