Storage Sunday

The second part of the weekend effort was focused on creating the timber storage area.  This is the final piece of the storage jigsaw, and (once the mezzanine is completed) it means everything can start to migrate to its permanent home.

Oh, well not quite – there is the not-insubstantial issue of storage within the workshop, but that is (kind of) a different matter.

The timber store is a big deal though – a dedicated storage area for everything from the smallest through to the longest, and the largest pieces.  It is 6m long, 1.5m wide, totaling 9m2 of timber storage.  Certainly not the biggest I’ve seen – Chris Vesper’s and Lazy Larry’s both still put it to shame, but that is ok – I wasn’t looking to create the biggest, or the best, just something that suits my needs.

It has plenty of length, so long supplies will not be an issue, and sheet goods will have plenty of area to be laid out for ease of access.

The materials for the store came from the original 3×3 shed that was taken down at the start of the workshop project.  After slicing and dicing, (and with a bit of fudging), it has worked out pretty well.

Photo 16-02-2014 18 37 21Alongside is a perfect little area for sheet steel etc – some of the leftover sheets from the workshop build.  I was originally going to make the front out of the remainder of the steel from the workshop, but in the end the convenience of cutting the original front wall in half, and retaining the door (already fitted) won the day.

Inside, you can get an idea of what I mean about storage.

Photo 16-02-2014 18 37 32I am not sure how the store will go in bad weather – specifically leaks, and any water that may come under the walls.  Things will have to be stored up off the floor (which is normal anyway), and on wood racks.  I will have to go out there the next decent rain and find the main leaks to patch.  Won’t be much – nail hole here, leaking joint there.

In the back corner, you can see the external GPO fitted to the back corner of the workshop for the air compressor (which will also go in here).  Even the pallet jack has found a home.

I am very pleased how it has worked out. Probably won’t do much with the floor – perhaps some pavers that I have spare.  I might do the same as I have in the other shed, but it is not a priority at this stage.

Now just have to get the mezzanine completed (I’ve already started moving things up there – couldn’t wait!)

Running total now:

Workshop: 50m2
Mezzanine storage: 21m2
Timber Store: 9m2
Total: 80m2

That’ll do
(for the time being!)

Bending Timber

Many years ago (I can say that now, being 5 or so years ago!), I wrote a post about bending timber using kerfing. To this day, it remains one of the most clicked-on posts of all time. It would certainly justify a revisit, and expansion to the original post.

Out in the shed today, I was using the Amana Tool Tambour Bit set to make a large tambour door for the toy kitchen (and the full article about the construction will be in the next edition of ManSpace magazine). When I had finished it, and assembled all the slats, it was surprising to see just how flexible the interlocking slats were. It made me think of kerfing, with a different surface texture (obviously). (The bit set is available from

If flexibility was not the desired end result, but the forms that could be created during assembly, this could produce some really organic structures – lounge chairs, curves around structures etc. Although (like kerfing) there are some inherent weak areas, (which don’t compromise the structure if used for a roller door but would if used for a deck chair), these could be easily overcome with good glue, and supporting structure, allowing the form of the tambour, with the strength required for the alternate purpose.

Tambour Door

Tambour Door

So there is the teaser. The full door (and in this case, it will be a door for the toy kitchen), is 450mm wide and around 750mm in length, and is made up of 52 individual slats that require no joiners, no backing tape or canvas: just pure, interlocking timber slats. Total distance of timber passing through the various machines in getting it sized correctly, then shaped by the router table was around 1/2 a km. Not relevant, just interesting!


The Timber and Working with Wood Show (Melbourne) starts tomorrow, and there is a production line in the lounge tonight making up showbags!

Contents include a Festool mousepad from Ideal Tools some disposable glue brushes from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, a copy of ManSpace magazine, and a bunch of flyers of various topics. If I can get any other retailers interested at the show, I’ll try to slip some other bits n pieces in.

Only making about 200, so it is quite an exclusive group that will be able to say they have a Stu’s Shed showbag! (And I’d be surprised if anyone else has a showbag at all!)


Set up the stand today- looking forward to a fun weekend. Hope to see you all there.

Whispering Timbers

More often than not, probably 9 times out of 10, when I head out to the shed, I have no pre-conceived ideas of what I am going to do out there. Some times I may be doing a bit of clean up, some times a re-organisation,  some times nothing more than a beer, listening to some music or watching an episode of “The Wire”, and some times, occasionally, some woodworking!

