Web broadcasting video

Received a rather interesting email tonight from Toolstoday.com.  They send out a regular email promoting their latest router bit, video, sawblade etc, (and I subscribe to it – makes a nice break from the mountain of work emails that come through!)

Tonight’s one will look rather familiar :)

FinderScreenSnapz001

(And yes, they did seek my permission to put the video on their YouTube channel – I was more than happy to allow it)

 

 

Blast from the Past

Came across the Torque Workcentre segment I did on Cool Tools in Denver a few years back.

Those were the days!

You don’t see that every day

A Torque Workcentre Router Master, and some TWC accessories (couple are prototypes) have now been added to the Tool Sale page.

Photo 29-04-2014 21 52 16Photo 29-04-2014 21 54 29Photo 29-04-2014 21 56 10

100 bottles of beer on the wall

26 crates of tools in the shed
26 crates of tools
And when one of those crates gets unpacked
There’ll be 25 crates of tools in the shed.

Still slowly working through the boxes and crates of tools packed over a year ago, finding them new homes, or at least placing them where their home should be so I get an idea of just what storage options I still need.  Getting to the point that I will need to start making some, which will be good. I’m also looking at some other options to complement some cupboards, such as a collection of Festool systainers on roll boards stored under the TWC for all the miscellaneous items (abrasives, glues, various handtools etc).  Have to have a chat with my local Festool dealer (and yes, I mean that in the drug-dealer way – damned addiction that it is :) ).

I am still finding items that will no longer be required, and so the sales pile is slowly growing.  Latest items include a Makita 3612 router, a Triton 184mm circular saw, a Triton Router table and stand, a scrollsaw, and a Dewalt radial arm saw.  This is also related to the Festool drug – as I look to upgrade tools, my current ones go on a hit list.  Still looking for expressions of interest (or preferably, offers to buy!) on the Torque Router Master, and the TS10L 52″ 3HP cast iron tablesaw.

On the mezzanine front, I decided the best option was a small crane arrangement from Hare & Forbes.  Costs only $209, so quite reasonable for what it is.

Overview

I will work out the best method to securely fix it to one of the main support beams, and add additional reinforcement to counteract the bending moment it will create for the beam.  It will still use a chain hoist to lift I expect, given its operational range is less than the height of the mezzanine, but that will be a bit of suck and see when I get it installed.  2200mm of operating height isn’t too bad, given the mezzanine floor is at something like 2800.  It might just mean something that needs lifting only needs to start from about the height of a workbench, which is an interesting proposition (but I still can’t see it working without a chain hoist being involved).

Irrespective, once the item is lifted above the mezzanine floor, the crane rotates easily allowing the load to be deposited onto the floor, rather than having to be collected from above the hole.  Still need to sort out some balustrading around each of the openings.

Day of the Machine

After taking much of the day to do some family things (beach before, and BBQ after) for Australia Day, I also moved a number of machines into the shed, now that the electrical was completed and therefore the machines wouldn’t get in the way.

Heavy buggers, especially over soft, churned up dirt the backyard has become.  The pallet jack is such an asset – able to lift the heaviest machine easily, and with reasonably wide wheels, can even manage the ground to a certain extent.

Even so, it was too much to move the thicknesser on my own (230 or so kg), so with a brief assistance of a couple of neighbours, it flew across the back yard.

Paying the price for it all now though!

Never-the-less, a good number of moves was achieved – slowly emptying the garage, and the shed starting to take on real character.

Placement/layout is by no means locked in (never is in my shed!), but am roughly placing them still in accordance with the original plan.

What was moved in this time was the Jet lathe (still uncertain about its long term plan), Jet 14″ bandsaw, Torque Workcentre, the workbench, thicknesser.

$1000 off Torque Workcentre

Had a chat with Professional Woodworkers Supplies yesterday, as I noticed in their latest mailout that they still have their Torque Workcentre for sale.

Bottom line is, if you tell them you are a Stu’s Shed reader, and you want to buy the demonstration unit they will sell it for $1000 off normal retail. (Actually $1010, to make it an even $4000, but a round number of $1k sounded better ;) )

Image

Just to be clear, this is a unit that in practical terms has never been used, except to drill holes in the MDF top to fit Walko clamps (as I use on my workcentre).

