News is a bit light on this month because of my absence on holiday. I’d like to thank Tony and the leadership group for their efforts in making sure the shop ran smoothly during that period.
There are a few small contract jobs available for anyone wishing to become more involved. One is making breadboards. Have a chat to Tony if you are interested.
Because there is not too much else to say I am taking the opportunity to communicate a few ideas about risk management and dust extraction. Some of you may be aware of the destructive power unleashed when dust explodes while others may never have turned their minds to the subject. Coming from the grain industry I have a reasonable knowledge of the matter.
All sorts of dust can explode. Particle size, product source and moisture content are just some of the elements that have an influence. However, the three fundamentals for an explosion are containment, density of dust in the air and a source of ignition. The rule of thumb in the grain industry is that if a dust cloud is such that would be hard to see a 60 watt light bulb held at arm’s length then enough fuel is available. If that fuel load is in a contained space a spark can set off a devastating explosion.
After I retired, my former employer had a major explosion at a facility I’d had a hand in building. I was invited back to assist evaluate what had gone wrong. Put simply, the external dust extraction plant was operating sub optimally while the dust load in the product was excessive and ultra low in moisture content. As the product flowed into a 6,000 tonne capacity silo, the density of dust in the bin exceeded reasonable limits and a piece of loose metal, probably from a machine in the handling stream , struck the man safety metal grate of the silo opening causing a spark. The resulting explosion lifted the 40 tonne concrete roof off the silo, it went at least 100 feet in the air, rolled over like a tossed coin and fell back into the silo. Repairs cost was $2.7m. Because of good facility design, automation ( inherently low manning levels) and luck, no one was killed.
Others have not been so fortunate. If you Google 'grain silo explosions in USA' you will find, in the past, there have been massive explosions, many lives lost and huge damage bills. Major concrete grain export facilities, holding hundreds of thousands of tonnes, have been reduced to rubble in a second. Other industries have had failures as well.
Why raise this? The answer is to minimise risk. We have almost nil risk of a dust explosion in the workshop while ever we keep the facilities reasonably clean. What we do have is a low level risk of fire in the dust room if we fail to regularly check and empty the dust bags. The mode of failure goes something like this. No one checks the bags, they fill, then shavings fill the upper filter sock until continued running of the machine causes particles to lodge in the fan, these overheat and start to smoulder especially once the plant is turned off. Over a day or so, the smouldering spreads and fire consumes the dust plant. In our situation, the placement and construction of the dust room would probably contain the damage. It would still be inconvenient and unnecessary!
The above scenario can be avoided by regularly monitoring the state of fill of the collection bags. If they are half full it is time to stop the plant and empty the bags. Don’t leave this checking to the leader of the day. He is not your mother! If you have been using the planer or jointer for more than a few minutes go and check. Before removing a dust bag turn off the relevant extractor at the isolation switch in the room. Tell others you are doing it. You will have the plant up and running again in a few minutes and cleaning will enhance suction at the pick up points. If in doubt, ask.
Things have been running smoothly in the shop for several months. Breakages are minimal and most members who use the facilities have been pulling their weight during cleanups. One area for improvement is more regular emptying of dust bags. It is just easier when they are less than half full.
It has been interesting to watch the members attempt a wider range of production as skills improve. John Ward is always challenging himself with his creations and Ian Dell and Phil are worth watching for ideas that are a bit off the beaten track. Wood turning is increasing in popularity with many new comers having a go and being happy with the results.
Tony, Les and Ken are often to be found doing the small contracts that help keep the money flowing and reduce the financial burden of the shop on the shed. While they are happy to do these jobs there is nothing stopping other members helping and giving them a break. Thanks guys.
One of the things we need in the near future is more clamps. We will move on this need as soon as a local supplier has them on sale. In the mean-time, if there are unused ones in your shed please bring them in as it is not possible to have too many. It is also likely that two of our original 18v drills will require replacement later in the year as they have done five years of fairly solid work. (Lots of small portable tools continue to be donated from deceased estates but very few are suitable for long term use).
The number of people who have been accredited to work in the shop is now about two hundred and roughly, three quarters of them are current members. Fortunately, they do not all turn up looking for space as there are so many other shed activities on offer.
Timber supplies will soon be augmented with a new batch of radiata and hoop pine planks from the Imbil pine sawmill. When this timber arrives it will be racked, in the container, for drying. The drying process takes time but the wood can be used green for many projects where shrinkage is not a concern. Funding for the stock will come from the shed which underscores the need for members to contribute appropriately whenever they should. Generally, compliance with payments is OK. One of our major timbers supply supporters continues to be the Stair Company of Maroochydore. Rory Morgan from Mast Furniture, Virginnia, also provides specialty offcuts of American oak and wallnut . Rory and Kate welcomed their first baby earlier this year. Congratulations from the shed!
Thanks to the honey group who are now supplying bees wax for our home made wood paste polish. Give it a try and if you wish, we will show you how to make a batch for use at home. We also thank Neville from the metal shed for his keen support in making hard to replace parts for our equipment.
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’.
Members will have noticed that a few changes are underway in the workshop. The container section is being revamped to make way for two additional work benches made by, bench expert, Les. To ensure these benches are used, additional windows will be cut into the container to improve airflow. With help from Ray and Frank, the changes should be completed around the end of January. Two large shelf units that were in this location have been removed as they were gathering places for seldom used items and dust.
