T7 the big kid on the block? Not any more.

Tormek have released the T8 grinder for the ultimate in sharpening.  Available in Australia in July 2016.

While the changes over the T7 are probably not enough to make all T7 owners want to run out to get one, if you are in the market for a new grinder, the T8 is definitely worth considering.

They are currently available on pre-order from Ideal Tools.

The changes include a repositionable water trough, useful for the changing dimensions as the grinding wheel wears (of course, you have to do a fair bit of grinding to wear the wheel away!  Mine is still pretty close to original dimensions.  There again, if I used it more, I’d have sharper tools too.  Doh!)

The body is now cast zinc, and the drive wheel is also zinc.

The body is enclosed, and there is better splash and run-off management (and that is a good thing – I get quite a river happening after a long sharpening session!)


While many still struggle with the whole concept of a wet stone grinder costing north of a $1000, for those who have been able to justify the expenditure, there is no question about just how good the machine is in achieving its purpose in life.  Ultimate sharpness.

More detail can be found on the Tormek website

One Sharpening Station to Rule Them All

Dropped past Carbatec today, and on the front counter was a solution to end all solutions for the sharpening station

The Tormek TS-740 Sharpening Station

Photo 19-02-2014 9 26 34

Drool.  Seriously.

The website spiel covers the basics:

Height 750-830mm, width 578mm, depth 390 mm

Moisture proof composite worktop
Centralised key locking
Scratch resistant metallic surface
Drawers to fit Tormek kits
Auto-return soft close drawer function
Aluminium handles
Fully extendable drawers
Holes for hooks
Adjustable legs for comfortable working height
Rubber feet to protect the floor

But what a way to keep all the accessories organised, protected, easily to hand (and looking cool!)

getdata.do getdata2.do getdat2a.do


Sign ‘o’ the Times


In a recent video, you will have seen me using a Promac generator with my new Festool Kapex.  There is more to the story, and it is all about the sine.

Many generators produce an approximation of a sine wave, and for some things, that is good enough.


The problem is a stepped or simulated sine wave is bad news for electronic equipment, and that also goes for the electronics of Festool equipment.

However, this is one of the real advantages of the Promac generator.  It produces a pure sine wave, making it safe for electronic equipment, and Festool as well 🙂

So if you are want to use Festool equipment offsite, or other electronic equipment for that matter, either make sure your generator is high quality, and produces a pure sine wave (and not just an approximation of it), or just get a Promac generator and not have to worry.

Episode 94 Dr Kapex

Episode 94 Dr Kapex

Testing the true depth of cut of the Festool Kapex.

Also see (briefly) the Kapex stand in action, and the Promac generator.

SSYTC054 Also sprach Zarathustra

SSYTC054 Also sprach Zarathustra

Promac GTO68E 6.8kVA Generator


I received the invoice today to pay to start the building permit process.  Probably the fastest bill I have ever paid.  The digital ink wasn’t even dry before the bill had been paid, and the receipt (as proof) sent back.

So time to break down the timeline and see what it may mean.

1 October – 13 October: Obtain building permit

14 October: Place order for concrete

14 October: Order placed for shed

14 October – 10 November: Shed manufacture (I am really hoping we can hit this window – this is the highest risk to the program)

19 October  – 20 October: Clear out current 3×3 shed and deconstruct

21 October: Order skip

28 October – 29 October: Block clearance including skip for waste removal

30 October – 31 October: Casting slab

11 November: Shed arrival

11 November – 24 November: Lead time for shed assembly.  Once construction starts, and the slab is in, I don’t see why the assembly can’t be booked in, so it happens only a few days after arrival, rather than a few weeks.  That would bring shed assembly forward to around 13 November through to 20 November.

25 November – 1 December: Shed assembly

It would be tempting to have the electrician in straight after and get the power sorted out as well, but going to take a more sensible approach and use the shed as is, with the Promac generator providing primary power (especially 15A), and some 10A being run from the house.  That will give the time over the Xmas break to get a reasonable idea about tool layout, and the corresponding power requirements.

I have the lights sitting in the garage, so they will be up very early on (light is one of those mandatory things!)  They currently have 10A plugs on each, so temporarily wiring them up will be easy.