Normally, the TWC doesn’t come with the MDF top, so this is another $30 or so saving (plus the time it normally takes to drill all those holes!!)

Some specs on the unit: 2m long, and has a customised leg position so it can fit inside a 6′x4′ trailer.  (You can still have the legs at the original position).  It has the 900mm arm (which is the most versatile and convenient of the 3 typical sizes).  It includes the copy attachment, saw attachment and drill attachment.   The router is not included.  Think the mount for this unit fits Hitachi routers, but you can check that with Grahame directly.  Not too difficult to get it to fit other brands of plunge router.

The recommended retail for it is $5010.  For a Stu’s Shed reader, $4000 will take it away (pickup from SE Melbourne, or plus delivery if further afield).

If you want to know more about what the TWC can do, either do a search on here or click on the Shed.TV tab and watch the numerous videos.

I am not getting any kickback from this, nor am I selling my unit (too bloody useful!)  These machines are rather difficult to obtain, let alone with a significant discount.

Contact Grahame directly on 03 9776 1521, and don’t forget to mention you are wanting the Stu’s Shed discount on the purchase!

 

 

In the neighbourhood

Happened to be passing by Caboolture, and couldn’t let the opportunity pass to drop in on Larry (as in Lazy Larry), have a beer with a mate, and check out his new laser engraver!

And it is a monster! But more of that in a sec.

I haven’t seen Larry’s place since my introduction to the Torque Workcentre a few years ago, and it was very familiar- a shed away from home. Still crazy with all the projects he has on the go (and even more so now that Larry is full time operating out of the shed these days- selling through numerous markets, and online).

Interestingly, despite Larry being the very first purchaser of a Torque Workcentre, and then the first dealer, there was not one to be seen (and only a base being used as a bench).

Workcentre as a bench

Workcentre as a bench

Lots of very familiar tools around the place, similar to what is in my shop but with a lot more available space (and a much more impressive wood store!)

Workshop

Workshop

Now to the new star in Larry’s eye- his laser engraver, and it is awesome! The size, capacity, wattage, possibilities.

Just to give you a sense of scale, here is Larry prepping a job on the computer alongside the laser

Laser

Laser

The laser tube itself has to be seen to be believed. What was once such a rarity, seen only in elite industry, and university research, you can now pick them up for a few hundred dollars ($400 or so)

Laser tube

Laser tube

The beam is reflected around and down to the lens to focus it onto the work.

Aligning

Aligning

Then to the actual burn

Doing the burn

Doing the burn

Fast, deep (and it can be used to cut thinner stock, not just engrave), sharp, and accurate. And it may not seem cheap at around $7k, a lot cheaper than the $20k+ they can still be.

The result will be proudly mounted in the shed.

Result

Result

Thanks Larry, and sorry for dropping by unannounced!

Accurate Tool Setup (Torque)

The following steps may have been done specifically on the Torque Workcentre, but they are equally relevant to many other tools as well.

As I have often said, the digital angle gauge from Wixey (Oz supplier Professional Woodworker Supplies) is a shop apron tool.  It is too useful not to have it with you at all times in the workshop.  Using it to check, and to setup a tool so it is exceptionally accurate is one of the best uses for it.  To be able to get a tool within 0.05 degrees is significantly accurate for woodworking, and from there things are always so much easier.

Take the gauge, and set it on a true surface (such as the bed of the workcentre), and zero it.

Zeroing the Gauge

On this Wixey Gauge you can see there are two sets of numbers.  The large set is the one the user can zero, then compare the angle of the first surface to a second, and this is what I use for setting tools up.  The second is like a bubble level, only digital (and still accurate to +/-0.05 degrees), so it gives an absolute angle reading.  It just so happens, by complete fluke (or perhaps not – when I poured the slab we did use a spirit level to try to get the slab flat) that the top of the workcentre is actually at 0!

Next, we want to ensure the arm is not twisted around at all (around what I call the Y axis). I do this first, because once the arm is level and tightened up, I won’t want to loosen it again to be able to rotate it!

