Learning Curves

Short and steep!

Despite having some (limited) experience with CNC routers, I hadn’t tried parts fabrication before – cutting out one of the patterns as listed in my previous post.

The website provides next to no instruction on how to use the patterns, so I was left either watching the 98 or so minute ‘tutorial’ video that someone had made, which although useful for info, was very difficult to watch through, so I skipped about a bit to try to glean some answers.

Suck and See.

Biting the bullet is sometimes a faster learning curve, so long as nothing gets damaged in the process!

I created a path for one of the simpler dinosaurs – using a 1/4″ upcut solid carbide router bit from Toolstoday.com, created a few tabs so parts would remain in place once cut out, and sent it over to the CNC computer.

Some things to note.  When the program says something about it being outside of the soft limits, what it really means is that somewhere around the circumference of the design, you are going to ask the router to move further than it can physically achieve.  While that makes sense in hindsight, you can find yourself trying to work out why the program just wont run, quite fruitlessly.  Note to self – don’t deactivate the soft limits!

Somehow, even though I had set what the full depth of the job was meant to be, it only did one pass, rather than the two or three that would be needed to cut all the way through.  Have to look at what I missed there!  That is why we test these things to see how they work!

Where it did cut all the way through (I reset the Z height so it would achieve a full depth, and ran the program again – effectively manually causing it to cut through in two steps), the tabs I had made were no-where near large enough, and parts were coming loose and impacting the cutter.  Using an upcut bit exasperated the issue, as it was trying to lift the pieces out as well.

Four clamps on the board, one in each corner is not enough, especially as the board becomes riddled with cuts.  A vacuum table will be a significant improvement, when I get around to making one.

And a 1/4″ bit is too large a diameter for a 6mm thick design – none of the slots needed to join pieces together were cut, so I need some smaller diameter router bits for this sort of work.

Well, nothing was damaged in the process, and plenty of information was gathered to make the next attempt more successful.  No matter how sophisticated the equipment, there is always a learning curve on how to best utilise it.  Of course that is part of the fun!

Tormek Profiled Leather Honing Wheel

The Tormek Sharpening System is ideal for turning tools, but part of the sharpening process is dealing with the burr that forms in the concave flute of the tool.

Jamming the gouge into a piece of timber to break off the burr will work, but the Tormek Profiled Leather Honing Wheels do a better job.

Original Bowl Gouge tip

Here is the tip of my bowl gouge – it has had some sharpening recently, but hasn’t benefited from a really decent sharpening method.  It is a turning tool, so I’m still not going to worry about running it on the Japanese Waterstone, but still, first shaping it on the 220 stone, then redressing the stone to 1000 grit produced a nice surface.

Next, onto the standard leather honing wheel to get a decent finish, then finally a touchup on the new (for my T7) profile wheel to remove the burr and perfect the edge.

Profiled Leather Honing Wheels

There are 2 wheels – a larger diameter one (and I’m referring to the profile here, not the actual diameter of the leather wheel itself!) (6mm diameter), and a second that has been shaped to a V section.  You can get a 4mm diameter one if you typically need a narrower profile.

Leather Wheel Detail

Between these two, I can dress the inside of all my turning tools and carving knives and chisels.  I have oiled them up, then applied some honing compound.

Refined Edge

The outside edge of the bowl gouge – looking a lot nicer.  You can see one facet that I haven’t ground out – it isn’t affecting performance of the gouge (came from when I had a less ideal sharpening method), and I didn’t want to waste good steel to remove it – it will disappear over time as the tool is sharpened (and to a consistent angle because of the Tormek setting system).

Don’t mind the few bits of dust in the photo – I think they are from the new leather profile wheels that I’m still oiling in.

Next to receive the treatment will be my large roughing gouge.  Imagine a roughing gouge with this sort of edge.

Sharp? You better believe it!!

Scraping with Scrapers

These are not cabinet scrapers (which are a skill all of their own), but instead for scraping when you need to remove a surface – such as paint, varnish, stripper etc.

I have had an opportunity to put the Linbide range through some initial trials, and as much as I normally wait until I’ve had a chance to build up a real opinion on a tool, these had me sold straight out of the box (or packaging to be precise).

Linbide Scrapers

Linbide Scrapers

From right to left, are a straight (or flat) scraper, a corner scraper, a profile scraper, and a cutter.  All are sporting Tungsten Carbide blades which makes a lot of difference to the performance of the blade (and the durability of the sharp edge)

They are very utilitarian in their look, but that does not detract from their performance, and the handles are surprisingly comfortable and provide a good grip.  The blades are replaceable (and with the straight and corner scrapers, the blades are reversable).

I took one to my front windows (external) which are increasingly desparate for a repaint.  I had a mind to a couple of years back, but after trying with some sandpaper, decided that job was too big.  I then tried a heat gun, with no success (it might have worked elsewhere, but not on a paint designed to survive the Australian sun).  So I tried a waterblaster, and that stripped the wood apart faster than it did the paint.

So it was with interest that I gave the scrapers a crack at the task, and we had a winner!  Paint came away with ease, and the wood was undamaged.  I don’t need to remove all the paint, just that which is too loose to paint over.  Damn, now I have even less excuses not to paint the house!

To get into corners, and over the different profiles around the windows, we have the profiled scrapers.

Radiused and Corner Scrapers

Radiused and Corner Scrapers

All Tungsten Carbide blades.

Now speaking of Tungsten Carbide, the final tool is called a laminate score and snap knife.  It sports two carbide tips, and is designed to score laminates, and can be used quite successfully as a glass and tile cutter, and will make short work of drywall.  Given its design, it will be easy for it to follow a straight edge.

Not having had a decent scraper before (the last one I had came from a $2 shop), it is quite enlightening to see what difference a quality blade can make!

These scrapers are imported in Australia by the Woodworking Warehouse: www.wwwh.com.au and cost around $20 each.  You can get them from their store in Braeside, or order over the phone 03 9587 3999, or via email sales@wwwh.com.au

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