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Profile: tbockman
User Name: tbockman
Forum Rank: Newbie
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Joined: Friday, November 17, 2006
Last Visit: Friday, November 09, 2018 8:25:04 PM
Number of Posts: 0
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Last 10 Posts
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Wednesday, November 07, 2018 7:32:24 AM
I broke my camera...

For the past 5 years I have been using my own personal camera to take pictures, and sadly that camera went bye-bye. I kept it in my front pants pocket all this time and one day the screen cracked. It still worked, but that rendered it almost useless since everything is practically done using that screen.

But the day the whole thing wouldn't even turn on was sad indeed, especially when I looked at new ones. I bought this one used from my daughter when she upgraded hers. I didn't know anything about cameras these days except about this one which was a pretty good one and difficult to replace. Who knew they could be so pricey... so I bought the cheapest Walmart camera I could find, and you know it takes pretty good pictures too. The school decided to pay me back which makes it even better.

The fact is, there have been so many good projects that I missed since they have already gone home.

I'm getting more used to the idea that it is OK to not wear a hair tie when you have to have your picture taken.

This wood is part of the lot that I cut up on the new band saw and planed in the new planer. Pretty good when you consider it was once piled outside under a pine tree.

This may sound dumb, but she literally "nailed it"! She used the nail gun by herself to reinforce the corners. Good job Koural!

It's kind of funny that this thread started as a way to share project ideas only to end up being a running log of activity on building a school wood shop at a school that doesn't really have the money to do what we are doing. I hope you are enjoying seeing what we have been working towards, even as I begin to think it's almost time for me to retire again. Physical things as you get older can really bog you down and that's what is happening to me.

If you haven't taken the time to look back at some of the updates I have been making to each post, then you are missing out on some really great stuff. I figured out how to make links within this site, that will go directly to each post. Slow connections or Internet speeds might require a little patience to load, but using the back browser arrow brings you directly back to where you left off reading. For example.... here is a direct link to the crankyman automata post and the back arrow brings you back here.

These links help clarify or point out ideas without a lot of fumbling around on your part. Now this makes me wish I would have made the posts smaller, concentrating on a single concept/issue/project, but doing that creates more pages. However, I could further direct teachers to these concepts in greater detail... so maybe some day I will be able to break it up into smaller sections. Doing this as an after thought would not keep them in chronological order. That order is part of what I think makes it more fascinating.... to watch a budding program thrive from day to day, week to week, etc... and work within the constraints of the times.

It's also too bad that DivShare has messed up their site. If any of you have been trying to get material on the broken links, let me know. I found my stash of material on one of my external hard drives, so I should be able to send them over e-mail. As I have time in the future, I would have uploaded this material to photobucket and remake the links, however, photobucket changed the free user agreement and I'm unsure as to what will work and what won't. Contact me so I can send material directly over e-mail.

Here are some general page short cuts for you...

Go to page 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5... 6 ... 7... 8... 9...10

A message to new wood shop teachers who may have stumbled onto this site!

Because of spam... this site has been closed for quite some time now, but if you would like to join, we could use some new blood. The older guys have been retiring and thinning out the ranks. I didn't ask permission to post this, but I found out from a new member that he did this to gain access.... Send an e-mail to I have noticed that this is helping new members get into the site while keeping the spammers out.

I've seen at least twelve new members have signed up since making this notice.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:22:08 AM
On a personal note...

When I do finally decide to retire, I'd wouldn't mind coming home to something like this in my shop...

A concept by Matthias Wandel that has been made into this mostly metal, accurate final product. After seeing this, I can imagine myself getting one. I don't usually purchase stuff for myself, but when it comes time, this could be on my wish list.

The biggest problem I can see is... how often would I use it? How many dovetails or mortise & tendon joints would I have to make in order for the more than $1800 price tag to pay for itself. Maybe I should rethink this idea. I like what it can do, but it may not be worth that investment... at least for someone like me. Now if I had money for the school... then I could use it with the students.

About five years ago someone bought me the plans for the wooden version. That might be about as far as I can take this... using it as a "for fun" retirement project.

