Friday, December 31, 2010

Precious Metal Nugget Blanks

I've come up with a cool new poly resin. Gold/Silver/Whatever Nugget.

It is made of shredded metal leaf mixed in polyester resin. Kind of a pain to get it mixed in without a bunch of bubbles and crap, but the end result is worth it.

I'm making enough to send to a retailer to see if they're marketable. Here are the first couple batches:

A close up of the blanks straight out of the molds as well. I'm currently only doing gold and silver, as they are the most obvious as well as being the easiest. I've made some copper ones too, but the copper is less cooperative. It tends to clump up. I just need to work out a technique because it's a really good looking material.

Below are some pens made with the various nugget blanks. Definitely worth the effort!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

As Hand Tool as I Wanna Be

Well, as hand tool as I *can* be anyway.

This project started out as a pine bunk bed bought from Al's Woodcraft in Huntington Beach, CA (I think) in the early 80's. My step-dad and I built it. Well, we bolted it together... Heh.

I'm not sure what it was finished with. I think it was done with Watco danish oil followed by lacquer. But I was like 12, so don't remember for sure. I *do* remember the Watco can left under the sink for years after we built this and the rest of the set - A desk and dresser, both of which I still use.

The bed was used by me, my baby brother, then by my son and my daughter. It was finally retired when my mother-in-law sent my daughter a bed from Disneyland that was used in one of the hotels. She works there, so has access to the employee store where cool stuff like that shows up.

Because of the history of the bunk bed, I didn't want to just toss it or give it away. So I chopped up the wood into usable chunks, tossing only the joinery. I waited for a project that would be suitable for some truly crappy pine, but that I'd be willing to keep as an heirloom and maybe pass on to one of the kids.

The opportunity finally came when I got an LCD TV for the living room, replacing the 27" CRT TV that's been there for many years. My daughter wanted the big TV. Her 14" LCD TV was too small for her room (to her anyway...) But the dresser holding her little LCD was too small and lightweight for the big TV. Aha! Those big sturdy pine boards would be perfect!

But I didn't want to just cut and glue and such. I took the opportunity to use my hand tools as much as possible. But I don't have many. A Stanley Bailey No. 5 plane and various saws are about it. But I could do much with those.

I used the plane to strip the varnish off the wood, and to flatten the glue-up of the top. I used my table saw to rip the boards for the glue-up. There was no way my hand sawing could make glue line joints, and I don't have a jointer plane. The rest of the cuts were done by hand. The edge treatments were done with my PC router, and the table saw did the dadoes to hold the shelves.

The shelves came from an old Ikea bookcase that got mangled during the move here to Colorado from California. They're crappy pine too, and matched well.

Finish is BLO rubbed in, followed by brush on lacquer.

Now I just need my son to get over the flu so we can put the TV on it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simple oak shelving

I hate to break away from the 111 post count, but I thought I'd share something I did for myself.

Dimensional red oak, 1x4 (3/4x3.5") slapped together with dadoes and some simple router work around the outside.

The Delta dado set I have is missing its shims. To fit this wood, I needed a shim about the thickness of a piece of notebook paper. So I stuck a piece of notebook paper in there! Worked great. Routered with a  cove bit for around the outside corners, and used a flat bit and my router table fence to create the vertical stripe on the sides.

Simple BLO and lacquer finish. I love working with BLO and lacquer. I can apply the BLO one evening, and start applying the lacquer the next morning. BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) adds a warm tone to the wood without blotching or darkening end grain. And lacquer sprayed is so fast... 30 minutes between coats and ready to hang in a few hours after the last coat.

Speaking of hanging, I drilled 3 pocket holes on each side and used Walldog screws to fasten to the wall. The wood will break before these guys pull out.

I used the black ones so they'd hide better in the holes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pen Size Comparison Chart

One thing I've never seen is a chart comparing the different pen sizes. I don't know just how helpful this is, since tiny differences in pen girth = huge differences in the feel of the pen.

  1. 1-Pocket Pen
  2. 2-Slimline (modified)
  3. 3-Sierra
  4. 4-Pentel Conversion
  5. 5-European
  6. 6-Tall Slimline
  7. 7-Jr Gentleman's
  8. 8-Jr Majestic
  9. 9-El Grande
This isn't comprehensive by any means, though it can be used as a basic guide. If I say it's "Number 9 sized" then you know it's the thickest of the lot.

