Welcome to Woodworking in the Dark

Festool Domino DF 500 Q

 

A while back I picked up the Domino DF 500 Q from Festool. There is an XL model that maybe one day I'll have too. This is like a biscuit cutter on steroids. Except the biscuit is more for aligning and not so much for strength. You can use dowels, but they can rotate in the joint. You won't get a domino to twist in the joint, and dominos are strong.

I made a night table for my son and used two dominos per end on each of the aprons. That is a total of sixteen dominos, or to do it the old way, sixteen mortises and sixteen tennons. I made the table in about a half a day. I might still be cutting mortises by hand if I would have gone that way. Nothing wrong with making mortises and tennons, I'm just real slow that way.

I dry fit the aprons to the legs and then set the top in place. Seeing as it was the first time I made anything with the Domino, I stepped up on the table and kind of marched in place. The impressive thing was it stayed together with no glue! Another great tool from Festool.

Easy Wood Tools

 

I have fallen in love with these tools. The first time I saw one I didn't know what to think. I talked to a couple long time wood turners and they couldn't say enough good things about them.

When you look at these tools, the first thing you'll notice is they don't really look like other turning tools. They don't work like other turning tools either. That's the great thing about them. The name came about because it makes turning EASY for everyone.

Visit Easy Wood Tools from this link and see the entire line of products

The first one I bought was the CI3 mid size finisher.

When I brought it home, I wanted to give it a workout to see if this was something special or just hype.

I mounted a square piece of cherry and sped my lathe up to make it harder to work. As soon as the tip touched the wood, I had saw dust flying!

Each tool has a beautifully finished maple handle and a very stout stainless steel bar that the carbide tip is mounted on. The cutting tip is the greatest idea. On the cI3, the tip is a small circle. Without measuring to be exact, it's about 3/8 of an inch around, and the tip is sharp enough too cut you if you don't respect it. And who wants a tool that isn't that sharp?

There is a screw in the center of the tip and all you do once the edge isn't as sharp as you like is loosen the screw, using the included hex wrench, and rotate the tip and you have a brand new sharp edge.

If you are just getting started in turning, you'll soon learn there is a whole market out there to spend money on just to sharpen your tools. And depending on how much of a budget you want to lay out for sharpening things, there is a tool or jig just for you.

Take a look on the internet. Just Google "sharpening lathe tools". You'll find high speed grinders, slow speed grinders, wet and dry grinders. You'll find large and small belt sanders, buffing wheels, bunches of compounds to buff your tools and I mean, your budget will get ruined in a hurry.

I have a bunch of jigs to sharpen just lathe tools. I have a bench grinder and a very nice honing guide. All told, I'm in the hole about $800 to $1000.

I could have bought a new lathe with that money. With the Easy Wood Tools line of tools, you don't sharpen. You loosen the screw, turn the tip and tighten it back up.

And what is even better, when you've used up the cutting surfaces, loosen the screw and take it out. take the tip off the bar and throw it away. Just replace the old tip with a new one. They run from $12 to around $18, depending on where you buy yours. I was still using the same surface on my finisher after four months. At $12.59 currently,per tip, you can see how many tips I will go through before coming near the price of one jig. And a wet grinder? I'd need a calculator to figure that out...

Note: I have removed the link to the HOW TO SHARPEN EASY WOOD TOOLS. I made a bit of a joke video on how to sharpen the Easy Rougher. A lot of people that watched that got mad because I just changed the tip and didn't show them how to actually sharpen it. That video got some nasty comments sent to me, and probably to EWT as well. So I have taken that one off or made it private until I can remove it.

Years ago, I didn't have enough sense to buy tools individually so I bought a beginner set. Six chisels in a box and they said I would need them all.

Later I bought another set and I have some in the shop I never did use.

The Easy Wood Tools line doesn't sell sets or kits. Each tool can do several projects. That is how you can tell these tools sell. They don't have to package up a couple best sellers along with some duds to get rid of the tools that don't sell.