No offense intended toward Matthias. I think it is an ingenious invention and the metal version is fantastic. It just seems a wasteful prospect for someone to keep it all to themselves for a few projects in retirement.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, October 06, 2018 1:39:37 PM
Adding another detail...

The grant is all about making our shop safer. Our pint sized safety storage cabinet just got here. Just out of the crate with packing materials still in the door, I can't wait to fill it.

I have to raise our work table 2" in order to get this cabinet to fit beneath it and out of our way. In a small area like we have, every square inch is meaningful and I have never felt comfortable with keeping our combustibles out on the table, hidden under the table, or put away in a cardboard box somewhere.

Now I'm waiting for an eyewash station to be moved over to the shop from another room where it is currently unused. Luckily there's enough grant left to get this done and to continue making our shop great. Next, I'm thinking about adding led lights to brighten up the room.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2018 10:16:33 AM
Emerging talents

As these 7th graders are proving, they can really build the projects. Jenny is an old hand at this having started in the 4th grade. I've also perfected the way to get the right background color to show without being even being a tint off. Although it is tedious to take out the background for this, it does set off the image in a striking way.

Project skill increases with each build. Crankyman is coming together nicely.

As for the skill building... Hannah is a first timer in wood shop, but make no mistake, her skills at "hands on" learning are impressive indeed.

Hannah has been introduced to multiple machines and has is a natural when it comes to details like the crank handle.

And, with only one week remaining before fall break, both of these girls can be proud of their work as they have been cranking out impressive project after impressive project.
Topic: Table saw suggestions
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 8:23:34 AM
Everyone should have a SawStop

I thought it might be a good idea to float this back to the top for anybody who is new to teaching wood shop.

This is a thumb photo taken a week after one of our office staff had cut herself on an old tablesaw that she uses at home.

Compare... stitches vs. napkin...

I also wanted to let you know that SawStop seems to have noticed some of the same problems I've talked about and they have done something about it in their new designs.

Where to start...

The saw I have now was the floor Rockler store model, so it came already set up.

A list of the annoying problems we previously had with our Sawstop machines....

1. The brake would sometimes go off for no apparent reason. The company would test them anyway and count it as a finger touch and usually replaced them. It cost about $125 to restore it back unless SawStop sends you a free replacement brake, worth about $60. Like I've already said, reusing blades that appear OK is not a good idea. One we tried to salvage ended up losing a tooth and we never determined where that tooth ended up.

We have been using the saw a lot for slicing up cutting board material in a variety of hardwoods. It has not failed once. As I was taking this photo, I noticed the plastic tape barrier already on the brake.

2. Sometimes the blade embedded brake was difficult to get out of the machine. Remembering back, it seemed there was an optimum blade height that made it easier to remove. Still, it took time to restore and until you could get to it, the saw would be out of commission.

Since we have not even tried to change the blade, there is no news to report on this topic.

3. We broken a key. It simply twisted off, and even using the other key, the brake still could not be turned off (if you needed to cut high moisture wood).

No news to report.

4. The blade height lock wedge pieces wore away much too easy and the ground up metal would mix with the grease becoming so thick the crank would barely turn. SawStop acknowledged the problem and gave me new ones, but they quickly did the same thing again, so I removed them completely.

Runs up and down and tilts (in the opposite direction which is very nice) with none of the previous issues.

You can see in this left tilt photo that the riving knife also comes with the SawStop and is used on all European saws because it makes the saw safer. Here it is off the saw.

5. The surface flush door latch to hold the lower compartment door shut, quit working. I had to rig something to keep it closed to hold down (close) the open door switch so the saw could run.

The access to the lower compartment has moved to the other side where it is much more convenient. It does not contain that same latch, and is a smaller molded plastic door. Access to the lower compartment is much easier.

6. The small dust port would always get clogged leaving the saw dust to spill into the lower base of the saw. By the time you'd catch it, it was way over full, causing you to have to stop everything and clean it out. This happened all the time at the cabinet shop too. If you haven't had to clean one of these out on a regular basis, it's not exactly easy, especially when they were made to not fill up with dust all the time.

