Solent Mk4

With its roots firmly entwined in a WWII aircraft (the Short Sunderland) that combated German U Boats and was in combat in the Korean war, the Short Solent was operated as a civilian carrier in Australasia, the UK and the USA in the late 40’s and 50’s.

This model, from has been, without question, the most complicated build that I have assembled so far.  224 individual parts may not be the most of any model (not that I have been counting), but the assembly took a couple of nights.  And plenty of glue.  The hot glue gun is proving particularly useful for these models.

Made from 3mm MDF, using the #45190, 1/16th straight router bit from on the TorqueCNC.

SolentPhoto by Kara Rasmanis

Sucking in the sides

Back to the vacuum table for a sec.  I’ve been cutting out a bunch of designs on the CNC, for a school fete in October – while the machine sits idle during the week, there is no reason for it to do the same on weekends.

The vacuum table makes a huge difference – designs can be cut out without tabs, which saves a phenomenal amount of effort.  Just the time saved between removing a sheet and securing down the next is enough to be significant.

I happened to glance over at the vac this evening, and more specifically to the Clearvue cyclone-like separator (I have the older version of the mini, where they had departed from a traditional cyclone design).  The collection bin on the separator had almost completely collapsed from the vacuum that was being generated.  Lucky it hadn’t caused the lid to spring a leak, otherwise I would have lost what was being cut, and probably the cutter as well.

It makes very evident that this is generating a pretty significant vacuum, and therefore there will not be a great deal of airflow.  Problem with that is the vacuum cleaner itself.  I expect it relies on the airflow for cooling, and without it, I’m probably slowly cooking the bearings.

While the bearings can survive some heat soak, they will be mounted in plastic, and that will not be enjoying the temperature at all.  When that fails, releasing the bearings and therefore the shaft of the motor, the failure will be catastrophic.  Something that is still on my mind.

Just as an aside, after testing out the new dust extractor yesterday, cleaning up around the CNC, I kept using it today after each job, and was easily able to keep the whole work area satisfyingly clean.  This is despite having had to temporarily reduce the 8″ opening to a measly 4″ (in hindsight I should have checked what the inlet was on the unit – I need to get a multi-inlet, or drive a whopping great cyclone unit with the thing).

Thought I would be alright – drop down to Bunnies and get some plumbing fittings to carry me over.  Except they don’t have fittings that run to 200mm!  Let alone tubing.

Based on cross section area of the inlet, I can connect 4x 4″ inlets simultaneously, as the cross section area of 4x 4″ is the same as 1x 8″.  Anything less than that is restricting the extractor’s performance.  Either way, I have some thinking to do to maximise the dust draw from around the workshop.  And where the extractor will permanently reside.


Had a thought, and took another look at the Oneida Super Dust Deputy.  Interesting – the version available in Oz is steel, but in the US there is also a couple of statically conductive resin versions.  One that is the equivalent of the steel version is a whole $US170.   Even if the libs go and dump us with paying GST on overseas purchases, $US170 equals $A267 at the current exchange rate.  There is an XL version, with 6″ inlets and outlets.  That is interesting, but as it is not available here, a bit academic.

The steel Super Dust Deputy has one problem for me (other than being $A500), it is only for 350-850 cfm.  I can now generate 2900cfm!  Hmm – wonder what a home-made Thein could handle?

Update 2 – fixed up my maths – the Sherwood has an 8″ inlet, not 6″!

East Meets West

For many years, Timbecon was very well known as the Perth-based woodworking retail company, which also frequented the wood shows on both coasts (which is how I mainly became familiar with the brand).

As of earlier this year (as previously mentioned), Timbecon now have a store at either side of the country, with the opening of their Coburg North (Melbourne) store.  So I decided to pay it a visit.

I’m not particularly familiar with the northern suburbs, so my GPS took me right to the store front, mainly via Eastlink.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 19 23It doesn’t have a huge storefront, but I was surprised to see just how much they had fitted into the retail area.  I can’t imagine the location will remain this size forever – I see some expansion in their tea leaves!

