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Murdering electrons in the woodworking workshop.

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  • 10/19/09--22:09: Stu and Lazy Larry
  • Stu and Lazy Larry

    Stu and Lazy Larry

    Caught up with Larry when he came down from Brisbane for both the Alternate Wood Show and the Melbourne Wood Show.  We got to see some of his work at the Melbourne Show – he does some stunning work which I took some photos of, and you can catch more of through his website.

    Larry and his "Woven" Chopping Board

    Larry and his "Woven" Chopping Board

    Sample of his work

    Sample of his work

    And some more boards

    And some more boards

    He really puts in a great deal of attention to detail in the boards he makes, combining complementary and contrasting timbers in elaborate patterns.  He is it seems a fan, as I am, of Purpleheart as an accent timber.  He makes particular use of the capabilities of the Torque Workcentre in some of his creations, which was being demonstrated at the two shows.


    Posted in Blog, Manufactures and Suppliers Tagged: Lazy Larry, Torque Workcentre, Wood Show

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  • 10/21/09--17:56: Been Thinking….
  • The Torque Workcentre, with it’s ability to act as a copy device with a wide range of tools mounted in the cutting side opens up an incredible array of possibilities. From making toy traintrack (and the complex intersections), to overhead circular saw coving, item duplication, surfacing and on and on.

    I’ve even thought about how you could build in an indexing system to allow items longer than the workcentre to be indexed precisely across using the Incra rails, so oversized items could be processed

    Incra Incremental Rack

    Incra Incremental Rack

    Once you start thinking about it, just how much could be done?  Inlays? Routered boxes?

    What happens if you mounted a small indexing lathe onto it? (Or even just came up with a way of mounting a couple of centres to support an item, that you can index around) – flutes?, spiral turning/routing (helical)?  I’m not sure if all this is possible, but it certainly bears considering!

    Once you have a prototype, duplication is a piece of cake.

    Even 3D routing – use the original 3D router to produce the initial part, then the Torque workbench to duplicate the result as many times as required.  You could even use the Torque Workbench with the initial pattern – would beat using the router handheld!  I don’t know, but I’m hoping it can handle Z axis pattern movement.  If not, that would be a fascinating development!

    Just rambling on, as the brain mulls over the possibilities……..


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers Tagged: Flutes, Helical, Incra, Index, Torque Workcentre, Turning

    StuartrackStuartrack

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  • 10/26/09--23:06: Another Road Trip
  • Been a while since I had a road trip, although I guess technically it is a road/air/road/road/air/road trip. Total round trip distance is 3600km.  In US terms, I think this is roughly like a round trip from Miami to NYC.

    Yup, tomorrow I’m heading north for the day, with a flying visit to Brisbane to check out Lazy Larry’s workshop, and particularly get a really good look at the Torque Workcentre.

    lazy larry

    Larry's impressive "weave" pattern

    Torque Workcentre

    Torque Workcentre

    Needless to say, I’m taking my video camera!

     

     

     


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Brisbane, Lazy Larry, Road Trip, Torque Workcentre

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  • 10/28/09--06:36: Northern Exposure
  • In the end, it was quite a massive day, an absolute whirlwind.  From waking at 5am, I was home 1am the following day (thanks in part to some disruptions to flights on the way home on Qantas, and in part because I got to the airport 30 minutes early iaw my ticket, and was told it was too late, and for a local flight I should have planned to be there 90 minutes early. Oh well, had an iPhone packed with movies, so time passed quickly).

    Qantas 737

    Qantas 737

    At the airport, I was met by Larry (Lazy Larry Woodworks) and Aaron (Torque Workcentres), so it promised to be a day full of info.  Larry owns the first Torque Workcentre sold (around 9 months ago?), and Aaron manufactures them, so it was a great tag-team.  More on the workcentre in the next post.

    larry-4

    Bread and Cheese Boards

    Other than a general lack of sawdust ;) (Larry had taken a garden blower to the shed), it was my kind of chaos.  I recognised a Carbatec workbench there on the left.  This is looking towards the back of the shed, with a beer fridge in the back corner (out of view), a clamp rack, lots of storage, and little wallspace, with jigs and creations on all the working surfaces.

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    View towards shed front

    A view from the beer fridge (an essential in Brisbane – hot and humid (well it seemed so to me)), stocked with XXXX Gold, and some ciders.  Oh to have so much working space!

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    Timber, timber everywhere!

    Larry certainly has a range of timbers, and a decent quantity of each.  He also knows his timbers a lot better than I do.  Bit disappointing hearing how much they pay for timber up there – anyone would think timber was gold encrusted in Melbourne for the comparable prices.

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    Torque Workcentre and more jigs

    Walls covered in jigs – the essence of a functional shop.

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    Larry's version of a trivet

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    Twin axis jig used for cutting complex curves

    So that’s a bit of a look around Larry’s workshop – still plenty missed.  You know what it is like in your own shed – all those nooks and crannies where things are hiding, jigs only you vaguely remember the job it was created for, timber offcuts you couldn’t quite throw away.  There was even a radial arm saw I caught a glimpse of on the video I don’t remember actually seeing.  Guess it has become pretty superfluous now Larry has the Torque Workcentre!  His tablesaw is a 12″ contractor’s saw, with a full Incra fence and positioner system, Incra 2000 mitre sled.

    So a big thanks to Larry for his hospitality, and a chance to have a good look through the place.  Of course, the primary reason for the visit was to see the Torque Workcentre, and that will be covered shortly.

    Oh, and thanks heaps for the timber too – Larry sent me home with some Hairy Oak, Avocardo (that will be interesting to see how it comes out – I doubt it will be green though!), a couple of other piece I can’t remember the names of (as I said, Larry knows his timber a lot better than I do!), and most generously, one of his large woven design cutting boards.  Thanks mate!


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Jig, Lazy Larry, Qantas, Torque Workcentre


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  • 10/29/09--06:18: The Main Event
  • Over the course of the day, we took the Torque Workcentre through a number of its basic evolutions, but we didn’t get close to even covering all of those, let alone any of the myriad of inventive ways the machine has already been utilised.