Some of that may have been the old style dust collector we had with 4" pipe running 40 feet under a concrete floor. Who knows if the 1966 pipes had rusted through. I know there was a spring close by and when the maintenance had to shore up a pillar near the office, there was water under the floor. No reason to believe it wasn't in other areas of the building too, but all that is moot. The left side access makes clean out much easier.

7. It was sometimes finicky. The error lights would light or blink codes even when nothing was wrong. You would have to shut it down and restart it multiple times to reset/clear the computer.

I've only had one blinking code that was due to turning off the saw with the wrong switch. I have not replaced a brake or blade and have not had any other issues with this so far. SawStop won the patent infringement issue.

Lastly, if you want to keep the shop cleaner, use the vacuum guard. When I have close cutting to do... without the vacuum guard in place, it sure kicks up a ton of dust.

I hope this information helps.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 6:47:36 PM
The box makers

Champ is now our 8th grade class president and is also one heck of a wood shop enthusiast since at least the fifth grade. When he wanted a special box for his game pieces, he drew it up, put sizes to it and decided the redwood I recently cut and planed would be perfect for the project.

The small drawer has a lathe made knob and the top is hinged. Rabbet and dado joints help hold this together. The photo is before hinges and before applying a clear oil finish. The front has laser engraving using an old laser someone gave the school. After tinkering with it, it works, but we just aren't sure for how long. See Champs last project.

Hannah made her oak box with finger joints. The top is friction fit and has an alpaca engraving that she loves so much. Her box turned out so well that one of the teachers commissioned one with an elk on the lid.

Once it was completed, to the delight of Ms. Post, it was perfect in her eyes and mine.

Jenny has been in my class since the forth grade and is also making a finger joint oak box with a friction fit top.

Nathan shows off his work which is yet to be completed. First time in wood shop, 7th grade and wow... he is loving wood shop.

I was playing with back ground colors to see if I could make the photos match the page background since I can't save clear anymore.

I made Nathan open the corner for effect. Made on the router table, he had only one or two that needed adjustments when he was done. He also learned about grain direction when he went down the wrong way on one end.

The T&G softwood wood came from one of the local builders. It was resawn on the band saw to make it thinner and to save wood.

Also in 7th grade, Haylie loves wood shop too. Here is her box before being glued.

Haylie glues two opposing corners, makes sure they are sitting square, then waits to glue the final corners. Each finger needs a coating of glue. More surface area is what makes this a strong corner joint.

And yes... that is the newly donated glue. It runs thick and makes the job a little easier by keeping drips to a minimum.

Nathan can't wait and makes a bottom, glues the corners and walks away satisfied knowing the bottom will hold it square and the clamps will keep it in place until it is ready.

We are now over 300,000 hits. I'm pretty sure that is a record on this site.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 2:31:56 PM
Everyone should have a SawStop!

This is what can happen when you don't have a smart safety saw. One of our staff was making a cut on their home saw and this is what happened and what stitches look like after the first week. I didn't ask, but it almost looks as if it hit the bone. Ouch.

The hurt thumb...

When she stopped me in the office and told me the story, I couldn't believe it. I promised to relay the safety message to everyone on-line without revealing her name even though she said I could.

I've had a couple of close calls on the table saw, but have been lucky to not have hurt myself... knock on wood.

Here are some of the scraps that the cabinet shop gives to us. These are being prepared for the students to make cutting boards since they can't make these cuts themselves. It looks like red oak, white oak, hickory, maple, mahogany, alder, poplar and walnut.

Thank you for helping Mr. Leon. Some day this shop will be yours and this is part of your training. While you have only spent two class periods cutting so far, I have been at this on and off for a couple of weeks already, and this is my sixth year at this school.

Speaking of donations, I have a former colleague from my other school who is starting to downsize and invited me to back in at his garage so we could fill the back of my truck. Some of these items will be perfect for school and some for home.

I score tons of free stuff for the school and this is one of those scores. Although a bit old, the glue in these six bottles still flows and still works for our purposes.

