09 February, 2022

The last touches on the compressed air system.


So my last few bits and pieces, some 3/8" MPT x 1/2" Push to connect unions came in today, and I already installed them. I have narrowed down what I have used in my system, and worked out a full parts list for anyone wanting to do an install like mine without making the mistakes I made along the way.

So let's go!

As a refresher, I have a dual compressor system, both Central Pnuematic oil lubricated, 2HP models, one 29 gallon, and one 8 gallon. They are ganged together in a custom manifold that uses a Central Pnuematic 3/8 filter / regulator, FRL connection bracket, and a Central Pnuematic filter / dessicant dryer. 

Harbor Freight is changing lines from Central Pnuematic to Merlin, and I can find no FRL bracket advertised as compatible with the Merlin setup, so if you want to go with Merlin instead of selecting one on say Amazon, just use a 3/8" close nipple.

I went with the dual compressor setup to be able to delivery just over 14cfm at 40psi, which is more than enough to drive anything I am likely to run in my shop, or around my house. Yes a big industrial compressor would be awsome, but that would require a dedicated 30 amp 220v circuit, and a LOT more space neither of which I have or have any interest in adding to my garage workshop.


Now with that being said, let's go through what we have and how we configured it shall we?


Dual compressor input, regulator / filter / dryer / manifold assembly.

I run the dual compressor setup with one compressor, the 29 gallon, plumbed via the piping sytem to the manifold, and the other via a quick connect to the manifold. These connect through 1/4" NPT one way check valves preventing backpressure or leakage in the system or between the comrpessors. These are in turn assembled to 3/8" x 1/4" NPT bushings, and in turn assembled to a 3/8" FxFxM tee. This tee feeds into my Central Pnuematic 3/8" filter regulator, this in turn is connected via an FRL bracket to a Central Pnuematic 3/8" filter / dessicant dryer.  The first filter does particulates, the second filter removes oil etc...  These each are auto draining. On the output side, another 3/8 FxFxM tee, and from here we connect with the first 3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect union to get into the piping system, and on the other output, I use for now am using a Central Pnuematic industrial coupler with a 3/8 x 1/4" bushing. I will be upgrading to a Milton 3/8" MPT unit soonest possible.


My regulator / filter / dryer manifold assembly. The main
components are now discontinued and replaced with the Merlin
brand at Harbor Freight.

So here is the shopping list, and I am aiming for having some spares with best per unit price so adjust as necessary.


  1. First the brass tees. Yes I am linking a 5 pack even though I used 3. These are useful, and, well, it is cheaper this way per unit by a lot. GASHER 5PCS Metals Brass Pipe Fitting Barstock Male Branch Tee T Adapter 3/8" NPT Female x 3/8" NPT Female x 3/8" NPT Male 5pk. https://amzn.to/35RDzsl
  2. Milton S-217 1/4" NPT V Style Coupler and Plug Kit - 6 Piece. This will cover 2 hoses, and the secondary input should you opt to not run it in using the push to connect tubing and keep it mobile, https://amzn.to/3uATpSM
  3. Control Devices P2525-1WA Brass Ball Check Valve, 1/4" NPT Female x NPT Male. You will need 2 of these, 1 for each compressor input. These will require bushings. https://amzn.to/3B3PGyd
  4. T TANYA HARDWARE 1/4" x 3/8" Brass Hex Bushing, Female Pipe x Male Pipe, NPT, Pack of 10. https://amzn.to/3rBRLOU
  5. I used the now discontinued Central Pnuematic, now they have the Merlin 3/8" air filter with regulator. https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-...tor-58178.html
  6. Again Central Pneumatic, the Merlin equivalent is.... 3/8" NPT (F) Dessicant Dryer filter. https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-...ter-58180.html

Unlike the Central Pnuematic, the Merlin does not appear to have an FRL connection bracket available. If you can find a compatible unit, use it, if not, just connect them with a brass 3/8" close nipple. The FRL mount brackets were really nice on the Central Pnuematics....

The regulator / filter / dryer assembly can be had in a single coordinated assembly on Amazon for a few bucks more than the Harbor Freight units, but and this is goign to sound funny, this is one area that I know Harbor Freight makes a quality unit, I think you would be better off with theirs. But if you insist on going amazon, here is the lowest cost comaprable unit.... https://amzn.to/35Nk8Rs

Now that we are out of the manifold assembly...


