SSYTC003 Wixey Digital Calipers

SSYTC003 Wixey Digital Calipers

Short promo developed for the Wixey Digital Calipers

Router Table Digital Height Readout

At the Melbourne show, on the Professional Woodworkers Supplies stand, you will be able to see a prototype of the latest Wixey digital device, which gives you a remote readout for the router bit height on a router table.  Basically, it connects to the table, and as you change the height, the readout gives you the setting, to within 1/10mm.  The scale however is not directly on the device- it is connected to some Cat5 cable (ie ethernet/network cable) so you can position the readout somewhere that is convenient for you to see.

It will currently be fitted to the UniLift, which is what (as I understand) is the sort of router lift it was originally designed to work with (although not specifically the UniLift, so we’ve been brainstorming on the neatest solution for that).  Now, the idea that was arrived at has a massive implication, and I have been looking closely at it today.

As far as I can tell, it should be relatively easy to have this unit fitted directly to a Triton router.

A Triton router with a remote digital height readout, accurate to 1/10mm!  Think about setting up for a job – insert router bit (such as a dovetail bit), zero the scale, then wind the bit to EXACTLY the right height as determined from a previous job, and start routing.  Repeatability, and ease of setup.

Anyway, that’s what I have been working on in my head this morning – thought I’d share it with you.

Some more Father’s Day stuff

Firstly, I had a look in Bunnings at their version of the digital angle gauge.  Not impressed.  When you’ve tried the real deal, you’ll quickly get the feeling that there is something rather wrong with their version.  I don’t have one to compare to test its accuracy, but it seemed to be a combination of not responsive enough, then suddenly jump to a new reading, like the accelerometer was sticking or something.

If you are after one of these, get the real deal.  Carbatec also sell a version, and I’m lead to believe it is much closer to the Wixey version, but again, I haven’t had a play with one to make any real comment on it.  I’ve been impressed with the other Wixey products, so at least I know that is a safe bet.

Bunnings do have some of the mini Irwin 6″ clamps – a 4 pack for $21

Irwin Mini Clamp Set

Irwin Mini Clamp Set

They also have a 2 pack of the XP clamp 6″ for $36

Irwin XP 6" Clamp

Irwin XP 6in Clamp

(Yes I do feel a bit hypocritical flagging a Bunnings deal, but I don’t know anyone else, let alone any that support Stu’s Shed, and even Irwin decined an earlier invitation to be involved).

And I know it completely flies in the face of my under $100 plan, but the GMC full width planer would make a great present! 🙂

iPhone / iPod Touch as a Woodworking Tool

The iPhone 2.0 software upgrade allows applications to be downloaded and run on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Quite a number of these use the device’s accelerometer to varying degrees of success. They certainly provide a new twist on interactions with the device (he he – sorry).

There are a couple of programs out already allowing the device to be used as a spirit level, and hopefully soon there will be one that acts as a digital one, and the device then could be as useful as the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. The programs that provide this functionality are free, and actually work surprisingly well.

(Update – another one I downloaded (free) since has just that – a digital reading as well as the spirit level.)

Although I’ve mocked this image up, the screen shot of the program is the actual one provided by the programmers, and this isn’t April 1.

(It’s obviously a mock, as on my device, the lower bubble is at the top of the gauge when it is in that orientation.  It is surprisingly responsive, but perhaps these days not so surprising – technology is just a little mind blowing!)

iPhone & Spirit Level Program

iPhone & Spirit Level Program

Wixey Saw Fence Digital Readout

I finally had a chance to get this mounted to the tablesaw, and it was a lot easier than I was imagining.

Like the other items in the Wixey range, it comes from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and cost just under $260.

Wixey Saw Fence Digital Readout

Wixey Saw Fence Digital Readout

It looks a little daunting when you first open it – lots of small components makes it look like a real jigsaw (as in puzzle), but if you follow through the instructions, it is very straight forward.

The concept is clever in its simplicity – a digital readout (that attaches magnetically to the fence) that runs up and down an auxiliary track, which has a conductive strip attached so the readout can determine its position (or more precisely, change in position). It is accurate to 0.1mm, typical of the Wixey range, which is pretty impressive for a table saw fence.

The first step is to join the two sections of the auxiliary track together.

Dovetail Joiner

Dovetail Joiner

It is joined securely with this dovetail joiner. The joint is important, as once the conductive strip is attached, it would wreck the accuracy if the joint separated at all.

Attaching Conductive Strip

Attaching Conductive Strip

The conductive strip has an adhesive backing. First one side is attached…..

Attaching 2nd Conductive Strip

Attaching 2nd Conductive Strip

Then the other side. A temporary positioner is supplied to ensure the two strips are attached an accurate distance from each other. Note the orientation of the strips – it is important that they are not mounted upside down.

