Sinking Deeper

Once the initial parts for the sink were glued up (the large U shape sections), it was time to make the actual components.  Ideally, I wouldn’t have had to take the previous step, but I am working with a limited stock size, partly as a bit of an exercise, partly because I have the timber, and don’t feel like buying something else.  The redgum is being salvaged from the ugliest, oldest sleeper you would have seen in a long time.  Always surprising just how much good timber is hidden behind a rough façade.

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Creating the sink template

To cut the individual sections out, I created a template from MDF.  It is easy to draw up and shape to the required profile.

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Template attached

In this case, I didn’t have to worry about screw holes, so it was easier and less problematic to use screws (Kreg square drive).  You may wonder about the amount of timber wasted here inside the sink.  It won’t be going to waste, as I intend to use this again in the same way to produce some other (as yet undecided) kitchen appliances.

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Bandsawing around the template

To remove the bulk of the material, the bandsaw works exceptionally well.  Cutting near to the template reduces the load on the pattern copying router bit.

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Routing to shape

Over to the router table, and with a pattern bit (a straight cutter with a bearing on top), each piece of the sink is routed to shape.  (The photo above has the piece upside down)

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Glued and clamped

Next, each piece is glued and clamped together to form the body of the sink.  The ends have also been cut using the same template, but obviously only the outside is cut and routed.

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Spindle Sanding

The spindle sander is next, and is the perfect tool for this job.  It may not get the full depth, but flipping the workpiece over a few times keeps things pretty even.

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Fine sanding

The size of the sink just allowed me to get the ETS150 inside, but it isn’t ideal for sanding around corners…..except I have a soft sanding pad (from Ideal Tools).  This has hooks on one side, and loops on the other, so it acts as a spacer between the original sanding pad and the sandpaper.  With this, it is really easy to sand all sorts of concave and convex profiles.

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Soft sanding pad

This is the soft sanding pad – a very useful addition for the ROS.

***Update: it is called an interface pad, and can be found here

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Attaching the sides

With the inside done, the sides of the sink can be attached.  This (and the next image) were actually photographed before the glueup, but it gives you the idea.

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Laminated sink

So that is how I make the laminated sink, still ensuring that the entire project can be made from timber.  Not sure if I will be able to maintain that ideal for the entire project, but I am still working towards it.  Very pleased I used contrasting timber this time – might as well make a feature of the laminations!

Enter, the Router Table

Taking the first components off to the next stage of the process involves the router table, and the rail & stile plus raised panel bits.

Cutting the interior profile

After some test cuts, the router table was set up to run the rails and stiles through the first router bit.  I use MagSwitch featherboards to hold the timber against the router table fence. They are so easy to position, and hold fast to the cast iron top of my router table.  Make you think it fortunate my router table is cast iron, but it came about in the reverse order.  I made the router table out of cast iron so that I could use MagSwitches on it.

Woodpeckers Coping Sled

After changing to the complementary router bit, it was time to cut the end grain of the rails.  If you ever wonder how to remember which is which, think about rails being horizontal.  They certainly are for trains! The stile is the other one.

The Woodpeckers Coping Sled is awesome for this task.  It holds the rails perfectly, and perpendicular to the direction of travel.  If I had taken more care, I would have used a sacrificial backing.  Probably should have – hardwood tears out a bit too easily. I’ll make sure I do when cutting the doors for the sink unit.

I just checked – the coping sled is still available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  They now have a mini one as well, but given the full sized one is on special, I’d still go with that one (the one pictured above).  There is so much more with this one, it is worth the difference.

Sanding the panels

After removing the panels being glued up in the Frontline clamps, I used the Festool belt sander to do a final flattening (including removing any glue squeezeout).  The large sander weights 7kg, and when coupled with the sled means you can hold the handle, and, well, hang on – letting the tool do all the work.  The work is clamped up using brass dogs on the vice, and dogs in holes in the table.

