Storage solutions

I have been looking for additional storage for a while, and came across the Kobalt cabinets in Masters.

Despite being an in-house brand, they seemed pretty good on a number of fronts. Doors were heavy, cupboard depth was generous, and they looked good (and without fake boilerplate).

Still, I ummed and ahhed a bit, and decided to measure the available space, and sleep on it- at $300 for a full cabinet and $170 for a wall mounted one, I wanted to think about it more.

On the way home, stopped for petrol from a Woolworths station, and got a voucher on the receipt for 15% off at Masters. Then, while having a look online, discovered they were now on special- $169 and $149. Hoping they would still have stock, and that I would be able to use the discount voucher as well, I headed on down, and sure enough, got the cabinets I wanted at a really good price.

While doing the very straight-forward assembly, I discovered something else- solid design, and a well thought out assembly method, with understandable instructions.

Screws were preinserted in holes, ready for the final tightening after inserting into the relevant keyhole. That made assembly particularly easy, and quick.

After a bit of a shed rearrangement, I now have this shed setup:


Now I just have to figure out what goes where!

As you can see, the bar fridge got relocated as well, and the Walko workbench set up a bit better as well.


Routing Steel

Sound insane? It isn’t as uncommon as you’d think, but it does take a router bit that goes well above and beyond what is normally used in the woodworking arena. (Perhaps one suited to Australian hardwood!!)

You need a cutter that has a surface harder than the material you want to cut, and durable enough to survive the loading and impact. Start with a quality carbide, and not just carbide tips brazed to a steel core, but solid, micrograin carbide.


To dramatically increase wear resistance, apply an aluminium titanium nitride (AlTiN) coating, and with a few physical attributes (upcut, mill end, corner chamfer) you have a router bit that can rout and mill steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, copper, even titanium.

The router bits here are specifically designed for CNC machines, which is a good thing, as you can then accurately control feed rates to match the material being cut.

Lubricant/coolant is highly recommended, so things could get a bit messy.

Fascinating what materials engineering makes possible.



Seen while perusing the website. The concept caught my eye!

SSYTC063 The Shed Arrives

SSYTC063 The Shed Arrives

All 1.6 tonnes of Australian Steel.  There is a bit more to come – a roller door that will arrive later today, and the PA doors, the windows and insulation is currently at the yard waiting for the erectors.

So now we wait again, hope for a long run of fine weather so the other sheds in the queue get done quickly.  It is going to be interesting to see how this pile of miscellaneous steel shapes become a shed.  The pile looks very small compared to the resulting structure!

The Nephrite Age

Society has come so far in its ability to exploit the resources of the world, from the Stone Age, through Bronze Age, Iron Age, Industrial, Atomic, and the grey area we currently find ourselves as a combination of nuclear, post-nuclear, cybernetic, bio-engineering ages. Perhaps it is time for woodworkers to avoid the confusion of the modern era, and return to a modern version of the Neolithic era.

Nephrite, one of the two forms of Jade, is commonly called greenstone or pounamu in Māori, and the South Island is also called Te Wai Pounamu, or The (land of) Greenstone Water. The pre-European Māori were in a Neolithic Age, having not utilised metal, and perhaps the abundance of Greenstone went a way to explain why this was the case, and for the same reason why modern woodworkers might be keen to usher in a new Neolithic era: the Nephrite Age.

Nephrite is not a particularly hard jemstone- on the Mohs scale, where diamond ranks top at a 10 for hardness, and most jems rank over 7, Nephrite scores between 5.8 and 6.5 (where Jadeite, another form of Jade scores between 6.2 and 6.7). However, on the same scale copper only scores 3, iron 4 and steel 4-4.5. (Hardened steel manages 7.5-8) So the incentive to migrate into a copper, then iron age just isn’t there as much.

Nephrite can withstand almost 8 tonnes/square cm before fracturing, and although reasonably hard, can still be ground to a required shape by other rocks, or more modern methods obviously.

One researcher put this to the test, and duplicated some common metal components in Nephrite to see how they’d function compared to their metal counterparts.

