Stu & Jess’ Shed .com

Spent much of the day in the workshop, finishing off the kitchen I gave Jessica 18 months ago. Nothing like promptly getting jobs done!

Edges were rounded over using the Festool laminate trimmer (OFK500) I bought for the task 17 months ago. Sides were sanded, and the big (outstanding) job tackled- remaking the wooden hinges for the cupboard door that had broken while carrying the unit into the house for that Christmas all those months ago.

The door, finally attached, and it was onto giving both units (sink & oven) an oil (Danish). Took a lot – lots of surfaces! I really need to prefinish more!

However, despite the long list, I didn’t do it all myself. For almost 5 hours, Jess was a constant companion, and helper. She oiled one entire unit, and sanded much of it as well with the ETS150/5. And had a ball doing it. It was her suggestion that the shed needed the name alteration!

I’ve created a monster! (Awesome!!)

Woodworking inspiring the next generation.


Sliced bread? Step aside!

Yet more evidence of the phenomenon that is the Centipede SawHorse – had another job on (cutting some polycarb roof), and again the Centipede absolutely nailed the task.


Needed to cut some sheets at 90º and 45º, and the Centipede’s ability to both support the sheet, and provide plenty of clearance for the tool to make a full depth cut (without having to worry about cutting into the table) was invaluable.

The simplest concept success is the 2×4 support that plug into the holes at the end of each upright.  Absolute genius.  You don’t always need to use them, but for a particularly flexible material, it was the difference between an ok setup, and one that absolutely nailed the task.  I was flicking from left to right on that front length to get the angle cuts I needed, and the flexible sheet was supported all the way along the length of the cut.

untitled-2You can set it up anywhere – I would have done this job out on the grass (even being a bit uneven), but due to a persistent drizzle, found working under the back deck was a good solution.  The Centipede created the working surface in seconds, and was a real asset to the job, not just a bench, or a couple of sawhorses, but actually made the job easier (and therefore achieved a better than expected result).  Can’t tell you how much I love this thing!!

As you can see in the photo, I am using the Festool rail, but instead of using the TS55, I used it with the Dremel, mounted in the plunge router attachment.  I did try the TS55, but without the right blade, I got too much cracking and chipping of the edge.  The dremel with a shear cut bit did the trick.  When I get the Festool router, and attachment to be able to use it on a rail, it will be even better.  The Ti15 impact driver got a really good workout!

So what was it for?  The new dust extraction section of the shed.  It was a trapped corner, between the shed and the (45º) fence, and with a new wall, and roof (polycarb), the outdoor area becomes another internal, sheltered, but separate room.  It provides easy access to the dust extractor, and yet isolates the noise and any leaking dust away from the shed itself.  I’ve now also decided to do a little rerouting of the air system, so the air compressor can go into the same area, again for ease of access.

untitled-3The floor is crushed rock – I will continue to revisit the space, but it is perfectly functional.

And finally, the dust extractor has a home, and one that I can easily route the dust extraction system to it.

Can’t wait to get it all connected up, and back up and running.

More Festool Specials

The end-of-financial-year sale is on again for Festool products, over at Ideal Tools.

Once again, it is a matter of resisting (which is futile) the attraction of Festool (and some Protool) gear marked well down!


Vacs, drills, sanders, saws, accessories – worth a look at the specials page to be sure.  There is not as much there as the previous sale, but still, if you are in the market for anything that is there on special, obviously a good time to get it!

Of particular note, some of the Surfix Festool finishing oil is there, marked down from $50 to $15, which isn’t too shabby, and a good time to get it if you use that finishing system (good time for me to stock up as well).


Compounding Cuts

Been working over the weekend on cleaning up around the shed.  A little bit of cleaning up after the last project, and a lot of getting some equipment into its final home.

Specifically the dust extractor.

If you remember from my recent floorplan, I am intending on putting it into the ‘dead’ corner caught between the shed and the diagonal fence.  My original idea was to create a bit of a standalone shed around the extractor, but for a number of reasons it is a lot better to resurrect the earlier plan of having the whole section boxed in.  Overall, it results in a loss in usable floorspace, but the floorspace that is available becomes significantly more productive.

It may stop me turning the rest of that corner into a rubbish tip!

The original shed design shied away from producing an angled section to the shed – too difficult to calculate, or manufacture the angled joiners or something.

But not if I am doing it myself. I’m using treated pine for the frame, so I can cut the compound angles easily.  45º side angle, 10º down angle for the roof.  Don’t have to think twice about it on the Kapex.

