Overdoing it – drawers for the router bench

Routers need bits, not just cutting bits, but clamps, collets, spanners, t-bolts, feeler gauges, laptop, and other random crap. So I made some drawers for the crap, to fit under the router bench. This was a chance to explore relief carving, coz I’ve lots more of this to do.

Original image from Ashlyn’s dirty cup pour:

Relief carved drawer fronts:

The drawers are 1300 wide and the router will only do 1200, so the three long pieces were made up with lapped dovetail interlocking joints taken from Jochen Gross’ Fifty Digital Joints.

The other joints were simple finger tenons with dogbones for relief at the corners. I varied these enough so that all the pieces could only be assembled in the correct way. I tried a few blind mortises, but the outside of this piece is pretty hidden, so they weren’t really needed.

Tolerances. *humpf*

The goal was to have all of these pieces just push together. Testing finger joints on small pieces suggested that cutting each piece 0.2 mm undersize would do this. However, oops, small pieces are not large pieces, nor are they pieces made up of two bits of wood joined together. So yeah, there was lots of filing to make everything fit. I’d suggest 0.2 mm for small pieces, add an extra 0.1 mm for large pieces, an extra 0.1 mm for joined pieces, and an extra 0.1 mm where pieces are joining in three planes. Live and learn.

But got there in the end.

I was going to just glue these joints, but bottled it and put some screws in, just in case. It’s probably massively over-built.

I splashed out the NZ$ 200 on PhotoVCarve to turn images into toolpaths. Fusion 360 with the Image2Surface plugin will do this for free, but it’s really struggling – it can take over an hour to process. PhotoVCarve does it in seconds. Total carving time was about 13 hours, with 0.4 mm step-over and a 1/4 inch ball-nose carbide bit. The surface finish needed very mild touch-up with fine sand paper on the steepest relief, but overall, this is straight from the machine with nothing more than linseed-based priming oil.

Turned out all right in the end.

Vertigotech router – Controlling noise and dust

Routers are painfully noisy and throw dust everywhere. If I wanted that, I’d go to Burning Man (again). So:

Step 1 – Dust Shoe

Vertigo do a dust shoe to stop chips flying everywhere. They were kind enough to give this to me for free, as the magnets aren’t perfectly aligned, but it still grips well enough.

Step 2 – Dust Extraction

Dust now gets pulled into a Triton dust collector bucket by an old Dyson vacuum.

This does a reasonable job, although fitting the hose into the dust shoe requires some surgery – the shoe has to be split into two parts so the hose can feed through the hole and then be clamped in place. The shoe is acrylic, so this isn’t hard.

The hoses do pop off the connectors too easily, but it takes twenty-odd litres of dust and chips that are now not spread throughout the workshop.

Step 3 – A Cabinet

It’s still loud, so I used melamine from the shipping box and some random ply to build an enclosure. Long hinge and a wide opening, spaced double layer of acrylic for a window, big handle for the opening lid, and a port for the dust hose. There’s an air filter to let air in when the vacuum pulls it out, but given that the box isn’t that well sealed, I’m not sure this is really needed

Much quieter and the dust is under control.

Best investment was $40 on an LED strip inside the box, for excellent work lighting.

Step 4 – Spoil Board

And a thick ply board to protect the router bed from the inevitable over-cuts, with slots for clamp bolts and shallow marks for aligning stock.

Step 5 – Route ALL the things

Design from Nathan McIntyre.

New workbench

From wood left over from the house build, bolted to wall and floor, and flat and level.

Possibly making the top from three layers of 18 mm ply is overkill. Possibly not.

You know it’s been a good weekend when you have to clean the van out with a shovel.

Thanks to Joel, Wendy, Polly, Tommy, Thomas, Jodi, Will, Mike, Johanna, Walter, and Annabel. And thanks especially to Cliff and Mighty Mouse the tractor.

And as well as wood hauling, there was laying of dance floors, rigging of aerials trusses, breaking of masonry drills, weeding, marking out, crimping, general sheddery, tea, fish and chips, and company. Long weekends are hard work…

[EDIT – Now with pics!

Wood hauling day on the 12th

Okay, as everyone seemed to a) get plenty of wood, and b) enjoy themselves, there’ll be another wood hauling day planned in for Sunday, the 12th of this month.

Now that we’ve got a system sorted, I think we can get even more wood out of the gulley. Cliff the builder will be bringing the world’s cutest tractor to save the van’s clutch. With plenty of people, we can be hauling out pretty continuously.