    When I saw the Torque at the Melbourne Woodshow, I didn’t realise that it was such a new animal, but it turned out that it has only been on the market for about 9 months or so – a major development to the Router Master.  The Router Master was an overhead mount system, with the router on a rail that could rotate through 360 degrees.

    The big improvement is now the vertical mounting point isn’t fixed, and instead can be slid along the length of the table.  This provides x,y,z router movements, and still has retained the rotation component/ability to move through an arc.  But I’m getting ahead of myself – what I am wanting to get across is if you haven’t had a chance to see the Torque Workcentre operate, it is worth checking out at your next woodshow (and the Brisbane Hands-on is only a couple of weeks off fwiw).

    The thing that caught my imagination, is look beyond the actual demonstrations to what is actually happening with this machine. Full control over whatever tool is mounted, and that isn’t specifically restricted to the router (although I’d imagine most work these workcentres do will be router-based).  Freehand, template, copy work, pin routing (using a pin to follow a track), and so on.  When I first got into woodworking, discovering the benefits of a tablemounted router for a sense of control and safety really opened my eyes to the advantages of a router.  However there are a number of applications where it isn’t possible to use the router in that manner.  Handholding then is the only option, and there are a lot of applications where that isn’t enough.

    At a BBQ of a Woodworking Forum a few years ago, I saw a home-made rig made from an aluminium ladder and some other components which then created a sled to carry the router over the workpiece, allowing it to be used to surface a board.  It was pretty cool and looked quite interesting, but it wasn’t something I was likely to get around to making.

    For this first real look, we started surfacing a slab of Camphor(?), just to see how it performed this operation.  I’ll put up some videos shot of this tomorrow, so stay tuned ;)

    larrytorque-5

    Installing a router

    There are a number of different brackets for mounting a range of tools – router, circular saw, drill.  I’m sure there will be other ones that would also benefit from such a control platform.  In this case, the mount is for a router.  There may be, in time, a way of mounting a router using its own base, but having one dedicated to the workcentre is the preferred method.  Removing the original router base then allows the router to be quickly mounted and unmounted as required for bit changing.  There is a dust shroud upgrade as pictured which makes a lot of sense.

    larrytorque-4

    Mounting a slab

    The slab is secured to the table by whatever means you have, and in some cases, using some wedges to stabilise where there are twists and warps.  The surfacing operation can replace both a jointer and thicknesser, and unless you are very lucky, who has a jointer (or thicknesser) that is 900 or even 1200mm wide!

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    Finetuning

    Here is Aaron finetuning the setup – getting the router surfacing bit parallel to the travelling arm.

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    Finding High Spots

    The first sweeps across the workpiece is to find the high spots, and getting a feel for how the piece is distorted. (Larry is still plugging in the dust extraction here – rather than routing!)

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    Surfacing Passes

    Once you have determined the heights, the real job of planing can begin.  It may look like a long job, but it goes very quickly and smoothly.  If you get a slight ridge between pass, it means you haven’t properly leveled the bit, so you can either tweek the setup, or just hit it with a few quick passes with a ROS to smooth it all out.

    The surface of the slab in this case looked like there were ridges, but not detectable to touch.  My guess is it is an optical illusion not unlike how a checker pattern is created in the grass of a cricket pitch.  Brushing the fibres in different directions, catching the light, but still at a uniform height.  Nothing a quick sand wouldn’t remove (and not apparent in all types of timber).

    The machine itself is very solid – mostly steel construction, some welded, some cast, multiple bearing rollers.  The MDF top is sacrificial, and the 2.5m version has a working area of 2m.

    If you are looking for more details on the availability of these machines, contact Larry – he’s a distributor for the Torque Workcentres (and the international distributor as well – yes, the Torque Workcentre isn’t restricted to a lucky few down under, and they already have had queries from the US).  You can get him through his Lazy Larry Woodworks website, or phone (+61) 7 54 993361. (Substitute +61 for 0 if within Australia obviously!)


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Planing, Surfacing, Torque Workcentre

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    When I was first setting up my workshop (slowly, over time), I got to the point of deciding between a router table (something I’d never experienced, or knew what it was really for), or a drill press (sounded a bit boring).  I was relying on Triton Orange products to know what to get, not knowing better and the first few purchases were exemplary (particularly the original 2400W Triton Saw).  Triton had a couple of jigs for their router table – a biscuit joiner and a finger jointer (which was technically a box joint rather than a finger joint) and so I had the impression that a router table might be quite useful if they were the sort of things you can do with it.

    Once getting the router table, I discovered just how much control, safety and capability having the router mounted provided.  Over time I have outgrown that table (and some subsequent ones, well documented on this website if you do a quick search), and some jobs I have done since have needed me to develop some hand-held routing skills.  But I’ve always returned to the router table whenever I could for that overall control.  But what if I could have both?

    One of the things that drew me to the Triton range was that it was an Australian company, and it was local manufacturing, something that I think is definitely worth supporting, and encouraging.

    Once I went away from a commercial solution (not finding something that satisfied all my requirements) I started combining quality components to make a Frankenstein router table to beat all router tables.  But as much as I am happy with how the top is progressing, the base was always far behind.  I’ve always liked Norm Abrams router table design too fwiw.

    Having a solid base has been something I’ve wanted to add to the whole package, but just what that would be has been in question for years.

    So I had a bit of a brainwave on the way to work the other day: as you might have gathered from my recent road-trip, (and some upcoming videos) (and by reading Lazy Larry’s blog post), I have decided to add a Torque Workcentre to my workshop, and gain all its significantly impressive capabilities.  My thought was – why not combine the two?  It would save me significant space in the workshop, having both tools occupy a single footprint, and allow the features of one to add to the other when it was applicable.  There is a small problem area, where the router under the table can impact on the support arm for the overhead router, but if I need to use the whole top for a large slab, the in-table router can simply be lifted out.

    With a 2.4 meter top, I will have 2m of working range for the overhead router, so with all that bench space my main fight will be keeping it clear of detritus that seems to build up on any and every flat surface in my workshop!

