Dusting up a storm

Some further thoughts and developments on the dust extraction system.

I’ve been giving some thought to what happens next – as in how does the dust run get to the dust extractor, and just how far that is – how much more length, how many more bends are required.  The simple answer is “too far and too many”.

Hmm. So the question arose in my mind again – just why did I think the original idea of having the dust extractor on the mezzanine floor was a bad one?  Back in mid Feb, I had thought about it, and opted to bring the dust extractor back down from the mezzanine where it had just been put (and what a pain that was!)  However, now that the machine positions have settled, it is really looking like the mezzanine was a good idea after all.

Looking back at my earlier musing on the subject, I highlighted good points to be
a. free up workshop floorspace
b. for it to be inside the main shed, as it draws a lot of air, and if outside the main shed, that is a lot of hot (or cold) air that would be drawn into the workshop, and
c. as that would make it generally central to the machines it is drawing from.

On the other hand, I had thought having it in the timber store next door gives better access, better noise separation, better workshop air quality (particularly on the mezzanine).

Now that I have been working in the shed for over 1/2 a year, more informed decisions can be made.

These lead to the following justifications for relocating the dust extractor back to the mezzanine:

1. Significantly shorten the length of ducting, and minimises the number of bends required.
2. Noise isolation would be the same as having the dust extractor in the area I currently have placed it.
3. Dust isolation from the main shed is maintained, although the mezzanine will not be as clean, it is not used as I was anticipating. If I ever do start to make use of it for something other than storage, I can look at physically isolating the extractor at that point. It still has a pleated filter, and I can still run an air filtration system up there if I choose.
4. It does not draw air from the outside (hot or cold), so running the dust extractor will not significantly impact on the shed environment
5. Changing bags is as easy (if not a little easier), and I do have the hoist to remove full bags from the mezzanine.

To compare the two locations, let’s take the biggest producer of sawdust in the workshop (which also produces the heaviest particles), being the thicknesser.

With the dust extractor outside in the side shed, it would involve approx 12m of ducting (up, across and down), and a total of 6x 90 degree bends (each elbow is estimated to be the equivalent of 2m of straight pipe), so a total of 24m equivalent length.

With the dust extractor on the mezzanine, it would involve approx 4m of ducting and a total of 4x 90 degree bends (at worst), giving a total of 12m.  That is one significant saving to be had, for the machine that needs the most drawing capacity.  All other machines benefit to lesser degrees, but each ends up saving about 10m in equivalent straight pipe length, if not more.

So I guess that makes the decision an easy one.  The ducting is a lot less complicated, and shorter.  There is power already available (I originally placed a GPO up there to be dedicated to the dust extractor).

The future plan will be to look at continuing to improve and upgrade the dusting system – moving as much up to 6″ ducts as possible, rather than the current 4″.  But let’s see how the system works once I get it up and running, to see just how much that will be a priority.

Onwards and upwards (quite literally!)

Closing in the Mezzanine

Took a small window of opportunity to progress the work on the mezzanine, adding an edge so it is better isolated from the main workshop.  This has a number of benefits – controlling heat movement, controlling dust (and keeping the mezzanine better isolated), and generally improve the overall finish.

Using some of the leftover offcuts of redtongue to create the ‘walls’, the floor of the mezzanine was deliberately extended to allow enough area on the outside to incorporate the wall, and a length of 2×4 to fully support it.

There is, as you will notice, a fair degree of overhang of the silver sheet, which will then be used to wrap up the outside, completing the finish.

Temperature regulation in the shed will always prove to be a challenge, so any opportunity to control it should be exploited.  By having the upper and lower areas isolated from one another allows an opportunity to do this (and by having a cover over the crane area).  Having a reversible fan would allow air to be moved between the floors (hot air down when the lower area is cooler, and vise versa).  Roof vents could either eject heat, or be covered over to trap it.

And trapping heat in the lower area when it is cold, generated by burning offcuts in a potbelly which I am seriously considering installing.  I have both a potbelly and a reburner (Coonara-like) so will be choosing between them.  I’m tending towards the potbelly – more shed-like.  Also happens to be a smaller footprint which is a bonus.  As the temperature starts to drop towards a Melbourne winter, it becomes increasingly tempting.

