The Karate Kid of Sharpening Systems

wax on wax offWax on, Wax off

There are so many sharpening systems out there, it can be rather daunting.  Powered or unpowered, hollow grind or flat, single bevel or secondary micro-bevel, oil, water or dry, friable or fixed surface, open or closed grit, wax on or wax off.

I’ve come across another system recently, which has an interesting take on the process.  It is the Precision Sharpening System from M Power.

PSS1-Diamond-Cross-precision-Sharpening-System

It is based on diamond stones, and has two fixed angles 25° as a primary angle, and 30° as a secondary angle (such as for a microbevel).  The stones are exceptionally easy to change, held in place magnetically.  There are grits from 100 through to 1000 available (with the unit coming with a 220 grit and a 450 grit stone).

Where the system is somewhat different, is the direction of sharpening.  Most systems have the grinding direction in line with the chisel, where the PSS works perpendicular to the blade.  Secondly, most systems have the stone (grinding surface) stationary, and the blade is bought into contact and moved against the abrasive.  The PSS has the tool stationary, and instead the stone is bought to the tool, back and forth, creating a flat grind.

PSS1-Sharpen-small-chisel-484It is an interesting grinding direction.  Takes a little getting used to, but I can’t see that there is any particular disadvantage to the resulting tool edge.

The carriage is captive in the base, but has a bit of movement, which allows the sharpening surface to float fully on the tool. You can then apply as little or as much pressure as you like or need.

The body of the sharpener is best secured down, and there is a hole and screw made available for just that.

PSS1-Diamond-Cross-484

The system has a particular distinct advantage – speed of setup.  There is no jig that needs to be set up, or clamped to the blade.  The tool is placed on the flat bed, held against the lip at the side to keep it perpendicular to the sharpening stone, and a few swipes and you are done.

Remove the stone carriage, flick it around and a few swipes for a micro-bevel.  Change stones in seconds to move between grades.  It will not take every type of blade, but anything straight, such as a chisel or plane blade up to 2.5″ wide is no problem (3mm to 64mm).  The ease of setup and repeatability means regular, quick touchups are no problem, and you may find you use it more regularly given the ease of use.  With the result being continually, satisfyingly, sharp blades.

Available (in Oz) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

 

 

Biting the Bullet

After much internal debating, I did decide to move over to the PRL2 (Precision Router Lift) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and now the only in-cabinet adjustments I need to make are speed changes on the fixed-base router.

I thought the router would be at least as noisy as the Triton, but it was definitely not the case – quite a bit quieter which was a pleasant surprise.

The coarse height adjustment will take me a little to get used to – while very fast, I found I would overshoot the mark easily.  Granted, I only tried the whole thing for a few seconds – too many other demands on my time.  The fine adjustment is very fine.  It has a 32nd” thread, compared to the 16th” thread of the previous router lift.  The 16th” never seemed overly coarse, so this is very fine.

Now you may wonder – why do I need two router lifts?  One that can fit a plunge router, and one that fits the fixed-base router that it comes with.

Well there is a really simple answer.  I don’t.

I did an upgrade deal with PWS, so they now have my router lift to sell (just as soon as I drop it off!!)  Based on one other that they had to resell recently, it won’t last long!

It was a hard decision – I do like that router lift!

Back to my new PRL2, I do have one interesting idea about the microadjuster wheel.  That red wheel looks perfect to engage a motorised drive.  Be interesting to see how practical that is.

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!

Divide and Conquer

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It is an interesting tool.

Capable of performing a function that would normally require a tape measure, calculator, and a number of measurements and marks to achieve.

Yet can do so without a single calculation, and in one step, not many.

So what can this tool do?

Take a board of a wide variety of widths, and divide it evenly across the width into anywhere between two and six parts, without having to actually measure the board width once.

PWS-5

PWS-6 

 This is the Point.2.Point, available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  Simple concept, simply executed.

Episode 112 Sabretooth

Plans from MakeCNC

Drilling fine

While woodworking often doesn’t require extremely fine and/or accurate holes, there are times when a fine set of drill bits would be very handy, and when it comes to fine bits, they don’t get much finer than these sets from Zona Tool.  They are supplied in Australia by Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

Zona

Whether you are model making, making jewellery, working with wood, metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, even stone, the ability to drill incredibly tiny holes is achievable.

But what do I mean by fine? How about 0.3mm to 1mm in 0.05mm steps (then from 1 to 1.5mm in 0.1mm steps)?  0.3mm, or 300µm.  Sure, that doesn’t sound too small when talking about sanding, where we are working with particle sizes in the 10s of microns (or less), but these are drill bits we are talking about!

To put it in scale, consider the humble Australian dollar coin.  It may not be angels dancing on the head of a pin, but here are the three finest drill bits in comparison.

Zona-3

Of course you won’t be mounting these bits in your standard power drill!  So in the first photo, you can also see a couple of bit holders/drivers from Zona as well.  One is double ended for larger and smaller bits, the other is a twist-drive, which can hold the finest bits.  None of these are particularly expensive either, with the drill bit set around $25.