My first one, designed to finish the wood after it's been roughed out, was used as a gouge to round the cherry blank. Then I used it as a round nose to cut some designs in the wood. Finally I smoothed the surface with very light passes. There are three different tools in one and I didn't spend $100 on that tool.

The segmented bowl I show on the past projects page was done completely with the CI3 mini finisher.

Here is a link to watch the CI3 in action. A video turning a bottle stopper from tulip wood. It's a bit long but it is one of those start to finish stories.

Watch the Mini Finisher in action here

I am a charter member of the "Bigger is Better" club. So the next tool I picked up was the Easy Rougher. This tool is a beast! You can do some serious turning with this one! When I picked it up the first time, after what I knew about the Easy Finisher, I just knew it was going to work great! I have a video on You Tube showing my first time using the Easy Rougher. Watch it and you'll see how fast it takes a piece of curly maple from rectangular to round. And you can make that happen a lot faster than I get it done if you want to hog the wood away. This tool will really make saw dust!

With the performance I got out of my first tool, I couldn't wait to see how the Easy Rougher would work. It could probably be considered a gouge, but it is so much more.

With the Easy Rougher, I can plunge the tip straight into the wood and when I start to pull it back out, I can move it right or left and the edge of the cutting tip will continue to cut as I pull it back out of the wood.

The video I made was a first time video. Meaning I hadn't even tried it out before shooting. I pulled the tool out of the case and had the wood mounted already. When you see the tip hit the wood, that is also the first time I saw it hit the wood.

I figured if it didn't work, I'd know and I sure would have had something to say about what a disappointment the tool was or what a let down after so much build up. That was never the case. That piece of curly maple was round in no time and I was going a lot easier than what it could actually do. I went side to side because I was treating it like a gouge. I wasn't even using the tool correctly and it worked great. Using it the correct way it goes even faster. I'll get a better video out there soon.

Make sure to wear some sort of eye protection when you use any woodworking tools. This guy will cover you in saw dust so remember the glasses and a dust mask as well.

Watch the video here

Recently I watched a video where a guy held the Easy Finisher wrong and then let on like the tool wasn't all it should be. Use any tool the wrong way and you should expect less then good results.

Here is a video showing how to hold the tool, and how not to hold it. I'm turning a segmented bowl of maple and walnut. The bowl is very rough on the outside because there is glue squeeze out and points where the angles meet. I don't spend any time at all turning the bowl and it becomes smooth and round that fast. It was just showing how fast the Easy Finisher can work and how much wood it will remove in a hurry.

Watch the Easy Finisher turn a segmented bowl

    Other videos will be added as I have time to film them. And if you can't tell I love these tools from avideo, try one for yourself and see. It really does make turning fun and I don't have to set a day aside to sharpen my lathe tools now.

If you buy any one of the Easy Wood Tools, please email me from the home page and let me know how you like them.

Festool TS 75

 

I had heard about Festool and was sure I'd never buy one of their tools. I didn't have anything against Festool, I was afraid I'd get hooked on their tools. Then what would I do with the rest of my stuff?

I gave in and bought the TS 75 to see if all the talk was true. It was.

I have a decent table saw with a Biesemeyer fence. Ripping is very accurate with that system. But I also have a very small shop.

One thing I can't do with the space I have is rip sheets of plywood. I could move things around and make the space, but it's hard to hold a piece of 3/4 inch thick and keep it moving smoothly past the blade. I've done it many times but now I don't have near the problems.

I brought the TS 75 home and knew I had a little time so I could take it back if I wasn't happy. I picked up an extra 42 inch long length of track so I could extend over both ends of a 96 inch long sheet.

I had to try making mistakes it was so easy to use. In the past, I used straight edges, a four foot long level clamped on a board, I even bought an eight foot long guide bar supposedly similar to the Festool tracks.

Trouble is you have to take into account for the offset of the blade. Measure out 23 and 5/16 inches, and add on an extra inch and a half or inch and 9/16 depending on the saw I used. Then hope I did the math right and lined everything up before cutting.