Then,using my connections, we for the first time have a complete set of hole saws with all the mandrels. Now the new students who begin with the puzzle have a way to not only keep better track of their progress, but also to share the hole saws on multiple machines.


Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Friday, August 31, 2018 11:35:00 AM
Time fly's when you're having fun...

Are we already past week 4 of a new school year? Is it possible time is speeding up? Everyday goes so fast. As with all my posts, I begin the story, then come back to fill in details. If you have ever noticed the story usually grows and changes a little, so if you are an early reader, come back and check again later as I always try to refine the story and update things as I go.

The Dowel maker and the SawStop

I need to restock my dowel supply, but should I risk using the SawStop with the dowel maker? I fit my dowel maker onto the saw, sliding it in all direction to see if the saw senses anything about it. The dowel maker does have a few metal parts and I'm worried that might cost me a brake and blade, so I carefully use the SawStop features to gauge it's sensitivity.

With the saw switch activated, lights on but the saw not yet running, the saw will blink its lights if you touch the (not moving) blade without setting anything off. It's a good way to see what might happen if I use the dowel maker. Nothing blinks, so I set it up and clamp it to the fence.

I just finished cutting this dowel and I'm waiting for the saw blade to stop so I can remove it from the jig. The flash was so bright against the white fence that it is hard to see the light colored dowel sticking out on the left.

And then I wonder what made me cut that without thinking about using the bypass key? In bypass mode, it won't let the brake go off so it is like not having a SawStop. They recommend using the bypass if you are cutting wet wood. Too late to try that now... but at least it was successful without it.

After running the dowel maker here and there during part of the morning classes, I end up with more than enough to get me through the first half of the year. That whole job actually takes less time and money than having to make a run to the hardware store.

Making dowels on the table saw or with the router has always been a messy job. At least the vacuum helps keep it to a minimum. I replace the guard with a shop vac attachment and that helps keep the dust down after the cut begins. In order to see the wood thread through, the vacuum has to be removed and that is the only time the extra wispy sawdust comes out onto the table. At the end of each dowel, I vacuum up the dust before beginning again. It only takes a second or two.

That sure is a far cry from what we used to do in the old shop location. I remember clearly the huge pile of sawdust/shavings that would end up everywhere. I would run dowels and then have to sweep everything up and use a snow shovel to pick it all up. It would literally fill an entire garbage bag.

Hmmmm... so the little wispy stuff I vacuum in between dowels verses shoveling up a huge bag of sawdust. Then when you start pulling the saw back into the shop at the end of the day, sawdust is falling out the bottom. Who wouldn't prefer this new dust collector!

Come to think of it... the same thing happens when I have a load of hardwood scraps that I'm turning into cutting board material. That is another one of those times where you would end up with a huge pile of sawdust/shavings to clean up.

In fact I did some of that cutting right before switching to the dowels this morning, with practically no clean up afterwards. I'm certainly loving it as the superintendent comes through my class today and says, "It looks really clean in here".

Already... an 8th grader's second project

As the day goes on, I take this photo as one of the 8th graders has designed her second project making a set of hexagon shaped boxes for a knickknack shelf. After gluing them together we used rubber bands to clamp them. With them now dry, they are sanded to even out the edges.

*** UPDATE *** 9-14-18 And here is the completed project. Emily did such a good job on this, and we were able to put the new SawStop to work making the miters. One of our teachers was passing by when I took this picture and they couldn't believe how great this project looks.

Finishing up the lathes... finally

I just got the new lathe control boxes today and spent a little time installing them onto two of the lathes. With the motor bearings now fixed and the control boxes finally in place, the last three lathes are now in perfect working order.

As I try to sandwich some extra small in class jobs between helping students, I managed to assemble the final leg of the dust collector to these lathes with their connecting copper wires.

The student who took this photo didn't notice it being out of focus, as were both of his others. This was the best of the three. I told him to hold it still and slowly take the picture. I'm not sure he has ever done it before, especially with a digital camera that doesn't take the picture right when you think it does, but rather after you click and start to move, then a flash. Like anything else, it's hard to get used to if it's your first experience.

