Time to don those 3D glasses

We are moving into a new dimension.

CNC machines are not restricted to 2D patterns and simply cutting in to produce a raised (or recessed) pattern.  Nor are they restricted to 2.5D, which is how patterns that are cut in 2D then built up to produce a 3D image are classified.

eds_plane insignia-screen

True 3D means the cutter is moving through all 3 dimensions as it is cutting.  This can still produce something like a bas relief image, but irrespective of how complicated, or simple the result, the motion of the cutter throughout the cut is the defining parameter.

Finding 3D patterns to send to the CNC machine are not as easy to find as I expected.  The 3D printing community openly creates and exchanges their creations, including the required files, and open source development programs, whereas the 3D CNC community charges significant fees for each and every pattern, and the software to develop your own costs $thousands.

I did download a sample file from VectorArt3D.com who also provide the code generator program (for free, but it only works with their files) called Vector Art 3D Machinist.  Bit of an experiment-was not sure if it would work on the CNC Shark, but it was fine.

va3dm-1-largeThe program produces the required G-Code for the CNC machine control program, but has an interesting additional output, that of a roughing out pass.

Given how much material the can be removed to create a 3D object, it is good being able to first run a heavier cutter to take a few quick passes to remove the bulk of material before the fine, final cutter moves in to refine the design.

Rather than just use any router bit to attempt to machine a design, I turned to the precision Amana Tool bits that are specifically developed for 3D CNC routing.  These come from Toolstoday.com, and are Zirconium Nitride (ZrN) coated router bits.  I know it says coated, (which to the layman suggests painted or dipped) but I suspect they may be produced using one of the physical vapour deposition techniques.  This is an important distinction.  A coating can rub off over time.  A vapour deposition has characteristics somewhat akin to welding, where the coated layer fully penetrates into the surface of the base material, effectively creating an alloy at the surface.  Localised, controllable, surface alloying is a particularly effective modern technique for producing exceptional products.

6225_7_The bits are all up-spiral, pulling material up and out of the cut, while the cut itself is not a chipping action, but a slicing one.  They are particularly sharp, and smooth.

Photo 8-02-2014 16 41 17

The first pass was a roughing pass, using the largest bit seen to the left here.  It quickly scallops away the bulk of material, leaving the finer router bits to produce the detail, without having to push through tonnes of material.

Photo 8-02-2014 16 45 58Once that pass was done (4 minutes), the bit was swapped over for the one making the final passes for detail.

Photo 8-02-2014 17 00 10The final result looks a bit rough – more refinement by me I think.  It is definitely not the router bit – the ZrN bits performed superbly.

Photo 8-02-2014 17 24 24Final pass, which was about 16 minutes for this size pattern.

The additional benefit of these router bits, is their ability to handle other materials, such as aluminum, brass, copper, graphite, phenolic composites, plastic, sign board, & wood.  The ZrN surface is particularly useful in preventing buildup of the material being cut, such as plastic and other gummy materials.

The benefit of having a set of bits is having the right ones available when you need them (and less costly than purchasing individually).

The set of 4 covers a good range.  If you are heavily into 3D CNC woodworking (and as a business), consider the 8 piece set.

Spindle Moulder

Been a long time since I even thought about spindle moulders.  Last time was when I was lamenting the fact that router tables are the poor cousin of the primary workshop machines.  That situation has not changed significantly in the intervening years, although some companies have come out with some pretty nice aftermarket versions.

There are some router tables around – cast iron tops, no motor, some fence that looks like it hasn’t changed in design since the ’30s.  Whoever designed them I’d seriously question if they were a woodworker, let alone if they used the table they came up with.

The spindle moulder is the machine the router table should have been, and there is quite the range.  The reason I wrote them off before is if it came down to a router table or a spindle moulder, the router table won simple because of the range of bits that I have.  Yes, you can fit router bits in a spindle moulder, but they have a top speed of around 10000-12000RPM.

