It is an addiction

A long time ago, in a workshop not so far away, I got to experience a Kapex first hand.

It was 2009, and I was in the Festool studio of Ideal Tools.  Along with getting personally acquainted with a number of other Festool products (many of which have been working their way into my workshop), I got to make good use of the Kapex sliding compound miter saw.

The future may have been inevitable at that point, but there was no telling how long it would be before that too came into the Stu’s Shed stable.

Turns out, that day was yesterday, with a special Ideal Tools is running on the Kapex package (which includes the stand and the outriggers).  I had only seen the stand in photos, and it is significantly more impressive first hand.  Looks like a basic steel tube setup, but something so apparently simple works so well, quickly turning the Kapex into a highly portable machine.

I’ll go a lot more into the details in some future posts, but as a general rule, you know what I think of good engineering design, and this whole setup more than meets that requirement.

The outriggers have changed quite a bit since I saw them in 2009, and they have really matured. The Kapex itself seems pretty much unchanged – not much else they could do to make it better!

For those that are interested, some basic specs:

Power consumption: 1600 W
No-load speed: 1400-3400 min-1
Saw blade diameter: 260 mm
Cutting capacity at 90°: 305 x 88 mm
Cutting depth at 45°/90°: 215 x 88 mm
Cutting depth 50°/90° (left): 196 x 88 mm
Cutting depth 60°/90° (right): 152 x 88 mm
Cutting depth 45°/45° (left): 215 x 55 mm
Cutting depth 45°/45° (right): 215 x 35 mm
Special cutting depth 90°/90°: 60 x 120 mm
Special cut. depth 45°/90° (left): 40 x 120 mm
Capacity in special position 90°: 20 x 120 mm
Crown moulding diagonal cut at 90°/90°: 168 mm
Crown moulding mitre cut at 45°: 168 mm
Inclination angle: 47/47 °
Mitre angle: 50/60 °
Bench height (on MFT): 923 mm
Dimensions (W x D x H): 713 x 500 x 470 mm
Connection Ø d/e: 27/36 mm
Weight: 21,5 kg

Couple of things to pick up there – normal depth of cut is 88mm.  But if you have a board no thicker than 20mm, you can achieve a 120mm depth of cut.  Funny thing is, I didn’t even know (or rather remember) what the blade size was until just now.  Turns out to be 10″ (or there-abouts)  Bore is 30mm.

kapex-1

The whole unit rolls very easily from place to place, and takes up minimal room when folded away.  I could have included the outrigger arms in the stand as well (held together with their custom strapping).

kapex-2Only takes a few seconds to have the saw in position, ready to go.  The handle for moving the unit around becomes the left-hand upright.

You could leave it like this, or maximise the amount of material support with the outriggers.

kapex-3This isn’t even the full extent of support available, as there is an addition support (and rule) that extends from either end of the outriggers (not shown).

One way or another, this is now a substantial work station, and something I have long been missing in my workshop.  I have had to compromise for ages, using the tablesaw (without a sliding table) to lengths of timber down – not the best practice at all.  I did have a couple of SCMSs in the past, both GMC, but sold them at different times in expectation of getting the Kapex.  It was only a few years wait!

kapex-4With the Cleantex connected up, this saw now has 91% dust extraction. Not bad for a SCMS!  In other workshops, I have seen all sorts of jury-rigged setups, boxes set up behind the SCMS to try to catch the waste.  Among other things, Festool cannot be accused of ignoring the safety aspects of their tools, in the way the guarding works with (and not against) the operator, and a highly refined dust collection system.  (And yes, I am still using the Oneida cyclone on top of my vac from Professional Woodworker Supplies).  Been a LONG time since I have had to change the dust bag in the Cleantex.  Never in fact!

kapex-5Ready for the very first test cut.  Dual laser on, hold down holding down.  It is almost disappointing how quickly and easily the Kapex does its job.  You don’t get enough time to really enjoy the quality before the job is done!

Other than the Festool blades, I will also be able to use the impressive Flai Mustang, or one of the whole host of blades from Toolstoday.com.

I would have been interested if the Flai U blade would have worked well in this, but that blade was wrecked a few months ago when it hit a hidden nail, chipping a number of teeth.

May become one of the only Flai blades in the world that will meet its final end by deliberately embedding it into a SawStop brake!  Just as an aside, and not that I am going to try it, but I have wondered what would happen if the ultimate saw braking system met the ultimate cut-everything blade of the Flai Mustang!  Sure it would come to a stop, but it may also be the only blade that could legitimately survive the collision to live another day!

