Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Finished Writing/Typing Table Retrofit

It's not much, but a friend wanted to replace the hodgepodge of shelves in an armoir with a slide-out keyboard tray, slide-out writing desk, and top shelf for a computer and monitor.

The existing one is shown here; bottom was a black melamine shelf while the top was some ply with cut 2x6 spray painted black.  Hey, the pocket doors can hide a lot of evil.

There was no definite profile on the existing armoir that I could replicate for the front of the drawers.  The doors had a 'curvy' profile so I made a curvy profile with a soft slope off the tray surface for comfort.

Thankfully, they wanted it black so I didn't have to match that finish.  I went with 3 light coats of shellac with TransTint black followed by 4 coats of General Finishes Polycrylic also with TransTint black.  The black is very deep, but shows the grain very nicely.

To do it again, I'd just dye it on raw wood with india ink as the TransTint black has a hint of violet.  It would also keep me from having to mix black into the finish.  Also, Polycrylic is very nice to work with.

To install it in the cabinet, I put pocket-screw holes in the outside sides as they would be completely hidden by the pocket doors.  I painted the holes with india ink to hide a bunch of white ovals :)

The C-12's eccentric chuck is a life-saver for getting in with near zero clearance.  Hope whomever ever has to remove it has one :)

The end result.  The two trays are full-extension self-closing 18" slides and are pretty stable.  Slides are hidden by putting them in a large rabbet on the side of the drawer and behind the tray front.  They are only visible when the tray is extended.

A simple project, but I'm not working on bigger stuff until the cool air arrives!! (last two days have been super nice... so I'm stuck in a house doing flooring! d'oh!)

Router Table Wing in SawStop

Since this original post, I added an overhead dust collection arm with a light. I also rolled a video giving a tour of the final setup.  You might find the video good to see what all this is about especially for the dust collection.  The construction details are here, though, for the router table dust box and insert; the other article gives details on constructing the overhead dust collection arm (which is fantastic now that I've used it for a long time).
This week, I posted about the dust collection setup on my SawStop on one forum and posted about the router extension wing on another.  Both are related so I thought to combine the photos of both posts for a more cohesive (!?) description.

First, the SawStop PCS comes with a right extension wing that fits between the SawStop fence rails; it's like a torsion box with one skin on top.  I had a Woodpeckers stand-alone router table top I had been using for a long time.  To save space and double up on dust collection, I installed it in the right wing.  I have the 30" fence.

Before describing some details of how it's put together, a tour of the features.

The router extension wing has a dust box underneath it.  The SawStop comes with those legs at the extreme of the extension, which is great for the router table addition; it adds great stability.

 This is a view from in front of the router table (so, right end of the saw deck).  The door is closed with a sash lock that keeps the box pretty air tight.  There's an external on/off power switch mounted to the right (see next picture).

Router lives inside.  Since the on/off switch's power cable is snaked into the box, you have the whole power cable for the router inside so it's very easy to take it out to the top or remove.  That's as dusty as it gets.  The door is on a piano hinge so it will open all the way until it bumps the ground for great clearance.

Separately, half the bottom is on a hinge in case a future lift or router needs more clearance to get in the box.  The bottom has a simple sliding latch underneath so it only opens when you need it open.

Getting back to the dust collection, look at the front of the dust box.  There are 2 dust ports.  The port on the right leads to the router dust box.   The port is a little below the level of the bottom so the dust and chips can easily slide into the port (the white edge inside the router port in the next picture is the bottom of the box, for reference).  When not in use, I tuck the power cable for the router in this port for storage.

The port on the left connects through to the back of the box where connections to the saw are made that will be explained later.  I preferred this setup to a complicated blast gate that would switch between the two.

Now let's look at the back of the saw for the rest of the dust ports.  You can see a  flex line going to the back of the saw as well as a longer hose going to the blade guard dust collector.

In this closeup of the back of the router dust box, you see the other side of the "through" connection for the table saw near the bottom.  To this port, a tee-connection taps off the green hose to handle the blade guard dust port.  The hose in my hand opens to the inside of the router dust box and is connected to the back of the router fence.  It's a quick-connect to the box, too, but I just leave it tucked away.

Normally the back of the saw doesn't look so "hosey".  The main black hose to the saw cabinet it typically tucked up near it, the router fence hose tucked underneath the table, and the excess green hose under the dust box, but I wanted it to be clear.

Further you'll notice in the previous picture that the hose off the guard comes straight off.  This is a problem as your stock will catch it.  When I use it, I set the fence then drape it over the end of the fence.  A better solution I plan to try very soon is to attach a suction hose holder to the end of the fence; the block of oak at the end of the fence will receive a hole for the holder which should keep the hose high above the table and allow the hose to glide through it during fence adjustments.  It will be an experiment.  Barring that, I'll just put a long 3/4" oak dowel sticking straight up so I can more easily hook the hose to it.