    The Torque Workcentre is significantly solid as a platform, it is an Australian invention, and is manufactured here, so ticks all those boxes as well. There is an added benefit to that which I first was exposed to when I was heavily endowed with Triton machines with the factory in Melbourne – spares are easy to come by, and you can have an influence on the product design, and when need be, talk with the real experts – the manufacturers, designers and engineers.  Those in the US/OS don’t miss out – these workbenches can be purchased worldwide, exported from Australia, and as demand dictates it may be that manufacturing is also exported under license (there being a worldwide patent on the design). Lazy Larry Woodworks (and the first ever owner of a Torque Workcentre) is listed as the international distributor. (There is a definite benefit of going through Larry – he’s an owner as well, so understands actually using the machine, and isn’t just trying to sell it to you! This approach worked very well for Triton in the past as well – real owners out demonstrating the product, allowing the product to sell itself (as good products will)).

    My Torque workcentre is currently being built, and should be shipped down from Brisbane either the end of next week, or the start of the week after at the latest (at this stage!)  As much as I got to try out Larry’s one last Wednesday, it is a completely different experience when it is just you and the machine in your own space.  It’s going to be awesome!

    I haven’t decided yet whether I am going to dedicate a 2400W Triton to the cause, or get a router specifically for the Torque Workcentre.  All these things are yet to be determined, and can only really be done when the machine arrives.  I’ve already had a number of ideas, how to incorporate a Wixey height gauge into the Torque design, the incorporation of a down-draught table, and of course having a table-mounted router mounted into the tabletop of workcentre.

    So the path to the Ultimate Router Table has taken an interesting turn, and with this latest development, it is looking to be the most unique, and capable router table out there!  Eat your heart out Norm ;)


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Shed, Tools Tagged: Down-draught, Lazy Larry, Overhead, Router Table, Table Mounted, Torque Workcentre, Triton

    StuartStuart

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  • 11/01/09--02:42: Sex, Lies and Videotape
  • Ok, so I lied about the sex!

    What I do have for you are a few short video clips that I shot during my trip to see the Torque Workcentre.

    This first one is when I had a chance to try some surfacing.  It is one thing to see how easy it looks at the wood shows, it is another experience altogether to try it for yourself.  The router is so controlled, so in control.  Instead of having to fight the router (it does try to twist and move like a small animal (with big teeth)) when handholding it, this felt so easy.  As I was holding the bar and applying steady controlled pressure, it was so easy to pull the router through the operation.  Like table-mounted and handheld routing, you listen to the motor, let the router talk to you about how much pressure is reasonable, how much load you are placing on the machine and the router bit.  It was one of those “yeah, this thing has real potential” moments.

    In this second video, Larry demonstrates the copy attachment, and uses it to carve a relief letter.  And not one of those standard, boring ones either that you get with signwriter kits.  A real one, in an Old-English font.

    This next video uses the various stops to control the maximum movement of the router to cause a border to be cut around a bas-relief letter.

    Larry then goes onto a bit of (semi) freehand, with the board located on the (removable) pin so it rotates, but then he goes off with a bit of “creativity” to make something akin to an Aztec calendar design (very loosely speaking!)

    Finally, Larry uses the pinned board for a more traditional process – cutting a circle, and then another to make a wooden ring.  If you did this for real, you could then rebate out the back for an inset mirror or photo (or whatever!)  Either that, or Larry turns hoon, and does some doughnuts with the Torque Workcentre :)


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Overhead, Router, Torque Workcentre, YouTube Chronicles

    StuartStuart

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  • 11/20/09--05:58: Torque of the Town
  • Without exaggeration, it has been one crazy day, one crazy week.  Add on top of that the imminent arrival of the Torque Workcentre, and, well, talk about riding the troughs and peaks.

    The Workcentre was meant to arrive today initially, as I confirmed yesterday afternoon with the courier, and was told that there had been so many express deliveries, that my express delivery had been delayed, and was now due in Melbourne lunchtime, which meant a probably delivery of Monday.  However, checking this morning and instead the new message was that it had arrived in Melbourne already, and the truck was coming out today, and by the way how was I planning on getting the two parcels off the truck, given that they weight 112kg and 140kg respectively and the driver is allowed to lift a maximum of 20kg?

    Hmm, guess having a forklift in the backyard might be typical in some quarters, but certainly not around here.  For all the deliveries I’ve ever had, I’ve never before been expected to unload the truck myself.  That might hold true for businesses, but not for private addresses IMHO.

    So after dwelling on it for a while, I was able to arrange for the delivery to be diverted to a company with a forklift who were happy to help out – thanks guys – much appreciated!  Being diverted meant it should again arrive on Monday, but the courier company to their credit was able to get the delivery happening today, so late this afternoon I picked up the TWC and drove it home.

    I started unwrapping the unit, but after having a chat with Torque by phone, another complication came up.  When the unit was boxed and left the company, it had 6x16mm MDF sides (inc top and base).  By the time it arrived here, 4 of the 6 sides had vanished and had been replaced with metal banding and shrinkwrap, as was another unit delivered today apparently (which developed a case of missing parts).

    The mysterious wrapping

    I had started cutting the shrinkwrap – it was fully around the unit , rather than what is seen here.  The sides have vanished, and who knows if the load is now still complete.  Furthermore, the metal banding wasn’t there when the package left the manufacturers.

    Parts

    Not sure how a 16mm MDF box was broken, and mine wasn’t the only one for the day apparently.  These are normally strong enough to have one stacked on top of another.  What did they do? Drop it on an edge? Then patch it up in the hopes I wouldn’t know better?

    Anyway, past all that – we will find out tomorrow if it is still all complete.

    Got the rails out (different package) and placed them on the artificial turf alongside the house.

    Rails

    And yes, if that toy looks familiar, it is most likely exactly what you think it is – the original kid’s toy made on, and for Triton (not by me), and the toymaker competition it used to sponsor at the original woodshows.  I rescued it when the Triton factory was being demolished.

    Torque 1300mm bar

    So, assembly begins tomorrow!


