Year Recap 2016 – What a year !

Here we are, the morning of January 1st once again.  The fresh start to another year, just leaving another one in the past.  From a woodworking aspect of things, it’s been moving a lot from my part.  Here are a few points to the year recap.

Projects

The bed build

This one has been documented on the blog and has been a few experiences.  See the following posts bellow for the details on how it went :

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/arts-and-craft-bed-build/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/arts-craft-bed-build-foot-board/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/clamps/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/arts-craft-bed-build-head-board-assembled/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/arts-craft-bed-build-final-install/

Dust Collector

The upgrade of the dust collector was also another experience that I enjoy made.  I believe that it is better then the old one from a collection stand point.  Still some upgrade or adjustment to be done.  Still need to settle the following :

  •  Bin level indicator : Been bitten too many times where the bin would fill and would over flow into the filter.  This one is under way and will be documented here
  • Bags to collect dust : Well this one is a challenge where I would like to better dispose of the dust/chips and not spend a whole lot while disposing on the per bag basis

Follow the different links for this project

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/dust-collector-reconstruct/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/dust-collector-supporting-structure/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/dust-collector-running/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/dust-collector-post-upgrade/

http://wood.bonzaiblog.com/dust-collector-project-usage/

Cutting boards

Originally made from scraps from the bed build and doing some experimentation with resaw and some bent lamination, I made some cutting boards to pass some stock.  I was able to sell a few of the original and most of them went out as gifts.  But the offering to the public landed some opportunities that were very welcomed.  More to come on this one.

Tools

From a tool perspective, I made a bit of cleanup of tools that did not see enough use in the shop. The fact that I lost my job early 2016 permitted me to revisit certain tools that I had and assess there use in the shop.

Let’s be clear, these are excellent tools, but did not see enough use in my projects, although I had the best of intentions when I bought them.  I found users that could find better use them me.

Here are pictures of some of the tools that found some new homes

Side Rabbet Plane

Side Rabbet plan

Rip Panel Saw from Lie-Nielsen

Rip Panel Saw from Lie-Nielsen

Scrub plane from LeeValley

Scrub plane from LeeValley

Tenon Float from Lie Nielsen

Tenon Float from Lie Nielsen

Varitas Small Plow Plane

Veritas Small Plow Plane

So what about 2017

So what about this new year, just starting fresh….   Well, if 2017 is any indication of some of what I believe woodworking success, it should be a very good year.

Out of the project listed above, a whole lot went behind the experience bucket.  Granted I don’t do this all the time, it is not my main professional activity.  Otherwise, this portion would be 100 fold if not many more.

I believe that I proved to myself that I could do more and set aside more time to this hobby to be more serious.  I found a few techniques that would speed up some operation without buying some new tools.  New tools are good but make due with what you got is sometimes as good.

From a projects perspective, there are still some shops organisation along the way plus some overdue home projects that will see through the course of the year.  The more time in the shop will advance these projects.  Make the house benefit from the shop a little bit and increase what I can do.  You never know !

Tool maintenance

This story starts with my planer that I never did any tool maintenance other then changing the blades when dull and cleaning up the roller once in a while.  My planer is a Dewalt DW735 and one of the thing  that I’ve notice since I bought it was that when the rollers got dirty, feeding a board was more difficult.

This was the case this morning and also adjusting the height for planing was pretty hard to turn the wheel on the side of the planer.  Dust collection was still pretty good, but some functions were lacking for a little while.

As I was planning stock this morning, it became very hard to push and the height adjustment became really hard.  So I took a break from the milling and cranked open the top of the planer.

I don’t remember the last time I opened it for blade change, but it’s been a while and when I lifted the cover, I found tons of dust in the compartment.  I really was not expecting this.  So I started the compressor and took the vacuum hose and started the cloning process, getting the most of the dust with the vacuum and then freeing debris with the compressed air.

A very good cleanup that I guess was really overdue in the case of this particular tool.   Now it functions as if it was brand new, well close to it.

Takeaway on tool maintenance

The morale of the story is that a tool well maintained will better perform and last longer.  The tool maintenance regiment will vary tool per tool and that it’s a power vs hand tool.  There is the consumables that needs to be replaced (typically a blade or sharpening of the blade) or sharpening of blades in hand tools.

