CategoryTool Review

Simple Cutting Software X – Building a Cutlist

Now working on my third cabinet build project, I’ve come to appreciate using software to sort out the cultist for plywood.   I’m using a demo version of Simple Cutting Software X, and it works pretty well, with some exceptions.

Of the detractors for the software, it tends to “optimize” the cuts rather than make them all work in the grain direction you prefer.

I’m now getting the counter subtop, shelves, and plinth base cultist organized to break down two more sheets of plywood, and then on to laying out for cutting 1/4 Baltic birch for backs and door panels. You can tinker with it in the Fibre column so that it will shift pieces around, but it still will not give everything you want.  Depending on the stock size of your sheets, though, it is simple enough to shift a couple of cuts on the fly and get most of what you want done. English or Metric works.

The demo version of the software doesn’t seem to allow the cultist diagrams to be saved, but even so, it does print. So it is a nice, handy piece of software that you may want to use on your next shop cabinet project, shelving project, or whatever plywood or other sheet cutting job you have to do.

There is NOT much Mac friendly woodworking software out there, so it was nice to find this one.
Lanai Cabinet Cutlist

Lanai Cabinet Cutlist

Clamps – Never Enough!

Thought I’d pass along a some lessons learned and what clamps I choose to use.  This isn’t an end-all, be-all list, but what rather my experience with household carpentry work, cabinetry, edge banding, and other projects on this site.  Your requirements/results may vary.

  1. Quick-Grip Clamps.  Quick-grip clamps come in a dazzling array of sizes and since they operate one-handed are really useful for lots of tasks.  They don’t have enough clamping pressure and are poorly built. When I first started buying clamps at Haiku, I made the mistake of picking up Irwin One-hand Quick-Grips with the yellow markings (SL300), thinking they looked pretty decent.  Turns out they only have a clamping pressure of about 250 lbs after allowing that you probably aren’t going to get full pressure all of the time.  Sounds like a lot, but it’s not.  I’ve since sold them on Craigslist, and standardized on the Irwin SL600 for general purpose clamping like clamping my jigs or work material to the bench. They are soft jawed, won’t mar, and reliably hold well and quickly.  I’ve seldom seen them available in any stores here, and ordered them online after discovering a couple lonely ones in HD, and have never seen them since.  I use 6″ regularly for all kinds of quick clamping tasks.
  2. Clamps for Case Work.  For glue-up case work, I now have a good set of Bessey K Body Revo Clamps.  They are the go-to for cabinet assembly. Again, I made the mistake previously of trying to save money and bought Brand X, but quickly learned that better precision in manufacturing results in a tool that is easier to use, and more reliable. They are widely available now, too.  At the time I needed them, Woodcraft was the only distributor here on island, and they were pricey. Now HD has added them to their line. Amazon has great pricing.  I understand that JET and Jorgensen may have similar, but they are not available locally, so I can’t comment.
  3. Edge Banding. My go-to for edge banding where you need a LOT of clamps are the Bessey H-style pipe clamps.  What I like about the Bessey H-Style pipe clamps is that they have wide “feet” and can be set in place to position the workpiece, and they tightened. The 1/2″ pipe clamps are all I think I’ve needed, but they are available to fit either 1/2″ or 3/4″ black pipe.   (I use galvanized pipe here to avoid rust, and they don’t move quite as smoothly as they would on black pipe). I use 30″ pipe to make up 24″ clamps that work well for the type of work I do. They supplement the K-Body clamps.
  4. For light duty, supplemental clamping I use several Jorgensen HD 3700 series bar clamps, mainly because I like the rubberized handles better than the Bessey handles, but I think they are out of business.  They used to have a really good cabinet assembly clamp, but I can’t find it any more, either. If you can find the HD 3700 series on close-out, they are handy for a lot of situations.  The old wood, parallel jaw clamps were in a class by their own, and what I first learned to use in 6th grade shop.
  5. Face-frames and Edge Clamping.  Sometimes you have to be able to clamp in two different directions, as when you install a face-frame. I only had that need once or twice and picked up a pair of the least inexpensive 3-way edge clamps, and they worked okay, but I had to put blocks under all clamping points to avoid marring the workpieces. A better solution is one of the other padded edge clamping solutions, either from Bessey or Rockler. Kreg distributes a wide range of special application clamps. I find, for my work, I’ve only needed the face clamp that came with my K3 master kit, and the right angle clamp, which is indispensable for case assembly. 
There are more clamps out there in the clamping universe. I still think good old Norm’s collection in New Yankee Workshop is the largest I’ve ever seen. I can’t come close!  But, I now sorta have what I need.