A router table can reach 20000-25000RPM whereas a spindle moulder typically only gets to 10000RPM.  That is fine for the much larger spindle moulder cutters, but is slow for the small diameter router bits.  Perhaps not as restrictive as I once considered.

However, I now have a couple of different spindle moulder cutters from Toolstoday.com and they are quite spectacular.  I’m looking at them and thinking that it would be really useful to to be able to use them in the workshop and therefore the whole spindle moulder concept has reemerged.

There are a few definite advantages to a spindle moulder (although you’d have to ensure the model chosen had these- no point getting a machine and missing out on the very advantages possible).

Other than the overall size, moulding cutters etc, a spindle moulder is not restricted to the one direction of rotation.  If the item you are working on would be better approaching the cutter from the other direction, this is achievable.

Secondly, you are not restricted to working with your cutter (or router bit) perpendicular to the table.  A spindle moulder can be set at an angle, thus significantly increasing the range of profiles that are possible by presenting the cutter or router bit at an angle to the work (or rather, at an angle that is not 90 degrees!)

I am sure there is more to the whole concept, but I don’t have that real insider’s knowledge of the machine (yet).  However, there is another machine that I will in all likelihood be getting a lot more familiar with before even the potential of having a spindle moulder surfaces…..more on that if things come together…..(intrigue….)

In the meantime, these are the cutters I have that I will be reviewing shortly, and both are really piquing my interest.

cutter1This one is a planing head, and is about the size of a fist, or a slightly shorter version of a jointer head.  The difference between it and a jointer head is that bearing at the base.  You can use this head to surface a material that isn’t flat – it will follow a template, and that makes it like the offspring of a jointer and template copying bit.  Why be restricted to making something smooth and flat, when it can be smooth and curved?

There is a lot of similarity between a spindle moulder and router table – some tasks could be done on either.  But I wonder how the quality in finish changes between a very small diameter router bit doing a finished surface, and the much larger moulder cutter doing the same with a significantly shallower angle of attack?

A template copying bit looks like a baby, or a toy alongside this surfacing cutter.

cutter2

This is not the best photo of the Profile Pro, but it gives you an idea.

cutter4 There are HEAPS of interchangeable cutters for it.

cutter5Appears to be around 140 different profiles available, plus blank cutters so you can get your own made!

While looking this up on the Toolstoday.com website, I came across some other cutters for the spindle moulder, such as this variable width groover.

cutter3And again – remember these can be used in a reverse direction if that is a better direction of approach for the work.

Some cutters (such as for the Profile Pro) are high speed steel, others are replaceable carbide.  Either way, there is no excuse not to have a sharp tool.  They are easy to remove and resharpen, or can be rotated (or disposed and replaced very cheaply).

So the spindle moulder has raised itself up into my awareness again, as a very serious workshop tool.

Interesting.

Groovin’ on the Dancefloor

A CNC machine may be capable of placing a router in precisely the right place, and follow an exact path, but still a router is just a motor.

The real tool is the router bit – it does the real work.  If you were hand carving an intricate pattern, you’d want your tools to be razor sharp, and have the variety of profiles that you need. Just because a router is a powered version of a chisel, it doesn’t stop the need to have sharp bits and correct profiles.

This is where the Amana Tool In-Groove Engraving bits from Toolstoday.com come into their own.

Normally, if you want a really fine tipped engraving router bit, you either have to go with tool-steel, or a particularly expensive solid carbide bit.  The In-Groove bits have a real point of difference (pun intended).  They have replaceable carbide tips.  And not only that, but a variety of profiles that fit the same router bit body.

Toolstoday.com In-Groove

Toolstoday.com In-Groove

You choose either the 1/2″ or 1/4″ shank, and either just get the components you require, or get the 8 piece set which gives a good sample to start with, that you can then grow as required.  If a tip becomes blunt or is broken, it is a low-cost replacement and not the entire router bit being written off.

There are also a surprising variety of each profile, with different tip widths, allowing you to precisely choose a profile to match the job you are doing.

