Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas from all at TMc Woodworks

This is a whole load of woodworkers who may have been sniffing too many noxious fumes without their respirators on!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Shop transformation Part 7 - Fitting out

I ground the floor smooth with a diamond grinder hired from HSS, who are a national tool hire company,  including a large vacuum extractor. I wasn't going to use my own shop vac! That was hard work as the actual grinder is very heavy and my hip was not in the best of conditions. However all I had to do was lean on the machine and move it from side to side so it was not too onerous. Needless to say it generated a lot of concrete dust but I was rewarded with a nice, flatish bare concrete floor.

The next day I started painting the floor. Or rather I should say painting 2/3rds of the floor! According to the Regal Paints website there should have been sufficient paint for the entire 410 square feet with a little leftover. In practice there was only enough sealer coat for around 250 square feet or roughly 2/3rds of the shop.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Dakota DK2040 Extendable Universal Mobile Base review

The new shop deserves to be cleaned often.
There I've said it.
To facilitate this I need a system of moving the heavy duty machinery out of the way and what better way of doing this than using a mobile base.
I decided a good purchase for my table saw would be a mobile base but which one? There are so many on the market and my table saw weighs around 150 kg. It came with its own mobile base but it wasn't very well made and needed repairing due to faulty, inferior welds. Either I could have taken into a welding shop, blacksmith or hired some welding equipment and welded it myself.
Either way it would have cost me money so when I saw Rutlands advertising mobile bases for less than £40 I decided to have a look.
I ordered one on their Dakota DK2040 mobile bases on a special offer days when delivery is free and you get 10% off.

The box duly arrived 2 days later and it was heavy. I opened it to find every component individually wrapped in bubble wrap plastic. After removing the plastic wrap there were all manner of heavy steel components painted with a substantial layer of black paint.
All the nuts and bolts have 8.8 on the heads which means they are high tensile steel. The nuts are collared and serrated on the underside so no need for any lock washers.
The axles are all high tensile steel allen cap head screws as are the pivot mechanism pins. Everything shows as being able to withstand the 500 pound (226 kg) loads that it is rated for.

I started assembly using the exploded parts drawing. You do have to loosely assemble the parts first to get some idea of the size you want to fit. All the main members have a series of holes drilled on uniform centres of around 1 inch (25mm). Basically you just telescope the inner member inside the outer member and lock them together with the 6mm high tensile bolts.
The static wheels are inserted and the axle bolt doubles as a fastener along with the nyloc locking nut. There are many nuts and bolts in the kit and you can put in more than are necessary if you desire.
The front wheels are rotating axis castors and they are mounted onto a hinge plate. The hinge plate is actuated by a foot pedal at either side.
When the base is in the down position the front wheels are off the ground with the weight being taken by two   adjustable rubber feet. These can be locked at the desired height using an M12 nut.
The solid back wheels are always in contact with the floor.

In use I mounted my table saw into the mobile base and it moves around on my concrete shop floor with great ease. When in the down position there is no rock or sideways movement. A vastly superior product to the manufacturers own version that came as an extra with the table saw.

It was so good I bought 2 more mobile bases, one for the band saw and one for the router table. What's more they have a 10 year warranty on them. A bargain.
When I buy my new jointer I will get one of these bases too for that. In fact my oscillating spindle sander could do with one too!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Gorilla Gripper review

As part of the new shop build I will be using a lot of OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and plywood to build some partitions and line the inside of the doors. Also I will be using lots of sheet goods throughout the next few years to make jigs, use in projects etc. My back is not what it was and now I'm having problems with hip joints (plural) I thought I could do with a little help in the lifting department.

I stumbled across the Gorilla Gripper by Roughneck. I read a few reviews and saw a few videos on it so decided to part with some hard earned cash and ordered one from Amazon.
It came today in a plain cardboard box. Unpacking it revealed a well made, industrial rated but lightweight contractors model (32-610) that has a holding capacity of 10 to 28mm (3/8" to 1.1/8")

It is made from aircraft grade aluminium with high tensile steel fasteners.

