Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Addition to the Dust Collection Setup

The better half got me the Sawstop Over-Arm Dust Collection Assembly.

There are a few goals for having it installed so that it would work with all of the other systems.
  • Be easily lowered down against the saw to reduce the height so it can easily fit under the new Miter Saw station.
  • Be easily moved out of the way so the right side router table can be used.
  • Do a good job collecting the dust off the top of the cuts.
Since we also have the Incra TS/LS system it took a little modification of the mounts to get them to work.

The bolts that came in the kit weren't big enough to work in the Incra Rails so we used some bolts that we had in the shop.  Unfortunately that meant drilling out the hole in the mount a little bit.
The Nova Drill Press did a great job as usual.

A couple of bolts, lock washers, and flat washers are holding the mounts securely.

The tubes are set in the holders so they stick out from the edge just a little.

The instructions have the long tube on top with the short flex hose, but in the end we went with the opposite.  The short tube with the long flex hose on top and the long tube with short flex hose on the bottom.  The adapter, while not a wye, seems to do a decent job of pulling air into the setup.

The tubes easily rotate in the holders after tightening them just a little.  This lets the saw still easily fit under the miter saw station.

And the whole setup easily rotates all the way down allowing full access to the right side router table setup.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Simple Frames made with Love

The oldest girl picked out a couple of prints for her room as presents.

We had previously made a walnut/cherry frame for a drawing she made so it was an easy jump to make a couple of frames for these new prints.

She wanted the frames all white ( after changing her mind from white to black ) and fairly small.

After researching different woods and styles we decided to go the simple route and just use MDF.

After practicing a couple of times with the new Festool Domino it was frame making time.

We did a quick and simple Sketchup drawing of the frame just to have a reference for the measurements and drawings to work from.  We printed out shots of both pieces and kept them in the shop while we were making the frame to use as a reference.

Going by the measurements, we cut the four pieces to their longest length and then used a straight bit in the router table to cut a small recess in the bottom of each piece of the frame to hold the plexiglass, print, and backer.

After verifying the miter saw was cutting 45 degrees, both the long sides were cut at the same time and then did the same for both the short sides.

After putting a domino in each corner, it was amazing to see how well it dry fit together and held.

A little glue in each hole for the domino and on the edges was used.  Because of the dominos clamping the frame together was much faster and easier while ending up more square in the end.

We picked up some plexiglass from the big orange store but cutting it was a challenge at first.  I scored it over and over and then tried to break it along the lines.  It worked, but ended up having to break small piece after small piece off and didn't give a nice smooth edge like we wanted.  

We gave up, pulled out the trusty track saw, and slow and smooth won the race.

Both frames were primed with Zinsser from a spray can we got from the big orange store.  Unfortunately using the spray can turned out to get more primer on the surrounding stuff than the frame.  It took a couple of coats and ended up using the whole can.

Once the primer was dry, sanded, and done again, the frames were sprayed with General Finishes Milk Paint in the Snow White color.  We used the new Fuji Sprayer and thinned the paint with 10% to 15% and the stock needle size.  The Fuji is amazing and made a beautiful coat once I got back in the swing of it.  Keeping a wet coat worked the best.

Because the recess wasn't deep enough to hold the plexiglass and backing we used a couple of screws and mounted the backing on the outside of the back of the frame.

Finished products.

And in her room, hung, and enjoyed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What we use

We've been asked a few times what tools we use to do what we do.

We decided to set up an account on to list some of the equipment and tools we use.

Checkout our lists and let us know if you have any questions about the tools or anything else.

Have a great one!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Painting Melamine

The better half mentioned that there are way too many different colors in the garage/shop and it is making things look very busy and not as organized as it could.

She took a girls weekend and I started in on the typical "I'll fix THAT" mode.  Found an OLD can of stain that barely gave up it's lid and I figured I had one chance at turning things black.

I like black, it's well, black, and you can't complain about the ole #3.  And I sure as heck wasn't going to try to duplicate Gordon's Rainbow Warriors Paint Job.  The better half wouldn't come home again.

But I digress...  I "stained" the new miter saw station and unfortunately still had stain left and went looking for other places to waste the stain.

