Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

I'd like to wish both of my loyal readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  Hopefully the couple extra days off at this time of year will get you in the shop more :)

Meanwhile, I'll be using my assembly table to "assemble" gift wrapping.  A friend Chris of FlairWoodworks has a very creative post yesterday on how woodworkers should gift wrap.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stealth Project

I have since completed this project... read this teaser if you like, but then head over to the build post!

Last night a little after midnight, I thought of a nice project to make with a special board I found last week at Woodworkers' Source.  Having (more or less) finally finished a bunch of "shop-tectonics", I could even use bench surfaces for what they were intended to do!

Today, I got started a little after noon and finished a little after midnight.  I streamed the whole time via UStream though I stayed out of any chat rooms or I'd still be at the "lumber selection" step.

I can't explain the project yet as one of my two readers is the lucky (?!) recipient of the project.  At this point, everything is ready for dying then glue-up; one part needs drum sanding, a couple dimensional changes, then a special finish to compensate for its construction.

I'll blog about it on, say, Boxing Day and include photos.  Regrettably, I didn't take a lot of photos along the way of the build, but it isn't that complicated anyway.  Considering the work I have left, it is likely a (full) weekend project, finishing taking more time simply to let the stuff set.

There were notable appearances by the DJ-1, CT-16, and JMPv2.

Stay tuned (literally!)...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Streaming Update

Most of my languishing remodeling projects are completed, as is the sub-panel in shop, the "shop-tectonics" after moving so many things for the conduit runs, and, you know, yadda yadda.

Tomorrow I'm starting on an impromptu project that I just drew up on the proverbial cocktail napkin.  Though my blog page talks about occasionally streaming, that never happened over summer.  So, I thought to kick on the camera during this build.  If you have sleep problems, this is your ticket!

I currently stream via  When starting to stream, UStream lets me tweet what I'm up to along with the stream's URL for your clicking convenience.  So, follow me (@PMSO) on Twitter if you'd like to know where and when I'm at it.  Chat with me via IM/Jabber (blog home page gives the details) or Skype if you're that dude in Michigan... :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quickie Zero-Clearance Insert for your Bandsaw

I needed to rip some small molding.  Each piece is just 1" wide by 3/8" thick by around 5 feet.  With this small a molding, the stock insert on my bandsaw would leave a lot of chipout on the backside due to the cut being so poorly supported.

When I have this issue, I usually grab a piece of scrap ply from the offcut bin, push it through the blade until it protrudes a couple inches on the backside.  Then I corner it in place with the two switchable magnets that are for my tablesaw feather board.  The position of the magnets prevents the board from moving at all, it's fast to setup, and the molding cuts were perfect.  Keep the ply around for the next time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Wood Pron

Went to Woodworkers' Source Thursday morning on the way to work as they had a 3-day 25% off sale on hardwood.  Now, they tend to have higher prices so that isn't quite as crazy a sale as you'd think, but I digress...

Board on the left is just a 12' piece of 8/4 Walnut I need for handrails... nobody else had pieces longer than 8' and my rail is 10' (no, I won't do a scarf joint, thanks).  The other is Etimone, a species I never heard of before.  Looks like a member of the Mahogany family.  Spectacular colors and I plan on using the grain's curve and strip of sapwood as part of my entertainment center's back cable channel (yes, that project is finally starting this weekend).  That board is 12" wide and riff-sawn!

The last was an impulse buy.  A 5'x8" wide piece of highly figured quarter-sawn Eucalyptus.  This could make an amazing looking jewelry box.

As you can see, the heartwood edge looks like a dark cloud; will be interesting to keep that to the top of any box I make with it then carry over the cloud look with perhaps a burl veneered top.  This will just sit for now; enough with postponing the entertainment center :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Extending the Capacity of the MFK-700

The Festool MFK-700 has pretty amazing dust collection, but the horizontal bases (0º and 1.5º) require the use of pretty short bits.  If you use non-Festool bits, you're likely to run into this problem repeatedly.  I decided to fix that.

This entry is actually the first of three enhancements I'm making to the MFK-700 although arguably this is the most useful :)

Here is one of my favorite bits for flushing banding: a 1/4" spiral down-cut bit.  I have a bearing version I use in the OF-1400, but this bit is what I want to use in the MFK-700.  As you can see, there's an "issue".  This fix is essentially to remove that part of the base to make clearance for the bit or any number of other reasonably short bits.

Addendum: that 1/4" bit works for me, but some others who have done this modification find that they just can't get the base low enough to get the cut perfectly flush, so there's a variance (in one case, though, they did this to the 1.5 degree base).  Anyway, the best bit by far for this modification, and what I now use exclusively for flushing banding, is this 8mm down-spiral carbide bit (#1322) from Vortex Tools.  The larger diameter means you can definitely get it to flush with room to spare, full capacity of the modification, and a down-spiral so the flushing is the cleanest possible.

The portion you have to remove is done in two parts.  First part is marked here.  While this part gives clearance for the bit, it doesn't make the channel where the bit rides wider.  This will be clear in a photo later.

You'll want to "raise" the fence as much as possible to get the top (shown) far from the base (background).  This lets you use the fretsaw on an angle to make these cuts.

I'm using a fretsaw from Knew Concepts along with metal-cutting Pégas blades from Ben's Scrollsaw to cut away the bit clearance.  Yes, these were blatant plugs, but that saw and those blades make a fantastic combination.  Say goodbye to wandering blades ("goodbye!")

Okay, so anybody purchasing a Festool router base knows how difficult it would be to start cutting it up... but it cuts very cleanly with this blade.  You don't need the cut really clean; the second cut will clean it all up along with filing it.

Voilà!  Point of no return :)

For the second cut, we need to remove the bat ears I highlighted.  While they don't give more bit clearance, they make the channel for the stock narrow (the channel being the light portion of the base that is above the lower brown foot).  For this cut, I used a hacksaw to get the crosscut straight.

What's left now is to actually remove the bat ears so they are flush to the offset portion of the base.  Back to the fretsaw...

As you can see, there isn't much room for long passes with the fretsaw so it's slow-going, but you get there.  Cue up a long song.

Take a mill file to flatten the portion where the ears were and clean the edge made with the hacksaw crosscut.  I also used a half-round file to clean the round bit recess and soften some edges.

The final result with the bit having enough room.  Start to finish it might have taken a half hour.  This is a modification I'm certain to enjoy and take advantage of.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Lights

Weekend is upon us!  Don't forget to put up your holiday lights :)

Using the Domino on Thin Stock

I swore I posted this before, but it must have been on a forum that was later deleted :)  So this is a Tivo post of sorts...

The 90º fence of the Festool Domino doesn't go down to 90º when the fence-to-bit distance is less than 8mm or so.  This makes centering the domino in 12mm ply difficult.

I found this tip on the FOG long ago from a number of sources.  The problem is basically that a corner catches on the fence when you move it down.  I've highlighted the corner that I filed long ago for this fix.  Mine is the older (better!) pin-style fence so if you have a newer one, the stick point may be elsewhere.

Work the corner with a file; be sure to match the file handle to the marker color :)

If you round the corner that touches, it can pivot down to 90º even with the fence-to-bit distance at 6mm.  Just takes a little filing with a little file.  Voilà, magic!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Inexpensive Dye Sprayer