The instructions tell you that it is designed to lift and carry large sheets of material from the top without bending or lifting, using the back, wrists and fingers. Of course we all know, or should know, that lifting with the legs and a straight back is a safer and faster way to move heavy materials. You can also use it to grip the top edge of large bags of animal feed, sand, top soil etc.

All you have to do is place the gripper securely on the top edge of the material and in the centre of the board so it has proper grip and balance. There are two rubber pads, one on each jaw, that you just have to make sure it has full contact with the material before you lift it. Then you lift it by the handle and the jaws, or gripping plates, tighten on the sheet by the mechanism. You basically carry it at the side of you and a 8 x 4 x 3/4" board is easily moved around. I tried it with a piece I had and even with my dodgy hips (and walking cane) was able to move the sheet around without any problems whatsoever. I am really impressed.

It can lift more than one sheet, dependent upon your strength of course, as long as the thickness of the material comes within it's range. I wouldn't fancy trying to lug 2 sheets of 8' x 4' x 3/4" thick MDF around with it for instance. But if you want to you could with the one for doors.

They make them in 3 sizes, this one is the middle of the range the others are 0-19mm (0 to 3/4") and one especially for doors 32-50mm (1.1/4" to 2")

Olympia-Tools (UK) Ltd are distributing them in the UK but I got mine from Amazon for £47.47 with Amazon Prime. I think the list price in the UK is around £80 so I got mine 41% cheaper.

Here's a cheesy 4 minute promo video

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Shop Transformation Part 6

The keys to the new shop were finally handed back to me on November 16th 2012. The concrete slab had been poured during the week over the rubble in the old inspection pit and was still hardening. All the final jobs had been completed, all the electrics worked (not that I thought they wouldn't!) the cladding was all in position.

The builder had gone into great detail making sure all the stainless steel nails holding the cladding on were in a straight line. He said there would be nothing worse than sitting outside the shop on a warm evening admiring the man-cave with your favourite beverage in your hand and noticing that all the nails were out of line. He even got one of his guys to go around every nail (more than 1500!) and using a nail punch knock them all below the surface. Now that is attention to detail that is admirable and that guy deserves a beer.

Last night, Monday, while still recovering from my hip operation last Wednesday November 14th I set about applying one of the first coats of white masonry paint to the internal block walls with a 12 inch roller.
Did I ever mention I don't like painting? I managed to do 1 and 1/4 walls last night. However the mortar is under the level of the block work and needed a paintbrush to pick out the seams. This is going to take forever!
Did I ever mention I don't like painting?
Why don't builders flush the mortar up to the surface?
There will be another night tonight of painting to look forward to. Maybe I should employ my step dad who is a retired painter to do the job....

Did I ever mention I don't like painting?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Shop Transformation Part 5

This week has been a really busy week commencing November 5th 2012 for my builder.
They have:

  • finished all the cladding,
  • clad one of the doors (the other one will be done next monday)
  • installed all the insulation and drywall in the roof.
  • installed all the T8 lighting
  • installed all the power outlets
  • installed all the circuit breakers

We had the big switch on Thursday and when initially powered up the tubes were pink in the centre and the gas was flickering inside the tube. After 30 minutes they were all a consistent white colour and the gas flicker had gone. After an hour it was really bright.
It seems that there appeared to be a burning in period before full brightness was achieved.

For anybody who hasn't used high frequency battens with T8 fluorescent tubes then you are in for a surprise. They switch on immediately with no flickering and they are at about 85% full brightness. Then after 5 minutes they are at 100% brightness. I was very impressed and I think after taking advice from the WoodTalkOnLine community about how many lamps I should install in my space I think I have got it right.

The brackets for the gutters finally arrived from the manufacturer on Thursday night. They had made them incorrectly and we had to wait over a week before we got replacements. It was their error rolling them to an incorrect radius.

