Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Router Table - Part 3: Bonus Upgrade!

Wheeled Cabinet with storage

My sister and I had some days off at the same time and she volunteered to help me get started on the cabinet for the router table. We began by roughing out the design on some scrap paper. The plan was to have a big drawer at the bottom to store all of my power hand tools and tool cases. The top drawer would be a lot shallower and used for smaller tools and accessories. Most of this stuff was cluttering my workbench and the floor, so I was keen to get them stored away neatly.

We used 18 mm MDF for the sides and drawer fronts and 16 mm MDF for pretty much everything else. I had bought some 12 mm particle board to make my tool wall, so we used that for the base. It didn't need to be strong, it just had to provide some additional rigidity.

We cut everything out using the Scheppach track saw and cut rebates for the base and top bracing using the router table itself.

Some glue and a whole bunch of screws later, I had a cabinet. I added two 70 mm locking swivel castors at the front and two fixed castors at the back. As you can see, I managed to put it to use right away.

Keeping the dust out

The project stayed this way for a few weeks. Once I got my new table saw *gasp* I decided that making some drawers for the cabinet would be a good first project.

The drawers are a basic construction. The sides are attached to the front and back using butt joints, glue and screws. The 12 mm particle board bases were rebated, glued and nailed. I bought some heavy duty full extension slides to make it easy to access items in the back. The 18 mm MDF fronts were then glued and screwed into place with as little clearance as possible to keep dust out. This video by John Heisz really helped with understanding how to install the slides.

Tidying up the switch

Once the drawers were done, all that was needed to make the table functional again was to feed the female end of the switch through the table so that I could connect it to the router. I started by cutting a hole big enough for the connector.

I then chiselled out a ramp to provide enough clearance to feed the cord behind the plastic body of the switch.

The switch was then screwed back onto the router table, hiding the hole and keeping everything looking neat and tidy. The dangling cord is the male end to be connected to mains.

Finishing touches

I made some pulls based on something I saw John John Heisz make, and enclosed underneath the hole in the router table with a 30mm deep box to keep the dust out of the top drawer but provide enough clearance to lower the router full depth through the hold made previously. I used a technique I saw in one of Marius Hornberger's videos to make this box using simple 45 degree glued mitre joints for all edges since it didn't have to be very strong.

How does it perform?

For my current needs, it's good enough. Adjustment of the router height is fiddly as you have to open the top, rest it on something (like your forehead) and fiddle with the Makita's "fine adjustment" ring until you get things right. Fence adjustment generally involves clamping it down then tapping with a hammer to "micro" adjust the positioning.

Future improvements I plan to make include:

  1. Painting the cabinet to seal the MDF (which is easily affected by moisture)
  2. Dust collection
  3. Better adjustment mechanism for the fence
  4. Throwing it all away, buy a new router, and make something else that has a router lift :)

In the meantime, the table has been useful for more than just routing. It is my go-to flat surface for glue ups (my main work bench is usually too cluttered) and it is a good height for a table saw outfeed table when cutting large pieces. The castors make it super easy to move around my tiny space and the storage as well has been very useful as I try to adapt my single car garage into a functional workshop.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Induction Motor Adventures

I have plans to make this bandsaw. Ever since I saw the video I've wanted to make it. Matthias Wandel's design is super simple, lightweight and made almost entirely out of wood.

About 6 months ago I bought the plans and have been collecting all the parts I need as cheaply as possible. The frame will be from pine pallets that I've salvaged. I have tried to acquire a second hand motor but - it's been a challenge.

I managed to find this 2HP single phase induction motor on Gumtree for $15.

The guy was in the middle of nowhere and, based on our limited interaction, a little eccentric. He was adamant that "It had barely been used. The only problem is it needs a new start capacitor". For $15, I decided it was worth giving it a go. 2HP would be pretty much perfect for my home-made bandsaw. So I let my significant other know that if she didn't hear from me in an hour to send the police to the crazy man's place, and set off to pick it up. He had mentioned his aggressive people-hating dogs. More than once.

Annoyingly, the motor didn't have a wiring diagram, so being the diligent engineer that I am, I took to the internets to work it out. I first cracked open the terminal/capacitor enclosure to work out what I was dealing with. There were two capacitors. So far so good.

Rather than trying to measure capacitance with my crappy $20 multimeter (and general lack of knowledge/skills about exactly how to do this), the plan was to determine where to attach my power lead to the terminals, then check that the motor starts to see if the start capacitor really was gone. Not wanting to mess with 240V AC without a little more understanding, I looked around for some information about how the motor should be wired up. I also bought a Residual Current Device to avoid excessive current draw once I was ready to give it a go.

All About Circuits had a great article that explained a standard capacitor run single phase induction motor circuit. Based on this information, I plotted out the known connections and drew a diagram to work out where the primary and starter coils should be. I came up with this:

The left side shows the coloured leads and the existing capacitor connections on the motor's terminal block. The picture on the right was how I thought the schematic mapped to the terminals.

With this information, I should be able to connect my multimeter to the two red wires and read continuity, and the two black wires and read continuity. I had about 6 ohms between the two red terminals, but no continuity between the black terminals, which is where I thought the starter winding should be.