Let's move on to the Compressed air piping system.

My piping system is basically a knock off of the Rapidaire, however I looked at the Rapidaire which was considerably more expensive, and itself required lots of parts added to get the kit where I wanted it, not where they want to sell it...  It is a 1/2" OD nylon tubing push to conneect set whcih came with plentiful fittings, 60 feet of tubing which is way more than I will use in my garage, and some just average couplers and plugs. 

I opted for 3/8" MPT unions, and 3/8" MPT couplers to insure I had full flow from the manifold to the hoses. I know I am going to be restricted by the hoses / plugs, but that is something I am just going to have to live with. I wanted no restriction in the path. This also allowed me to eliminate the use of bushings and the added potential point of failure / leakage.

I run the tubing staight up the wall from the manifold, to the ceiling, and make my first bend transitioning to the ceiling. The tubing cut pretty easily with the included cutter, and the push to connect fittings were deemed to be well named by now as they make a good secure connection.


We travel somewhat diagonally accross the ceiling to between the overhead doors, where we tee into the line, and connect to my old Central Pnuematic 3/8" 50 foot self retracting hose reel that is mounted between the overhead door tracks for best coverage of the workshop, and driveway, while taking up minimal headroom. This is an old unit, and the original hose was getting old and started leaking. We replaced the original hose with a Goodyear replacement hose. 


We continued along the ceiling to the front wall, make our second bend to the front wall, and tee down to meet our first outlet block. Both outlet blocks are configured identically. They are Primefit outlet blocks, with the Primefit 3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect unions, 1/4" flush pipe plugs, 3/8" MPT Milton couplers, and 3/8" MPT forged ball valves for pressure dump. 


As the tee continues down the front wall to the other side of the overhead door, we make our final bend, to our second outlet block.

Bigatur 1/2" Air Piping System. https://amzn.to/3LgJIyx

Primefit outlet blocks. I used 2. https://amzn.to/3uAdFnd

Glarks 10pc brass 1/4" MPT hex flush pipe plugs. This will close off the unused 1/4" port on the back of the outlet block. https://amzn.to/3GCoNlU

Primefit 1/2" push to connect x 3/8" MPT straight union 4 pack. I used one. https://amzn.to/3oA2Uh3

Antrader 4 pack forged brass 3/8 NPT male x female ball valves 180 degree action. https://amzn.to/3BkAFIB

Milton Industries S-767 HI-Flo V-Style -FeetA,M,V-Feet 3/8-Inch MNPT Brass Body, Single. I used 3. https://amzn.to/3HDwA4u

Central Pnuematic 3/8 x 50ft hose reel. Yes the fittings are 1/4 NPT. So are the hoses. But at least I have full flow up TO it... https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-...eel-93897.html

NOTE: Harbor Freight appears to be phasing out their pre existing house brands such as Central Pnuematic in favor of their newer lines such as the Merlin Brand, which is reportedly an excellent replacement, but at a higher price point. I am working on a blog post about that move but am not ready to publish it as I am still working out the ideas. The Merlin setup is still less expensive than anything on Amazon though.

Anywhere male pipe threads are, irregardless of factory pipe sealant, recieved several wraps of teflon tape to insure a propoer seal after experiencing multiple failed seal atempts with factory pipe sealed components. 

A spray bottle with soapy water was made up, and once the system was pressurized, EVERY SINGLE JOINT was tested, thoroughly. There are at the time of this writing, ZERO leaks in my compressed air system. 

I still have too many air hoses to think about. both 1/4" and 3/8" ID. The 3/8" ID reinforced polyurethane hoses are far and away my favorites as they are, and stay nice and flexible, are not prone to kinking like hybrid hoses are, and are not super heavy and prone to cracking like rubber hoses are. The disadvantage to the reinforced urethane is that they are not all that abrasion resistant, which is why you never see them in a self retracting hose reel. For use out in the driveway / automotive uses, I pretty strictly use traditional reinforced rubber hoses.

At least in my experience, the hybrid hoses I have tried have simply been the worst of all possible worlds. Poor abrasion resistance, VERY kink prone, very crack prone, the only thing going for them that I can tell is they are lighter than rubber. In my opinion the hybrid air hoses should be avoided at all costs.

06 February, 2022

Thinking about what hasn't worked as well as I had hoped. What to avoid in your shop setup.

So you've seen the shop tours, you've watched countless brag videos on how this or that thing is the best thing since sliced bread...


