SawStop, and my Woodworking Assistant

On one hand, the shed is regarded as a dangerous place for the unwary, and the inexperienced. Not so much inexperience in woodworking, but inexperience in life.

On the other hand, being able to enjoy woodworking with you child (or grandchild) can be an immensely rewarding experience, for both of you.

I would normally be very reluctant to have an inexperienced hand using a tablesaw, yet while making some shelving for some kitchen cupboards, Jess (my 7 year old) wanted to help, and not just help by standing around watching. Having a SawStop meant the answer to that question was not “No” or even a reluctant “Maybe”. It was a definite “Yes, of course”.

Now she didn’t get to cut the board unsupervised or unattended – I’m not that confident! Tablesaws can do damage in plenty of other ways, particularly hurling things at you at 250km/hr!

By setting up a featherboard, having the guard in place, and standing beside her, she was able to feed boards through the blade, and not give me absolute conniptions. Even on a regular saw, she would have been safe, but knowing that there is also the SawStop technology between her and a disaster really enhances the experience of woodworking with your offspring.

And it is another activity for her to add to the crazy quilt that is life’s experiences.

SawStop really makes a huge difference in relieving some of the stress that can surround the workshop.

The Shed Magazine

Originally only available in New Zealand (at least easily), The Shed magazine has gone Australasian.

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The first Australasian issue has got me wanting to practice my welding more, and I have an old 1/2″ mild steel plate that would be perfect for the job.

It also has my article on the making of the truck recently (if you were wondering why there was very little detail about that build, this is why!

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On “The Shed”‘s website is an excerpt from the article, but better than that is seeing all 5 or so pages of it in print.

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SawStop in the foreground, the new Fair Dinkum workshop in the background. Sweet!

 

Tip Truck

The first project out of the workshop is proving to be fun (aren’t they all?) being a tip truck that I am making (and designing as I go).  It is meant to be for a magazine article, but with the combination of trying to get the shed functional, demands of work, and family, I might have missed the deadline.  Never-the-less, it was good to be ‘forced’ to get back to what the workshop is really about.  Murdering electrons while making sawdust.

It has been a great little project to commission the SawStop on, and that has been fun in itself (as my previous post eluded to).

truck-2A number of blade tilts (guard removed for clarity, and in this instance to stop the project hanging up on it, but note the riving knife instead, which worked perfectly).

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Making something out of your head is always an interesting evolution – lots of contemplation working out what is needed next, some false starts, but all in all, successful

Given (from the title), it is a tip truck, I needed wheels, and although you can make a round wheel on a tablesaw, I don’t see it being a good practice.  SawStop or no, I’m not sticking my hand that close to any spinning blade.  Instead, I went to my old trusted solution – wheel cutting bits from Carb-i-tool.  I initially made them all the same size, but the front just looked wrong, so they were made with a larger diameter cutter.  The rear wheels were made thick (about 30mm thick), so after the drill press, I headed over to the bandsaw to roughly cut the wheels free, then to the Comet lathe and the pen mandrel as it happens, to finish the job.  As a system it worked well, and the tip of a skew chisel was used to cut grooves around the circumference as tread.

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The truck is still “rough and ready” – it’d take about the same amount of time to finish it (which is normal for a project, I find).

I stuck with my standard principle (that I try to apply as often as is practicable) that it is only wood and glue (axles and all).

truck-1It is a good size – about 400mm long, 130mm across, and about 180mm high (to the top of the cab).  Functional too – wheels turn, the tray tips, tailgate swings open.

It will be pretty durable too, but as the weakest component are the axles (both on the wheels and also the tray), and they are simply dowel, easily repaired.  I think it is always good to consider damage and repairability when making kids toys – you want something that will last the distance, even if there are a few repairs required along the way.

A plethora of firsts

The first cuts on the SawStop

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The first item made on the SawStop

The first item made in the new shed

I’m sure there a heap more I could come up with, but I think you get the point!  The drought is broken, there is sawdust in the air.  Actually, quite literally seeing as I have still to sort out the dust extraction.  Oh well, that will come soon enough.

More on what I was making later, but first, the SawStop.