Profiles

Profiles

There is another real benefit to the In-Groove system that is not immediately apparent.  You can change profile (effectively the same as changing router bits) without removing the bit from the router, or even having to disturb the current location of the CNC machine.

So you can set up a job with multiple paths, and like really expensive CNC machines that can change tools partway through a job, start with one profile to define edges, switch to a second for bulk clearing, then finish with a third profile that refines the design.  All by undoing a single hex bolt on the router bit itself.

Changing tips

Changing tips

As a bit of a test (and only in pine), I quickly threw together a design to test the different profiles out.  It really was simple changing tips on the fly, and matching design to bit.

Different profiles

Different profiles

As much as a V groove bit is the most commonly one used, I really liked the result of the cove tip

Cove Tip

Cove Tip

I also gave a more complicated design a try, with a bit of a Celtic knot, a photo of a saw blade turned into a path, and some text on a curve.

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This was done with a 30 degree V groove tip mounted.  Forgot to mention, I normally choose 1/2″ shank router bits, but knowing the CNC shark router is 1/4″, that is the way I went here.  The bits don’t get heavily loaded up – it is not bulk material removal after all.

The In-Groove router bits do sound like they are not running true (you develop quite an ear for that sort of thing after a while), but I didn’t see any particular problem at the router bit tip, so I suspect it is more because of some asymmetry caused by the tip retaining plate rather than the bit not running true.  For any bit mounted in the CNC, I made sure they were fully inserted into the collet.  No matter what the size, the router is single speed, and kicking along at 33000RPM.

Finally, I ran the same design onto the laminated board that I did the Mayan calendar and Japanese dragon, to see how well it came out.  I could have refined it further by choosing different bits (and depth of cut) for different portions of the design, but took the simplest option – letting it run from start to finish.

Stu's Shed design

Stu’s Shed design

This isn’t some new design for a Stu’s Shed logo, although I don’t mind the saw blade and text layout, but I’d want to replace the Celtic design with something more applicable.  Perhaps the outline of a Festool Domino, or something!

If you are so inclined, see what you can come up with (Illustrator format preferred!)

So that is the Amana Tool In-Groove CNC Router Bits, from Toolstoday.com.  If you have a CNC router, these are definitely worth some attention.

A Clean Sweep

For people getting into woodworking, the router tends to be a tool that is either disregarded due to an (incorrect) expectation that it has fairly limited use, or one that is treated with a degree of mistrust. After all, holding a tool that is primarily a motor spinning at up to 20000RPM hardly fills the new woodworker with much confidence.

However, those fortunate to discover the sheer brilliance of inverting the router and mounting it under a table find a whole world of possibilities opens up, and the need to handhold a screaming banshee is something that doesn’t have to be the norm of router operations.

It has always been a source of bemusement to me that of all the machines in the woodworking workshop, the router table is both one of the most useful and yet is typically made rather than purchased, or is an afterthought tacked on the side of another machine. If you surveyed 100 workshops that used a router table, 99%* of them would be home made to one degree or another.

The requirement for components for router tables is being recognised by a few companies, and if you bought the various components together, the resulting router table becomes an impressive machine. Long time readers of this site will be aware of the attempts I have made thus far to create the ultimate router table. At one stage I did look at a spindle moulder, and that may one day become part of my workshop setup, but although they can have an adapter to fit router bits, they do not have the speed range needed to drive them properly. If you are intent on using router bits (which have an incredible range of functions and profiles), then there is still a place for router tables. Spindle moulders get up to around 8000-9000 RPM. A router can achieve 21000-22000 RPM.

There are already fences, featherboards, switches, stands, tops, and through fence, or above-table dust collection has been built in, there hasn’t been a commercial solution for below-table collection until now. Some routers dealt with this onboard, which allows the finer dust collection, but clogs with the heavier production.

