Spring Clean

I happened upon a post the other day, that showed what the shed looked like 2 years ago.  Quite impressive, given it was just some formwork at that stage, waiting for the slab to be poured.

While that was interesting in its own right (and bringing back memories of finally having some space to move into after having the shed contents packed in a garage for a year), it reminded me that I hadn’t in fact managed to fully move out of the garage into the shed.

So that was Saturday’s job – with a big cleanup of the garage, and move anything around to the shed that should have been in there.

In the meantime, the CNC was churning away, cutting some Xmas decorations out ready for another market next Sunday.

The job today was to try to maintain the momentum, and get the shed in some sort of order.  What I find after every project (particularly when it is for a magazine article), is that the shed quickly gets very messy as good practices follow shrinking deadlines out the door.  And the shed hadn’t had a decent cleanup for almost 3 projects, on top of the sudden influx from the garage.

All I can say at this point, is I am so relieved that I went with the mezzanine floor, and with the powered hoist!  It is all in and up, and the shed floor has a passing resemblance to something clean.

Still more to go, even after all that.  The TWC has been a junk magnet for about a year, and that is still the case at the moment.  Plus there are some machines & tools in the shop that have a variety of needs.

Some need to be tuned up – getting them accurate.

Some need to be sold – they are surplus to requirements.

Some are not performing to the level that I now need, and these need to be sold and replaced.

I am still of two minds in some instances.

For example, the 6″ Jet longbed planer.  As a machine, it is perfectly fine, and a quality Jet machine.  But I am finding that 6″ is too limiting, and I have to modify my stock to match the capacity of the machine.

The 15″ Carbatec thicknesser. It has had no problem milling the stock that I have thrown its way.  I’m sure the blades need some TLC, but the question is whether to stay with separate machines (and upgrade the thicknesser with a spiral head), or to go with a combo machine.  What I am thinking about at the moment is whether something like the Minimax C30 would be an interesting way to go.

It has 12″ capacity on the jointer, and also the thicknesser (being a combo), is a saw (although that isn’t relevant in my case), has a spindle moulder (very interested), and a horizontal mortiser.

Downgrading from a 15″ thicknesser to 12″ is one question – although it would be fair to say that I haven’t used that sort of width for a very long time.  Going from stand-alone machines to a combo is another, although given shed space is worth its weight in gold, that may be a huge offset benefit.

Lots to do and work on.  Spindle sander, drum sander, disc sander and drill press are all up for consideration.

While all this was going on, the CNC was plodding along in the background, and worked well all day – working continuously for 8 1/2 hours (and that is actual machining time, not counting the pauses in between!) It did well :)

The Olds’ Shed

My folks made the big move to a new place this year.  Part of the requirement for the new place was a new shed, and the build has commenced.

Given how long I had to wait for mine to be built (and all the planning approvals etc that were required), this has been a comparatively short road (but I bet it hasn’t felt like that!)

The floor area is huge – benefit of having a much larger slice of land, and being in rural New Zealand!

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Can’t help thinking that it needs another storey ;)  Imagine the machinery layout you could achieve with that sort of shed footprint!

Busy work

Haven’t posted anything for a while – longer than I realised it seems!  Not that I haven’t been working in the shed, but sometimes I just need to get my head down and power through to make some progress.

The latest work that I have been doing is for the next issue of The Shed magazine – those deadline come around so quickly!

For a bit of a sneak peek, I am working on a water wheel – will end up being a garden feature, but I am trying to make it with some thought behind the design, and not just a basic layout.  You may well ask, just how many ways can you actually make a water wheel, and the more I think about it, and the more research I do on the topic, the more surprised I become about the breadth of the topic.

I found a particularly interesting reference, quite the authority on the topic.  It is The Engineer’s and Mechanic’s Encyclopædia: Comprehending Practical Illustrations of the Machinery and Processes Employed in Every Description of Manufacuture of the British Empire, Volumes 1-2

by Luke Herbert, and the title is quite the mouthful!  Interesting to find a book that has such a strong understanding of the science of water wheels.  Of course, that it was written in 1836 might have something to do with it!  I found some of the relevant text online so was able to glean what I could from that, and I have the book on order from Amazon – looking forward to seeing what other gems it contains!

I’ve been playing around with fin design, with this as an early model

File 8-09-2015 09 48 33This was with a fin angle of 22.5o.  I’ve since refined the angle to 30o, and the result is a lot better, with the inner circle now having a much greater diameter.

I am designing it as an overshot water wheel, so the turning moment of the water is important – the further away from the point of rotation that the water is maintained, the greater turning force it exerts due to gravity.  In any respect, it is quite a fun evolution!

I’ve also been making a number of models on the CNC while all this has been going on, in preparation for an upcoming school fête fundraiser.

