MagSwitch 2014

Retailers of MagSwitch will soon have a new Point of Sale device that looks quite well done.  Nothing like being able to play with a product to see how well it works!

image003They have also released their latest catalog which not only covers the product range, has some really interesting details about field depth, magnetic saturation, effects of airgaps (including painted surfaces etc).  Worth a quick gander (here).

I’ve suggested a new product to them – the MagSwitch GoPro mount.  They probably won’t go with it, but when my 3D printer arrives, I’ll make one anyway!

Dear MagSwitch, we miss you

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The range of MagSwitch products seems to grow and grow, and rightly so, the industrial sector are the main benefactors.

However, I miss the innovative products MagSwitch was bringing out for woodworkers and workshop owners, each one being such a game-changer. I know the products are still available, but as there has been nothing new for us for so long, they just become part of the background view when you walk into a store. I still look longingly at the display, hoping to see something new.

I still love the products, and use them very regularly, I used to do the occasional woodworking show demonstration for them when they were still an Australian product.

Just reminiscing about the days when MagSwitch and woodworkers were so much closer.

Roadtrip

Went on a roadtrip yesterday to see the ‘superstore’ of a shed manufacturer.  Disappointing – they do not make anything but very standard sheds, and best they could do was design one that involved putting two of their normal sheds together, that would result in a post right in the middle of the largest working area.  Disappointing too – despite the simplicity of 2 basic sheds, it was in the same ballpark as the one in the earlier post (and that is with a 20% discount this company is currently offering!)

As a distraction, I dropped into Hare & Forbes which was just around the corner.

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A massive collection of machines – very impressive.  Woodwork & metalwork machines.  Some awesome industry-sized machines.  Drool.

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Found one thing that I am very keen to have in the shed.  I was looking at how to fit in an I beam for a chain hoist, but that doesn’t have a lot of versatility (being linear only).  This stand can lift and move along an I beam, and is wheeled to boot, so you can position the hoist where you need it.  It looks awesome, and a real back-saver.

I have the chain hoist already, so along with this mobile rail, I only need the carriage.  Would be great if I had one of the MLAY 1000×3 from MagSwitch – that would really cap the whole combination off!

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Don’t even know if these are in Australia!  Very cool though – imagine swinging my tablesaw around the workshop!

MagSwitch in the V8 Development Series

With the 2013 series of the V8 Championship about to get underway, and in a new format with multiple manufacturers finally able to participate once again, the development series is also kicking off.

On car #35 in the Dunlop (development) Series, driven by George Miedecke, MagSwitch has made a reappearance down under by becoming one of the car’s minor sponsors.

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Their logo can be seen just behind the rear wheel.

Welcome back MagSwitch, we missed you! Time to come full circle and appear at the woodshows, and/or bring out more innovative products. We’ve liked all the ones in the past, and there is still plenty of scope for further developments for woodworking products. (Still haven’t seen my MagBroom!) I know MagSwitch is still available in Carbatec (among others), but a limited range, and I don’t think it has been actively promoted since the last time I was demo’ing it at the woodshow.

There have been some new products, mainly for industrial products. There is a larger MagJig now, and MagLatches (I got a very early version of it a few years back) are now available, just not down under.

Still want an I beam in the new shed, with a chain hoist, and I’d love to have an MLAY lifting magnet to attach. Not sure what I’d lift with it, just cool to have! Being able to swing the tablesaw around the workshop perhaps!

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Enter, the Router Table

Taking the first components off to the next stage of the process involves the router table, and the rail & stile plus raised panel bits.

Cutting the interior profile

After some test cuts, the router table was set up to run the rails and stiles through the first router bit.  I use MagSwitch featherboards to hold the timber against the router table fence. They are so easy to position, and hold fast to the cast iron top of my router table.  Make you think it fortunate my router table is cast iron, but it came about in the reverse order.  I made the router table out of cast iron so that I could use MagSwitches on it.

Woodpeckers Coping Sled

After changing to the complementary router bit, it was time to cut the end grain of the rails.  If you ever wonder how to remember which is which, think about rails being horizontal.  They certainly are for trains! The stile is the other one.

The Woodpeckers Coping Sled is awesome for this task.  It holds the rails perfectly, and perpendicular to the direction of travel.  If I had taken more care, I would have used a sacrificial backing.  Probably should have – hardwood tears out a bit too easily. I’ll make sure I do when cutting the doors for the sink unit.

I just checked – the coping sled is still available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  They now have a mini one as well, but given the full sized one is on special, I’d still go with that one (the one pictured above).  There is so much more with this one, it is worth the difference.

Sanding the panels

After removing the panels being glued up in the Frontline clamps, I used the Festool belt sander to do a final flattening (including removing any glue squeezeout).  The large sander weights 7kg, and when coupled with the sled means you can hold the handle, and, well, hang on – letting the tool do all the work.  The work is clamped up using brass dogs on the vice, and dogs in holes in the table.

Panel bit

Once sanded (not the final sand – more a sizing sand than a finishing one), it was back to the router table, this time with a raised panel bit.  I don’t have a raised panel bit with a cutter for the back yet, so have to adjust it manually. This is not the final pass, but an intermediate one to check fit.  Best to do the crossgrain first, then the longgrain.

Panel bit

This is a monster bit – pretty much at the limit that a router can (or rather should) drive.  The run at the slowest speed still gets a decent tip speed.

Test fit

A quick test fit showed I was close, but still needs another pass to get it there.  Looking good though.  Will look even better when I do the 3D routing into each panel!  Once that routing is done (next session), then I can glue the panels up.