The router table would be about the second largest waster of wood (and I say that with love – using the term to mean turning the timber machined into shavings, rather than offcuts), following only the thicknesser. The jointer generates a lot of shavings, but as it only typically takes a few light passes to achieve the job of flattening a side, it doesn’t make as much overall sawdust as the router, especially when used for edging, shaping, template copying and joinery (and often all in the same project). Of course, if you have a lathe, then this jumps right into first place!

So dust collection. To really handle dust production, both fine and coarse, light and heavy, you want to be using a 4″ collection system (at least!). But how do you plug a 4″ hose into a router?

Simple – you don’t! Instead, you can box the entire router in, and collect not only everything that falls under the table, but also draw air and dust from above the table as well.

Given so many of the improvements and refinements for the router table are Incra, it would come as no surprise that the latest improvement comes from that stable as well.

Incra CleanSweep

Incra CleanSweep

This is the CleanSweep. It attaches to the underside of a router table, and surrounds the router completely. At the base is a blast gate leading to the 4″ connection. The rear door has a clip to secure the power cable, minimising dust leakage. The front door is also steel, and is on a very simple, foolproof (and fault-proof) mechanism – dropping down to allow access.

I know what the CleanSweep looks like in the photos – a bit of a box. However, what you get in practice is significantly more spacious than what appears in the photos. It is designed with a specific purpose in mind, and is well constructed. You get to appreciate that during assembly.

Mounted under Table

Mounted under Table

My current router table (not pictured!) has the Incra frame, the LS Positioner fence system and the cast iron top, and although now very functional still feels unfinished.

My next mod will now be to remove the current surrounds, fit the CleanSweep, and create new sides, shelves and drawers. I can already testify to the benefits of 4″ dust collection from under the router- the amount of dust drawn from above the table is impressive, let alone keeping dust from building up under the router (and in the air- fine dust has no chance!)

detail5

You may be concerned about dust being drawn down, past the router, but let me reassure you on a couple of points. Firstly, and speaking from experience, the only time I have had dust issues with an inverted router is when I wasn’t actively collecting dust, and the MDF (particularly) got into the switch and the plunge shafts (and bearings & gears of the height winding mechanism). When collecting, especially with 4″, I have had no reoccurences.

Secondly, the cooling for the motor is often on top (and therefore underneath when the router is inverted), and will get very little dust in (if not sucked immediately away).

Thirdly, although the air can get a lot of dust entrained into it, overall the amount of relatively clean air that the router is exposed to is significantly higher than times it has to deal with dusty air.

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If the router table is flat, it is very easy to attach the CleanSweep directly to the bottom of the table.

If not, then some infill can be made with MDF. It doesn’t have to be a 100% tight seal- the 4″ system will still create a decent degree of negative pressure irrespective of a few gaps.

detail2

I haven’t any pictures (yet), but I have checked the CleanSweep on the bottom of the Triton Router Table, and I am very confident it can fit with some infills. For any infills, you can add space filler, but it really is messy stuff. On the Triton table, the CleanSweep will block the sliding table, but I never used it in that fashion anyway. It was always a much better option to use the sliding extension table if you want that function.

detail3 detail4

So if you have an existing router table (Trition, homemade, or even just a wing on a tablesaw), the CleanSweep is a stylish and functional upgrade that will significantly decrease the amount of uncontrolled dust that your router table will produce.

Available (as with all the other best router table upgrades!) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

*This statistic is not based on any real-world survey

Router Bit Storage

This is a screenshot from a Highland Woodworker video that the Roving Reporter suggested I look at – given my collection of router bits (and the ever increasing number of Amana Tool bits I have been adding from Toolstoday.com), my original router bit storage is groaning under the load.

A cabinet along the lines of this one seems would be an ideal solution – like a large version of my Triton Routerbit POS display I have been using, this not only openly displays the bits, but also protects them from having too much dust build up.

Seems like a great project for the new woodshop!

