Cot Commissioning

It has been a few months since we finished the cot, ready for a final sand and oil, and of course it’s young occupant!

So my colleague took the cot home, then disassembled it into components as we designed it. He then proceeded to run multiple passes (and grades) of sandpaper (on a random orbital sander) over the cot, then applied Organoil’s Hard Burnishing Oil over it.  The result is awesome :), and MJ (aka new Dad) sent these photos through.


Oiling the rails

As the oil is applied, you can really see the beauty of the grain in the Tassie Oak, and the colour come out.


Before and After


Before and After – End Pieces

I love this one – the before and after shows up the details of the piece, and the colour and features of the timber.


Assembled, bed made up, and in the nursery

So it all came together, and what a difference a little finishing makes!


The Cot

So here it is – the first cot that I have turned out, and MJ has done a great job finishing it off.  Hope the bub gets lots of sleep!  I’m really pleased with the outcome, and MJ should be equally so 🙂

Picking up a slab

In many sheds (and parties, and sports clubs) down under, that’d raise connotations of an end of the productive side of the day, and the cracking of a few favourite beverages is about to commence.  But for woodworkers, there is also the possibility that it means just that – the acquisition of a large flat slice of timber, usually cut by someone else who has more specialised toys than in the average shed.

However, if you own (or are considering) the Torque Workcentre, it is not out of reach, as the slabbing attachment gives the typical workshop the ability to claim very useable timbers from the very trees in which it grows.

The attachment has 2 main parts – two clamps that attach to the main arm on the TWC, and securely clamp a chainsaw between them.  About 4″ of the chainsaw bar length is lost in this, so a 16″ chainsaw can slab a maximum width of 12″.  The bigger the chainsaw, the more powerful the motor, the larger the slab you can manage.

There is a block on either side of the bar (narrower than the width of the bar, so as not to touch the chainsaw teeth) that hold the chainsaw firm, and with one at either end of the bar, it is locked in tight.

The position is probably different from chainsaw to chainsaw, but a hole through to, or scalloped out area near the chainsaw would be useful so blade adjustments can be done without the need to remove the chainsaw from the jig.

I’d also like to see some form of oil reservoir mounted above the chain with a controllable feed rate, as the normal chain lubrication method being gravity fed is rather ineffective with the chainsaw perpetually on its side.  However, these are all refinements to the basic operation.

I started with a lump of camphor laurel (yes, oh Roving Reporter, THE lump of CL – you’ll have to find an alternate seat!) that I picked up for $10 a couple of years ago, and secured it to the TWC.  Although this piece is short enough to pass through a resawing operation on the bandsaw, it works well as a test piece here.  With the chainsaw bar levelled out, and the depth of cut set, I was ready for a first pass.

The first cut was set very shallow – I only wanted to take off enough to flat-spot the log, so it would sit more securely on the workbench for further slices.

As the chainsaw bit in, the unmistakable aroma of camphor wafted through the shed, undiminished by the continuous air filtration of the Microclene unit, or even the head protection afforded by the Purelite Respirator (I geared up a bit for this) – I’d have to have used a carbon filter to extract that, but it isn’t unpleasant (although my wife strongly disagreed when she made a surprise visit, committing the cardinal sin of interrupting shed time 😦 😉 )  Even a couple of hours later when I walked past the outside of the shed, the smell was still very much in evidence!

With the first cut complete, the log was flipped over for the first slab to be cut.

One of the problems I always have, is getting timber that is thick enough when I go shopping – like purchasing steak from the supermarket, they are sold so measly thin, on the (probably correct) assumption that people will buy more quantity, rather than quality (3 thin steaks sells better than 2 thick ones).  This isn’t an issue when you do it yourself, and in the case of slabbing a trunk, you can cut the slab as thick as you like.  And you can also choose whether you want regularly sawn timber, or quarter sawn.

Not an option you normally get from a box-hardware store.  For the same reason – a quarter sawn log is more expensive (more timber is wasted) and the average shopper doesn’t distinguish, other than on the price.

There are plenty of ripples across the surface from the cut, but a few quick passes through the drum sander got rid of them without a problem (I used the drum sander to avoid the snipe from the thicknesser on a short board).

Finally, it was off to the new workbench, and firing up of the Festool ETS 150/5 (random orbital sander)

Hard to see here, but a quick rub down with a wood oil (the ol’ Triton oil in this case) really picked out the details.  I didn’t actually need to oil it yet, other than my own curiosity – the board will head over to the tablesaw to cut it to size for the next project, and get whatever finish is applied to that, but I just wanted to really see how the details responded, especially the spalting, to a bit of oil.

Festool in the Spring

Although it feels more like the encroaching winter where I’m sitting, Festool have another range of items added to their catalogue.