So, who’s keen? And any suggestions for how to improve the experience for all?


Thanks to Thomas, Kim, Will, Joel, Yvette, Yvette’s mate, Jen, E, Mike, Jodi, Polly, Wendy, Tommy, Rhiannon & Sasha for coming and taking away some of our wood. I think we managed to fill three trailers, four cars, and two vans. Also, no injuries and the only breakages were two $10 ratchet straps, which can be resewn.

Van+rope+pulleys+wool sacks worked quite nicely, once we put down the planks over the steepest parts. Big steel bars (thanks again, keptinacan) and big wooden posts and ratchet straps worked despite the soft ground.

I don’t know if it’s a Kiwi thing or a Burner thing, but everyone seemed very good at making themselves useful, at finding a role in the collective effort and contributing their own skills, whether that’s swinging an axe or making cups of tea.

I should have taken before and after pics of the pile, coz we made a serious dent in it. There’s plenty more and people seem keen, so there will be another hauling day, possibly weekend after this one? How would sunday, the 5th work for people? Or should I ask when we’re not so sore?


We’re still on. Weather is a tad chilly, but the site is comfortably sheltered from the wind. You may wish to bring warm clothes for when you’re standing around drinking tea.

Prep for wood hauling

I think I’ve everything ready for hauling firewood on sunday. See you all at 10 am*. Please bring barrows, axes, possibly a chainsaw if you’ve got one, safety equipment and mugs for tea.

I’d been pfaffing about with sub-millimetre engineering for too long. It was time to get some inch thick bars of steel (thanks, keptinacan) and a sledge hammer:


Free firewood

OMFG we’ve got so much firewood. It’s seventy-year old pine and macrocarpa, you can’t buy wood like this. It burns beautifully, splits easily and we want to give it away for free.

This sunday, the 22nd, we’ll be up at the section in Brooklyn, trying to get rid of as much as we can. Come along and for a reasonable amount of manual labour, you’ll get lots and lots of wood. Some is split, some is sawn into chunks, some is still big rounds. We’ll haul whatever people want.

The wood is down a gulley, but I have a plan for hauling it out using wool sacks, ropes, pulleys and a big diesel engine. Last time, we used Cliff’s Holder tractor and it was pretty easy going. This time we’ll be using the van, and pulling the wood up to right by the car deck*.

All the hauling to be done by people is on the level, so wheel barrows can be used, from path direct to road.

So – who’s keen? Can you bring a barrow, an axe, a chainsaw or a wool bag? We have these, but more tools will get us more wood.

* – I hope this works, otherwise there may be scratching of heads. Coz carrying it out by hand is a bugger.

Anyway, pics from scrub cutting

House progress

After three years, we’re finally starting on the house, though by “house” I mean section, and by “starting” I mean moving stuff so that we can start, at some point, in the future. But hey, progress!

With gratefully received assistance from Trevor and Daniel, I’ve been sorting out the wood in the gulley, and by “sorting out” I mean cutting into pieces that can be moved, then moving it as short a distance as I can get away with, coz ffs, wood is heavy when it’s in huge chunks. Yes, this gives me the excuse to wave a huge chainsaw around, and by “wave” I mean swear at whilst trying to start the bastard. Cliff’s big saw has a three foot bar and an 80cc engine, goes through a tank of two-stroke mix in twenty minutes, doesn’t idle, munches through bar oil, is far too loud, and far too smoky, but f’it, it cuts wood and that’s what it’s there for.


Yes, the pile of wood is above head-height. It’s seventy-year old macrocarpa and pine. Anyone want it? (Also, it is down a gulley and you can’t currently get in there with even a wheel-barrow.)

Cliff the Builder and Garth have finished off a retaining wall, and built another, so that we’ll have at least some flat land. Then they built a stand so that the huge posts and beams can be stored out of the way. Some of the pieces will weigh 300 kilos when they’re dry, so they’re heavier than that now, thus moving them has involved ropes, pulleys made on site with chainsaws, and Cliff’s Holder tractor, built 1950ish, “so ugly it’s cute”, and now on its third engine, from a Cortina. These are the little bits of wood:

And this week, there’ll be more of the same, with moving the really big bits of wood and getting ready to start hacking into the hill for the foundations.

And that’s about fifteen person-day’s work so far and we’re yet to break ground on the house. Holy crap, this is a lot of work…