Rail Saw

I’ve been flat out recently getting the next magazine articles together (so sorry for being so quiet here – the combination of everything has been overwhelming, so I had to let some areas slip right).

One of the projects has involved making quite a bit of use of a rail saw, and in this case it was the Festool Tracksaw system, including the MFT/3 (multifunction table) that was extensively used, and as much as some are going to hate hearing it, it is bloody awesome!

This was the first time I had a chance to start putting them through their paces, and I was doing jobs on it that I would have struggled to work out another way, at least finding another way that was as easy.  The more I use it, the more it becomes apparent that it is incredibly useful in the workshop.  It doesn’t remove the need for a good tablesaw, or a SCMS, and both the SawStop and the Kapex got a heavy workout as well, but it was a real pleasure to use the right tool for each job.

hb_mft3_495315_p_01aThe MFT/3 with the rail that flips out of the way was brilliant.  Being able to drop the rail down in a consistent location meant that at one point I needed to shave off about 1/2mm, and I was able to set up for that accurately, and quickly.

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If the MFT/3 was good, the TS55 running on the rail was even better.  Precision height adjustment, accurate tracking made very easy given the saw is captive on the track.

I’ll shoot some videos of these doing their thing soon – cool tools.  There are always many ways to skin a cat, some just make it so quick, easy and accurate.  When I used to look at a circular saw, I saw a rough machining tool, inaccurate, noisy and dangerous.  (My old man almost killed himself one year with a circular saw).

The Festool version is like comparing this:

Lada 2103 1300 1978 frontwith this:

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Both will get you from A to B.  Sort of.

Some people can’t see the point to anything more than the Lada.  Or justify the price difference (the cost of a good coffee, vs a small house!)  Although they both have 4 wheels and a motor, but that is about where the simularity ends, and the same applies to the difference between a basic Bunnings $50 circular saw, and a $1000 Festool.  The longevity of one tool over the other is just one small factor in the decision.

Sliced bread? Step aside!

Yet more evidence of the phenomenon that is the Centipede SawHorse – had another job on (cutting some polycarb roof), and again the Centipede absolutely nailed the task.

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Needed to cut some sheets at 90º and 45º, and the Centipede’s ability to both support the sheet, and provide plenty of clearance for the tool to make a full depth cut (without having to worry about cutting into the table) was invaluable.

The simplest concept success is the 2×4 support that plug into the holes at the end of each upright.  Absolute genius.  You don’t always need to use them, but for a particularly flexible material, it was the difference between an ok setup, and one that absolutely nailed the task.  I was flicking from left to right on that front length to get the angle cuts I needed, and the flexible sheet was supported all the way along the length of the cut.

untitled-2You can set it up anywhere – I would have done this job out on the grass (even being a bit uneven), but due to a persistent drizzle, found working under the back deck was a good solution.  The Centipede created the working surface in seconds, and was a real asset to the job, not just a bench, or a couple of sawhorses, but actually made the job easier (and therefore achieved a better than expected result).  Can’t tell you how much I love this thing!!

As you can see in the photo, I am using the Festool rail, but instead of using the TS55, I used it with the Dremel, mounted in the plunge router attachment.  I did try the TS55, but without the right blade, I got too much cracking and chipping of the edge.  The dremel with a shear cut bit did the trick.  When I get the Festool router, and attachment to be able to use it on a rail, it will be even better.  The Ti15 impact driver got a really good workout!

So what was it for?  The new dust extraction section of the shed.  It was a trapped corner, between the shed and the (45º) fence, and with a new wall, and roof (polycarb), the outdoor area becomes another internal, sheltered, but separate room.  It provides easy access to the dust extractor, and yet isolates the noise and any leaking dust away from the shed itself.  I’ve now also decided to do a little rerouting of the air system, so the air compressor can go into the same area, again for ease of access.

untitled-3The floor is crushed rock – I will continue to revisit the space, but it is perfectly functional.

And finally, the dust extractor has a home, and one that I can easily route the dust extraction system to it.

Can’t wait to get it all connected up, and back up and running.

Compounding Cuts

Been working over the weekend on cleaning up around the shed.  A little bit of cleaning up after the last project, and a lot of getting some equipment into its final home.

Specifically the dust extractor.

If you remember from my recent floorplan, I am intending on putting it into the ‘dead’ corner caught between the shed and the diagonal fence.  My original idea was to create a bit of a standalone shed around the extractor, but for a number of reasons it is a lot better to resurrect the earlier plan of having the whole section boxed in.  Overall, it results in a loss in usable floorspace, but the floorspace that is available becomes significantly more productive.