I have to remember to run some piping under the slab for the dust extraction, and mid-floor power.

It feels like it is still going to be a long time – another 2 months!  But when I break it down like this, there is something happening almost every week so it will really feel like it is moving quickly.  It won’t take much to knock this program right however, and if it moves to the right much, it will clash with Christmas and that would be disastrous (as that would cause another month delay, and at a time when I would be on leave and actually able to make use of it.

Going to need new carpet after all this – have worn an absolute track over the last 6 months!


Round 2, and I finally had an opportunity to fire up the generator and put some real load on it.  No where near its capacity mind, but at least enough that it wasn’t running light.  Or perhaps it was, seeing as the load bank I was using consisted of 1500W of lights. 😉

Perhaps I should explain….. as mentioned in the earlier article, a petrol powered generator doesn’t like running with no load for long periods of time.  It is like leaving a car idling.  They are designed to be used, and can carbon up if left too long without being made to work.  So although you could use the generator to power small devices, you need to match the generator to the load, and vice versa.

If the load is too large for the generator, it is just going to trip out.  If the generator is too large for the load, it will not be happy if it has to sustain it for long periods.  At least you can always increase the load by plugging in extra items, such as lights.


The generator did precisely what I was expecting of it – sat there running , and very little noticeable difference despite me switching load on and off.  Other than the obvious, in that you can hear the generator running, and that you can set it up wherever you want, far from the madding crowd, you wouldn’t know any difference between using this generator and plugging the items directly into a wall GPO. I am looking forward to the opportunity to put it to real use running a couple of large machines….once they are uncovered.

So onto the lights themselves.  This was the first chance I had to fire up the ‘new’ fresnels. 3 x 500W, which will produce a really good light for future videos.  (The shed itself will be illuminated by around 15 x double fluorescent fittings).

I haven’t taken a photo of the actual lights, but they are a smaller version of this:

arenafThe name of the light comes from the lens at the front.  It is a form of lens, and if used in reverse can focus light to a single point.  Roughly speaking.


When used the other way around, when light is at the focus point of the lens, it produces (parallel) direct light on the subject, allowing the light to be thrown at a greater distance.  (Which is how a fresnel lens is used in a lighthouse, and it was for lighthouses that the frensel lens was originally invented).  However, what a fresnel light is used for in theatre settings, is to produce a diffused beam and the lamp is moved away from the focal point to achieve that.


Starting to get a few things together that will really give Stu’s Shed V3.0 a real shot in the arm.  15A power from the outset with the generator until such time as more permanent power can be installed.  Lighting, both for the shed as a whole and for the next generation of videos.  The GoPro to add an extra dimension to those videos.  And some historical items (the pulleys and belts) to add some extra character.

Power to the people

The ability to make, and harness fire was a defining moment in the history of man.  Being able to progress from utilising fire found in nature, to being able to produce it at will and use it for a variety of tasks, from cooking, hunting (herding animals), through to defense, lighting, heating and more.

Despite the original sources of fire often being electrical (lightning), it was a millenia before electricity itself was harnessed as a tool.

The modern man struggles to make fire to be honest – when was the last time you tried…..without a match or other commercial ignition source?  And it is even worse where it comes to electricity – what do you do when the grid goes down, or worse, you are nowhere near the grid at all?  Sure, solar power is becoming readily available, but unless you want to charge your laptop, portable solar power generation is still in its infancy.

So when you need to generate some serious power, you need a serious tool.  And as a bit of a twist, where fire was first produced with electricity, we need to turn that around, and use fire to produce electricity on demand.

There are a whole range of generators out there, but many would struggle to run a jigsaw, let alone anything serious.  Those that can really run up in price.

In (hopefully) the near future, the shed will be reestablished again, and there will be a time where power will not be available – I could run extension cords from the house, but they are not 15A supplies, so the tablesaw and thicknesser would be both out of action until the electrician can wire it all up.  And with 2HP of dust extractor, and 2400W tools to use alongside that, there is some serious power required.

To address these requirements (and a number of others), we have quite an extraordinary machine.  It comes from Promac – the team that has bought us the quality Flai U blade, the incredible Mustang blade, the exacting BMI range, and the Tormek wetstone sharpeners. I mention this range as it demonstrates the quality of the tools that Promac chooses to supply, and straight out of the box, the quality of this product starts to become apparent.


