SawStop, and my Woodworking Assistant

On one hand, the shed is regarded as a dangerous place for the unwary, and the inexperienced. Not so much inexperience in woodworking, but inexperience in life.

On the other hand, being able to enjoy woodworking with you child (or grandchild) can be an immensely rewarding experience, for both of you.

I would normally be very reluctant to have an inexperienced hand using a tablesaw, yet while making some shelving for some kitchen cupboards, Jess (my 7 year old) wanted to help, and not just help by standing around watching. Having a SawStop meant the answer to that question was not “No” or even a reluctant “Maybe”. It was a definite “Yes, of course”.

Now she didn’t get to cut the board unsupervised or unattended – I’m not that confident! Tablesaws can do damage in plenty of other ways, particularly hurling things at you at 250km/hr!

By setting up a featherboard, having the guard in place, and standing beside her, she was able to feed boards through the blade, and not give me absolute conniptions. Even on a regular saw, she would have been safe, but knowing that there is also the SawStop technology between her and a disaster really enhances the experience of woodworking with your offspring.

And it is another activity for her to add to the crazy quilt that is life’s experiences.

SawStop really makes a huge difference in relieving some of the stress that can surround the workshop.

Shed Essentials

There are always so many conflicting requirements in a shed, and (strangely) one I have been putting off for far too long is the essential sub temperature amber dispensing unit, otherwise known as a beer fridge.

It has just been one of those things that kept flying along as a good idea, but too low on my radar to actively notice.

Something clicked the other day, so I’ve trucked down to the Good Guys, and found what is hopefully a suitable solution: The stainless steel-fronted 120L HiSense fridge.

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It is now home, and in its new home, unwrapped, opened, stocked and turned on. It looks like it will be able to manage a couple of slabs.

That was certainly some low hanging fruit – don’t know why it took so long.

Blasterboyz Plaque

One thing I had yet to try on the CNC router, was other materials, and specifically aluminium.

As much as ‘they’ say that some Australian timbers are harder, and that I have both cut and routed aluminium manually, it was still with trepidation that I mounted a plate and engaged the CNC router.

There is more than hardness to the effects of machining different materials. Different materials form chips in different ways, different amounts of heat generation, and in the case of aluminium, a tendency for waste material to try to weld itself to the cutter if chips are not cleared adequately.

It is for this reason that aluminium router bits tend to be single fluted, allowing a much larger flute for more aggressive chip clearance.

Had a project come up that made it a great excuse to give it a try. The Blasterboyz are a group of JetSki riders, with a common tool of the trade- the Yamaha WaveBlaster. They often ride socially, right through to competitive rides.

They have asked if a plaque can be made, which will be used as a bit of a trophy. I won’t tell you what the trophy will actually be called – too politically incorrect!, but it translates as “go hard, or go home”

I set up to try a pretty standard V groove bit (before risking one of my soli carbide bits), and played around with feed and plunge rates to get one that cut sufficiently, without chatter or causing the CNC to move faster than the cutter could cope. The CNC Shark isn’t the most rigid, so when push comes to shove, there is some flex, which results in an imprecise job. The solution is to ensure the feed speed chosen suits the cutter and material.

So as a first attempt, this is the result. With some refinement, and a better, sharper, dedicated cutter this could be quite satisfactory. If the opportunity arose, it would also be very interesting to see a lasered result.

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Real Estate

About the most valuable commodity in the workshop is not the tablesaw, or the ubeaut spiral headed whatever, or custom made plane with metal dovetails. It is space.

Floors space, and bench space.

Hard to know which one is worth more. Floor space dictates if it is possible to move around, fit in large machines and floor-mounted tools, and for project assembly.

Bench space is working area, and given how much this space magnetically attracts mess, dust, tools, offcuts, works in progress, and benchtop tools.

I’ve been struggling with this for years. I have a number of bench-top machines that have long struggled to have a legitimate home – they always get bumped for a higher priority. Guess that is always their lot in life. I do tend towards floor-mounted, stand-alone machines. Bigger, more powerful, (more expensive), and don’t take up bench real estate.

Guess that indicates where the most valuable real estate is then – the bench top. Still, bench top machines need a home, and that is the challenge I am facing.

So I have made the decision (which is modifiable/reversable) to use the bench for the bench-mounted tools. A lathe (with buffing wheels), spindle sander, belt & disk sander, scrollsaw.

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That is some serious bench space to sacrifice, so there needs to be a replacement, or equivalent.

Not sure what to use to achieve this, but there are some options (without resorting to using the tablesaw as a work surface, like I have for years!) One is to make another workbench, to fit the slightly smaller space under the window. That bench will take the main Veritas twin screw clamp.

The Walko workbench will be wall mounted (as it was designed to do, as an alternative to the A frame configuration). Just need to identify a suitable section of wall. Speaking of walls, that is another area of real estate that is always incredibly useful and also in short supply. Think I have a location in mind.

Space, the final frontier.

Workshop Heating

Seems like it was summer only yesterday (and in Melbourne, that is pretty much the case) and now the cold is approaching.

(Actually, even over the course of today, I had rain, then sun to the point the roller door was radiating heat)

But that will change, and it will become consistently cold, and wet.

What better way to provide warmth, ambiance, and have a method of discarding offcuts (and failed projects), than a potbelly. As it happens, I have one that has been waiting to have a home. It was meant to go into the last shed, and that just didn’t happen. Will definitely make it happen this time around.

I was originally going to use a coonara, (have a spare of those as well), but think the potbelly has a better ambiance, and takes up less room.

Still, working out where to put it is still proving to be a bit of a challenge.

This is my current best guess for a location, but it isn’t really gelling for me yet. I would be happier if I had another location for the drum sander.

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Burning Grass

No-not what you think! Got inspired with my little welding job, and the latest “The Shed” magazine to practice welding some more.

I have a large piece of 1/2″ steel plate, that I was using as a reflective plate in the fireplace of our last house. (The concept being a steel plate in the back of the fireplace heats up, then radiates that heat into the room instead of heating up the bricks behind the fire, then dissipating it to the outside).

It was originally someone’s BBQ plate, and had a few holes drilled in it. Someone had also tried cutting a couple of slots in it, about 5″ long and 3/8″ deep, so I used these as the aim – try to get these to disappear by welding – filling in the voids.

Set up a bit of a metal corner in the shed (which consists of nothing more than the Triton steel cutter and the welder

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That is the limit of metalworking tools I currently have – bit discraceful.) Laid the steel plate on the ground outside (thus the burnt grass) and ground a corner to remove the rust, so the MagEarth would attach with good conductivity.

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Went through a 1/2 dozen rods, and was seeing some real improvement between the first and the last. Do enjoy welding, so will leave this setup so I can keep practicing. Shame we can’t weld wood! There again, wood is a lot easier to cut and shape.

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to add a small metal lathe and mill – would have proven useful on many occasions already.

The Shed Magazine

Originally only available in New Zealand (at least easily), The Shed magazine has gone Australasian.

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The first Australasian issue has got me wanting to practice my welding more, and I have an old 1/2″ mild steel plate that would be perfect for the job.

It also has my article on the making of the truck recently (if you were wondering why there was very little detail about that build, this is why!

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On “The Shed”‘s website is an excerpt from the article, but better than that is seeing all 5 or so pages of it in print.

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SawStop in the foreground, the new Fair Dinkum workshop in the background. Sweet!

 

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