When I setup the Festool, I set the track on the bench and set the saw in the guide. The first time you set the saw in the guide, there is a lot of play from side to side. On the plate there are two adjusting knobs that are quite stiff to turn. No tool is needed, they are stiff so they don't have to keep being adjusted. Turn them until the saw won't move in the track, then back them off until the saw slides smoothly. This will remove any side to side play.

The track comes with a piece of rubber that sticks out past the edge a good ways. The first cut is made along the length of the track and that removes most of the rubber strip. Good stuff for a former gear head. The smell of burning rubber in the shop again!

Once the rubber is cut, that becomes the cut line. Make your measurement and mark the wood. Line the rubber strip up with the mark and the saw will cut exactly along that line.

I made a strange measurement for my first cut just to see how close I could get. When I made the first cut, I almost screamed I was so happy. With no effort I cut a board and it was the same width from end to end. No taper. This was like using a table saw but it only weighs thirteen pounds.

I have ripped three sheets of 3/4 inch thick plywood at one time. The finish is splinter free and if there is a problem with the cut, it's my fault.

We are planning to remodel the kitchen soon and I knew I'd be a nervous wreck trying to muscle sheets of cherry plywood across the table saw. Remember I can't just look across and be sure the wood is square along the fence.

Now I set my plywood on a sheet of two inch thick styrofoam and set the blade so it just clears the plywood. There is no catching the off cut, I don't need an extension table at the end of the table saw to catch my wood and I'm every bit as accurate.

I made a video describing the saw and some of the great features. Unfortunately, my talking tape measure wasn't working when the video was made. I was out of nine volt batteries and had to move along. So I couldn't show the exact cut that was made. We did use a regular tape that my son could read and set the guide at 5-15/16 inches. After I made the cut, it was exactly that width.

Festool CT 36 dust extractor

Steel City Dust Collector

 

When the time had come and a dust collector was badly needed in the shop, I went to see my friends to compare notes on dust collectors.  Before I left, I bought the Steel City 1.5 HP model 65200 dust collector. When I went shopping, we spent a lot of time comparing the different brands in the store.  There were “portable models” one HP and pulled about 600 CFM.  And all of the big names had models on display to play the what if game. 

Noise levels all seemed close enough to each other.  Canister or not seems to be a big argument too.  I honestly didn’t see the reason to argue that point.  A canister runs an extra $200 or so and doesn’t offer anything in the way of retaining finer dust particles.  In fact the models with a canister came up far short as far as filtering, about 20 microns or so was as small as they would retain.

What I can tell you is the Steel City model pulls about 1200 CFM through a 4 inch hose.  It comes standard with 2 4 inch ports, a length of heavy duty hose and a one micron dust filter.  The filter is washable instead of having to replace it, and a one micron filter alone is worth between $40 and $60 additional if purchased separately.

Out of the box it is all assembly required.  The motor attaches to the base plate, 4 heavy duty casters need attached to the under side of the base and then the parts for the collection area go on.  All of the hardware is packaged in separate bags for each section to be assembled.  A very nice idea if reading directions causes a problem.

I managed to put mine together in about an hour without having to have anyone read the directions.  I'm blessed that way.

This thing really sucks!  In a good way of course…  I had run my table saw with a reducer from 4 to 2.5 inches and connected my shop vac to the reducer.  That doesn’t work at all well on a hybrid saw with a cabinet. 

I made the first test by connecting the hose to the port on my saw and turned the collector on.  Wow!  You can hear the chips and dust  that the shop vacuum wasn't able to collect being pulled through the hose.  Before I tried this, I opened the door on the side of the saw and stuck a hand inside to see how much dust there was.  Let's just say there was plenty...  In the area of 3 inches deep.

While I had it running, I had to cut some dado joints through some oak plywood for a cabinet I was making.  The collector did a great job.  The wood covers the blade when cutting dado joints, and that stopped much of the dust being thrown by the saw into the air, and caused it to fall through the insert into the cabinet underneath. 