The ones with the larger radius
are the correct ones
This view shows the gutter with its bracket
secured with 3 bolts

Jon the builder had fun fitting them as they needed sealant applying between all the joints. The problem was he had put the gutters up and it started to rain. Where they were jointed together the seals hadn't quite set and there was a huge leak of water. He went home that night feeling dejected. However the next day he came back armed with a gas gun and some tar backed mastic and plugged the leak from the inside. Now there is a slight trickle and we think that a little sealant applied around the outside of the seam will seal that.
These gutters are intended for factory buildings and I think slight leaks from 50 feet in the air are probably tolerated. However we have come to the conclusion that although the roofing system is brilliant the integral gutters are not so good. The manufacturer may need to go back to the drawing board.

Now we just await the concrete being poured into the inspection pit to cap it off. There is a little more minor work to be done next week and I should then get the keys of the shop officially handed to me.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Chest of drawers completed

Here is the chest of drawers that I built for a commission with the drawer pulls fitted. You can see in a previous post the design for the pulls. I had some time to do this while my shop is being rebuilt. My temporary shop was the office upstairs at home and I now need to vacuum all the wood dust away!

The cabinet spec is:

  • Dimensions - 1220 H x 900 W x 457 D (48" H x 35 1/2" W x 18" D)
  • Materials - French oak and African sapele
  • Finish - General Finishes Enduro Var semi-gloss
  • Case construction - frame and panel with mortise and tenon joinery
  • Drawers construction - with handcut dovetails with faced plywood bottoms
  • Drawer pull construction - oak and sapele
  • Adhesive : Franklin International Titebond II Extend.

The chest of drawers featured as the 2010 Woodwhisperer Guild summer project and took me a little longer than I anticipated.
I hope Kate and Norman will enjoy the piece.

Shop Transformation Part 4

There was a lot of action this week commencing Oct 29th 2012. After the trusses were put into place the roof sheets went on. These are a profiled steel sheet, coated with a plastic called plastisol. I chose a profile called Accord FlowTile from in slate grey. It actually looks a shade of blue-green to me but it looks great. The profile of the sheets looks like concrete roof tiles from the ground and you would never guess it was steel. I have also had it coated on the underside with anti-condensation coating which is an option. This is some sort of wicking material.
The manufacturer sent the wrong brackets to secure the gutters to the roof so we are still without drainage. I'm assured that they will send me the correct brackets the week commencing November 5th.
Accord Flowtile roofing sheets
It's autumn at the moment!
The actual positioning and fixing of the sheets didn't take very long. They are held on to the roof with self drilling and tapping screws that go straight into the wooden cross battens.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Shop Transformation Part 3

The trusses are installed.

We had a slow start to the week because my builder had a couple of days holiday to celebrate the 1st birthday of his daughter. Then during the celebrations 50% of the people there were struck down by a food bug. This caused Jon and his brother to miss a further 2 days due to illness while they recovered.
Anyway Friday came and it was a real cold and crisp autumn (fall for my North American friends) day.
There were crisp dry leaves about 6 inches deep coating the inside of the shop that had fallen from the ash tree which towers above the shop in a neighbours garden.
These were all swept out before the guys could get to work. The trusses started appearing in their finished positions soon afterwards and by the end of the day they were all up and in a temporary braced state.

The guys had even put the cedar cladding onto the end gable and it looks great from my neighbours side of the fence. I just hope he refrains from letting his ivy grow over it like it did on the previous old shop roof.

I did a few pictures of the progress so far. Hopefully next week I should have a roof on and the shop is then weatherproofed.

The shop with trusses on

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Shop Transformation Part 2

Here are a few more pictures of the shop progress.
The huge trusses on the truck are not mine!
They were for another building site.
The ones for my shop are the smaller ones.

The walls are up now. I call it
my Berlin Wall. They are a lot
higher in reality than I thought on my design.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How to remove an asbestos roof

As part of the shop re-modelling exercise I needed to get "professional" help in to remove the old asbestos roof. I was expecting people wearing space suits with breathing gear but instead got these two guys.
I would never have climbed up onto that roof never mind walked about on it.
They had no safety equipment AT ALL apart from steel toed boots!
I don't even think they brought a ladder. At one point the younger guy is up on the roof making a phone call!