Most have little appeal to me – minor additions to their range (more vac variants, more T Loc Systainers, spirit levels (huh?).

About the only item that stood out of interest was the Surfix Oil Dispenser.  Designed to administer wood oils to both flat and profiled objects. Looks interesting.

The handle is also the oil reservoir, and the pads are interchangeable.  Curiously however, Festool are also supplying the oil – a heavy-duty for worktops/tables etc, a “One Step” which is an oil/wax combination, and an outdoor version.  From what I can gather, the bottle is the handle, so appears no way to use your own preferred oil or stain with this, which seems a strange decision indeed.

Perhaps Festool should take this concept one step further, and come up with a similar delivery system for glue (although with smaller pad sizes presumably).

Wax on, Wax off

Wonder how many reading this will either be too old, or too young to really get the reference?!

I’ve applied another couple of layers (now up to 3), with a steel wool rubdown between 2 and 3

If you’ve been woodworking for a while, you would have heard about 0000 steel wool (and the other 000, 00, 0 etc grades). They are not a license to kill – they are a license to finish.

Steel Wool

There is steel wool that you use to clean the dishes, and then there is steel wool with specific grades, from #4 #3 #2 #1 #0 #00 #000 #0000 in order of increasing fineness.  I haven’t been able to determine a decent correlation between steel wool grades and grit sizes, but #0000 is around 1500 – 2000 grit from what I can determine.  It works well in this sort of situation, smoothing and removing excess buildup, where sandpaper would clog easily.

You have to be careful disposing of it when it has been saturated with oils, as the wire is so fine it burns easily, so place into a container of water to dispose of it.  (Better yet, add some dishwashing liquid which will help breakdown the oil)

Steel wool is also used to polish metals, but don’t use the fine stuff for doing your dishes – you’ll be there for a while!

After 1st Application

After 3 Coats


Watching the layers build.  I won’t do another layer tonight – the weather has not been particularly helpful, so another day for the oil to be absorbed will not hurt.

A Finish with a Good Lick

I am not a fan of modern finishes.  I know with pens that I use CA glue, which is in effect an acrylic finish, but in that situation, it is durable and comparatively quick. In saying that, I am now wondering just how well this traditional finish would work.  It would require the pen to remain mounted in the lathe (or remounted for each application) for an entire week, but if the finish was perfection, that might be worthwhile.

But I’m getting distracted.

For some items a traditional wax finish works well, for others, an oil finish really brings out the lustre in the timber.  The (mineral) definition of lustre is very appropriate “a description of the way light interacts with a surface”, and some oil finishes on some timbers produces such a depth – a fully three dimensional effect in the surface of the timber.

I have wanted to try Tung Oil for a long time – I’ve seen it used on a finishing video by Jeff Jewett (Taunton Press), and it was an amazing finish for ‘just’ an oil. It is an oil that all others are judged by – a Tung Oil finish is used as a descriptor for other finishes, even those that have no Tung Oil in them at all.  China Wood Oil is another name for the genuine stuff, and dates back to China, and over 2400 years ago.

In the past I have gone for oils that have included Tung oil, but haven’t gone out of my way to seek it out in a pure form, so finding Organoil now have it on the shelf in Carbatec meant I couldn’t help but grab it.

Tung Oil

There was also Terpene, which is a distillation extracted from citrus peelings, and can be used in place of turpentine, including cleaning brushes, and for thinning Tung Oil.  Tung Oil is surprisingly thick, and is a nut oil that once it has been applied and has had time to cure (for want of a better word) it is both water and alcohol resistant – perfect for a hall table.

The citrus terpene allows better penetration of the timber by the Tung Oil, so I am using it for the first coat, but from then on will be using the Tung Oil neat.

The timber looks absolutely stunning, even with the first coat.  It dries to a matt finish, but additional layers (applied 24 hours apart) increases the gloss until a mirror finish is possible.

Mahogany table with a Jarrah river

Hall Table

And this is just the first coat of about 6

Even now, check out the contrast with the raw table state (before it was sanded obviously)

Raw Table

I’m feeling so inspired to finish this project off, and start another!  Once the finish is done, I still need to make a dovetail drawer and give it a lick of the Tung, but then I really want to see what else I can come up with.  Beating the procrastination with the leg of a Hall Table Fable!

Rubber Corrosion

Had an interesting experience with the rubber matting I have on the floor in the shed.  A week or so ago, I noticed a bit of an oil pool had gathered under where the SwordSaw was sitting on the edge of the table, and obviously the blade oil was slowly dripping down the blade and onto the floor.

Didn’t think anything of it (other than the mess itself that needed some cleaning up).

Noticed a pile of black,  insect-like flakes underfoot, and wondered where they had come from.  Looking closer, and I realised that it was the floor mat itself, slowly dissolving in front of me.  Guess the floor mat, sold for sheds etc is definitely not petrochemical resistant!!

