Finishing the Glueless Stool

I finally got a chance to finish off the glueless stool I started at the recent NTX show (components cut on the Torque Workcentre)

Working Together

After rounding over the edge of the seat on the router table, it was time for a little sanding.  Still very impressed with how easy, relatively low noise, low vibration and minimal dust that results from the Festool system.  In this case I used 180 grit on the random orbital sander (ETS150/5) and it took a very little amount of time to get the necessary finish.  I’m not doing anything else as far as finish is concerned – this stool is specifically designed for the shower, and also designed to be disposable once it is no longer useful.  In saying that, the one I made 3 years ago is still going strong.

Edges of the straight sections were rounded over with the Fastcap 1/16″ Radius plane from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  Without meaning to sound like a commercial, I keep finding myself turning to this plane to break (round over) an edge, where in the past I would have turned to the router table.  It is a brilliant little tool – surprisingly useful and very effective.

You can’t see it in the photo, but I’m using the double-sided vac clamp here which works perfectly on the cast iron tablesaw – holding the workpiece very securely, but releasing immediately the air supply is switched off.

Pocketholing

The original glueless stool was made with wedged tenons, but this time I decided to go with the simpler pockethole, using the external grade Kreg Blue-Kote Robinson screws.

Glueless Shower Stool

The finished stool.  In this case I haven’t created a foot at the bottom of each ‘leg’, but instead I will probably use the pinned plastic anti-slip feet (those 1/2 domed 10mm diameter things).

Feet

There’s a hole in my pocket…

Spent the morning down at Carbatec, drilling lots of holes and screwing in a stack of screws at precise angles and depths 🙂 Even sold some Kreg Pockethole Jigs apparently – bonus!

Drilling Pocketholes

Getting ready, and to the demo was dead simple with the Festool gear – used a couple of empty systainers as tool boxes, secured to the top of the Cleantex and wheeled the whole thing in, plugged in, ready to go. Vac started and stopped with the drill, no dust, very little shavings escaped – it was all good.

Display

I also got to try the Festool drill/driver (T-12) with Ec-tec – rather interesting, with electronic control over the cut-out torque. When the torque exceeded the setting, the drill simply stopped and beeped at you, rather than having that grinding sound of the mechanical solutions of cheaper drills. (Am using my corded Bosch drill in the picture, if that is confusing you!)

So an interesting morning. Be sure to catch future demonstrations – at Carbatec Melbourne on the last Saturday of the Month.

And thanks to the Roving Reporter for the lift while I am still down a car!

Carbatec Demo Day

Tomorrow is the last Saturday of the month, so that means it is the Stu’s Shed demo day at Carbatec (Melbourne) from 10am to 12pm.  This session I will be running through some of the Kreg Woodworking system, including their pockethole joinery jigs and clamps in particular – and making sawdust!

Kreg Pockethole

Kreg Clamp

If you haven’t seen the advantages of pockethole joinery, come along and get to see the jigs in action.  They are obviously not applicable for all operations, but that is true for any joinery system.

There are full kits with all the possible components you may desire, down to the simplest and cheapest of Kreg Pockethole jigs available – see which is the most appropriate in your workshop.

Kreg Pushstick

Pushsticks are an integral part of the safety equipment in a workshop, and are important for many of the tools in the shop.  They are not everyone’s cup of tea (although I find that very strange), and they are not needed for every operation (which does make sense).  A pushstick is primarily used to feed work into and through a tool when it is too dangerous to have the operator’s fingers/hand in the vicinity.

Work such as narrow rips on the tablesaw are a good example.  And a tablesaw highlights a second aspect of a good pushstick.  Not only do you want to feed work into and through a tool, but you want to control that workpiece as best you can during the operation, and you really want to avoid such events as a kickback, and if the pushstick can help decrease that risk in addition, then that is a better design.