I hope this helps!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pen Disassembly Parts Catcher

(Sorry, I forgot about this one. THIS is the last one for the night. REALLY!!!)

I often have to disassemble parts for one reason or another. A barrel needs to be refinished, or I don't like the end result, or I'm tired of the barrel on a personal pen, or whatever. The worst part, aside from getting a bit of skin pinched during the process, is chasing the little part after I've removed it with strong whacks from a mallet.

I've tried boxes. I've tried bags. I've tried all sorts of things, but the stupid part always ends up buried in my junk in the garage.

I got the idea to use a bench brush after seeing how much crap gets stuck it in when it's just hanging there minding its own business. I figured it couldn't hurt. So I gave it a shot.

Lay the brush on its back and aim the pen part directly into the bristles. If your brush is worn and the bristles are bent, I doubt this will work. But if it's relatively new, and the bristles are straight and soft, go for it! It works awesome! I did three pens and not one part went flying!

Pipe Mold Rack (Casting Polyester Resin)

(Last post of the night, I promise. I've been sitting on these ideas for a while and just need to get them out.)

I own lots of molds from expensive silicone molds where you cast the resin straight to a pen tube, down to lowly pieces of plastic pipe. The pipe are my favorite molds. They use less resin per inch of usable blank than a rectangular mold, and are more flexible than the "Resin Saver" molds with the pen tubes. Plus they're round, so the resulting blanks are easy to drill.

I use two sizes: 1/2" and 3/4".  The small one is for Pentel pencils and 7mm kits, the larger one is for everything else. I also use 2" pipe for "bottle stopper" sized castings, but that's outside of this article.

Anyway, the biggest challenge to using the pipes is how to keep them standing upright both during pouring, and when moving around (I'm ADD... I can never do only one thing at a time!)

If simplicity is brilliance, I should call MENSA. I made a rack to hold 'em. Took two lengths of "white wood" from Lowes (1x4 aka 3/4" x 3.5"), used a 1 1/4" forstner bit and cut holes. The top board got the holes all the way through, the bottom board got them 1/2" or so. Ripped some scraps from the wood and fastened them with Kreg pocket hole screws.Slapped a coat of garnet shellac (what else am I gonna do with that stuff?) on it to seal the wood. Then sanded smooth and put a buttload of wax on it with the buffer to help keep drips from sticking.

Works a treat! First cast is in there now. I love it! I can't believe I didn't think of this before!!!

Dust Collection at the Lathe

I picked up a 2hp dust collector off Craigslist for $50. I haven't had the $$ to get a proper hood to mount to the lathe, but having a DC at the lathe makes a HUGE difference in how much mess gets on the ground and in my face.

So I bungie corded the bare hose to my tool rest banjo. Works great!

Polyester Resin and Plastic Cups

Yup. Polyester resin and plastic cups don't mix. At least not the ones with a "6" in the recycle triangle:

I was out of my usual wax coated paper cups, and grabbed some of these. Ugh. Don't do it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Delta 46-700 Lathe Reeves Drive Warped Pulley

Video at the end of this post.

I noticed last week that my lathe was making more noise than it should. Being a Reeves drive, it already makes a fair amount of noise, so it took a bit for me to catch that it was louder than it should be.

A Reeves drive is a pulley system that allows infinitely variable speeds while keeping the motor speed consistent. It does this by moving the two pulley halves further apart for slower speeds, closer together for faster speeds. The V-belt moves in and out, effectively changing the pulley diameter.

It's a good design and less expensive than an electronic speed control. Being mechanical, it does have its drawbacks. Namely that parts wear and break. When I bought this lathe (for $100) the outboard pulley bearing set was broken. I installed the new outboard gear and it worked fine, but noisy.

I pulled the cover off today to find out why there was so much noise. I found three problems:
  1. Inboard pulley mounted incorrectly-
    The inboard pulley set screw was on the motor shaft, not on the key as it should be. This made it impossible for the key to be fully seated, making the highest lathe speeds unavailable because the two pulley halves couldn't get as close together as they should.
  2. Belt is old and stiff-
    The belt was old and dried out, resulting in bumps preventing the belt from traveling smoothly.
  3. Warped pulley-
    The inboard pulley is warped. This was slapping the belt around, causing a lot of noise and some vibration.
You can clearly see the belt slapping around in the video below. The low resolution of the video doesn't really show the pulley, however.