It is heavy – 88kg dry. Add to this 25L of fuel, and a litre (or so) of oil, and even as the fuel tank empties, you have around 110kg of serious machine.

So what do we have here? Under that 25L tank sits a 13HP electric start motor.  13HP!  I am so used to dealing with machines that top out at 3 1/4HP (the limit of power that can be produced with 2400W tools), 13HP is an impressive motor.  Compare that to your average lawnmower: 3 – 6HP.  Got to be happy it is electric start!  It still has a pull start as well – hope I never need that 😉 Output: twin 15A GPOs providing a combined 6.8kVA with 0.8PF (power factor), which in more understandable terms is 5000W, peak load 5500W.  There is also 12V DC if required.

You may wonder why a 6.8kVA machine doesn’t produce 6800W (after all, V x A = W), but there is another dimension here – the volts and amps can be out of phase with each other, and the amount they are is represented by a value between 0 and 1, called the power factor.  Machines that start under load (such as welders and air compressors) demand significant kVA to start.  A general rule of thumb is to work out what is 3x the HP, and this is around the kVA needed by the generator for soft-start motors that start under load.  So this generator can operate a 140A welder, or 10CFM compressor.  In the workshop, I’d be looking to start the dust extractor (which also starts under load), then devices such as tablesaws etc (who’s load increases with use).

The generator does not like being operated at too low a power – motors are not designed to simply idle for long periods.  If you need to operate low powered machines only (charging batteries for example), you need to create a load bank to artificially increase the power demand on the generator.  This can be something like a couple of 500W halogen lights.  This generator needs to operate with around 1600W of minimum load (over long periods) (a minimum of 30% of its maximum load). There are smaller (and one larger) generator available from Promac, so you can match the machine to your specific requirements.

This generator has a RCD onboard, so if used as a backup for mains power for the house, it needs to be wired in by an electrician, as you cannot have two RCDs on the same circuit.

The generator produces a pure sine wave of AC current.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are now many cheap generators out there that produce DC which is then modified to simulate AC, and result in a stepped waveform.

images imagess

Why does that matter?  Well some basic electric machines won’t care – close enough is good enough.  Others however can be damaged very easily with a modified sine wave, such as computers and other electronic devices.  The voltage can also vary significantly, where 260V (and more) can be experienced, dramatically shortening the life of the transformer in the power supply.  So why do generators even exist that don’t produce a pure sine wave?  Cost.  People don’t want to pay for quality, and that is the result.

After unpacking the generator, and fitting the wheels and handles to the generator, next was to add the fluids.  It obviously does not ship with petrol, and the engine is also drained of oil.  There was a box in the package that I assumed was the oil, until I opened it.  Hang on – that is battery acid!  Not labeled though, which was surprising.  Each of the individual containers has a light plastic film covering it, but you don’t remove these.  Instead, the whole container is inverted and jammed on top of the battery (like adding printer ink to an inkjet printer).  The battery has a number of tubes that punch through the film, so in theory there is no chance of an acid leak.  In practice, the inside of the plastic bag that held the acid container was wet with drops of acid, but I couldn’t find any leak in the container.  Be careful, and wash up with plenty of water.

Photo 18-05-13 15 46 29Next, oil, and there is a bit of a choice for what oil to get, depending on the expected temperature.  I chose 10W-30, for temperature ranges between -10 and 30C. (I wonder if there is a correlation between the temperature range, and the oil designation?!  Actually, is just coincidence!)  There is no quantity shown in the manual (that I could find), not on the engine, so I guessed at 1L.  Didn’t seem enough on the dip stick, so added some from a second bottle, and quickly created a puddle on the ground.  Bugger.  Actual amount from dry seems to be about 1100ml.

Fuel was easy – 25L of unleaded (and not one with ethanol), and it was ready to go.

Bit of choke, a turn of the key and the generator fired straight up.  Bring on the next power cut, I’m ready!  Didn’t have time to play with it more – job for another day.

No longer limited by where I can work, the ability to turn fire to electricity is now mine!  Have no fear, this topic won’t be ending here.

