Xmas in July, part 1

Took the family to Sovereign Hill for their Xmas in July that Sovereign Hill runs each year, and had an excellent time.  Not only what they have done for the occasion, but more broadly because I really like the whole Sovereign Hill experience.

Sovereign Hill, for those that don’t know, is an open-air museum and historical park, situated in an early gold diggings area in the Ballarat region.  It covers the time around 1850 (with some of the equipment being closer to 1880s/1890s as the industrial revolution found Australia).

 

These are just the outside of some of the buildings, but what is inside is the real treasure.  Being the mid 1800’s, wood and steel are the main materials of fabrication, mixed with a huge amount of ingenuity.  Not to mention, nothing was made with a designed life expectancy – a tool was made as well as was possible, and that means many of the tools are still very functional today.  There are mines to explore, gold to pan for, 9 pin wooden bowling etc etc.

We stayed in the attached accommodation, so had our own access pass through one of the buildings into the site, which was a very nice feature.  Being able to take in the place in as big or as small a bite as you wanted, being able to return for a rest before the next assault made for a really enjoyable experience.

The Xmas in July was well done too, and the weather in Ballarat lived up to its reputation – cold!  Which was very appropriate for a winter-wonderland based Christmas experience (complete with simulated snow (of the soap/foam variety), which was very much for look than tactile experience!)

At night, the buildings were illuminated by the same company that does other building illumination projects, including the Sydney Opera House, and White Nights in Melbourne.

We attended both the Xmas-type functions (such as the building illumination, and their Xmas dinner), as well as the standard offerings, such as the exceptionally well done “Blood on the Southern Cross”.

I was expecting the latter to have a real bias, but found it was approached really well, and came away from the 90 minute sound and light show (including multiple locations) really impressed with how it was depicted.

From a shed-dweller’s perspective, there is so much of interest at Sovereign Hill.  From the construction of the buildings and fences, through to the metal and woodworking (both manual, and steam-powered) that you get to observe first-hand, but more on that in future posts.

Really got me wondering if I had been born about 150 years too late – the combination of wood, metal and steam, and how they were worked really resonates with me.

If you take a modern wood or metal worker, they would be pretty at home in the workshops from that era, and take an artisan from that period and drop them in one of our workshops, and they would hardly notice a difference, other than the absence of line drives, belts and steam – all replaced with electric motors.  The machines themselves – not much has changed, other than perhaps the addition of shielding!!

I haven’t even touched on the topics I will get into in upcoming posts, that deserve their own dedicated attention. Not to mention that the two full days we spent there (Wed afternoon to Fri morning) still didn’t leave enough time to do everything that was available to do or see!

Bottom line, if you have an opportunity to go to Sovereign Hill (and haven’t already), it is a real experience.

SH-1

Melbourne Wood Show is moving (again)

Looks like the Timber and Working with Wood Show is moving again, not only to a new home, but a new date.

It is now on in September, 11th to the 13th at the Caulfield Racetrack.   Door prices are still $16, but there is free parking.  Doesn’t clash with the AFL Grand Final, which is in October this year, and it finally manages to avoid the MotoGP at Phillip Island, which was normally the same weekend.

Of course, it does make it the same weekend as the Sandown 500, which is, to my mind, a similar demographic – perhaps with some age separation?  For some of us, that makes it a real choice: the one V8 Supercars race that is held locally in the year, or the annual wood show?  With an attendance in the vicinity of 200,000 over the weekend at the Sandown 500, that won’t impact too badly on Working with Wood Show numbers would it?

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VS

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Decisions, decisions.

A guard for your hands and eyes

Incra are well known for their significant contributions to woodworking, particularly at the highly engineered end of the spectrum, with their precision tools (such as accurate fence positioning).

So when they bring out a new tool, it is worth taking note, so I was interested when Incra released a push block to see just what they have bought to the party.

rta_pushguard_main_zoomSold in Australia by Professional Woodworkers Supplies

The first thing that you notice is the clear shield.  It can be easily removed when the job doesn’t need it (or moreso, if it would be in the way), but for jobs that result in the cutter being exposed in particular, having added protection to prevent wayward wood chips flying in the direction of your eyes is a neat addition.

rta_pushguard_detail1_zoomThe handle is a decent size, not only so you can (just) fit two hands, but also so you can get a good positive grip on it, to control the workpiece.

Speaking of controlling the workpiece, and that is where the 178x75mm working surface comes into play, providing a decent contact area.  Often, you would want to work with two of these guards, not only further increasing the working area, but so you can further control the orientation of the workpiece relative to the tool, and prevent it twisting out from under the pushblock.

Unlike most pushblocks, the Incra one also has a double-walled ABS hand guard (grey) further protecting your rather valuable tools (hands).

rta_pushguard_detail3_zoom

I’d see a definite use for these on the router table, and the jointer particularly.  In an ideal world, I’d have 4 of these, two with the clear guard attached, and two without to cover all the jobs I’d want to use these on, without having to remove and replace the clear guard, but they are pretty easy to remove and replace even so.

Safety equipment is always something that comes secondary to the tools that allow us more capability in the workshop, but as I was told years ago when I got my motorbike license, if you can’t afford the safety equipment, you can’t afford the bike, and the same thing applies to woodworking.

CNC Sunday

I had an idea that perhaps I should consider limiting my posts about working with the CNC to one day a week.  But I doubt that is a resolution I’ll stick to for longer than 5 minutes!

I spent the day carving out a bunch of nested designs from MakeCNC.com, on their Australian Animal series.  I’ve put together one so far (a Bilby), and have cut out the cockatoo, kangaroo, croc, frilled neck lizard, and a bunch of others- about 6 to go of the 16 in total.  I’ll post more about them (including pics) when I have them together in the zoo.

In the meantime, I finished the spitfire for my daughter’s school.  This was also cut out of 12mm MDF (as was the pteradactyl), and has a wing span of about 1.4m

spitfire-1 spitfire-2 spitfire-3 spitfire-4

The last is shot with a bottle, to give a bit of a sense of scale.  Solid thing!  I engraved the wings before they were cut out using a v bit.  Rather cool all told (found here)- almost tempted to make another to the same size to hang in the shed (and have it painted up).

Speaking of painting things up, that is what my daughter decided to do today.  So with a bunch of acrylic paints, she first undercoated, then painted a couple of the models I made for her yesterday.  The came up really well!  Really adds an extra dimension to the models.

spitfire-5Fun day, lots of sawdust! (After all, that is what it is all about).

 

Last of the big spenders

Next issue of “The Shed” is now out, making it 3 different magazines currently in shops that I have articles in.

This issue, I have made a coin collector’s cabinet, that can hold up to 1200 individual coins, with each shelf holding a different part of the collection, be that a region, country, or in more detail, such as Australian 20c commemorative coins.

 
   

Sums it up!

Episode 116 SawStop Wheel Kit

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