This is not one of those posts.

On the contrary, this post is to tell you what failed, or at least didn't live up to my hopes. A lot of it is being changed over now, but let's dive right in and hopefully we can get somewhere with this...


#1. My compressed air distribution system. The ganged / dual air compressor setup works great, gives me good max CFM to drive everything I need. The regulator / filter / dryer assembly does what it is supposed to do, how it is supposed to do it. The issues I had were my distribution system relied on, after the output tee of the regulator / filter / dryer setup, I went from 3/8" NPT fittings, to 1/4" so at every fitting we introduced effectively a bottleneck / venturi which is great if we wan to increase speed and atomization of a liquid immediately after, but lousy if I want to maintain volume. The air was distributed with old fashioned rubber hoses that are prone to drying out and cracking, and the overhead hose reel itself was mounted too far back in the shop near the back wall by the comrpessors.

I fixed this by replacing the hoses with a 1/2 push to connect compressed air piping system. Although honestly since pipe is measured in ID and tubing is measured in OD, and this stuff is 1/2" OD they should call them tubing systems. I replaced the 1/4" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings with 3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings. Sadly the fittings themselves are necked down with a plate that has a 1/4" hex hole in the middle. It took some VERY careful drilling to drill out the plate to 3/8" but my setup NOW has fully 3/8" ID end to end. At the outlet block likewise I upsized the couplers from the standard 1/4" MPT couplers, to 3/8" MPT Milton couplers. They cost a couple of dollars more a piece, but the quality and air flow are worth it.

#2. My old T12 flourescent shop light fixtures were failing. Blowing tubes left and right, flickering, buzzing, and just being a pain. Yep the ballasts were going out.

I could have replaced teh fixtures, but at $20.00 each for cheap ones that I really didn't like, which meant at least $140.00 for new fixtures, or a sale at Amazon for a box of 20 T12 - T8 double or single end powered ballast Bypass conversion bulbs for all of $70.00, I figured I would save 50% and do the upgrade myself, keeping the fixtures I liked. What I wasn't prepared for is just how much brighter the light would be in there. Takes some getting used to.

#3. My dust collector and ducting. Wile many people are fine with 4" mains, I was going to push my DC to as close to Bill Pentz recommendations as possible without going into the ten grand budget territory. I also had my lower run to my workbench and table saw running across the floor causing a tripping hazard. 

How I fixed that? Upgraded the impeller to a Wen 12", removed the Thien separator and using a Pentz neutral vane, long ago tossed the filter bag in favor of a Wynn 35a .5 micron cartridge filter. Upgraded my mains, or more specifically upgradING my mains to 5" and just keeping my final branch runs at 4", this allows me to have ports where I need them.  I have a LONG way to go with this, and am basically tearing out the 4" segments that are going away now. I have the under the bench part moved UP and a vertical 4" running to the ceiling where it will meet up with a branch wye and go into the 5" main. Will likely do a full on post about the ducting once I have it all set up. Probably shoot a video on it.

#4. My tool stacker, just a set of heavy duty shelf standards, and brackets, holding up bench top tools mounted to 3/4" plywood bases meant that I had to lift from over my head for most of my tools, which are not super light, turn which usually meant at least SOME twisting, and then lug the thing to the work bench that put the work surface of the tool too high to actually use well.

My solution for this is also still in progress, and at least 2/3 of the way done. First was the build of the bench grinder / sharpeing station to hold the grinder and griding jigs up solidly and give me a great platform for sharpening my turning tools.  The next step was to design and build a flip top tool cart for the bench top jointer, and lunchbox planer. This is already done and posted in several places. I learned a LOT building that. Thirdly is a second flip top tool cart. This one for the Rigid oscillating edge belt / spindle sander, and scroll saw.  There were LOTS of lessons learned about rushing a job with the first one. On #2, I made certain the lap joints are clean, and tight. No need for screws, although I am planning on at least for the platform to the kick leg using 5/16" dowels, and screws to help secure it though the leg. I am not necessarily Anti Screw, I just want to minimze the amount of hardware for the build. Kind of a personal challenge

#5. My turning tools storage is abysmal. I am keeping them on a plywood platfor on the stand in thier shipping boxes. 