I definitely have to do some checks to ensure it is set up correctly, but was in a bit of a rush, so had to assume it was right.  It seemed close enough, but in the long term I want to be positive rather than rely on assumption.  That actually goes for every other machine in the workshop.  Every one needs to be set up again, recalibrated, and in a number of cases, cleaned, lubricated, rust removed etc.  They have lasted reasonably, but storage is unkind to all tools.  If I had known how long it was going to be, I would (presumably) have been more diligent with oiling and wrapping.

Back to the saw.  It is pretty awesome to be honest.  Setting blade height and blade angle – you get a real feel for how solid the mechanism is.

So to “THE” mechanism.  Does it make a difference?  Yes – it really does.  I have absolutely no intention of ever accidentally setting off the SawStop.  I have no intention of wrecking a blade, replacing a brake, or finding out how much it’d hurt, even if the brake does save me from serious damage.  But that piece of mind is so much more significant than I ever considered.  I have always been particularly careful around the tablesaw, and that won’t change.  The stress levels have dropped to more reasonable levels, and as such, it is so much more enjoyable.

I don’t recall ever having used the TS10L at any blade angle other than 90 degrees, despite being a left-tilt blade (I’m sure I did on occasion, just very rarely).  In the current project, I happily flicked from 90 to 80, 70 and back again for different cuts.  Was I doing something risky?  Not at all – using the saw as it was designed.  Just now I’ve discovered an extra layer of confidence, and used the saw as it was intended, rather than finding another way.

Each time I buy a good tool (such as some Stihl gardening tools a couple of years ago, or Festool hand power tools), I am reminded (in a good way) of the decision to choose the quality brand, even if it does hurt the pocket a lot more at the time.  The SawStop adds a whole new dimension to that.  Not only the quality aspect, but the sense of real relief that I have chosen a safer option.  I may never use the SawStop brake (in a real save that is – not talking about a few sausages being sacrificed!), and I better not – I would be extremely disappointed in myself if that happens.  But if it happens, that sense of absolute relief and confirmation of the decision to buy it would be incredible.

In hindsight, is the extra cost of the SawStop worth it? Abso-frikin’-lutely.

Episode 100 Assembling the SawStop

Episode 100 Assembling the SawStop

Setting up the SawStop

It has been a while coming (sure I could say that about a number of things at the moment!), but I finally had an opportunity to put the SawStop together.

Shot some video of that at the same time, so hopefully that will go into the details more.

First impressions are good, very similar to the TS10L in a lot of ways.

Once it was up, I tweaked the layout a little more.  Still plenty of room for the few machines yet to be moved in (bandsaw, drill press, DVR lathe).  Some things are still not quite in their right place, but as has been observed, lots of room around each machine.

Starting to feel like a workshop out there, especially now with the tablesaw set up.  After I get the current video of the assembly done, there will be more to follow, including finetuning the setup.  One little surprise – despite being a 15A machine (technically 13A), I was surprised it came with a 10A plug  Not that it will make a difference – I still have a 15A circuit available for it.

Weekend Progress Report

Had a fair amount to get on with today, getting ready for the electrician as much as anything (although I still haven’t planned the GPO layout yet – have to be tomorrow.)

After trying to work out the order things needed to be done in, I realised that one of the difficulties was having the SawStop still in its box, still on the pallet.  I didn’t have time to go through a full setup, but I did manage to:

1. Get the mobile base from under the previous tablesaw (that was a bit of a mission in itself, being over 200kg, and in restricted space in the garage).

2. Size it to fit the base of the SawStop

3. Set up, and film the first stage of the SawStop setup, up to the point that the saw is out of the box, upright and sitting on the mobile base.  I’ll continue the process when I have more time to dedicate to it.  At least the saw is now mobile, and it sure looks good – black is definitely the new black where it comes to workshop machinery!

Next, I decided removing a couple of purlins would make life a lot easier, so off they came.  The benefit of a steel structure, held together with heavy-duty screws.

I managed to get the sheets up there – bit of a combination of angles, rope, and brute force.  With the mezzanine at 2800, it was a bit of an effort even so.  The sheets are only 33kg each, just cumbersome.

At the moment they are only sitting up there – I will fix them down later once the final building permit is signed off, and then the attic stairs installed.  They look raw underneath, but I have a solution to that.

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This was the first chance to see what the shed looks like with the overall vertical view blocked, and it is fine – not too closed in.  Benefit of having a high ceiling.

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I still haven’t decided whether to run the floor right to the edges (which needs more than the 3600 length the redtongue comes in), or to stick with the current length and secure it down.  Decision for another day.