But there is other stuff like calibration that is not done as often but I feel that depending on the tool, still needs to be done on a certain schedule.  For myself, I am not in the shop everyday, but some tool see  more use then others.  I now now that taking a peak at certain parts of some tools will need to be done more often.

Auction and Luthier shop visit

Last Saturday, I was invited to participate into an auction of a fellow woodworker and luthier that had passed away.  I did not know the person but could not pass on at least his material being put to good use.  This is what her widow wanted, was that the material was put to good use.

The auction was held in the shop of L’Atelier de la Corde, which is a coop of luthiers in the Montreal area.  It is not the only one but is one of them.

The auction

The auction went pretty well I believe and there was a good mix of wood and guitar making material.  Not being into the instrument making myself, I was less interested into buying this material and more in the wood.  But I still was interested from a curiosity perspective to see what gets involved in making such beautiful instrument.

I believe that most of the lots if not all of them sold out and there was very nice to see a nice friendly competition on certain lots to see who would bid the most.  It was one of my first experience being involved into such a process and it was for a good cause.  Ended up with some great wood, not all that I would of wanted but had a budget to respect and is was all in got spirit.

The Shop

Not to derive from the initial purpose of being in the local of the local, but it gave the chance of the people that were present to visit the shop of Les ateliers de la corde and see amazing guitars that the local resident luthiers produced in the common shop installation.

There are 6 permanent luthier and a total of 21 luthier that perform there art.  They put in common the tools that are expensive, share the space and have there own space and tools to create there own.

I wanted to visit for a little while and was curious to see how they create and how they are installed.  Also, what tools were they using to create there instrument.  One good thing is that they all create different form of instrument which I believe makes this coop pretty good.

Thanks

I would like to thank Marc Lupien from XXL Guitar and L’Atelier de la Corde for hosting the event and opening your doors for this event.  I really appreciated the possibility and the visit.

To see more of the coop, search on Facebook “L’Atelier de la Corde” and take contact with them if you are interested for an instrument or a visit.  I’m pretty sure something can be arranged.

Dust Collector – post upgrade

I finally hooked up the dust collector and the machines are now connected.  I am still working on the arts and craft bed series and had to mill some board for the mattress support, which was the best excuse to test out the setup.

Barrel

I wanted an easy way to collect the debris once the barrel was full, but found that the bags that oneida sells is a bit expensive for me.  Was looking for alternative but could not find easily bags big enough.

I remembered that I had some vapour barrier from previous project ins the home and taught this might be a good idea.  Well, it might but the bucket really needs the liner that Oneida sells or something similar so that the bag (or other sort of bag) to keep it from being sucked up close to the lid and block the chips/dust from getting into the bucket.

I started to suspect something was wrong based on the sound coming from the dust collector while I was jointing boards.  I was on the second board until I decided go take a look.  Well, as suspected, it backed out as if the drum was really full and the filter got most of it.

So had to clean the filter and the bucket and removed the plastic from the bucket and went on operating without the anything in the bucket to easily take out when full or close to.  This is still pending as to what I will consider as a good solution to easily dispose of the collected chips/dust.

Performance of the dust collector

Once this little mishap cleared out, I went on and continued with rough milling the stock and the collection per say was pretty good at the jointer.  The jointer is pretty much the tool that is the closest to the dust collector so was not expecting very bad result.

I also had the chance to slice up some small strips on the band saw and this is where I saw a pretty good difference in suction.  I have no tool to verify anything really from a velocity or com, but I could see that a lot more was sucked from the port right under the band saw table.  I also saw that the port for the under cabinet was cleaner then in the past.

After a bit of use, I was able to do a visual inspection of the filter and it was pretty clean.  Passed a bit of compressed air and the little container at the bottom was empty of dust.  Ian really impressed of the separation that the cyclone does as I was able to throw a good mix of finer dust (from the resaw at the band saw) and larger chips from the rough miller (both jointer and planer).

All in all, I think that the upgrade was worth while, specially on the separation to keep the dust in the bucket and not go into the filter.  The biggest complaint I had was the cleaning of the cartridge filter I had on the stock version of the dust collector.

