A Photographic Aside

Been using a Minolta 7D digital camera for a lot of the images for this site (around 1300 to date), and have been using Minoltas for the last 20 years.  FWIW, I was awarded an Associateship of the Photographic Society of New Zealand in 1999 for my photos I took in the New Zealand Navy. Unfortunately (a), around the time that Triton got bought by GMC, Minolta ceased making cameras.  2 devastating bits of news in the same year – it was very unsettling. At least Sony took over making the Minolta SLRs, so the Sony series still have the same lens mount.

And (b), after taking about 10000 photos on the current camera, it has started to demonstrate significant unreliability, particularly in relationship to the antishake mechanism of the recording chip. I guess, given that I have a number of lenses already with the (once Minolta, now) Sony mount, I’m likely to go with a new Sony camera body when the current camera fails permanently.

If anyone knows someone in the market who might be interested in sponsoring the site with a new camera body, I’d certainly be interested in talking with them!!

A Short Game of Cricket

Came across a cricket set in a local sports shop sale, that was only $5, so I saw an opportunity to make it suitable for my 2 year old.

It is made from a smooth, white, soft, grainless timber (no I don’t know what it is), but it looked perfect for someone with a bandsaw…….

Shortened Cricket Bat

Shortened Cricket Bat

Chopped off what I (didn’t) need of the length, and shortened the handle as well.  On the back, I took it to the disk sander, and re-profiled the back edge.

Bat in Use

New Kreg K4 Pockethole Jig

There are many different techniques for joining to pieces of timber, both traditional and modern.  One that is proving quite resilient is pocket hole joinery.  It is a modern development of the more traditional “glue and screw” method, and using a fundamentally simple concept, produces a surprisingly strong joint, even when glue is not used.  Although I call it a modern joint (with Kreg developing the modern pockethole jig in 1986), the ancient Egyptians were using a version of it, inserting a dowel through the angled hole, then cutting it flush with the surface.

The pockethole is created by drilling a partial-depth hole at an angle into one member of the joint.  It stops short of cutting all the way through, and the drill bit is profiled so the hole drilled has a flat bottom.  This provides a good square surface for the flat-headed screws to press against.  The clever part of the drill bit, is it has two diameters.  The main diameter cuts the slot, and the flat bottomed hole.  In the centre of this hole, another is cut that is just larger than the diameter of the screw itself, so it acts as a pilot hole to control the direction of the screw as it is tightened, and helps prevent splitting.

Pockethole Drillbit

Pockethole Drillbit

The drill bit depth is controlled with a metal sleeve that has a grub screw to set the depth of hole. Readings on the jig itself allow you to set the correct depth based on material thickness.

Setting bit depth

Setting bit depth

The screws can be any brand that is suitably sized, and has a flat-bottomed head, but the ones that are most commonly used are the Robertson Screw.  Instead of having a Phillips, or flat drive, they use a square drive that actually predates the Phillips headed screw.  This type of drive provides a number of advantages in this scenario, but it boils down to one thing.  Ease of use.

Robertson Square-Drive Screw

Robertson Square-Drive Screw

Ready to Drive into Pockethole

Ready to Drive into Pockethole

The K4 is the latest offering in the range of Pockethole Jigs from Kreg. It appears to fit a useful niche between the comprehensive, (and accordingly priced) K3, and the Kreg Mini Pockethole Jig, and provides the basic components that would be used for a vast majority of pockethole joinery jobs.

Kreg K4 Pockethole Jig

Kreg K4 Pockethole Jig

The thing that strikes you very quickly when using the Kreg, is just how easy it makes creating the necessary pocketholes.  It is very simple to set the jig up to suit the thickness of the materials being joined, and only a few seconds are required to cut the pocketholes.  As is provided with the K3 Master System, the K4 jig comes with an integral toggle clamp which is partly why the jig is so fast and convenient to use.  Another aspect is the hardened steel drill bit guide, so the bit is accurately guided, hole after hole.  When two holes are needed close together, the fact the jig has three guides in close proximity means that both holes can be drilled, without the need to reposition the jig itself.

Drillbit Guide and Toggle Clamp

Drillbit Guide and Toggle Clamp

Setting Guide Height to Suit Material Thickness

Setting Guide Height to Suit Material Thickness

In some situations, it is not convenient, or possible to use the jig in its standard configuration, and so the drill guide can be removed and clamped directly to the workpiece.

I don’t use pockethole joinery in every project – because of the size of the elongated oval slot caused in the surface of the workpiece, I tend to use pocketholes in situations where this cannot be seen.  There are fillers available, in a variety of timbers (and white plastic for melamine), and you could conceivably use a contrasting timber to produce a visual effect, but it wouldn’t be something you’d do often.  On the other hand, it would be hard to find another joinery system more suitable for joining melamine, MDF and other materials that tend to have a very weak end-grain glued joint.  This is particularly true for carcass construction for cabinetry, and building kitchen melamine (MDF or particleboard cored) cupboards.