Router Bit Storage

Seeing things

For the past year or so, I have been a subscriber to the Toolstoday.com mailer – nice to get something in the inbox that isn’t work related (or trying to sell me viagra!). They have a large collection of router and saw blades on offer, so I’m interested to see what they are wanting to promote.

Got an email tonight, on the Tambour Router bits – that ou may remember I have reviewed, and used, and documented through Stu’s Shed. After a few seconds, I looked a little closer, and thought there was something very familiar about the upper-right image. The router table ring looked very Incra-like, and the more I looked, the more it looked like my table.

20130209-002402.jpg

So I went back to my original article, and sure enough – it is one of my photos :)

Before you get the wrong impression, it is perfectly fine – Toolstoday.com and I already have an arrangement that means they are welcome to use relevant images of their products, nor do they have to tell me each time they do. If you look around their website, you will start to find articles and reviews I have written.

So rather cool – having an image used in that way, when they would have had heaps of others to choose from.

The Hydra and the Router

The hydra is a mythical beast, with multiple heads, and when one is lost, another grows in its place.  I’ve never imagined I’d speak of the creature, the hydra, and router bits in the same sentence, but there you go.

In the past, router bits are a solid unit, with the sharp edge (tungsten carbide commonly these days) brazed to the body of the router bit.  The science behind the brazing can be quite profound, allowing the brittle tungsten carbide survive significant abuse.  These router bits can be resharpened, but you need to get them done professionally to achieve the best result.  Tungsten carbide on cheap bits is dull, often even painted to disguise the (lack of) quality.  I have also been told in the past that tungsten carbide is tungsten carbide, so cheap bits are the equal of the “overpriced other ones”  Bullsh*t! Sorry, but I have been told that on more than one occasion, and I really wish those who don’t know (or don’t care) wouldn’t continue to spout such crap.  It is like saying all diamonds are the same, and we know that is not true either.

Oh – bit of an aside – you may well ask, if carbide is so wonderful, why are there not diamond router bits?  Might surprise you, but there are!  There is diamond embedded in steel router bits, used to rout glass – such as putting a chamfer on glass.  Even more recently, in the Amana Tool catalogue, there are polycrystalline diamond router bits, with an edge that lasts up to 200 times longer than tungsten carbide.  Not sure why, but for CNC machines only.  The Amana Tool catalogue is scary – sooooo many awesome router bits.  Drool.

Ok, so we have established that some router bits (the most common) are all machined and brazed together.  The cost of replacing the edge requires the replacement of the entire bit.

The next approach has been detachable carbide, held onto the bit with one or two (hex) bolts.  Larger pieces of carbide is often used, thicker, and they can also use harder (and more brittle) pieces due to the thicker section, giving longer edge life.  If something goes wrong, and the carbide breaks (or dulls from use), it is a very cheap replacement.

A few of my bits have replaceable tips, such as my surfacing bits.  The two that have replaceable tips can be rotated to present 4 edges in total, providing significant life expectancy, and the tips are cheap even when they all do wear out.

surfacing-2

6014

Now the point of all this is there is another option. Replace the head!  Its the hydra model for router bits!

It is a fascinating model, and there are some distinct advantages.  I’d never heard of them before, but the guys at Toolstoday.com recommended them, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet :)

The tungsten carbide is brazed to the head, so the body of the head does not need to be as ‘chunky’ to support a threaded section to hold the tips on.  The head can be machined so each tip is accurate, and the whole assembly becomes rather cost effective when you start running through the consumables.  Not sure how much it matters, but exchanging the consumables is faster than replaceable carbides, as you don’t have to do each tip individually. They are called the EZ-Change Replacement Head router bits, and you can change the head while it is still attached, and set up in the router.  This is particularly useful if running large jobs and you don’t want to have to recalibrate the setup because you’ve had to change router bits to get a sharp edge again.

logo

ez2 ez1

There are two types here – whether you require the bearing to be below or above the cutters.  The spare packs come with 3 replacement heads.  The cost won’t kill a budget either – $US18 for the router bit (including a head), and a 3 pack of heads is $27 – less than $10/head.

