Shaving the geodetic pieces

Yesterday I tackled the problem of the rib geodetic pieces.  The thinnest I could order from anywhere was 1/8″, and the plans call for 3/32″ thick.  What I got from ACS was actually a bit oversized at .130 to .140.  So, I need to shave about .040 to ..045 or so off of 120 or so 6′ long strips of spruce.

I tried a small razor plane…  no joy there.  Maybe it was my technique, but the blade dug in and left a very rough, uneven surface.  It’s quite possible I could make this work with a “real” hand plane, but I’d have to go buy one, then learn to use it properly, and let’s be honest — right now I’m a little impatient to start building.  I tried spinning up an end mill in the CNC machine, but it was obviously over-taxed and would take several passes.  Probably the wrong tool for the job.  Maybe a router bit would have been better, but there was also a work space issue, and the small motor and flex shaft drive was not going to be up to the task.  I knew I was fighting a losing battle there.  My Harbor Freight belt/disk sander seemed promising, but the top roller on the belt is convex and was leaving a concave surface.  I was not too confident in trying to use the table saw to shave them down, given how quickly things can go wrong there.

I ended up buying an oscillating spindle sander at Menard’s.  With a guide board clamped to the table, it lets me feed the strips in and sand them down to a nice consistent .093″ thickness.  It’s really slow going to try to do it all in one pass, so I set up a second guide board on the other side to knock them down about half way.  One pass on one side, then a second pass on the other side of the drum and I have what I need.  It still takes quite a bit of time.  I installed the second largest drum, 2″ in diameter, but I think I’ll re-set it up with the larger 3″ drum instead.  The higher speed of the drum surface may help to make it go a little faster, and the larger surface area might keep the drum from loading up or wearing out longer.  With the shop vacuum sucking dust out around the spindle there’s virtually no sanding dust floating around, so that’s nice.

I got four strips done before I knocked off for the day.  Doesn’t sound like much, but there was also a few hours of Pinewood Derby axle and wheel work in there, as well as some play time with the grandkids.  Oh, and I did groove a couple dozen more rib capstrips too.

Tooling up (part 2)

I spent some time today going through the table saw setup and adjustment.  As it turns out, my saw (a Ryobi BT3100) has a pretty decent following.  I did figure out why I’d never been happy with the rip fence.  I’d always used the grooves in the casting to align it.  As it turns out, this saw is not like others.  You don’t align the blade to the table.  You align everything off the blade.  I got the miter slot (an optional part), sliding miter table, and front scale all adjusted to the blade, lubed the jack screw that raises and lowers the blade, and checked the rip fence.  Turns out, it’s pretty close to dead nuts on and always locks itself in place perfectly aligned…  you just have to ignore the grooves in the table.  Who knew?  Anyway, I cleaned it up and gave the table a coat of wax, and cut a feather board and some trim strips for a remodeling project.  It’s awesome.  One down.

Tooling up (part 1)

If I’m going to be building something big out of wood, I’ll need to tool up for it.  Right now I have some basic tools that will work, but what I have in the garage is more geared toward building an RV (and even a lot of those tools are now gone).

My bandsaw is a very inexpensive, small Harbor Freight model.  I have tuned it up a little and adjusted it so that it works much better than it did out of the box, but it’s a very light duty saw.  It’s also WAY too fast for cutting 4130 steel.  I’ll need to at least get some good quality wood cutting blades for it, since it’s mostly been used for aluminum.  I was looking for a better bandsaw, like a 14″ Delta or Rockwell, but I may hold off on that.  This one might work, if I can come up with a solution for any steel parts that need to be cut.

The table saw I have is a fairly decent Ryobi.  Not as solid or as precise as I’d like, but if I can figure out how to get the rip fence parallel to the blade it should be serviceable.  But, for most things the radial arm should work anyway.

Belt sanders — I have two.  One is a small bench-top Harbor Freight unit that is fine for very small jobs.  The other is a 1950s vintage Craftsman that weighs well over 100# with its cast iron base and stand.  I need to get it moved back home, cleaned, lubed and a new drive V-belt installed.

Drill press — The one I have is a complete piece of crap, and I don’t think there is a way to make it any better.  I’m watching for a better one, preferably old and solid.

Chop saw — I have a De Walt 12″ compound miter saw.  It works fine, but takes up a lot of space.  In a shop environment I’d rather use a radial arm saw.

Radial arm saw — This could possibly be the secret weapon.  I need to retrieve it from my sister’s place, but there is a Magna Sawsmith radial arm saw.  My Dad used this to make a lot of furniture and other stuff, and it will do just about anything.  My brother in law (ex, actually, but still a pretty damn good guy) told me the motor had burned out — I’m hoping it’s something more like a bad motor start capacitor, since those are easy to replace and the original motors are long out of production and nearly impossible (and expensive) to find.  We’ll see how this one shakes out.  Honestly, I can see myself taking on a lot more non-airplane woodworking projects if this saw can be returned to service.

Dust collection — I have none, other than a shop vacuum.  The table saw, small belt sander and band saw all have dust collection fittings on them; the old (large) belt sander doesn’t.  Not sure about the Sawsmith.  I want to rig up something to suck up as much dust as possible, and I’ll for sure want to build a dust separator to keep from clogging up the shop vac.

Jointer/planer — I have none.  I may need to fix that.  This is an entirely new area for me, I’ve never used either tool and don’t know much about them.  But, I may need to plane down wood for cap strips.  We’ll see what the BOM that comes with the plans will reveal.