This being the Fourth weekend, a lot of us – with kids too far away to visit – will be working on projects in the shop, instead.
Which begins (as many mornings) with a check of how things are coming on the 3D printer farm here. This first project – snap of it in previous column – is a “metal look” (silky grey) filament printing a multi-fold paper towel holder. Here’s how it evolved overnight:
Second, smaller (Creality Ender 3) is running me off a “coffee grounds box for the guest room coffee maker. The coffee grounds are caught for recycling into the garden. What to put them in? There are hundreds of ideas at Thingiverse.com to check out, download, and print. This is just a 190 mm square, 140 mm high box I cobbled up over on ThinkerCad.com, A “get started” account is free and you can do all kinds of things with it:
Kind of a translucent red and I will top it off with a florescent green top. (Can you tell? I need strong visual cuing?) OK into the guts of Holiday time in the shop…
So this weekend, the emphasis is on cutting. This is the second “industrial process” in our “Measure, Cut, Join, Finish” explanation of how even an idiot can build most things. (Guess who I play?)
Saw Adventure #1
Harbor Freight has an interesting assortment of tools. Some of their stuff is really good (mixed in with what we call Chineseum). One example of a clear winner is there 12-inch compound chop saw.
Ours is probably 6 to 8 years old and was sold under the HF brand. Closest thing offered now (marketing got involve, lol) is their 12 in. Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw with LED & Laser Guide (harborfreight.com).
Keep an eye on your Handyman magazines and even the AARP rag now and then because these do go on sale. Just read the fine print because sometimes the sale prices don’t include the blade! And yes, you can spend a bundle (or two) on a 40-80 tooth carbide general purpose blade. Like $50-bucks without breaking a sweat.
This saw has done everything we’ve ever asked of it except for one thing. It throws out sawdust all over the place. OMG…like a saw mill.
Good news is that you can download a dandy add-on sawdust catcher for your 3D printer and zap one out in about 9-hours of printing. Small printers welcome.
To install, you take off your vacuum hose and remove the blade guard and blade. Then, simply hammer the “factory” hose attachment out (down, into the blade area).
The new dust corral I downloaded from Thingiverse here is then inserted. Fellow named jmf designed it and except for not fitting the retaining screw on the top (it mounts from the top BTW), I inserted my pickle-green print and secured it with hot glue:
As you can tell, all that time running welding beads paid off with a good solid join on the topside. Vac hose is hot glued in, too.
On the bottom, a bit less pretty because my attempt to hot glue an additional neoprene sheet on the bottom did not end happily:
It’s not a perfect solution to the “12-inch miter saws cutting big stock makes tons of sawdust” problem. Still, it’s on the order of a 90% reduction and that’s a damn fire start.
Just remembered something…
When 3D Printers Are Off…
When not running prints overnight, it’s NOT a good idea to leave the 3D printer line open. They get sacked in 1 mil or thicker big bags you can buy from Amazon.
Visually, clear bags are more interesting than black 39-gallon trash bags. But, these also work fine. Just not as “arty”. Where were we…oh yeah, saws?
#2 A Two Saw Review
Many of the projects around here require a small portable saw. We got one of those high powered 4 1/2-inch saws, but setting up an extension cord is always a pain.
Here’s the answer to that one: 5 1/2″ battery powered circ saw.
Some of the basic trade-offs between these:
- The Black and Decker 20 Volt (*left) was very inexpensive for the bare tool-only with blade. About $50 bucks.
- The Skil was double that but it came with a jump charger, larger 4 amp-hour battery.
Word about batteries here: the amount of “work” that can be done by a given battery pack will be approximately equal to the battery size.
As a practical matter, both saws have good torque. To do that, however, they are way inside their 1-hour rate. Without going into watt-seconds and such, with the 4 amp-hour pack on the 20 volt Black and Decker, you’d cut more wood than the Skil based on battery size.
As is, either saw is adequate for most jobs. Things I liked – and didn’t – in no particular order:
- The B&D has a longer saw ‘shoe’ which adds to stability. Conversely, the Skil is more than an inch shorter. Easier in tight spaces.
- Neither one had a built-in laser guide which is even common on $40-class jig saws. Why not on these boggles the mind. Both of these have metal cut-outs in the saw shoe so you can line up your cut lines.
- Skil doesn’t stop as fast as the B&D when you let go of the trigger. Safety issue? The delay is small, but there.
The trigger safety isn’t particularly comfortable with either. The Skil has a press-down tab while B&D chose a press in approach.
If you plan on doing a lot of depth changes, the cutting depth on the Skil mimics the lever-action on their corded products. Fast and reliable. Black and Decker uses a twist knob and while it works fine, it’s not as fast to hold the depth and slam the lever and move on. More like hold the depth, then twist-twist and then move on.
Since I got the B&D as a bare tool, no sign of an Allen wrench to remove the blade. Sure glad on a bare tool someone saved 10-cents! On the other hand, Black and Decker’s blade is more reliably centered on the shaft. The Skil uses a smaller bolt to hold the blade on. Both are reverse-threaded.
Skil supplied the Allen wrench and a magnetic holder on the saw body.
Which Battery Family?
Will they meet the needs here? Hell yeah. I have 10 of the B&D 20-volt packs from other B&D tools. Cultivator, weed whacker, electric chainsaw, work light, and more. There was already a zip saw, drill, and impact driver on the workbench for the PowrCore12 series.
It’s still faster to grab a saw and a handful of battery packs than it is to run hard wiring out for things like the deck. There are exceptions (Milwaukee HoleHog comes to mind) as a high current draw tool where AC power is needed to get all the work done quickly.
As always, as soon as I got these two, the Metabo (formerly Hitachi) went on sale for $119 (Bare tool, but looks like they toss in an Allen wrench). Got drill and impact driver of that line, too.
So Much for Standards
Notwithstanding, I have allowed myself to get into (the stupid) position of doing what I advised you never to do: Mix manufacturers of batteries. What happens is you end up supporting a whole line of chargers and batteries.
Problem is like gun collecting. We decided long ago that to keep life easy we would standardize on sensible rounds: So .22 LR, 9 MM Lugar, 12 gauge, and 7.62 x 39.
Same logic was attempted with shop tools. Unfortunately, though, there are just some tools that are great – but they mean another battery pack. Like the recently added DeWalt gyroscopic electric drill. Grab it, twist your wrist, and it goes that way. Really nice.
BUT it was another battery family. See how this works?
Guess that’s what marketing to tool sluts is all about, huh?
Ham Radio: 13 Colonies
With a fresh load of Kona blend, I will be firing up the ham radio gear nas this morning’s next project to maybe “bag a certificate” from this year’s 13 Colonies ham radio special event. Details over at The Annual 13 Colonies Special Event (I told you this was coming, but reminders for those of us over 70, ahem…)
No, I do not run any of the linear amplifiers when the 3D printers are laying down filament. Just too much chance of some stray RF getting into the CPU-board on the printer and ruining what’s now 12-hours of printing and $5-$7 bucks worth of filament. QRP is when a good antenna pays off, though.
Elaine and I will be doing a (saved up money for it) dinner: A rib roast and baked potatoes. Maybe some squash from the garden which has been a very miserly producer this year. Too wet.
Lawn on the other hand looks like a golf course…another topic for another morning, I ‘spose…
Write when you get rich,