Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zero Clearance Insert for Ridgid 10" Sliding Compound Miter Saw

One of the things that I did not like about my miter saw was not having a zero clearance plate for the saw and I felt like it was leaving me with very rough cuts.  I pulled the original out, which was 0.250" in thickness. I started looking around for something of this thickness and started to think I would have to plane a board down.  I will still make a zero clearance fence for the back, but that is much more straightforward and often may be sacrificial.   

Then I saw something that measured 0.249" thick:  a wooden 5-gallon paint stirrer from HD.  Below is the result.

Final Zero Clearance Insert

The next pictures show some of the progress.  The first pictures shows what I started with.  I first power planed the sides smooth with my HF power planer (A great $40 purchase!) as I did not want to use my larger joiner with such a small item.  I clamped them together with glue and used an air compressor for extra weight to keep them flat.  After sanding, the thickness had fallen, so I had to use some extra spacers of tape and plastic strapping wrap used on a box.  It started to get late and I was tired.  I should have gotten some new screws and countersunk them, but the stores were closed.  With that, I just used a forstner bit for the bolt to fit. 


The stirring sticks
Power Planing the sides smooth
Gluing the sticks

Adding Spacers

My Remote Switch for Dust Collector

So now that I have installed a souped up Harbor Freight dust collector installed, I got tired of walking over to turn it on and off each time.  I looked into getting a commercial remote for it, but they are not cheap and also some of the reviews made me question them.  One of the concerns that I had was forking over the better part of $100 and then have it die after a year or so.  If that happened, these solid state unites are trash, as they cannot be fixed. 

The Dust Collector Remote Installed

I work in a lab where we recently removed some old equipment.  That night while falling asleep, it dawned on me that I could use a $10 remote control for Christmas tree lights to turn on and off an old relay from the equipment.  The cheap remote is unable to handle the motor load; however, it can easily turn on an off a relay designed to handle the motor load.

I was going to use a solid-state relay with a heat sink.  To power the DC for a relay, I had planned to use an old transformer used to power a broken wireless (computer) router.  Then in talking to the head building maintenance guy at work, he suggested a contactor relay as it uses an 110V AC input and is better able to handle the power of a motor.  He ordered one for a motor switch; however, it was the wrong size, he could not return it, and he gave it to me. 

I then took an old electrical enclosure box used to run some large tube furnaces.  I used a 12-guage extension cord as the power supply and then as an extra outlet to run to the cord for the dust collector.  Also, I got some appropriately size fuses, an electrical outlet, and finally, the $10 remote control switch. 

I wired it together with the intention of the remote control on the outside, as it would not work inside the metal box.  If you look at the pictures, I took advantage of what was in the box, so I was able to make it much fancier than if I had started from total scratch.  In addition, I figured the remote was the most likely to fail and if on the outside, it is easy and cheap to replace. 

How hard was it to wire?  Well if you can barely wire an outlet, this is NOT the project for you.  If you can easily wire a 3-way switch and can understand my drawing, it is relatively straightforward.   

One thing that is also important to point out is that this system is very flexible if you are electrically minded.  For example, if you ran a 220V (or even a 480V) dust collector, you could then just run the neutral line over (or a separate 110V line) and wire it up in a very similar manor. 

In addition, just as I was getting ready to write this up, I found that Clear Vue offers an electrical box very similar to what I built.  I have not seen the box in person; but it appears to have a remote control turning on and off a contactor using 110V.   Their relay has two legs so that it can run 220V.  In mine, I am using one leg at 110V.  I guess the other difference is that their looks much nicer, where mine is not something I could sell online. 

Enjoy the pictures below,

Schematic of the Dust Collector

The Remote Before Mounting 
Note in the picture above you can see a few things.  One is that outlet that I cut to mount on the top, which powers the remote control switch.  Here, the box is set to power the dust collector as evident by the lit up end of the extension cord, which might not show to well in the picture.  The output of this is a cheap extension cord in white that goes back in to power the contractor.  This way if the remote dies, I don't need to do anything other than plug the new one in, which I think was really a ingenious solution. 

The Inside Wiring

Note in the picture above you can see a few things.  First, I was SUPER lucky to get a box that I could modify and make use of.  I was able to make use of the switch and light (which lets me know if its powered up and ready to hit the remote button.  I also was able to use left over wire and blocks to make some of the connection.  The fuses worked perfect as I have a fuse on the light, contactor, and dust collector.  I should have put one on the outlet, but I did not think of it at the time. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Souped Up Harbor Freight Dust Collector with Cyclone

In an effort to improve the dust in my shop, I decided to get a dust collector. My vacuum cart with a dustdeputy does a great job; however, I needed a larger volume of air moved to remove more dust. I thought about an individual cyclone separators such as one by Grizzly, but it was getting expensive and I think my wife would not be happy.

