Vale The Timber Benders

Sad news has come through this month: Don O’Connor and Sue Ewart O’Connor were killed earlier this month in a tragic car accident, when they swerved to avoid a kangaroo on the Daylesford-Malmsbury Road.

I met Don and Sue briefly at one of the woodshows (when they were at the Flemington Race Course), having been very aware of the work they were doing with some historic (mid 19th century) equipment and old techniques to steam-bend timber.

They were the last dedicated timber bending industry in Australia, and they, and the knowledge they had of traditional techniques will be sorely missed.

New Kreg Product – a Plug Cutter

Noticed this came on the market recently (at least I hope it was recently!) A plug cutter from Kreg Tool

This means you can cut plugs to fill the pockethole hole from your choice of timber species.

It looks to use an oversized guide which fits your standard jig, which will support HD, standard and micro plug cutting bits.

Not sure when this will be available in Australia – if you use pocketholes, worth keeping an eye out for this one.

Cake Toppers

Have had a few orders for cake toppers recently.  I’ve been cutting them from acrylic and it seems to be quite successful.  Better yet is when you can make it completely customised – can’t buy that in a shop (or from China!). Will post the latest effort shortly.

Top 50 Woodworking Blogs

So after 9 1/2 years, Stu’s Shed has made it onto the feedspot list of top 50 woodworking blogs, coming in at a modest #26.  

Interesting, but a bit of a reality check is also in order.  There are about 600 facebook fans (followers) and 1075 on Twitter.  No idea how they do it, but there are others with 10s of 1000s (even up to 220000) facebook followers.

Even so, I’m not complaining – over the past few years I have not been able to afford the time to put the amount of love and attention into the blog as I was once able to do.  The frequency has certainly dropped off, with a post a day on average now being closer to a post per week.

Of course, if there had been a woodworking blog category when I started, Stu’s Shed would have been rated at #3.  More because it was only the 3rd woodworking blog out there than anything else (and #1 in the southern hemisphere)!

Still, it is here, and plodding modestly along.  Got some new projects in the pipeline, some shed rearranging underway, and some new machines planned, so there is something to check in on.

And the 10 year anniversary is getting ever closer.  10 years – that has to be a lot of prattling on!


Masters loss can be our gain

While the demise of Masters was inevitable (and I did predict it very early on, given their insane approach to how they chose to compete with Bunnings), it does provide an opportunity to grab a few bargains, before Bunnings again gets to dominate the hardware market.

I dropped in there today, as the discounts have increased to 40-70% off, and boy are the shelves emptying quickly.

I managed to get a couple of cans of Danish Oil, and while I was tempted by a few things about the place, I did take the opportunity to (finally) bite the bullet and get a new tool trolley.

My old ones (x2) were very cheap and dodgy.  Very light, and although they have kind of lasted, they are really at end of life and have been so for quite some time.  Still, not bad for $100 each at the time.

But I came across some of the last stock of the Gearwrench XL trolleys, and I just couldn’t resist getting them for 1/2 off (or there abouts).

Still, they (it is two parts that you can buy together or separate) cost a pretty penny, but it is a lot of cabinet.  Combined it weights in around 200kg.  That is empty!  Either there are bricks hidden in the bottom of it, or the whole unit is made from a good heavy grade of steel.  

So I can retire my two small units, and hopefully get to unpack some more tools as well, seeing as there are still a plethora of those that are still in boxes since I moved house.  Only been 3 years or so!


While it is a great U2 song from their early phase, October turned out to be a very demanding month, from around the mid point if you couldn’t tell!

Here’s hoping that the downhill run to Christmas is a little easier.

Even though it has been very quiet on here, I have been getting some time in the shed, making things for the next The Shed magazine article, and picking up some CNC work.

The lastest has been making some items for a lady who sells customised dream catchers, and while it isn’t difficult or arduous, it again has been a good demonstration how a CNC can result in a revenue stream.  And it is a bit of fun too.

She was getting them laser cut, but has found it to be much better for painting having them cut on my CNC router than from her previous supplier.  Another thing demonstrating that having both would be awesome… one day!

Pre-judging a Tool

It is a rare thing for a tool to perform significantly different to what you imagined, and often that is not a positive thing.

So it is even rarer to find oneself completely surprised by how a tool just purchased operates, and in a good way!

The tool in question is the Arbortech Contour Sander.  It is fitted to an angle grinder and is for smoothing odd shaped items (such as one might create with some of the other Arbortech tools!)

Now the angle grinder is not exactly a tool that you would regard as being subtle.  It is loud, it vibrates, and it runs at around 10,000 RPM.  You would imagine that attaching a shaft to that, and sticking a piece of sandpaper on the end, that you are about to have some very rapid stock removal, in a cloud of dust.

Nothing could have been further removed from my expectation.

Instead, I had a tool running at very high speed (as angle grinders are want to do), but the sandpaper end was barely moving on the workpiece.  It is a random orbital sander style, so the rapid angular speed of the angle grinder translates into a more linear, but random amount of microstrokes.

It was subtle, it sanded quickly, but at a very controllable rate, and the soft end allowed the contours be sanded, without them being removed or abraded away.  Contour Sander indeed!

I think my only negative point was that the sandpaper is stuck on, rather than using velcro/hook & loop, so it isn’t easy to change from one pad to the next, working through the grades.

I’ve already used the sander on a few small jobs, smoothing and softening the natural edge of some timber, but I well expect it will prove a very useful tool for a range of projects in future.

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