Does Ure want a new top-of-the-line PowerMatic or Laguna, or StopSaw to whip out cabinets and have on hand when G2 gets here (eventually) and puts on his “house-building on the off-shift” pants?
But, to tell you the truth, at age 72 even a “convicted tool-slut” (in the Court of Wifely Opinions, no less!), it’s hard for me to get behind buying $2,000 and up cabinet saws.
The next best thing? Buying used power tools on CraigsList and Offer-Up.
I have several projects from these esteemed sources pending: The top and adjusters for a $50 Sears radial arm saw. And the 6″ Delta long-bed jointer finally needed a new 3600 RPM motor (Amazon).
But the price of new power tools is 3-times (or more) what can be had used.
The Power Tool Reality Check
Power tools are – not unlike automobiles, women, sailboats, airplanes, homes, and clothes – all a matter of personal taste.
In the case of cars, I want solid, dependable but with a touch of style. So a 15-year old pristine Lexus has been a dandy. Damn near collectable since it’s among the last of the 330 series made in Japan.
Same is true for power tools. A lot of them were once made in America. Craftsman, Monkey-Wards, and ToolKraft in a bye-gone age. Good ones still are, don’t get me wrong: the brands mentioned earlier, especially.
BUT – as I go into (in detail) in my book “The 100-Year Toaster” – sales needs of companies often drive counter-productive change.
Miter Saw Rods (or Rails)
One of the best arguments for buying a NEW high-end table saw is that they come with “industry-standard saw guide rails.”
These are presently 3/4 inch wide.
The problem is, a lot of new Asian-made saw product (some Ryobi, for example) and a ton of Sears, especially in their Evolution series come with a 16 MM wide T-rail instead of 3/4″.
I have the 10″ Sears/Ryobi Evolution (prequel) and while I wouldn’t open a cabinet shop with it, it does a pretty good job on every-day house-building and projects. A bit sloppy on motor run-in.
My “Rockler Problem”
Well, it started when I picked up one of their box-joint jigs.
In the pictures on Amazon, looked like I’d be able to just toss on the knobs and slap it on my vintage, mint-condition mid-1960s ToolKraft shaper. No Mickey-Mouse on this sucker. 1/’2″ bore and a real workhorse when needed.
“Hell yeah! Mr. Ure will make box joints instead of dovetails because they are faster!”
Rails Didn’t Fit
I called the Rockler support line and they dished out the bad news slowly. “No, Mr. Ure, we don’t have any of that thinner rail for these.”
“How about for anything?”
“Well, no. 3/4” is the standard these days….”
NOT here and not on the used Power Tool market. Ton of narrower rails out there.
3D Printing to the Rescue
There were several ways I could go to come up with a solution to this. One way would be to take the (nice, metal) Rockler rails and go over to the metal-working part of my shop.
Where, I might add, I specifically DON’T have the right tool. (A man’s gotta stop buying tools sometime, right?)
The right tool would be a metal shaper. To be sure, I could tool up the small vertical milling machine. But that would take a lot of careful set-up time.
Hmmm…what would be quicker? Safer?
Quickly, a pass through the Yeggi.com 3D search engine found me a basic smaller (16 mm or slightly under) that worked OK: Notched and extendable.
Thing is, it was a bit tight (width) and it was for a T-slot and the venerable ToolKraft Shaper has something straight-sided.
Changing to white PLA for printing, I whipped out a “rough” of what I was after. There’s a reason to plan on two (and often three “turns”) in the proto-process. For one, in 3D printing, small differences in scaling between computers and in 3D slicing and print alignments will vary.
So the “first pass” at Ure’s design, versus the 3/4″ Rockler metal rails, looked like this:
That (funky-looking) arrow is where a stove-bolt is inserted (from below). Stove bolts have angled-bottom heads. As you tighten them, they want a larger diameter hole. Which widens the slot in your rail (at last, we get to the arrow part!) and this widens and locks the jig in place in the rail.
A Quick Course in 3D Printing
The reason I get all worked up over my other hobby (besides ham radio, shop projects, hydroponics and gardening, and landsman work) 3D Printing is you can literally make ANYTHING with it. People who haven’t spent the $250 for a good get-started rig have no idea what they’re missing.