I have some jetissoned drawers from wherever my sister in law dug them up from after Hurricane Harvey. The drawer fronts are really pretty, but the joinery is abysmal. I need to shorten them and am likely to just build out a basic box / cabinet to go above the lathe stands spreaders, and hold my turning tools and accessories. Most likely flock the interior of the thing.

#6. My drill press gobbles up floor space, and really only punches holes. No storage or antying like that. I know over simplified.

I have the Wood magazine plans for the drill press storage cabinet, the kind that rolls over the foot of and straddles the post of a drill press. Now my drill press is on a Harbor Freight mobile base. I need to modify both the base by narrowing it up, and using 2x6s as a platform for the drill press, AND modify the cabinet plans. I am hoping to be able to store all my drilling jigs, and accessories in there, including my hand held drills in their cases being hung from hooks on the sides of the cabinet.

#7.  My table saw and router table parts and accessories are jammed willy nilly into a single tote making it very hard to find the right thing when I need it. 

This is a ways down the road, but I am working on designing a proper mobile base / cabinet for the table saw, with a router enclosure, and organizer / storage drawers. And pull out blade organizers. This is not super high on the list, but it IS on the list... And will likely be done as 2 separate boxes. The box immediately under the table saw, and the box under the extension wing / router table...

Well that's is. I am sure there is more, but that is all I can think of to write about today. 

I am making a video of my build for the flip top stand. Once I get that published I hope you will check it out on my youtube channel!

05 February, 2022

Shop updates progress.

Shop updates progress.

So in late December, I gave a list of shop upgrades, where I was with them, and what was left to do. At that time, what was left pending I beilieve was...

  1. DC duct move / straightening. This is in progress.
  2. Install the band saw tires.
  3. Compressed air hard piping. I have all the stuff and have started installing the outlets.
  4. Lighting. This is for safety and energy efficiency. I need to buy the bulbs.
  5. Finish the miter saw cabinet drawers and doors.
  6. Blown in insulation. I may have to farm this out, but it shouldn't be too terribly expensive.
So let's handle the items one at a time and give you an idea of what is happening.


DC Duct move / straightening. 

I've never been truly satisfied with the way my current dust collection piping setup is run, and I am in process of taking the parts down that bother me, and re-routing them. I am replacing the 4" main duct with 5" which is the maximum size my dust collector is made for, and running, at least for now, until I branch, so for example the workbench and table saw area have an upper, and a lower run. I am running the 5" duct overhead, and branching where the workbench / table saw extension table begin, in order to accomodate pulling from both lines at the same time. 

The first section of 5" being run. I have since tightened up the
hanger and the angles are now correct.

The 4" being reconfigured, yes I know I am hard on my workbench
The joints are locked together with pop rivets for semi
permanence but can be taken apart if needed.

The run between the workbench and the table saw is DONE!

Due to working with what I have, and what is available on the market, I am using a mix of 4" DWV PVC, 2.5"m 4 and 5" ABS plastic dust collection fittings including 5x5x5 ABS branch wyes, and 5x4 ABS duct reducers, and of course 5" snap lock duct and 5" sheet metal adjustable elbows.

I am haing to cut down some of the DWV as I used to have it literally accross the floor, and needed to remove about 4 feet of pipe to make the configuration change. Cutting this on the miter saw without dust collection was honeslty a messy affair. 

The joints on the assemblies that need to be permanently connected, are being drilled and pop riveted. IF for any reason I do need to dissassemble, for example I sell this place and need to relocate, OR I finally build that outbuilding workshop by some miracle of finances, I will be able to drill out the rivets and be good to go.

Sealing of the joints will take place when everything is in place and will be done with aluminum HVAC tape. The metal 5" run shown above has already been done, I honestly need more tape. I will also be taping the seam of the split lock to prevent air incursion from there.

Why did you go with 5" when there are people doing 6" upgrades with Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collectors and Cyclones?

I've worried myself to pieces over this, and had more than a few excitable debates with various fellow forum members on many woodworking forums about this. Many say just pitch the Harbor Freight unit all together, but a true full on proper cyclone and pipe it for 8". Those same folks don't ever volunteer donations to that end.  But the other advice teeters between 5" to get the most out of what my collector was designed for, and upsizing including the inlet in the impeller housing to 6" as 6" will move more air, and that is absolutely true. 6" WILL move more air than 5", quite a bit more. Let me show you the difference between 4" and 5", and you might be able to guess how much different 6" will be...

4" x 2.5" ABS Branch Wye L, 5" x 5" ABS Branch Wye R.

