Steak Knives, Take Two

When I first made some scales for the steak knife set (from Professional Woodworkers Supplies) about a year ago, things were going well until almost the final step when excessive tearout occurred when the roundover bit got a tad aggressive. That project has been set aside for a little longer than I expected (or realised when I looked at the date of the first effort!). So time to try again. I’m not sure if this specific set is still available, but there are plenty of other knife projects available here.

Unhandled knife kit

I didn’t take a photo of the knife kit again this time, so have recycled the first photo here. Now on with the new attempt (and yes, there is a more successful conclusion!)

To start, I have a new timber for the blanks (for a bit of variety!) This time the handles will be black hearted sassafras. The blanks have been roughly sized, and ready to be machined accurately.

I have improved the method I use to sand thin stock on the drum sander by making a sled.

Thin stock sled for the drum sander

With a piece of MDF, I have attached a thin fence to one edge with a couple of 4mm dominos.

Thin stock sled in operation

The sled carries the blanks in and through the sander – the increased area of the base works well with the sander to ensure no slippage occurs when the blanks impact the sanding drum, decreasing any chance of snipe or burning. These were sanded to 8.2mm to match the knife bolster.

Next, cut an angle on one end to match the knife blank. In this case, 36 degrees, which is easily done using the Incra Mitre Gauge HD, and even better when coupled up with the Mitre Express.

HD Gauge from Incra

Mitre Express

The Mitre Express makes machining small items safer, and minimising tearout.

Knife Scales

The resulting knife scales ready for the next stage. I needed to drill 3.5mm holes, but found my drill bit that size had the end snapped off from a previous job. So for a bit of a diversion, off to the Tormek and the drill bit sharpener jig.

Tormek DBS-22

This jig quickly turned the broken tip of the bit back into a well-formed, razor sharp bit, better than new (originally a 2 facet bit – this jig allows you to develop 4 facets on the tip).

Preparing the scale for drilling

With double-sided tape, I attached one scale to the knife, then the second scale to the first. This allows me to drill both sides simultaneously, and any breakout can be minimised.

Drilling the blank

After drilling, I drew around the handle, then detached the knife. After roughing down on the bandsaw, I sanded right to the line using a combination of the disk sander and spindle sander.

The scales are then glued to either side of the knife, and the pins inserted. They are longer than necessary, and get cut and sanded to size once the glue sets.

Handles ready for final shaping and finishing

The knives were then returned to the disk and spindle sanders to finalise the shape.

From there, I used a random orbital sander to sand all sides, and round over the edges (done with the ROS held upside down in one hand, and the knife handle bought to the sander). After a while I decided the microcuts were becoming a bit excessive, so finished the job wearing a kevlar carver’s glove.

You may notice the knife bolsters are no longer polished – while shaping some of the bolsters got damaged unfortunately, so it was better to have them all sanded evenly to match. It may look a bit exaggerated in the photo, but ok in reality. Not the preferred result, but such is life.

The knives have already been used a couple of times – it is rather cool using a knife you’ve made the handle for, and the knives themselves are heavy, very sharp and slice steak to perfection.

Forgot to mention – they were finished simply by rubbing them down with Ubeaut Foodsafe Plus mineral oil. This is ideal for chopping boards, salad bowls, and of course, knife handles.

Finished knives


(just reread this post the following morning- I really shouldn’t write entries at 2am: so many typos, including the title. “Sneak knives”. Either that is autocorrect gone mad, or I have!

SSYTC006 Miter Gauges

Not that long ago, I posted Shed.TV episode 51 on the Tablesaw, and in it there was some discussion about Mitre Gauges (or Miter Gauges, which ever is your preferred spelling!)

One of the site’s readers (I’ve been combing my emails to find out who!) pointed out that there was a better way for attaching the Mitre Gauge, that I hadn’t picked up on, so this YTC episode is an addendum to the Shed.TV video, and quickly shows a technique that I’m bit embarrassed that I didn’t know!

Saw Alignment and Incra Miter Express

It takes some time to really set the saw up properly as I’ve discovered recently. There are so many different variables that can affect saw accuracy.

Carbatec TS10L Cabinet Saw

However, with a combination of the Deluxe Alignment Kit I got from Carbatec, and a couple of the Wixey Digital gauges (the angle gauge and the height gauge), I think I got it all set up within ridiculous tolerances. Not that I’m complaining – I love the accuracy that they have allowed me. Now if only my woodworking was that precise!

Now on top of the saw, you might recognise a rather interesting contraption – yup, I got to set up the Incra Miter Express from Professional Woodworker Supplies, and even got to make a couple of quick cuts! I was rather indecisive for a while whether to mount it on the left-hand side, the traditional side for miter gauges (and yeah, I keep switching between the US spelling and the Oz spelling – can’t be helped – the product is called a Miter gauge), or because it is a left-tilting saw, it is meant to be run in the right-hand track (so the saw when tilted doesn’t cut into it).