What will they think of next?!

Groove is in the Heart(wood)

The dado blade (or dado set) can be a particularly accurate tool when it is understood correctly.  With a combination of spacers and shims, a dado (or groove) of very precise width and depth can be cut in a single pass.  Unlike a router bit producing a groove, the size of the stock to fit that groove does not have to match the router bit, nor do you have to make multiple passes to get to the required width, or depth.

The tablesaw is also much more suitable for processing large amounts of stock, and long lengths.

dado-1

Electroblu Dado Blade

The dado set I have been using recently is this one from Amana Tool (through Toolstoday.com)  It is an 8″ dado set, with a 5/8″ bore.  The bore accurately matches the arbor of my tablesaw, so I don’t have to try to juggle washers for each blade and spacer, and means the blade set will produce a more accurate and flat-bottomed groove.  It has most recently also been upgraded to have the environmentally-friendly Electroblu coating, which help mitigate heat buildup during the cut (which has an adverse affect on accuracy – the more heat, the more the blade can warp.  This then results in more runout and therefore a change to the effective width of the cut.)

Click here to see the blade at Toolstoday.com  Don’t worry that the blade is not blue – the photo has not been updated yet to include their latest coating that is now standard on their blades.

dado-2

Dado Stack Set

It is a particularly nice set, with four 1/8″ spacers and one 1/16″ spacer (or chippers), and a set of shims of various widths.  The outside blades (which must always be used for every cut) are dedicated left and right (as is normal for dado sets).  The blades are not ATB – they are either bevelled left, or right only (depending on which blade it is), with every 6th tooth being flat ground.  They each have two teeth missing – this allows a place for the chipper blade to rest, so that the carbide teeth can overlap without knocking into each other.  The flat ground teeth result in square corners at the bottom of the groove.  Many other dado sets leave a telltale triangle cutout, where the bevel cuts deeper than the chippers.

dado-3

Inner edge of outside blade

An interesting feature of the outside blades is a raised section on the inside, effectively increasing the thickness of the blade, and when not using any chippers or shims means the two outer blades can rest against each other, again without the carbide teeth impacting.

dado-4

Chipper Blades

This particular dado set has only 2 tooth chipper blades.  This may seem a disadvantage (the general principle is the more teeth a blade has, the finer the cut), but the chipper blades don’t impact the side of the cut, where smoothness really counts.  Chippers only remove the material in the middle of the groove, so they only touch the bottom of the cut, and with a combination of the quality of the carbide, the angle of the grind and these chippers leave a very smooth finish.  The other really important aspect is the chipper blades have to be exactly the same diameter as each other, and the outside blades.  This leaves a flat-bottomed groove.  If one is over (or under) sized, it leaves a step in the groove base.

dado-5

Dado Stack

As you stack the dado set, you stagger the individual blades so that the carbide teeth have no chance of pressing on each other.  Other than risking damage to the teeth, if they are pressing on each other, they will distort the effective width of the dado stack.  When using shims, you need to space them out between each of the blades used.  It is a good idea to put the thinnest ones nearest the arbor washer & nut.  That way it is easier to change the finest shims to fine tune the effective width of the stack.  When measuring the width of the blade stack, you cannot simply add up all the width of the components.  The amount of runout of the two outside blades (in particular) (and to a lesser degree, the runout of the chippers) needs to be added to the final width, as does the runout of the tablesaw itself.

This can be determined by trial and error.  Set up the stack for a certain width of cut (adding together the kerf of the outside blades, the chippers and spacers used).  Perform a cut, and measure the result.  This will give the actual width of the cut, and the difference between the two is the runout of the stack and tablesaw combined.