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 22The store has a good balance of large machines (the occasional purchases), and lots of consumables (the regular purchases – glues, finishes, sandpaper etc etc), and workshop necessities (such as clamps) (and more on them in a future post).

Photo 21-08-2015 10 40 22

Found a small bin unit at the back of the store with some cool wheels (and cheap) that will make plenty of toy projects.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 40 17 Photo 21-08-2015 10 40 12

In the heavier machine range, Timbecon have the Sherwood machines, and the first thing that struck me was that there had been a bit of a colour change, and the original bright orange has been replaced with a much more stylish burnt sienna colour, (and portions of black) and the machines look really good in this scheme.  I know the colour of a machine is the least important factor when choosing one, but it doesn’t hurt to have a good looking workshop!

The 8″ jointer looked interesting

Photo 21-08-2015 10 41 36as did a retrofittable copy attachment for a lathe

Photo 21-08-2015 11 07 24There was a lot more than this to look at, but I got distracted by everything to look at, and forgot to take many more photos!

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 37 Photo 21-08-2015 10 39 08A very interesting ball joint for a 4″ dust extraction system – forgot to pick that one up when I was leaving – don’t have a particular use in mind, but wanted it anyway!

I was particularly interested in the dust extractors, being one of the long-term primary issues I have been having with the size of my current workshop, and something I have been wanting to deal with.

The unit I had seen on their website was there (now in the burnt sienna) – a 3HP dual bag unit for $500.

Photo 21-08-2015 10 38 12That is the one – in between the large single bag unit to the right, and the huge-looking unit behind it to the left.  After speaking with Hague (the manager), he suggested I have another look at the larger one.  For not much more, it had a significant performance boost.   I will go into a lot more detail in another post, but a quick glance:

Let’s put that into context.  This is a 3HP dust extractor, which is the same as many other dual bag collectors.  Where one well-known brand has a flow rate of around 2100 cfm (cubic feet/minute), and the ‘ultimate’ unit – the Powermatic has a flow rate of 1900 cfm (and costs about $2000), this Sherwood unit costs $900, and its flowrate is a massive 2900 cfm!  (Not sure how much pleated filters drop performance, but by their pleated design, the total area is significantly higher, so you’d hope they would provide a performance boost, rather than a decrease).

This extractor isn’t on the Timbecon website yet (there is a big upgrade happening at the moment, so expect a lot of additions over the next month or so), but there are a few of this model available in store.  Although one less than there was when I arrived!  At that price, and performance, I couldn’t resist. (And again, not meaning to pre-empt my upcoming post, but once I assembled the unit and turned it on, this unit sucked.  Big time.  But not in a bad way!

I ran out of time before I got to see everything, so will have to drop in again at some stage, but in the meantime they will be at the Timber and Working with Wood show in September, so I’ll have another gander then.

Best of “The Shed”

A new book, just released in time for Father’s Day, from The Shed Magazine


Cost is about $NZ20 (plus postage), so that is about $1 per project.

Very  curious to know what the projects are, although I think it highly unlikely any of mine would have made the cut.

Can always live in hope :) but I expect there were a lot of great projects that missed the cut- sure there was no shortage to choose between!

Not even a buck

Was at a school trivia night last night- fundraiser for my daughter’s school.

Along with the other activities, there was a silent auction.  This is where you can write down on a sheet your name, and the amount you are bidding, so long (like any auction) it is more than the bid previous.

Some items have a reserve, some don’t.

Thought I’d help, and made a velociraptor to be a part of the auction. No reserve, and 100% of the bid amount for the school coffers.

It is one of the anatomically correct dinosaurs from and looks awesome. I made him to look impressive, and is 1.3m from nose to tail.

Despite all that, not one bid.  Not even $1.

So I’m left a little confused. I had offered to set up a stall at the school’s fete to raise some more for them, but now I am quite unsure if the effort would be worth it, in the investment of my time & money.