I decided to go the right-hand side so I can do both mitre directions (angling the fence, and tilting the blade) while using the sled. I’ll probably (and the jury is still out on this one), mount the Incra SE1000 on the Miter Express, and set up the mitre gauge that came with the saw on the left-hand side for my general purpose cuts, which will pretty much all be 90 degrees. I have a bit of Incra fence from an old SE1000, so might look at mounting that to the mitre gauge so I can still use the Incra stop.

Incra Miter Express

This is the Miter Express as I was first setting it up (and before I decided which side to use it on). It is basically a commercial version of a crosscut sled, done with typical Incra accuracy, and incorporates a Mitre gauge for precise angles.

Incra Miter Express

Here on the correct side for a left-tilt saw (and it is now cut providing zero-clearance), so the decision is made. It takes any typical mitre gague, and not just the Incra ones. Here I was using it with the one that came with the TS10L. The built-in track provides channels for hold-downs (and it comes with an Incra holddown).

All in all, it provides a very smooth way to feed your work into the blade, with good ability to secure the work and keep fingers well away from danger. I can see it getting a lot of use as I start to try to improve my box-making skills, and other precise work. Sure, you do loose some resaw height, but when you are doing precision stuff, you are less likely to need full blade height, and you haven’t lost any more than if you made your own cross-cut sled that everyone seems to recommend anyway.

I’m looking forward to bringing some results to you from this (as you can see though from the last photo, the next project has to be dust extraction!!!)

A few preliminary cuts

Had an opportunity tonight to have a quick play with some of the blades in preparation for the blade head-to-head. There wasn’t any real intent here – I just wanted an excuse to have a play with the new saw (and the new blades!) I thought I might just try one or two out, see if there is any perceivable differences and get a feel for how the trials might work.

(Guard removed for clarity!)

I still haven’t set up my new Carbatec tablesaw, but it’s too busy to mind! These are the main blades I was playing with – including from left to right – Freud 80 tooth, CMT 80 tooth, Freud Professional 60 tooth, and the blade in the saw is a Linbide 100 tooth. Also, I’m (finally) getting to use my Incra 1000SE mitre gauge, and that’s a pretty cool tool as well!

Thanks to Carbatec for the CMT blades, and Woodworking Warehouse for the Freud and Linbide blades!

Was just crosscutting a lump of 4×2 I happen to have, so certainly wasn’t expecting much, if any differences.

I had a 48 tooth GMC blade in the saw (one of those $8 eBay jobs), so started with that. Yep- it cut. Standard sort of finish I’d expect to see on a crosscut. After the later cuts (with the dedicated crosscut blades), I now realise that what I thought was a reasonable crosscut was nothing more than torn fibres pretending to be a cut.

Then I started changing blades. Oh boy – even on such a soft piece of crapiata, the differences were very noticeable. Blades were outperforming other blades all over the place.

Interestingly, the blade with the smoothest finish with least tearout was not the most expensive, nor did it have the most teeth of them all. But could it crosscut!

One blade, without any noise reduction technology integrated in its design started to resonate in harmony with the TS. Got rather freaky there for a while. Not knowing the tablesaw very well at this stage I was staring at it quite intensely until was able to work out it was the blade ringing (loudly) which was causing a complementary vibration inside the machine itself.

I’m really liking this new saw!! 😀

Tablesaw Engineering

I recently started a thread on a woodworking forum bemoaning the lack of good engineering on so many tablesaws out there.

To recap:

“Went for a bit of a tour of what sort of tablesaws were available out there. I haven’t covered the range by any stretch of the imagination, but I was quite surprised how …um…. average so many were.

I saw poor designs, shocking fences, ordinary guards, unwieldy splitters, poorly positioned power boxes (blocking components), and was rather uninspired. Some mitre gauges I saw I couldn’t believe existed – such crummy designs.

Overall, what the hell were the engineers / designers thinking???

I so wish the engineers that came up with the 2000 and all the decisions to optimise design while coping with the significant limitations imposed by working with folded steel had had a chance to have a crack at designing a decent saw table from the ground up. Perhaps that is the sort of thing that resulted in the SawStop. Pity I can’t afford one of them, because they at least look like they were designed properly. I’m sure there are other models out there as well that fit the bill, so I will have to ferret them out.

I mean, a cabinet saw is meant to be a major step up from a Triton WC2000, and I came away wondering why there are so many detractors of it. Ok, a solid top would be great, and a mitre slot an added bonus, but in terms of general functionality, is just the ability to angle the blade the only real gain?

Sure, I know that the solid (flat) top is significant etc etc, I mean, I do plan to get one (soon), but as I said at the start, I was rather dismayed just how many quite expensive table saws would still require me to turn a blind eye or accept compromises that I didn’t expect would be needed after moving up from a Triton.”

It did lead to a number of interesting comments and discussions, some of which directly reinforced my final choice of tablesaw.

It is perhaps then a little surprising (to me as well), that I ended up choosing a tablesaw that I had never actually seen, but such was the strength of argument. Forums are a great resource if you haven’t come across them before!