Panel bit

Once sanded (not the final sand – more a sizing sand than a finishing one), it was back to the router table, this time with a raised panel bit.  I don’t have a raised panel bit with a cutter for the back yet, so have to adjust it manually. This is not the final pass, but an intermediate one to check fit.  Best to do the crossgrain first, then the longgrain.

Panel bit

This is a monster bit – pretty much at the limit that a router can (or rather should) drive.  The run at the slowest speed still gets a decent tip speed.

Test fit

A quick test fit showed I was close, but still needs another pass to get it there.  Looking good though.  Will look even better when I do the 3D routing into each panel!  Once that routing is done (next session), then I can glue the panels up.

Thicknessing undersized stock

One thing I have been surprised with so far, is the lack of waste.  I’d always try to use timber to maximise yield, but there is always waste.  So far I’d not have enough offcuts to fill a 10L bucket – the yield is exceptional.

Even these thin panels that were ripped off the 19-20mm thick boards.  They will be perfect for the back of the units.  I wanted to run them through the thicknesser, but it just doesn’t go thin enough.  To solve that problem, I clamped on a sled.  The boards would not feed initially, but with a quick rubdown with Sibergleit, the boards fed through smoothly and easily.  I wouldn’t do this with any timber, or to go too thin, but it will get you out of trouble.
So a good session.  Progress seems slow, but this is always the slow part of any project.  Once the items are cut, and some preliminary joinery done, it usually flies together.

 

Some good news and bad news.  The good news is that I am documenting sessions on video.  Bad news is I am not planning on releasing the video until the project is complete!

Scratchin’ out a living

When you are used to using power tools and machines for your woodworking, it is easy to forget that sometimes a handtool is the best tool for the job.

They are quieter (much, much quieter), safer (although any sharp thing can cut), and often can get into places denied to power tools.   They also can have a different method for removing material. Where both can slice, only a handtool can scrape.  (Now I’m sure someone will tell me I’m wrong…..)

Scraping has its benefits.  It avoids tearout, as the blade is not parting material ahead of the blade – lifting and cutting.  Think of all the adverts on TV about shavers, where the blade lifts and cuts the hair.  If you are lifting timber, there is a chance more will lift than you intended, and tear out.  Scraping has the blade at a different angle of attack, with the cutting edge trailing behind, rather than leading the way.

Scraping is used in a number of hand tools.  For planing a surface with torturous grain (burls and the like), you can get planes with the blade set vertically for a scraping cut.  You can use scrapers (a piece of steel with a fine burr to perform the actual cut) as an alternative (and superior to) sandpaper.  And you can use a scratch stock as an alternative to a router.

It is a very simple tool – a piece of spring steel with the required profile cut into it.  And a holder.

You can make your own, or check out this one from Hock Tools (Ron Hock being very well known for the quality of his plane blades).

Hock Scratch Stock

This is available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies in Australia, who sell items from the Hock Tools’ range.  The body is made from a laminate of bamboo, which has good water resistance, and shape stability.  Instructions for using the scraper can be found here.

Where noone would consider manufacturing their own router bit, this comes with a second piece of tool steel so you have plenty of opportunity to create just the profile you want.

I came across an interesting concept while looking at these scratch stocks (and especially the supplied profile).  It used to be quite common for this profile to be used on the leading edge of a kitchen bench….underneath.  The purpose was as a drip arrestor.  Any liquid spilling and running over the edge would gather at the bottom of the curve of the profile and drip off, rather than continuing on its journey into one of the drawers (often the cutlery!)  Simple idea – pity it seems to be forgotten by modern kitchen manufacturers.

A very simple concept, a very simple tool, the ability to make your own profiles, and the ability to deliver that profile just where you need it, right out of reach of powered tools.

Ready for the next revolution?

With the addition of the DVR motor to the lathe, it was transformed into a stunning machine, powerful, energy efficient, futuristic even.

So the next revolution? (Sorry about the pun!)

Teknatool are developing a DVR drill press!

No more belts, pulley slippage, belt vibration.  No more bogging down of a drill bit as the bit meets resistance and because of the pulley ratios, the motor is stalled.

