Friday, July 27, 2012

Angle Madness! - First one in the bag!

The next episode is mostly edited with just a bit more to record for it.  Should be out by early next week.

Meanwhile, a bit of a photo update and a handy shop project you might find useful.

I setup the vacuum bag and platen to verify everything was going to work; don't want to diagnose a leak while plastic resin glue is merrily curing!  (Big roll of packing tape nearby is your friend if you do!)  I tossed in some shop towels and the atmosphere promptly smashed them.  Left the VacuPress vacuum pump on for a little over an hour to ensure it wasn't going to cycle indicating a leak.

As you can see, this is a huge bag... it can press a full 49"x97" sheet with full platen.  A big chip-clip makes the back half of the bag inactive.

I put my VacuPress pump in a mobile stand that's pretty handy; I roll it underneath the MFT table next to two milk crates on furniture movers used for offcuts.  The VacuPress stand has 4 very smooth casters.

The top tray is removable making removing the pump trivial or to take all the VacuClamp parts to a workstation area.  Basically the four corner posts on the stand are inset into the lip under the tray.  No rocket science was used in this quick handy addition.

The back has a scrap of ply to prevent racking of the sides and also to protect the connectors on the back of the pump like the vacuum hose, air cleaner bottle, and power connector.

I use the VacuPump as a vacuum clamp sometimes so the pods and other stuff in the tray is handy to store with it especially since that stuff stores as well as a ferret.  The vacuum hose for the bag is too robust and long to store on the tray so I hang it on a hook with a bunch of other hoses like the HVLP turbine hoses.

So this is the first panel of 12 for this project in the bag!  This is an underside panel with curly Maple book-matched on the show side and Poplar on the inside.  I'll get a book-and-end match ("4-way") recorded tomorrow night to complete the episode then see how it all edits.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Using the MFK-700 on the Guide Rail

The MFK-700 is nice for light routing jobs, like rounding over or chamfering the edges of a project, or flush trimming edging/nosing/banding.  The dust collection on it is pretty stellar so I like it for these reasons.

Thing is, it never had accessories to put it on a guide rail.  I needed to do this to rout the platen for the vacuum press before gluing up the veneered panels for Angle Madness as I needed to create a grid of V-grooves for air evacuation.  The panels are ready for glue and vacuum now, long video soon :)

Here was my quick experiment and ultimate solution.

If you use the guide stop with the OF-1400 (the blocks that let you attach the router to the guide rail), you can either use the guide rods of the OF-1400 or the MFK-700 (they are optional and come with the edge guide accessory).  Either way, you can use the rods to attach the MFK-700 to the guide stop.  The caveat is that the hole spacing on the guide stop is a bit narrower than that of the MFK-700's edge guide.  However, if you put the rods in with all the screws loose (on guide stop and router), you can then tighten them up.  No need to crank on the screws, just snug enough to keep things from moving.

Another thing that worked was to use just one rod; once tightened up, it was pretty solid.  I used two rods on the platen.

You'll want to put the MFK-700 half on the guide rail just like you would with the OF-1400.  So what's the "foot" replacement to better balance the router on the other side?

The thickness of the guide rail is nominally 5mm.  So I used some double-stick tape to pop a pair of 5mm Dominos on the bottom.  Worked great if a little hokey.  Note that I oriented the Dominos so the rounded edges would prevent them from catching.

I wanted a more 'elegant' solution so I put a Domino on the bandsaw to set the blade distance and ran a piece of scrap through.

I then drilled a hole through the 'skate' and mortised a recess for the head of a T-bolt.  I used a 5/16" T-bolt as that's what my jig hardware kit is.  I'm sure this would work with normal 1/4" T-bolts.  The recess doesn't have to be really exact: you just want to prevent the T from spinning.

Also remember to round the edges of this skate since you don't want it to catch.

There's a hole there in the vertical MFK-700 base... I didn't drill a new one :)  Just push the T-bolt through and put a nut on the other end.  To make it easier to attach and remove, I just used a T-nut from the jig kit since there isn't much clearance, but it's now very quick to pop the skate on and off.

A benefit of making the skate longer than the base is wide is that when I pushed the router off the end of the stock, the skate and guide stop balanced the router.

I'll be using it more on the rail now!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Want to Watch a John Townsend Grandfather's Clock Build?

I have been eager to see this guild build come up!  I love grandfather's clocks; not sure where I'd put one in my house, but I'll find a place if I decide to do this build.

Charles Neil is starting a build of a Townsend Tall Clock similar to the one shown here (for more details, visit the Met's page).  Earlier this year, he took a week off to visit the Metropolitan Museum to see the John Goddard and John Townsend collections to get a better feel on how to do this build.

If you visit his site, you can scroll down a ways for the links to photos and video taken (regrettably with a phone) in the museum.  It's under the section title "Visit To NY Metropolitan Museum of Art".  That shows you the idea.  The photos of the clock detail are here.

Even if you don't ever plan on building a clock like this, there'll be a lot of excellent take-away that can be applied to your other projects.  Currently until July 29, 2012, he's running a special: 3 month subscription for the price of 2.  With a long episode a week, that's a lot of content.  Definitely worth considering.  Here's the subscription link.

Hockey Tape for Your Shop

A bunch of weeks ago, I got a strange request from Charles Neil.  He wrote me to ask where I get my hockey tape from.  How did he know I use hockey tape?!  He must watch the podcast... :)

He just got through a long week of clamping up cabinets so his fairly sensitive hands were sore from tightening up and slipping on clamp handles.  Ah, now you know the reason for the tape!