So I have been unpacking, and looking at the TS10L with a critical eye, and have thus far been very impressed. The build quality is superb, and as yet I haven’t been able to fault the machine (other than the instruction manual, but that is nothing new!) Even when it comes to placement of the switchbox, it doesn’t block any componentry and in fact as it has been placed on a corner which is not 90 degrees, you might expect them to shy away from that location – a bit complicated getting the angles right. Not so here, and that may seem such a minor thing to be impressed by, but it is small details like this that give you an idea that overall a lot of care and consideration has gone into the design and manufacture.

I still haven’t finished assembling the unit – been a bit busy with the shed itself, but I did manage to turn it on for a few seconds and cut some timber! This is not a commissioning of course – as is done in the Navy, you do tests and trials of a new ship before actually commissioning it into the fleet, so I am doing the same here! I think I am going to discover the pleasure of having a tablesaw again! I first found it when I got the Triton workcentre a number of years ago- a world of possibilities opened up, but over time I found that my enjoyment waned and I started not so much shying away from using the saw, but looking forward to other aspects of the project. Sizing the timber was not a stage I found myself enjoying anymore, and looked forward to having the timber cut ready for joining techniques on the router table, or prior to the saw – machining the raw stock.

In doing the couple of test cuts, I rediscovered something that I had forgotten existed – the pleasure of being able to accurately size timber for a project. Now this is not to criticise the Triton Workcentre, or its accuracy (which is still good for a well-tuned setup), but having a machine that you can still talk over while using it, that is HEAVY (yeah, contrary to popular belief, I like heavy machines!) and that has a good solid, flat top with real mitre slots actually tempts me to start new projects again.

I have been finding myself running the Incra 1000SE Mitre gauge up and down the slot just for the fact there is one that it fits, setting angles etc, looking forward to actually getting to use it! I haven’t done a rip as yet – still haven’t set up the rails or fence. (Haven’t even added the cast iron wings yet!) So as I stare into my crystal ball, I see a future with plenty of well cut sawdust approaching!

***Addendum*** I probably should add what annoys me most about poor engineering is in many cases there is only one of two things wrong.  Either a. ‘they’ have gone cheap, and taken a good (or at least reasonable) design and ruined it by using cheap, substandard materials when for a few cents more the right grade of steel/plastic/whatever would have resulted in a perfectly adequate machine (and not just tablesaws – this applies to everything manufactured).  Or b. (and the one that annoys me most) they have taken perfectly good material and ruined it by doing a substandard design.  Of course there is also c. substandard material with incompetent design which seems to be filling the shelves more and more recently.  There is also d. quality material coupled with inspired design which results in a product that is a pleasure to own and use.***

New Incra Rail

We are getting very close to being able to purchase the new rail that Incra have come up with to add to their build-it concept for jig creation.

This rail is what I have been waiting for to be able to (hopefully!) easily fit the Incra 1000SE Miter Gauge to the Triton Workcentre.

build-it-miter-channel-t-track.jpg

It may not be obvious how this will help, but if you consider that it will become part of a jig placed on top of the tablesaw (as a replacement for the crosscut sled concept) then you might see where I’m heading.  All in all, if it means that we will be able to get Incra accuracy out of a Triton Workcentre, then that is worth pursuing!

Incra and the Triton

I’ve been looking at the concept of fitting an Incra mitre gauge (or should I say miter gauge!) to the Triton (such as the V27, or the 1000SE) for a long time. Ok, I haven’t been concentrating on it, or we would have had it done by now! A few brief forays determined that it wouldn’t be as easy as replacing the existing rail with a mitre slot unfortunately. That’s the nature of having a table top made from thin folded steel rather than a fully cast or extruded top. Sadly, I don’t think Triton will ever pursue that concept with a new version of the workcentre. (Think I’ve said before, always thought the Sawstop should hit the Oz shores badged as a Triton).

I was thinking about the concept again the other day, as I was almost to the point of making a cross-cut sled, which everyone who has made one for the Triton seems to swear by. My thought was, if I’m prepared to sacrifice a bit of cut height to use a crosscut sled, why not use that same thickness to mount a mitre track on a removable base, so I can use the Incra?

So this is one of the two approaches I am going to be taking in my quest for ultimate accuracy (at least out of the Triton saw table).

Ideally, a minimum loss of cutting height is ideal, so any way of minimising that loss would be good. Bit of an interesting development then this morning. I was discussing this with the Incra importer to Australia yesterday (Professional Woodworker Supplies), and he ask the question of Incra about a particular type of track that we’d need to achieve this. I got an email today, and it turns out, what we want is currently sitting on Incra’s drawing board as we speak, and could be ready in a few short months!

So, I am going to hold off on that concept until the track is ready, and pursue my alternate method (which I’ll document as I go). All very cool in any respect!

One solution will result in no loss of cutting height of the blade, but isn’t ideal as far as how close the mitre gauge is to the blade (good thing the fence on the Incra mitre gauge is movable!), the other places the gauge at an ideal distance from the blade, but looses 13mm of cutting height – not that that’s too bad when you consider how much is lost with a crosscut sled (which is at least that).

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