    Posted in Blog, Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Torque Workcentre

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    It was hard having to wait to assemble the workcentre – having it sit overnight waiting.  At least it arrived on a Friday!

    First job was unpacking the remains of the container, and seeing what, if anything was missing.  By the end of the build, only 2 things appear to have been lost – a single bolt of 4 that holds one of the wheels on, and the assembly instructions!

    So a pretty fortunate outcome in the end.

    Disassembly of the 'crate'

    I was concerned about that gap in the middle, but I now think this is for the shorter versions of the support arm – this unit shipped with the longest 1300mm version, which gets packaged with the 2 main beams rather than in this crate.

    After laying it all out, the assembly task did not look that daunting, and in hindsight it wasn’t – nothing like even assembling a Triton Workcentre – this assembly didn’t need instructions, let alone the difficulty caused by missing a single step of the Triton assembly.

    Components laid out

    Assembly begins upside down, and the tapped holes make it obvious how it goes together.  The two main rails are set out, with the cross bracing bolted across.

    Main platform assembled

    The legs are then added to either end, with the adjustable legs (which also are the ones with brakes) to the front.  Once this section is finished, the unit it flipped upright for the rest of the assembly.

    Legs Assembled

    I didn’t get any photos of the next stage – it went so quickly and smoothly it was over before I picked the camera up again.  Throughout the build, I did have the video running, so at least that (hopefully) caught some of the action!

    Workcentre Completed

    Throughout the build, with every component I picked up I was reminded of the significance of each component – they were heavy, strong, and it was both obvious that it had been built by hand (and not in a bad way), and wasn’t some mass-overseas-produced tool.  This is solid, Australian engineering as it should be.

    The total build took all of 90 minutes – a very smooth assembly, even without the instructions.

    Tool platform with router attachment

    This is the platform for the various tools – in this case for the router.  It includes the optional dust collections shroud. There is still some fine-tuning to do, and a top to be added which I will cover in the next article(s).

    Heavy Engineering

    From the base, to the upright, the support arm and the tool carrier, it is solid components, solid construction all the way.

    It is one thing to see such a unit set up and operating at a woodshow, but you get a real sense for the quality during the build phase.


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Australian, Engineering, Torque Workcentre, Triton

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    On Christmas Eve, the courier finally managed to locate and deliver the package from Torque Workcentre (TWC).  Inside was a shorter main beam and a few other bits n pieces.

    I still have the 1300mm arm, which will prove invaluable when working with very large tops, and breaking down large sheet goods, but in a shed the size of mine, it is more suitable having a shorter arm.  To my mind, the optimum length seems to be the 900mm arm that I have now fitted, but it really does come down to your intended purpose, and the amount of space you have available.

    TWC with 900mm Arm

    This was the main purpose of the package – downsizing the main arm.  And rather timely as well – with my last quick project (a couple of dovetailed boxes for Xmas presents), I found I really did need easy access to my planer, and found I had to move it to a more accessible location.  With space ever-increasingly at a premium, it happened that the planer is now alongside the thicknesser, and it was overhung by the larger arm.   Dropping it back to 900mm now again provides decent access through, past both machines.

    Changing over from one arm to the other obviously meant the carrier had to be removed, and that was an ideal time to add a minor upgrade that I actually suggested.  Once again, having local manufacture is worth its weight in gold – they can be responsive, and are contactable!

    The suggestion I made (well, one of a list) was to do with the Y axis lock (which is the knob on the back of the Y axis carriage).  By original design, when wound in to lock on the arm, the twisting motion caused the carriage to walk along the Y axis.  What TWC came up with (and now a standard fitting for future machines) is to have a metal plate affixed to the casting, the knob can wind in against the plate, causing it to tighten on the Y axis.

    Replacement Knob

    Another suggestion made was to replace the 4 point knob on the plunge arm with a similar one to the Y Axis lock – I found the 4 point knob uncomfortable when a decent amount of pressure was required.  This wasn’t too difficult – the knob is restrained with Locktite which took a bit more effort to crack, but couldn’t resist the combination of a large Stillson and 24″ adjustable spanner!

    I still want to do something about the plunge stop, which I’m finding slips a bit too easily, especially with multiple plunges.  It may be simply a matter of adopting more of the mechanism from the Triton router – larger post and increased area of the lock knob.  I also want to incorporate the multi-post stop that Triton uses – allowing multiple plunge heights to all be pre-set.

    Possible location point for a Wixey Height Gauge

    Another proposal that I’ve made is the incorporation of Wixey Digital technology into the TWC.  A combination readout for all three axis would be ideal (and further reinforce the concept of this machine closing the gap to a full CNC machine).  It wouldn’t actually take too much to turn a TWC into a CNC machine either……..

    In any case, as a proof-of-concept I have been looking to fit the Wixey Planer Height Gauge to the TWC, and this looks a likely location for one.

    Under-Table Router

    Despite the awesome capabilities of the TWC, I still find having another router mounted in the traditional below-table position invaluable.  With the Woodpeckers Router Lift, I am no longer dependent on the plastic worm gear of the Triton itself.  I still use it during bit changing – preferring to use the Triton’s ability for rapid height change to bring it up to full height, which has a combined benefit – it means the shaft gets locked for one-handed, through table bit changing, and still uses the in-built safety mechanism of the interlock to prevent the bit being able to be changed without the router being turned off, and not allowing power to be restored until the shaft is free to rotate.  For accurate height setting though, the Woodpeckers Router Lift is second to none.  I still have to finish the install – just need to mount the remote digital readout.

    Under the Router Lift

    Under the table, the Router Lift in as-used condition – it may look a bit dusty, but that’s par for the course for wood working power tools!

    I was going to use a spare Triton switch to start and stop the router, but the Pro Router Switch is superior.  Where you can see I have mounted it makes knocking off power with your thigh easy, so even if both hands are occupied, you can still easily stop the router.