Bora Guide Plate Review

I’d seen the Bora Guide Plate in Woodcraft some time ago, but wondered how a piece of plastic would actually manage to hold a heavy saw. I really wasn’t able to find anything else that I was willing to try, and, so since it is no longer in Woodcraft, I ordered it on Amazon.

I’m pleased to be able to report that the use of the Bora Saw Plate Guide with my tracks went off with no major issues.

Review of the Bora Saw Plate Guide Workshop Addict

Review of the Bora clamp-edge guide on Concord Carpenter

I didn’t expect much for $29. But, it did what needed doing without allowing the saw to tear-out or wander. Decent cuts with a 60 tooth Freud blade. It’s useful to remember which side of you blade gives you the tear-outs, and I was able to make use of that memory for a few of the cross cuts.  Rips would be no problem.

It isn’t going to replace a high-end track saw anytime soon, but with some finicky setup jiggling to get the saw squared up on the plate, it works well enough for infrequent use in breaking down plywood.  Key is to keep the plywood well supported.

I did not find the saw track guide pointer (little bitty piece of plastic with “pointers”) to be of any use. I could not get my Sawcat to offset the base enough to allow positioning of the pointer in any of the three alternate screw holes.

The key also is to remember your track-to-cut-line offset. It’s gonna be some weird number based on the size of your saw plate and the way it gets fastened to the Bora Guide.  I wound up using 1 11/32″.  My setup rule has a 1/32″ scale, so I was good each time, but really wanted to land on 1 3/8″ or 1 1/2″ for the offset. Your results may vary.

I have the Bora 100″ guide track.  I also have another manufacturer’s heavy duty 50″ guide track, and that is what I used for the cross-cuts using the Bora Saw Plate Guide. It worked fine, just as advertised! The Bora edge guides are excellent quality, and worth trying to find for your next time breaking down sheets of plywood.  At this point, having built “cabinets” for the master bedroom closet, the shoe shelf, and now the lanai, it has been more than useful to have the clamp-on edge guides that work well. Bora has introduced other companion tool plates to use with their WRX tracks that would be worth investigating.

Of course, you could buy a True Track track saw system for $169.

More Stair Construction: FastenMaster HeadLOK Newel Install

I’m working on the finished loft stairs in the master bedroom, focused on newel construction. One challenge I’ve had to address is scaling up the newels and constructing a hollow core box newel using Fastenmaster Headlok lags.

l’ve had factory-built newels on hand for sometime. It is from them that I scaled the loft pony wall end newel, since they all have to line up. It would have been easier if the previous stair builder had been more conventional, but our stairs have a mini-landing of one tread at the top, creating a need for a double top newel. about 6″ apart. Not ideal, but what we’ve got….more on that later.

It’s been a challenge to get all the cuts just right and level up a newel. I’ll put out more later on the complete stair install. Previous to this I’ve glued up a humongous outer skirt/stringer.

Below are a few photos, showing the core of the newel, clamping, and the mostly finished newel. The top fastener is just a temporary screw to aid in leveling. The newel is counter bored to the depth of the head with a 5/8″ paddle bit. Not visible, a block has been cut to fit into the hollow core between the box newel and the stair stringer.

Newel Sleeve Clamp

Newel Sleeve Clamp

Fastenlok Fasteners Newel Post

Fastenlok Fasteners Newel Post

NewelPost

Mostly finished newel with HeadLOK fastener