Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shop Fox D3758 Biscuit Joining Kit

Busy Bee has these on special for $28.50 CDN ($32.99 CDN regular).

The way I'd been applying glue to biscuit slots left a bit to be desired, so I decided it was time I sprang for a proper applicator. The Shop Fox kit stocked me up nicely on biscuits at the same time, so I went for it.

The biscuit slot applicator works ok -- it delivers glue right down into the slot. Here's a close-up view of the applicator head with its cover off.

The glue channel is a narrow, rectangular passageway down the centre of the applicator head. It's probably wisest to thoroughly clean and rinse that passageway after every use. If that glue channel were to get clogged with hardened glue, one would have a difficult time of clearing it, and restoring the applicator to useability.

I still have a hard time gauging just how much glue to apply to a slot; I guess I'll learn eventually by trial and error.

I haven't tried the roller applicator yet, and that brings me to my one gripe with this kit. It seems to me that Shop Fox ought to have thrown in a second bottle, so that one could have both application methods ready at hand, without having to muck about with swapping applicator heads. I'll be keeping an eye out for a spare bottle that fits the roller applicator's thread.

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Bottle Found -- SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2017

Busy Bee has a glue bottle with a conical tip that's just the thing. (Busy Bee Cat. No. B2356 -- $3.49 CDN.)

The thread on the neck of the B2356 bottle fits the Shop Fox roller applicator head perfectly.

So now I have the arrangement that Shop Fox should have provided in the first place -- two applicator styles at the ready.

I've tried the roller applicator, and it works well.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Set Of Lilac Bough Candlestick Holders

And after an evening's use.

We have an old, overgrown lilac tree on our property that got a serious pruning some time ago. That left me with some lengths of lilac boughs that had been aging outside, somewhat sheltered from the elements under a bench.

I'm a novice at wood turning, so I thought I'd set myself an exercise in cylinder turning, using the lilac boughs as challenging material. The result I found myself getting was quite attractive -- the boughs' flaws contrasting with the machined wood. Then it dawned on me that if you drill a 3/4" hole in most anything, you have a candlestick holder. So I bored each cylinder at one end, and you see the result in the above photos.

As I discovered from my turning exercise, lilac is a lovely, dense hardwood that machines nicely -- shearing cuts on the lathe produce a smooth surface that scarcely needs sanding. If lilacs grew in abundance to the size of oaks, there'd be a lot of lilac furniture in the world.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Rude, Crude Shelf Blank

Sometimes it's pleasant to refrain from doing careful, tight tolerance work and turn one's attention to something a little less demanding, e.g. a simple shelf blank glued up from salvaged Ikea bed slats. Here's a view of the biscuit-joined creation I've just glued together and clamped up.

It's been in the clamps long enough; let's liberate it and see what we've got.

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It's not great, but it will do.

Now I just have to rip it to final width and cross-cut it to length, and I can install it in the tool cart that it's meant for.

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And I think I can call that a success.

It sits flat on its clips, and it's plenty sturdy enough for anything I might load it with.

I may make some more of those. I haven't run out of bed slats yet.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Busy Bee's 4" Angle Vise No. B1722

It's quite the hunk of iron and steel for $69.99. ($65.00 when on special.)

The dovetailed tilt ways are nicely ground -- the tilt feature works smoothly and without slop. There is one flaw in the vise, though; the parallelism of the jaws is poor.

The photo below doesn't show it well, but the jaws don't meet parallel to one another.

In the photo above, the right sides of the jaws have met, while the left sides are still slightly apart. It's impossible to get a secure, uniform grip from the jaws while that is the case.

I came up with a quick-and-dirty solution to the problem that, while not perfect, serves to make the vise as good as it's ever likely to get -- I added a shim washer to the left side of the moveable jaw's face.

To make the modification, you have to remove the moveable jaw's face. Use an impact driver with a No. 3 Phillips bit to dislodge the screws holding the jaw face in place. (I almost reamed out a screw recess before turning to my impact driver for the job.).

