He’s champin’ for a clampin’

For those who don’t recognise the quote, it comes from a character in Futurama, known, surprisingly enough, as Clamps. (Short for Francis X. Clampazzo).


Back in the 21st century, we still have the standard mechanical versions (no homicidal robot attached).

Given the old adage that you can never have too many clamps, it is definitely a good thing to find that there are good clamps available that don’t have to break the bank.

Timbecon have a full range of clamps now available – quick action F clamps were what I was looking for particularly.  Their range can be seen better on their website, but what I picked up were a set of 120mm throat clamps, ranging from 300mm to 1000mm in length.

Price wise – $22.50 for a 300mm clamp through to $29.90 for a 1000mm one.  Yup – under $30.

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The price for an equivalent Bessey or Irwin is $72 (from another supplier).  So you can afford to get the number of clamps you need, not the number you can afford.

I also like the quick lever clamps they have (again Torquata brand).


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Again around $30 (+/- depending on the size).

A wall of clamps like you see on your favourite woodworking show (or a project covered in clamps during a glueup) is now a lot more affordable!


Deep throat revisited

It is actually called a Big Gulp, but got your attention!


I got this hood back in 2008, with the idea of using it on the lathe.  I never really was able to get it working well enough for me – just not enough draw from the dust extractor.

Think I might have just solved that problem.

This is the dust extractor I have just purchased, from Timbecon

557867-DC-2900_1Looks small in the picture, but it is quite the monster.  3HP, 2900cfm, 22.5″H2O static pressure.  8″ inlet, 400L of dust collection capacity. $900.

I was watching a timelapse I made of a process on the CNC, and I’d occasionally come in with a shot of compressed air to keep the working area clean.  Occurred to me that this would be right where the big gulp would come into its own – firstly sitting behind the CNC, drawing air and therefore any airborne particles away from the cutter, the workshop, and me.  And secondly, to catch any and all dust that gets sprayed back when I do use the compressed air.

You may wonder why I don’t have collection right at the cutter –  two reasons.  Firstly, I don’t want to pull the small parts up and out from where they are cut during nesting operations (particularly when they are only held down by the vacuum table), and secondly, it gets in the way of the camera!  I still have a lot of refinement to go, but these sorts of things are popping into my head now the issue of dust extractor power has been taken care of.

Given I also now have capacity spare in the dust extractor (as mentioned, it can take 1×8″ (200mm) in, which is the same cross section as 4×4″ tubes simultaneously.  Using anything less than 4 is only restricting flow, it doesn’t mean that the one or two being used are suddenly given a huge power boost (sadly)), I can plan to do some simultaneous collecting – such as one collecting on, or near the tool and one down at floor level where shaving accumulate/can be swept (or kicked) towards etc.  If I don’t close the blast gates to every tool other than the one being used, that won’t cause a real problem either.  It is going to take a bit of planning to reroute the dust extraction system to maximise the flowrate, even if that means running a much larger trunk line, or dual smaller lines across the workshop.  Who would have thought a 4″ (100mm) pipe would be regarded as a smaller line?!

One thing I am going to work on, is positioning the dust extractor in one of the storage areas I have alongside the main shed, so I don’t loose any valuable floorspace in the main shed, and minimise noise (not that the unit is particularly noisy).  The unit is 2600mm high (mostly those bags), so I will have to work out how to make it work with a lot less head-room.  The main workshop has no trouble with that height, and even a lower roof would be ok (the bags could just press against the roof – it would decrease overall airflow, but not massively).  However, where I have to put it, this may prove a real test.  What I will need to do is come up with a way to allow that much air to pass through something that has a lot less overall height.  Pleated filters may work (increased surface area because of the pleats means less overall height required), but I want to see what else I can come up with.  Ballooning bags perhaps?  (same surface area, larger diameter, and therefore less height).

The other ‘issue’ I see, is drawing that much air out of a workshop draws the same amount of air in from outside.  Where it could be really hot (summer) or cold (winter) – neither of which is desirable.  So instead, my thought is to place a filtered vent from the area the extractor is stored back into the main workshop.  That way the shop air is recirculated, not lost.  So long as I am not then pumping micron-sized particles back into the workshop (which is what filters are for), I don’t see this would be a particular problem.

Watching the timelapse, I see a huge amount of sawdust on the floor of the workshop (bad collection practices).  I think that will become more and more an issue of the past.


Sucking in the sides

Back to the vacuum table for a sec.  I’ve been cutting out a bunch of designs on the CNC, for a school fete in October – while the machine sits idle during the week, there is no reason for it to do the same on weekends.

The vacuum table makes a huge difference – designs can be cut out without tabs, which saves a phenomenal amount of effort.  Just the time saved between removing a sheet and securing down the next is enough to be significant.

I happened to glance over at the vac this evening, and more specifically to the Clearvue cyclone-like separator (I have the older version of the mini, where they had departed from a traditional cyclone design).  The collection bin on the separator had almost completely collapsed from the vacuum that was being generated.  Lucky it hadn’t caused the lid to spring a leak, otherwise I would have lost what was being cut, and probably the cutter as well.

It makes very evident that this is generating a pretty significant vacuum, and therefore there will not be a great deal of airflow.  Problem with that is the vacuum cleaner itself.  I expect it relies on the airflow for cooling, and without it, I’m probably slowly cooking the bearings.