In December, the shed provided nearly $500 for the purchase of a new, 3hp, Hare and Forbes dust extractor . This will be used to minimise emissions from the compound mitre saw and the bandsaw housed in the Gordon Craig annex. Capturing dust for safe disposal is highly desirable. Before this project can be completed, Ray, Bob and the building crew will make a weather proof cupboard to house the extractor and David and Michele will attend to the wiring.
Tony ,Phil and Ian Dell worked on several substantial benches for the Peregian State School during the period and other leaders including Ken and Les, have been busy with small contracts and repair jobs that generate revenue for the shed. We try to limit this work to sensible levels as there needs to be time for personal projects and helping other members extend their skills. When the Cobber’s shed arranged an end of year bits and pieces sale the contribution of turned items made by Geoff and Ian sold out quickly and raised $150. This was a surprise and points to the prospect that it can be done again. Thanks to Rod for creating the opportunity.
Revenue from timber sales continues to lag behind the desirable level. Very few members have taken advantage of the availability of the stocks of Kauri pine. This is valuable, quality wood and is reasonably priced. If Kauri or Hoop pine planks, are used payment must be made as the stock was financed by the shed. The quality dressed timber offcuts, provided by Graeme Atkin’s friend at the Stair Company, are in great demand. We ask a small price, $2.00 a piece, to prevent waste and offset some general costs. The real value of this stock is high and the generosity of the donor is sincerely appreciated.
People sometimes ask what materials we accept as donations. The answer is new and used, metal free, clean softwood, cabinet species timbers and plywood. There is little demand for chip board or MDF and we lack storage space to house materials that are not in regular use. If you have a source of good useful timber, please tell us as we do attempt to have stocks of low cost and ‘free issue’ wood available.
The outdoor area has been getting regular use during the hot weather. This is a great place for messy sanding and grinding jobs. We encourage those working with hardwoods and heavy recycled timbers to use the equipment in this area. The logic being it is easier to maintain a few pieces of plant that get tough use rather than risk damage to equipment in the main workshop.
As members have gained in experience, it is pleasing to see that equipment damage is now infrequent and the task of keeping machines performing is taking less time. One area for constant attention is emptying dust bags. This is a task to be shared by everyone. It is good practice to empty bags well before they are full as this can improve extraction performance and will minimize hazards.
Our senior member, Davo Wilson, celebrated his 90th birthday with a cake at the shed. The cake was surrounded by hundreds of wooden toys he’d made during the year for local children. Well done Davo and keep on enjoying life with woodwork.
Ian and Tony
As the financial year draws to a close it is pleasing to report that the wood workshop’s income for the year has at least offset the direct operating costs. Although not strongly revenue focused, the workshop attempts not to be a burden on the shed as a whole. Workshop manager Tony has been the major contributor to this outcome. He has been ably assisted by several of the leadership group. If you can, please ask Tony how you may assist with outside contracts.
There have been changes within the leaders group throughout the year as some move on to other endeavors and new leaders step up to take their place. There is always room for new leaders. Anyone who feels they have the attributes, desire and time to become a leader should talk to Tony or Ian. The currently active leaders are Tony, Les, Ken, John G, Geoff, Barry, Phil, Lindsay, Ian D, David H and myself. The shop can’t open without leaders and we are grateful to those willing to take up the challenge.
The number of members accredited to use the workshop continues to grow. At last count, 149 members were accredited. It is a good thing that a majority of these members do not attend simultaneously. To cater for the growing numbers, we now have the Gordon Craig annex functioning smoothly for the wood turners. Within a month we will have even better facilities.
Bob, Tom, Stefan and our great building team have made very significant progress with the expanded outdoor roofed area. As soon as they give the all clear, it is intended to introduce some machinery and benches and tidy the area with a view to having more outdoor activity. Proposed changes include the reinstallation of the Trade Tools table saw and the Durden planer. More people can also experiment with steam bending wooden objects. To assist this change, Michele and David are busy installing additional safe power outlets in strategic locations.
It seems that members are coming to grips with the new equipment acquired during the year. The Bosch Professional saw donated by our Rotary friends is greatly appreciated while the new Laguna planer and table saw are doing excellent service. The second Hare and Forbes lathe is enabling us to tackle more challenging turning tasks while the gouge sharpening system has enabled us to achieve sharp tools with consistent profiles. Important if you are a wood turner!
We have had some wonderful donations of timber recently. Thanks are due to Graeme A for making the connection between our shed and his friend’s stair factory. Timber storage has necessitated that the workshop take over most of the space in the 40 foot container. One related matter is the need for discipline in taking donations from the public. There is a lot of generosity toward us but we do need to exercise care and not accept and squirrel away items we may never need. Putting in more storage containers at the expense of gardens and trees is no substitute for discipline.
Although Les is working on bench improvements for the hobby area, the primary focus of the shop has moved from making items for the shed to members doing their own projects. It is pleasing to see these are gradually becoming more complex. It is possible to learn a lot by watching and talking to others. Phil is quietly giving us a master class in carving as he works on the sign for the community garden group. I suspect we will learn a bit about craftsmanship when Tony returns as one of his projects is to make a rose gum computer bench for the community radio station. Some of these latter projects fulfill one of our objectives which is to give back to the community.
Come and enjoy the wood workshop. The more you put in the more you will take away in personal satisfaction.