Something I’ve not seen at a show before (and in fact, can’t actually recall seeing them anywhere else for that matter), but there was a stand, promoting firework exhibitions.  Given that Guy Fawkes is almost upon us (still celebrated in NZ, and what’s more you can still buy firecrackers legally!) this stand was particularly fitting, though I doubt you could ever buy these fireworks for personal use!  More a bomb than a cracker!!!!

Another popular NZ pasttime was well represented- fishing.  This variant of a kontiki caught my eye, some serious overkill, used to achieve shore-based deep water fishing.

Of course, woodworking had representation there as well, including the sausage risking, blade destroying safety mechanisms.

That might be a familiar face to Australian wood show afficianados!  Or if you’ve been to a Carbatec demo evening. 😃

Auckland is the home stamping ground for one company of particular interest… Teknatool.

(No, that actually wasn’t the Teknatool stand, but it just had a lot of relevant gear for the photo!)

What Teknatool had to show, was their working prototype of the DVR drill press, which I have been desperately waiting for!  So I had a good play 😄

The digital variable reluctance drive is a 1.75HP motor with constant microprocessor sensing and control.

The drill press motor has depth sensing, load sensing and vibration sensing.  It can either stop normally (running down the motor by cutting power), or emergency stop, which uses electronic braking.

The motor is a direct drive of the spindle, and can run from 50RPM to 5500RPM.  It has a 6″ quill stroke, and 18″ swing (9″ from column).  It has intelligent speed selection, auto pilot hole, break through detection, and a tapping assist function.

The LCD screen provides a wealth of information- actual speed, depth, load, recommended speeds for different bit types, sizes and materials etc etc.  

There are 4 user-definable buttons that you can set to your preferred purpose.  This could be fwd/reverse, favourite speeds, or a commnly used menu item to name a few.

Now we just need Teknatool to turn this proposal & prototype into a production model!

I took the unit through a few demo runs- from lowest to highest RPM, and it was rock- steady. So little vibration or noise- it was a beautiful thing.

Big Boys Toys

Headed over to Auckland for the Big Boys Toys show, and boy, was it busy.  Excavators doing skill tests, cars and motorbikes doing stunts, a whole pavillion of cross-fit, another of motorcycles and custom cars.

The latest 2016 Lamborghini Aventador was there, as was a DeLorean  

What I was there for specifically was The Shed hall, run by The Shed magazine.  It had Carbatec, Machinery Warehouse (aka Hare & Forbes), some wood turning, pyrography, and lots of power tools (primarily Makita, with Milkaukee & Bosch in the lifestyle pavillion).  

Not sure what Bosch were actually showing, my attention was grabbed more by the Transformer

A bit of a strange balance of stands in the lifestyle pavillion, with more smoking culture (vapor aka e-cigarettes and shoshas) and stands of various spirits than I’m used to for NZ. Perhaps the particular demographic that was targetted by the advertisers.

Back towards the Maker faire side of things, and there were a few stands promoting 3d printing and consumables, plenty of remote control aerial vehicles (some look like they could handle quite a payload), 

and steam models.

So plenty of edutainment for the day. Interesting visit!

Miscellaneous meanderings

Had the annual hard rubbish collection for the area last week.  As always, it is an opportunity to get rid of a whole raft of things that have been clogging up the works.  In my case, it is often heavily made up of shed-generated rubbish, which more often than not, is the result of previous projects.

So the hard rubbish collection ends up briefly being a reliving of projects past.  This time it included a large pile of offcuts and waste from the CNC Router.  Sure have run some miles up on the router bits this year!

Speaking of which, opened the mail yesterday to a new collection of router bits I’d ordered from  This set is the collection for plastic cutting as I have plans for some upcoming projects.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.30.06 pm Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.30.52 pm

An interesting video on the golden ratio, which is a commonly used ratio in creating aesthetically pleasing objects, such as box and furniture proportions.

And finally, a bit of a weekend woodworking project for someone….

Photo 29-10-2015, 00 43 57

Getting the Festool Lowdown

Went along to a Festool evening recently at Total Tools, to see what the latest offerings from Festool were all about.

The C18 driver was shown, although I already have the T18, so they seemed pretty similar.