I saw the Incra TS-LS extension wing that is white.  WHITE?  Really?  Come on...  So we have the Sawstop ( Black, Red accents  ),  Incra TS-LS ( Gold rails, Red accents ), Extension ( White, gold accents ), and Incra Dust Sweep ( White and Red Accent ).

You know when you have that little person screaming at you inside your head, and you don't listen, things typically go sideways quickly.  Yea, well, I didn't listen and I ended up with a mess.

This is Art Right?

"I just wanted to drain the swamp" was quoted to me a bit into this.

Let's just say that I learned a LOT about painting Melamine.

Things NOT to do:
* Stain ( It stuck fine, but had brush strokes and was flat ).
* Leave the heater running which kicks up dust.
* Only wait the minimum time to sand.
* Expect Gloss Black to hide ANYTHING.
* Ask the folks at the Big Orange store.
* Try to roll on Alkad Hybrid Paint.

Things to do:
* Sand the Melamine to at least 320 to ruff it up.  800grit will give you a really nice smooth finish.
* Wipe down really well
* Use a Tac Cloth and get everything off the surface.
* Turn off any air moving devices ( Heater, Air Filter, etc ).
* Use Krylon Fusion Spray Paint.
* Put down a light coat.
* Wait about 45-60sec and put down a heavier coat.
* Do another coat 90deg to the first but don't get it too heavy especially if there are vertical surfaces.
* Walk away slowly, don't look back, don't breathe on it, and don't make angry faces at it either whatever you do.
* Wait about 25min ( Depending on temp and humidity ) and put down another good coat.

Rolled on the Orange store's recommendation.  FAIL.

You realize how tough melamine is when you can sand and sand on it and it still stays  nice.  Back to white.

Looks pretty good until you get close and see all the dust and junk in it.

Finally got it to the point I'm 90% happy.

Maybe Incra could just offer a black version???

Finishing touches might just be a big ole #3 in the middle!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Table Maintenance

We purchased a really nice outdoor patio set ( Ipe ) this year with the knowledge that we would have to do routine cleaning and maintenance.

Unfortunately the sales person, who seemed like he was knowledgeable, sold us some sealer and said we should sand the top before applying the sealer and it would keep the beautiful color.

We did one round of sanding/sealing and realized immediately the sales guy was wrong.  The oil ended up coming out and it sped up the graying affect.

The sealer, as it turns out, is to go on after the oil and keeps the wood from getting water spots, rings, etc.

The Ipe oil needs a good 24/48hr to dry with no rain so trying to find a time to re-sand and oil the furniture while keeping it dry remained a problem the rest of the season.  Finally, after cleaning out a lot of other projects in the garage, we moved the table into the garage and I started sanding.

Here are some before, during, and after pics.  Some of the pieces of the table are just gorgeous.

Starting the sanding.  60grit, then 120, and 180.

Sanding with 120grit done.  Finished with 180grit.

Getting ready to spread the oil with a roller.

Ipe oil all applied.
After 45min we wiped off the excess.

Beautiful grain
Some more beautiful grain

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ever milked a rattlesnake?

The Festool Domino has been on the wishlist for a long time, a really long time, but as everyone knows the price is a little steep.  By the time you get even the smaller version, in the set, with the accessory bundle, you are upwards of a ratty ole car, or horse, or maybe a truck to pull the horse.

First thing you have to do is test out the new toy, oops, I mean tool, right?  As it turned out, Tornado had previously broken his sword that we had made that was just wood glued together.  I had been holding off just glueing it again knowing it would end up breaking again and I had visions of it being over Hurricane's head.

A few test cuts with the Domino, wait, who am I kidding, test cuts, practice, please...  Jumped right into using it and well lets just say it isn't as perfectly in the center as I might like.  Luckily kids don't care that much and I learned a bit.

It's a bit like milking a rattlesnake.  You'd bess hold on or something other than what you want is going to get bit.

Part way through Tornado decided he wanted it painted and I was left with trying to figure out how to hold it and let him paint it.  Yea, you can also imagine my hands and arms all silver and black from him learning how to spray paint and me holding it.

And then it hits me, why not use my brand new tool, who are we kidding, toy, solve that problem too!  Dry fit a couple dominos in, drilled a couple holds, and presto perfect hanging points.
Domino to the rescue.