    Pro Router Switch

    The deluxe version has lights under the switches – when power is available, the on button glows.  When running, this light is out, and the stop button glows instead.  It acts as an extra visual indicator to let you know whether power is being supplied to the router, or not.  It is also a no-current release switch – if power is lost (tripped circuit breaker, black-out etc) then the switch automatically turns off so the tool doesn’t immediately restart when power is restored.  The Triton switch is a lot more basic – when power is restored, the tool takes off again, with obvious safety implications.

    From the two small holes you can see above the switch, I originally thought that would be a good mounting point, but then suddenly remembered that the Extension Table for the TWC slides through that RHS, and the ends of the switch mounting bolts would have impacted on that when I add one to my TWC.  Mounting the switch a little lower turned out to be better – making it easier to kick it off when both hands were busy with the workpiece.

    The switch, Woodpeckers Router Lift and Wixey Digital technology are all sourced from Professional Woodworkers Supplies. The Torque Workcentre dealer I’d recommend is Lazy Larry – he has and uses one, so can also answer any question you may have from an operator’s perspective.


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Mods, Professional Woodworkers Supplies, Torque Workcentre, TWC, Wixey, Woodpeckers

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    After raising the MDF (sacrificial) tabletop on the Torque Workcentre to the height of the cast iron router table, I was finally at the point that I could consider the best way to attach the Incra LS Positioner which is secure, easily removed and doesn’t consume too much of the TWC working area.  More on that later, but it came up that I needed some holes drilled, and given I hadn’t actually tried out the X-Y radial arm drill concept of the TWC, this was the perfect opportunity.

    Saw Mount Removed

    Step one was removing the router (which happens to still be using the circular saw mount).  I had already taken off the router for another job, and removed the copy attachment, so all that was left was the saw mount itself.  It is retained with a single hex bolt.  There are two locating/indexing pins either side which prevent the mount from rotating around the central bolt.

    Tool Mount Indexing System

    It is a very simple concept, with the bolt passing through the carriage into a threaded hole in the tool mount.  The locating pins can be easily seen here.

    Drill Mount and Indexing Detail

    Next, the drill mount is simply screwed into position.

    X-Y Radial Arm Drill

    And there you have it – as easy as anything – an X-Y radial arm drill. It has significant range, and sadly, even the amount of plunge available puts my dedicated drill press to shame. I am seriously tempted to think about the laser currently located on the drill press, whether it would be even better relocated to the Torque.  I probably won’t, but it bears consideration.

    As a drill press, this works very well, and if you want significant height, this has more capacity than a typical dedicated drill press.  Never mind the massive 900mm (or even 1300mm) distance from the drill bit to the upright.  Find a drill press ANYWHERE that has that range!!!!  The drill has X, Y, Z movements, as well as rotation around all three axis. Unbelievable range of movements really (and that range is the same for the router obviously).

    Perfectly Aligned Holes

    With the aid of a ruler to ensure distance between hole centres remained consistent, these holes are in a perfect line.  As you’d expect, I’m looking at ways to be able to do something like this sans ruler- most likely using some of the Incra rails.

    Optimum Incra Fence Mounting Solution

    This is what the holes are for – securing down the Incra Positioner.  One idea I had was to use T Nuts secured to the underside, and these threaded knobs from the top.  Unfortunately I didn’t have nuts that had threads that matched the knobs, so in the meantime I have used some standard bolts from underneath.  Looking at this photo now while writing the article, and I am starting to wonder if I still even need this anodised piece at all, or whether I should instead consider returning to Incra’s original intention – to have the actual positioner secured down directly.  Hmm – even more thought required!

    Safety Power Switch

    Onto a mod directly on, and for the TWC. I originally had the intent to use this switch (originally a Triton switch) for the router table (affixed to the right end of my TWC, and has the Incra Fence discussed above), but as I recently mentioned, I instead went for the Pro Switch sold by Professional Woodworkers Supplies that has a no-current release built in.  I was using the drill on the TWC, and a thought crossed my mind (again) that it would be nice to have a convenient place to plug the different tools into.  My first thought was to mount a power board, until my glance happened upon my Triton switches. Hmm – easy to plug each tool into as it is mounted to the TWC, the ability to turn the tool on by whatever means, then a single, consistent place to start and stop it, and as an added safety benefit, the ability to knee, nudge, kick (whatever) the switch off while both hands are supporting the workpiece and/or tool.  Perfect!

    Switch Location on Arm Support

    The switch is mounted on the lower support arm (as can be seen), so it is about thigh-height.  It travels up and down the x-axis with the tool, so is always in optimum position to be able to kill the tool when required.

    Don’t be concerned about the messy background – partly it is flash shadow, partly they are cables I need to find more permanent arrangements.  I’m considering the main power cable to be run between two pulleys, with a light weight between to take up slack as the arm is slid along the x-axis.


    Posted in Tools Tagged: Incra, Mod, Torque Workcentre, TWC

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    The Walko Surface Clamps from Ideal Tools have arrived! After having experienced them when assessing the Walko Workbench, I couldn’t wait for them to turn up.

    The clamps are used anywhere on the surface of your bench, so a grid of 20mm (dog)holes is required, 100mm apart.  I went with a minimum of 50mm from the first line of holes to the edge, so the holes had plenty of support around them.

    This specific concept of dog holes comes from both the Festool workbenches, as well as the Walko, and I have seen it used on some other bench concepts as well.  Festool also have a surface clamp similar to the Walko (possibly where the Walko design has come from?), which have some more clamping force, but less reach than the Walko, and cost a lot more.  I haven’t tried the Festool, but as far as clamping force, I found the Walkos plenty strong enough for the task.

    The Hole Matrix

    To drill a whole heap of holes, I could have drawn up a grid with a pencil and a straight edge, but with the Torque right there, it was a no-brainer to use it to drill its own holes.  You can see some faint lines in the photo above – where they cross is where the screws are, holding the top down.  It is a concept I’ve taken directly from the workbench at Ideal Tools – these are sacrificial tops, and if it gets cut into, so be it, but you don’t want to have a chance to hit a screw, and thus the lines to make very clear where those screws are located.