Now, some details on how it's built.

A frame with cross members bolted between the fence rails replaces the SawStop extension wing.  The cross members define the size of the dust box as it is screwed into them. This picture is of the underside.

My router table top was purchased long before I had a saw. It was for a stand-alone table and was much wider than the extension.  I cut the two rounded ends off so it would fit between the rails (perhaps 1.5" total).  If you are looking at commercial router table tops, make sure it is deep enough for the area, but if it is a hair too wide, you can easily cut it to side.  If you cut it to size with the SawStop, make sure you override the brake or you'll score a 'save' when it hits the aluminum miter track!  No, I didn't do that; I used a TS-75 :)

You can see the top has 2 connector bolts through it.  Those attach the top to the frame (previous picture shows the connector near the fence rail).  The advantage of these bolts is that they facilitate shimming the table top higher than the frame to make the routing surface coplanar with the rest of the saw deck.

Now that you've seen the frame, you can see how easy it would be to screw something else into it from below... so I made a set of 2 shelves that descend from the frame.  This is useful for fence clamps, DC tools, hex driver for the Incra miter gauge, dado brake cartridge, dado ZCI (in slot behind shelves against dust box), and a hanger for the magnetic feather board.  Those were the things that used to pile up on the router table surface that I'd have to move when routing or needing a wide fence setting.  Uhg, this is better.

Yes, sorry, I paint shop stuff. :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Zero-Clearance Insert: Universal Good?

So when I started out, my very first power tool was a Makita 10" sliding compound miter saw.  Much later, I found woodworking and devoured all I could learn.  Naturally, one of the first things I was told to do was make a zero-clearance insert for my miter saw.  "It will give you much cleaner cuts", I was told.  Who wouldn't want that?!

Now, I wonder why that's such a wide-spread belief.

Let's look at the forerunner to the "miter saw ZCI", the table saw ZCI.  The table saw ZCI is a solid throat insert that you cut by raising the blade.  The kerf opening is exactly the width of the blade (duh, the kerf!).

For future cuts, as the blade's teeth swing around and come down on the stock, all of the fibers are supported except those being cut.  The cut is clean.

Now look at the ZCI for the miter saw (yes, I left the one I made in there for the time being :)

Same idea, cut by the blade as you drop the blade.  Same idea, the fibers are supported as the blade swings around to make the cut.

But, wait.  The blade for a miter saw does turn the same way, but from above; that reverses the attack on the stock.  Essentially, as you slide the spinning blade into the stock, the teeth come up from below into the stock.  When the tooth hits the stock, the ZCI is already out of the picture.  The teeth will blowout the top of the stock and give you chipout there (more later).  This is why you'll also find (good) recommendations to cut on the miter saw with the good face down.  This is because you're gonna get chipout and it's gonna be on the top, regardless the ZCI.

On the other hand, a "zero-clearance" fence that you cut does give you the same support as a table saw ZCI for the back end of the cut.  Without it, you'll get chipout in the back of the stock.

Now, one way to reduce chipout on the top is to make a scoring pass much like a scoring blade on fancy-shmancy Laguna table saws (no insult; I think they are way cool).  To do this, drop the blade and push through the cut by barely skimming the surface.  Come back and do the real cut.  The skim pass will use the "bat ears" of the ATB blade to score the fibers and kick some out.  The real pass will then have that top cut layer as a fiber-support layer.  Simple and works like a charm.  Eyeball it; you don't need to set a depth stop unless you are doing dozens of the same-thickness boards.

More thoughts on the miter saw ZCI: used like a chop saw, a SCMS can get some benefit from the ZCI.  What?! Yes, if you just plunge down into the stock without using the slide, the part of the board between you and the arbor will have the teeth cut in a downward stroke thus gaining the benefit of the ZCI.  The part of the board between the arbor and the fence, however, still has the teeth cutting on the up-stroke.

So those of you with a lovely Festool Kapex miter saw, quit sweating that a ZCI kills your dust collection.  Leave the factory insert in place for the phenomenal dust collection and leave the ZCI idea in the land of unicorns.  (hey, lend me your Kapex and I'll do an experiment!)

I have some other disagreements with common "woodworking myths".  Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trivial TV Stand Done

My neighbor wanted a trivial stand to put on his low entertainment center to prop up his new ginormous TV above his powered center speaker.  I wasn't gonna blog about it, cuz it is so trivial, but the end result looks pretty good in its setting.