Maintenance still hasn't installed the sensor that will tell you when it is time to empty the bin, but everyone is trying to be helpful by opening and closing blast gates. I'm still finding that the younger kids are not putting the drill press nozzles close enough to what they are drilling, and also to what they are cutting on the scroll saws. That still is an easily clean up with our "always on" (when the vacuum is running) 3" hose and wand.

Missing pieces of the puzzle?

Thursday morning, when I first turned on the dust collector, I hear a rattle rattle and then it was making a racket that just didn't sound right. It reminded me of an out of balance washing machine. Something came through (rattle rattle) before it had reached full speed and set it into a tizzy.

After turning it off and then on again, it cleared the small object which I'm sure is one of the puzzle pieces that a 4th grader lost into the system at the end of the final after school class the day before. It must have happened just as the system was powering down, so it sat in the ducting somewhere along the way. I remember someone telling me theirs got sucked up. Too bad, it's gone now. Just make another one next time.

After emptying the dust barrel, I have found a few of these mishaps. One of them was the half a small woodturning that sucked through the system. Even a rag here and there. I have to say, the system is performing very well and sometimes you can hear the small blocks in the impeller, but a simple stop of the vacuum and the blocks have fallen through to the barrel. I'd hate to think what might happen if something bigger goes through.

You know... we are usually so caught up in what we are doing that we rarely remember when class ends until the next class shows up. That means we don't usually stop and clean up, but the shop still stays cleaner because we are all pitching in trying to remember to open and close blast gates. It's only when suction is low that I go around and close the forgotten ones. We all do it... forget once and a while. Me included.

However, one of the best things I added was the 3" vacuum hose we keep on most of the time. With a custom made transition, it fits any wet dry vac attachments, so we have the wand that extends our reach to the floor without bending. Anytime I catch someone off task, I ask them to please start vacuuming. It's not a punishment as much as you might think. They like it. It's fun to watch the debris disappear and it helps keep the shop floor clean and you don't have to constantly be emptying it. Everything goes to the same barrel.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2018 4:38:19 PM
After the first week of school...

And it has been quite the week... but let me begin with last week when we hosted a "meet the teachers" evening. There were more parents coming into wood shop then I have ever had before, all here no doubt to see some new equipment. It was quite nice and of course, fun to do a little bragging too. Is it 39 years or 40 years this year? I can't believe how fast it all goes!

With lots of safety upgrades, especially the SawStop and the Laguna band saw there was much excitement. The Laguna exceeded my expectations with some of the little things being the biggest news, such as how the students no longer hold up the upper guide when readjusting it, but cranking it instead.

Then there is the micro-switch break that quickly turns off the saw and completely, instantly... stops the blade. It looks a lot like a disc style brake used on bicycles.

Compared to the old Delta I had at my other school, Laguna kicks butt. Two dust ports.... finally, a decent priced band saw that literally leaves all others in the dust.

Before leaving each day, the blade tension is released with the flip of a lever, and the saw is unplugged.

This will keep the tires running true and also discourage unauthorized users who may have access to a door key.

Seriously... I believe the biggest problem with our old band saws was the fact that they were light weight and had bad tires on them, making them run rough, even feel like it was slightly bouncing, if that makes sense.

My little magnetic sign clues anyone who stumbles upon the band saw for whatever reason, about what to do if they feel they still have to use it after hours. I warned the school to discourage unauthorized use by having a separate key when we first set up in this location. They shouldn't be worrying about accidents over a week end.

This week has been all about showing how to use our new stuff safely. It has also included introductions to all our available (free & recycled) materials and then a side trip through measuring.

I just had several students complete their tasks and start working.

Except for one girl who didn't focus the vacuum nozzle correctly, there has been very little to clean up. Even the holes saw doesn't phase the dust control system.

Jenny was cutting on the scroll saw and found out how easy it is to unclamp the blade, lift the upper arm and load through drilled holes on pierce cuts.

Even after moving to the oscillating spindle sander, Jenny managed the vacuum so well that there appeared to be nothing left to clean up at the end of class.