Where it comes to the new workshop, I already have a pretty fair idea where this tool will be (semi) permanently set up – along the western wall, parallel to the tablesaw.  It is going to be so good being able to dock timber to length easily again.  Not that I know why I say again, I have never had a permanent SCMS or drop saw setup, so this will really be a new experience.

 

 

One Cut

Sick of sawing back and forth like crazy when cutting dovetails (or other short cuts)?

Check out this video of a Lie Nielsen “One Stroke” dovetail saw.  No doubt it was an April Fools joke, still funny as!

Chris Schwarz has found another use for it – gang-cutting dovetails.

The Sound of this Photograph

OK now, before we get started here I want you all to gather around there behind the bench. Like a family photo. We are going to gang-cut all the dovetails on all your tail boards with this one saw from Lie-Nielsen.

Yup. One cut. One and done. And you are going to be amazed.

Yup. Look amazed. Chris, drop your left hand there so we can see the saw in all its awesomeness.

Now remember folks this is amazing. Look amazed. Ready?

Chris Schwarz Gang Cut

Chris Schwarz Gang Cut

Reminds me of a few other tools created for the same task, such as this one from Veritas

Veritas Gang saw

Veritas Gang saw

The Secret Language of Saw Blades

Ever gone to purchase a sawblade and wondered just what all the codes are engraved on the side (or printed on the packaging)?

There are a surprising number of variables that are possible with saw blades, so many versions that can be considered.  Some are irrelevant when choosing between one blade and another – they distinguish between a blade suitable for wood vs plastic (for example).  Some blades do cross over – the Flai Mustang for example, which will have variables that suit both materials.

For example: ATB D250, K3.0 B30, Z40, H10

ATB

ATB = alternating top bevel – this blade has its teeth set so it is like a chisel, with one tooth cutting to the left, and the next to the right of the kerf.

You could have 4+1 (4 ATB teeth, plus one FT (flat tooth) as a raker tooth, flattening the bottom of the cut).  An ATB blade leaves a V groove in the bottom of a partial-depth cut, and the 4+1 is a way to resolve this, leaving a flat-bottomed kerf.

Other options include HATB (or HiATB), where the teeth are even more angled which is good for melamine, and timbers prone to tearout, TCG (triple chip grind, also known as triple cut, FT (Flat Top), HG (hollow ground)

D250

D stands for diameter – size of the blade in mm.  A 250 blade (or to be exact, a D254) blade is 10″

K3.0

This is the kerf of the blade, measuring across the teeth.  This does not mean the blade will actually cut a 3.0mm wide kerf however. Blades have runout (just how flat is the blade, and during use just how flat it remains as the temperature of the blade changes).  Saws (tablesaws or circular saws) also have runout, and it is a combination of both that will dictate exactly how wide a kerf you will get.  If you want to know it exactly each time, you have to measure it whenever you change blades.  The next time you mount the same blade, it could be different depending on at what point of rotation that the saw is vs the blade.  It is much easier just to do a test cut and remeasure if it is that important.  This concept is greatly (and deliberately exasperated) for a wobble dado blade, which is designed with a large amount of runout which can be dialed in, creating a dado (or wide trench).

B30

This is the size of the bore – the hole through the middle of the blade.  Depending on your saw you can either get a blade that specifically matches your saw, or one that is larger and get some saw blade bushes (or reducers) to match both the blade and you particular saw.  They are not as convenient (but are still easy to use), and they allow you to purchase blades that are suited to your needs without necessarily being made for the size bore you require.  Of course, if the hole is smaller than your arbor, you have a problem! Getting back to dado blades for a sec, when using stacked dados, I would strongly recommend getting one where the bore is correct for your saw – there are enough things to juggle without also having to try and manage a bunch of bushes as well.

Z40

Z stands for the number of teeth.  A ripping blade can have around at little as 24 teeth, a crosscut blade as many as 100.

H10

H is the hook angle (or rake angle). Large hook angles are an aggressive blade, particularly for ripping soft timbers.  Small, zero or even slightly negative for crosscutting hard timbers.

 

These are just some of the variables and codes that can be written (engraved) onto the blade.  They may not all be listed, and some blades may list a whole bunch more.  If you know these at least, you are well on your way of being able to distinguish between one blade and the next.

 

Some other variables include top clearance angle, top bevel angle, gullet size, gullet plug, expansion joints, noise reduction slots, max operation RPM, carbide type, base blade material, blade coating, body thickness and so on.  We’ll stick with the most common concerns at this stage!