Have a look at this YouTube video I uploaded and you can see what I mean.

I'll give them some credit though. They removed everything, cleaned up thoroughly after themselves and the whole lot was completed in 2. 1/2 hours. They did say that the amount of asbestos in the roofing sheets was minimal and they were composed mainly of concrete - hence no protective clothing required.
Now there definitely is no going back and I have to continue the project until it's finished.

There is an HD version available from this link too.

Oh Dear! What have I started???

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Shop Transformation Part 1

So the builder started with an empty shop, complete with a previous owners bored childrens' graffiti on the concrete panels, to new blockwork internal skin in just 4 days. The pictures speak for themselves:

I've never seen this shop so empty!
I didn't see any of the graffiti as your eyes just got used to it.
Once there was nothing in there it's glaringly obvious

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Old shop clear out

So the big old shop emptying exercise has begun. As you may (or may not know) I currently have mobility problems due to a dodgy hip and this has caused no end of problems for me. Thank heavens for cocodamol and my employers VPN!
Anyway I have been able to pack up all my stuff into various boxes from a sitting position and move them into temporary storage (our dining room!) with help of my darling wife who has done most of the physical work and kindly gave me permission. We also have filled countless waste bins with 12 years of detritus. We even went to the local rubbish dump and got rid of the old petrol lawnmower. It had seen its last blade of grass earlier in the year and I knew its life was at an end when the metal of the bodywork exploded in a shower of rust when first started it up in the first part of the season.

The temporary storage area (our dining room)
Earlier on yesterday I had discovered that all my expensive parallel clamps, that I had put into a cardboard box raised from the floor by timbers in the back yard and covered with a "waterproof" sheet, were basically floating in rainwater! So much for the sheet! I got them all out and using some Boeshield T9 and a rag dried them all off. I then liberally coated all the clamps with the Boeshield and we took them indoors to the temporary storage area. I got my waste wood-chip collection bin and placed them all vertically in it. I also dried off a whole raft of F clamps that had also got wet. The whole lot (suitably cleaned) is now in the dining room and fortunately not damaged or rusted.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Drawer pulls for the chest of drawers

During a period of ongoing illness I got a little down with lack of shop time. My wife suggested I go out and finish off the drawer pulls for the chest of drawers and just do what I can without over exerting myself.

I went out and spent a few hours over a weekend with the bandsaw and the oscillating spindle sander and made 10 drawer pulls. They are made from oak and sapele and finished off with General Finishes Enduro Var. I was pleased with the results. I also spent another night making a drill jig/fixture ready to hold the parts for the pilot holes. Then I will transfer the holes to the drawers and screw them in place. Here are a few pictures.
Original Sketchup design
Pulls waiting to be fitted
Pulls temporarily fitted with Blutack

The stepped rear face on the original Sketchup drawing didn't quite work on a test piece I made so on the final pieces that feature has been omitted. The lump on the very front of the pull has come out well as per the specification I got from my client and I'm pleased with it.
It doesn't show very well on these photographs but the contrasting sapele against the face of the drawer makes the entire drawer pull seem slimmer.

I also retained the template I made so I can reproduce these again should I need to. The pieces are much too small to be made safely on the router table, I know as I broke a couple early on in manufacture using the router, hence I went down the band saw and sanding to a line route. I then finished off most of the radii with a round over bit and a little hand sanding. They feel right in the hand and a friend said they look organic as if they had been taken straight from a tree branch.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Pre-remodel shop tour.

I have done a short film showing the untidy, tired shop as it stands late August 2012 before any building work starts.
One of the guard kittens was having a sleep in the shop at the time and she is called Anna.

Apologies for the cheesy jazz music but it was a decent piece of royalty free muzak I found on the tinter.
Yes I know this is really absolutely boring, much too long, even for fellow woodworkers, but you never know somebody might be interested. The whole idea about it was to give me a record about how it looked before. Hopefully the new shop (and its corresponding tour) will be a little more interesting.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Setting up shop

There was an interesting question posted on Woodtalk online recently. It was along the lines of "If you had $5000 to spend on equipping a shop what would you spend it on?"