Now only to fix how to easily dispose of the waste.  This will be the next phase of this project and complete the hanging of the filter in it’s permanent place.

Dust Collector – Up and running

Well, my new dust collector is now up and running and is collecting dust.  Finished the last details Saturday morning and had a chance to try it a little bit with dust generated from some tools and a bucket full from the Oneida Dust Deputy from the smaller tools.

Although it is in a state that it is working and I can now start using the tools again, it is still not quite fully completed yet.  The filter is hooked up, but not in a permanent state where it is on a small bench where it is supposed to be hooked from the top through holes, so that the small bin can be emptied with the fine dust.

So other then the final structure of the filter for the finer dust, here are a few things that I would eventually like to get done :

  • Duct works is still 4″ to the machines.  Change it  to 5″
    • I have a main line on one of the garage wall that collects the dust from the larger machines (band saw, jointer and planer).  I kept it in 4″ for cost sake but would like to make that upgrade
    • If budget permits, would like to upgrade the quality/facility of the ducts, i.e. Nordfab.  Ideally not touch it again while addressing the change of diameter of the Ducts
  • Pipe a line for the planer
    • Well for now, I got a flex hose coming from a Y off the main line to connect the planer which is mobile.  Even though the planer will remain mobile, I would like to minimize the flex hose and so something more permanent.
  • Plastic bags in the bucket
    • I want to be able to pick up the debris that settles in the bucket without creating a mess.  I am currently looking for a good and cheap source for some bags that I can then put to the garbage
    • Will also be looking at the baffle that Oneida recommends to prevent the bag to be sucked up when the dust collection starts with a near empty bag.

So far, from a results perspective, it does a pretty good job.  The Super Dust Deputy does a very nice job doing what it needs to do.  From what I can see, very little went to the filter portion, and that is because I see some small dust on the conduits that transition from the motor housing to the filter.

What I can see, the very fine dust will get to the filter, but it seems to be very little quantity.  Larger chips are all in the bucket, which is very good and what is expected.  Will report when I can really load up the dust collector with a good milling session.

Oscillating spindle sander

Last christmas, I added an oscillating spindle sander to my power tools arsenal. The acquisition has mainly been driven based on project that I either had in the pipeline or future project.  for the time being, it’s a little bit of both where I have a project, still on the bench and waiting completion, one current project (Arts and craft bed) and some other future project involving curves.

Criteria

Well here a some of the criteria in choosing the model :

  • possibility of mobility
    • Space is still a premium in a one car garage so looking at offering the possibility to move or build a stand for multiple purpose was high up on the list
  • Variety of spindle size
    • variety of spindle size and some ease of changing the spindle and the sand paper is always something good.  Ease of use
  • Dust collection
    • Something that I might need to let go natively and to add to the product later

Getting information

I’ve been looking at getting my feet wet with some curves, not too crazy, but add some to the design and expand a little bit on the projects.  As for many of you, looking at reviews helped somewhat narrow down the selection.

I’ve looked attentively at the latest Fine woodworking review in the latest tool review (2016 I believe) which included a review of the bench top model.  Although it might not cover all model, I still liked the review method.

Also looked at other inclusive articles online and also looked at what was available in stores close by and mapping to what I’ve seen online.

Selection process

After looking at past articles and reviews the rigid belt/spindle sander model always gets very good review and looks very good.  Price is always been pretty good and even see it on special on some occasion.  Well, I did own one a one point in time and never got good result with it, mainly to get the sand paper to stay solidly on the spindle or belt mechanism. I sold the model I had.

I did not want to get into potentially the same issues again and sell it back.  I must agree that the feature to convert from/to spindle/belt is some very nice feature, I looked away as not too many other model offers this same feature.

I finally settled down to a King Industrial model that ressembles many other model in the reviews.  I think that the same manufacturer just rebrands for some brand names, with some differences on tool storage, but the main gut of the tool is pretty much the same.

Some downside to this particular model :

  • Yes dust collection sucks.  Will address in a future build with the tool cabinet and arrange for proper dust collection for tools that are similar in dust collector port size
  • No very large spindle – largest is 2 inch spindle size.  To me for now, I don’t see this as a major issue, will just need fair the curve with what we got.

