Latest tool addition – Table Saw

After 5 years,  a table saw has seen it’s way back into the shop.

Skillsaw table saw front within custom wooden stand

Skillsaw table saw front within custom wooden stand

Skillsaw table saw back with the dust collection hose attached within custom wooden stand

Skillsaw table saw back with the dust collection hose attached within custom wooden stand

Portable Contractor Table Saw 

Well the idea of adding a table saw in the shop has been in the works for a little while.  Various model, brands and a whole bunch of criteria were looked at and one of them that kind of won over the other was the space factor.  

I have a one car garage and although I did have a bigger saw in the past in the same space, I did not have the same tool combination as I did back then.  

So basically price and space came as a deciding factor and I know it comes with some compromise but was willing to work with these compromise

back in the past

about 5 years about, I made the choice to buy a band saw (long time wanting this tool) and decided to get rid of the table saw in favour the combo of a track saw and the band saw which I already wanted to buy anyway.  

The bet was that I could get buy with these 2 tools to do most of the tasks that I needed and with the use of some hand planes, I were to be alright.  Maybe not the quickest way of doing things but could work out.  

Well it did for a while, somewhat.  For the finish purpose, the rips were not too bad and worked out pretty good with the hand planes after the bandsaw and sometimes with the track saw.  

The main complaint was efficiency for sure but also getting an easy way to be able to rip easily to a consistant width boards of various width.  Larger boards was not too bad with the tack/tracksaw but the smaller width was a problem and this is another factor that made me look at getting a table saw to be added to the shop.  

Selection 

So the choice to go with the contractor table saw was for a space perspective and price but more on the space side of things.  

Different model were looked at and the Bosch, Dewalt and SkillSaw were in the top selection and not necessarily in that order.  Finally decided to go with the Skillsaw worm drive saw.  Not there latest and greatest that they announce on there web site but will do for what I will do.  

Mainly, it was for the ripping capabilities of the work drive that convinced me and people had good reviews.  Granted that I don’t expect it to behave like a 3HP in a cabinet saw and really am aware of this, but for what I will do for the scale of work, this should do plenty for now. 

Access to the controls are easy access and the adjustments were really easy to do and only minor tweaks were required to the saw I received.  Dado insert from the manufacturer and special nut must be baught if dado sets are to be used.  I did not get them yet, but this might be additions later on.  

As for the stand, I built it based on the following Video from Happy Wife, Happy Life table saw stand.  It was adapted to my table saw.  Very good job on the build.  Did not want to buy the official stand from the manufacturer as it lacked the potential of storage below the saw.  

Go visit the following SkilSaw Workdrive Table saw site for more details on the saw itself

skillsaw tablesaw blade insert

skillsaw tablesaw blade insert

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

skill saw tablesaw riving knife attachment and height adjustment

 

Band Saw Blade

I was due to replenish my band saw blades form the last purchase I made.  I have always used the highland woodworking wood slicer saw blades.  As it was primarily to resaw or rip, I took a pretty large blade (3/4″) blade.

My band saw is a Lagune LT3000 16″ band saw and the length of the band is 132″.  granted that there are longer blades then that, it was still pretty significant blade, specially with the 3-4 skip tooth configuration

 Looking around for new blades

Not that I disliked the blades, they gave very good results.  But being in Canada, last time I ordered 2 blades, the shipping was nearly as much as the value of the 2 blades.  I also added the exchange rate, being in Canada.  

This is not a complaint, don’t get me wrong, but I was interested to see if there was not an alternative closer to home which would give me comparable performance but cheaper in price.  

After looking around for different alternative, I found the Tuff Tooth web site through research of other blades.  Price were pretty reasonable and they are a Canadian company, even better.  Shipping cost were pretty minimal also. 

Dimensions

I have been running 3/4″ blades since I own the saw, about 5 years ago.  I have been pretty satisfied with this dimension, but sometimes, having a smaller blade would of been appreciated.  

So I decided to go with a 1/2″ and 1 3/4″ blade to try out and see how would compare.  I also went  with the 3 tpi which is pretty agressive cut. For what I do, the band saw blade is not the last blade to touch the wood so have a not so finish surface is ok with me.  There will always be another tool that will pass after to better the surface, being either a plane, other saw or sand paper.  

I should be able to test out the new blades pretty soon and report back for results. 