Even when I discover that I will be woodworking, I still then listen to the timbers to find out what I am going to do.  Today was no different.  I found myself picking up a square of, well I still am no good at working out the different timber types, and mounting it on the lathe.  The timber whispered, and it was to be a square bowl, with a scooped out round section from the middle.

To start, a mounting ring was screwed to one side, which mounts in the jaws of my Nova chuck.  Once finished shaping the base of the bowl and cutting a recess for the jaws, the bowl is reversed, remounted, and the ring removed.

I didn’t take any more progress photos after this one – combination of getting too absorbed in what I was doing, and no idea if there would be a result anyway!

However, a result there was, and so to the Roving Reporter, I see your salad bowl, and I raise you:

The finish was achieved first with the Ubeaut Rotary Sander from Carbatec, then Ubeaut EEE followed by Shellawax.  I tried some of the Ubeaut Glow, but on this timber it was hard to pick the difference between the Shellawax and the Glow finish.  Both looked good!

All these finishes are available from Carbatec, and Carrolls, and a number of resellers overseas (the products are now exported to the USA and Canada, not sure about the UK but wouldn’t be surprised!)

I got the base pretty thin in the end, perhaps a little thinner than I was expecting!  In a dark room, you can actually see torchlight through it!

I’m rather pleased with the result.  I’m sure it is still pretty amateurish, but then I still have a long way to go on the woodworking journey.  I still like it!

Guess the timber was talking today 🙂

Picking up a slab

In many sheds (and parties, and sports clubs) down under, that’d raise connotations of an end of the productive side of the day, and the cracking of a few favourite beverages is about to commence.  But for woodworkers, there is also the possibility that it means just that – the acquisition of a large flat slice of timber, usually cut by someone else who has more specialised toys than in the average shed.

However, if you own (or are considering) the Torque Workcentre, it is not out of reach, as the slabbing attachment gives the typical workshop the ability to claim very useable timbers from the very trees in which it grows.

The attachment has 2 main parts – two clamps that attach to the main arm on the TWC, and securely clamp a chainsaw between them.  About 4″ of the chainsaw bar length is lost in this, so a 16″ chainsaw can slab a maximum width of 12″.  The bigger the chainsaw, the more powerful the motor, the larger the slab you can manage.

There is a block on either side of the bar (narrower than the width of the bar, so as not to touch the chainsaw teeth) that hold the chainsaw firm, and with one at either end of the bar, it is locked in tight.

The position is probably different from chainsaw to chainsaw, but a hole through to, or scalloped out area near the chainsaw would be useful so blade adjustments can be done without the need to remove the chainsaw from the jig.

I’d also like to see some form of oil reservoir mounted above the chain with a controllable feed rate, as the normal chain lubrication method being gravity fed is rather ineffective with the chainsaw perpetually on its side.  However, these are all refinements to the basic operation.

I started with a lump of camphor laurel (yes, oh Roving Reporter, THE lump of CL – you’ll have to find an alternate seat!) that I picked up for $10 a couple of years ago, and secured it to the TWC.  Although this piece is short enough to pass through a resawing operation on the bandsaw, it works well as a test piece here.  With the chainsaw bar levelled out, and the depth of cut set, I was ready for a first pass.

The first cut was set very shallow – I only wanted to take off enough to flat-spot the log, so it would sit more securely on the workbench for further slices.

As the chainsaw bit in, the unmistakable aroma of camphor wafted through the shed, undiminished by the continuous air filtration of the Microclene unit, or even the head protection afforded by the Purelite Respirator (I geared up a bit for this) – I’d have to have used a carbon filter to extract that, but it isn’t unpleasant (although my wife strongly disagreed when she made a surprise visit, committing the cardinal sin of interrupting shed time 😦 😉 )  Even a couple of hours later when I walked past the outside of the shed, the smell was still very much in evidence!

With the first cut complete, the log was flipped over for the first slab to be cut.

One of the problems I always have, is getting timber that is thick enough when I go shopping – like purchasing steak from the supermarket, they are sold so measly thin, on the (probably correct) assumption that people will buy more quantity, rather than quality (3 thin steaks sells better than 2 thick ones).  This isn’t an issue when you do it yourself, and in the case of slabbing a trunk, you can cut the slab as thick as you like.  And you can also choose whether you want regularly sawn timber, or quarter sawn.