Dust Control

Dust really is an insidious pest in the workshop.  Whether it is the heavier shavings created from bulk material removal, down to the finest particles that can remain airborne for hours, days, even weeks.

I know for a fact that I don’t do enough to contain dust at either end of the spectrum.

The reasons for and against may be a bit of a seesaw of justifications, but if I was to be honest, I don’t think that the seesaw is well balanced, or particularly justifiable for what I have on one side, versus the other.

So on the first side, I have


See what I mean, other than cost, and noise (particularly at night when it is often the only time I get to do anything out there, and I can’t afford to antagonise the neighbours) there are no really compelling reasons against doing something about it.

On the other side of the seesaw, I have

safety – (lungs)
safety – (slippery floor)
lost tools
increase in rust of tool surfaces
potential damage to finishes
untidy working environment

I am sure there may be a few more examples for both sides, but they would follow the same trend.

Cost is a bit of a bugbear, I will admit.  You need a good extractor to get the required performance – not only in the amount being extracted, and the distance it is pulling the dust from, but also in the performance of the filters.

Not much point extracting dust from the point of generation if you are only going to pump the most harmful portion straight back into the workshop atmosphere (dust below 1 micron in size that is).

My existing at-tool dust extraction is good in theory, but in practice I know that I am expecting too much of the current dust extractor – the distance I am trying to get it to draw over is far too great for it to be efficient.  There are a couple of options- decrease the distance, or increase the power.

So I’m thinking of doing both.

If I relocate the current 2HP TruPro extractor to the back of the timber store shed, it can just service the lathe/CNC area of the shed.  A new 3HP dust extractor would then be plugged into the existing extraction ducting.

Interesting idea, so I’ve been researching what is out there in the way of large dust extractors.

First thought – Powermatic. a 3HP extractor is $2000.  Other than it being a traditional design (as opposed to a cyclone), this would be a gold-plated solution.


A Carbatec cyclone is $3200, but is too tall for my current location (not that a redesign of the layout is impossible).  Getting pretty pricy – Like you can almost get a SawStop for that sort of money, and I think there is just a bit more build quality and technology in a SawStop than a dust extractor.  On the other hand, a cyclone is a superior extraction solution.


Of course the Powermatic looks like a traditional bag collection system, but it does have a conical separator built into the top above each collection bag.

Another option is to put a cyclone separator in line, before whichever extractor is chosen.  At $500, it is a lot of money for some rolled steel.


Given Timbecon now have a store in Melbourne, thought I’d check out online what they might have.

First thing that caught my eye – their 3HP 2 bag extractor…..$500.  Say what?  Even if you take the pleated filter option (which is mandatory personally – a cloth bag is a dust pump, not a dust extractor) it is $1000.  I’m not a fan of Sherwood Orange, but that price can make one choose to be colourblind.


I need to get more information though – there wasn’t any detail on their site to be able to accurately compare it to other machines out there.  They also apparently have a cyclone extractor, so it will be interesting to get more detail of that too.  Guess a roadtrip to north Melbourne will be in my near future.

One other aspect that I am seriously considering, is being able to accurately assess the air quality in the shed.

There is the Dylos unit that can detect down to 0.5 micron (and can be set to alarm if the dust concentration passes certain thresholds)  I haven’t found anything else that competes with that for price/performance yet – if anyone knows of something, I’d be interested to know.  The Dylos Pro is $US260



Noise Control

Used the vacuum table for a small job again tonight- certainly does do a good job.  Holding down the smallest parts isn’t as guaranteed, expect shifting to a downcut bit will help that somewhat.

The one thing that is bugging me, is the noise of the vacuum itself.  The Shopvac I am using for the table is exceptionally noisy, which doesn’t help.

Does anyone have any experience with vac tables, that could suggest a better alternative?

Would a vac pump draw as much (if not more) than a domestic vacuum cleaner?  How do they handle dust from the job? What other alternatives are out there?

Hoping someone can provide suggestions!


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