A new inner pulley is only $15 from, but it's still annoying to have to replace it. Especially considering how slow their shipping is.

At least I've found the problem!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Update on the Mini Mounting

Some pics of the mini mount in use in a school:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mounting the Wild Mac Mini

My church just bought 32 Mac Minis to use with the Promethean smartboards in the classrooms. Of course, Apple changed the dimensions of the Mini this summer, making all the available wall mounts obsolete. Nobody currently has one available for the new Mini. "A few months..." is what we hear.

So I decided to make my own. Less than $10 in materials per mount, and it matches all the oak in the building. A t-nut and a set screw hold the mini securely in place. Self-adhesive foam in the bottom and hardboard between the set screw and the mini protect it from harm. The cable ports are exposed on one end, the optical drive slot exposed on the other. Finished in BLO with shellac and lacquer. We'll probably have to use a darker stain to match the finish on the rest of the building, but it's pretty darn close. And I don't have anything else handy...

Ideally, these will be mounted to sliding mounts so they can be slid behind the whiteboards most of the time, while allowing them to be slid out for access to the USB ports. But if not, a pair of WallDog screws will hold it securely to the wall. (Those holes are not in this prototype.) If this gets approved, a co-worker and I will be making 32 of 'em.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Craftsman 10" Contractor's Saw Model 21833 - Review Summary

I posted detailed articles on the purchase and assembly of my Craftsman 10" saw model 21833 in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Now that I've been using it for a little while, I thought I'd do a review of the saw's use.

There are Pros and Cons around this saw, as there are for any product. At a little over $400 on sale ($550 normally), the manufacturer had to make some shortcuts.

Riving Knife
The riving knife was a huge feature for me. I've never had a saw with one, but I liked splitters when I could use 'em. The riving knife seemed like a truly usable solution. And it is! There are only two things I'd change, and one feature request:
  • The blade has to be fully raised to extend the riving knife if it's retracted. Something binds the knife when the blade is more than 20% lower than fully extended. 
  • This is a wish because I doubt *any* riving knife does this: Allow the knife be adjusted to the diameter of the blade. For example, an 8" blade has over an inch between the blade and the riving knife. That's a pretty big gap. And since I often use odd sized blades to get the cut I want, it would definitely be useful.
  •  Can someone make different thicknesses of the riving knife so I can match the knife to my blade's kerf? It sucks to not be able to use it with really thin kerf blades.
On-Base Storage
The saw comes with places to store your saw's accessories. This is nice because there's nothing worse than having your miter gauge fall off the barstool you precariously balanced it upon. When everything's stored, the saw can be moved around without worrying about stuff falling off or getting in the way. However...
  • Can't place or remove the fence if the miter gauge is in the storage slots
  • The guard/pawls/insert plates storage is a joke. PITA to get stuff on there, and it's not terribly secure
  • Blade/tool storage is immediately beneath the right wing. Sucks to get to. I've ended up putting it all on my wall, especially since I now have a router table in that wing
The storage is still useful, but could be better. I'd move the blade storage to the left side on the motor cover to start with.

In the previous articles I talked about the scary pits in the blade body, so I won't rehash that here. But I did try some cuts with that blade. Ripping and crosscutting both hardwoods and softwoods resulted in tearout, rough faces, and a much higher feed effort than should be needed. In other words, it's completely useless. Make a clock out of it or something. (You didn't expect a WWII blade with a $400 saw, did you?)

Table Inserts
The saw comes with two steel inserts, one for single blades, one for dadoes. The table of this saw isn't friendly to making your own zero clearance inserts because of the shallow lip in the opening to hold the insert. Some folks have had good luck making them anyway, so I may attempt it later. In the meantime, I'll continue using the stock ones. However...
  • The paint finish on the two inserts is of different thicknesses. That means having to reset the adjustment screws when switching between the two. Ewww...
  • The paint finish is so thick on the dado insert that I had to scrape it off around the edges just to get it to fit the opening. Yeah, that makes me feel SO good.
They're adequate, but could be MUCH better.

Design Flaws
I mentioned this before, but it bears mentioning again. The mounting of the arbor and such under the table is such that when the blade is fully extended vertically, the whole thing shifts a smidge. So you can never hit the stops if you want to keep the blade square.