100 bottles of beer on the wall

26 crates of tools in the shed
26 crates of tools
And when one of those crates gets unpacked
There’ll be 25 crates of tools in the shed.

Still slowly working through the boxes and crates of tools packed over a year ago, finding them new homes, or at least placing them where their home should be so I get an idea of just what storage options I still need.  Getting to the point that I will need to start making some, which will be good. I’m also looking at some other options to complement some cupboards, such as a collection of Festool systainers on roll boards stored under the TWC for all the miscellaneous items (abrasives, glues, various handtools etc).  Have to have a chat with my local Festool dealer (and yes, I mean that in the drug-dealer way – damned addiction that it is 🙂 ).

I am still finding items that will no longer be required, and so the sales pile is slowly growing.  Latest items include a Makita 3612 router, a Triton 184mm circular saw, a Triton Router table and stand, a scrollsaw, and a Dewalt radial arm saw.  This is also related to the Festool drug – as I look to upgrade tools, my current ones go on a hit list.  Still looking for expressions of interest (or preferably, offers to buy!) on the Torque Router Master, and the TS10L 52″ 3HP cast iron tablesaw.

On the mezzanine front, I decided the best option was a small crane arrangement from Hare & Forbes.  Costs only $209, so quite reasonable for what it is.


I will work out the best method to securely fix it to one of the main support beams, and add additional reinforcement to counteract the bending moment it will create for the beam.  It will still use a chain hoist to lift I expect, given its operational range is less than the height of the mezzanine, but that will be a bit of suck and see when I get it installed.  2200mm of operating height isn’t too bad, given the mezzanine floor is at something like 2800.  It might just mean something that needs lifting only needs to start from about the height of a workbench, which is an interesting proposition (but I still can’t see it working without a chain hoist being involved).

Irrespective, once the item is lifted above the mezzanine floor, the crane rotates easily allowing the load to be deposited onto the floor, rather than having to be collected from above the hole.  Still need to sort out some balustrading around each of the openings.




Mezzanine Flooring

This will be a short update- been pouring my energy into getting things done out in the workshop over the weekend.

Today was the push to get the flooring of the mezzanine finished. And with a sigh of relief, I got there.

Sure, I still need to tape up the silverpaper, and add rows of screws into each of the beams (rather than the few tacking the floor together currently), and make the mini-walls that will seal off the mezzanine from the ground floor.

Back to the mezzanine floor for a sec- needed a couple of extra lengths of redtongue. Bloody heavy stuff- I really do not like sheet goods, despite their relatively low cost, and convenience. Gave the Gorilla Gripper a real workout, particularly lifting the sheets to the mezzanine floor. Proved its real value today.

The Mezzanine

Took the opportunity (and the willing participation of my FIL), to make some progress on the mezzanine floor.

Dennis (one of the site regulars) and I tried a few combinations with the attic stairs yesterday, unfortunately finding it a little trickier than expected, and took them down again.

So last night I used some 90x45s to box around the outside of the stairs’ frame, then took down the two flooring beams that the stairs will attach to, and reversed the process, attaching the beams to the stairs on the ground, rather than in situ.  A few bugle-headed hex bolts today to really lock the whole structure together, and we raised it all up back into position, and screwed it all down in place.

Much easier, and a really good outcome.  The stairs (almost) reach the ground – so much closer than I possibly expected, and it will only need a small step (about 50mm high) under the bottom of the ladder for the lower legs to rest on.

Photo 25-01-2014 17 44 08 Photo 25-01-2014 17 43 58

With the stairs in place, access to the mezzanine becomes significantly easier.  We then started on the laying of the redtongue.  Rather than just going with the sheets simply going between the end beams (conveniently the same distance apart as the boards are long – 3600), we are instead maximising the floor area, and with some short vertical panels, separating the mezzanine from the lower section completely.

This requires every sheet being cut down in length, so it stops midway on one beam, and leaving 3 beams (including the half-beam) for a shorter section to finish off and sit fully stabilised across all 3.  These are alternating left and right.  It does mean I am short two sheets of redtongue now.  It also means I am making more use of the Triton Circular Saw freehand than I think I ever have before.  Heavy, powerful, good on the plunge cut.  Still, I’d prefer if I had a Festool circ saw and a rail.