Not an option you normally get from a box-hardware store.  For the same reason – a quarter sawn log is more expensive (more timber is wasted) and the average shopper doesn’t distinguish, other than on the price.

There are plenty of ripples across the surface from the cut, but a few quick passes through the drum sander got rid of them without a problem (I used the drum sander to avoid the snipe from the thicknesser on a short board).

Finally, it was off to the new workbench, and firing up of the Festool ETS 150/5 (random orbital sander)

Hard to see here, but a quick rub down with a wood oil (the ol’ Triton oil in this case) really picked out the details.  I didn’t actually need to oil it yet, other than my own curiosity – the board will head over to the tablesaw to cut it to size for the next project, and get whatever finish is applied to that, but I just wanted to really see how the details responded, especially the spalting, to a bit of oil.

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!

Timber Sale Scavenging

Had an early start to the day – heading down the peninsula to a “final sell-off of timber due to a lifestyle change” sale.  Opportunity for some bargains, so couldn’t resist.  Got in early to have a chance to see what was worth grabbing, and although it was very civilised, you couldn’t afford to be late to get the good stuff.  Not sure what it was like at the end of the day – might have been some real bargains at that end too of what was left.

As I first walked up the driveway, saw a “small” shed to die for.  This was to the left of the house, so really was the shed on the property.  The whole place had just sold for a bit over $1million – guess that is what you have to pay for to get a place with a shed like that!

This place would be a woodworker’s dream – to the left of this shed was a small building marked as furniture sales – having somewhere to display final products, separate to the workshop.  And the driveway between the two lead to the wood store, where the sale was happening.

I found a couple of saw horses, so started loading it up with what I had found.

Started off getting a Blackwood lot, with a fair number of boards for $60.  Followed that up with a similar pack of Merbau for $50. Some pretty large boards in both these.  Found a pile of Jarrah shorts for $10 (lower left corner of the photo below), and 8 pieces of Gerrongang for $35.

The whole stack here cost $155. Didn’t bother trying to bargain – what was the point!

So by 10am, the day had already started pretty well.  Could have potentially spent a lot more, but you have to be pretty quick to find the bargains.  Had looked at the Gerrongang early on for example, and been indecisive. By the time I made a decision, I had to wait while two other people had a good paw through it before deciding to leave it – grabbed it before someone else decided it was a good buy.  I assume it is – at that price you can’t go too far wrong.

It is also still very obvious that I need more experience with timber – not knowing what some things are or at least how they could be used, and their value means you just don’t know if something is a bargain or not.

I’m pretty sure that under the aged exterior of a lot of these boards that some very nice timber is hiding.

Again, the experience of doing the Hall Table course at Ideal Tools actually came though here.  Seeing the sort of boards that are worth starting with when making something really helped.

So that was my morning, before heading off to a house open-day.  Not likely to be able to afford to move, but the place I looked at included both a double garage, and a 12m x 8m shed with a decent roof height.  Sure would be nice to have more space 🙂 And storage! No idea where I am going to fit the latest purchases above!

A Sense of Responsibility

I became a timber owner today.  And that carries both a sense of possibilities, but also responsibility.  A responsibility to utilise that timber in a way that best displays the incredible characteristics, and varieties of each and every piece.

What arrived (ahead of schedule which was good, meaning it turned up just before the Easter break), was a Torque Workcentre which I am using to create a comprehensive set of assembly instructions, and in a second container which was almost the same size, and felt like it weighed just as much, was a wide assortment of timbers from Lazy Larry Woodworks in Queensland.  Almost was surprised when I got home without blowing a tyre on the trailer!

As soon as I cracked open that container, a very familiar (and welcome) aroma wafted out – the unmistakable smell of Camphor Laurel.  And it certainly wasn’t just CL in the container.  Silver Ash, Maple and Walnut were just some of the 40 pieces of timber of all sorts of shape and size were inside.

Assortment of Timber from Lazy Larry

Although most seem to have some indication what they are, I think I’m going to need Larry’s help actually working out what all of it is!

So now I don’t have an excuse, and already feel a an urge to really do something with this timber. In the past, with the nicest pieces in the shed, they are (kinda) earmarked for future boxes, but that is both a lack of imagination on my part, and a function of the size of those pieces.  This collection is something else, and could become part of some piece of fine furniture, such as the Hall Table I made on the Ideal Tools course late last year.