At this point things were not looking good. It was time to crack open main motor enclosure. I wanted to confirm the centrifugal switch was fine, although I was pretty sure my understanding of the circuit was correct. At this point, I had nothing to lose anyway.

The enclose was a little rusty and required some percussive persuasion to remove the end bells. Lots of persuasion. After a few hours (and much swearing), I pulled out the rotor and was greeted by this:

I'm no expert, but I was pretty sure the black wiring was not a good sign. A few measurements with the multimeter and some careful inspection showed that the winding was indeed burnt out and was causing the lack of continuity between the black terminals.There were a number of solder blobs too, so it looked like someone (I'm looking at you crazy Gumtree guy) had tried to repair it in the past.

On the plus side, I managed to confirm that my understanding of the switch placement was correct. I also got to finally have a play with one after reading about how they work - which is always nice.

So...still motor-less - but at least I learned quite a bit.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Router Table - Part 2

A lot has happened in a year. A lot of tools were bought and I finally finished some projects that I had been "working on" for quite some time. In particular the Router Table. Here it is at approximately 70% done:

It's not quite finished but it's usable.

Making the table top

After a failed attempt to use the rest of the salvaged plywood from an old pallet, I decided to just use a manufactured material for the table top - MDF.

MDF is an engineered product and relatively flat which make a a great candidate for providing a reference surface for shaping timber on the router table. It does have a few downsides however:
  1. Potential health risks due to fine dust and binding agents (e.g. formaldehyde).
  2. Splits easily when using screws.
  3. Poor resistance to moisture.
Because of the first issue, it's important to have good dust extraction and to wear a respirator when working with MDF. I bought a basic respirator from Bunnings a while ago and use this whenever making fine dust - especially if it's MDF dust. I'm also working towards having dust collection at the source for most of my tools as this is by far the best way to ensure that you don't breathe in any harmful particles.

After cutting the MDF to the appropriate size, I lined up my router's base plate to mark the holes in the center of the table then drilled and countersunk the holes for the M5 machine screws. I had to buy longer screws in order to accommodate the additional thickness of the 18mm MDF. The router base plate is only about 5mm thick.

I made a simple jig and used my router and a guide bushing for cutting the recess for the 100 mm butt hinges.

I then used the same jig to make a similar recess on the table box itself and then attached the hinges to both pieces using screws.

The router was then secured to the bottom of the table with the M5 machine screws. I hadn't completely accounted for the depth of the router in my design so I had to make a recess in the bottom of the main box to allow the router to drop through. I would need to work around this later in order to keep any dust contained within the main box when using the router table. 

Making the fence

I had always planned on making a split fence in order to be able to joint boards using the router table. The split fence design also makes it easier to ensure that the router bit is as close to the fence as possible at all times. This improves dust collection and makes routing operations safer by providing more support to the work piece.

I didn't make any real plans for the fence and more or less made it up as I went along.

I cut two long pieces for the front and base of the fence using my recently acquired Scheppach CS-55 track saw. This was much faster than the previous approach of using a router to cut materials to size. I also cut out the vertical support pieces to keep the fence square, the 45 degree angled piece that would provide a dust collection port and the two front sliding fence pieces.

The pieces were glued and screwed together.

In order to cut the slots for the sliding front, I setup a temporary fence with the router installed in the table. I then made a wider slot for the bolt heads to sit in.

I had wanted to try making some knobs for a while so this seemed like a good chance to try it. I began by drilling five pilot holes in a piece of MDF. 

I Then used a 16 mm spade bit to bore out the outer holes.

The the whole knob was then cut out using a cheap hole cutting bit in my cordless drill. I made matching cut-outs in a thinner sheet of MDF and chiselled out a recess for the bolts in the thicker piece.

The thinner sheet of MDF was then used to cover the bolt.

The hole assembly was glued together and after a bit of sanding the finished knob looked pretty slick.

Not quite square

After assembling the fence I realised that a combination of poor alignment and bulging from screws in the MDF meant that the fence was not sitting 90 degrees to the table top. To fix this, I decided to plane down the base of the fence until It was as square as possible to the table. For obvious reasons, I had to remove the screws before doing this.

After a bit of fiddling around, I got it pretty much dead on.

For bonus points, I added a mitre slot and a really simple mitre gauge to the table. My plan is to just clamp down the fence for now. At some point I might try to add a slot or track system to make things easier.  

Finishing touches

To finish things off I attached the 4 of the 5 free Ikea style legs to the bottom of the main box with screws and painted the main box with a water based paint. The MDF was sealed using shellac and then waxed to provide a smooth low friction surface. I bought a switch from the local woodworking supply store and attached it to the outside.

Due to the hole in the bottom of the box, dust collection was not perfect. Also, the cord for the router had to be fed through this hole to reach the switch on the side of the box as the switch is actually for a Triton table and isn't really designed to be installed into something with walls as thick as my router table.

In part 3, I'll finish things off. The Ikea legs are temporary. The plan is to make a rolling cabinet with drawers for storing power tools and accessories.