The ability to easily tilt the drill head over and angle it to the workpiece which is maintained on a flat surface, rather than having to angle the workpiece to a fixed head.  I know there are some drill presses that can achieve this, but few and far between.

Instead of drilling a hole at whatever speed that the drill press is set for (and just how often do we change the belt speed for a single hole)? you’d have no excuse not to dial in exactly the right speed, each and every time. It is going to be a great drillpress!

 

Thinking about it, with the motor onboard the head (direct drive), then the plunge mechanism moves the whole lot – chuck and motor combined.  There is no limit then to the amount of plunge that is available.

DVR Drillpress

DVR Drillpress

Looking forward to seeing the DVR motor included on other machines – thicknessers, saw tables, bandsaws etc.  Instead of a router mounted under a router table, how about a DVR motor?  Seriously awesome!

Barley Twist

After finding a natural barley twist while holidaying in Queensland, Geoff has sent a couple of photos in of a barley twist lathe that he has acquired (but yet to use).

It is interesting to study, just to see how simple an arrangement it is, and with a little bit of work, pretty easy to duplicate – especially (but not limited to) those with Torque Workcentres.

It would be pretty easy to add this functionality to a real lathe (but NOT switching the lathe on!!!) A lathe with an indexing ring would be excellent for this

Barley Twist Lathe

Barley Twist Lathe

Barley Twist Lathe detail

Barley Twist Lathe detail

I’m not sure the drive mechanism for this lathe – it may be from pushing the router sideways, but I suspect you manually turn the black winder in the second photo.  In that photo, you can also see an indexing ring, which is essential for setting the workpiece to the next start location.  Depending on the combination of how far around the workpiece is indexed, the router bit chosen, and the setting for how fast the router moves relative to each rotation of the workpiece will dictate resulting effect.

A barley twist lathe can be regarded as a glorified Beall Pen Wizard (or is it the other way around – the Beall is a miniature barley twist lathe?!)

Beall Pen Wizard

Beall Pen Wizard

Back to Geoff’s lathe – I can’t see how the gearing is regulated, but I assume it can be changed.

So that is a barley twist lathe.  Do an image-search on Google for Barley Twist will reveal over a million examples of this ornamental feature being used in different projects, with varying degrees of success!  In some instances it is beautifully complementary to the overall object.  In some other cases, it has obviously been included without any understanding of how such an ornate feature should be used.

Super Miniature Bearing Bits and the Baby Hippo

When I first saw the miniature bearing router bits from Toolstoday.com, I immediately knew one job that they would be perfect for – kids’ toys.  They often have many curves and tight sections where a normal router bit fears to tread (and often cannot get anywhere near following the twists and turns).  A typical fine router bit doesn’t have a bearing, and instead has a simple shaft that is part of the bit, and therefore rotates at the same speed (and for such a small diameter router bit, this can be 20,000 – 25,000 RPM).  This quickly leads to heat buildup, and friction burning of the timber.  It isn’t too much of an issue with such a small diameter, but the area in contact with the work is always rotating, where I prefer a bearing where the contact point of the guide is stationary.

Types of small bit

Types of small bit

From right to left, there is the non-bearing bit, a roundover bit with a regular-sized bearing, and the Amana Tool miniature bearing router bit.  This really reveals just how tiny the bearing is.

Amana bearing vs normal

Amana bearing vs normal

Just for a sense of scale, the bearing on the right is a typical 1/2″.

So where it comes to fitting into the smallest of places, this is the bit for the job.

Animal train

Animal train

The hippo here is part of an animal train pull-along, and without rounded edges looks very unfinished.  With all the tight corners, it was going to take something unusual to get in there (or try sanding it by hand). After rounding over each side, it went from ‘roughly cut out’ to basically finished and ready for oiling in a very quick pass on either side.

Getting into the nooks and crannies

Getting into the nooks and crannies

The bit really excelled in this application, and did a great job while doing so.  Smooth cut and finish without tearout, and a fine bearing that glided over the work.