    Irwin SpeedBore 3 Flute

    To drill accurately sized, and round holes, I went with the 3-flute Irwin SpeedBore.  It has a tapered thread to start, which happens to really pull the bit down to engage the workpiece.  I went with this rather than the spade bit, because I wanted holes with an accurate diameter, and spade bits can sometimes go a bit haywire and drill an oval, rather than a circle.  My Bosch drill also has quite a bit of runout, so having a bit with a pilot tip to stabilise it helped a lot.  Testing the holes out after, and they couldn’t be better – just the right amount of tightness around the post of the clamp – a Goldilocks solution (not too loose, not too tight, juuust right).  There is some breakout, but given that the bench was already secured down I wasn’t going to finish the hole from the other side, and the underside doesn’t get seen.

    Uniform X-Axis Spacing

    To get uniform spacing of the holes was actually really easy.  With the drill mounted in the Torque Workcentre, I could drill holes wherever I wanted into the top, and at any angle (although obviously in this case I only needed 90 degrees).  Once again, having MagSwitches in the workshop paid off in spades.  In this case, the 50mm MagSquare was a definite – given the amount of mass, and therefore momentum of the sled/arm/tool, crashing into something with insufficient grip would cause it to slip, resulting in inaccurate holes.  I used the MagSquare on the rail of the X Axis, and a piece of MDF as a spacer, cut to 100mm.

    Drill the hole, unlock the X Axis, move the tool 100mm, lock the axis, bring up the MagSquare, drill the hole, rinse and repeat.

    Uniform Y Axis Spacing

    Once a line of holes was drilled, I used the same technique to move the drill 100mm along the Y Axis. An absolute perfect application for the MagSquare, and fully justifying the extra grabbing power of the 50mm.

    Commissioning the Walko Surface Clamps

    The Walko clamps have 2 parts – a stop block which the work is then pressed up against, and then the moving clamps are placed in suitable holes, slid in to take up the slack, then the lever moved so the cam-action places pressure against the workpiece.  The workpiece can be pretty much any shape which is one real benefit of these clamps, and you use as many as necessary to securely hold the work securely.  In this case, a piece of avocado from Lazy Larry.  The clamps are low profile, so you can machine, surface, sand and plane right over the top of them.  In some instances, you don’t need the movable clamp, but they help prevent the piece moving on you.

    Poised for Action

    I went with 2 sets of these clamps – often one is enough, but 2 sets (of 2 clamps), even 3 sets is ideal.  In fact I may be tempted to get one more set for use with the Torque workcentre, that way I can use 3 clamps to hold the workpiece, and the other 3 clamps to hold the template/component I am copying when using that feature of the TWC.  In total, I drilled about 100 holes.  I’m still considering drilling a whole stack more (small) holes in one area of the bench, and create a down-draft sanding area, boxing in the underside and connecting a 4″ hose to it for sanding operations.  This TWC just presents so many possibilities, I haven’t begun to scratch the surface (literally or figuratively!)

    Speaking of which, after drilling 100 holes, turning the drill on and off for each hole, I am absolutely sold on the starter switch I added (documented a couple of posts ago).  Given that it may not be as easy to source the Triton starter switch, the one I’m using for the router table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies would be a good (if not better) choice.

    Refining the Incra Mounting

    While finishing off the TWC top, I looked again at the Incra LS Positioner and how I had fixed it down, and decided on a near-ideal solution (and one intended by Incra!)  A couple of holes all the way through the MDF top, with a couple of bolts who’s heads engages in the track slots in the Incra base.

    Under-table view

    Underneath, two knobs make it easy to tighten the bolts, locking the Incra in position, yet allowing for the bolts to be easily loosened if the Incra needs to be moved, or removed.

    Recessed when not needed

    Here I have detached the Incra, and the bolts have dropped into the recess I drilled, so they are below the surface of the table so as not to interfere with the Torque Workcentre operation.  By having the router table fence easily removed means that it is no problem for me to utilise the entire 2.5m length of the TWC.

    If you haven’t gathered, I am really happy how this has all worked out – the ease of clamping pieces anywhere on the TWC, the undertable router with a cast iron tabletop, so I can use my MagSwitch featherboards, the use (and ease of removal) of the Incra LS Positioner, the height winder on the router table, and the remote start switches on both the TWC and router table.  The router is certainly a powerful tool in my workshop, and definitely not one to be shied away from if you don’t like hand-held routing!

    A perfect symbiotic union of Torque Workcentre, Incra, MagSwitch, Carbatec TS CI Wings, Triton Routers, Walko Surface Clamps, Wixey, PWS Pro Router Switch and Woodpeckers to really create the ultimate router table.  If anyone can think of a way I can improve this further, I’d love to hear it!  I still want to incorporate the Incra fence along the back edge of the table, with precision stop placement – that’s next (along with the downdraft sanding table addition).


    Posted in Tools Tagged: Dogholes, Festool, Irwin, MagSquare, MagSwitch, SpeedBore, Surface Clamp, Torque Workcentre, Walko

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  • 01/07/10--23:19: The Proper Triton Mount
  • TWC are busy fabricating a new batch of mounts (due in the next week or so) for Triton router owners to be able to fit the Triton router to the TWC, and in the meantime they’ve sent down one of their original prototypes so I can get my Triton router secured properly. So in these photos, the finish is not their usual refined version, but at least you can see how their mount is specifically designed for the Triton.

    Step 1 is removing the plunge base from the Triton router. The way TWC have come up with to mount a wide variety of plunge routers is to remove the base, and use the post holes to locate the router, and the router plunge lock to secure it in position.

    On the Triton router, remove the plunge spring….

    Remove the Plunge Spring

    Then wind the router down until the top of the post is accessible. On top is a circlip preventing the router from otherwise coming apart.

    Remove the Circlip

    The elegance of this solution is how easy it is to reverse the process on a whim, and return the router to full handheld operation.

    This is also a perfect opportunity to give the internals a bit of a compressed air cleanout.

    Separating the router from the base

    Finally, wind the router to maximum height, and pop it off the uprights.

