Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Behind the Shop: The Vegie Garden

Behind the shop is a funny little piece of land; a historical anomaly.  A little strip behind the otherwise rectangular block, making in the words of a friend 'like a battle axe'. Although it looks small and useless when you measure it it's actually substantial - 17.3m x 1.85m.

The strip has had no specific purpose and has thus defaulted to an area of misc. plants and storage of timber and metal left overs. 

However, my plans are grand, for a lovely vegetable garden. I plan to enclose the entire area as a raised garden bed. With the bed 1.2m wide it makes for 20 m ^2 of useable vegie space with no loss of backyard.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Shop in Spring

I found this old photo of the shop in spring.
(I've removed the Oleander over safety concerns and I would prefer an edible vine such as passionfruit there.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tablesaw Transport Woes

I finally decided on a list of tools to purchase from Gregory Machinery... but there's a problem...
I'm 577km away from GregMach and they can't find anyone to freight it... 

'We have contacted three different transport companies including one that has there head office in [your town] and none of them have “tail lift deliveries” in your town.
 There is no problem to get the goods there and one company suggested that you collect the goods from their warehouse with either a utility or trailer and then unload at your leisure. Do you know of anybody in 
[your town] that has a tail lift that we can consign the goods to and they do the delivery? Please advise'
Unloading a 220kg saw from a trailer on a palate without wheels... I mean I'm up for a challenge but seriously.... Will keep thinking.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The New Shop: Cleaning Up Part 1.

With the walls a little clearer more of the structure is revealed. Unfortunately it appears that the slab was poured after construction. The corrugated iron is thus below the slab line and in connection with the ground.

Not surprisingly this has led to rust and in parts disintegration to point there are visible holes. I haven't yet dug down deep enough to know the thickness of the slab or what foundation the wooden frame is in. (Hopefully it's not just hardwood sitting in dirt.)

I suspect that I will have to trim at least 300mm of iron off the bottom and replace it. Along with this I will plan to extend the slab around the edges as a path with drainage. Unfortunately this all costs time and money. (Should be a bit of fun though).

As part of the clean up I've ripped out most of the shelves the previous owner had used. There was certainly a variety of materials (hardwood, softwood, honeycomb core, MDF, and far too much chip board) and fixtures (random screws, rivets and lots of nails.) He was certainly fond of nails. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The New Shop: Arriving

Here's some photos of the new shop. I'm in the process of clearing out the previous owners mix-match shelving he'd salvaged and put to use. Striping it back to just the timber frame and iron skin. The next step will be clearing out the resident spiders and cobwebs. Then I'll take the pressure cleaner to the walls to de-dust and clean things out. (Unfortunately I did't have time to do this before moving in. So all my gear is piled in the middle and will have to be shuffled as I clean.)

The removalists were great and totally professional. They held a 'can-do' attitude despite a continued low level apprehension about the workbench. But there were no dramas. We had six blokes on scene but it only took three to safely move the bench and thicknesser.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The New Shop

Today we moved into our new residence and as importantly moved into the new workshop. This will be the fourth incarnation of my workspace and the first dedicated external building. 

It's quite a big space. 7.6 x 5.4m or ~40m^2. Concrete slab. Hardwood and corrugated iron construction  Divided into two sections. The larger will be the woodshop and the smaller for garden equipment and wood storage. There are two large wooden bifold doors on each section and three windows. There is also a car port off to one side. (Currently the building has no electricity.)

All tools & timber came off the truck without damage. (Two wheels on the workbench failed but with one end on a trolley it was moved safely without drama.) I haven't even begun to unpack or plan the set up.