What was particularly interesting was the new circular saw.  This isn’t a plunge saw as is the norm for Festool, but a much more stock standard CS design.  Of course there are still the typical mods that Festool are known for.  It is driven by an 18V battery for one.

It is the HKC55 160mm cordless circular saw.

Photo 15-10-2015 17 25 43A quick flick of one latch, and the saw still works as a plunge saw.

What really seemed to set this saw apart though is the guide rail.  This is not your grandmother’s guide rail.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.53.46 amThis one locks to the bottom of the HKC55, and effectively becomes a part of the saw.  A ‘bungee cord’ mechanism engages with the saw and returns the saw to the start of the rail after a cut.

Photo 15-10-2015 17 17 49

An easy-to-use angle-setting system on the side of the rail makes it very easy to set up for angled cuts, and by angling the saw over, it effectively becomes a portable SCMS, with a long travel distance.

Photo 15-10-2015 17 18 01

Bit hard to show with a few photos. Found this video on Festool UK.  Probably better watched with the sound muted!

So an interesting evening, getting to look at a couple of the new products from Festool.  Interesting too, seeing it with people in the trades, who are quite vocal in expressing what they need to see, and what they don’t in a demo.  If it is not a tool they specifically need to use for their job, they have no interest whatsoever, and are quite prepared to express that fact.

Came away with a showbag which is always a bit of fun.  Sadly, I didn’t find a HKC 55 in the bag, but I did get a few Festool-branded items – cap, travel mug, stubby holder, carpenter’s pencil, and a Festool carpenter’s rule.  Seeing as that normally sells for $15, I’m not complaining :)

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 2.51.20 am


One of the regular readers (Michael) spotted a very rare beast indeed in the aisle of his local Masters store. (Thanks for sending through the pic).

This would be the first time that any of the box warehouses has had this particular item in stock for a very long time – perhaps as far back as when Bunnings refused to stock any more GMC products (which included Triton), back in August 2008.

So this is a sight for saw eyes (yes, the pun is intentional).


I’m surprised it is not the WC7 model – fresh start, fresh product.

Checking the model number, it looks to be 101956.

Been so long since I’ve seen one!  I think the fence is on the wrong side, but it is only a hazy memory these days.  Can’t imagine if things went full circle, and a demo program started again.  That’d be too funny (in an ironic kinda’ way).

Definitely brings back fond memories.  I’d even go to a demo night if one was on, just to experience it again.

There is no fate

At least not till next year, as the school fete has come to an end.  After 8 or so hours, a bit weary, but it was fun.

Quite an interesting learning curve – got a lot right enough, but there is always more than can be refined, if I ever intend to do this again!  I do have one other planned fete coming up in November, but that is about it.

Fun seeing the kids’ reactions.

The display stand with the black cloth covering it, is the Centipede XL which I just got back after lending it at the start of the year.  It is perfect for this sort of thing.  I made a top from 6 panels of MDF which were cable-tied together to create one overall top.  This allows me to take the top off and fold it up for storage/transportation.  I made it from 3mm MDF as that is what I had to hand, but 6mm or 9mm MDF would have been better.  As the MDF only has a few holes drilled right at the extremities for the cable ties, I can still then use the pieces on the CNC machine :)  It worked very well – easy to transport, easy to set up, and stable.  (Does that make it a stable table?).  In comparison the vacuum-formed tables are reasonably easy to transport (they weight quite a bit more but have much less surface area) and quicker to set up (if you factor in attaching the top).

That gets me thinking – I could come up with a segmented top for the Centipede, which engages with the holes in the leg caps.  That would remove the need for cable ties and make a really rigid (crossbraced) system.  Make a good way to use it as a workbench as well.  Alternately, I could recess out the area where the top of the leg touches the top, so the whole top piece can still be stored perfectly flat.  I’ll work on that, and let you know what I come up with!

Sales were ok, not unreasonable, not as high as I would have expected.  I did a quick gender comparison – ie assuming some models would appeal to one gender more than the other (and those that would appeal more to both).  It is a really rough tool – for example, I chose a swan to be oriented towards girls, and a cobra to be something that would appeal more to boys, and a turtle to be neutrally biased.  That might infuriate some people, but the reality is that if you got a bunch of primary school students and gave them the choice (with no observers, or chance that classmates etc would ever know the choice made), that certain toys would be selected disproportionally higher for one gender over the other.