I decided to give this simple touch-up gun a try from the Harbor of Freight (sounds classier that way, no?)  It was on special for a whole $9 (that's just two lattés!).  It seemed like if this gun worked well with a dye, anybody could use it even with the smallest compressor.  Hey, it even says "professional" embossed on the handle!
I have to say, it greatly exceeded my expectations.  It won't spray a triple venti soy latté, but with dye, it rocked.
I made this trival cabinet of left-over maple-veneered waferboard.  The intention was to put it under the drill-press table to store shtuff.  What's on the side are two slide-out trays.
Maple being maple, it had some streaks in it on the B-side of the sheets.  Clearly, this would be unacceptable inside the cabinet under anybody's drill-press.  :)  That said, I wanted to use this gun to both level the tone of the cabinet and spray a brown over it.
To level the tone, I sprayed Transtint Yellow Additive all over the surface.  Notice how the streak's contrast is muted a bit (the darkness in the corner is because I shot this while the dye was plenty wet; that part is just wetter).
I then used Transtint Medium Brown.  The brown and yellow combine for a honey brown as you can see here.  Remember that this dye looks much duller even seconds after spraying it; it comes to life under a top coat.
Here's the result before making the drawer for the top; it'll hold the planes I use constantly; the hand saws finally have a hanging home on the side and they are within two feet of the vice.  The trays are on slides so this is a mini-Sysport, if  you will.  (Yeah, my Festool stickers don't, too!)
Voilà, the drawer fresh out of clamps.  Hand-cut dovetails in Beech, which gets it's name because it is a real beech to chisel.
Pretty good way to use up scraps! Yes, the drawer will get an applied front someday.  'nuther day, 'nuther scrap!  This whole cabinet is under the table of a Powermatic VS 18" drill press.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A bit of Blue Spruce for the Holidays...

D'oh! I've been absent for quite awhile doing things like drywall, electrical, and stair molding that isn't particularly interesting to see.  Though I will be blogging about the electrical install and specifically some creative wiring for the SawStop.
So how do I make up for the absence? Pron, naturally!  Tool pron specifically... (I'm titillated just typing that!)

Packages with this return address are always welcome (so, send me yours :))  David Jeske is the guy behind Blue Spruce Toolworks.
Inside, a care-and-feeding letter from him about your order; nice eco-friendly boxes with twine seal the deal.  oooh, open! open! open!
This is the curly maple and African blackwood mallet that originally caught everybody's attention.  Too pretty to use?  Heck no... pretty has to be functional (well, tools anyway ;)).  The head is infused with acrylic so you can beat your butt chisels all day with it.  Hey, what's that to the right???
Oh, a lovely pair of skew paring chisels in tulipwood, a long marking knife in birds' eye maple, and a small marking knife in canarywood.
I feel a little like Ricardo Montalbán when I say, "Exacto knife? Plastic mallet? But why?"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bandsaw Blow-out and McMaster-Carr

-sigh- I have a stair project that gets little attention.  I started making great progress sealing it a couple months ago then made the molding recently.  All I needed to do was rip the molding and put it down.  Seems simple, no?  Halfway through the third piece of 14, -boom!- blade stops.  Then I hear the unique sound of a bearing bouncing repeatedly on the concrete.  Look under the table to find this:

My lower thrust bearing disintegrated.  It jammed against the blade and snapped my Laguna Resaw King (if you look at the product page and think, "hmm, cheap blade"... that's the per inch price).
I sent the blade back to Laguna for sharpening and a weld repair, but they called to say the resulting blade would be a Frankenstein so I agreed to just buy a new one that will be here tomorrow.  Excellent service.  They were nice enough to make me a very nice deal considering the circumstances.
So why did I mention McMaster-Carr? It's a treasure-trove of hardware goodness.  A friend Poto from sent me there awhile ago then I sent some people there from  It now routinely comes up as the source.
If you shop there, you'll be impressed with the online catalog's search method.  When you order, you pay just the tax and total; shipping is added after they really ship, which is different from nearly all retailers, but I noticed that they pretty much charge the real shipping with, I believe, a $5 minimum.  I mean, just look at that catalog!  Three inches thick!  Their site banner says "Over 480,000 products".  And I swear every one of them is in stock for delivery...
...and that includes the six sealed metric bearings I need to replace all of them on my saw.
My only complaint is the packaging....