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This is what I’ve bought to lay down under the flooring, so it looks the business from the ground.  Has some minor insulating properties, but I got it because it looks like the existing insulation on the walls, and is a good reflector, maximising available light in the shed.

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Speaking of lights, this is how I am installing them on my own.  A MagSquare.  And specifically the 50mm.  It comfortably holds the light fitting in place until I can get the self-tappers in.

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With the main and rear sections done, it looks pretty good.  All in line, spacing about right.  Double tubes per fitting should make for plenty of light.  Each fitting has a standard 3 pin plug end (which is the flex you can see hanging down), so wiring them in will be easy.

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Not looking as wide as it will when fully assembled, but there is a real presence in the workshop…..

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Mmmm.  Shiny.

And so it begins-fitting out the shed

Perhaps no more than a symbolic gesture (too hot to consider doing more- day 2 of a 4 day heat wave above 40C), but still, moved the first few machines into the shed.

Because of the epoxy floor, it really does have a ‘new shed smell’.

First cab off the ranks, and it had to be the (still packaged) SawStop

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followed closely behind by the Festool Kapex

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The pallet jack is already proving its weight in gold. I’m using some trailer ramps to get up over the edge and through the roller door

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Every tool that rolls in through those doors will continue to define the new workshop.

I even got to use the workshop tonight legitimately. Needed a couple of boards docked to length. With the Kapex already set up, it was a very satisfying thing being able to use the right tool for the job, rather than fudging it like I have been doing for the last 12 months!

You Can’t Beat the Physics of Kickback – Fine Woodworking

A really important look back at a kick back article/video on Fine Woodworking.com by Ed Pirnik

You Can’t Beat the Physics of Kickback – Fine Woodworking.

Picking one comment from the article, which goes to the crux of the matter:

Here’s the KickerWhat floored me wasn’t the fact that the kickback occurred, or how violent it was but rather, the fact that despite the fact that this fellow knew the kickback was coming, and was prepared to pull his hand away at that fateful moment, the momentum of the blade was simply too much to fight against. In his slow motion replay at minute 4:20 we clearly see that despite his efforts to pull his hand away from the blade, it still gets sucked right towards it. By my estimate, his left hand was pulled in to within 1/2-in. of the spinning blade-again, this despite the fact that he was intentionally pulling his hand AWAY from the danger zone.

Just goes to show, you can’t beat physics, no matter how hard you try!

When you see the video again, in light of the quote reproduced above, you can see no matter how good an operator you are, if you get yourself unintentially in a kickback situation then you are in harm’s way no matter how experienced you are.  I’ve had a couple of situations over the years where I’ve found myself standing very still re-evaluating the situation after something violent and unexpected just happened, visually checking extremities and looking for claret.  Fortunately, on the rare occasion it has happened, nothing untoward has been found (other than some dramatic scars cut deep in the timber when it is found flung somewhere in the workshop).  Luck.  I don’t like relying on luck.  I like being in control of the situation, and if I can’t be in control, I want the equivalent of “airbag technology for the car” on my tablesaw.  And that is why I’m getting a SawStop.

What is it you want?

Well, I wood like……

A SawStop

A Minimax spindle moulder

A Minima……..

What I am really getting to, are the guys from I Wood Like have just gotten their new website live, at iwoodlike.com.au

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It is still very much a work in progress, and the amount of content on the site will grow very rapidly over the next few months particularly as resources are added.  It is the new front end for marketing of SawStop and Minimax machines (I Wood Like is an initiative of Gabbett Machinery, the importers of these tools), but it is to be a lot more than that, with it being a woodworking resource (not unlike Stu’s Shed in a way) covering the wider gamut of the woodworking genre.

I’m going to be contributing a number of videos to the site as well, around the SawStop setup and use, including projects specifically using the SawStop tablesaw.  I do see a number of sausages having close encounters with a spinning blade in the not-too distant future as well!

Speaking of the SawStop Professional Tablesaw, I spoke with Matt today, and we have arranged for my SawStop (which has been sitting in their warehouse since October, waiting for me to have a shed to put it into!) to be delivered next Tuesday.  It will come with a few spare test brakes, so there will be some sawblade destruction along with the sausage close encounters.  There still isn’t a shed obviously, but with the proximity of Christmas, I didn’t want to risk of having the shed (finally), and not the saw!

 

 

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