So to look at the Kreg Pushstick:

Kreg Pushstick

Kreg Pushstick

Some of the features you can see here:- a small tailpiece, which hooks over the edge to push work through the tool.  You don’t necessarily want it very long because if you are feeding through an 8mm board for example, you’d expect the tailpiece to be clear of the table.  However, is that really important?  I guess it wouldn’t be ideal for that tail to be rubbing on the table, particularly lifting the rear of the pushstick.  What bothered me though was how often, and easy the current tailpiece slipped off the workpiece (moving to the left in the orientation in the above photo, leaving the workpiece behind).

I’m not sure which variable wasn’t working well – too short a tailpiece, or is it at the wrong angle?  Instead of being vertical, perhaps it should be a little undercut and slope back towards the workpiece, even to the point of having a sharper….point at the base.  It might benefit by having a small sharp pin added to really engage in the edge of the workpiece, or some non-slip material or something.

Pushing the Workpiece

Pushing the Workpiece

I also found the handle very high, and the pushstick felt a bit top-heavy in use.  However, I discovered why this was beneficial when ripping narrow boards, as it means the hand is high enough to clear over the top of the blade guarding.  Now the positioning of the handle is interesting, as is its angle, which allows loading to be horizontal (utilising the rear tailpiece to push the work), and vertical on the front edge, holding it down on the table which significantly decreases the likelihood of a kickback.

The handle has a hole in it so a pencil can be stored in it, but for me a pushstick is a pushstick.  It doesn’t need to be all things to all people, and should be optimised to do one job properly, and ignore any additional functionality.

It has an onboard ruler which can be unlocked and used as a depth gauge etc, but this falls into that same category.  I’d buy a pushstick for only one reason, irrespective of any other bells and whistles.

Magnetic Storage

Magnetic Storage

It has an onboard magnet for storage, which may appeal to some.

In summary, this isn’t my favourite pushstick for the majority of operations.  However, it definitely comes into its own for very narrow rips, when you have very little clearance between the fence and the blade, whether you are using a guard or not.  The handle being high enough to pass over the top of the blade is good, and the rather narrow profile is useful in that case.

Coving Jig

For the wood show, I finally used the motivation to copy a superb looking jig featured on the MagSwitch site.  And of course, I had to give it a try!

Coving Jig

Coving Jig

The jig consists of two independant sides, that are secured to the table with twin MagJigs.  They can be set to any reasonable width to cope with a wide range of stock sizes.  The significant benefit of the MagJigs allows the jig to be secured wherever you want – doesn’t matter where, or how many mitre slots you have.

Coving

Coving

So as seen, there is a board on either side.  40mm holes drilled at either end to fit the MagJigs. Two slots cut into the boards to fit the channel.  The slots were cut using a dado blade, and I’m not sure if it is the first time I’ve used a dado blade for a serious job, and it wasn’t a particularly fun experience.  The amount of stuffing around fine-tuning the dado blade size, including shims etc, was quite discouraging compared to how easy it would have been to cut the slot on the router table.  I can see a benefit to dado blades, and sure, if I wanted to cut 20, 50 or more slots then no question, a little setup time is worthwhile.  For one or two, I’d be finished on the router table before really getting the dado blades done up.

The channels are Kreg channels from Carbatec.  In these channels are the MagSwitch Vertical Attachments, mounted above the blade.  I’ve also used the Kreg Pushstick while holds the work down on the table, as well as pushing it through the blade, and it is thin enough to easily pass through the gap between the featherboards.  Additionally, it has quite a high handle, which again has definite advantage when used here.  Almost like it was built for the task……

Resulting Cove

Resulting Cove

If you’ve never tried coving before, it is an interesting exercise. To start, raise the blade to the final required height forthe depth of the cove, (without the saw turned on!), and set the angle the work meets the blade to get the required width of cove.  Lock down the jig, and drop the blade right down.  Given you are using the blade almost side on, you really need to take it slow.  Both in feed rate, and by taking many light passes.  Have a look at the coving in the above-photo.  All that missing material had to be turned into sawdust by the blade.  Compare that to how much sawdust (and therefore how much wood is removed) by the sawblade used in its typical role.  That’s why we have to take it easy.  If you push too hard, the blade will flex, and I really don’t want that happening at the speeds the blade runs at!  I want it cutting, and that is it.