Torque Workcentre 6 Degrees of Freedom

So step 1 is to get the rotation around the Y axis correct (orangy/yellow)

To do this, I use a 1/2′ steel rod in the collet of the router.  Has to be steel – most stainless steels are austenitic, and therefore not magnetic.  The angle gauge is then stuck onto the rod, and the whole arm rotated as necessary to achieve 90 degrees.  I do it this way because in the end, what is important is the router bit is perpendicular to the workpiece.  It doesn’t matter how much degree of error is in the router mount, or in the plunge mechanism (typically very little for the TWC), but if the router bit is exact, there are no other accumulated errors.

First DOF locked to the perfect angle (using my other digital angle gauge fwiw)

Next, the Y axis arm itself is made parallel with the table.  Again, zero the gauge parallel to the arm, then lift it onto the arm itself and adjust.  You can get reasonably close with the adjustments provided on the front bearing set of the TWC, but I find the final way is to simply move the carriage forward and backward for minor adjustments, or to actually lift or push down on the arm to get it right.  This is done with the outfeed support bar loose, then tightened to lock the arm when it is parallel.

Getting the arm parallel

Finally, get the tool so it is rotated correctly around the X Axis.  Here I have it with the tool slightly out (88.6 degrees).  The MagSwitch magnet at the back was my idea because I found the magnet in the newer Wixey angle gauge was not strong enough to support its own weight (sadly).  Unfortunately, this also proved to be a very bad idea as I’ll show in a second.

Close, but no cigar

So by loosening off the X Axis rotation, I was able to bring it to exactly 90 degrees.  Again, this means the router bit is exactly perpendicular to the table (and if using a surfacing bit, it will make the top of the timber parallel with the reference plane (aka the table top)).

Adjustment point

Perfection

The point is, with a digital angle gauge this sort of adjustment to this sort of accuracy is a piece of cake, so you don’t have to be concerned about using the machine as you need to, then resetting it back to being exactly perpendicular to the base in both dimensions (X and Y).

Now, as to putting a big magnet near the angle gauge, it did turn out to be a very bad idea.  Turns out the internals of the angle gauge are magnetic, and held in place by their own magnetic strength.  So when angle gauge accidentally got close to big magnet, the internals decided to shift…….

I ended up having to take the gauge apart, discover what was wrong and put it all back together.  I managed it, but it will never look quite right again.  Bugger.

Wixey Internals

Specifically, that ring of tiny circles are each small magnets, and they got a bit too excited when the MagSwitch got close. Mea culpa.

The brass- looking pendulum thing is how the new Wixey does dead-levelling – using gravity to ensure it knows the absolute way up.  A digital angle gauge is pretty much a must-have tool.  Don’t bother with one of those sold in the big hardware stores – tried a few and found they are crap.  The Wixey is definitely one that does the job.

Hunter-Gatherers

These days, if you want vegetables to cook, they are laid out in the supermarket. Lettuce is sold pre-shredded in bags, meat in plastic-wrapped packages, cheese in tubes, even water in bottles. It may be convenient, but we have lost that ability, even the drive to be hunter-gatherers. Even many woodworkers are guilty of being tempted by the convenience of modern pre-prepared timbers, ripped and dressed all round, some coming plastic wrapped, even pre-cut ready for joining together.

But behind the temptations, there must also be a sadness that when they do come across a felled tree, sitting on the side of the road, they know not only how much timber is just sitting there waiting for someone, but also that this is free timber in a world of overpriced rubbish. When they have no ability to harvest the timber, they have to drive on, leaving the find for someone luckier.

Having access to a slabbing machine would open the floodgates to cheap and free timber, but these are typically thousands of dollars, and for a smaller scale woodworker, that is likely to be a lifetime of timber, so impossible to justify. However, if you are an owner of a Torque Workcentre, and have a chainsaw, then for only $200 for the slabbing jig, you will have a slabbing machine of your own, able to handle lengths up to approximately 0.5m shorter than the length of your workcentre (eg 3 metre slab if you have a 3.5 metre workcentre).

The slabbing attachment is very simple, and it can be because of the inherent properties of the Torque Workcentre itself. The workcentre has a very solid base, able to support significant loads. The tool support arm that slides the length of the table is very heavy duty, and travels smoothly on 10 bearings creating a solid platform for the slabbing jig to attach to.

The slabbing jig holds the chainsaw securely by gripping onto either end of the chainsaw bar. You use the adjustments designed into the slabbing jig to get the bar level, then the main vertical adjustment on the Torque Workcentre to set the blade height, and therefore the slab thickness.