Now I just need to build a tool cabinet/storage/stand to be able to mount it a proper height.  I also want to include some other tool storage within this cabinet, for this tool but other tools in the shop that have other consumables or accessories.

King Industrial oscillating spindle sander

King Industrial oscillating spindle sander

Small plow plane upgrades – Lee Valley

Lee Valley just announced small plow plane upgrades for the current owners of the small plow planes they manufacture.  Here are some details of the upgrades :

  • Upgraded depth stop clamping
    • Upgrades concerning the depth stop clamping mechanism that helps prevent it shifting with pressure while planning
  • Skate upgrade for beading blades
    • New options are to be offered for beading blades and Lee Valley offers now an option to retrofit the past/current planes to retrofit one of the skates to support it

I heard of the options from a Youtube video featuring Vic Tesolin that explained the different options.  Please subscribe to the Lee Valley youtube Channel to see the video and other great video from Lee Valley.

This week, I received a letter from Lee Valley because I own a plow plane and that I would be eligible to the different upgrade paths if I so choose to upgrade my current plane.

I also received a letter this week explaining the upgrade process/options and with great details as to how this came along and what are the options for current owners.  It also details the options for the beading blades that can be bought once the retrofit is done if you already own the plane.

You can either bring the plane in store for the retrofit or use the mail-in order process which they will send a box and instruction to send in the part that needs to be retrofitted.  They will return the part once completed.

I believe this is a very nice initiative that has customer in mind.  If the process permits it and they can benefit the customers, then very vey big kudos to the company.  Talk about customer service to make a whole lot of customer happy.   And the letters were written in both french and english, which I guess there is more and more customer that speak Franch.  Lee Valley HQ being so close to Quebec, I would assume that there are more and more french speaking customers.  On behalf of the french speaking customer, thanks.

If you never looked at or don’t know who Lee Valley is, please go visit there web site, and I am sure that you will discover a whole bunch of products and a very good source for what they carry.  I visited a few stores in Canada through travel and the experience is awesome in all the stores.

Here is a picture of a plow plane

Varitas Small Plow Plane

Veritas Small Plow Plane

Workbenches Book – Updated version

Late last year, an updated version of the book Workbenches, from Design and Theory to Construction and Use book from Chris Schwarz was published by Popular Woodworking.

I bought the first edition and my copy has seen from mileage, where some parts of the cover has had a hard time.  The good thing is that it seen some use.  I can’t remember the number of time I passed through the different sections before I committed to build my workbench, which is heavily inspired from the French Roubo bench in the original copy (which is still in the updated edition).

I did buy the updated copy and here are the reasons why :

  • it received updated sections on work holding options since the original publication
  • new workbench designs included
  • One of the contemporary ressources on Workbenches

The read permitted me to review some of the decision I made a few years back on my workbench.  Also, some of the updated work holding are pretty amazing and the review section that passes through the best uses that each are best for is very detailed, once again.

So once again, if you are looking at building a workbench, seeing the different options in work holding, this is still your book.  The examples in the book do cover workbenches that do a lot and can tackle a lot of tasks.

Agreed that it will not cover all the tasks and some appliances are covered to add to current workbenches.  They can be built to add to current builds and can supplement current benches.

Once again, a very good book and one that I will probably read a few more times in the very near future.  There are a few updates I would like to tackle on my version of the bench I did.  Few components I would like to redo better.

Probably the best thing I can give here is to have a sable work surface.  I decided to look/build a new bench because I started to work with hand tools and the workbench I had did not cut it.  Read the book and if you decide to build, all the workbenches in the book are very good to tackle most if not all your tasks.

If you decide to buy commercial, you will have all the material to look at what is on the market that will suit your needs.  You will also have all the necessary information on what to avoid in certain bench.  Or at least, maybe compensate with some appliances to do what you want with your bench.

Festool MFT/3 table

There are some operations that were cumbersome in the shop, including cross cutting boards or panels.  Since I just changed the shop’s layout I needed a table that could address some operations and the Festool MFT/3 was the chosen solution.