Power Tools – Router

One of the first handheld power tools that I bought was a router.  Probably the first portable power tool was probably a sander to better finish the surfaces of the pieces I did.

My first router was a Dewalt DW616 combo kit, which included both the fixed base and plunge base which made it a great combo kit.   I made good use of this kit but 2 things made it somewhat inconvenient.  No variable speed and had pretty bad dust collection, as for many routers of the time 

Hunt for the upgraded router

With these 2 things to try to upgrade, I went hunting for the the best that could be afforded and covered the variable speed and better dust collection as some of the cuts generated lots of dust. 

About 7 years ago, I settled on the Festool OF1400

Festool OF 1400EQ

Festool OF 1400 EQ (USA version)

I also wanted an edge guide that was pretty good and after seeing a demo in a road show, this is what I got.  At the time, 7 years ago, my opinion and my use, this was one if not the best router out there for what I was looking for. 

it has variable speed and what I taught on the of the best dust collecting system that could be offered at the time.  The clear dust shroud and the below the base chip catcher for edge treatment would do one for the best job I saw.  I was pretty much on a mission at that road show and many of the dealers were represented so I had the chance to see pretty much all that had routers to present. 

To this date, I had nothing to complain at this router and had been running flawlessly for the past 7 years.  OK granted, I am not in the shop day in day out, but it still tackles the main criteria that I still hold true since then.  I do not regret my decision and I even dove into more and more into the festool system since then.  I bought the track adapter for the router, that uses the same rods as the edge guide so that you can leverage the festool track for straight cuts

Now Today

The question bears to ask, would I choose the same model as about 7 years ago ?  well, maybe, maybe not.  The router market is not the same and new model has come a long way since then. 

Quite frankly, I have looked a little bit about 3 years back at the market and same changes were already noticeable which would make my decision more difficult today if I had to select a router for my shop.  I might still choose the Festool line of product.  Does it bear the price now as it did then, don’t really know.  Until I really need to change, I guess I will not know until then….  

Router table – Storage and dust management

I have equipped my shop with a router table for quite some time now and had set my target on the Jessem router table combo.  My local dealer had combos with the table top, stand and 3HP router.  Had my eyes on the standard kit with the white top, fence, lift and open base.  

The router table Kit

Finally had the chance to get one, in an local auction but nailed the Mast-R-Excel kit with a Milwaukee 3 hp router for about 1/2 price of what new would of costed at the time.  

Have been really satisfied with the table and router so far and have used for many tasks.  Dust collection is pretty good with the fence, but….    but the dust collection below the table is, as with other opened base router table, pretty bad.   Even with the below the table port of the Mast-R-Excel.  

Big chips never gets properly collected by the port below.  So doing so raised panel operation is pretty much a no dust collection, really.  For finer dust, it does an ok job but still having a lot more escaping below. 

Storage and dust collection Below

So began the search for storage and dust collection for the below portion of the router table to capture as much dust as possible.  It is not the number of examples that are missing and paralysis by analysis was pretty much going for a little while.  

I wanted and still want to gather all the router accessories within the organization that would be build in this cabinet, serving the double duty of storage (bits and other accessories) and with the dust collection aspects of things.  

And I did want to work within the confines of the opened base.  Did not want to change that as it still had the advantage of costing zero and had adjustable feet making it easy to change place and making it level with the uneven floor of the garage. 

The end result

As mentioned, just too much good ideas available and all very functional.  I wanted to minimise the amount of material that I wanted to buy to retrofit the base and deal with the different issues I mentioned  above. 

Some Material I had : 

  • Plywood, different dimensions and thickness that I could play around with
  • some hard wood that I could leverage for bit holders and incorporate within the table to store them
    • dealing with some bits that are pretty tall (molding bits for Ogee) and large diameter for raise panels make it some odd storage options
Router table storage

This is my router table with some storage in the rough below the table

Here is the big picture of the table with rough frame work of the storage. 

So you can see that the router and lift is enclosed in a compartment.  There will be some piece of plywood in the back with a hole for dust collection.  I will put in another piece in front that will be removable.  Here is a close up shot of the compartment : 

Enclosed router lift

Enclosed router lift

There is a bigger compartment at the bottom that will be used for storage of the bits and other router related accessories.  It will be sealed in the back with a piece of plywood and in the front, doors will be installed. 

