GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #084



We're at a time and place in our life that the current COVID thing has made almost no difference to our lifestyle, but many are struggling that's for sure. Still, in as much as you can I think you should be taking steps to build a firewall between you and the world at large. Try to reduce your dependence on the system. We're not even close to being independent, but that said we haven't done a large shop since March and we probably don't really need to until next March (although I probably will).

So we've made a start, but come March or whenever we still need the system to provide for us and I don't like that.

As to what we can do about it I don't know. Gardening is one obvious answer but we have so little water. Livestock? Maybe but I don't want dependant animals and anyway we still plan to travel a lot. And of course there's still the water thing.

So no I don't think we'll ever cut the apron strings, but we can thin them out a bit, and maybe at least cut one of them.

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Fri 14 Aug 2020

I've made another three bench clamps, so with the prototype that gives me four. I was going to do eight but got bored and anyway I think four will do. If not I'll make some more.


Mon 17 Aug 2020

I think that the placement of the band saw is successful so it's time to formalise some infeed support.

I make this rack to support long(ish) and heavy material.


But what will support the rack?

Well as it happens it protrudes directly over one of the vices and my first thought was to make a somewhat convoluted bracket that clamped in the vice and supported the rack. But then I hit on the idea of just having small "foot" that sat on the vice.


As it's not really connected the vice is still usable with the rack in place because its shaft just slides back and forth under the foot. It will fall off if the vice gets more fully extended but that never really happens and even if it does the rack is still self-supporting as long as there isn't any heavy material on it.

And while I'm at it I add a second foot so the rack can be shortened when cutting really heavy material.

That leaves really long material.

If you extend the line of the rack another two meters or so it happens that the anvil part of the other vice is in line with the saw as well. Once again I concocted all sorts of ideas of brackets to clamp in this vice, but then decided that a simple piece of 3x3" scrap laid on the shaft would do.

This worked but was prone to being pushed off when I slide the material along it, so I add three rare-earth magnets.


Once again this can live permanently on the vice if I wish, but it also is easy to store on any metal object.

Tue 18 Aug 2020

Now let's look at the other side of the saw.

I could do with a settable stop for use when cutting multiple pieces that are all the same length.

Yet again I came up with all sorts of complicated ideas using telescoping tube etc. all of which would be bolted to the bench, but this causes a problem. If the saw happens to move then any setting on the stop is null and void and you have to reset the stop. If that happens when doing multiple cuts and you don't notice it would ruin the pieces.

Any stop needs t be connected to the actual saw.

Then I notice a 12mm (probably 1/2" really as this is an old saw) hole in the side of the saw base, and looky here, there's a grub screw protruding into the 12mm hole.

If this ain't specifically placed to hold a stop I don't know what is.

I rummage through my scrap metal and half an hour later I have a working stop.


Thu 20 Aug 2020

Some time ago I bought an old "thing" from a deceased estate in Bundaberg. Neither I nor the seller knew what it was but I figured that it might make a passable drill press or even a poor man's milling machine.

Here is a photo from the ad on the Facebook marketplace.


I proceeded to clean it all up a repaint it, and during this process I discovered an old user manual rolled up inside one of the frame tubes. Turns out it's a chain mortiser. Well at least it used to be a chain mortiser, it seems quite clear that a previous owner has removed the chain head and replaced it with a spindle for a Jacob's chuck, thus essentially making it a drill press with an XY table.

It's this feature that interests me the most. Maybe the mortiser could make a reasonable poor-man's milling machine.

So I bodge up a vice, find some scrap steel and give it a go.


It actually works OK. I think this might have been a useful buy after all.

Fri 21 Aug 2020

There's a large dead tree right next to the workshop. Why I didn't drop it years ago when there was little risk of collateral damage I will never know, but it's becoming an issue so it needs to go.

It forks a couple of meters up and that fork creates a trunk that helps to bias the tree in the direction of the building. So today I'll remove that trunk so when I do the rest of the tree in a few days it will be way more inclined to fall the right way.