Danish Oil

Passing through Bunnings yesterday (Keysborough), and came across a sales table with a few cans of Organoil’s Danish Oil.

I’m not sure if they know that Organoil is being re-released or not, but I wasn’t going to tell them, seeing as they had it marked down from $25 to $10 for 1L, and from $75 to $35 for 4L.

I bought 2 x 1L cans, and 2 x 500mL cans for just $30.

Danish Oil

Danish Oil

If you are wondering why Danish Oil, oil finishes can be stunning if done properly, (and still show the timber off nicely, even when just slapped on! (And it has a nice aroma to boot)



From the label, it is a combination of Tung, Linseed, Pinewood and Citrus oils.  Their description where it includes the term “original, heavy oil formulation” is a bit stupid – makes the uninitiated think that it is like slapping heavy black mineral oil on their work, which is far, far from the truth!

Tung Oil, as I saw in Bunnings, seems to be relegated to treating decks.  Unbelievable.  Sure, it would do a good job, but it is like using Jarrah for the deck and painting it (which I have also seen).  Tung Oil can produce the most amazing finishes on fine furniture when applied with care and finesse.

While there, I also bought a bottle of Linseed Oil so I can use it in an experiment with Triton Oil (also known as Hard Burnishing Oil) and Danish Oil to see if I can replicate the dangers of spontaneous combustion of oil-soaked rags.

Linseed Oil

Linseed Oil

The label on the bottle sure promises some results!

Spontaneous Combustion

Spontaneous Combustion

I have a computer-plotting thermocouple temperature probe ready for the experiment as well, so on a day when I have plenty of time to monitor the result (and deal with any consequences), I’ll see if I can’t get some rags to spontaneously burst into flame, just to prove that it can, and does happen.

Air Compressor Health

Do you take enough care of the health of your air compressor?

Do you know what your air compressor is breathing in?

How’s the compressor’s fluids?

3 questions I haven’t given much, if any thought to, at least not in the last 12 months or so, and yes, I should know better.

My air compressor lives in the shed next door to the workshop, to cut down the noise (and to save a little space), but it also then becomes a matter of out of sight, out of mind.  Not a good thing.

Firstly, the oil.  I keep meaning to do an oil change of the compressor, and it is long overdue.  There are moving parts in the compressor, which means that it needs lubrication, and that is obviously important – no lubrication, and the compressor will very quickly become a boat anchor.  However, the other thing that the oil does, is store all the particles that have worn off the components, and that is not cool – do you really want to lubricate the small tolerances in the air compressor with metal shavings?  I’ve no doubt that there is a lot of unnecessary scarring inside mine from just that.

Air quality.  Obviously the air compressor has some form of filter on it, but when was the last time you cleaned / replaced it?  Do you run the air compressor in a dusty environment, or is it getting a good supply of clean, filtered air?  Like the oil, particles in the air will cause significant damage inside the pistons.

Last, but not least, and related to air quality – how dry is that air?  Quality air compressors have drying filters on the air intake, but that is a bit of a luxury for a small air compressor, but perhaps worth considering if making a simple one wouldn’t be worth while?  Moisture in the air (even tiny amounts) will accumulate inside the tank, so venting this tank should be a regular event.  Hasn’t been on mine for quite a while now.

So on the weekend, as I was working on the dust system (and the dust extractor is right next to the air compressor, which probably isn’t the smartest thing, but it is the most practical location in my case), I looked at the air compressor, and it vaguely dawned on me that I switch it on and off from the other shed and it has been just a little while since I last actually considered how it was running and being maintained.
So checked the oil level, and to it’s credit, it was on the low side, but still at a reasonable level.  It definitely needs to be changed, but that is a job for another day.

Had a listen to it, and there is a minor air leak where the flexible tube couples to it – again, I’ll tighten up the connection at some stage, but it is a pretty minor loss.

Thought I’d better vent the tank a bit – there’s only ever been a few drops of water, so I got a bit complacent about it.  Hmm – was this meant to be an air compressor or a water blaster?  I have no idea how much water came out, but it was in the vicinity of 150ml or so – might have been more as it was under pressure, but it seemed to run and run.  Oops.  Was a really interesting red-brown colour too.  Idiot.

So I have probably significantly shortened the life of the compressor, and as I said, to its credit, it has been taking my neglect surprisingly well, but if I want it to keep going, I need to take a little more care of it in future.

FWIW, it is a 40L direct drive GMC air compressor that cost all of $200.  That was about 4 years or so ago, possibly even more but memory is very hazy looking back that far.  I’d say that is pretty impressive for a budget machine, especially given my lack of attention!  But it is well overdue for me to give it a little more maintenance than it has been receiving if I want it to keep chugging away.

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