I use hockey tape a lot in the shop.  My parallel clamps and F-style clamps fortunately have great grips built in, but if I had those ones with the slick wooden handles, I'd have wrapped them in hockey tape long ago.  So if you have those handles, you might want to give this a read.

I use hockey tape anywhere I need to improve a grip or, as in the case of my shovels, avoid blisters (for my sensitive hands :)  This is the shovel I recently used to dig a foot-deep 30' long trench by the house to bury a power cable for the shop A/C unit (currently my favorite tool! the A/C not the shovel).  No blisters in the after-math.

Hockey tape comes in a variety of colors so grab a color pack and use it to wrap handles so you can easily identify a tool by the handle.  This is a plastic mallet I have; previously there were two different ones under there and I'd always grab the wrong one so I color-coded them...

...the other one, well, you know when you get frustrated during a glue-up cuz the glue seizes immediately cuz the shop is was 98ºF? Yeah, first disposable thing in reach gets that frustration.  (Lemme know in the comments how you've done the same! you have, haven't you?)

So how much will this shop wonder run ya?  Not a lot, actually.  I think the Canadians subsidize it to bring hockey to the masses.  You can get it from Hockey Giant.

But not all tape is the same :) From that page, here are some to consider...

Renfrew friction tape will stick your hand to the handle; meant to stay high friction with ice and water on it. This is perfect, only downside is that after grabbing it, you'll notice "friction tape" feel to your hands.  A little saw dust will likely kill that feeling.   I have a roll of this in the shop; people buy that high-friction expensive tape at the woodworking stores... this stuff is better and cheaper.  I use it often to make a surface less slick.  Couple strips parallel to each other and what you place on it won't really move much.

Another type is Renfrew cloth hockey tape.  This is general hockey tape in several different color rolls for marking stuff.  Feels great on your hands.  There are wider sizes, but if you are wrapping handles, you'll be wrapping in a spiral; too wide a tape and you end up with a lot of overlap that makes it all lumpy.   I use 1" tape for handle.  Also useful underneath stuff that tends to have sharp corners that gouge the bench top.

What you don't want is any of the 'stretchy' tape or 'shin guard' tape. Both are used to hold equipment on you so they don't really have cloth.

Naturally, I also use it to wrap hockey sticks for the best 90 minutes of the week.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Angle Madness! - Photo Update of Top Bevel

Progress on Angle Madness has been slow with the amazing heat in my shop: 95-98ºF.

I'm currently working on flattening veneer and getting substrate panels ready that will become the top and bottom surfaces of each tier.

Additionally, if you recall, I ripped a strip of stock off the side of the board used to cut the parts for the top tier.  That strip is to become the top bevel portion of the diamond.  Cutting it is the same process as I used for the tiers in the first place... except everything is mirror imaged.  When I was filming the episode on doing that dimensioning, I didn't do this top bevel portion.

I think this will add a nice finishing touch to the diamond shape.  It isn't Dominoed or attached in any way for this photo; it is just sitting there.  The lengths of the pieces need to exactly match the lengths of the pieces below for the corners to exactly line up and give a cross pattern to the joint.  Now that all the pieces are cut very close, I'll trim the 2 that are a hair too long.  I'm amazed I accidentally cut them "too long"!

If you click the photos to see them larger and zoom, you can see the registration marks I made on veneer tape kept the grain nice and continuous.  It'll wrap nicely.

Here's a better view of the side since the front bevels are rather slight.

Speaking of that fatiguing heat... it finally broke me down... I'm getting a Fujitsu 30CLX1 mini-split A/C unit installed this weekend.  I. Can't. Wait.  :)  It's oversized, but the beauty of the mini-splits is the inverter-driven compressors.  Once they get close to the target temperature, they cool less and work less.  Having it oversized means it'll be able to drop the temperature faster (or handle a larger shop when I move!)  Compare that to a normal home A/C unit that isn't inverter driven: they come on hard then shut off at the target temperature so they tend to hammer the compressor.  If one is oversized, it cycles hard and is bad for the unit.  No such penalty for the mini-splits.

The fact that I can have the unit easily disconnected for moving then re-installed makes the purchase easier.  Plus I'll get its benefit many nights of the week from June through end of September.  Definitely past due.

Scheduling the install killed my motivation to be in the shop this week when next week it will be... comfortable!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Place for my Files

I have a decent collection of files going.  Most are Iwasaki plane files: fast, aggressive files that leave a planed surface.  Nothing short of fantastic (oh, nicely priced, too).  Okay, I'm on a tangent...

Problem is storing them.  I put them in a drawer in their shipping bags so they don't bang together, but then I have to riffle through them to get those I'll need.  Had to be a better plan.

I asked for ideas over on FOG and an Aussie posted this link to a nice shop tour where a pretty good solution was waiting.

I grabbed a scrap board and laid out an array of Dominos up each side.  The flat files need 8mm of space.  Marching up the board using the previous Dominos as a reference off the base spaced them with a 7.5mm gap; good enough.

What you see attached to the fence is a narrow stock spacer; only works on pin-style Domino fences (nah nah ne-nah nah).  You could use the paddles to get a similar quick spacing.

The half-rounds needed more spacing so I stacked a few plastic shims (very handy) as I marched up those Dominos.

The result is a nicely organized board.  The gap in the middle is where I may someday put a handle to lift the whole thing out of the drawer; for now, fingers work well.

The resulting board even fits nicely in the drawer where they were.  Take the same space as before.

I forgot I took these pictures until I went to grab a file to soften some corners of a vacuum press platen I put together tonight!