To me, this is the most serious flaw in the entire saw. Others have noted it as well. It makes me worry about the durability of the design for use over years.

The miter gauge is simply a joke. Buy an inexpensive Incra (the v27 is under $50) and hide the stock gauge in a deep dark part of your shop.

It's really not all bad...
The pros significantly outweigh the cons in this saw. I'd buy it again.
  • Huge bang for the buck!
    A cast iron top, built in rollers, 1 3/4 hp motor, all for under $500!!!
  • The 1 3/4 hp motor is quite nice. Smooth, quiet, and powerful. 6/4 oak is no problem for a sharp blade on this saw.
  • The built in rollers are very nice. Aside from having to walk around the table to hit both levers, it's perfect!
  • The fence is decent, and works really well. Not a Bies but it's better than a $400 saw should have.
  • The vertical and angle adjustments are smooth and light. 
  • The wings, while being stamped steel, are much more substantial than other steel wings I've seen.
  • Storage for accessories on the saw is a feature common to many new saws, but this is the first saw I've owned with it. Nice!
  • Passes the nickel test (once I shimmed the feet to get the saw level. My garage floor is nowhere near level.)
Definitely a good saw, but not great. The bang for the buck is certainly there. Plus, your local Sears probably has one in stock, so you can take it home today if you want. (You'll need a pickup and possibly a crane or a couple of strong helpers to get it out of the truck.)

If you need a saw in the $500 range, this is the one to get. I can recommend it without reservation, as long as the issues noted in this and the previous 3 articles are kept in mind.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Craftsman 10" Contractor's Saw Model 21833 - Part 3

In Part 1 I talked about the unboxing and a quick summary of the assembly of the saw.
In Part 2 I talked about quality issues with the saw blade, and the minor tolerance challenges I had.
Here in Part 3 I will talk about dialing the saw in.

The instructions that came with the saw (new ones with photos, not the old ones. If you get the old ones without photos, download the good ones from the Sears website) were quite good. If you follow them IN ORDER you will have a nicely dialed in saw.

There are five critical adjustments and a few minor adjustments. For now we'll talk about the critical ones:
  1. Saw blade to miter slot parallelism
  2. Wings to table
  3. Fence to blade/miter slot and fence to table
  4. Miter gauge
  5. Riving knife and guard system
Let's start with the blade adjustment. 

The instructions give a great way to measure the blade front to back parallelism. One thing they don't tell you... Do NOT raise the blade 100%. Keep it a bit shy of fully extended. The design of the trunion mounting causes it to twist a bit when it hits the stops, and this will throw off your measurements. Clamp a dowel or stick to your miter gauge (doesn't matter if the miter gauge is adjusted for this). Set the dowel so it just touches a tooth at the front of the blade. Mark that tooth with a sharpie or something. Rotate that marked tooth to the back of the blade and slide the miter gauge with dowel so it's pointing to that same tooth. Is it just touching exactly like before? If not, you need to adjust the trunnions.

Mine was 1/64th off, so I followed the instructions. I removed the six screws on the panel at the rear of the saw and located the 4 bolts mounting the trunnion to the table. The manual said there are 4, but the picture only shows three. The fourth is way up front, hidden from view. Reach up there and feel around and you'll find it.

I loosened all four bolts and tapped the trunnion with the heel of my hand until it was fully aligned. There's one angle where you pretty much have to hit the blade shield so be gentle. Once it's aligned perfectly (take your time, there's no rush here), tighten two bolts - One in the front, and one in the rear. Now measure again. This is making sure you didn't knock it out of alignment while tightening the bolts. If it's still perfect, tighten up the other two bolts.

In my saw, the rear panel was one of the places with some tolerance and alignment issues. When you put it back on, only start the threads on the six screws. Then tighten the middle ones first, and diagonally tighten the rest. Middle, middle, top right, bottom left, top left, bottom right. And so on. This will keep the panel from warping or pulling the cabinet out of square.

Now for the wings.

As with most inexpensive saws, the wings are stamped steel. The enamel coating on them is crap, just like most of the paint on this saw. So be gentle... I got a set of scratches on mine from laying it face down on the concrete floor. Whoops!

I'm assuming you have a good straight edge around. I have two. A steel high quality 48" straightedge and an aluminum 48" level. Both are very straight. I use the straightedge simply as a reference to check the level, then the straightedge goes back on the shelf. The nice thing about using the level is it will stand there while you work. You don't have to hold it. Makes life much easier!