So as I said, I might have been a bit quiet on here, but that doesn’t mean that it has been so in the shed! Bags and bags of sawdust coming out (especially now I have the new collector, and the cyclone separator makes removing the full bags a breeze).

Fitting a silencer

Thought I’d try out one of the exhaust silencers on the ShopVac to see what difference it could possibly make.

The design is pretty basic – a tube with an opening and exit the diameter of the exhaust of the vac, and a wider diameter between with a foam tube inside.

When fitted to the outlet of the ShopVac, there was a noticeable difference, although not particularly significant.  The noise is more the motor than the exhaust it seems.  Nor does the silencer work particularly well in its as-supplied state.


And yes, given how simple the design is, you could easily make one at home.

What I am thinking is to block the outlet, and cut slots around the circumference instead, and see if that makes more difference. I’ll research that another time.

Out of interest, I measured the sound levels in the workshop.

Outside (at the time): 40dB
Inside workshop: 38dB
1m from Sherwood dust extractor: 77dB
1m from ShopVac (no silencer): 86.5dB
1m from ShopVac (silencer): 84dB



It has been a long time coming (since October 2013) but I have finally finished the recataloguing of Shed.TV

Thought it would take a few weeks. 21 months was close……..

It was originally driven by the unexplained dropping of my channel from Blip.TV, so I started the process of transferring all the videos directly to the WordPress.com server.  About 16 GB of them (there are more now – another 60 since then – 7 more hours of footage).

After taking that step, I decided the indexing system needed a full revamp.  It was becoming very cumbersome and once we passed the 200 video mark, that is a lot of thumbnails that need to load.

I decided the thumbnails were not adding sufficient value to maintain them, so they were sacrificed.  The numbering system has been maintained, with two primary forms of videos.  The main episodes, which tend to be longer, are fully edited and have more effort put into them, such as multiple cameras, lighting sources etc, and shorter more basic versions, shot on one camera and uploaded directly, with little to no editing.

The first version are called episodes, and their numbering has an “ss” suffix (for Stu’s Shed). The second are the YouTube Chronicles, and have a “yt” suffix.  There is a new numbering system that has been introduced, which simply starts at 1, and continues incrementing, currently sitting at 212 videos in total. (32 hours total footage).  Around 30 GB worth.

So check it out at the tab at the top.  Hope the streamlined indexing meets with approval.

As to blip.tv, they are shutting down forever next month.




Beam Pump

The beam pump is one of those really simple mechanisms that have been around for donkey’s years.  They are in heavy use in the American South.sxo0redqpl_oil_and_gas 5a9b9-wideopenoil

The beam pump (like the beam engine) takes the rotary motion from the prime mover, and transfers it into a linear motion.

mediumThinking about it, a piston in a combustion engine is just a beam engine in reverse.

In the goldfields, a beam pump is one way that was used to pump water out of the mines (one of the disadvantages for mining below the water table).  A steam engine makes a good prime mover, and a counterweighted beam pump can have a significant stroke to draw water up from the deep.

At Sovereign Hill there is a working beam pump which you could almost miss, given how big it is!

SH-47 SH-64

Should have gotten some video of the beam pump itself in operation – slowly shunting back and forth.  I did have a closer look at the prime mover.  The comparatively small size of the engine just goes to show how powerful steam engines can be.

SH-50 SH-51 SH-52

Spinning and other metal work

There are some awesome 19th century metal working workshops at Sovereign Hill.  Next week, I will be visiting one that is 150 years into the future from these workshops, but more on that at the time.

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One of the things I did want to see while I was there, was the metal spinning.  While it is a really old process, it is still very much in use today, forming things like metal bowls.  Of course technology has made things easier, but you would have to be impressed with the quality of the result from the old techniques.


The process here involves holding a flat disc of metal against a mold.

SH-8The metal worker has a long rod that is supported against the upper arm, and against a pivot point close to the disc.


By then gently pushing selectively over the surface while the mold and disc are spun rapidly, the metal is slowly bent in until it is flush against the mold, copying its shape.

I found it really interesting that as the metal was being spun, it actually curved outwards as the metal spinning stretched the metal.  It was then rolled over towards the mold with the rod.  This process was repeated as the metal continued to be stretched and molded to shape.

SH-6I wanted to get more background about the process, especially the traditional aspects of it, but the gentleman demonstrating made very clear he wasn’t interested in sharing.  A shame, seeing as he has been doing it for about 50 years apparently, and would have a wealth of knowledge.  He’d also have shoulders of rock doing this for so long.


Think some areas of the workshop haven’t been cleaned in those 50 years either!


The workshop produces many of the items for sale at Sovereign Hill – bells, plates, gold panning pans etc.  Bought one of those as well – cost all of $12 too.

Spun items (produced by hand, or by modern methods) have a distinctive fine ribbed surface.  Next time you come across a metal bowl, have a look and see if you can work out if it was produced by spinning, or some other process.




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