Going back to a regular blade, I made some dust fly that couldn’t all be collected.  I got the not so bright idea to use the 4 inch hose as a super shop vac.  Think many times before doing this, and then decide against it. 

This is the strongest shop vac you’ll ever use.  I took a hand broom and instead of using a dust pan, I was sweeping directly into the 4 inch diameter hose.  Just get close to it and the dust disappears.  I just went to town cleaning the whole top of my saw.  I have a Biesemeyer fence and the flat wide surface of the fence is too much to resist.  As with any flat surface, it makes a convenient place to set things temporarily.  I had set the remote for my air conditioner on the fence while the saw wasn’t being used.  And without thinking, I swept the top of the fence and the remote toward the hose.  Yep, it will take the remote just like a block of wood.  Doesn’t stand up at all well to the impeller either…

If anyone is thinking of getting a dust collector for the shop, give the Steel City model some serious consideration.  Standard is a one micron filter, your choice of wiring the motor to run on 110 or 220 volts.  Stock is 110 VAC.  A totally enclosed fan cooled motor and a five year warranty.  That is tops in the industry. I’m sure you’d appreciate this monster if you got one.  Unless of course, you manage to suck up your remote too.

Festool ETS 150/5 6" random orbit sander

Kreg Precision Router Table Setup Bars

PRS 3400

Finally someone got it right! There are brass bars, saw blade height gauges and router bit height gauges. Kreg has put them all together in one set. Made from soft aluminum so they won't hurt blades or bits if they come in contact with the bars. The bars have a cut out in the middle of the bar, on the edge, so you can straddle the saw blade or router bit. The cut out is wide enough to fit over a dado blade and long enough, in the area of six inches long, that you can set the bar flat on the table surface on either side of the blade.

On the other side of the bar, opposite the cut out is the same size in a step. Once you make the cut, you can check the depth of the cut.

If that's not enough, there is a stem on the end of the bar to measure the distance from the blade or bit to the fence. There are bars ranging from one eighth to one half by sixteenths and no size is skipped. They all fit inside a molded plastic case so you can keep track of them.

These are a welcome addition to my measuring collection.

Grip-Tite 2000 magnetic feather board system

 

This is the best safety accessory for the table saw that I've ever used. I've never had a case of kick back happen when I used my Grip Tite.

No matter the fence system you have on your saw, the pieces are available to make this work.

The system comes with a fourteen gauge steel plate of different lengths, depending on your fence. On the plate there are counter sunk holes. I have a Biesemeyer fence. No way I'm running screws into my fence, so there is a work around for this, or for any fence.

The work around at least for the Biesemeyer fence. Take 2 pieces of hardwood, and cut them the same length as the steel plate. Rip the boards to three and a half inches. Glue the faces of the boards together, clamp and let dry. Once the boards have dried, drill 2 7/16 holes centered on the edge. Since you need two clamps, I made my holes 12 inches from each end. It's an easy number to work with.

Lay the boards on the bench flat on one face. Lay to plate on the boards and square them up. I recommend a self centering bit to drill the pilot holes. Drive the screws that are included into the backing boards. Now you will need a pair of clamps to hold the fence to your saw fence. The clamps sold as accessories are like a C clamp but they have a 7/16 finger bent at a right angle that fits into the holes drilled on the edge earlier.

To use, clamp the plate assembly to the fence. Make sure the blade is retracted completely. Lay the board to be cut on the table against the fence. take one of the two magnetic feather boards and set the roller on the board. Keep your fingers clear and slide it toward the fence. When the magnet comes in range, it will snap against the steel plate.

I like to set the first magnet so the handle is just in front of the blade. This serves as a sure stop. When I run into the handle, I know the blade is close and it's time for a push stick.

Place the remaining feather board near the back of the table and this does two things for you. First it keeps the wood tight to the table surface. Then as the board goes off the table at the back, it keeps the board from tipping up. Make sure you have something in place like an out feed table. If the board is long enough and heavy enough, it could lever the far magnet out of place.

I like it so well I think the Grip-Tite system should be standard equipment with new table saws. But I have no pull with government despite the last name.