I first mount the wings on both sides, getting the bolts only finger tight. Then I place the level on the table at the middle of the wing and tighten that bolt a little more, just enough for the lock washer to start to compress. Then I move to the front and do the same thing. By the time I get to the rear, it should already be on a plane with the table top. Crank all the bolts down and double-check that they stayed put.

At this point, before doing ANYTHING else, clean the table and wings from your greasy fingerprints (you cleaned them before assembly as the instructions said, right?!?!?!) and apply a coat of quality wax. I avoid automotive waxes for tool use due to the additives they have, instead preferring a good quality furniture paste wax. I like Bowling Alley wax, which is available at Ace Hardware and elsewhere. But use what you prefer or have handy.The wax will help protect the paint and the table surface from light scratches, and make cleaning it up later much easier. Plus, if you're in a humid area, your table top started rusting the minute you cleaned the shipping grease off it!

That beautiful fence.

I like this fence. There are some complaints about it out there, but the design is wonderfully adjustable, and light and smooth. No, it's not a Bies, but it's much better than it should be for the price.

Assuming you mounted the rails per the manual, this will be a breeze. Follow the instructions!

Let me say that again: Follow the instructions!

If you make the adjustments IN ORDER, the fence will work wonderfully. Keep in mind that all of these adjustments are methods of applying pressure to the plastic glides inside the fence. So don't overdo it. If any adjustment causes the fence to feel tight, or take effort to move, back it off and try again.

Align it to the miter slots, NOT the blade. You've already aligned the blade to the slots, so use that slot as your reference point. Otherwise you could be compounding errors and end up with a kickback machine instead of a quality saw.

The miter gauge.

The miter gauge that comes with this saw is a joke. Maybe I got spoiled with my Incra I used on my Rockwell Contractor's saw, but this thing... Ugh. The face isn't machined, it's enameled. The "stops" are just adjustable screws you bump against with a thin pin. And they were far out of adjustment out of the box.

It was such a mess, I decided to align it to 90* and lock it down. No messing with the rest. That is enough to build a couple sleds, while waiting until I can get another Incra.

Don't spend any time on this thing. Buy a quality miter gauge and put this one on a shelf somewhere.

The riving knife and guard system.

My favorite part of this saw is the riving knife design. The knife itself is fully adjustable from completely hidden to all the way over the blade. All with a lock knob and a release button. Super easy.

For 90% of the cuts you'll make, the guard can stay in place, with the riving knife all the way over the top of the blade. It's a slick system. For the other 10% of your cuts, you lower the riving knife just below the height of the blade and you still get the kickback protection! I can't imagine a need to have it completely hidden, but if I think of one, I'll let you know.

The adjustment is a matter of aligning the knife to the right side of the saw blade. That's it. And mine was perfect out of the box. Again, follow the instrucitons!

That's it for dialing it in. If everything is right, make sure the saw is flat on the floor (wheels retracted) and plug it in. Make sure you're standing off to the left side of the saw (motor side) and turn it on. It should smoothly come to speed in moments. There should be no vibration on the saw, and if you either cleaned up the stock blade, or installed a good quality blade, there will be no vibration visible in the blade either.

A popular test of saw performance is the "Nickel Test". Basically, you make sure the top is level to the world, and stand a nickel up on its edge. Then you turn on the saw. If the nickel stays standing, you have a finely tuned saw.

After shimming the legs (my floor is nowhere near level) I did the nickel test on this saw. It passed.

Next post will be a summary review of the saw after running some wood through it!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Craftsman 10" Contractor's Saw Model 21833 - Part 2

In Part 1 I talked about the unboxing of the saw, and a quick overview of the assembly. 


Here in Part 2 I will discuss the issues and challenges I discovered while putting this bad boy together.


First, I'd like to talk about saw blades. A 10" circular saw blade is usually attached to an arbor with a nearly 1:1 relationship with an electric motor. That motor is usually a 3450 rpm motor in table saws. So the arbor is spinning at 3450 rpm. The edge of the blade is moving at nearly 100 mph! Also, a blade gets pretty hot plowing through wood causing heat expansion and possible warping. That is why you see the little curly cutouts in some of the better saw blades.