Please visit my https://ultra-make.com site sometime for more. The world where shipping delays disappear and we print products (and assemble them at home) is nearly here.
3D printers are no different than your everyday inkjet printer. EXCEPT for two minor nits:
- Instead of colored ink coming out, melted plastic comes out of the “printhead” (nozzle).
- And, instead of a printer doing “single path” – it prints, then goes over the same path just slightly higher – and then prints the same thing again. Over time, the plastic piles on thicker and thicker. The print bed moves to make room for the added layers.
Over time you can build something of about 8 inches on each dimension of a cube ($250 rig) or on a 12-square 15″ high rig ($500) or a massive 17.5 inches on a side and 18.5″ high ring, but now you’re looking at $1-kilobuck.
It’s OK, small 3D printers will do a ton…
Assuming you have a good digital caliper (with inches and mm, fractions of inch are useful, too) and an account at https://tinkercad.com, here’s all you do.
- In TinkerCAD, drag, drop, and dimension ONE of the parts you need. At the end of drawing, group the parts, copy, and lay out two or three. Download as an .ST:L (stereolithography) file onto your computer. On TinkerCAD my little project looked like this:
- When you get the .STL file on your home computer, the next thing you will have to do is “slice it” so that it will print all nice and pretty-like on your local printer. Please note the Cura slicer will allow you tons of settings. For proto types, you can use 10 percent “infill” (your part will be 90% air inside) and this may print a lot faster and cheaper than 10o percent infill for the final very.
- Stuff this into your properly adjusted (bed-leveling and material loading) printer and watch the magic come out! Key things in the picture: I am running Overture “Rock” white. Which has a little texture to it. And the reason that the pieces look way off size is they are printing on a “raft.”
I don’t really need to use a raft. (Extra plastic around the printed piece.) BUT, it will give you a better handle on small print adhesion to the bed. Since 90% of 3D printing errors occur on the first layer or two of a print.
One way to improve bed adhesion is this marvelous product call Bed Weld you can buy from Amazon. It’s a thermal alcohol, near as I can figure. Here’s my “adhesion” tools:
On the left is a proto on the printer. The printer screen. A can of electronic circuit cooler. Since Mr. Impatient can’t wait for the hot printing bed to cool down. A shot of cooler and stuff pops off like right-now. There’s the bottle of Bed Weld. And Mr. Ure’s secret weekend ingredient: Alcohol!
Yep. While the shoe-polish type dispenser of the Bed Weld works OK, Mr. Ure’s improvement is to put a tablespoon of denatured alky on the bed (cool at this point) and steal one of these fingernail brushes from Elaine’s formerly “secret” stash!
You work the application of Bed Weld around (sort of mixing it on the glass print bed) and then slowly smoosh it out like varnish on sailboat brightwork. then you leave while the alky evaporates. Or, as Mr. Impatient does, simply blow from the side of the printer where there are no fumes, to prevent fire, and light up the print bed to 60-70C which (believe me!) cures out the Bed Weld dead flat and stunningly good for high quality prints with some practice.
- Con the spouse into a brand new, high-end saw.
- Failing this, get a cheapo used table saw on eBay or C/L.
- When you’re ready to more than rip and dado, and you want to use anything that requires a “sled” or holding a jig (like on the shaper table) and Rockler doesn’t support the thinner rails, you can:
- Con the wife out of a 3D printer (with a used saw, a Creality Enter3 AND a used table saw is still cheaper than a fancy new saw with 3/4″ rails. AND you can download and print your own featherboards and all manner of neat accessories.
- See if you can find the right sized metal rail. I have some of that coming, too, since a crosscut jig is in the works, as well.
Here are two more nifty’s from this week’s
play shop work.
A center-marking tool. Print the full-sized version to work with a pencil. And then (in your slicer) print the same jig half-sized on the X (right left) and Y axes (front-back). Leave the Z axis alone. This small one is perfect to shove a nail through.
Oh-0h! Left some evidence in the foreground, there!
Elaine’s stash of four-sided fingernail sanding and buffing boards are just the right thing to take off rough edges (around the print raft) and to quickly polish them out.
Now, time to go check on more prints coming out for additional projects. Including time machine parts…
Write when you get rich,