I told her to check just to be sure and there was not enough build up looking at both the floor or the machine. Not bad.

In fact, it has been great so far. Now if I could only be the example and remember to open and close blast gates as I go. It seems even I forget at times. Let's hope as we get into full swing, that it stays as good as it seems to already be.

Someone gave me a whole bunch of redwood random 2"x 6" ends averaging 24" in length. I used the new Laguna to quickly resaw them into two pieces. I didn't even change the regular blade even though I have the carbide tipped "Resaw King" blade.

I figured that redwood is soft and I wanted to see how the regular saw blade would do. The Laguna's tall fence made it a quick and easy job. The (220v) saw didn't even slow down and went perfectly down the center of each board... with absolutely no drift.

I wasn't expecting that. Something else I wasn't expecting was seeing weak sparks come from the ceramic guides. I say weak because they aren't the kind of sparks you get from a grinder. It seemed to lessen as time went on and the blade polished itself on the ceramic. Maybe I should have used the carbide re-saw blade. I'm not sure it mattered because the sparks come mostly from irregularities on the back of the blade and also the weld.

Hmmm... mild sparks don't photograph well, but I guess that sparking is one way ceramic is better at keeping the blade cool. It must dissipate the heat fast in the form of sparks. Just in case... to be on the safe side... I looked it up and it is not an irregular thing to see sparks, and is suppose to be safe in a dust collector too. Really?

Hummm.... if someone (where I found this information) hadn't commented that they have the same Oneida dust collector with a Laguna ceramic guide band saw and they NEVER had a single issue over the last 10 years, I wouldn't have believed it after all the explosion hype fed by the on-line propaganda. So there are opposing views on the topic.

The following quotes are taken from--

Begin quote-- "Before getting started on what may at first sound very scary, I would like to point out that I have read more than a dozen research papers on this topic recently. The thing I am most struck by is how hard these guys have to work to get dust explosions in the lab. It is not hard to get ignition if one makes a very carefully controlled, non-moving cloud with just the right dust mix, and introduces a spark from a very carefully designed sparking mechanism. But no one seems to be able in lab sized experiments to get electrostatic discharge ignition of even very highly combustible dusts in remotely realistic situations, and they do try.-------- A friend of mine who is a professional cabinet maker asked his fire inspector what he thought about the fire hazards of dust collection, and the fire inspector said he was far more concerned about people keeping lighter fluid under the kitchen sink." --End quote

And this... Begin quote-- "But if you want to worry about big sparks, it is worth noting that many more buildings burn down due to lightning than due to dust collection, so you may want to add lightning protection to your building. More houses burn down due to flammable liquids such as paint thinner and varnish than due to dust collection. Many many more people die from driving too fast; all sorts of things in your life are more dangerous than your dust collection system." --End quote

OK, maybe it isn't propaganda per say, but rather a best practices idea. I wouldn't change from the metal ducting anyway. With the way I was cutting, there really was little chance of a robust enough spark getting down far enough... through the saw kerf... then under the table... into the dust system... with enough dust going through extra length hose with just the right air to dust mixture... not likely. (I wanted to be able to pull the saw out for resawing larger boards, so I put on extra hose.)

Anyway, the resulting redwood went through the new planer and WOW... was it quiet... just as expected, with a finish that appears to leave little room for sanding. In fact it is so smooth it has a sheen when held towards the light. This includes no snipe at either end with very little other machine marks.

Now cutting boards will be much easier with my students only needing to run the random orbital sander a little on each side, instead of me doing a bunch of belt sanding first. That will definitely make less sanding dust and will also leave me more time to work with other students. I really like that.

Hindsight being 20-20, there was probably little need for the clear plastic shield that we added to the dust scoops on our lathes. If I had it to do again, I would have saved the $20. Here we have the shield pushed back out of the way as Jenny's brother Brandon, works on his pen.

The blue dust scoops however are working out great. I highly recommend them. It's much better than my first idea which was to have a large hood overhead. Opening two 6" blast gates would have severely tested the limits of our dust collector as the vacuum pressure would have dropped to a trickle on every other machine.