Now, if a saw blade is under all these stresses, you want it to be absolutely clean, smooth, solid. You want it to mount perfectly flat against the arbor. You don't want any pits or voids in the metal. Well, the blade that came with the 21833 meets NONE of those things. The arbor hole has pits *AND* burrs. There are pits throughout the blade. And the hole doesn't even fit solidly over the arbor, being a smidge sloppy. (Note that my old Delta Industrial blades have NONE of those problems. No slop on the arbor, no pits, no voids, and no burrs!) 


The first two pics in this post show both sides of the blade. That stuff makes me incredibly nervous. So that blade will *not* be used on my saw. I'll stick with my 9" Delta Industrials for now until I can order a nice Freud or Forrest. 


During the saw's assembly, there were some challenges with tolerances. Not a huge problem, but be ready for them. Things like bent steel not being bent exactly as it should. Massaging the metal by tightening screws a little at a time in whatever center-outward pattern fits the number of screws will take care of it. Also, a couple of the M8 screws had burrs on the threads. I chased those threads with a metric die set I have so no biggie. But if you don't have one, a small file should take care of it. Or call Sears and have them send you some replacements. 


One kind of biggie was on the front rail. The fence rails are each made from two parts butted together with a plastic coupler in between. Aside from the PITA that the rears were, the design seems solid. However, on the front rail, where the two parts come together, there was a raised lip on each side. This made a bump whenever the fence mount was moved over it. Plus, I had to account for those lips when adjusting the fence, so it was never as tight as it could be. I decided to sand those lips off rather than deal with the challenges of leaving them in place.  Made a huge difference in how smoothly the fence mount moved along the rail in that spot.


Next I'll talk about tuning the saw in Part 3. It was much easier than I thought it would be!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Craftsman 10" Contractor's Saw Model 21833 - Part 1

The Unboxing
I got a new toy! The Craftsman 10" Contractor's Table Saw, model 21833. It was on sale for $409.99. Sweet...

The delivery guys manhandled it into my garage. The box was WAY bigger than I expected. Though I've never bought a saw new before.

There is damage on the corner of the box. I was leery, but as you can see, once I opened everything up there was no damage. The styro did its job.

There are LOTS of parts to this. I can see why reviews of this saw talk about the difficulty of assembly. If you aren't careful, and follow the steps EXACTLY as shown in the manual, you're going to have trouble.

The instructions are really quite good. There is one bit I wish they suggested... After the saw is right side up, you're told to check the blade to miter slot alignment. Mine was off by 1/64th. To adjust, you need to remove the back panel of the cabinet. 6 screws. I made the adjustment and then put the panel back. A few steps later, the instructions said to remove the back panel to install the rear fence rail. Grrr... If they had said, "And leave this panel off as you will need to remove it later..." I would have been happy.

The other annoyance is that rear fence. You need a 4 year old's fingers to get the nuts on those bolts. With my fat 40 year old fingers, it was a real PITA. Adding a half inch to the table depth would have made this MUCH easier. 

Otherwise, it went together well. 2 hours to assemble, 2 hours to dial it in. Not as bad as I had expected based on the reviews on the net.

Enjoy the pics. In Part 2 I will talk about the dangerous saw blade, and cleaning up some burrs.

Part 2:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stone Pens

My latest fun has been with soapstone and alabaster.

This pen to the left is made from green soapstone with white alabaster trim on a rhodium slim kit. It was done as part of a no-saw challenge over at IAP.

Some notes about working with these stones:
          • Alabaster cracks. A lot. No matter what you do. So let it! Use it as a design element!
          • Use a glue that fills the gap between the brass tubes and the stone. CA doesn't cut it, nor does epoxy. JBWeld will to some extent, but Gorilla Glue (or Sumo or whatever) expands as it cures. This is perfect as it fills all the gaps and holds the stone even when cracked. 
          • Your scraper and your skew are your best friends. Gentle light cuts are needed, especially with alabaster. Soapstone is softer and less brittle so you can be more aggressive.
          • Wear breathing protection!!! The dust from these is VERY fine. A respirator is best. A strong fan blowing across the lathe and out the open garage door works too, but you still need at least a dust mask.
          • Finish if you like. I triple buff instead, finishing with a nice carnauba wax. Some folks apply a CA finish.
That second pen is strictly white alabaster on a black Ti Jr Gent. See how the cracks run throughout. But the material is solidly attached thanks to the Gorilla glue.