My part is the part immediately below the TV around the center speaker (the bottom cabinet was purchased previously).

Initially, they just wanted a shelf that would stand precisely around the speaker, but I pointed out it would look silly to me to have a shelf narrower than the TV.  From there, we got the width the same, but then what to do with the open areas on the side.  They wanted just something flat to plug the hole.  I suggested making doors that matched the style of the other doors so everything looked like it was intended to go together; the doors could hide remotes, the iPod dock, and access to the side jacks of the speaker.

The doors on the purchased cabinet look like louvers.  To make mine, I cut Poplar into 1"x1" stock then put a 10° bevel on one side.  I pre-dyed and pre-stained these pieces before gluing them up into the door since those inside edges would be a female dog to stain :)

Once glued, I just had to square them up and put a bevel ("finger grip") on the inside door edge.

The awkward part was getting a color match.  I used Poplar then dyed it stark yellow with TransTint Amber Additive.  Then stained it with a pad using General Finishes' Brown Mahogany water-based stain.  I thought it came out pretty good; it is a hair darker than the main cabinet, but I thought that was better since it is set back and surrounds something black.  Topcoat was Arm-R-Seal Satin.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Finished Bathroom Mirrors

Before Perú, I was working on some mirror frames for my bathroom.  Normites rejoice! a panel raiser!  Neanderthals rejoice! a molding plane!  I realized today that I never posted a final picture.

Above is a closeup of the mitered corner and profile.

Here is a picture of both frames up on the wall.

This project is basically the last of the projects for this bathroom remodel.  I have other ideas, but as long as I don't crack open drywall, nobody will know they aren't done yet. ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cheapest Finish Stir (Fry!) Stick

Maybe both of you didn't think of this before, but bulk packs of chopsticks make for excellent finish stir sticks.  I get mine from Lee-Lee market: 50 pair for about $1.  That's 100 stir sticks for your bowl of finish.  Plus, if a bug gets in there, grab the other stick and fish it out. :)

A Good Day Spraying Is...

...when you spray a project with three coats of black shellac and still look like Michael Jackson when it's over (that is, white).

Well, almost... I have a mini black shellac cowlick that won't go away.  :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Offcut Fence For MFT-1080 (wohoo!) Part Deux

In "Part Un", I blogged about a trivial but cool addition to my MFT-1080 that allows me to quickly get repeatable measured cuts on the off-cut side of the guide.  Thing is, this grand addition partly assumed you did the modification I did to add 4 1/2" of crosscut capacity to the MFT-1080.  Not everybody did that.  Shame on both of you. :)  Voilà, here, I'll show you how to create that handy detachable fence for use with the original MFT fence.

The idea of this modification is to replace the fence clamps with a block that locks into the MFT hole grid.  Here's a picture of the finished block with two 3/4" dowels in the block.  Note that the MFT holes are actually 20mm holes, but the 3/4" dowels forced to the outside edge of the MFT holes holds it very well.  The idea will be to put two #10 screws through the block laterally to grab a square nut in the back track of the fence shown behind the block (these screws grab the fence the same way the calibration block of Part Un did).  This will be clearer later.

I drilled the block by lining it up with two MFT holes under the block and the block itself being parallel to a row of holes.  Placement of the block isn't rocket science, but here's how you get the correct distance from that row of holes:
On your existing MFT fence, measure from the front of the fence to the front of the dog holes immediately behind it.  If you look carefully, I drew a pencil line at the front of those dogs.  Mine's about 52mm.

Measure the width of the extra fence you have; mine's about 35mm.  Mine is a Festool replacement from the EKAT system; read Part Un for details.  Note that it doesn't have to be a Festool fence; anything you can attach from behind will work although I had this and it uses the flag stop :)

Subtract the width of the fence from the distance in step 1. (17mm for me)

Subtract an extra 3mm (1/8"). (14mm for me)

The resulting measurement is the distance you want your block to be from that parallel row of holes.  Mark the face you have facing those holes; it will face the fence.

Use the MFT holes as a drill guide for your 3/4" Forstner bit; in this picture I show it from above.

Afterwards, push in two pieces of 3/4" dowel and glue in place.  This should be a snug it to the MFT top.

Lastly, drill holes through the block laterally for #10 screws and screw the fence in place.  Calibrate it in a similar way to the way I did it in Part Un except that you will place the block to the right of the fence, calibrate once, tighten the screws, then have a fence you can easily attach.

So the question is: why subtract the 1/8" fudge factor?  Well, it is for fudge... you don't want that fence to touch the stock in the horrible case that the fence isn't exactly coplanar and moves the stock skew to the real main fence.  By setting it back, the flag stop still engages the wood and you are good to go.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hand Planing Small Parts (Part Deux)

I've blogged about a make-shift small parts planing board that was specialized for mitered boards, but the point there was making something disposable for a special purpose.