I think this one deserves a name... 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sturt School - Tools & Techniques Weekend

The most relaxed and enjoyable woodshow I have ever been to is the Sturt School for Wood's annual Tools & Techniques weekend. This year it's on the 16-17th February (4 weeks from now.) It's you're a hand tool enthusiast or new to it all this will be a wonderful weekend.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Roubo Ready to Roll

I haven't said much about it so far but I'm packing up shop and moving on... The biggest single item to pack up was the Roubo. Here you can see the sliding leg vises are removed. The wooden handles have been unscrewed and the chrome covered in foam secured by quick ties. The external glide wheels are removed and stored away. But for ease I chose to leave the sliding vice on the bench. The top sits on vertical tenons so I added a strap in case anyone tries to lift the top (which weights 150-200kg). You'll also note the temporary wheel mounts.

I've had the bench in operation for nearly 2 years now. (Although I never finished all the details.) Over that time it has been a star performer living up to expectations. 

It is starting to show some wear and tear. You can see the impressed marks of the pin mechanisms.

Hmmm... occasionally I use my circular saw on my hand-tool bench... not smart.... I think this section might be cleaned up to hold some vice leather...

The existing leather is looking well loved. I might free it from its hide glue and trim it a little neater. 

The move will be a good opportunity to service the bench. It will need re-surfacing and oiling, a middle row of dog holes, a tidy up on the wagon vice block, and general de-dusting / de-rusting.

Despite the Roubo's popularity nowadays... I believe this style of sliding leg vice is still unique.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Most Ambitious Project Yet

just a hint of what 's to come in 2013...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Router Table Search

Woodman MS 1 & MS R2 - ?$
Gregory Machinery sell two versions of the Woodman router-table. One all cast iron with a mitre t-slot the other with an aluminium sliding table. They have split aluminium fences. Axillary switches. 2.5 or 4' dust extraction. Bout 56kg.

Carbatec Cast Iron - $329
My original preference - largely as it was cast iron and was cheap. Some reviews said the fence was out of alignment and needed work. Ticks most of the boxes and appears to share components with the woodman.

Carbatec with Sliding Table - $495
Similar to the MSR.

Carbatec with Tenoning Attachment - $849
Well reviewed other than the lack of an external axillary switch (which seems important to me.) The engineer in me likes the ideas of the dial in fence movements but I likely wouldn't use them to tenon as intended.

Kreg Precision - $599
I'm sure the Kreg is a well built and precise tool. But for some reason I feel the urge for cast iron rather than MDF.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Table Saw Search: The Short List

In my search for the ultimate value for money quality table saw I've realised it's all about compromise. Weight vs. portability. Table saw vs loss of shop space. Quality vs. Affordability. Safety features: splitters vs. riving knives, and sawstop wizardry. Left vs. right tilt. Dado / no Dado. Mitre fences. Rip fences. So many options. So many decisions.

The other thing you suddenly realise is that Australia gets the world's left overs. Brands and models are limited. For example powermatic and delta currently have no Aust. distributor. Models here are often more expensive (which you can't blame the dollar or transport as they are mostly made in Asia). They are also often several years behind US/Euro models.

So I got thinking what do I really need or want? As I do mainly medium to large furniture projects my requirements start with reliably and accurately cutting 3/4" timber but can cut 2" hardwood without strain. Dado ability is handy. A riving knife I would consider standard safety equipement but I don't see SawStop as necessity. Left tilt is my preference. Good dust handling is important. I want it to last twenty years. The original budget $1.5-2.5K.

So lets look at the line up...

Laguna 10" Platinum - $1995
Available at Gregory Machinery the Laguna is my current preference. It's a 3hp left tilting cabinet saw. It has removable riving knife and saw cover.  The plastic faced steel T-style rip fence appears well built.  Standard 16mm or 5/8" arbour for a 10" blade blade for a 20mm wide 8" Dado. 220kg. Ticks quite a few boxes and is within budget.