The first section needed some significant tailoring to fit it in among the combination of posts, and electrical conduit.  With the first piece down (and the silver builders paper underneath), it did get easier, but still it took a lot longer than expected.  We only ended up 1/2 way across the floor before having to stop for the day.  Still, a good start.

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The Festool Ti15 has been getting a good workout in all this – has been really beneficial.

I don’t have any of the Centrotec bits though, and it is obvious this is a ploy used by Festool, as normal bits are not positively retained and fall out often, which becomes frustrating.

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The first view out the mezzanine window.Photo 25-01-2014 17 44 27

And the workshop floor gets its first real taste of sawdust.

Weekend Progress Report

Had a fair amount to get on with today, getting ready for the electrician as much as anything (although I still haven’t planned the GPO layout yet – have to be tomorrow.)

After trying to work out the order things needed to be done in, I realised that one of the difficulties was having the SawStop still in its box, still on the pallet.  I didn’t have time to go through a full setup, but I did manage to:

1. Get the mobile base from under the previous tablesaw (that was a bit of a mission in itself, being over 200kg, and in restricted space in the garage).

2. Size it to fit the base of the SawStop

3. Set up, and film the first stage of the SawStop setup, up to the point that the saw is out of the box, upright and sitting on the mobile base.  I’ll continue the process when I have more time to dedicate to it.  At least the saw is now mobile, and it sure looks good – black is definitely the new black where it comes to workshop machinery!

Next, I decided removing a couple of purlins would make life a lot easier, so off they came.  The benefit of a steel structure, held together with heavy-duty screws.

I managed to get the sheets up there – bit of a combination of angles, rope, and brute force.  With the mezzanine at 2800, it was a bit of an effort even so.  The sheets are only 33kg each, just cumbersome.

At the moment they are only sitting up there – I will fix them down later once the final building permit is signed off, and then the attic stairs installed.  They look raw underneath, but I have a solution to that.

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This was the first chance to see what the shed looks like with the overall vertical view blocked, and it is fine – not too closed in.  Benefit of having a high ceiling.

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I still haven’t decided whether to run the floor right to the edges (which needs more than the 3600 length the redtongue comes in), or to stick with the current length and secure it down.  Decision for another day.

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This is what I’ve bought to lay down under the flooring, so it looks the business from the ground.  Has some minor insulating properties, but I got it because it looks like the existing insulation on the walls, and is a good reflector, maximising available light in the shed.

Photo 19-01-2014 17 08 54

Speaking of lights, this is how I am installing them on my own.  A MagSquare.  And specifically the 50mm.  It comfortably holds the light fitting in place until I can get the self-tappers in.

Photo 19-01-2014 18 24 39

With the main and rear sections done, it looks pretty good.  All in line, spacing about right.  Double tubes per fitting should make for plenty of light.  Each fitting has a standard 3 pin plug end (which is the flex you can see hanging down), so wiring them in will be easy.

Photo 19-01-2014 18 45 28

Not looking as wide as it will when fully assembled, but there is a real presence in the workshop…..

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Mmmm.  Shiny.

Dang – that is heavy

After having a bit of a look at what may be involved in getting some of the Redtongue up onto the mezzanine, including rigging up a bit of a system with ropes etc, I decided that it needed another approach.

Then noticed Dave’s comment from yesterday, and it is spot on.  Redtongue is bloody heavy!  Once it is up and in place it will be fine, good in fact.  It is going to be a mongrel getting it up there.  It also points to the fact that I am going to need to come up with a good system for lifting items to the mezzanine when it is in use.

I’ve also been looking at the lighting situation, and think I’ve come up with a reasonable layout to ensure good, even lighting of the ground floor.  It will involve using all 13 double-tube fittings on the ground floor.  6 in the main section, 4 in the left side wing, and 3 in the rear wing.

That won’t leave any for the mezzanine, but I have a couple of stainless steel fans with lights available.  Not sure whether to use those on the ceiling of the ground floor (perhaps in place of 2 of the 6 in the main section), so I can use the fans down there, or to reserve them for the mezzanine, where they may be better appreciated (although less utilised).  Decisions, decisions.  Having both fluoros and fans, where the fan blades pass under the tubes is not an option – the resulting strobe effect is quite unpleasant.

So much to do, so little (available) time.