For straight boards, I usually just make a quick fence of 1/8" hardboard or underlayment backed by 2 dogs and go to town.  This isn't the most stable and take awhile to find that &*%$ hardboard scrap from last time.

So while making my shooting board, I took some of the scrap to make a less-blingy planing board.  Basically, I hand planed some cherry scraps to 1/8" and 1/4" thickness then lined them up across the end of a board; these act as the fence and give me some options for thickness.

You'll notice that I used hide glue for the fence.  During use, it'll get shredded.  Once it's too bad, I can use a heat gun to quickly remove the fence and attach a new one.

I also planed two scraps of cherry to about 1/8" that I keep with the board.  Sometimes when you are planing something long and narrow, it wants to move on you.  Just clamp one of these sticks to give some light edge support and the stock will stay still.  I didn't want to put sandpaper on the board itself since I'd likely scratch up the plane more than anything else.

Now it's trivial to trim up some thin stock without hardboard moving on me (or just plain hiding better than my finding abilities!)

This is a super trivial addition to your shop; make one now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wild n Crazy Use for a 10" Swing Brace!

Yes, I had Syrahz a lil before this...
'nuff said.

Hand-tool guys can add this to their "10 Best Reasons Not To Use A Power Drill"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Curious Cutout; What Optional Accessory Goes Here?!

I recently got the drill/driving kit from Bridge City Toolworks (no link to the kit since it sold out).

It's a high-quality kit with bits and drivers for hex shafts (read: no slipping in a keyless chuck!) that was specially put together.  Here you see one layer of the parts.  The majority of the bits actually come from Montana Brand Tools so you can pick these up separately.

Now, Bridge City always comes up with this clever packaging with a space for each thing (the CS-12v2 packaging rocks in this case, but that's another day).

So, while digging for a self-centering pilot bit, I noticed a cut-out with nothing in it.  Give it a look.

Here's a closer peek.

Now, I have to wonder what optional accessory this cut-out is for.  If the ladies who ordered this kit could chime in... Bridge City knew I already had one.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crosscutting Wide Stock Safely on a Table Saw

When I created my shooting board, I had to cross cut the back to even up all the protruding molding, veneers, ply substrate, and likely a french fry or two.  Thing is, the board is 14" wide.  The cross cut capacity of my saw with the miter gauge is about 12", significantly less with the blade height I needed for the 1 5/8" thick shooting board.

Some people will punt and use the fence, but a long narrow piece on the fence is a big kickback risk.  Instead, do what I did in this picture: put the saw's stock miter gauge in the track backwards.

Push the stock against the gauge and use it to guide the cut straight and square without the risk of kickback.

Here you can see the extra capacity you get from this simple, safe trick.  Further, when you raise the blade, you add to the capacity for those times when you just need something a little bigger :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scrap Shooting Board

The recent issue of Fine Woodworking magazine had a great article on different bench hooks and the use of a shooting board.  Now, I've had building a shooting board on my list since lists were invented, or at least since my waaay backordered Lie-Nielsen miter iron plane arrived.  As you can see in this picture, it's helping me out.

The week when I decided this, my car was in the shop for a new transmission (read: lots of tool money).  That said, I had no way to go buy wood for this so I hit the scrap bin.  This photo is a mockup of what I was gonna make.  The main board was oak-banded 12mm oak ply leftover from a patio cabinet, the front banding is sapelé ogee molding from a built-in dresser, the plane's "track" left over home-sawn sapelé veneer, the fence board a walnut off cut from I don't know where.  It all sits on a birch ply substrate, origins unknown.

The fence board wasn't thick enough so I found two more sapelé off cuts and decided that looks gauche to glue them up thick, so I sliced some walnut from that scrape to put between them.

I also glued the banded oak working surface to the substrate so I could get on with banding and putting the plane's track.

Banded the widest side of the shooting board with the sapelé veneer (here flush trimming it off with a hand saw... yeah, I know, you can't make that out so it didn't happen...)  You can see that at this point, I had the molding on the front, plane track in sapelé down, and a scrap of walnut from my flooring inlay on the narrow side.

Here's the unfinished board ready for several coats of Seal-A-Cell.  The bench hook has a piece of transition molding I made for that floor with a multi-bead profile.

...and after the Seal-A-Cell!  Bling, baby!

The knurled brass knobs are for aligning the fence and are not installed here... you didn't think I'd put a plastic star knob on it, did you?  It's my garage; got standards to maintain... :)