Getting this sorted, and the rest of the shed more organised meant I didn’t get to shoot the videos I was planning for the weekend.  Things rarely go to plan, but each day is a small step closer to having the shed organised and operational, and each step means when I do shoot video (or take some stills), that things look closer to how I would like them to be.  It also means I am a bit short of content to chat about here, but again, the more progress I make now, the easier it will be down track.

The Ti15 Festool impact driver is really earning its keep, and the TS55 REQ is going to do the same when it comes time to make the angled cuts in the polycarbonate roofing.  As is the Centipede Sawhorse!  You know a winner of a tool, when within days of receiving it, you can’t work out how you did without it.


It takes next to no time to show it off, and a few seconds more before it sells itself to another customer. If only I was a. The importer, and b. Had stock!

I refer to the Centipede Workbench, and it has already proven its worth.

Light enough to be very portable, and certainly rigid enough when doing its job. The time to set it up and collapse it back down again, is no exaggeration. Seconds. Literally.

In next to no time, it has become an invaluable tool, particularly for me in breaking down larger sheets. The 2×4 retainers that clip into the top, and the supplied hold-downs are both very clever, and very useful, especially for thin, flexible sheets. No need to work on the ground, bent over the sheet trying to break it down, now you can work at a comfortable standing height.

It is going to be superb coupled up with the Festool TS55 and rail (or any other rail-mounted circular saw).

It may feel a little flimsy as you are opening it up, but that is quite legitimate: the majority of the members in the unit are tension members, so until they are placed into tension (with the workcentre fully opened), then yes, they will flex. Once set up though, it can bear a decent load, especially distributed over all the uprights.

I’ll take some photos/video of it in operation shortly, but take it from me, it is an impressive unit!

Adding to the tool library

Made a minor layout modification, which resulted in the ‘sink’ being relocated to outside the back door of the shed (outdoor sink), so I could fit the Walko as a wall-mounted option in the back corner instead.

This then left the area beneath the window open for the appearance of a new tool: The Festool MFT/3, with the TS55 R saw. (Both from my “Breaking Bad” dealer, Ideal Tools)

What we are talking about here is the multifunction table, complete with a rail that flips out of the way when not required, and a relocatable, multiangle fence.  The top is very familiar, being the model I’ve adopted for the TWC, and that is already on the Walko workbench as well.  A matrix of round dog holes across the surface.

zoom__hb_mft3_495315_p_01aThere is plenty of storage area underneath (I haven’t worked out how I’ll use that area yet, but for the time being it will be kept open for some filming I am planning).  I’m looking to obtain a clear perspex sheet as an alternate top, so I can film up through it for a bit of fun.

The rail (green striped thing) which can flip out of the way on a hinge at the rear, can mount a circular saw, or router (or jigsaw etc) from the Festool range.

So it is complemented by the saw

ts-55-r-fs-2The TS55R.  This would have been really useful on the recent coffee table project!

So to fit everything in took only a little amount of shuffling (although the Cleantex (vacuum) has lost its home for the time being).

FirefoxScreenSnapz006However, that has caused me to think more about the one problem area I was still having.  The relationship between the jointer and the thicknesser, the space each was taking, and their restricted infeed and outfeed.

Played a bit (using the Grizzly Workshop Planner), and came up with an alternative that looks remarkably promising.


Without loosing any real estate (in fact this gains some), I have doubled the infeed and outfeed areas of both tools.  It makes use of the space either side of the tablesaw as infeed (or outfeed) for the thicknesser and jointer respectively.  That space needs to be empty anyway, as infeed and outfeed for the tablesaw, so why not use it for all three tools?

It gives me good access along the front of the jointer (important obviously!), and access right alongside the right-hand side of the thicknesser (much more convenient).

And I can still get the dust extraction to pump the sawdust straight into the potbelly.  (Just kidding – I don’t need to generate that much heat!  If I had a mini foundry, that would be a different matter!)  Mmmm mini foundry…….


The layout is definitely getting there.  Each change is a build on the previous, rather than being a complete rework, so that is good.  Refinements are fine (and are typically the status quo on my place!)

Bauhaus of the 21st Century

Back in the start of the 20th century, a school of modern art and design was established in Germany. It had, as one of its underlying principles, form follows function.

In other words, design an item where it is ideally made for the job it has to perform, not for its aesthetic form first. This doesn’t mean the resulting item does not have aesthetic merit, but it has to be designed to work first, before its form is considered.