Brackets & Rail Attached

Brackets & Rail Attached

The brackets are then attached to the underside of the original fence rail. There is a specific distance that it is meant to be set, and this is normally done with this rail removed, but I couldn’t be bothered – removing the rail seemed like too much work, and unnecessary.

I also found that when I measured where the brackets were meant to be mounted, they ended up flush against the rail support, so that is where I mounted them. They attach using a thread-cutting bolt (supplied), by drilling a pilot hole with a drill bit (also supplied).

Thread Cutting Bolt

Thread Cutting Bolt

As you might be able to tell from the photo, the bolt is actually triangular. It is a little hard to get it started in the hole, but once it is cutting in, it tightens up well. The small ones suppled, to hold the magnetic plate for the digital gauge were not made from a high-enough tensile steel, as both sheared off before they held the bracket tightly. This is (still) causing me a bit of a problem, as they are small, and hard so are proving too difficult to extract. I don’t believe it was an operator error, overtightening the bolt, as they both sheared while the bracket was still very loose.

Conductive Strip Attached

Auxiliary Rail Attached

This is the rail in position, almost ready to be commissioned. I have placed the gauge to the left of the fence as per the instructions to maximise the amount it can read to the right of the blade, but I am debating whether to swap it to the other side. In use, the gauge gets covered in sawdust in its current location. (In the photo, the gauge is not magnetically attached to the fence as yet).

Fence Gauge in Position

Fence Gauge in Position

The digital gauge in position, ready for use. The first couple of uses showed just how invaluable it is going to be – being able to accurately set the fence to a position with incredible accuracy, and be able to move it away, then bring it back to the same location.

The Quest for Accuracy

I’m not sure what it is that is driving me to seek ever increasing degrees of accuracy in my tools. Is it because I need everything to work perfectly to counteract my lack of skill and/or practice? Is it because I’m an engineer (in mind if not by vocation)? Or do I secretly wish I was working with steel rather than wood? Perhaps I’m just a bit AR (and if you don’t know what the acronym is – Google it…..add “freud” (no, not the blade!!))

Irrespective of the cause, I do like accurate tools, and gauges etc. I’ll do a full expose’ in an upcoming video, but have thrown a few things together here:

Precision Measuring Tools

From the left side, heading clockwise, is a digital protractor (accurate to 1/10 degree), digital angle gauge (also 1/10 degree), the Woodpeckers Saw Gauge (accurate to 1/1000″, or 0.02mm), a digital height gauge (0.1mm), Incra rule (0.1mm), and Incra square. In addition, there is the Wixey Digital Fence Gauge, and of course the tablesaw itself is part of the picture (figuratively and literally), and that is also deliberate. No point having accurate measurements if the tools themselves are not part of the equation.

Interesting tidbits

Got to read the proof of my article / review for Australian Wood Review magazine the other day. Not a big deal, but it’s always nice to get something in print. Is a full page on the Pro Drill Press Table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

Finally got to fit the Wixey Digital TableSaw Fence, and the accuracy it allows is awesome! More on that in an article shortly.

I’m in the process of writing some new (interrelated) courses for Holmesglen Tafe. They will be available for the 4th quarter of 2008 (and given the course guide is due out shortly, I don’t have much time to get them written, or at least the blurb for the Short Courses Guide). The courses will be in the workshop, and will be making wooden toys. The courses (at this stage) are going to be based around the age of the recipient child, rather than the skill of the woodworker. So they will be wooden toys for under 3s, for 3-5s and for 5+. They will either be a full Saturday and 1/2 a Sunday, or 3 x 1/2 Saturdays in a row – not sure which as yet. With Christmas approaching, I’m hoping they will get enough of a response to run (need 5 attendees as a minimum).

Got down to Bunnings to check out this weird concept of a handsaw with a laser. Turns out to be a Spear and Jackson saw. Not sure what disturbs me more – the fact that Bunnings are selling them (but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise – they are building a strong reputation for selling cheap tools rather than substance), or the fact that a supposedly reputable company such as Spear and Jackson would even consider it. Cost is $39, so not even in the $7 cheap bracket.

Laser Hand Saw

And finally, am doing a bit behind-the-scenes stuff to get an inaugural meeting of an Incra User Group off the ground. More details shortly. I was going to have it in my shed, but it is looking to be too popular for my limited (space & power) resources, so am looking at one of the local woodworking businesses (one that is closely associated with Professional Woodworkers Supplies, who import Incra, and will be closely supporting the user group).

So I still need to organise some (smallish) function at my shed. Wonder if that will ever actually happen?!

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