Possibilities, possibilities (and responsibilities). Taking those 40 odd pieces of timber, and making the best use of them that I can.

A Wrap

Been a big week, and it is only Tuesday (ok- now Wednesday – fell asleep while writing this!)  Decided on Saturday that it was time for me to hand over the reins of the courses I was running at Holmesglen Tafe.  The courses are in safe hands however – a friend of mine is taking over (also an ex-Triton demonstrator), and given he still has a Triton workshop, he’s more qualified than I am these days!

My Triton equipment decreased by one the other day – the pad on my ROS parted company from the tool, and given the lack of Triton spares, the ROS is now relegated to the “no longer useful” corner.  May get around to finding a new pad for it one day, or adapting it to something else – who knows.  The batteries on the Triton drill also died a-ways back, so that has been retired as well. It’s going to be a long hard road for Triton to return, when even the ever-faithful are loosing faith.

The Melbourne Timber and Working with Wood Show is on again this weekend (Friday to Sunday) at the Melbourne Show Grounds.  I’m going to be there – you’ll find me with MagSwitch on the Carbatec Stand.  There will be a number of the MagFence kits available (I really like the kit – the fence for the bandsaw particularly, plus it comes with two MagJigs which can be used in any number of home-made jigs as well), but don’t leave it too long- they do sell out! They have been proving VERY popular ever since they were released. Don’t forget the “Universal Featherboard” and other new releases as well.

MagFence Combo Kit by MagSwitch

MagFence Combo Kit by MagSwitch

If you have been wondering about the merits of MagSwitch, I’m more than happy to have a frank discussion about them.  I find them to be really useful in my workshop for all sorts of reasons, and I have a number of jigs based around them which I will be bringing to the show.  I might even bring my MagBroom along (just don’t laugh at it too much – it does actually do the job I intended!)

It is good to see all the woodworking companies that are at the show – I’ll be sure to check out all the timber or woodworking products, or woodworking techniques being promoted by the various exhibitors.  I’m particularly interested in seeing the relevance of “Amazing Super Health” or “Step Forward Orthotics” for woodworkers.  There are not too many irrelevant exhibitors when you go through the list, just don’t understand why they are allowed at all.

The Floorplan and Exhibitors List are here, so you can plan your assault.

Aftermath pt2 – The Wallet’s Response

I did pick up a few things at the show, being conscious of how much I could get on the plane – I knew I had about 12kg spare!

A friend recently showed me a very stylish case he had sourced for the pens he has started making. I still may get around to getting one as well (purchased from the USA) as his one is real leather.  However while at the show I found one that had a similar look and feel, just not leather.

Pen Case

Pen Case

Better get making more pens!

Better get making more pens!

Stores 24 pens in a zippable case, with an internal soft flap to protect the pens on one side from the other.  Cost was around $25 from Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies. Think it is so new that it isn’t even on their website yet.

I did buy a $6 chainsaw bag – didn’t seem a bad price, and it may mean I will look after the chainsaw a little better!

I wasn’t planning on buying much timber – perhaps a few pen blanks, but the Solomon Ebony looked really interesting, and was a surprisingly good price.  I’ve bought ebony before, and gotten very small pieces that still cost quite a bit, and only ever intended to use them for details in other creations.  Instead these pieces are affordable enough to really use them, rather than conserve them.

Solomon Ebony

Solomon Ebony

From left to right, there are some lengths around 18mm square – a bit thicker than normal, but I got them specifically for pens.  They actually came as 2 lengths, but at around 1.5m long, they were going to be tricky to get onto the plane.  I left my run too late to find a saw as the show was packing up, but I found someone with a running chainsaw who was happy to help pop these in half for me.

The next piece is just a nice lump of timber.  The endgrain of the ebony is stunning, and when I do a writeup of the timber itself, I’ll get you some better photos and details images. Same with the stack of 3.

The ebony darkens up to a near black significantly over time as it oxidises, so these pieces will look remarkably different in a year or two!  (I don’t know how fast they oxidise though).  When I turn a pen, if I do a CA finish it will obviously keep the air away from the timber.  Apparently (when I asked about it), the timber will still oxidise over time, it would just take a lot longer through the CA finish.  The gentleman selling the timber had a pen made from it, and it was a beautiful deep black.

The final piece of timber I know nothing about, other than coming from the Solomons, and its name – Kwila.

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