    Prototype of the Triton Router Mount on the TWC

    The Triton router mount is quite unique, and takes into account the specifics of the Triton router design. As mentioned, this was a prototype, so the actual version has changed. The long pin engages the the hole that has the plunge lock. It needed to be long enough to reach up to where the plunge lock is on the router. There is a scalloped area so the original Triton gearing does not impact on (and get damaged by) the pin. The shorter pin is drilled eccentrically so you can fine-tune the fit (neat solution)

    Triton Router Mounted

    Once mounted, the router is absolutely solid, and yet by utilising the plunge lock it means the router is quickly and easily removed and replaced (such as for bit-changing). Of course it means you’ve lost most of the functionality of the Triton router, but it is about a minute job to return it to being a standard Triton router. In this orientation, it is still a 2400W, soft start, variable speed router.

    TWC Dust Collection

    Finally, dust collection has been well sorted, with the optional dust shroud. It has brushes around the perimeter and is simple to remove when necessary. (In this photo it is slightly off-centre, again because the Triton mount is an older prototype).


    Posted in Manufactures and Suppliers, Tools Tagged: Torque Workcentre, Triton Mount, TWC

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  • 07/14/10--04:46: Bearing an Explanation
  • A bit over a week ago I mentioned a thought I’d had about the copy attachment for the Torque Workcentre.  To provide some extra clarity for what I was talking about, I took some photos to detail the idea.

    What I was suggesting was for the copy pin to be adapted to take the standard router bit bearings.  These come in a variety of sizes, allowing patterns to be finetuned to the result, or to compensate for a pattern that was a bit rough, or to start with a roughing pass, then change to a smaller bit that matches the template for the final pass.

    Collection of Bearings

    This is a couple of sets of bearings I have – obviously a consistent set with the same internal diameter, and a regular increase in size from bearing to bearing.

    Current Copy Attachment

    What I am proposing is the bearing set is able to be attached (individually of course!) to the bottom of the pin here, on the Torque Workcentre copy attachment.

    Bearing Pin Detail

    Some close-up shots, showing how the bearings are currently attached to a copy router bit.  The centre pin with an internal thread for a hex bolt.  It may seem flimsy, but this bearing deals with the forces of routing, with rotational speeds up to 22000 RPM (or more).

    Fixing the Bearing

    The bearing, when fully inserted onto the shaft sits proud.  This is important, because the bolt needs to impact on the centre of the bearing, holding the centre of the bearing solidly, with the outside race free to turn.

    These are all sealed bearings, given the environment they are expected to operate in.


    Filed under: Tools Tagged: Bearing, Copy Attachment, Torque Workcentre

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  • 05/22/11--06:03: Picking up a slab
  • In many sheds (and parties, and sports clubs) down under, that’d raise connotations of an end of the productive side of the day, and the cracking of a few favourite beverages is about to commence.  But for woodworkers, there is also the possibility that it means just that – the acquisition of a large flat slice of timber, usually cut by someone else who has more specialised toys than in the average shed.

    However, if you own (or are considering) the Torque Workcentre, it is not out of reach, as the slabbing attachment gives the typical workshop the ability to claim very useable timbers from the very trees in which it grows.

    The attachment has 2 main parts – two clamps that attach to the main arm on the TWC, and securely clamp a chainsaw between them.  About 4″ of the chainsaw bar length is lost in this, so a 16″ chainsaw can slab a maximum width of 12″.  The bigger the chainsaw, the more powerful the motor, the larger the slab you can manage.

    There is a block on either side of the bar (narrower than the width of the bar, so as not to touch the chainsaw teeth) that hold the chainsaw firm, and with one at either end of the bar, it is locked in tight.

    The position is probably different from chainsaw to chainsaw, but a hole through to, or scalloped out area near the chainsaw would be useful so blade adjustments can be done without the need to remove the chainsaw from the jig.

    I’d also like to see some form of oil reservoir mounted above the chain with a controllable feed rate, as the normal chain lubrication method being gravity fed is rather ineffective with the chainsaw perpetually on its side.  However, these are all refinements to the basic operation.

    I started with a lump of camphor laurel (yes, oh Roving Reporter, THE lump of CL – you’ll have to find an alternate seat!) that I picked up for $10 a couple of years ago, and secured it to the TWC.  Although this piece is short enough to pass through a resawing operation on the bandsaw, it works well as a test piece here.  With the chainsaw bar levelled out, and the depth of cut set, I was ready for a first pass.

    The first cut was set very shallow – I only wanted to take off enough to flat-spot the log, so it would sit more securely on the workbench for further slices.

    As the chainsaw bit in, the unmistakable aroma of camphor wafted through the shed, undiminished by the continuous air filtration of the Microclene unit, or even the head protection afforded by the Purelite Respirator (I geared up a bit for this) – I’d have to have used a carbon filter to extract that, but it isn’t unpleasant (although my wife strongly disagreed when she made a surprise visit, committing the cardinal sin of interrupting shed time :( ;) )  Even a couple of hours later when I walked past the outside of the shed, the smell was still very much in evidence!

    With the first cut complete, the log was flipped over for the first slab to be cut.

    One of the problems I always have, is getting timber that is thick enough when I go shopping – like purchasing steak from the supermarket, they are sold so measly thin, on the (probably correct) assumption that people will buy more quantity, rather than quality (3 thin steaks sells better than 2 thick ones).  This isn’t an issue when you do it yourself, and in the case of slabbing a trunk, you can cut the slab as thick as you like.  And you can also choose whether you want regularly sawn timber, or quarter sawn.

    Not an option you normally get from a box-hardware store.  For the same reason – a quarter sawn log is more expensive (more timber is wasted) and the average shopper doesn’t distinguish, other than on the price.

    There are plenty of ripples across the surface from the cut, but a few quick passes through the drum sander got rid of them without a problem (I used the drum sander to avoid the snipe from the thicknesser on a short board).

    Finally, it was off to the new workbench, and firing up of the Festool ETS 150/5 (random orbital sander)

    Hard to see here, but a quick rub down with a wood oil (the ol’ Triton oil in this case) really picked out the details.  I didn’t actually need to oil it yet, other than my own curiosity – the board will head over to the tablesaw to cut it to size for the next project, and get whatever finish is applied to that, but I just wanted to really see how the details responded, especially the spalting, to a bit of oil.