If you get really serious about coving, there are blades such as this one from CMT.  They are not cheap though!

CMT Coving Blade

CMT Coving Blade

A Shallow Cove

A Shallow Cove

SW09 – Preventing a Kickback

As discussed in the previous article, a kickback is when a blade stops cutting, and instead transfers the machine’s power directly into the workpiece, propelling it with incredible force.

Not getting in the way is a really good option when it happens.  However, we are talking about something coming at you at 200km/hr is hard to dodge.  Only having less than 1/100th of a second to not only realise something is flying at you, and get out of the way kind of suggests that if you are in the way when a kickback occurs, you have already been hit.  Hard.

Ok, not everything is going to be accelerated to the full tip speed of the blade.  A full sheet of MDF will not find its way to 200km/hr.  It will still find itself winging its way towards you, and given its mass, and the power of the tool that threw it………

So hopefully we have determined that being out of way before the kickback is a really good idea.  Staying out of the “fling zone” is a really good start.  For example, on a tablesaw, don’t stand directly behind the blade, or stand to one side, and reach across the line of fire to push the work through (dumb on a number of levels).  Position yourself where you can fully and safely control the workpiece AND stay out of the fling zone.  Body armor is not a bad idea either.  If you can’t get some of this, a leather shop apron is a great idea (and is not budget breaking either)

Anti Kickback Suit

Anti Kickback Suit

So that takes care of what happens when it happens.  Now let’s try to prevent it happening in the first place.

Tablesaw:

Ensure the fence is parallel to the blade.  If you can’t be SURE it is parallel, it is better to toe out than toe in (in other words, angled away from the back of the blade rather than towards it).

NEVER crosscut using a mitre gauge AND the fence.  You have trapped the workpiece solidly between the blade and the fence, and given it is a crosscut if it has any chance to twist at all, it will bind and kickback.  I have commented in the past about how I use the fence for accurate measuring before completing the crosscut, but note even my method leaves a good 40mm for the workpiece to move into so it can’t get trapped.

Have some form of holddown (if possible) at the back of the blade.  It doesn’t have to do much, but if it resists the workpiece floating up with the rear teeth rising, lifting it then this will minimise the likelihood of it being thrown.  In saying that I took the holddowns off my saw – they were too strongly spring loaded.  My blade guard does a reasonable job anyway.

Use a splitter and/or riving knife.  As a piece of timber is cut, internal forces are relieved and you can get significant amounts of timber movement.  If that happens to be in the direction to close up the kerf, the timber can attempt to bind on the back of the blade = missile.  Also, this helps prevent an offcut coming into contact with those rear teeth (remember I said I had some evidence 12 months after a kickback – it was my gut that got in the way, and it was an offcut that was the missile).

Riving Knife

Riving Knife

This riving knife (which also carries the fence (not show)) rises and falls with the blade, and is removable with a quick release.  It is kept pretty close to the blade to prevent an offcut getting in between and being kicked.  It also acts as a splitter, holding the kerf apart so it cannot close and pinch the blade.

Never use the saw without either a mitre gauge or fence (ie never freehand cut).  If you twist the piece even slightly, see above result.

Even better is to also use featherboards, to hold the workpiece snugly against the fence.  I use the term deliberately, as a featherboard can be snug without being so tight as to really make it difficult to slide the workpiece.

These featherboards from MagSwitch are my favourite, as they can be positioned anywhere (and are not dependent on the location of the mitre slot).  And the really nice aspect I think, is that it can almost be an afterthought – you are all set up for the cut, and you remember that you’ve forgotten the featherboard (heh), it is a simple matter of bringing it in and locking it down, wherever it is needed.