Many of the concepts that were developed are still seen today, such as this modern kettle, which is based on a Bauhaus design.


The primary function of the kettle is to boil water on a stove. So maximising the surface area in contact with the element is first giving consideration to the function, before being concerned with the implication of that on the form. (And so on).

It is a very appealing principle for engineers.

Although we are 100 years on, many of the designers out there have seemingly forgotten that function is important, and so we have power tools that look like Cylons, tools designed to appeal to a particular demographic, tools designed for every reason, other than the specific function they are meant to perform.

Tools built as cheaply as possible, because who in their right mind would actually want to pay good money for quality?

This box warehouse concept, these Chinese-made tools, this concept of power tools for $10 and $20 have really destroyed many expectations of tools in a throw-away society. Buy a tool, use it for a few jobs, replace it when it dies. The service charges for repair of appliances is insane. As is the hourly rate that is proposed. More than many people earn as an hourly rate, so why would they spend 2 hours working to pay for 1 hour of a repairman, when for the same (or cheaper amount) you can buy a new, replacement (cheap) tool?

So now we have over priced labour, over priced manufacturing, offset against ludicrously low priced imports.

Never mind the imports are built, not for a function, but a price. Let’s not use real bearings, use nylon bushes. The tool is made to last 10 hours of operation for its life (and no, that is not an exaggeration, some GMC drills were specifically designed for 10 hours use. If one lasted longer, it was considered ‘over engineered’, and was rebranded platinum). 10 hours operation of a drill may last some households a lifetime, so sure, for some people, that is a reasonable purchase.

But what I see when I look at those tools is a waste of resources. A waste of the raw materials that made them, as with the same raw product, refined better of course, and with a much better design, a real tool could have been made. In fact, the minerals would have been better just left in the ground, rather than mined, drilled, crushed, refined, shipped, refined more, shipped again, machined, assembled, shipped, distributed, and shipped again to be sold, in a product that cost $10, and is designed to last 10 hours.

I tried to review a clamping workbench a few years ago. I won’t mention its name, but it was sold through Bunnings for a while. I had a couple of models to cover. The concept seemed reasonable, the sales video looked impressive. I got one model assembled, but the second broke before I even got it fully together. (I had videoed the whole process, and by the end, it was obvious that even if I did use the video, I’d have to over-dub the whole soundtrack).

By the time I had the two assembled, the flimsiness of the material (too thin struts, too weak, too compromised to save a few dollars in raw materials), the overall quality of construction, both models were picked up taken back to the supplier and unceremoniously given back. I wanted nothing to do with them. (The company (importer) hasn’t spoken to me since either). All I could think was “what a waste of resources”. Not there was enough steel used to even make a good boat anchor from it. Perhaps if there had been, it wouldn’t have been such a crap product. About 6 months (or even less) later, Bunnings dumped the range as well. Guess that says something.

So let me introduce a different concept. The Bauhaus of the 21st century.

Instead of “Form Following Function”, I propose that the new Bauhaus is “Finance Following Function”. And one of the big proponents of this (not that I am suggesting they are considering themselves the new Bauhaus, that is just my take on things), comes from the country of the original Bauhaus, Germany.

German engineering. It has long been regarded as the créme de la créme of design and manufacturing excellence, and when building something where Finance Follows Function, means building a tool to the absolute best it can be, to do the job it was intended to do, and then worry about the price.

And there sits Festool. Tools made to be the best, not the cheapest. Other brands also appear: Tormek, SawStop, Woodpeckers, Incra, Teknatool. Tools overengineered, over-speced, over made, to achieve the optimum quality, not price.

The tools last, and really work.
Function √
Justified use of materials √
Longevity √
A pleasure to use √

How much?

I read this on the packet of some premium pizza bases, but it was so fitting:

“The bitterness of poor quality remains, long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten” How true that is.

I know expensive tools are, well, expensive. I know we can’t all afford the very best tools all the time. (Yes, I still have some GMC tools too). But little by little, I am replacing them with the quality equivalent.

The first was my ROS (random orbital sander): when the previous one died, I bought my first Festool – the ETS 150/5. Sure, it was 3x the price of a reasonable ROS, but not once have I regretted that purchase. It is a pleasure each and every time I pick it up and use it. And my hands are not in real physical pain at the end of a sanding session either (from vibrations). I could repeat that same story for a number of other tools as well.