Blade and Handle hanging by their dominos, painted and drying.

Love this tool and can't wait to find more neat uses for it.

 Anyone ever seen a Tornado chase a Hurricane through the house wielding a sword?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Zero Clearance Insert for Miter Saw

In my search for a Zero Clearance Insert for our Bosch Glide 12in Miter Saw ( GCM12SD ) I came across a couple different solutions.

The one we are trying out first is the FastCap Zero Clearance Tape.

Installing it was nothing more than cleaning off the plastic inserts and putting the tape down.

After the tape was installed I made a gentle slow cut through the tape.  For the most part it made a nice clean cut but there was a few places it chipped out.

I'm hopeful that the zero clearance works to keep smaller pieces from falling down as well as give a true mark for cutting.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Naughty List

Since I threw together a list of the GOOD companies I figured I should probably put one together for the not so good ones.  Luckily, the list is much shorter.

California Air  Don't get me wrong, I think their compressors are incredibly quiet... when they work.  The better half got me one for Christmas and it didn't work right from the begining.  It won't restart all the time when the pressure goes down.  I think I've narrowed it down to a heat issue but I'm not sure.  It seems that if it runs to pump up the tank, you empty the tank as quickly as possible, it won't start back because it is too hot.  Most of the time turning it off and back on will get it going but many times it has to sit for a while.  Customer service is very slow to respond unless you call them and want me to ship it back under warranty which they will take care of IF they believe it is their problem and not something I did.

Oneida Air I'll start by saying my father has a big Gorrila and likes it.  They did his DC design and for the most part it works.  Myself, on the other hand, have had nothing but problems with their customer support ( Picking up a pattern here yet? ).  I wanted to get a cyclone for a Grizzly 2HP DC so I found their Super Dust Deputy.  Seemed like a great solution, but I needed to know the actual size of the inlets and outlets because everyone calls something 5" but no one is using a consistent measurement.  I called, got a lady, she said she would check and email me.  I got an email saying they didn't know the size other than 5".  I replied nicely stating I know 5" but what EXACTLY is the measurement, 5.1", 4.9", whatever.  No response so I called.  The next person got irritated with me and said it is 5".  Again, people, can you just measure one???  Nope...

Hopefully I won't have any more but you never know.

Things happen, I get that, stuff breaks, etc, but it is all in how you handle it.  Handle it well and I'll be a long time customer, handle it poorly, and I won't deal with you again.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Keeping a list

As I work with more and more companies and their products I thought it would be handy to start keeping a list of the great ones that I can easily recommend to other people.

  • Woodcraft of New Berlin, WI
    • Can't say enough about Chris the owner.  He has bent over backwards for me many times and always has my best interest at heart.
  • Clearvue Cyclones
    • Fantastic Dust Collector and cyclone.
      • Still going strong with no issues after a couple years.
      • Nothing has collected in the filter clean out yet after multiple bins full of dust.  Now that's efficient.
    • Absolutely terrific customer support before, during, and after the sale.  2 years later I can still email them with questions and get immediate responses.
    • Cyclone was ordered and arrived within a week.  They even added other parts that I ordered like transitions to boxes to save shipping costs.
  • CNC Router Parts
    • Their CNC's are definitely a step ahead of most others.  
    • Can not say how pleased I am with their Pro CNC.  From fit and finish to strength to precision it is a work of art.
    • Terrific customer support from before the sale to after.
    • I feel sorry for the poor UPS guy for sure.
  • Paint Sprayers Plus 
    • Terrific company and customer support.
    • Jason spent a lot of time with me on the phone helping me decide on an HVLP system and gave me a lot of tips and tricks.
    • Order was placed and arrived in a couple of days.
  • Festool Products / ToolNut 
    • Very fast shipping and a great product assortment.
    • Customer support is terrific
  • Sawstop
    • Great saw.
    • Great customer service the once I have called them.
  • Incra
    • The TS-LS system ( Table saw and router fence ) is in a class all it's own.  Unbelievable precision.
    • The Incra router lift is wonderful.  So smooth and easy to adjust.
    • Fantastic customer support every single time I have contacted them.  From asking about buying a few more mounting bolts to how to get things set up.
  • Woodpecker
    • Wonderful precision tools.  
    • I have various straight edges, angles, and markers.
    • I love the cases their products come in which hold the tools securely and are nice to mount on the wall.
  • Nova
    • I have the Nova Voyager Drill press and love it.
    • Customer support bent over backwards to help me with a firmware issue.