MagSwitch Pro Featherboard

MagSwitch Pro Featherboard

You will notice it is positioned just forward of the blade.  Once the blade has begun cutting, I don’t want anything pushing that offcut back into the blade.

Storage of the MagSwitch is also easy, and ensures it is right onhand whenever needed.

MagSwitch Storage

MagSwitch Storage

Pushsticks are also a great idea (obviously). Not only do they keep your fingers away from the blade, but a good one, a good design will also assist in preventing a kickback.

You can easily make a pushstick, and if you want to there is no reason not to.  If however, you never get around to things, there are some good designs on the market, such as this one by Kreg:

Kreg Multipurpose Pushstick

Kreg Multipurpose Pushstick

This one is from Carbatec, costs all of $30 or so.  The reason why the design works so well, is it pushes the work through (thanks to the lip on the back of the pushstick), but because of the position of the handle, effort is both forward, and downward.  Because of the large leading edge, the workpiece is held down well onto the surface of the table.  A kickback caused by the workpiece floating during the cut is virtually eliminated by this design.

Ensure the blade is sharp.  Dull blades = accidents.  Some blades also come with an antikickback design.  These have a tongue of the sawblade body out of the back of the preceding tooth so you can’t (theoretically) overfeed the blade, and the blade has less opportunity to pick up bits of waste etc.  Not sure how effective these are, but it doesn’t detract from blade performance.

Antikickback Tooth Design

Antikickback Tooth Design

Router Table:

Ensure you use the correct feed direction.  Normally right to left when using a fence (but don’t have the workpiece passing between the router bit and the fence).  Climb cutting has its place, but the vast majority of cuts, you should feed the workpiece in the opposite direction to the spinning bit.

If freehand routing (with a router bit with a bearing) always use a starter pin.

This can be as simple as a brass pin screwed into the tabletop near the router bit, or as complex as this freehand router guard from Professional Woodworkers Supplies (and Woodpeckers)

Freehand Router Guard

Freehand Router Guard

This one has been adapted to include the convenience of MagSwitch for positioning and mounting onto the router table.

When you are dealing with smaller pieces, a router table also benefits from featherboards, both horizontal and vertical where possible.  Again I’m using the MagSwitch Pro Featherboard as an example, with the optional vertical attachment.

MagSwitch Featherboards on the Router Table

MagSwitch Featherboards on the Router Table

If you are wondering about the colouring, the one on the right is the current colour scheme, but the functionality is identical.  I have 2 mounted here, as it is a really good idea to have both an infeed and outfeed holddown on the router table (unlike the tablesaw).  You can also use a fence-mounted vertical featherboard if you have a fence that can take one (this can), and own one (I don’t!)

Other things to avoid for kickbacks – don’t try to take off too much material in any one pass, use sharp router bits, watch your feed direction, be particularly careful when first engaging the router bit – for example feeding a long piece in means the bit is first going to impact into the endgrain, and if it doesn’t just chip out, it could kick.  This is minimised by using bits with an antikickback feature.

Antikickback Router Bit

Antikickback Router Bit

You can see the large amount of body in front of the carbide.  This limits just how much of the carbide is exposed to the workpiece.  Most router bits these days incorporate this feature.  If it doesn’t, be very wary!

Jointer/Planer:

Again, adequate holddowns are the go, with pushsticks, and optionally a fence featherboard should be sufficient (and don’t try to take off too much in a pass)

Fence Featherboards

Fence Featherboards

Again, MagSwitch have featherboards particularly suited as they attach magnetically directly to the vertical fence.

Kickbacks do happen, and most can be prevented.  If you get a kickback, the first, second and third reasons you consider should all start with the term “User Error”.  Find out what you did wrong, and try not to repeat it!

Episode 49 Kreg Pockethole DrillPress Table Upgrade

Episode 49 Kreg Pockethole DrillPress Table Upgrade.

Kreg Jig from Carbatec, Pro Drill Press Table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

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