It may stop me turning the rest of that corner into a rubbish tip!

The original shed design shied away from producing an angled section to the shed – too difficult to calculate, or manufacture the angled joiners or something.

But not if I am doing it myself. I’m using treated pine for the frame, so I can cut the compound angles easily.  45º side angle, 10º down angle for the roof.  Don’t have to think twice about it on the Kapex.

Getting this sorted, and the rest of the shed more organised meant I didn’t get to shoot the videos I was planning for the weekend.  Things rarely go to plan, but each day is a small step closer to having the shed organised and operational, and each step means when I do shoot video (or take some stills), that things look closer to how I would like them to be.  It also means I am a bit short of content to chat about here, but again, the more progress I make now, the easier it will be down track.

The Ti15 Festool impact driver is really earning its keep, and the TS55 REQ is going to do the same when it comes time to make the angled cuts in the polycarbonate roofing.  As is the Centipede Sawhorse!  You know a winner of a tool, when within days of receiving it, you can’t work out how you did without it.

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It takes next to no time to show it off, and a few seconds more before it sells itself to another customer. If only I was a. The importer, and b. Had stock!

I refer to the Centipede Workbench, and it has already proven its worth.

Light enough to be very portable, and certainly rigid enough when doing its job. The time to set it up and collapse it back down again, is no exaggeration. Seconds. Literally.

In next to no time, it has become an invaluable tool, particularly for me in breaking down larger sheets. The 2×4 retainers that clip into the top, and the supplied hold-downs are both very clever, and very useful, especially for thin, flexible sheets. No need to work on the ground, bent over the sheet trying to break it down, now you can work at a comfortable standing height.

It is going to be superb coupled up with the Festool TS55 and rail (or any other rail-mounted circular saw).

It may feel a little flimsy as you are opening it up, but that is quite legitimate: the majority of the members in the unit are tension members, so until they are placed into tension (with the workcentre fully opened), then yes, they will flex. Once set up though, it can bear a decent load, especially distributed over all the uprights.

I’ll take some photos/video of it in operation shortly, but take it from me, it is an impressive unit!

Adding to the tool library

Made a minor layout modification, which resulted in the ‘sink’ being relocated to outside the back door of the shed (outdoor sink), so I could fit the Walko as a wall-mounted option in the back corner instead.

This then left the area beneath the window open for the appearance of a new tool: The Festool MFT/3, with the TS55 R saw. (Both from my “Breaking Bad” dealer, Ideal Tools)

What we are talking about here is the multifunction table, complete with a rail that flips out of the way when not required, and a relocatable, multiangle fence.  The top is very familiar, being the model I’ve adopted for the TWC, and that is already on the Walko workbench as well.  A matrix of round dog holes across the surface.

zoom__hb_mft3_495315_p_01aThere is plenty of storage area underneath (I haven’t worked out how I’ll use that area yet, but for the time being it will be kept open for some filming I am planning).  I’m looking to obtain a clear perspex sheet as an alternate top, so I can film up through it for a bit of fun.

The rail (green striped thing) which can flip out of the way on a hinge at the rear, can mount a circular saw, or router (or jigsaw etc) from the Festool range.

So it is complemented by the saw

ts-55-r-fs-2The TS55R.  This would have been really useful on the recent coffee table project!

So to fit everything in took only a little amount of shuffling (although the Cleantex (vacuum) has lost its home for the time being).

FirefoxScreenSnapz006However, that has caused me to think more about the one problem area I was still having.  The relationship between the jointer and the thicknesser, the space each was taking, and their restricted infeed and outfeed.

Played a bit (using the Grizzly Workshop Planner), and came up with an alternative that looks remarkably promising.

Shed

Without loosing any real estate (in fact this gains some), I have doubled the infeed and outfeed areas of both tools.  It makes use of the space either side of the tablesaw as infeed (or outfeed) for the thicknesser and jointer respectively.  That space needs to be empty anyway, as infeed and outfeed for the tablesaw, so why not use it for all three tools?

It gives me good access along the front of the jointer (important obviously!), and access right alongside the right-hand side of the thicknesser (much more convenient).

And I can still get the dust extraction to pump the sawdust straight into the potbelly.  (Just kidding – I don’t need to generate that much heat!  If I had a mini foundry, that would be a different matter!)  Mmmm mini foundry…….

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The layout is definitely getting there.  Each change is a build on the previous, rather than being a complete rework, so that is good.  Refinements are fine (and are typically the status quo on my place!)

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