If you reference back to my previous article (linked below), you’ll see there are a number of other bits in the range, so a number of different tasks can be achieved in very restricted spaces. Available from Toolstoday.com

Flooring the Opposition

How often do you find that you walk on a hardwood floor, to quickly realise that the floor is an illusion, that the wooden surface is nothing more than a thin veneer.  You feel it underfoot – that springy feeling, and the sound, the slap each step of the floating panels hitting the floor underneath.

Another common polished timber floor are full thickness boards, but they are not tongue and grooved together, and each board is nailed down by an enthusiastic builder with a nail gun.  And every nail hole filled with poorly colour-matched knobs of putty.

What if you have found some beautiful pieces of timber, either virgin or reclaimed that you would love to use?  Then the solution is to make your own floorboards, and creating your own tongue and grooves is the way to go.  A tongue and groove in its simplest form can join the boards together, but Toolstoday.com have a much more refined bit set available from Amana Tool, and again a set endorsed by Lonnie Bird.

Router set storage case

Router set storage case

The set of two matched router bits is particularly well made – I don’t normally notice the fit of the shaft in the router, but these bits were particularly well machined.  Many companies ignore the shaft to a large extent, with microridges from the tooling marks on the shaft being acceptable.  These were very fine – a really good fit, and smooth.  You may think that smoothness leads to slippage, but that is not the case.  Lubrication causes slippage, as does a limited contact area, and ridging can cause quite a drop in the contact area between the router shaft and the collet.

A smooth shaft maximises contact area, and therefore grip.  If you don’t quite believe this, ask yourself why (in dry weather) Formula 1 cars perform best on slick tyres.

Onto the rest of the two bits, and the finish remains immaculate.  No rough brazing here, and quality carbide well backed up with the router bit base material.

Immaculate Amana router bit set

Immaculate Amana router bit set

The router bits have to be used in a table-mounted router, and a fence is highly desirable, if not a must.  The router bits have bearings, but for thinner boards, the bearing does not contact the board.  It still is very useful to ensure the fence is set to the right distance for the bit.  Speaking of board thickness, there are two sets available – one for boards 5/8″ – 3/4″ (which is the set I have), and another for boards 1/2″ – 5/8″

Mounted in the router table

Mounted in the router table

One thing that these bits do not do, is cause the groove to be too deep, or the tongue too long. (We do not need a Gene Simmons endorsed router bit!)  Once the boards are interlocked, you don’t need to risk having either portion of the board cracking or breaking off.

There are a number of other subtle developments that have been incorporated in the Amana Tool design.

Interlocking Board Features

Interlocking Board Features

Starting from the top of the joint, the two boards come together completely flat, ensuring the least amount of gap possible between boards.  This is the only contact area between the boards in the horizontal plane, so seasonal change should have minimal impact on the joint.

The next feature is the tiny triangular indent out of the lefthand board.  This is a gap for a hidden nail to be shot at an angle through the board to nail it to the joist that holds the floor up. Having a gap for this hidden nail prevents the head of the nail interfering with the joint.  It also means it is easy to nail the board at an angle through the solid portion of the timber, rather than firing the nail vertically through the much thinner tongue, risking forming a split.

The tongue is short, and rounded, so there is one point of contact at the widest point of the tongue. The corners of the tongue, and the groove in which it engages are all rounded.  This minimises the likelihood that a crack will start in the corner and break off the tongue, or the outer edges of the groove.

Finally, there is the large cavity at the bottom of the joint.  It helps prevent moisture from gathering at the joint, and being wicked up into the joint.

Joined boards

Joined boards

Boards once joined together are seamless, with only the different grain of each board giving away where one finishes, and the next begins.  Having a decent thickness adds to the overall quality of the floor, and being able to make the professional-style tongue and groove boards yourself can save a fortune, and also allow you to specifically choose the timber that the floor will be made from.

Once again, and unsurprisingly, a quality set of router bits from Amana Tool, and Toolstoday.com.

A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird’s the word….

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