The analysis is very loose – I did not record the gender of who was making the purchases, or who they were purchasing for, so already there is a lot of interpretation built into these stats.

Toy Variety

Girls liked a lot less variety than boys in the toys chosen.

Of the total variety of girl-oriented toys, sales were concentrated around 41% of the range available.
Of the neutral toys, 53% of the variety available were purchased.
For boys, 75% of the range had at least one sale made.

Kits vs Preassembled models

This data is not very relevant, as the models were only able to be collected at the end of the day, whereas kits taken straight away.  Additionally, there was only one of each type assembled, and between 0 and 10 kits available.

Girls’ purchases were 71% kits
Neutral purchases were 53% kits
Boys’ purchases were 78% kits

Total Sales

Of all the purchases available:

Total sales of girls-oriented models: 20%
Total sales of neutral-oriented models: 23%
Total sales of boy-oriented models: 56%

As very few types sold out completely, this data was not heavily influenced by particular models becoming unavailable.

Other interesting observations – quite a few people looking (kids and adults) – “Wow, these are really cool”, then after checking the price “Wow, these are really cheap” (the vast majority being around the $5-$7.50 mark).  However even after uttering both those comments, the person looking around would then wander off.  Interesting that something that is regarded as “cool and affordable” still does not necessarily result in a sale.

I would have sold more if there was no restrictions on whether the person could buy and take the pre-assembled model, so having two or three of the most popular kits pre-assembled would be beneficial.

It may also be better if there was less variety of kits available, and so people could select the ones they want for purchase, rather than having to ask for them.  While this makes perfect sense (and is how we shop most of the time), it is a lot harder to do this in a market-like scenario with limited space.  Especially with bulky products that have a degree of fragility to them.  Again, if I was doing this on a regular basis, I would be able to justify the additional investment in the multiple storage containers needed to keep everything sorted.  For a one (or two) off, that is less practical.

All in all though, it was a fun evolution, and I’d do it again.


Mass Construction

Things have been pretty full-on around here recently.

In addition to the standard fare, I have been really churning out things on the CNC.  Sheet after sheet of 3mm MDF getting turned to Swiss cheese as I make up small kits in time for a fundraising school fête this weekend.  There are now over 250 individual kits, all bagged up in zip-lock bags, with a set of instructions on assembly, and an assembled example model of each design ready to go on display.

I’m not selling them for much – $5 for many of the designs, with the larger ones being $7.50 or $10 as they really scale up.  The idea is to cover cost plus a bit for the fundraising, and still keep them affordable enough for primary school kids to afford.  With each kit taking on average 30 minutes to cut out, it means the CNC is cutting way below what you would normally calculate its hourly rate at, but that is not the intention for the weekend.

The designs I am using all come from  It raises a question about copyright – this is not just taking someone else’s concept and producing your own equivalent to sell, in this case it is actually using their designs to produce something for sale.  It is actually covered as part of the contract you agree to when purchasing the MakeCNC design.  You are allowed under the condition of the purchase of the plans, to make up to 50 of each design and include a set of instructions with each.  Given that the Mega Collection I originally purchased has over 150 designs, that lets me make 7500 models for sale (if that is what I was looking to do) and still be complying with the copyright terms I agreed to.

While some (quite vocally) disregard CNC machining as being woodworking, that doesn’t bother me at all.  This is taking the workshop I have, and producing a product that is marketable (well I hope it is marketable – this weekend will be a good litmus test!) That is a fun concept in itself, and reinforces what I like to try to get my woodworking to be – cost neutral, at least as far as possible.

It is nothing more, or less, than a cottage industry, which is a throwback to the 17th and 18th centuries (which persisted until the mid 19th until it was really replaced by the industrial revolution).  I like that concept.  A small number of people (often one) working away in a niche market to produce quality goods.  In this day and age, when everything is made in vast quantities, in factories overseas, the fact there are some items still available produced individually and with particular attention to quality and detail has a lot of appeal.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,011 other followers

%d bloggers like this: