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A Short But Productive Weekend

Posted by on February 25, 2008


IMG_5103I’ve been dying to start stowing my tools away in the newly built shop cabinets — getting them both organized and out of the garage where they’re making it difficult to keep the car. The last remaining obstacle is finishing the countertops. Not that I couldn’t finish them with the drawers full…but some time ago I noted that while the tops were individually level, they weren’t perfectly in the same plane with each other. If they’re not properly aligned, I’ll have a heck of a time using my compound miter saw accurately. Therefore, until I remedied the situation, the drawers needed to remain empty and easy to maneuver. This weekend was my chance.


Once they were properly aligned I routed a 3/4″ wide x 1/2″ deep dado in the tops 16″ from the wall to accept a mini t-track. I had originally planned to use the blue stuff that Rockler sells — but I live much closer to a Woodcraft. Turns out that the only track Woodcraft carries that matches these dimensions is the siginficantly more expensive Incra stuff. Now, you’re probably thinking: Why didn’t he buy the track first and then route the dado to fit? The simple truth is I had neglected to order the stuff in advance (bad planning) and I didn’t want to stop working to head out to the store and the only track I had on hand was a length of the Rockler stuff. I also was actually planning to head to Rockler until google maps reminded me just how long a drive it was…2 hours round trip not counting shopping time would have put too big a dent into my limited time. IMG_5105 I ultimately decided to spend the extra bucks for the Incra track rather than wait for a delivery from Rockler. This turned out to be a good move. The Incra stuff is simply better…and for one single reason: the track leaves a space for the mounting screws. My regular mini-track can be a bit annoying to work with since the screws fit into a small countersink…and if you’re even a hair off alignment of the screw, the head will protrude from the surface and at the very least provide an occasional snag as you’re adjusting your stop block. Incra solves this by giving the screws their own space by milling little ledges on the sides above the screw heads for the guides to ride on. The screws can stand proud of the bottom without a snag. Simple but elegant and worth the extra $$.

Jointer Dust Port

One of the items I had left ’til now was hooking up the dust collection to my Ridgid 6″ jointer. The jointer lives under the countertop in the middle of the wall. I cut a hole in the back corner of the top and continued the run under the counter. I installed the blast gate at a convenient spot just above the counter.

CMS Dust Collection

IMG_5102Collection from my DeWalt 706 CMS was a bigger unknown. When setting up the PVC lines, I set a 4″ drop with blast gate just off center of the saw on the wall behind it. As I started to work out the details, I realized that I’d have to offset the pipe a bit more. The reason was that I wanted to have a hose hooked up to the built-in dust collection port installed in the “throat” of the saw…but I knew from past experience that this wouldn’t be sufficient, so I also was planning to build a venturi-box to collect from a wider area just behind the saw. The problem is that the hose sticking out of the back of the saw presses in pretty low at the back, making it impossible to run a pipe straight down from behind. Thankfully I didn’t use any glue in connecting the PVC, so moving the drop roughly 6″ to the right was fairly straightforward. At this point I’ve got the 1-1/2″ hose hooked up to the saw and a 4″ open pipe waiting to be hooked up to the yet-to-be-built venturi box. Next weekend, maybe?

Remote Control

IMG_5106This is still a work in progress — and if you’ve read this far and have had any experience at all, I very much welcome your suggestions/recommendations/comments. No where is this more true than with my emerging remote control setup. The dust collector is plugged into a 240V 20A Leviton X10-enabled outlet. I use Insteon for the majority of lighting controllers in my house and for the most part I love it. I decided to extend this into the shop. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, there was no Insteon version of the 240v oulet. As Insteon is X-10 compatible, I decided to try it. I was unable to find much information/discussion online regarding using X-10 for dust collection, though I seem to recall reading a comment somewhere where someone indicated that it was less than reliable. This doesn’t surprise me as I’ve read quite a bit about the unreliability of X-10, and in fact have experienced it first hand in my setup where I’ve been forced to use it. Undeterred (or crazy), I decided to forge ahead anyway. Early on I had considered a blast-gate operated system like the Long Ranger or JDS system. It certain is an elegant solution, but the thing is I wasn’t sure I wanted to be forced to close all the gates in order to turn off the system…though there is clearly an advantage in that you’d know when a gate was inadvertantly left open. Anyway, I still wasn’t sold and have thought that what I’d really prefer is a bunch of discrete momentary switches placed strategically around the shop – a single switch that I could press once to turn on and then again on any of them to turn it off again. After some searching and a brief chat with a Smarthome employee, I decided to try an X10 Universal Module. It’s still not clear to me that “mode 3” will actually do what I want – I’m very skeptical – but the Smarthome guy said it would and for $26, I’m willing to give it a try. I also picked up an X-10 keychain remote. In the meantime, I’ve programmed one of the buttons on my main shop KeypadLinc to control collector and have also plugged in an extra X10 controller I happened to have gathering dust in a corner. I guess it’s still gathering dust, just in a very different way!

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