Clamping Material Ready for Pockethole

Clamping Material Ready for Pockethole

Drilling the Pockethole(s)

Drilling the Pockethole(s)

Resulting Pocketholes

Resulting Pocketholes

The Kreg K4 System is an excellent investment for people who are not expecting to want to use pockethole joinery all the time (and therefore don’t want to invest in all the accessories), but want to be able to quickly and easily produce this sort of joint when the need arises.  I will stress however, that just because you haven’t invested in the comprehensive kit, you haven’t compromised in the quality of the material or jig construction.  This kit provides all the core components needed to start pocketholing in style.

90 degree Clamp

90 degree Clamp

There are other accessories you can optionally get.  I like this one – the 90 degree clamp.  One side of the clamp has a normal swivel base, while the other side is a thin diameter, flat-bottomed point perfect for clamping into the pockethole itself, so you can put a screw into the other pockethole.

For joining boards together flat, there is the more standard Kreg clamp.

Kreg Clamp

Kreg Clamp

First Pockethole Screwed

First Pockethole Screwed

Pockethole Plugs

Pockethole Plugs

There are various plugs designed to hide the pocketholes, including these for melamine.  Others are different wooden dowels so you can either closely match colour to disguide the joining method, or contrasting timber to accentuate it.  I still normally will design projects to hide the existance of the pocketholes.

It is perfect for picture frames, cabinetry (and on and on).

This pockethole jig (and accessories) were sourced from Carbatec, who carry a lot of the Kreg range.  The K4 will be available in Australia in the very near future.  I don’t have a price at this stage.

Unwitting Stand-up Comedy

Was in Bunnings this afternoon getting a few bits’n’pieces, and one I was hoping to find (but seriously doubting I’d find) was a Triton Woodrack. Like Superjaws, you are hard-pushed to have too many.

After (unsurprisingly) not finding one, I just asked in the tool shop if they happened to have any woodracks. The young lady didn’t know what a woodrack was, so asked her team leader. Her reply was “Woodrack? Is that anything like a wine rack? Try the home storage section”

Only if you have 50kg bottles of wine!

Think I left my jaw on the ground there somewhere if anyone finds it.

I’ve got a stack of pine taking up room in the small shed, so am going to make some outside covered storage for it. Thought I’d use a Triton Woodrack but no matter- will just have to do what everyone else has to, and make my own. I still have a stack of round steel 1 1/2″ dia pipe that will work well. (The stuff I was trying to give away when I was offered a couple tonne of it for free- I kept a couple hundred kgs of it for myself just in case, so it’s good to discover a project for some of it). I also have some roofing sheet steel left over from the shed I’ll use.

Anything to free up some shed real estate.

I managed to get a little more organisation and sorting done out in the shed this morning before the sun really kicked in. The days at the moment remind me a bit of the 2nd Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – a nice day begins with shining sun, but as it rises in the sky a much more malignant presence is exposed. 44.5C day today, and still 43C predicted tomorrow. I certainly can sympathise with those in Adelaide, but Melbourne was hotter today, and again tomorrow. Granted they have had many more days of heat, and that’s the real killer for shed time.

Perhaps we could all move to Tasmania.

Oh, and as far as the roving reporter’s solution was valid, my version has been sitting with my daughter in a wading pool, beer in hand (don’t drink much, but days like this beg for it!)

Beating the Heat with Triton

From the “roving reporter”: how to beat the heat with Triton

FWIW, Melbourne is having its hottest week in 100 years.

26C 36C 41C 43C 40C 40C 30C
79F 97F 106F 109F 104F 104F 86F

Not shed weather for a non-insulated steel heat box.

(Update, temps now 26, 36, 41, 43, 44, 43, 37, 33 so have now had hottest ever on record for Melbourne)

Roving Reporter Solution

Sharp Lesson

The blackboard I made a few years ago as a quick demo used blued cut tacks to hold the actual blackboard in the frame (simple rebate).

Finally had proof why cut tacks weren’t the ideal solution. Over time, with the blackboard being used by enthusiastic artists, the tacks worked their way loose- a symptom of being a wedge shape. Because of this, they also can’t be hammered back home and have them become tight again.

So they all were removed and replaced with self-tapping button screws. Much more effective, and a simple lesson learned for next time.

A Warm Invitation

I happened to be wandering through the house around 2am, when I noticed both cats quietly perched at the backdoor, staring out.

I had a look to see what was capturing their attention, and noticed the back yard awash with light. I’d left the shed door wide open, and the lights on inside, and I could hear a whisper from within: “come play, come play”

I sure was tempted!

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