Thicknessing undersized stock

One thing I have been surprised with so far, is the lack of waste.  I’d always try to use timber to maximise yield, but there is always waste.  So far I’d not have enough offcuts to fill a 10L bucket – the yield is exceptional.

Even these thin panels that were ripped off the 19-20mm thick boards.  They will be perfect for the back of the units.  I wanted to run them through the thicknesser, but it just doesn’t go thin enough.  To solve that problem, I clamped on a sled.  The boards would not feed initially, but with a quick rubdown with Sibergleit, the boards fed through smoothly and easily.  I wouldn’t do this with any timber, or to go too thin, but it will get you out of trouble.
So a good session.  Progress seems slow, but this is always the slow part of any project.  Once the items are cut, and some preliminary joinery done, it usually flies together.

 

Some good news and bad news.  The good news is that I am documenting sessions on video.  Bad news is I am not planning on releasing the video until the project is complete!

Baby Bed Build Bis

Had a change to take another crack at the cot build this weekend, which was good – more progress.

After last weekend, we had the bed itself built (as in the surround and support for the mattress), so today it was time to build the side rails. Oh, and fwiw we are referring regularly to ensure compliance with the Australian Standard for cot design, so the maximum clearance between mattress and bed, height of sides, gap between slats etc etc are all being carefully adhered to.

Once again, we started with a large chunk of timber (around 250×45) and began machining it down.

A combination of jointer, thicknesser and tablesaw gave us the rails and stiles as the frame for the sides.

Despite having them for years, this is about the first time I have actually used the jointer MagSwitch featherboards. They worked very well to ensure even pressure across the jointer cutter. A quick tap down between passes to ensure even pressure is maintained as the board becomes thinner (I do 0.5mm passes on the jointer, so not a real issue in any case). And in case you were wondering, we jointed an edge so we had something straight and true to run up against the tablesaw fence, then ran the board through the tablesaw to get 2 lengths a bit over 90mm wide. From there, we started machining the boards from scratch, jointing a side, then an edge. Next onto the tablesaw to rip the boards in half, so they ended up 20mm thick after machining.

We then spent some time testing and preparing to make the slats for the sides. A number of test pieces, and setups done to fine tune the operation. We started with the Domino – when we need mortices, why not use the best tool for the job?! So with a 10mm cutter, and set to the widest mortice setting, we got a 33mm slot, and thus our slat size was determined. We then made one, and tested it for strength. That went well too.

With all setups done, all the spare pieces, offcuts from other pieces of this job were run through the tablesaw to create the number of slats needed, with a number of spares. Each was then tested, bent and abused. A few failed, but the majority were perfect, and will be able to survive even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s kid.

Still need to actually create the mortices in the rails, but will do that after some sanding and finishing.

To get the required slat placement, the Domino grows wings. It makes cutting the required mortices so incredibly easy, and accurate.

Now I know there are two main groups out there – those who cannot understand how any tool can be worth as much as a Domino, and those who love the tool. Unfortunately, I used to belong to the first camp, but since first using the Domino and then more recently (last couple of years) owning one, I cannot help but reside in the second. Awesome machine. Yes, I know – hideously expensive. But very, very cool. One of these days, I’d love to become permanently familiar with the Domino XL too.

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Under Pressure

When using a featherboard, you normally don’t get to choose how stiff the fingers are – they are what they are.  When you put the featherboard into operation, it is pushed up against the workpiece until the desired deflection is achieved.  However, if you find it isn’t right, you have to start again with its setup.

I’m a big fan, as regular readers would know, of the MagSwitch range.  But they only works on ferrous materials.  My router table base is cast iron just to get to use the MagSwitch featherboard, which is all very well horizontally, but given the fence is an Incra LS Positioner with Wonderfence (from PWS), and that is all anodised aluminium, there is a bit of a problem.  I need a featherboard that works in a slot (and the Incra has slots that are perfect for this).

So where to turn?  Well when it comes down to it, there are two companies with incredibly similar ethos where it comes to innovation, quality and accuracy for woodworkers.  If one is Incra, the other must be Woodpeckers.

And sure enough, there is a new Woodpeckers featherboard that is an ideal complement for the Incra Router fence.  The Incra is not the only place the featherboards can be used.  Any slot, T or Mitre can be used. Router table, table saw, bandsaw, disk sander, spindle sander etc etc.

So you choose the Woodpeckers featherboard, put some load into it-get some deflection of the fingers (or feathers), but they are a bit soft for the application.  So instead of trying to achieve greater deflection (which also makes it difficult to feed the wood under or past the feathers), with the Woodpeckers you can choose to stiffen the feathers right up without having to reposition the whole setup with their innovative design.

It also works in reverse – if the feathers are too stiff, applying too much force against a soft timber, you can use the variable adjustment to get a softer action from the featherboard.

Horizontal or vertical, these featherboards are a real complement for the tool.  They come in sets of two – infeed and outfeed, or vertical and horizontal (or just have 2 sets!)

The real secret is in the method for controlling the finger pressure.

There is an upper plate, secured separately to the featherboard itself.  Small fingers insert in between the main featherboard fingers. By loosening the central knob, this separate plate can be slid up and down, effectively lengthening or shortening the feathers as required and thus controlling (and varying) the pressure without having to relocate the whole featherboard.

The shorter the fingers are made, the stiffer they become, and vice versa.

I haven’t taken a photo as yet of this setup on my Incra Wonderfence, but they definitely look the part, and are a perfect complement for my setup.  Being Woodpeckers, they are available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies down under

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