With that, I started searching the internet and decided to really soup up a Harbor Freight Dust collector. Below is the final picture and a schematic of what I built. In short, it’s a Harbor Freight dust collector, a Wynn Engineering Filter, a salad bowl as an internal baffle, and a Super Dust Deputy cyclone. To top it off, I just made my own remote control switch using some relays and a $10 wireless remote for Christmas tree lights. (Look for that Post Soon)

The System - Dust Collector with Cyclone

To start the process, I used some great resources, which I want to give credit too, such as:

I started with the Harbor Freight Dust collector, which using a super coupon, I was able to get for $150. By itself, I don’t know that I would be the best dust collector, but it sure makes a great starting point for something larger. One reason for my thought is that I do not believe that a 5-micron filter is fine enough as it’s the dust you cannot see (<10 micron) that is dangerous to breathe in. The first improvement to the dust collector was Wynn Engineering’s Nano filter. With that filter, I now have better airflow than the original felt bag and essentially HEPA filtration.

I have the standard Dust Deputy on a vacuum cleaner, which is amazing and I think every woodworker should use it or something similar on a shop vac. With experience with the standard Dust Deputy, I did not even hesitate to get the Super Dust Deputy. I went with the plastic over metal to save some money and I liked how it looked like the plastic one starts the air to flow down and might work better.

While waiting on the filter and cyclone to come in, I did some more reading one what people have done. I decided to put some sort of extra separation within the dust collector itself. I would have loved to have put in the Thein baffle, but because of the filter option I got, I was unable to. Then I saw the articles that try and copy a certain companies cone within a dust collectors. The company will remain nameless; however they make nice white and yellow tools. Great things have been to copy the cones used such as woks (& here), plant stands, dog food bowls, frying pans, and chimney tops. With that, I went down to the local GoodWill store to see what I could find. For $1, I found a nice red plastic salad bowl. After increasing the bowl’s strength with some plywood, I mounted it into the dust collector. The way the filter attaches, the bowl had to be easy to install and remove as it must be removed to adjust the toggle bolts that hold the filter in place.

Using a 5” hose, I then ran the input of the dust collector to the output of the cyclone filter (6” output). I reduced the input of the cyclone (5”) to the standard hose size of (4”). Eventually I would like to get the Rockler DustRight quick connects.

Without the fancy 4” Dust Right connections, I have the hose attached to a 4” plastic part. The plastic part is then connected to the part making the dust, such as my table saw, using a 4” rubber connection, which is used to join pipes. It actually works so well as somewhat of a quick connect, I may never fork over the money for the expensive connections.  The bucket that has the dust deputy on it was lined with a heavy-duty contractor grade trash bag. The lid was cut and a small plastic window as put in to see the dust level. I used some white caulk to seal any seam or connection on the Harbor Freight dust collector, including around the seams near the filter. Lastly, I noticed some dust leaking out around the bag, so I put some thin weather stripping to help seal where bag goes.

How does it work? Well it’s still too new, but I really like it. The big metal drum has a few inches of dust in it, where the plastic bag has a sprinkling in it. When it looks like the drum is full of dust, I will open up everything to see how much dust got on the fine filter. I guess at that point, I will be ready to write a full review. 
Full Picture

$7 "Quick" 4" Dust Connections

Salad Bowl Baffle

Looking up at Baffle
Seams Sealed with Caulk

Weatherstripping on Bag

The HF Dust Collector

Super Dust Deputy on Can with Window

My End Grain Cutting Boards

I know there have been tons of the pictures and articles about the end grain cutting boards. I started searching the internet to look for how to make one and that lead me to Marc Spagnuolo’s great website of The Wood Whisperer. Most of the articles ended uplinking to his article, which is here. Once here I saw his video on the end grain cutting board and followed it. I ended up making three of them. Two as Mother’s day presents (my Mom and my wife’s Mom) and then one for my wife. Unfortunately, the one for my wife did not get fully finished for about 6 months after the others, but that is a different story.

With so much plans and how-to-sites out there, I will just really show the final pictures. With three of them, I had a few scraps around and glued them together for a small cutting board. This one was made to be a bread type of board.

Attached are some pictures of the one I made with purple heart and hard maple.  