I think that's about it for now.  As I remember more or run across more great companies I will update this post.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Long Distance Relationship with Taz

There’s a new kid in town that goes by Taz, short for Tasmanian Devil.  You know the one, yea that one, eats everything and anything in its way no matter if it’s wood, plastic, or metal.  Taz comes to use through our good friends at Craig’s List and before that started life right here in good ole Chicago at the home of Inventables where it got a nice black coat and a sticker that says X-Carve.

Taz lives in the garage (who in their right mind would bring one into their actual house) and has a nice little house that even folds up against the wall to keep him tidy at night.

The problem comes in when you want to get Taz to do some work and feed it you must take that nice and shiny MacBook Pro into Taz’s house.  Taz doesn’t play well with others and there is always the concern he will reach out and smack the poor innocent expensive Pro.  Not to mention when the Pro is bossing Taz around, the Pro can’t do much else.

I read this article and really appreciated it.  For my birthday, the bigger set of kids got me a super sweet Raspberry Pi.  Within 30min I had the OS loaded and within a few more hours of playing around I had a set of CNC programs running.

Taz plugs in to the RPI over Usb and I can talk to the programs running on the RPI over wifi. 

I’m trying out a few different programs and can report back on how I like them if anyone is interested.

First on the list is CNC.js which looks very promising.  It picked up the Arduino/GRBL immediately and controlled Taz beautifully.  There is even a nice Pendant web page where I’m hoping to use an old iPad to control Taz.

I did a cut for Tornado to give as a birthday gift and I must say I was very happy with how it all worked.  I drew the piece in Easel, exported the gCode, and uploaded it to the CNC.js webpage on the RPI.  I jogged Taz over to Work Space Zero, reset Work Space Zero, and hit play.  As soon as I was sure Taz wasn’t going to rip itself off the wall, spit at me, and dive through the neighbor’s house, I took the Macbook Pro back inside and started putting Tornado and Hurricane to bed.  I checked on the page a few times and could easily tell where Taz was in the cut and how things are going.

A few things I might work on:
  A camera connected to the RPI that will show up right in the CNC.js page to watch Taz and make sure he isn’t misbehaving.
  A case for all Taz’s controls including a great big red STOP button and pause/resume, stop buttons.
  Some better lights.
  A nice dust collection boom arm.

I'm also going to try out these software programs:
ChiliPepper with the JSON Server serial on the RPI

In the end, Taz and I have a much better relationship when we are a little farther apart.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How well is the Suck-O-Master actually Sucking?

I added a couple of gauges and a amp meter to the Suck-O-Master to monitor how it is performing over time.

It is doing really well but I think if I seal up some of the pipes better things will improve even more.

 I made a panel on the CNC to hold the gauges and meter. It was the first official project done on the CNC and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  The Intake gauge is connected to a brass fitting that is screwed into the 6" PVC right in front of the intake for the dust collector.  The exhaust is connected to a brass fitting that is screwed into the transition between the blower housing and the filters.

It took me a few minutes to figure out why the exhaust gauge is registering 0 while running.  The filters are still CLEAN!  When they start to plug up the needle will rise and I will need to clean them.

The amp meter is wired into the ClearVue Motor control box with the transformer going around one leg of the 220v going to the motor and power being provided is connected to the motor side of the relay.  The meter only turns on when the Cyclone is turned on.

Everything is off:

Here all of the blast gates are closed:

Here a single 4" blast gate is open off one of the ClearVue 6" to 4" transitions:

And finally with only the 6" floor sweep blast gate open:
I'm really happy with how it turned out except that the glass on the gauges is very reflective and catches the shop lights making it hard to see the needle.  I may move it to a better location to help with the glare.

