Well, if the blog has been a bit quiet lately, it’s not because life has been quiet! After five years with the graphite iMac the technology is starting to show its age – or rather sound its age. The disturbing whining sound coming from the hard drive made us think about the way we have continually pushed our home technology until it is well past its use-by date, by upgrading RAM and buying ever bigger hard drives. So the time had come.
We actually went shopping for a big hard drive so we could back up the formerly big one and still have room for growth. That was quickly solved when we found the price of 500GB drives were down to about half what the 250GB drive had cost us before. But we couldn’t easily work out whether itwas the external or the internal drive that was the problem. Hmmm time to look at other computers.
With our interests well into the graphics and music software, there was really no comparison to make – it had to be another mac, and then it came down to which model would be right for us.
The result was a bit of a dent in the plastic fantastic but we walked out with a couple of boxes – a 20-inch G5 iMac (big flat screen) with 1.5GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive and DVD burner built in. And an Epson stylys photoR210 printer – the latter because we can use it to print directly onto CD/RW – good for the Band’s demo CDs.
And it matches the electric fiddle! While the iLife GarageBand software looks good, I chose to upgrade to Mackie’s Tracktion2 for recording. The screen size is great for recording – everything is a good size. And the processor is quite a bit faster than the G3 iMac – and the whole lot a far cry from the machines we started on – the 512k mac and the mac plus. Those and the color Classic and the PowerMac all still work – each year we fire them all up. I reckon we need to start a tradition of Mac Day and fire up all the old macs on the anniversary of the launch of the Apple Macintosh back in 1984!
After a year or so the portable tightrope is still going strong – and is still strong enough for my weight. But my daughter had managed to find a source of 10mm wire rope at Revolve – the local tip shop – so it was time to revisit the tightrope.
A close inspection revealed that extensive use had taken some toll on the tightrope structure – the turnbuckle screws were beginning to bend (due to a temporary quick and dirty attachment of 12mm wire rope) and one of the pop rivets had lost its head on one of the support legs. Also the bolt leading to one of the turnbuckles had a stretched thread due to over-tightening at some point.
So it was off to Bunnings for new turnbuckles, wire rope thimbles and 10mm wire rope clamps. And why not pick up a couple of brackets too for good measure.
I drilled and replaced the damaged rivet, then replaced the turnbuckles and fitted the new 10mm wire rope. My daughter had noted that professional portable rigs had small circular platforms at either end – more stable than garden chairs, so this seemed like a good opportunity to upgrade the rig accordingly.
I had some 300mm pine boards lying around, so I scribed a circle and cut the discs out on the bandsaw (just a cheapo hobby GMC one, but it’s enough for small job like this one). Then a quick sanding to remove the high spots and a quick spray with some undercoat and then a couple of layers of enamel to make it weatherproof. And here is the result – a definite improvement on the original design!
And yes the whole structure fits in the van at just a shade over two metres in length 🙂
What better way to spend Father’s Day in Canberra than to spend it at the Working With Wood Show at Exhibition Park in Canberra. These come around every year at about the same time, and showcase the latest and greatest tools for the amateur or semi-professional woodworker. The show prices are great (more on that later) but the real treat is seeing the demonstrations of woodworking techniques from turning, ornamental turning, box making, applying finishes, and heaps more.
Australian Woodworker magazine recently did a feature on Australian inventors over the past 20 years – and most of them turn up every year at the Working With Wood show – so you get to meet some great people sharing a passion for converting trees into heirlooms.
Among the highlights were seeing Roger Gifkin demonstrating his dovetailing jig; the guy who invented the WASP sander – which attaches to the workshop drill and has to be the fastest way to change sanding belts I’ve ever seen; and Stan ‘The Man’ Ceglinski of Mullumbimby Woodworks making bush furniture, and running his amazing Great Saw Race using a couple of 100 year old two-person saws. Then there was the Ozzie Jigs bloke – whose invention is featured in the Australian Design Museum – and the AngleMagthe list goes on.
There were demos of the Lucas sawmill, and a range of Westford chainsaw mills from Western Australia, such as this one:
Westford Chainsaw mill
And there were small slabbing attachments for smaller chainsaws (maybe next year!).
Of course if you set someone like me loose in a giant toyshop like the Working With Wood show you can expect that one or two things might wind up in my car at the end of the day. I even considered taking the motorbike on the basis that I would only get a few small items. Well, I carefully locked my best intentions away and armed myself with the plastic card and dutifully checked out the show specials.
First stop was CarbaTec – they have a shop in Fyshwick here in Canberra, but they were offering special show prices and then 10 percent off that – so I was soon carrying around a lovely Hamlet roughing gouge for the lathe. I ws sorely tempted by Robert Sorby goose necked turning chisels, but resisted manfully. Then it was off to Timbecon – the mob from Western Australia. I decided to leave the 1HP grinder… in the parcel pickup for later – this was accompanied by a great special combining an aluminium oxide wheel and a sharpening rest of really decent proportions:
The grinder, the toolrest and the roughing gouge
Then a quick glance at the triton offerings – I love the way their stuff is able to be retrofitted to even the earliest versions of the sawbench. I asked, in an offhand casual way, the price of the saw height winder kit – and the saw chassis upgrade so it would fit my old MK3 saw bench. What I saved there was more than the entrance fee to the show and those items were quickly added to the parcel pickup.
Triton height winder kit
And here it is mounted on the trusty Mk3.
I was getting the hang of this now, but needed just a little more practice – and that’s when I saw the router base and guide bushing kit. You see it’s like this. Last year I picked up a dovetail jig and a couple of dovetail router bits with attached bearings. But the bearings kept breaking, leaving me with a couple of perfectly good router bits, but no way to use them in the dovetail jig. With the new router base and guide bushes I can run the dovetail bits through the jig without fear of snagging the sides!
Router guide bushing kit
So that was the Working With Wood show for 2005 – and yes I had a great Fathers Day 🙂