I had a look at the Gorilla Gripper – was hoping to buy it from Bunnings, but it was only being sold there as a promotional item, and is no longer available.  I had a bit of look online, and it turns out the importer is in Carrum Downs.  And they also have the Leg Up accessory as well, which has always looked like a great idea for handling sheet goods onto the tablesaw.

Looks like I will have to contact them and have a little chat!

Day 1 – Wrapup

OMG, what a day.  And I mean that with all sincerity – it has been such a rollercoaster ride getting to this point.  I am exhausted by the first day, and I wasn’t doing any of the actual work at all, only filming and photographing the progress through the day.

I had the GoPro doing the timelapse through the day, mostly fixed in position, but a couple of times on the rolling, motorised rig I designed.  It worked really well, running so slowly that I checked it more than once just to see if the wheels of the rig were actually turning.

The guys arrived at 8:30 as they had said, and it wasn’t long at all before they were in full swing.  There is a LOT to be said for using them to do the build, despite the cost.  I would have had to stuff around for ages trying to work out what is what, and how it went together, where they were able to get straight into it.

Trestles were set up and the main beams laid on top for the first couple of walls, topped with the brackets for the roof and tailed with the brackets that will dynabolt to the slab.

The first wall was not too big, so that got the full treatment – including insulation, cladding and even the gutters added before the wall was raised into position.  The next wall was the main one to the right, and that would have been too heavy if completed.  But back to the first wall for a sec, and I was surprised how big it is – I am so used to sheds with a wall height finishing just above the head (if I am lucky), so having one with 2400 high walls at the lowest point is a real shock to the system.

The beams are heavy – no question about it.  This is what a fully engineered shed is like, heavy and strong.  Other sheds I have had (and have) that come in kits from hardware warehouses (the green and blue ones) are shockingly flimsy compared to this structure.

The structure is not going together with rivets or Tek screws.  The main beams are all bolted together.  The high caps (think I have the term correct) are then screwed on, but even these are not a light screw.  They are still self-tapping (and self-drilling), but rather than just being long enough to get through two sheets of very thin steel, these get through the heavy sheet (and the much heavier beam), then protrude significantly beyond.

When the main section went up, I got to see the real height of the shed (rather than just holding a tapemeasure up in the air!), and the pre-drilled holes for the mezzanine floor.

In one of the photos, you also get to see a concept that Adrian (from All Space Sheds) came up with – a separate upright for the mezzanine at the front, so there isn’t a clash between the mezzanine and the roller door, and that was well-received by the guys doing the build.  Apparently there is otherwise a lot of work trying to get it together otherwise, and the small additional cost is well-offset by the better design.

The height of the mezzanine is good – plenty of height underneath (no point having a very high shed, and still have limited ceiling height), and yet a good amount of height above as well, so the mezzanine has a working ceiling height.  We had increased the overall shed height at the design stage to provide better headroom, and it has worked – both from a functional point of view, as well as the aesthetics of the shed’s exterior (specifically the difference in height between the wings and the main section).  I have seen some American Barn designs where this is so accentuated that it looks ridiculous.   The height was chosen so a full sheet (1200×2400) could be flipped over around the short edge.  In practice a. you wouldn’t do this and b. it would still hit the lights when they are installed.  But that is ok, because the ceiling height is still much higher than I have ever had before!

Pleased to see the guys regularly (and repeatedly) measuring diagonals, and the spirit level.

They are back again Monday, but after that, the shed will remain in whatever state that ends up being until around Jan 6.  Given they are still estimating it to be a 6 day build (minimum), I am not sure how finished it may look by the Xmas break.  Even so, it looks pretty good even now!


Getting the vibe

Found an American Barn at one of the shed companies, and had a wander around visualising what it might be like to have one of my own.  As you’ll see from the photos, I was particularly interested in the mezzanine floor, and the roller door.  But what I was really seeing was space.  Drool.

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One thing I got out of the walk-around, was the concept that I can drop the height of the mezzanine down – this will make the upper area a lot more useable, and can be more than just a bit of a storage area.  Being an additional 22 m2, that is a big deal, and worth sacrificing some working height on the lower level for the overall gain.  Still, having a height to the mezzanine of 2700 (say) still gives a working height on the mezzanine of 2300 or so.

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