Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Project Update: A New Zero-clearance Throat Insert

Because I've been ill and cleaning and working on birthday gifts and friend projects, I've gotten just about as much done with regard to the instrument in the last couple of months as I did over the holidays - i.e., precisely nothing. I have, though, organized the shop (again), purchased a new table saw, built a large assembly table and planned for great things; yet a wise person once said, "All the planning in the world does not a completed project make." Indeed.

So, in keeping with my theme of making no progress on the instrument, I've been working on a friend project that requires me to rip some thin strips of cedar. I love my new table saw. I really do. But the throat inserts that came with it are just one step above completely useless. The inserts do not sit flush with the table so that any wood I'm pushing through drops down a couple of millimeters and the mounting screws stick up above the plates so that the wood catches on them. Useless.

A zero-clearance throat insert is intended to help manage thin rip cuts on the table saw, and I may leave it in place for good, or at least until I need to make any angled cuts. The first photo below displays the regular (red) insert that I use for most cuts (until I build or purchase another). You can see how it offers a somewhat large space where the blade protudes from the bottom of the saw. If I were cutting, say, the 1/16" thick laminates for the sharps on a keyboard, they would fall right through the red insert into the saw, or worse, kick back into my precious body. A zero-clearance insert mitigates against this, making the Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters a safer place because, as you know, it's safety first for the Tortuga.

Given the awkwardness of the current set of inserts, I was hesitant to purchase a zero-clearance version from Grizzly. I also did not have the bandwidth or timing for a trip to Woodcraft, Rockler or Woodcrafters, so I decided to use a piece of the scrap walnut I picked up from the FREE bin outside of Goby Walnut and Hardwoods. I resawed the piece on Little Buddy (the Delta 12" band saw) and planed it down until it was just right (about 10mm). I then finished it with two coats of Tru-Oil. The photos below document the process. The "fun" part was pushing the blade up and through the insert while the saw was running.

It really is a thing of utilitarian beauty and only took me about a half hour to create (my time is entirely worth it - at this time). Granted, a quick $25 spent at one of the supply stores would have solved this "problem," yet I needed to make something again. It was wonderful to be back in a creative space where I was making without a plan and hoping for the best. As you can see, my hopes and dreams were fulfilled.

On an unrelated matter: I've got a line on a large piece of pipe to build a bentside bending tool. My dude hasn't yet delivered, but he says they're cutting the pipe this week and I'm welcomed to any leftover they may produce, I just hope it's long enough. I may also ask him for some design and welding help with the final bender setup - they build trailers, so they've forgotten more about welding than I currently know, which isn't much. Hopefully, I'll have the bender put together in the next month so I can get to that bentside and get on with completing this thing.

Until next time...

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