They are available in metric and imperial, and interestingly, the blue box above are diamond coated bits, which is why glass, stone, ceramic etc are also able to be drilled with this precision.

Now while talking about sanding, PWS also have sanding/polishing sheets that go from 30µm, down to a miniscule 1µm.  That is the same particle size as the extra-extra fine diamond stone from DMT.

Zona-2That is so fine, you can use these to polish out scratches on CDs and DVDs. (Let alone achieve a mirror finish on an object).

1µm. 6 times smaller than an anthrax spore. Around P8000 sandpaper!  If that isn’t smooth enough, you have a real problem!

Stu’s Fair Dinkum Shed, 12 months on

But first, a bit on the past year to start.  After a promotion at work, time became even shorter than normal, which was reflected in the posting rate – especially in the second half of the year.  Hoping to improve that this year, and although I don’t expect to be able to achieve a post a day (which would be ideal!), I still hope to achieve at least 200 posts throughout the year, so something like 2 in every 3 days or so.

I still have two magazines to feed content to, so if you want some of the longer, build-oriented articles, they are in the pages of ManSpace magazine, and The Shed magazine.  There will still be build articles here as well of course, but magazines do add to the cash flow :) Videos on the other hand are still the forte of the web, and what this site was originally set up for.  I am expecting a lot more video content to be made available this year, especially with the increasing maturity of my setup.

The main improvement that I want to bring in this year is video lighting.  The setup has good audio and video capture (2 cameras, plus a GoPro, and 2-4 Rode mics), but the lighting is yet to be addressed.  Stills photography is as well taken care of now as I can afford – decent 24MP camera, Zeiss lens and top of the line flash, but this will not be so apparent in the web content (99% of that resolution goes to waste on the web!)

And so to the shed.

It has been a really big 12 months, being just past the first anniversary of the new shed.  I thought I should look at the shed itself, and how it has held up in the first year.

The construction was completed 12 months ago as I mentioned, and before any equipment was moved in, the floor was given an epoxy coating using Shield-crete from Globak Woodcare.

Shed-12

So what do I think, 12 months on?  Other than the above photo having quite a bit of surface sawdust from a current project, the floor still looks awesome.  It has held up excellently, despite having heavy machinery dragged over it, things dropped on it, spilled on it, glue dripped on it.  Sure there are some marks on the surface where I have dragged large machines, but I could probably scrub them off if I could be bothered (it is a shed floor after all).  A few scratches that no surface would have resisted (not that I remember where they are, and they are not apparent even so), and a couple of areas that are chipped, but that is because what fell damaged the concrete underneath.  The surface itself is still fully adhering to the concrete, so my preparation and application was obviously appropriate!

In hindsight, I might have used a few less of the paint chips (my application wasn’t as even as I should have been), and I would have used a bit more of the antislip in the glaze finish.  In saying that, the surface is fine underfoot whether clean, dusty or wet.  Keeping it clean is easy, either with the dust collector, or a compressed air sweep (or the occasional broom). I might have gone with a darker shade, but that is purely aesthetics.

The shed construction has held up to the first 12 months without an issue – it is every bit as robust as it looks.

Shed-10 Shed-15

Those beams are solid!  The shed has had a few high wind days – not enough to really put it to the test, but there have been no signs of issue with what it has survived to date.  It is a superb structure – puts those lightweight sheds right in their place.  Granted there is a significant cost difference.  It is worth it.

The mezzanine has worked out well too – I haven’t managed to collapse it, and it is still storing a lot of gear up there.  No, sadly, I still haven’t finished unpacking.  That will be a work in progress for the next few years I suspect!

Shed-5 Shed-8

The attic stairs have been a good decision, as well as the crane and hoist.  I still need to lower the stairs a couple of inches – I’ll get to it one day.  Having a good amount of storage space has helped keep the main shed floor clear and available for the working machines.  Having a wood store alongside has been great as well, and although having access from inside the shed would have been better, it is a working solution.

Insulation.

Having a shed with insulation is significantly better than one without, but still, on particularly hot and or humid days, it is not the nicest place to work.  The standard insulation could really do with being kicked up a notch, or three.  I’m hoping to get some air con working in there at some stage, as well as a working pot belly for winter.  The temperature extremes (not that they are exceptionally extreme in Melbourne) is enough to be detrimental to the shed experience, so more work required in that area.

It really wasn’t installed very professionally – rough and messy at the edges, and the tape was slapped on rather than applied properly, so that has been coming adrift in places during the year.

Lighting.

As much as possible, and then add more.  The lighting I have, which is a really comprehensive grid of fluoros (2 per unit) is only just sufficient.  Once I replace the tubes I should get a better result.  Not that what I have there isn’t good, but there is room for improvement.

There are two areas where the design and/or construction is less than perfect.

