For Numismatists, Notaphilists & Coin Collectors

Here is my latest project, ready for the next edition of The Shed magazine.


It is a coin storage cabinet, with spaces for 1200 individual coins, stored in acrylic trays.  It has a curved top (using kerfing) and tambour door.  By replacing a 6mm thick tray with two sheets of 3mm clear acrylic, bank notes could also be stored and displayed.

Each tray has a tab with a descriptor of the tray engraved in it, such as “Australia 50c Commemorative”, and each coin slot is sized to the specific coin that it is to house.

When the edition of The Shed comes out (soon), the article goes into detail how it was made, using both CNC and non-CNC techniques.

In the Firing Line

I recently met with a new owner of the SawStop, and took them through some of the specifics of the machine, including some of the basics of safe operation of a tablesaw.  As they were an experienced operator, the focus was certainly around the brake mechanism.

Six months later, and I get a call.  Turns out the SawStop mechanism got tested for real.  Scared the bejesus out of him – not only when it activated, but more fundamentally, that it happened at all.  So we are going to have another session, and this time running through the A, B, Cs of tablesaw use.

Had my own experience last weekend.  Not of the SawStop mechanism, but a reminder of basic safe operation.

I try to ensure that I am not standing directly in line with the blade when it is cutting.  That isn’t always possible, but it is a good practice, and this time was no exception.  I was standing to one side while ripping a piece of timber, and a piece of the offcut splintered from an unknown internal fault in the timber.  It got spat out by the blade, and sailed right past my ear.  Close enough for me to hear it pass by.  Close enough that I felt it brush the ear.

Reinforces why I like standing to one side while cutting!  Even if it had hit, it is unlikely to have done any damage, but it is a good reinforcement why we practice safe use.  And why eye protection is mandatory.

I finished off the cut – nothing wrong there, so the technique was fine.  It really came down to a weakness in the timber.

As much as I was out of the line of fire, it was a full-depth cut.  And while having the riving knife fitted helps protect against kickback, having the full dust guard fitted when it was appropriate for it to be used would have prevented this happening at all, at least as far as having a small missile launched in my general direction goes.

Tool Whispering

When you are using your tools and machines, do you try to ignore the noises, try to muffle them into non-existence, overwhelm them with other distractions (such as loud music), or do you really listen to the machine in use?

That is not to say that hearing protection is not a sensible thing – you can still listen to a machine operating and protect your ears at the same time.

I find that I am always listening to the machines when in operation, and they have plenty to say.

Of course, they tend to tell you when things are not working well – the sound of a slipping belt, the terminal sound of a bearing grinding itself to dust, arcing and sparking of a shorting motor.

They also tell you about maintenance.  The dust extractor that has a different pitch when the bag is full vs when it is empty, the staccato sound of chips ricocheting around inside a machine when the dust extraction tube becomes clogged, and the shavings have no-where else to go.  (Of course, that probably means you missed the change in pitch sound of the extractor bag filling!), the smooth operating sound of a well lubricated thicknesser, vs one where the bed is gripping the workpiece a bit tightly, so it is not sliding smoothly.

The machines tell you how your work is progressing.  In particular, the planer and thicknesser.  If you listen to a board passing through, you can hear the sound changing as the board passes through, so before you even look, you have a pretty fair idea where you had a full width pass, and areas that still require further planing.

They tell you how hard they are working.  Whether you are feeding them at a decent rate, not too fast, not too slow, if if you are trying to take off too much material in a pass.  A router bit will quickly tell you if it is happy, or flexing (and therefore close to snapping).

Cutting edges will tell you if they are slicing cleanly, or are forcing a dull edge through the work.

A bandsaw will tell you if it is cutting smoothly, or if you are forcing the blade to follow a track that it isn’t comfortable with (and it screams this out!).  These are just a few short examples – there are many, many others.

The machines are constantly whispering.  Are you listening?

How’s it hangin?

The ol’ router table that is?

Ever lusted over a router lift, being able to precisely dial in a router bit height, make a pass, and need a 0.1mm adjustment to make it perfect?  That is what a router lift can give you.

Sure they are not cheap, but then the router table is one of the main workshop tools, and if you are prepared to put some bling into some of the other tools (tablesaw, bandsaw etc), then perhaps consider giving the router table some love.

I am coming from the other side of the decision, having had a router lift and the Incra fence for a number of years.  I’ve always enjoyed the accuracy, and it comes as second nature these days.  Guess it has improved my woodworking, but that isn’t actually why I have it. (Probably should be!!) I just like being able to use good gear when I am pottering around.

We did think the day of the router lift in Australia was numbered, when the Woodpeckers Router Lift ceased manufacture. The Router Lift was specifically designed for plunge routers, which are just not popular in the USA for some reason.

However, that is not the only form of the router lift that is out there, and the American version, the Precision Router Lift Version 2 (or shortened to PRL V2) is now available here.

This has some cool features that my router lift doesn’t have.  Such as a spring loaded plunge handle to quickly set the height close to what is desired, without winding and winding.  The other, and this is even more interesting, is it has a built-in large diameter knurled wheel to dial in the precise height (it is bright red in the photo, so hard to miss!)

This lift cannot fit a plunge router, but then having a plunge router under a lift is a bit of a waste anyway. I haven’t taken my plunge router out of the table for years.  Probably so full of sawdust now, it may not be able to plunge properly anyway.

So what do you use instead?

Well the PRL V2 from Professional Woodworkers Supplies comes with an 1800W 1/2″ (and 1/4″) fixed base router. So that takes care of that problem!

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are looking for a kick-ass router table, having a router lift with such accurate adjustment, it will certainly have appeal to some.  Given my Triton is struggling (age catching up with it), this is a rather tempting option, and solves one of the final issues with my current setup – how to do through-table bit changes, without having to adjust both the router lift, and the Triton router.  Something I’ve put up with for the overall benefit of the lift.  Guess I really like the look of that red dial!


Sorry things have been so quiet around here of late.

I’ve been off on an intensive management course, followed by a trip to the Central Coast, all of which have completely monopolised my time.

Everything else has had to take a backseat role, which notably has included the blog, much to my regret.

Sometimes trying to balance the demands of woodworking , and work, just doesn’t always, well, work.  I am working on it, as you wood expect.


This is not a drill


Woodworking Warehouse Revamp

Quite an impressive reno appears to have happened down at the Woodworking Warehouse.

I haven’t seen it in person (yet), but tempted to drop down and have a gander after seeing these photos on Facebook.




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