Intake gauge was purchased off ebay.  Dwyer 2-5020
Exhaust gauge was also purchased off ebay.  Dwyer 2-5005
Amp meter was from Amazon:  Meter

Monday, February 6, 2017

The BED, The BED, The BED!

It took a while, it took several new tools, and it took fighting with a teen alien, but in the end, the bed finally came together.

From being tight against the wall to using a tie down strap to compress the support struts, the install, or re-install, took way more work than expected.  At one point I was under the bed lifting it up ( think reverse push up ) while the better half, an alien, and I juggled it around to get the base on the pins.  

The bed is bolted to the wall, is square, is level, and even opens and closes well.

What more could an alien ask for?

The picture was taken and sold by a friend of the family's.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Vertical Lumber Rack

With a two-car garage that triples as a car home, work shop, and storage shed, space is an absolute premium.

To organize a bunch of plywood scraps, lumber scraps, and sheets of plywood, I started working on a design that limited wall space, was mobile, and was cheap and fairly easy to throw together.  I saw a lot of different carts but almost all of them took a full sheet horizontal which took up a lot of space.  A lot of the carts I saw seemed pretty heavy and made from a number of sheets of plywood.  I didn't want to spend more money on sheets of plywood then absolutely necessary ( rather use the sheets on projects ).

After the research, I threw together a Sketchup model which was a great starting point.  And it was the first model using the new Space Navigator.

The design has one side for sheet goods and the other divide up for cutoffs and smaller pieces.  It is about 5'6" tall plus castors and 4' wide.

The result varied a bit due to the scraps I found stashed in the garage and what fit the best.  The overall dimensions are the same though.

Picture of the glue up of one of the lap joints for the top frame.

Here the cart is coming together well.  The casters are on and it rolls around very well.  I used the same casters as the tablesaw mobile base and they handle the weight easily.  They also lock both the wheel and turning.  Link to Casters on Amazon

And the finished product with a little wood on it already.  I have to be careful where it gets rolled or a full 8' sheet will hit low hanging things in the garage ( Door opener, Bikes, etc ).

Happy to answer any questions about it and share the Sketchup file if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Save Sketchup Settings to a Central Location on OSX

I run Sketchup on multiple computers and got tired of having to make settings or installing extensions on each.

Many applications running on OSX keep their settings in the ~/Library/Application Support directory.  I've had good luck moving those directories into a Dropbox folder which is sync'd across all my computers.

Sketchup saves its settings and extensions in the

~/Library//Application Support/SketchUp 2017


Move that directory to Dropbox and then create a simlink back from the Dropbox folder to

~/Library//Application Support/SketchUp 2017

will keep all the settings and extensions in sync across your computers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Small thing, HUGE Difference

You know the feeling you get when you find a tool that makes you feel all gitty inside every time you use it, kinda like grabbing a 220v line? Have I got a new one for you today!  A Space Navigator.  It will make your toes curl every time you touch it.  Besides, who doesn't like the name "Space Navigator"?  And it goes right along with the Festool tools are Cylons theme.  It might even beat out the Festool Tracksaw for toe curling action, maybe...

I started using Sketchup to do initial designs on some new projects around the shop.  I've used a number of what I would consider "big boy" CAD/CAM software packages ( Ideas, Pro Engineer, Catia, Cadam, Solidworks, etc ) but Sketchup took some getting used to.  One of the tools I used to use was what we called a SpaceBall, or a 3D mouse on my SGI workstation.

The 3D mice are vastly improved these days, and a good bit cheaper as well.   As it turns out they work beautifully with Sketchup.

I found a deal on Ebay for a 3D Connexion Space Navigator and very impatiently waited for it to show up.  A bounding Tornado burst through the office door carrying a very cold but nicely boxed piece of heavenly goodness.

It has 2 buttons which are user programmable, a nice blue light, and a soft rubber joystick.

I put it on the left of my keyboard so I can use my right hand for the mouse.

To use it, think of the joystick as the model so when you want the model to move up on the screen, pick the joystick up gently, same for left, right, etc.  To zoom you pull it towards you.  You can flip, rotate, and make yourself motion sick till your heart is content.

Now working with models is 10X faster for sure.

I can't recommend getting one of these enough, or even one of the bigger brothers which have a lot more buttons!

Total BUY!