1. Water leaks.

The windows on the mezzanine, and the roller door both let water in.  While the roller door could have been improved by having the slab slope away from the door, it would have been too risky to have that done before the shed went in, in case it wasn’t quite in the right place. I could grind it away after the fact, but a. it would look messy, and b. it would wreck the floor coating.  The bottom of the door doesn’t seal sufficiently against the concrete, especially in the corners.

The mezzanine windows are more of a problem.  Whether they are not well made, or not installed correctly I don’t know to say.  But any half decent rain with a bit of wind, and there is a bit of a waterfall.

Possibly the gaps have something to contribute.

 

Shed-3

Not very clear in the photo, you can just see light coming in at three of the five corners, and the other two are not immune either.  I have to silicone them up.  In saying that, I now do remember that I wasn’t confident on how the top corner of the roof ridge was finished, rain might be coming in there and running down the insulation, making the window look like it is leaking.  Again, it all points to poor assembly.

Shed-13

The other area that should be better is

2. The door.

Shed-14

I added the insulation to the door btw, which was a good move.  Not only decreasing a significant amount of heat that was coming through the door, but also makes it sound a lot less tinny when it shuts. (I would like to stop so much heat coming through the roller door too, if I knew a solution for that).

The door though – the lock/handle mechanism comes loose after a time, needing to be tightened.  And the door scrapes more and more over time on the jamb.  This is most likely because the frame holding the door is too flimsy, and bends a bit more each time the door is opened, especially if opened too far.  There is no active stop on the door to prevent it opening too far, putting pressure on the hinges and the surround, nor is there anything to stop the door slamming shut if blown by a light breeze.  Both of these can be rectified obviously.  But it should be part of the design, not an aftermarket feature that needs to be added.  Given the quality of the rest of the build, this is a small area which lets the otherwise near perfect score down.  Still, the door is 1000% better than the tin shed doors on the clip-together sheds that are out there.Shed-11

Extra features added:

Compressed air – RapidAir setup from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

Having air piped all around the workshop is awesome.  I never have to think where the closest air supply is – they are all to hand anywhere in the workshop.

The system does bleed a tiny bit of air, so when charged it does add a tiny amount to the background noise, and it doesn’t stay fully charged without the compressor topping up the pressure occasionally.  Not a big problem, unless I forget to turn off the air compressor – sure the neighbours love to hear it kick in, in the middle of the night!

Electrical

People scoffed at the number of GPOs I put in.  Not only have I been vindicated, in a couple of areas I could do with even more!  The shed needed the number of points I put in – it was not a wasted effort (or money).  A couple more 15A points would not have gone astray either. (And although I still would love to have 3 phase, it isn’t proving a particular restriction, although I have had to let a couple of machines pass me by that would have been great purchases)

Dust Extraction.

Shed-9

The system seems to be working ok – manual blast gates are ok, and a lot cheaper than an automated system, but it is an extra step that has to be set up each time a machine is used.  Having the extractor on the mezzanine is also ok – it is causing quite a dust issue up there from a few leaks that have happened, so containing the extractor would still be a good move.  It is still in the way a bit of the stairs, and 2HP is underpowered for the size of the runs I have.  But it is coping to a certain degree – filled another bag just with the work done yesterday and today, so at least that is sawdust that is not all over the shed floor.  A bigger extractor would be preferable.

There are still areas needing improvements out there – a long (never ending) list.

The main ones (that I can think of at the moment):

Sell the TS10L tablesaw.  It is in the way, and not being used.  Same with a few other items, such as a Triton Router Table and some other Triton accessories

Upgrade the drum sander

Upgrade the drill press

Upgrade the linisher/disk sander

Add a spindle moulder

The Triton routers (primarily the one in the router table) could do with an upgrade at some stage.  Initially, the speed controller is pretty much dead and needs replacement.

Create a blade storage (tablesaw and bandsaw blades)

Shed-6

Make a better clamp storage

Shed-7

Find a more permanent home for the 3D printer, and the soon to arrive (hopefully!) CNC router

Shed-2

All in all, the shed is very functional, and plenty of things are being made out there, never as often as I’d like, but I can create something in a weekend pretty easily, from toys to furniture and everything in between.  And after all, a shed is a living space.  The day there is not something to improve, change, add, is the day the door is shut and locked forever.

The other addition 12 months ago was the SawStop tablesaw.  What an amazing machine that is.  The build quality is superb, it is a pleasure to use (and I just ran another 1/2 a km of timber through it today), and still that safety mechanism sits there quietly in the background.  I have the wheel kit to add to the saw which I really need to do asap, and I have one of their titanium blades to try out as well.  I definitely want to add the overhead dust extractor to it, and I can’t wait for the sliding table to become available!  Could have really used it today.

Saw-1

So that is the Fair Dinkum shed, 12 months on.  Overall, it is a solid tick of approval.  The shape works, even though it was a compromise for the shape of the block of land.  More floor space is always better, but that is always the trade-off. The mezzanine is a definite boon, and has really contributed to the shed remaining functional.

Shed-1A great home for Stu’s Shed.

Here’s to 2015, and what should be a great year ahead!

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