This is great stuff to work with, I suggest picking up some pieces and seeing what you can do!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where did the Amazon links go?

While I had never made a penny off it, I ran Amazon ads to help steer my blog's visitors to Amazon for some good deals on woodworking tools and supplies.

This is no longer the case.

Amazon recently dropped me as an advertiser because the State of Colorado had passed a sales tax law requiring sales tax to be paid for online purchases. And I live in Colorado.

However my personal feelings about that law (I wrote a slew of letters against it before the bill went up for a vote), Amazon is punishing all advertisers in Colorado by halting all business with us. Of course, the ads still ran just fine. We just wouldn't get paid if someone makes a purchase through those ads.

That is sleazy, cheap, and should be illegal.

So not only will this (or any of my other blogs) be Amazon ad-less, I will no longer purchase anything via Amazon. And I've spent a lot on that silly site over the past several years...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rockwell 10" Homecraft Table Saw

Last summer I picked up this 80's Rockwell 10" Homecraft table saw. I found it on craigslist for cheap so I brought it home. The table (steel, not iron) was heavily rusted and the gears and screws to adjust height and tilt were rusted solid. I figured "someday" I'd get around to fixing it up.

Then early this year I traded my good Rockwell Contractor's saw (and other tools) for a car. Fixing this one moved up to the top of my priority list. The first photo is how it looked when I brought it home. It looks like someone spilled a drink on it and left it to rust.

The first thing I did was clean and lubricate the screws and gears so the blade could be adjusted. It was easier than expected. I soaked them all in PB Blaster every day for a week, then started tapping on them with a hammer. They broke loose, and a brass wire wheel cleaned the rust up. I coated everything with grease and it all moves fairly well now. Not like a nice cabinet saw, but usable.

This saw isn't a direct drive, though the motor is a universal type inside the housing. Instead, there is a short belt between the motor and the arbor inside. Interesting design.

It also uses the same arbor, nut, fence, etc, as my old contractor's saw! While I still had them both I swapped fences between them to see if they were truly interchangeable. They were.

As I did with the Contractor's saw and jointer I de-rustified before, I used the nylon stripper wheels to remove the rust. But first I hit the table top with a belt sander to knock off the worst of the rust bubbles. The stripper wheels took care of the rest, but MUCH more slowly than on the cast iron tops of my previous saw. The steel top of this saw is harder and takes more effort to strip.

In addition, the top was painted (or maybe powder coated... hard to tell the finish is so damaged), which left me with a decision. Do I leave any of the paint? Or take it to bare metal. After finding rust under some of the apparently good paint, I decided to take it all the way down.

I briefly considered repainting it. There would be two benefits here. First, paint means I could fill the rust pitting with JBWeld or something and have a flat surface since the paint would hide the signs of fill. Second, it would look as it did when it left the factory.

Neither benefit were enough to get me to paint it. I just needed a smooth surface to move wood along. It didn't have to be filled, but could be bumpy all it wanted as long as the wood moved well. And no need for rust protection... After all, cast iron tables are unpainted. If I kept it waxed I should be good.

Besides, I wasn't going for a full restoration. Just enough work to make it usable. I don't much care how it looks. In fact, I didn't bother de-rusting the mounting brackets for the wings. They'll be fine for many more years in my shop/garage. Perhaps I'd pay more attention to all the rust if I lived someplace humid. But here in Denver, no need. Low humidity, low temps, mean low rust. As long as I don't spill any drinks on it, that is.

After several hours with the stripper wheels, the surface was smooth enough to work with. I put several coats of synthetic automotive wax on it the top and mounted up the un-restored fence and miter gauge.

Everything works well and smoothly. I did some test cuts to make sure I wasn't being overly optimistic. The only 10" blade I had was a dull Freud Diablo. I really need to get that thing sharpened... But it worked for this test.

I haven't yet adjusted the fence or gauge for accuracy, but the saw works great! Enough power to cut small oak, and a 2x6 chunk of pine.

I'm happy enough with it. It's smoother than my contractor's saw was, but only because the c-saw had a dinged pulley on the arbor after the set screw worked loose and the pulley went flying.

Still, it's very functional. And using sleds for critical cuts instead of trusting the steel surface will keep everything true and accurate.

Lots of work, but lots of fun. Now I need to find a sharpening service...