Storage compartment from my router table

Here are some other pictures of the router table 

Tool Cabinet – Carcase Assembly

Carcase Assembly

The past week was concentrated on completing the carcase assembly frame and have the joinery completed and fitted.  It is a cabinet carcase with dovetail at the 4 corners. Last post covered the dovetail cutting process all done by hand and now was time to fit all 4 corners of the main assembly.

Tool Cabinet Carcase dry fitted

Tool Cabinet Carcase dry fitted

Tool Cabinet Carcase

Tool Cabinet Carcase

It has been a while that I cut dovetails and it really showed and fitting them was a pretty experience.  A bit too much gaps to show but  still tight enough for the structural side of things.  It holds pretty as we speak and it is only dry fitted.

I checked for square in all 4 corners and all was good.  Just one corner that I saw some small amount of light, maybe 1/64 to 1/32 which to me, is not worth playing with, fearing to change something and make it worst.  Will adjust the dimensions of the other components if required.

Shelf

Towards the lower end, there is a shelf that is through tennonned in the carcase assembly which will stiffen the whole assembly.  Although the main wood is cherry, I did not have wide enough boards to cover the shelf in one piece but had a maple board from another project that was a left over and for the most part, was large enough

For the most part, it was a clean board except for one corner that had a broken/damaged edge.  I decided to go ahead with the board as one edge was going to be going towards the back of the cabinet which will be hidden once all assembled.

tool cabinet shelf

tool cabinet shelf

I may need to adjust the placement of the tenons on that edge based on the plans but that should not be an issue.  It’s length was derived based on relative dimensioning of the carcase assembly that is now dry fitted

Next Steps

Next steps is to fit the shelf and the joinery with the through tenons in the carcase. Will then be able to glue up the carcase and start working on the external doors for the dimensions.

Will also be ordering the hinges for the external doors so that when they are completed, I will at least be able to hang them.  I may not be ordering all the hinges that the plan calls for as I have not finalized the tool placement inside the cabinet.  Some internal hinges I might forgo altogether as I might not be going with the storage options as is. Part of the customization of the storage based on the tools that I have.

Tool Cabinet – A fresh new start

Few years back, I built a tool cabinet out of Fine woodworking which got me going for a good while.  Well up until now.  I never properly evolved the tool cabinet and never built the doors and hung them to offer storage.

Here is what it looks like now

Tool Cabinet

Tool Cabinet Pre Rework

Planning

I was able to adapt it to different variance of tool inventory, but as I mentioned, I am now in a phase to better organise my tool with a new tool cabinet.  Came an article from again Fine woodworking from Mike Pekovich on his take of his new hand tool cabinet for his shop, having outgrown his own.

I have the privilege of being an online member and was able to follow the video series of the build of the cabinet and followed some of the advise as to planing for the tools at hand and then some.

I have a pretty good idea of the organisation that I plan to put into the cabinet and the tools that will go into which part of the cabinet.  Which plane I have and where they go with also some plane that I know I have my eyes on.

Also some other tools that I will plan for appropriate storage and follow the advise to plan for future tools.  I already know of some of them that will eventually come and know the dimension from the toolmaker website so planning the tool holding around those dimensions will make it a breeze to store in due time.

Material

I will be using a variety of material to build the tool cabinet.  All of the carcase will be of hardwood and the dimensions will be adapted based on the material that I have.  Most cases, the hardwood will be a little bit thinner then what the plan states.

I will also use relative dimensioning of the different parts.  The casing is pretty much with the dimensions stated in the plan but for the rest, it will be based on the real build and not exactly what the plan states.  Parts have been rough out to approximate dimensions and will be adjusted as the build progresses.

So stay tuned for the next update for the tool cabinet

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

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

Tool Use : Band Saw

The band saw in a shop can see multiple use where many see resaw and cutting curves.  It is true that those function are some core operations that can be done with this saw, but ripping can also be done, specially on rough sawn boards.  And by the nature on how the saw operates, is probobly one of the safest to do ripping cuts with.

My main saw in my shop is the band saw that i baught about 3 years ago. I ultimatly baught a Laguna Tools LT16 3000 Series 16″ band saw.

Now when I say that it is my main saw in the shop, is that I do not currently have a table saw, which in many shops, is the centerpiece of the shop. Now this was a concious decision.  I did own a table saw before making this move and made sure I could operate without it.

So here is how I do a few operations :

Ripping

Most of my ripping activities are done on the Band saw, either with rough stock or to bring to close dimensions.