While the bearings can survive some heat soak, they will be mounted in plastic, and that will not be enjoying the temperature at all.  When that fails, releasing the bearings and therefore the shaft of the motor, the failure will be catastrophic.  Something that is still on my mind.

Just as an aside, after testing out the new dust extractor yesterday, cleaning up around the CNC, I kept using it today after each job, and was easily able to keep the whole work area satisfyingly clean.  This is despite having had to temporarily reduce the 8″ opening to a measly 4″ (in hindsight I should have checked what the inlet was on the unit – I need to get a multi-inlet, or drive a whopping great cyclone unit with the thing).

Thought I would be alright – drop down to Bunnies and get some plumbing fittings to carry me over.  Except they don’t have fittings that run to 200mm!  Let alone tubing.

Based on cross section area of the inlet, I can connect 4x 4″ inlets simultaneously, as the cross section area of 4x 4″ is the same as 1x 8″.  Anything less than that is restricting the extractor’s performance.  Either way, I have some thinking to do to maximise the dust draw from around the workshop.  And where the extractor will permanently reside.


Had a thought, and took another look at the Oneida Super Dust Deputy.  Interesting – the version available in Oz is steel, but in the US there is also a couple of statically conductive resin versions.  One that is the equivalent of the steel version is a whole $US170.   Even if the libs go and dump us with paying GST on overseas purchases, $US170 equals $A267 at the current exchange rate.  There is an XL version, with 6″ inlets and outlets.  That is interesting, but as it is not available here, a bit academic.

The steel Super Dust Deputy has one problem for me (other than being $A500), it is only for 350-850 cfm.  I can now generate 2900cfm!  Hmm – wonder what a home-made Thein could handle?

Update 2 – fixed up my maths – the Sherwood has an 8″ inlet, not 6″!

East Meets West

For many years, Timbecon was very well known as the Perth-based woodworking retail company, which also frequented the wood shows on both coasts (which is how I mainly became familiar with the brand).

As of earlier this year (as previously mentioned), Timbecon now have a store at either side of the country, with the opening of their Coburg North (Melbourne) store.  So I decided to pay it a visit.

I’m not particularly familiar with the northern suburbs, so my GPS took me right to the store front, mainly via Eastlink.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 19 23It doesn’t have a huge storefront, but I was surprised to see just how much they had fitted into the retail area.  I can’t imagine the location will remain this size forever – I see some expansion in their tea leaves!

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 22The store has a good balance of large machines (the occasional purchases), and lots of consumables (the regular purchases – glues, finishes, sandpaper etc etc), and workshop necessities (such as clamps) (and more on them in a future post).

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Found a small bin unit at the back of the store with some cool wheels (and cheap) that will make plenty of toy projects.

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In the heavier machine range, Timbecon have the Sherwood machines, and the first thing that struck me was that there had been a bit of a colour change, and the original bright orange has been replaced with a much more stylish burnt sienna colour, (and portions of black) and the machines look really good in this scheme.  I know the colour of a machine is the least important factor when choosing one, but it doesn’t hurt to have a good looking workshop!

The 8″ jointer looked interesting

Photo 21-08-2015 10 41 36as did a retrofittable copy attachment for a lathe

Photo 21-08-2015 11 07 24There was a lot more than this to look at, but I got distracted by everything to look at, and forgot to take many more photos!

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 37 Photo 21-08-2015 10 39 08A very interesting ball joint for a 4″ dust extraction system – forgot to pick that one up when I was leaving – don’t have a particular use in mind, but wanted it anyway!

I was particularly interested in the dust extractors, being one of the long-term primary issues I have been having with the size of my current workshop, and something I have been wanting to deal with.

The unit I had seen on their website was there (now in the burnt sienna) – a 3HP dual bag unit for $500.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 12That is the one – in between the large single bag unit to the right, and the huge-looking unit behind it to the left.  After speaking with Hague (the manager), he suggested I have another look at the larger one.  For not much more, it had a significant performance boost.   I will go into a lot more detail in another post, but a quick glance:

Let’s put that into context.  This is a 3HP dust extractor, which is the same as many other dual bag collectors.  Where one well-known brand has a flow rate of around 2100 cfm (cubic feet/minute), and the ‘ultimate’ unit – the Powermatic has a flow rate of 1900 cfm (and costs about $2000), this Sherwood unit costs $900, and its flowrate is a massive 2900 cfm!  (Not sure how much pleated filters drop performance, but by their pleated design, the total area is significantly higher, so you’d hope they would provide a performance boost, rather than a decrease).

This extractor isn’t on the Timbecon website yet (there is a big upgrade happening at the moment, so expect a lot of additions over the next month or so), but there are a few of this model available in store.  Although one less than there was when I arrived!  At that price, and performance, I couldn’t resist. (And again, not meaning to pre-empt my upcoming post, but once I assembled the unit and turned it on, this unit sucked.  Big time.  But not in a bad way!

I ran out of time before I got to see everything, so will have to drop in again at some stage, but in the meantime they will be at the Timber and Working with Wood show in September, so I’ll have another gander then.

Timbecon has opened in Melbourne

Timbecon Website article.

A new store, in North Coburg apparently opened on Monday, and their first sale is this Saturday from 9-1 for everything instore (excluding some Triton, although I couldn’t find any on their website anyway).


Don’t know a great deal about Timbecon (them normally being in Western Australia) other than seeing them at the occasional wood store (and having a lot of rather bright orange machines)!

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