A spokeshave worked equally as well as metal, a drill bit cut holes in wood and aluminium easily. He created a Nephrite cold chisel and used it to shear a 1mm steel plate, and open a metal drum. Nails made from Nephrite worked well, and they didn’t bend (although I imagine that instead of bending you’d find yourself with a lot of jade shrapnel instead if you did miss-hit!)

So could you imagine having a set of Nephrite tools?


I canonly imagine how awesome a set of chisels would look, or perhaps a smoothing plane such as the one by HNT Gordon made entirely in Greenstone, including the blade.


Just how cool would that be?!!!!!!!

Wild Horses – Mustang by Name & Spirit

Perhaps a bit of creative license, but the Flai Mustang is a very interesting blade to have mounted in the table.  More formally called a multi-material blade, I prefer to think of it as a Universal Blade.  Or a Jack-of-all-trades.

The Multi-Material Mustang

It can be mounted in your tablesaw, and cut whatever you decide (or accidentally include) for it to cut, and in particular when dealing with reclaimed timber it is easy to miss the occasional nail, and this blade doesn’t think twice about it.

There is a compromise in that – the teeth are designed to cut wood and steel (mild), but that will mean it is not going to achieve a perfect finish when compared to a dedicated blade.  In saying that, it will be interesting to see just how large, or small that compromise is when I put the blade through the battle-of-the-blades tests.  Given its other design and construction features, it could still out-perform many of the dedicated blades, but I’ll reserve my judgement to the tests.

Mustang Teeth

There is another compromise – it has a pretty small gullet, so in ripping, particularly material prone to generating long fibres, the blade is going to struggle if the feed rate is too high.  But once again, if it is a choice between running a Mustang through timber prone to have hidden nails and running a dedicated rip blade and finishing with shattered teeth, well it is a no-brainer.

It has a surface treatment they have coined the “MetalGear Coating”, which is claimed to double the cutting capacity of the blade, and allow faster feed rates.  To achieve this coating, Flai uses PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition), where the coating (in this case a nitride coating) increases the surface hardness around 5 times.  The actual “gear” pattern that they achieve at the edge of the coating is just marketing.  But it looks good 🙂

The carbide tips are brazed on using a silver-copper-silver alloy which provides a lot more shock absorption capability than a standard silver brazed joint.  This is particularly important for a blade designed to cut both woods and metals – absorbing the impacts that would otherwise result in microcrack formation (and when a microcrack grows, it finally results in the loss of a blade’s tooth).

So that is a bit of a look at the Mustang, a TCT circular sawblade with neutral hook angle and triple chip teeth, a universal blade capable of cutting wood, wood derivatives, nail embedded wood, plexiglas, plastics, non-ferrous metals and mild steel.

I particularly like that nail embedded wood bit – being freed of the thought in the back of your mind that there might be missed nails etc in the bit of reclaimed timber you are about to cut is quite a liberating concept. In the past, seeing the remains of a nail that has been sliced by a quality blade is not unlike finding half a worm in an apple you’ve just bitten.  With this blade it becomes a “eh, whatever, extra protein” moment!

A New Bible

Bi·ble n. A book considered authoritative in its field

There are many, many (many, many, many!) books out there about aspects of woodworking.  Only a very few are worthy of being elevated to the point that they can be regarded as a bible in their selected field.

Ron Hock is one of “The” authorities on sharpening, blade making, and steel processes that makes his new book “The Perfect Edge” one that should not only be read cover to cover (multiple times), but owned and consulted regularly by any woodworker who is serious about his craft, and/or works with edged tools and/or likes their tools working at an optimum level.

The book is beautifully presented, and absolutely jam-packed with well presented information.

If I seem a bit enthusiastic about this book, you are right – I only flicked through a few pages of a friend’s copy before I was on Amazon, and have ordered my own.  (It is on special at the moment for $US19, yet this is a full sized, hardback, 224 page, colour book – great price!)

Ron Hock in brief summary, started off making carving knives.  His blades were so popular, he became highly sort after for his blades and steel, and so moved into making plane blades and associated chip breakers etc.  In recent times, he has returned to where he started, producing a set of carving knives (that have previously featured on this site).