Operations

By choice, I do not have a table saw nor to I have a chop saw, mainly for space consideration in my one car garage.  Also, this was a conscious choice and so far, been able to move along fine.  Granted, I am not in the shop as often as I would like, but the lack of these tools have not limited me yet.

One of the main operation that I had issues with was cross cuts operations.  For the time being, my abilities using hand tools for this operation, specially on the finer cuts are not that good on larger parts.  This was a task I left for power tools, specially my Festool TS-75.

In order to keep dust in the garage portion of the shop, using the table for other tasks like sanding or cutting with a jigsaw is also possible.  Actually, all tasks that will need work holding to use a power tool will most probably end up on the MFT/3 table through the process somehow.

Models

This is why I was looking at the Festool MFT/3 table for a while, mainly for getting stock to length. I would also gain a table that has hold down capabilities for other operations on the power tools side of the shop.

As of this post, Festool has evolved the table in different versions to address different needs.  I’ve picked up the MFT/3 version that includes the following :

  • guide rail
  • Angle unit
  • Guide rail supports for height support

These accessories where necessary as this is to facilitate crosscut operation.  Granted, it does not have an infinite capacity between the guide supports, but for what I need to crosscut, the capacity of the table should suffice for good majority of the needs.

Also getting an extra rail, although the smallest in the offering, is still a bonus for the odd occasion that I would need it outside of the table itself.  The angle unit is also something that might prove usefull on the long run as some angle cut will be on the horizon so although most of my cuts will be at 90 degrees to the rail, having the possibility to vary this angle, I see it as a plus to the whole package.

Features

Other features include the possibilities to connect multiple tables together.  This might be interesting, but for my personal situation, there is only space for 1 table in the shop.  As for stabilizing the table for racking forces, I will see if the bars between the legs will be necessary.  I don’t intend to use the table where this might be necessary, as the operations that would require this type of stability, I got the workbench that can handle it perfectly.  I guess only time might tell if this proves to be an accessory worth adding.

The perforated top permits clamping through the top to secure a work piece.  This is a nice feature combined with the variety of Festool Clamps, the system works quite well here.  Using other clamps here is also possible without too much effort either.

Good points

Included in the Festool MFT/3 table, specifically on the guide rail is the splinter guard on the rail itself.  It was already included on the rail, well boxed and protected.  Also, the rail deflector is also included, which really help for the dust hose and power cable of the tool that rides the track.

 

Here are some pictures :

_DSC6999 _DSC6998 _DSC6997 _DSC6996 _DSC6995 _DSC6994 _DSC6993 _DSC6992

Shop adjustments

Containing and collecting dust at the source has been growing on me and I finally made some shop adjustments to reflect this and some workflow adjustments that were necessary for some upgrades coming along the way.

My shop space has always pretty much been the one car garage in the basement and since then grew a little over this space.  I roughly have about 120 square feet to work with in the garage space but over time, I expanded in the mechanical room just beside the garage, serving as the entryway to the house.

I have now separated the hand tool and power tools operations into these 2 rooms that are a door step away, but still 2 distinct rooms and this is important for the shop organisation.

So here is my strategy for after these shop adjustments :

  • Keep the most dust offending tools, i.e. mainly power tools in the garage space where all the dust collection is
    • By having my workbench out-of-the-way, this opens up a pretty nice chunk of floor space
    • This will permit me to create some island of work based on the tasks at hand and eventually prepare for redoing the dust collection in the shop. More on that later.
    • Some storage will evolve to something different or will change position as the grouping will happen through time.
  • Have the mechanical room serve up for the hand tools operations where the requirements for finer dust/chips collection is less of an issue.
    • I’ve moved my Roubo workbench in this room, which is closer to the wall cabinet that already carried most of my hand tools
    • Not to say that there is no dust produced, it can be somewhat controlled, somewhat less in quantity then the tools in the other room.  This type of dust can mainly be picked up with a broom and for smaller parts, regular pass of the shop vac should do the trick

This separation does not mean that a tools cannot cross to the other side, but should pretty much be limited.  For sure, layout tools are probably the only exception that they will cross on a pretty regular basis.

Now there will be a few changes that will come up pretty soon, like redoing my hand tool cabinet and redoing some areas in the power tool side to.