August and September are months when quite a few members go travelling. This impacts the leaders group and on occasions, we may be stretched to maintain leaders for all sessions. Leaders who will be absent for a time during this period include Tony, Les, and the two Ian’s. Please support the leaders who will be available to the best of your ability.
Upgrades to the bigger band saws are continuing. Soon all three larger units will be equipped with micro-switches and mechanical brakes. The purpose of the upgrades is to ensure safer operations. At present, saws will run on for quite a while after power-off because of wheel momentum. The upgrades are to shut off power once the brakes are actuated thus bringing blades to a halt quickly.
Recently, a further timber rack was completed. This will enable us to store more supplies from The Stair Company and other sponsors. Members need to remember to differentiate between stocks that are free and stocks that have to be paid for. The latter is mainly made up of materials the shed has purchased from the mill. If in doubt please ask. Even if free wood is used it is a good idea to make a gold coin donation into the payment box occasionally to defray the cost of maintaining the shop.
It may be useful to use this newsletter to mention a few commonly made mistakes in our shop. Mostly these derive from memory lapses about what has been taught during accreditation. For example, when using the jointer it is necessary to undo the infeed table lock before making depth cut adjustments. Trying to reset the depth while the table is locked twists the table and results in poorly machined wood.
Another issue is the planer dropping out on overload. This happens because tapered stock is put into the machine narrow edge first or because the depth of cut is excessive. If you make an error and the knives sound like they are stalling, quickly lower the infeed bed. Better still, measure both ends of stock first and lead with the thicker end. Be conservative with depth of cut. Half a turn of the depth wheel is about 1mm. It is better for the machine and job quality, to make more small cuts than one big one.
On the table saw, if you remove the main guard system to make a special cut, use the alternative riving knife then immediately replace the main guard and anti-kickback pawls. Please remove all offcuts from the vicinity of the saw once your job is completed. Bin all small pieces that are unlikely to be useful to others.
A common mistake with the Bosch sliding compound saw is for members to attempt cutting small pieces of wood that would be more safely dealt with in a band-saw. Remember, we teach never having a hand closer than 100mm to rotating blades. Further away is even better. If the job can’t be done in an alternative machine, please employ hold downs.
When using machines connected to dust plants, be alert to the sudden appearance of shavings and sawdust in the work area. Most likely causes are the dust system is not switched on, the ductwork has a blockage or a bag in the dust room has not been emptied. Stop and investigate. Everyone must know how to deal with these situations. When emptying a dust bag isolate the extractor in the dust room.
If you have used the jointer or planer for a significant period of time you must check the dust bags. To ensure efficient operation of the filter materials and make emptying bags a light task, never let bags fill beyond half way. Ask someone to help you as reinstalling bags is a two-person job. If you don’t know, ask. It is polite to empty dust bags at the end of each session and never leave the task to the leader.
We have a voluntary but recommended, approach to wearing of personal safety equipment in most cases. One area where there is a mandatory requirement is the use of face shields when turning wood stock that is out of balance. There has been an improvement in compliance lately however it is noteworthy that some of the more experienced participants are pretty casual about the issue. Until you see someone with a broken cheek bone it is probably hard to comprehend just what can happen. We need to do better.
One other safety issue is the wearing of disposable dust masks when the session clean-up is going on. The leaders group has decided to provide free disposable masks for participants. If you want one, just ask the leader of the day. The masks are stored in a box above the glue shelf. Free masks are not for normal daily shed use. You should provide your own. If you have a lung weakness, permanent or temporary, find another way to assist other than dust removal.
There is still an occasional issue with members turning up with fifty-year old pieces of hardwood or lumps of ironwood and the like and wanting to put the timber through our equipment. This stock does immediate damage to saws and knives. Sharpening band-saws and rotating blades takes time and knowledge. As a concession, we are prepared for members to put such stock over the equipment in the outdoor area. If they learn to sharpen as well that would be a good idea. As a general rule, reserve main shop equipment for soft and cabinet quality timbers.
Finally. leaders met in early August and among other issues, they lent support to an idea for the development of an additional annex north of the Gordon Craig annex. If the Management Committee of the shed proceeds with a proposal that has been put forward, this annex could become a new technology centre incorporating, among other things, a CNT router. Retaining the space exclusively for woodwork was not regarded as essential when the current shop only opens four of the possible ten weekly sessions and shop management is already demanding. Shed resources should be directed to as many members as practicable.
Keep enjoying your participation in woodwork and remember - ‘If You Don’t Know, Ask’.