So whether you need power on the next job site, need to independently generate power when the grid is not available, or fearing an impending zombie apocalypse, this is serious power generation.


Here it comes, and there it goes….again

And as quickly as it was arriving, the show is over for Melbourne for another year.  I really did mean to post updates each day, but what with the long days, and longer drives to and from the show I fell asleep each evening well before I had a chance to write anything, so this will have to be a big summary of all three days.

I heard comments about the show being bigger than previous, others that it was smaller.  My perception was that it was about the same…give or take.

Large Burls

Timber is always a big feature of the wood show, and burls outnumber slabs 2:1 it seems.  There were the usual ones demonstrating the burl as an exotic coffee table, needing nothing but a bit of finishing, and stands selling slab and burl after slab and burl.  Some amazing ones, some seemingly plainer, some surprisingly cheap, some um…. less so.

A couple in the foreground here are Camphor Laurel and I have the third piece sitting at home now – similar to the smaller one in the front (behind the burl).  No idea what I am going to do with it yet – either something will come to mind, or it won’t.  Either way, I might just polish it up and hang it on the shed wall!


Wish I had a bigger house for some of these – they’d make great tables!

More Slabs

A burl is like a tree cancer, sometimes significantly bigger than the trunk of the tree itself.

Bookmatched Burl

This burl is not only huge, but has also been bookmatched, producing an amazing result.

Tool Porn

Lots of tool porn at the shows – beautiful handtools, powerful electron murders, all good!

Stan and the School Girl

Stan ran his normal highly entertaining sessions, and on the Friday had a whole heap of older school kids come through.  This girl was one of a number of kids who had challenges set.  Her friends videoed, so it is probably on YouTube somewhere already!  She looks so incredibly nervous of that saw.

Lindsay and the Tormek Girl

The Tormek Girl is actually a bit unfair on Mel, who is one of the regional sales managers for Promac – the importers of Tormek, Flai, BMI etc.  She is learning quickly the techniques needed for the Tormek sharpener (when Lindsay wasn’t being distracting wanting a photo).


Carbitool were there once again, and I finally replaced my bottle of Top Saver (some would remember me using it to remove rust from some tools)  I also got some replacement tips for my surfacing cutter – they are only about $3.75 each tip, and each with 4 sides, so complaining the bit is blunt is a furfey.

Black Hearted Sassafras Guitar

One of the most stunning guitars I have seen – made from Black Hearted Sassafras by the look

Drowning Sorrows

A small goblet all in timber, and a bunch of profile planes nearby.


The Slabmaster worked much of the weekend – seen here taking a massive Depth of Cut (not that the machine seemed to mind)

American Indian Sand Art in a Dust Bag

The output from the Slabmaser caught in a dust bag looked rather cool, and resembled a landscape sand sculpture.  Trying to guess the different timbers represented would be an interesting exercise.


Turning Burls

One exercise I did decide to try, was seeing just how well the Torque Workcentre would handle preparing an actual burl, and these Back Butt burls were sitting near the workcentre. (After asking permission from the timber stand who was selling them), I fixed one to the surface of the TWC, and begun taking the outside off to produce the first, flat edge.  The piece I chose is the one in the top-right corner, and as you can just see, had a serious chainsaw scar across the surface.

Flattening the Burl Back

The first passes had to be pretty light, and slow – the bark isn’t held on tightly, and even so plenty of chips and waste were thrown all around.  The Walko clamps from Ideal Tools proved their weight in gold time, and time again, clamping down all sorts of odd shapes etc.

Deep Slicing

Each slice removed showed more and more what was deep inside the burl, and each pass revealed a surface with different character.

The Beginning of the Desktop Burl Clock

On flipping it over, I began work on the primary side, slowly removing the chainsaw scar.

The result is a large, freestanding burl, over 2″ thick which will become a clock for my desk at work.

Flattening the Support

To support the clock (or at least appear to do so), I’m using a bit of the offcut and again the TWC proved its’ valve, allowing it to be surfaced ready for attaching to the back of the clock.  Try putting a piece like this through a thicknesser, and watch the shrapnel fly!

So as quickly as it came, the show again is over for another year. Hope you got along if you could!

Episode 58 Mustang Sally

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