I have to emphasise that whatever tools you buy you really do need decent cutters/blades or you will become very frustrated.

As I live in the UK I guess you could say "how much would you spend £5000 on?" It's slightly more in real terms than the US or Canadian equivalent but for our purposes it would do.
I know that £5000 is a lot of money but in real terms the purchase of 1 or 2 high end tools could seriously erode that budget.

If you look at it this way you have to decide what sort of woodworking do you do?
If somebody makes items exclusively using hand tools, euphemistically called the Neanderthals (Woodtalk  online "speak" - not me!), you may be able to buy the best hand tools that money can buy like a kid in a sweetshop (not sure what the North American equivalent is).
However if you are like me, a hybrid wood worker, about 2/3rds of the budget would be spent on power tools and the other on hand tools and you may well come up with a list like mine below:

Monday, 30 July 2012

Sketchup models

I have created a few Sketchup models that you can use in your own shop design drawings. Simply load up Sketchup and open 3d warehouse. Click onto advanced search and enter terrymck or tmcwoodworks in the Search by Author field and you will see a load of RecordPower and Startrite models I have created.
At the moment these comprise:

  • Record Power (Startrite) MDE-HCE dust/chip extractor
  • Record Power DX1000 dust extractor
  • Record Power CX3000 dust/chip extractor
  • Record Power TS200C table saw
  • Record Power BBS100 oscillating spindle sander
  • Record Power AC400 air cleaner

I don't work for Record Power but have been using some of their great products. I'll add more models in the future.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Shop update (updated with ductwork)

I've got the shop layout on the Google Sketchup drawing board again and moved everything about .. again. It is so easy once you have everything measured (and to scale) to move things around to suit your workflow. My wife and I had a look inside the existing shop last night and made notes of the items I hadn't included on the layout. No sense in designing something and leaving all the existing stuff out in the back yard.

I have tried to maximize the available space by moving upwards.  If it's good enough for skyscraper designers it's good enough for me. The shop internal height has been increased by about 300mm (1 foot) and the pitch of the roof increased from less than 15 degrees to around 18 degrees. The shop is around 400 square feet and it's housed in an existing 2 car garage.
Main layout. Entry door is left side at the lower edge.
Main double doors are on bottom side.
That has given considerably more storage room at a higher level. It also means that some of my taller friends won't bang their heads on the trusses as they do now! (Dave and Ethan you will know what I mean).

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dunluce II-L lapsteel

Here is one of my designs for a six string lapsteel guitar.
The guitar is tuned in G6 that is, from lowest to high, B G E D B G although any tuning can be used.
The full specification is below:

Dunluce II-SC "Rapter" Guitar

Dunluce II-SC Rapter

Dunluce II SC Rapter


  • 6 string double cutaway electric
  • Nut width 43mm at headstock end. Made from bone.
  • 25.5" scale length
  • 21 fret finger board
  • Schaller M6 machine heads chrome
  • Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB (Jeff Beck) in the bridge position
  • Seymour Duncan SH2N-4C Jazz in the neck position
  • Schaller hardtail bridge with thru stringing

Dunluce IB bass guitar

Here is a few pictures of the construction of this simple bass guitar I made very much based upon the Fender Precision bass.
Dunluce IB Bass
The body is made from ash, the neck is maple and rosewood.
The scale length is 34" and the bridge is a clone fully adjustable.
The electronics are really basic having a single Seymour Duncan Basslines SPB-3 Pickup Quarter-Pound pickup, a volume and tone control. That's it!

I made the neck flatter than normal with a 14" radius and the normal 20 frets. All the hardware is chromed high end Schaller.
The neck is just bolted on with 4 screws and the strings are standard 40 to 100s.