  • I have to agree here that this not the best tool for a finish quality cut.  For the time being, something I can live with as I can clean up the edge very quickly with a hand plane.

So far, with the 3 hp motor, ripping most of the woods have been a breeze.  I do adjust with the cut, but with a coarse blade and the motor, ripping has been pretty easy so far.

Resaw

Well, this is an easy one, where choosing the 16″ helped the process as this was one of the reason that I baught a “larger” bandsaw, was the ability to resaw lumber and not loose too much to planer/jointer dust.  Capacity has not been too much of an issue as most of the boards do fit within the resaw capacity.

Get a sharp coarse blade and you should be golden to do re-sawing. This will do most of the work.  The larger gullets will get the dust out and this is the main secret for better cut quality.

Quite Frankly, this is the reason why I got a bandsaw so that I could buy thicker boards and slice to the proper thickness needed for a project.  Rather plan to reuse the wood for something else (up to a point) versus seeing the same wood going into dust.

Dust Collection

Dust collection on the model I chose is pretty good, offering 2 x 4″ dust ports to collect the  dust.  One if right under the table and the other is right at the bottom of the bottom compartment.  It does a pretty good job and getting most of the dust out.

Guides and adjustment

Laguna has been pretty notorious for there guides and block.  The installed them on both the top and bottom doing a pretty good job at support the blade where it is needed.

Adjusting for the drift is pretty easy with the adjustment knobs to center the top wheel.  I sit on the side of adjusting the drift based on keeping the resaw guide parallel to the slots on the table and adjusting the camber of the wheel on top until all is cutting straight.

I put a pretty large blade (3/4″), again mainly for resaw and rips.  I don’t do my detail work on the bandsaw, at least on this bandsaw.  I can’t saw that I have had to do a lot of work with detail work or curved work yet that would require to put a smaller blade.  So far, I’ve been proficient with a jigsaw with a fine blade and faring the curve with sand paper.  This could change in the future, but so far, I have not seen the need.

Other

As I mentioned, this pretty much became my biggest stationary saw in the shop.  I did sell my table saw in the process and I do miss some of the function, mainly for longer rips with a finish cut right off the saw.  I don’t get this in a “one step” pass on one tool.

Joinery operation is limited, or at least I can’t do as many operation on one single tool.  This is why I looked if I had other means to do the operations and I had an answer for pretty much all the questions.

 

All in all I am very happy with my choice and really don’t regreat it.

Festool Centrotec Installer Set – Use

So it’s been nearly 1 year that I purchased a Festool Centrotec Installer Set.  See my post here for the initial review and content of the set.

As mentionned in the original post, I was looking for good drill bits, which this particular set had.  This is why I chose this set as I did not have the need for the forstner bits as I already had a good set.

The most used parts of the kit are the drill bits.  Both kits have seen some use, the stuby one the most as I drove smaller holes.  Did not really need the bigger drill bits.

The counter sink included in the brad point set has also seen some use and it does a really good job at what it is intended to do.  Extraction of the wood ships are pretty good and does a fine job.

The screwdriver is also nice to use, extending the use of the screwdriver bits that are included in the kit.  This is pretty nice and the fit is also very good in my hand.  This is a nice component of the kit if you do hand drive screws without the use of a drill.

My original use the kit’s components were done with my Dewalt drill, which was not centrotec native.  The kit does include the bit to convert a non-Centrotec drill/driver that you chuck into the drill and then add the Centrotec chuck.  The particular model of the drill was already pretty long and adding this extension made the use somewhat cumbersome. Made the different bits somewhat not fun to use.

I then added a Festool drill (T15) to tool collection, which then made using the different components of the kit easier and less front heavy as the length of the drill was shorter. One thing I find need with the drills is to include the “normal” drill chuck for non centrotec bits.  If one thing about the kit, is not to include small size bits.  I got to drive some smaller whole then the included bits.  I could of looked in the catalog, but was just easier to get standard bits and chucked them in the proper drill chuck.

The Systainer is nice and well organized with some empty spaces to add bits that you already have in your collection.  I was able to add the smaller sized and impact bits that I already have, all in one place to travel with.

As with other Festool, is it worth the price ? To me, so far yes it has.  The quality is there.  Could I have looked to get good quality bits and got them cheaper ?  Maybe, but I still don’t regret the choice I made and so far it is a solide performer in the tool collection.