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Zero Clearance

Despite the fact I have a 10″ tablesaw, an 8″ dado blade set is more than enough.  There are a number of reasons for this: Unlike a normal blade, the dado set is only ever for cutting a groove (and more often than not, no more than 1″ deep).  There is therefore no need to incur the extra expense of a larger blade.  A dado set is already much heavier than a single blade, and can really push the limits of the saw motor just to get it up to speed, let alone maintain that speed during a cut.  A larger blade has significantly more bulk and mass, and can exceed your saw’s capacity to spin it up.  The benefit of this set, is those 2 tooth chippers have a lot less bulk than other chippers, so this also helps deal with the overall bulk of a dado set.  The other thing is that a dado blade really does not need anywhere near the depth of cut of a standard blade.  It is for cutting grooves, not cutting workpieces in twain.

As far as how this blade performs, it is excellent – but you’ll have to see the associated video (which I am working on) to see the result.  Needless to say, I had a precisely cut dado that absolutely matched the board I was inserting, so the friction fit was beautifully tight.

To get that precision, I took the typically supplied notes on the various combinations of blades, chippers and shims to achieve a standard set of widths, and threw them out the window.  Instead, I came up with a comprehensive set of every single combination possible, in order of increasing width, so I can exactly choose what combination to start with to match the board I am inserting into the resulting groove.  Instead of having about 24 combinations that were provided, my list is just over 3000 combinations.  And because I have it in Excel, it is easy for me to add in the runout of the blades and tablesaw to end up with even more precision.

Out of interest, I have attached the full list below (and below the smapshot of part of the table)

dado

Snapshot of a few rows of the table

Dado Set Combination pdf

The Dado set by Amana Tool, from Toolstoday.com is a worthy version, and well worth considering when looking for a dado set for your workshop.  When the video comes out, you will see just how precise a dado set can be!

Sinking Deeper

Once the initial parts for the sink were glued up (the large U shape sections), it was time to make the actual components.  Ideally, I wouldn’t have had to take the previous step, but I am working with a limited stock size, partly as a bit of an exercise, partly because I have the timber, and don’t feel like buying something else.  The redgum is being salvaged from the ugliest, oldest sleeper you would have seen in a long time.  Always surprising just how much good timber is hidden behind a rough façade.

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Creating the sink template

To cut the individual sections out, I created a template from MDF.  It is easy to draw up and shape to the required profile.

sink-9

Template attached

In this case, I didn’t have to worry about screw holes, so it was easier and less problematic to use screws (Kreg square drive).  You may wonder about the amount of timber wasted here inside the sink.  It won’t be going to waste, as I intend to use this again in the same way to produce some other (as yet undecided) kitchen appliances.

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Bandsawing around the template

To remove the bulk of the material, the bandsaw works exceptionally well.  Cutting near to the template reduces the load on the pattern copying router bit.

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Routing to shape

Over to the router table, and with a pattern bit (a straight cutter with a bearing on top), each piece of the sink is routed to shape.  (The photo above has the piece upside down)

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Glued and clamped

Next, each piece is glued and clamped together to form the body of the sink.  The ends have also been cut using the same template, but obviously only the outside is cut and routed.

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Spindle Sanding

The spindle sander is next, and is the perfect tool for this job.  It may not get the full depth, but flipping the workpiece over a few times keeps things pretty even.

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Fine sanding

The size of the sink just allowed me to get the ETS150 inside, but it isn’t ideal for sanding around corners…..except I have a soft sanding pad (from Ideal Tools).  This has hooks on one side, and loops on the other, so it acts as a spacer between the original sanding pad and the sandpaper.  With this, it is really easy to sand all sorts of concave and convex profiles.

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Soft sanding pad

This is the soft sanding pad – a very useful addition for the ROS.

***Update: it is called an interface pad, and can be found here

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Attaching the sides

With the inside done, the sides of the sink can be attached.  This (and the next image) were actually photographed before the glueup, but it gives you the idea.

sink-6

Laminated sink

So that is how I make the laminated sink, still ensuring that the entire project can be made from timber.  Not sure if I will be able to maintain that ideal for the entire project, but I am still working towards it.  Very pleased I used contrasting timber this time – might as well make a feature of the laminations!

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!

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