But it is his in-depth knowledge of steel, and particularly where it is relevant to forming, and holding a razor-sharp edge which has been so well interpreted and translated into this tome.

The topics covered are very comprehensive, from the internal structure of steel, through heat treating, the science behind a sharp edge, through to how to achieve that for yourself.  Ron understands the metallurgy of steel, and it is presented in a style that will give you an insight into the topic, and why I have long been fascinated by it.

The book has over 400 photos, charts and illustrations, ensuring the points and concepts are well made, and understood.

This is the bible on sharpening (along with Lie-Nielsen’s Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Sharpening).  If you but remember a fraction of this book, and put it into practice, your tools will be deadly sharp, and a pleasure to use.

Japanese Plane Blade

While visiting Chris Vesper recently, and looking though his extensive collection of historical tools, a particular Japanese Plane Blade looked particularly interesting.  We didn’t know what the writing on the blade said, so I cornered one of the Japanese lecturers at Monash University who provided the following interpretation

Japanese Plane Blade

Japanese Plane Blade

To give you a sense of size of the above-plane, it is 4.5″ long, 2.25″ wide and over 0.25″ thick, hollow ground. The Japanese blade-makers sure know their craft. Chris has offered a photo of the blade fitted to the plane (now included)

Japanese Plane with Blade Fitted

Japanese Plane with Blade Fitted

A2 vs O1 Tool Steel

The Wood Whisperer recently touched on this topic, and has a very comprehensive reply from Ron Hock which is worth the read. (Hock was mentioned on here recently for his new range of carving knives)

O1 Tools Steel is a low alloy steel that can produce a very fine, sharp edge with an oil quench (thus the “O”)
A2 Tool Steel has more alloys in it, can be “A”ir quenched, and can benefit from cryogenic treatment (see my article on Steel for more info).

So if you are choosing what material you want to have for your plane or chisel blades, definitely an article worth considering.

Steel City

I had reason to pop across to the Steel City website, and I guess I haven’t been on there for a long time because the first thing that jumped out of the screen at me was their awesome logo.

steelcitylogoBeing a fan of molten steel, forging, casting, etc, the idea that there is still an industry based around what is a very old material is very appealing. So seeing a logo embodying that very topic has immediate appeal for me!  But it is a cool logo.

Their byline also works on a number of levels: By Woodworkers for Woodworkers.

What I was looking for were the specs on the Granite Angle Gauge, but I’m now wondering if it is so new as to almost be a prototype, as I couldn’t find it on their site.

Shame some of their other tools can’t be sourced in Oz – it would make for a hell of a workshop! (Of course don’t try using MagSwitch technology on their granite topped tools!)

Timber Store

To try to find more storage room in the lower shed, I’ve moved out all the pine offcuts that I got from Holmesglen onto a woodrack that I’ve made for the outside of the shed.  This will initially get covered with a tarp, and later on I will readdress the issue, using some of the left-over tin from the shed reconstruction to make a more permanent solution.

New Woodrack

New Woodrack

The rack is constructed with 2 uprights and 4 cross-members.  These have then had an angled 38mm hole cut with a forstner bit to take the lengths of steel pipe (this is the same pipe that I was trying to give away last year, and had no (local) takers.  As you can see, there are all sorts of useful jobs for (free) steel.)  The Triton Steel Cutter made absolutely short work of cutting the pipes in two, and getting them all the same length.  On the inside wall of the shed, there are wooden battens that the hex self-tapping screws have been driven into.  What I will do next is drill some 38mm holes into those, and put in a few short lengths of pipe again, and make a steel rack on the inside for all the lengths of steel I have.  This will also benefit the shed wall by balancing the load somewhat!  So that is one task down in the cleanup and out of the lower shed.  A bit of a re-sort now to come, and hopefully that will free up some significant space so I can actually access what remains in storage, so I can actually use it when I need it!

Looking at the wood pile here, and there are plenty of toys etc hiding in there I’m sure, that a combination of tools in the shed will manage to release from their confines.

(BTW, if the racks in the above photo appear to be sloping down, rather than up, that is more a trick of the vantage point, and the wide angle lens, rather than reality.  If you look at the fence battens, they are also sloping down, but in reality are horizontal)

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