Sometimes a Half is Greater than a Whole

As part of my overall Spring Clean, I have been addressing timber storage in the shed.  I have been using a couple of Triton Woodracks with great success, but hadn’t had a chance to finish the job.  When I first mounted the woodrack in the shed, I chose to set the two uprights quite a way apart to handle the longer lengths, but that made storing shorter lengths rather difficult.

I always intended to add another upright in between, increasing the overall shelf load capacity to 75kg (per shelf), and allowing both shorter and longer lengths to be stored.

Combined Triton Woodracks

Combined Triton Woodracks

I still think I will add a thin shelf on top of the poles to increase the overall capacity and flexibility of the system. I tried loading it up, and found I needed more capacity to handle short and long lengths to maximise the storage capacity.

Loading the Wood Rack

Loading the Wood Rack

As a first approximation, I have here (from bottom to top), a collection of silky oak, a miscellaneous shelf with mahogany, walnut, cherry and blackwood, and a jarrah shelf.

However, that isn’t what I wanted to highlight here.  No, it isn’t a new product from Triton – a mini woodrack.  It is an additional upright and shelf poles I have that I decided would be perfect to fit a small gap I had in the shed, and could use it to store some of my more exotic (and small) timbers.

Mini Triton Woodrack

Mini Triton Woodrack

What I have done, is taken the upright and cut it in half on the Triton Steel Cutter (and removed a small portion from the overall length so both sides are equal).  It has 3 shelves, still with 50kg loading capacity per shelf, and I have placed them reasonably close together to carry the short exotic timbers.

This time from top to bottom, I have plum, red cedar, huon pine plate blank, camphor plate blank, ancient swamp kauri, a marble burl, cyprus pine, black-heart sassafras, banksia nut, osage orange, redwood, ebony, and a bottom shelf of huon pine pieces.  Another shelf that I’m thinking of adding below this rack will hold the multitude of pen blanks I have. (And for those that are convinced that I am a thrify woodworker, I can’t throw away any piece of decent timber no matter how small, so long as there is enough to get a pen half out of it!)

Australia Day, and Traditional Engineering

It was Australia Day today (for those who don’t live in Oz – anyone here can hardly miss the fact!), and I did quite a traditional Australia Day thing – no, I didn’t head straight out to the shed to sit around consuming a few cold ones.  It was the family picnic, and this time we took off to Puffing Billy in the Dandenong Ranges.  Ok, it will be hard to pull this around to something about the shed, but I tell you, the (primarily) gentlemen up there (majority well retired, and volunteers) really know all about sheds – their entire hobby revolves around creating, making and restoring these beautiful steam engines, and better yet, spend as much time as possible driving them along the 25km of narrow gauge track, with carriages packed full of kids and parents, and enthusiasts.

One of the Restored Engines

One of the Restored Engines

These are immaculate machines, and really come from an age where the shed (and steam) ruled.  I can imagine what it was like, with huge belt drives coming down from a central ceiling line driving different machines – lathes, mills, saws etc.  Sand castings, lots of molten steel, and no plastic crap to be found anywhere.

Real Engineering

Real Engineering

Think I was born in the wrong era.  I love this old stuff, and not because it is old, or historic, but because it has real form, and not a microchip to be seen.

The Viaduct

The Viaduct

Imagine the lack of soul if this was made today. (And thankfully, neither OHS or the insurance companies and their public liability, insurance have managed to ruin this traditional activity, but I imagine the bastards are working on it – kids (myself included) sitting on the window ledges.  I did this 30 years ago, and again today, but I’ll be surprised if another 30 years will pass without this traditional Aussie activity being wrapped in protective, stifling foam).

Carrum Downs Bush Fires

The bush fires that threatened Carrum Downs earlier in the week didn’t impact on the shed at all, but they were not that far away – about 5 minutes by car.  Granted that they did not reach the scales of significant bush fires (or wild fires depending on your terminology), but like many (and the other 2 in the same district over the following couple of days), these were deliberately lit.  At least 1 house was lost.

Carrum Downs Fire from ABC.net.au

Carrum Downs Fire from ABC.net.au

Comprehensive Triton Selection

I was in a local hardware store very recently, and was sad to see just how deficient the offerings of Triton equipment have become in a very short space of time.

I always said that I’d love to see a dedicated shop in each main city, but I guess that wasn’t viable. The other option would have been online sales, and combined with a slick multi-pronged advertising campaign, that could have been very successful. Especially for spares. Picture a 3d rendering of a tool, then clicking on a specific part to zoom in, until the part you want is obvious, then clicking on that component causes it, and any other parts that come in the same kit glowing, and fnally you click “add to cart”.

So many possibilities. So sad.