The tone however is pure 60s thud and ideal for rock, soul, R&B, jazz (to a certain extent) and most other genres. The Seymour Duncan SPB-3 is a higher output pickups and works well into most bass amps or DI's straight into the desk.

I finished the guitar with traditional Lake Placid blue nitrocellulose paint with clear gloss nitrocellulose lacquer over the top.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Chest of drawers drawer pull (handle) template.

I have just been into the shop and made the template for the drawer pulls for the chest of drawers.
I used my sketchup drawing and marked out one half of the handle.
I then cut this out using the bandsaw, oscillating spindle sander, files and sandpaper. Then taking the one half I used some double sided tape and stuck it to a piece of 1/4" plywood I had left over from another project.
Using the bandsaw I cut as close to the line as I could. Then using a bearing guided router bit in my router table I was able to cut exactly to the line. I peeled the half template, flipped it over and stuck it symmetrically opposite.

Roof trusses

As part of my plans to upgrade my shop from it's old un-insulated asbestos roof to a smart new steel insulated roof I came across the problem of roof truss design. My existing shop has 4 roof trusses with a span of about 2.2m in between each. Also the trusses bear upon brickwork at the ends forming the gable and a 60mm thick wooden "joist" over the top of each door (in the centre of the door span!).

Now I know this roof is not exactly heavy and has stood for over 30 years but the design of roofs and the various regulations/code have changed too.
I decided, not only to raise the roof truss lowest level by 300mm, but increase the number of joists and change the pitch angle to about 18 degrees. The existing one is just less than 15 degrees and is not acceptable. Raising the roof truss lower level necessitates extra masonry and lintels.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Chest of drawers

I've finally finished the 2010 Woodwhisperer Guild summer build chest of drawers! Well not quite as I still have the drawer pulls to make. I've made this for some friends.
Here are a few photos of the finished article sat in my dining room while it cures and a some construction pictures.
Finished - French oak and sapele

Baritone Guitar - Dunluce III-B

This is the Dunluce III-B baritone guitar that is currently under construction.
This is a similar shape to the thru-neck Dunluce III but has a bolt on neck.
The top is bookmatched Imbuia (Ocotea porosa) from South America. I saw the wood at Bill Quinn's (ToneTech Luthier supplies in Stockport) and had to have it.
I haven't decided what sort of hardware/electronics that I am going to put on it yet.

The neck is my signature mahoghany/maple stripes/ebony with a double acting truss rod (rod supplied by Tonetech).
I have made some inlays in red abalone in the arabesque pattern.

The guitar is 24 fret, 700mm scale length with a 12" radius fretboard.

I have a lot of work left to do: routing the pickups, carving the front, shaping the rear, sanding, finishing and the electronics etc. The shop re-model is taking priority at the moment so the guitar will just have to wait.

In the meantime here are a few photos:

Guitar overall design

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Shop Re-modelling

Currently I'm in the process of re-modelling my shop. This is a standalone 2 car garage which was built in the 1980s. It has an asbestos roof and this needs replacing. I have already designed the new roof and interior using Sketchup and have engaged a builder to do the work.
Shop external dimensions are 5.5 m x 6.9m (approx 18' x 22.5') giving a total of around 400 sq feet.
Here are a few images of the new shop roof from my Sketchup 3D model.
New trusses in place with purlins

TMcWoodworks - Dunluce III thru-neck guitar

Being a hobby woodworker I make a multitude of projects from stringed instruments through to fine furniture.
Here is one of my recent guitars:

This is the Dunluce III 6 string electric.

24 fret double cutaway 25" or 635mm scale length
2 humbucking pickups made by Taylor
Bridge: Schaller Hannes Ruthenium
Machine Heads: Schaller M6 Locking Ruthenium
Bone Nut
Body: Figured sycamore wings over mahogany/maple
Neck: Through neck made from mahogany with maple thru striping
Fretboard: Ebony 24 fret fingerboard with MOP inlaying and 12" radius
Electronics: Custom electronics giving 12 distinct sounds from different switching combinations.
Finish: Gloss nitro-cellulose.