Jet Proshop - $1499
The Jet Proshop is available through Carbatec. It's open base design is closer to a contractor saw than a cabinet saw. However, unlike a standard contractor saw its motor is contained within rather then at the behind. It is a left tilting 10" saw. It's lighter at 113kg and takes up less shop space. It's 1.75hp would be more than enough for cutting 3/4" furniture timber but I fear would struggle with thicker wood or while using dado blades. Dust handling appears average relying on a sloped internal case. None-the-less appears good value.
Jet Xacta Deluxe - $2799
A 3hp 10" Jet work horse. This saw shows promise but it's over budget and not available until March.  The non-deluxe model currently available at Carbatec doesn't have a riving knife but would be more than adequate.   
Sawstop Contractors Saw - $3115
The Sawstop Saws are now available at Gabbett. They have a great reputation of being well built quaity saws. The are unique in their SawStop safety features (though I'm sure other companies will catch up.) Similar in to Jet Proshop it is a 10" 1.75hp saw. The engine is behind but in the Australian version within a case. It has easy to use riving knife and good dust handling. But its over $3K and 1.75hp.

The Others
Carbatec had no stand-out models although the TSC-10HB looked interesting. It's a shame they stopped making the TS10L. The Felder/Hammer saws look great but start at $4.5K similar to the Saw Stop 3-5hp Cabinet Saw and over budget. Machinery House's offering looked like good value but nothing stood out.

I aim to order one early next week...

Table Saw Search: Laguna

Gregory Machinery (previous major distributor for Jet Tools) now is the first Australian distributor of Laguna products. They stock a small 'Fusion' Saw and a larger Platinum Model (Laguna Website).  3hp. Left tilt. T glide fence. Riving knife. Cost $1995. Online reviews are limited but largely positive. Most commenting on lack of service issues.

Laguna also sell a smaller 1.75Hp.. the Fusion

Table Saw Search: Machinery House

$2700 for a 12" machine with bells and whistles...

$1115 for a 10" no trills but functional saw. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Children's Woodblocks

Imagination, planning and tactile experience are key to a child's play and development. My wife converted this otherwise scrap piece of jacaranda into irregular building blocks for the little ones. Hand sawn. Sanded. Finished with foodsafe oil.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Table Saw Search: Carbatec

Carbatec  imports a limited selection of saws.
Only $899 with stats which aren't too bad. 1 1/2hp (the least powerful). 2.3K rpm cf 4K rpm of most other saws. 19mm dado capable (but limited by power). Cast iron top 1020x685. 110kg.

For $1195 you get 3HP. but no dado, and no flair. Not many details on this one. It is designed for an optional $699 sliding table.

Carbatec's top of the range. $3795 (similar to the SawStop contactor and cheaper than the Hammer.) 3HP. No dado. 12". 265kg. Biesemyer style fence. Rise & fall splitter. (?not a riving knife.)

This appears to be a good all rounder. Reviews are a little mixed but mostly positive. 3hp. Dado to 15mm. Cut to 78mm. 195kg. Aluminium fence. Splitter. (Router attachement isn't appealing to me.) $1895. 

Carbatec's most popular machine is the TS10L. Stu from Stu's Shed has this saw. Positive reviews. under 2K. Ummm.... and carbatec stopped selling it.... sad.

The Table Saw Search: Jet

Last year Carbatec took over from Gregory Machinery for the Australian distribution rights for Jet tools. They currently sell three models.

10" Proshop 
$1599 gets you a 1.75hp open base model. 1118x686mm cast iron top. T square fence. Positive reviews on the net. Riving knife. Good price. Main complaint is lack of power. A serious contender.
10" Xacta Cabinet Saw
$2499 for the larger 3hp cabinet saw. A quick search of the net will result in largely positive reviews. Then you realise that they are for the Xacta deluxe which has been the standard version in the USA for at least 4 years. Some major improvements include most notably a riving knife which is absent on the Carbatec Model. Carbatec tells me that they will have the deluxe model for $2799 in March.

10" Sliding
An inbetween 10 3Hp model for $1799. 800x350mm top with sliding table.

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