    Filed under: Manufactures and Suppliers, Project, Techniques, Timber Tagged: Bandsaw, Bar, beer, Camphor, Chainsaw, Drum Sander, Feed Rate, Flatspot, Husqvarna, Lubrication, Oil, Quarter Sawn, Resaw, Slab, Snipe, Spalting, Thicknesser, Timber, Torque Workcentre, TWC

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  • 10/14/11--18:50: Shuffling the Pack
  • Had a sudden urge to refine the layout of the shed – things were not working as I wanted after the last two additions out there, so I really wanted to get it back to properly functional out there.  My first thought was to relocate the Torque Workcentre into the 3mx3m shed which would really open things up again, but when I measured it, the small shed door was not simply wide enough (and I’d have to take the whole workcentre apart to get it in there – not something I’m really interested in doing every time I want to move the machine.

    So I changed focus to what else I could do instead.

    It was all heavy stuff – individual items weighing between 80 and 250kg (175lb – 550lb).  Each move then a slow, coordinated system of checks and balances (lots of balancing).

    The shed is now a real mess, so once I get everything back into place I’ll snap a few new layout pics.  Feeling better about the layout now than I was with the compromises I was coming up with.

    The Jet mini lathe was moved to the lower shed (storage) where it joins my Jet bandsaw.  I’m not anti-Jet at all, in fact if I had any negative opinions towards the two tools they’d be sold, not stored.  (Stored in the hopes that one day I’ll have a shed large enough to properly restore them to operation).  You might ask why I would want two bandsaws, or two lathes?  With the bandsaw, I’d like to have the Jet set up with finer blades, and the big one with resaw blades and not have to chop and change the blades for each job as much. The lathe is a combination of just liking the Jet, and it has a full length bed, and it is a good lathe for spindle work.

    With the Jet lathe moved, and the drill press relocated there is then room for the Nova DVR down that end.  It then meant the planer could return to where I planned to be in an earlier iteration.

    Finally, the workbench was rotated to fit into the corner as a better utilisation of space and to open up the floor space (floor space is an important tool in a workshop).

    I still maintain infeed and outfeed space for the thicknesser and drum sander, and by rotating the planer it can feed significantly long work through it as well by opening shed door when necessary.  Same for the bandsaw – ok for smaller work, and much larger work can operate out the shed door as well.


    Filed under: Shed, Shed Dweller Tagged: DVR, Jet, Lathe, Layout, Nova, Shed, Torque Workcentre, Woodworking, Workshop

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  • 11/18/11--03:41: Torque Demos
  • Had an interesting night tonight- a couple of woodworkers came around to see what the Torque Workcentre was all about. Seeing as I didn’t get to do any demonstrating at the show, it was fun getting into it tonight. So easy to demonstrate a tool when you get genuinely passionate.

    Went through a whole suite of things – creating accurate fences perfectly parallel to the direction of travel, rip and crosscut saws, router surfacing, copying.

    And a whole bunch of things you can do on a Torque Workcentre that you won’t get watching other demonstrators, tricks and techniques I have developed, either in practice or at least far enough that the theory is mature enough to achieve the desired result.

    We also chatted a bit about other woodworking things – Walko clamps, Festool Domino etc.

    So a good hour and a half, and two happy woodworkers now off to become Torque owners. Shame I don’t sell the machines eh!


    Filed under: Manufactures and Suppliers, Techniques Tagged: Torque, Torque Workcentre, Woodworking

    StuartStuart

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  • 12/15/11--04:27: Another Day, Another Demo
  • Had another guest around the other night to have a look at my Torque Workcentre.  It’s always fun slowly winding up the demo, getting them off guard, then smack em with capability after capability, feature after feature.

    There is a particular look they get when they start taking what they have seen and start coming up with their own solutions to problems they didn’t realise existed, until the solution was thrust in front of them!

    It’s always fun demonstrating a machine that actually justifies the interest. And being able to say that no, I’m not trying to sell a machine by doing this demo – I have no vested interest in whether you buy one or not.  But I know after I’ve demo’ed it to you, I know you’ll get one anyway!

    Other than that, I really haven’t been able to get out to the shed recently – for some people, it is a winding-down time approaching Christmas.  Mine is the opposite, and I basically fall across the finish line at the end.

    Fortunately, that finish line I’m stumbling towards is tomorrow! Sure looking forward to knocking off a number of projects I have sitting there just waiting for some attention ;)

     

     

     


    Filed under: Tools Tagged: Christmas, Holidays, Torque Workcentre

    StuartStuart

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    No – seriously.  Have you seen all the footage I’ve made, read all the articles I’ve written and just wished you could afford one of these for yourself, but the $4000+ price tag has been just too much to be able to justify?

    I have been approached, to sell, a near new (virtually unused) 2 metre Torque Workcentre, with a 900mm arm, and the usual collection of accessories that are normally optional extras.

    The normal pricing is:

    Torque Workcentre $3720

    Drill attachment $55

    Saw attachment $230

    Copy attachment $180

    Dust guard $110

    Total of $4295.  But what will it actually sell for? $3500? $3000? less? How low may it go?

     

    You’d have to pick it up from South-east Melbourne – it is fully assembled, and I am not wrapping it!

    At this stage I will consider offers if you (as Stu’s Shed readers) are really, really keen to own one (and really, really quick to tell me), otherwise this may become the very first Torque Workcentre on eBay.

    Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

    And no, before anyone asks: this is NOT my 2.5m Torque workcentre that sits in my workshop.  Hands off!!


    Filed under: Tools Tagged: Ebay, Melbourne, Torque Workcentre

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  • 01/10/12--22:12: 20 Hours to Go!
  • Before bids close on the sale of the 2m Torque Workcentre.

    Don’t miss out – these will rarely come up for sale, so it is a great opportunity to get one well below their retail price!

    If you don’t get a bid in before the close time, there will be no late submissions – the machine will have already sold.


    Filed under: Tools Tagged: Sale, Torque Workcentre

    StuartStuart

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