The Cutting Board

Different View
Bread Board Made from Scraps
Lilly Supervising the planing of the wood


Friday, January 10, 2014

Improving the Dust Collection on my Contractor Style Table Saw

So I have spent a fair amount of time working on trying to cut down on the dust coming from my old Delta table saw.  This is a link to more information on the saw where I made my own riving knife and did work to improve electrical on it with a new switch & outlet for a vacuum cleaner.

I can't say that I can take all the credit for the things that I have done, but I will talk about some of the things that I have done. In the first picture, you can see the front of the saw where I have covered up the big opening with cardboard (held on by Velcro you can't see). The bottom is sealed with aluminum tape, which goes all the way around. The opening at the top near the table is sealed with spray foam insulation.

Front of the Saw - Sealed the openings

In the next picture, you can see the back of the saw. I used a corrugated plastic sign at the entrance to the neighborhood which was for a past garage sale. It was several months expired, so I figured nobody would mind. This was perfect as its fairly rigid, but most importantly, it was free. I used the blue painter's tape to put in on, as I might need to remove it when I change the angle and don't want it to be permanent.

Back of the Saw - Sealed with Plastic Sign

The next two pictures show where I was playing with the dust collector that I built and putting a better vacuum attachment on it. Its one of the nozzle, where it cut it to be right above the blade. The other end of the hose has a fitting where I can use my super vacuum cleaner with the dust deputy cyclone to pull off the dust.

Dust Vacuum on the Guard

Dust Vacuum on the Guard

One other addtion I did that I had read about is increase the hole at the back of zero clearance insert. This makes some sense. The blade is not cutting here, but rather at the front. The picture below shows this. 

Opening the Back of the Zero Clearance Insert

Lastly, I put in an insert to hook up the bottom to a 4" dust port.  The white stuff in the picture is painter's caulk that I used to seal it up.

Bottom going to the Dust Collector


Cove Molding Jig to make a Picture frame

I came across a cool article on Marc Spagnuolo’s great website of The Wood Whisperer. I enjoy watching his videos as they are incredibly informative and I like his sense of humor. While on his site, I came across a video on making a parallelogram jig for coves on the table saw. Using Google, one can find many other websites with similar information and one site can even give you a program to determine any cove you want.

With that, I decided to make a picture frame with a large cove molding that I have wanted to do for a long time. Using the information from his website, I built a simple parallelogram jig as shown in the first picture. In the picture, you can see how I tried to raise up the arms (and for the wood to slide under) to keep it parallel and the clamps to keep it on the table saw.

In the second picture, the outline of the picture frame that I was trying to make is visible. I drew the rough profile of what I was looking for in the frame. Then I lined up the jig and set the blade at an angle to get everything to line up. After this, I lowered the blade and started to make the cuts. I would run it one direction and then back over the blade for each piece. Only after each one was cut, I would raise the blade. When raising the blade, I would only do it about 1/16” at a time, so I long lost count of how many passes I would make to get the desired shape. 

Once the cove was cut, I cut the dado where the picture would lay (the upper left corner of my test piece). I then cut an angle (the lower left corner of my test piece) on one side to slope towards the picture. The final cut was down the center of the cove to create the frame. After sanding, cutting 45’s, and finishing the frame, I then put the picture in it. Below are two pictures of the final product.

Three final thoughts on the jig, as there were things I did not like on it. First, getting close to the blade, made me really nervous. When I go to use it again, I am going to create some sort of a cover to go over the blade. I am thinking of clear plastic about 8” long that can have the height adjusted on one side. I also see it having an integrated feather-board to ensure the cut is repeatable.  When I do that, I will add a picture. The other thing that I did not like about the jig, was the amount of dust it would create. I would like to add a feature to collect the dust with possibly a 2” vacuum attachment on one side near the blade. Then to help keep it in, maybe take some part of a soft broom and put it across the front & back of the guard. Also, I think if I do it much more, I would get a one of the stiffer table saw blades designed for cove molding that could better handle the force or the more cost effective stabilizer.

Lastly, I have to say what that is a painting of as some out there will recognize it. The picture is of the “Tooth of Time,” which is located in Cimarron NM at the Philmont Scout Ranch. I painted the picture in some art class I took. I have always loved that landmark, which said you were 7 days to Santa Fe when on the Santa Fe Trail.  I went to Philmont twice as a scout and then was on staff there for 6 summers. Two top memories were cooking French toast at sunrise one summer and feeding a crew and then watching the sunrise & being the first one on the summit on January 1, 2000.