With very little effort, you are ready to slab to your heart’s content, and for some extra money on the side, there are many other woodworkers out there jealous of your workcentre and willing to pay for you to slab their logs for them as well.

The Torque Workcentre – not only a crosscut and rip saw table, or an overhead router with pattern-copying ability, a thicknessing machine, and slab planer, but now also capable of producing the slabs for you from materials you can find.

Let the age of Hunter-Gathering woodworker return! At least for proud owners of the Torque Workcentre.

Picking up a slab

In many sheds (and parties, and sports clubs) down under, that’d raise connotations of an end of the productive side of the day, and the cracking of a few favourite beverages is about to commence.  But for woodworkers, there is also the possibility that it means just that – the acquisition of a large flat slice of timber, usually cut by someone else who has more specialised toys than in the average shed.

However, if you own (or are considering) the Torque Workcentre, it is not out of reach, as the slabbing attachment gives the typical workshop the ability to claim very useable timbers from the very trees in which it grows.

The attachment has 2 main parts – two clamps that attach to the main arm on the TWC, and securely clamp a chainsaw between them.  About 4″ of the chainsaw bar length is lost in this, so a 16″ chainsaw can slab a maximum width of 12″.  The bigger the chainsaw, the more powerful the motor, the larger the slab you can manage.

There is a block on either side of the bar (narrower than the width of the bar, so as not to touch the chainsaw teeth) that hold the chainsaw firm, and with one at either end of the bar, it is locked in tight.

The position is probably different from chainsaw to chainsaw, but a hole through to, or scalloped out area near the chainsaw would be useful so blade adjustments can be done without the need to remove the chainsaw from the jig.

I’d also like to see some form of oil reservoir mounted above the chain with a controllable feed rate, as the normal chain lubrication method being gravity fed is rather ineffective with the chainsaw perpetually on its side.  However, these are all refinements to the basic operation.

I started with a lump of camphor laurel (yes, oh Roving Reporter, THE lump of CL – you’ll have to find an alternate seat!) that I picked up for $10 a couple of years ago, and secured it to the TWC.  Although this piece is short enough to pass through a resawing operation on the bandsaw, it works well as a test piece here.  With the chainsaw bar levelled out, and the depth of cut set, I was ready for a first pass.

The first cut was set very shallow – I only wanted to take off enough to flat-spot the log, so it would sit more securely on the workbench for further slices.

As the chainsaw bit in, the unmistakable aroma of camphor wafted through the shed, undiminished by the continuous air filtration of the Microclene unit, or even the head protection afforded by the Purelite Respirator (I geared up a bit for this) – I’d have to have used a carbon filter to extract that, but it isn’t unpleasant (although my wife strongly disagreed when she made a surprise visit, committing the cardinal sin of interrupting shed time :( ;) )  Even a couple of hours later when I walked past the outside of the shed, the smell was still very much in evidence!

With the first cut complete, the log was flipped over for the first slab to be cut.

One of the problems I always have, is getting timber that is thick enough when I go shopping – like purchasing steak from the supermarket, they are sold so measly thin, on the (probably correct) assumption that people will buy more quantity, rather than quality (3 thin steaks sells better than 2 thick ones).  This isn’t an issue when you do it yourself, and in the case of slabbing a trunk, you can cut the slab as thick as you like.  And you can also choose whether you want regularly sawn timber, or quarter sawn.

Not an option you normally get from a box-hardware store.  For the same reason – a quarter sawn log is more expensive (more timber is wasted) and the average shopper doesn’t distinguish, other than on the price.

There are plenty of ripples across the surface from the cut, but a few quick passes through the drum sander got rid of them without a problem (I used the drum sander to avoid the snipe from the thicknesser on a short board).

Finally, it was off to the new workbench, and firing up of the Festool ETS 150/5 (random orbital sander)

Hard to see here, but a quick rub down with a wood oil (the ol’ Triton oil in this case) really picked out the details.  I didn’t actually need to oil it yet, other than my own curiosity – the board will head over to the tablesaw to cut it to size for the next project, and get whatever finish is applied to that, but I just wanted to really see how the details responded, especially the spalting, to a bit of oil.

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