 

Episode 73 Crosscutting on the TWC

Episode 73 Crosscutting on the TWC

Different Torque Tool Configurations

I’ve been running through the different tools that can be mounted to the Torque Workcentre, getting a feel for the pros and cons for each, and just some of the ways the TWC brings a different element to each of them.  The more I play with the tool, the more I get to iron out any setup issues and get to know how to tweak and finetune it.  As I’ve said in the past, the platform has a solid engineering base, and basis, so fine tuning is all about realising its potential, rather than covering up defects.

Router Mount (guard removed)

First out of the blocks is what has been seen a number of times already – overhead mounting of a router.  In this case a Triton 2400W, with a 6 flute surfacing bit.

Degrees of Freedom

Each tool mounted can be rotated around both the X and Y axis.  In this case, the X axis allows +/- 45 degrees.  Around the Y axis, it can be theoretically rotated through 360 degrees, although practically you’d go a maximum of 90 degrees, which is very cool being able to have a horizontally mounted router. (Obviously these changes in tool orientation are NOT done while the tool is running!)  Whatever the orientation, you still have the plunge mechanism operational, so again for example, if the router is horizontal it can become a horizontal mortising machine.

Copy Attachment

Each tool can be used with the copy attachment, and not necessarily for copying! In some cases it provides additional control over the tool, and a degree of separation which can be a safety point, as well as providing better visibility of what is happening at the cutting point. As Larry has pointed out, the copy attachment is also an excellent storage for the hex keys.  And it is very easy to remove and replace when necessary.

Router Guard / Dust Extraction

The tool guard / dust collection(which is optional), I would regard as a must have.  The brushes around the edge help trap particles, and the hose itself is orientated to collect particles which get thrown in that direction by the direction of spin of the bit.

You can again see in this photo how successful the Walko surface clamps work.

Drill Mounted

The simplicity of the drill mount is misleading compared to the capability.  No drill press has the range or versatility that the TWC has with the drill mounted.  It won’t result in me parting with my dedicated drill press (it is too handy having one ready to go at a moment’s notice, and it has obvious power benefits), but it has severe limitations in range and capacity compared to the TWC!

Circular Saw Mount

Mounting a circular saw is also possible with the saw mount.  Here I have mounted one of the largest circular saws out there – the 2400W 9.25″ Triton.

Saw Mount 2400W Triton (crosscut)

The saw can be mounted for crosscut, or ripping, and presented at any angle.  And still, the saw is used in its most stable position and the plunge on the carriage is used to bring the tool to cutting depth.

Saw Mount Alternate Orientation 1800W Saw (rip)

And still we haven’t exhaused how the saw can be used.  If the arm was rotated around the Z axis, you could then do coving for the full length of the workcentre.  And that is just one thought of many.

Workbench and Dovetails

As regulars will know, I don’t have a workbench in my workshop – a shocking admission, a shocking omission.

(I do now have a Walko Workbench though, which if nothing else is convincing me even more that a workbench is a must-have workshop tool, whether it is the portable Walko, or a fullblown bench.)

I have a couple of motivations for trying my hand (so to speak) at handcut dovetails.  One is simply because I like having as well rounded a skillset as I can, and having a level of skill with handtools to complement my comfort with powered tools will only make me a better woodworker.  It also means that when it comes to using “the best tool for the job”, I’m not going to be limited to only choosing “the best tool for the job so long as it has a cable attached and a powerpoint nearby”

Another motivation actually gets back to my opening sentence.  I have always been particularly partial to workbenches that are a reflection of the craft of the woodworker, and the thing that really sets a workbench apart in my eyes is this attention to detail:

Dovetailed Tail Vice

Dovetailed Tail Vice

And you cannot hope to achieve a dovetail of that size using a router!

Al Navas from http://sandal-woodsblog.com/ has been doing dovetails a lot longer than I have, and has been offering me some advice. One thing he has been promoting which caught my imagination is his practice ‘bucket’, and the concept of a dovetail a day – before doing any other work, he practices another one.  I wish I was able to do woodworking every day (or even every week), but the concept is still valid.

Al's Dovetail Practice Bucket

Al's Dovetail Practice Bucket

Of course when cutting a dovetail, once you have the angle right for one, wouldn’t it be nice to have all the cuts done simultaneously. And once again Veritas comes to the party:

Veritas Dovetail Gangsaw

Veritas Dovetail Gangsaw

Now sadly (or not), this was actually from their April Fool collection, but the problem with Veritas and their attempts at an April Fools joke, they take the concept and engineering so far that you end up looking at the tool thinking “it might have been intended as a joke, but……uh…..why not?”

Photos from Episode 33

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