Sadly Deficient Triton Section

Dado Blades

I’ve spoken recently about dado blades, and the results are going to start appearing soon, but I haven’t actually mentioned what a dado blade is.  Seems a bit strange defining it, but there again a few years ago I wasn’t sure what a dado blade actually looked like (I knew a bit of their function from all the US woodwork shows, and their project plans often referred to them).

I went into one shop – a Tool Centre as it happened (since closed down), and asked in there.  What I was shown and was explained to be a dado blade I now know to be a coving blade – a completely different animal, so there are at least a few out there who don’t know what one is, and thus the point of the story.

coving

CMT Coving Blade

Now don’t get me wrong – I’d love one of these blades for the tablesaw, but they are designed for coving, not for trenching!

The most common form of dado blade is called a stacked dado. This consists of two primary blades, one left, one right (and these are not interchangeable), and a number of chipping blades.  There are normally shims included for finetuning the width of the kerf that the dado set is creating.  You choose which combination of chipping blades and shims to create the width of slot (dado, trench, whatever your term).

Stacked Dado Set

Stacked Dado Set

As you can see in this example here, we have the two outside blades (orange CMT in this case), with black chipping blades in the middle, designed to clean out and flatten the bottom of the trench.  The outside blades are typically around a 24 tooth blade (8″ diameter blade), with between a 2 and 8 tooth chipping blade, depending on the brand.  Given that the ones I am trialing range from a 2 tooth chipping set, a 4 tooth chipping set, an 8 tooth chipping set, and a 9 tooth chipping set.  It will be interesting to see how the results (and cost) range between the sets.

The other sort of dado blade is one that you can ‘dial in’ the width you require, and it is a “wobble” dado.  This is a blade that literally wobbles to produce a wider dado than the blade would normally achieve.  With my recent blade review throwing up results that showed that even a little amount of runout in the blade had a drastic impact on the resulting quality of the cut, it sounds a stupid idea to deliberately cause that to occur.  Not only that, but do you really want a blade that isn’t properly balanced running at high speed in your tablesaw?

One of the things you need to do when using a dado set, is to have a table insert that can cope with such a wide ‘blade’.

There are commercial inserts available, but it is a simple job indeed to make your own.  I haven’t documented here how I made the actual insert to right shape and size to fit the tablesaw (will cover that another time), but in a nutshell, I took the original insert, copied it with a bearinged router bit, then used that to create a number of blank inserts ready to be cut from below with the dado set to create a zero-clearance insert.

Uncut Tablesaw Insert

Uncut Tablesaw Insert

The inserts are made from MDF, and I have cut a couple of finger holes with a forstner bit so the inset is easily removed and replaced.

The dado set is already mounted, and is wound down below the table.  I then bring the tablesaw fence across so it covers one edge, and assists in holding down the insert as the slot gets cut.

Cutting the Zero Clearance

Cutting the Zero Clearance

This is a very thin dado setup, with the two outside blades, and a single chipping blade.  As you can see I have already wound the blade up through the insert cutting the slot, and have set up here to conduct the first dado slot test.

Tool Store

After a few false starts, I finally got around to redressing the cabinets, and giving them sufficient support to carry to loadings I am expecting of them.

Along with the “spring cleaning” happening indoors, I’m tackling shed storage as well.  The first, and most succecssful way of dealing with it, is to eliminate anything that doesn’t need to be stored – ie disposing of items no longer required.  However, working out what isn’t required isn’t so easy!

At last my powertools now have a better home, and as much as there is some optimisation required, at least this is a reasonable first cut.

Power Tool Storage

Power Tool Storage

Somehow, I have a feeling that isn’t all the power tools I have, but will shuffle some around to make room for others.  The fact that my current count of circular saws is still 5 (down from 7) means that there is some optimisation still possible, and that isn’t the only tool type that I have some duplication!

Does it still look like a significant collection of orange to anyone else (with some blue scattered amongst it)  With the demise of GMC, I wonder if they will become collectors items?

I was in Bunnings the other day, and along with a near complete absence of GMC, and very little Triton, it doesn’t look like anything has changed.  It seems to be the same range of tools, with the same range of quality, just with different names on the sides.

The Year of the Spring Clean

Seems that this is the Inernational Year of Spring Cleaning.  All around the home, inside and out (including the shed), it seems that there is a big push to rationalise what we own, and how we store it.

There is a lot that we can, and have been doing to increase storage about the place, from the recent trip to Ikea, through to items such as attic stairs.

Of course, the first place to start is deciding whether a particular item is worth storing in the first place. I will shortly be applying this principle to the shed (in fact I have already started) after having started doing so inside the house. As I come across innovative storage ideas, I will certainly be documenting it here.

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