With the aid of a chassis punch, make a shim washer from some 0.019" thick sheet metal.[1] The shim washer goes to the loose side of the jaw face, like so.

Reattach the jaw face to the moveable jaw with the shim washer in place, tighten the fastening screws very firmly and you're done. The jaws will meet parallel to one another.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a perfect solution -- the shimmed jaw face now lacks rigidity because it's no longer directly backed by its jaw all the way across. However, the much improved parallelism makes the vise useable for most purposes.

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Update -- WEDNESDAY,  DECEMBER 28, 2016

That void in behind the moveable jaw face was bothering me, so I removed the jaw face, slathered it with five-minute epoxy and reinstalled it. The outcome looks good. The jaw face is now fully backed by incompressible material across its full width. The vise is as solid and true as if it had been made correctly in the first place.

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Lee Valley's Version -- SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2017

I've noticed that Lee Valley carries a 3" version of the identical vise. The one that I saw out in their showroom had the same defect that the Busy Bee 4" vise has -- the jaws aren't perfectly parallel to one another as they ought to be. The defect didn't appear to be as severe on the Lee Valley vise as on the Busy Bee vise, but it's probably still bad enough to make the vise only marginally fit for use in some situations. The same fix as outlined above would apply.

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Degrees Tilt Scale Accuracy

It's within about half a degree. Here's how the scale indication looks with the tilt zeroed to the base by means of a digital level box.

That's adequate accuracy for things like toy making, which was my reason for getting the vise at first.

For more critical applications, a digital level box is helpful for adjusting tilt angle with respect to the vise's base. Here's a view of such an arrangement at work to zero the tilting portion of the vise to its base.

The Tilt Angle Clamp Screw

This item can be a bit of a nuisance -- the sliding crank-bar can move into a position where it props the vise up off the surface that the vise is sitting on, like so.

An obvious fix for that is to replace the crank-bar-headed clamp screw with an ordinary hex-headed screw, like so.

A 3/8"-16 x 1 1/2" long screw fills the bill.

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[1] The shim thickness needed may vary. Gauge your unit with a feeler gauge to determine what shim thickness is needed to bring about jaw parallelism.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Stanley's FATMAX 6', 1/2" Blade Tape Measure

For reasons that I cannot fathom, the tool-making industry has lately gone gaga over big, bulky tape measures with blades at least 3/4" wide. 1/2" wide blades are rare birds these days.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I came across Stanley's little FATMAX 6' tape measure at the local Canadian Tire outlet yesterday. I don't do construction carpentry -- my work is mostly done inside the shop on things of moderate size, and I find the big tape measures to be awkward to use for my purposes. I recently lost a favourite 1/2" blade tape measure, and I've been cursing its 3/4" blade replacement ever since. Stanley's 6' item is just what I needed to replace my lost tape measure, and as a bonus, it was on special for $5.24 from regular $6.99. I would have happily paid the regular price to have a 1/2" blade tape measure again. Here's a view of the thing I've just been on about.

The tool has an attached keychain/ring that I consider to be a gimmick. That's easily deleted by backing off the three screws that hold the shell together, and spreading the shell open a bit until you can ease the chain off its retaining stud, like so.

Be careful not to over-tighten the screws when reassembling the shell.

With the keychain removed, the tool can do inside measurements, although that's a bit iffy with this unit. The length of the rubberized shell is just a hair over 1 3/4", so you'll have to take that bit of imprecision into account.

Anyway, the little keychain and inside measurement quibble aside, it's a sweet tool. I hope Stanley sells a million of them, and gets the message that 1/2" blade tape measures are a good thing -- not to be obsoleted.

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Update --  THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2017

I was perhaps a bit hasty in writing off the attached keychain/ring as a gimmick. I bought a second one of these tape measures to keep right by my table saw, and the keychain/ring affair turns out to be just the thing for hanging the tape measure on a nail.

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