So just something to keep in mind the next time you are shopping for a tool (or anything really). You may well be heavily influenced by price (who isn’t), but give some consideration to what I have said here too, and see if you can choose to allow “Finance to Follow Function”. You won’t regret the decision each and every single time you subsequently use the item purchased.

It is a Bauhaus thing.

Natural Art

Sometimes a piece of timber catches my eye, and although at the time I have no idea what it will be used for, I grab it and store it until it has a chance to tell me what it wants to be.

It has been like this long before I had any decent tools (or skillset) to actually do with the piece what it wanted to be.  Many would argue that the skillset is still lacking, and I’m not going to argue with you on that score!

One such piece was at a woodshow a few years back.  I probably blogged about it at the time.  It was a slab of camphor laurel, and it has been sitting in my wood store for a few years now.  It was always intended to be a coffee table or some such.

I have just received the surfacing/spoilboard bit from, and it was a great opportunity to put the bit through its paces, and to make something from the slab itself.

To the bit for a sec (and I also shot a video of it all, so that will be up soon).  It was called a spoilboard bit, which is not a term I was familiar with.  Turns out (from a Google search), that it is basically what it sounds like, and comes from the CNC world (but machines in the serious spectrum).

These CNC machines utilise MDF as a base material, not (just) because they are flat, but instead because of their porosity.  If you have ever tried to use a VacClamp on MDF, you find it is very difficult to maintain a vacuum, until you seal the surface.  These CNC machines work the other way around – they pull a vacuum right through the MDF, to clamp the material to the MDF surface.  The rolled outer surface of MDF is therefore a barrier to this working effectively, so it needs to be machined off, and that is where the spoilboard bit comes into its own.  Spoilboard – which is as it sounds, another term for a sacrificial board, or base.  Not unlike how we use MDF on the Torque Workcentre.  Doesn’t matter if it gets cut into – it is designed to be used, and eventually replaced.

The same cutter is also perfect for slabbing, and that is how I primarily intend to use it.

Photo 19-06-2008 0 56 42It is a different design to other surfacing cutters I have come across.  They all have the vertical carbide cutters (either replaceable or not), which have a scraping action, but this cutter also has two cutters positioned on the base, creating a shearing action across the surface as well.  It is also a monster of a bit, at 63.5mm diameter! (2.5″).  This is not a bit for handheld work!

With either a CNC machine, a Torque Workcentre (or other slabbing setup), this bit will work to flatten a large area quickly.

I’ll have more detail of the setup in the video.  The slab was secured down, and with a number of passes, the surface flattened.  The bit handled some substantial cuts – at one stage it was cutting over 5mm deep across the majority of the width of the bit, and didn’t notice or complain in the slightest.  I’m sure it could handle even more, but I wouldn’t deliberately push a router bit to its limit.

Once the slab was flattened, a quick burst with the Festool belt sander, then onto the ROS with 80 grit paper.  Both these steps took next-to-no time – as you’d expect.  I didn’t have time to finish sanding (up through the grades), but wanted to at least see how it would look, so rubbed some Danish oil over part of the surface.

Talk about “POP”!

Photo 17-05-2014 17 03 24

When whomever it was cut the slab, they were particularly frugal, and it was very thin to start with.  With the amount of resulting twist/warp, the slab was very thin in some sections (down to about 10-15mm).  Too thin to make a generous table.  However, the timber was already telling me it didn’t want to be a table anyway, and instead wanted to become a piece of natural wall art.  Who am I to argue?!

So I will finish off the sanding, then oil it right up, before mounting on the shed wall.  The only decision now, is which wall of the shed to use!


Confused, or Impressed?

Either way, I think I’d want one, but I have no idea why, or even the minor point that I don’t typically work with material that needs edgebanding!

A Festool workshop- shame we can’t buy one of these off the shelf!


If you are away from the workshop, perhaps this systainer would get you out of trouble

So much Festool, so little time!


Urgent trophy job

One of the family friends does woodcarving on the side, and had a job dropped onto him at the last minute.

So we decided to get the CNC Shark to do some of the heavy lifting.

6 shields, by tomorrow! Not a problem.

2 hours later and they were done.

I suggested that he follow Dennis’ lead, and use a resin filler – makes the designs really pop.

Anyway, it was a bit of a distraction, but at least sawdust was being made (and even the Festool ETS 150/5 made an appearance).  Slowly a sense of normalcy is returning to the shed space.


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