These scoops are easy to work around and they can be shut off with a stuffed sock, so one or two can be open without lowering the vacuum pressure. We did however notice that the suction was great enough to have one sock plug disappear right into the system, so the socks all had to be stuffed a little fatter.

Oh.. I almost forgot. I checked the chip level in the Oneida 50 gallon drum and it was beginning to get full... of redwood chips that is, or what really looked like confetti made from redwood.

These are cut into and installed through the wall above the doorway where the dust collector is.

Maintenance still has to install the detection system into the barrel so the red light will let us know when it's time to empty. The dial on the right tells you when the filter needs cleaning.

Hey, it's another win-win situation when I get to take these chips home and dispose of them around a weedy area behind the house. It helps keep weeds from coming up and works like a charm. Plus, it's easier to pull a weed from mulch than soil.
Topic: New Project Ideas
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2018 12:19:43 PM
The Helix Head Planer

The planer finally made it here, but it will take some muscle to get it inside, so it rests comfortably out of the weather until we can get the Prescott Area Woodturner's to lend a hand. Hopefully it won't be too much to handle. It's really heavy, still boxed and on a pallet.

I know it will go through the doorway, but can it be lifted or even dragged is the real question.

The label shows how heavy this crate is. I looks like it is going to take a little bit of both. I can't believe a cheap flimsy hand truck would hold such a massive item, but into the shop it went without much issue. I planned to take a photo, but things happened so fast I forgot to line up a shot.

PAW is assembling it too, and we opened it up to sop up the excess oil the factory coats everything in. The helix head is beautiful. The infeed and outfeed tables are cast iron and very heavy. I couldn't... or rather shouldn't be lifting them right now. I tried picking up one of the separately boxed tables and couldn't believe how heavy they are, and I quickly backed down. No sense hurting myself after surgery. It's too soon and I still have to be careful. I'm glad there was help to get this through the door and also assembled.

I read in an old WOOD magazine article... it could actually be a "spiral blade planer" which is very efficient, quieter, easy to change blades, less grain tear out, and last 30-40 times longer since the carbide inserts can be rotated up to four times.

I once had a segmented helix head planer blade put into an old Powermatic. The Powermatic was huge and probably mid 60's vintage since that's when the school where I was, happened to be built. It was about a year and I didn't hardly get to use the new blades before they shut down the program and I retired, only to have a 2nd life at Franklin Phonetic School. Who ever ended up with that planer got something really special.

The original helix blades (photo right) are actually helix shaped using a flexible steel blade that goes all the way across the helix grooved cutter head looking a little like the inside of an old pencil sharpener, or the blade from old style push mower, which is something I did not know before reading this. The blade then shears the grain, but I think that a flexible steel blade would be difficult to change and adjust.

Borrowed from March 2009 WOOD magazine for educational purposes.

Most people have probably never seen this article and let's add this to the mix... there is one more blade style since that article that changes everything. The "Shellix" spiral blades by Byrd Tool are slightly turned to match the helix shape, but with the segmented spiral. That way it shears the wood grain. It seems helix head is becoming interchangeable with most segmented spiral cutters. This machine is a true segmented helix blade meaning the individual carbide blades are set in the head at an angle to the grain direction.

Here's my personal experience. I've had both straight blade and a segmented helix... listened to both cutting... seen the resulting cuts... and changed out both types. It's a no brainer... there is no real comparison.

The amount of time saved in changing out blades alone, and in how often they are changed, opposed to only having to change one or two inserts. The lack of noise and tear out... tells me that segmented helix is by far superior in every way... except start up costs. But you will find the costs over the long haul are actually less.

The wood turners use carbide insert in some of their tools. A 600-1000 grit diamond stone will keep these sharp. You put the flat larger side down and keep it flat. That give you a chance to save even more. See the video.

***UPDATE*** 7-25-18 We have the Power! This machine sounds like it is going to be fun to use. I fired it up for the first time. Next, I should run something that won't matter if machine oil gets on it, because this thing was drenched in oil that we tried to sop up. Hopefully we got most of it.

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