I rig two ropes, one with tension to pull the trunk in the direction I want and the other to just stop it from falling sideways onto the workshop.


This is the control rope it's just lightly tensioned and only there to stop the trunk from falling to the right, which would be bad.


I cut the trunk and it falls almost exactly where I wanted it. I say "almost" because I didn't allow for the control rope to wrap around a small sapling as the trunk fell and this pulled the trunk off line.


You can see the tension rope here lying on the ground, that's where the trunk was supposed to land, and the control rope pulled it to the left.


Lesson learned.

Sun 23 Aug 2020

I plan to set myself up to do some electronics and have decided that the current location of the lathe would be the best spot to to this. So the lathe has to move and I also it looks like I might have a milling machine of sorts so it makes sense for them to be together.

As it happens I do have a large bench that's just being used to store crap at present, and I also have a large sheet of 2mm steel which is almost the exact size required to cover said bench.


Mon 24 Aug 2020

Back to the dead tree that's a threat to the workshop.


I do the rigging similar to the other day and all goes smoothly. Not many photos because I actually shot a video for Youtube. You can see it here, but I think it will be my last one. Not only does it take too long to do but with my current equipment the results are pretty ordinary and I don't want to spend money on more gear that will be out of date in a few months while also being dedicated to what I see as a dead end path for me.


This time it falls exactly where I planned. I'm getting better at this.

Tue 25 Aug 2020

I buck some of the tree up for firewood.


I'll do the rest some other day, just need some firewood for the next few days. We're getting near the end of fire season now and I reckon this tree will more than see us out for the year.

Wed 26 Aug 2020

Time to make a start on the new electronics bench/work area.


The small bench you see here is where the lathe used to be, and the length of RHS protruding towards the camera is my mock up of the L-shaped extension, just to see what length allows access.

The extension will need a supporting leg so I dig a hole


Then weld up a leg from four pieces of 3x3" scrap.


Here is the leg in place ready to be concreted. Notice the old post, that's from one of the earlier workshop walls, when I extended I just cut it off below ground/floor level and backfilled. I had forgotten about that. It's almost a perfect match eh?


The bench is finished, there's more to do like shelves, power and a backing board but that's it for now.


Tue 1 Sep 2020

Back to the lathe and "milling machine", both now in place on the newly steel-clad bench.


I played around a bit with some brass and aluminium and that worked pretty well. Not much luck with some tool steel though, too hard I think although maybe the end mill I used just wasn't up to the job.

No matter, I think this will be a useful tool, even if I can only mill up to mild steel.

Thu 3 Sep 2020

The construction of the electronics work station is finished. And on the back wall I've hung most of my measuring tools, calipers, divider, squares, trammels etc.


Sat 5 Sep 2020

It's out to the gun club today and on my return trip I finally stopped to take some photos of this old shed.


The other side is completely open and it has an interesting method of supporting that long span using a suspension cable. I've since learned that this was a hanger for a small aircraft, which explains the need for one side of the building to have an open span with no supporting posts.

I buy an ice cream at the shop in Mt Perry and eat it on a park bench while listening to the birds. Overall it's been a nice relaxing day out.



Sun 6 Sep 2020

I'm more a metal worker than a wood worker but I do enough wood work to justify a plunge/track saw. So to that end I recently bought one.

After much research I settled on the Renegade from Trade Tools, at $265 it's not the cheapest, but far from the most expensive either and unlike some of them it comes with a 48-teeth blade out of the box. It's also a 185mm whereas most of the cheaper ones are only 165.

The next step was to buy tracks, and even though the tracks for this saw are almost half the price of the other brands for 3x 1400mm tracks plus clamps and joiners we're looking at another ~$210.

So as a quick test I made a 1600mm track from some scrap wood. So far it seems to work, so I'll make a long one for full sheet lengths as well.


Now I'm over $200 better off and can use that to get another tool.



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