Lastly, the warnings I have seen RE: the loss in static pressure (vacuum) using 6" with a 2HP blower. And YES I know companies like Grizzly etc... have 6" ports on 1.5HP dust colectors, but I am honestly trying to do as much of the Bill Pentz approach as I can with what I have. 

A reminder of the modifications to the dust collector.

In order to accomplish the goals and go with the recommendations, from Bill Pentz I have done the following.
  1. Remove and discard the terrible filter bag that just makes the dust collector a dust pump, and replace it with a Wynn cartridge filer. Mine is a MERV15 35A and is well over a decade old.
  2. The Harbor Freight / Central Machinery 2 HP dust collector has a motor and impeller housing that will easily handle a 12" impeller, but they ship with a 9.75" impeller. I upgraded mine with a Wen 3403-22 Turbofan (impeller). The swap was quick and easy, although I have seen 2 reports on the Redditt woodworking subforum where owners managed to break the flange trying to pull the original impeller. I am assuming this is a casting quality issue with the OE impeller. They were both newer gray machines unlike my old green model. Be prepared to get creative to get the original out if the flange snaps. Once out though, the new one goes in easy...
  3. Neutral Vane. This is basically a piece of duct extension in the inlet ring of the bag holder on the dust collector, it keeps the air moving in a cyclonic motion, and allows dust and chips to fall out of the air stream before it goes up to the filter, keeping the filter cleaner. It is nowhere near as effective as a true separate cyclone separator, or a Thien cyclone. I love the Thien cyclone, I am a big proponent of the Thien Cyclone, HOWEVER separators take a big hot on airflow, slowing your CFM down quite a bit. So I opted for the Neutral Vane Since it does not separate quite as well as a dedicated separator, I take my blow gun on the air compressor, and blow down my filter after every single use... So far so good. The plans for the Neutral Vane for the Harbor Freight or similar sized / cone ramped dust collectors can be found in the post on Sawdustzone.org by LCHIEN. Give him props for his fine work and sharing it please!
 

Install the band saw tires. 

These were a Santa needing to be cost effective with his elves sort of Christmas gift, but desperately needed as my originals are cracking causing a bumping of the blade as it travels. These are inexpensive on Amazon, and a good upgrade to any of the cheap relatvely speaking, Chinese 14" band saws. But yeah, the install hasn't happened yet. I need to do it, but just have had other things going on. Definately go with Polyurethane tires as they are smoother, last longer and far less likely to end up cracking and causing bumping and / or tracking problems.

Compressed air hard piping.

Done.

The system is installed and working. And I am loving it. Another Christmas gift upgrade. I have been wanting a piping system since I started building the shop. It makes air avaialble anywhere in the shop I want it without tripping over hoses. 

The heart of the system is my Central Pnuematic 29 gallon compressor,
I am piped straight out of the regualtor to the piping system with a ball
valve to cut off flow in case of a problem.

I updated my connections to the mainfold setup with the secondary
regulator, filter / dryer, and I have updated since this photo, to
3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings to insure full air flow.

Run up the wall, and accross the ceiling, I have since secured
the tubing with tubing clips.

My previously existing overhead hose reel was moved all the way
forward to between the overhead doors. Careful plumbing keeps
everything out of the way of the door tracks / hardware. Sadly this
hose reel, and ALL of them I could find only had 1/4" fittings. 

The outlet block has been reconfigured since this
picture, again to insure full airflow, I got rid of the
bushings and 1/4" MPT pieces, and went with 3/8"
MPT parts, including Milton 3/8" MPT Type V,M,A
couplers. I LOVE my Miltons!


To do.

Finish updating 1/4" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings to 3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings. I still need one. The fittings came with a restrictor / baffle type plate that reduces the airflow to a 1/4" hex hole for some unknown reason. I managed to drill out 2 of them to 3/8" to return the fittings to full diameter and not be a restriction.  However overdrilling and punching out the spring retainer and the plastic clip is WAY too easy. The fitting MFGs need to redesign these to insure they are made for full flow / diameter of the tubing. The 2 fittings I did manage to get right do not leak. I have another pack of them on the way.

Both outlet blocks have the previously mentioned Milton couplers, and oh boy are they nice. I do however still need one to upgrade the outlet at the manifold by the air compressor. 

Lighting.

The 48" shop light fixtures were blowing T12 tubes, which are hard to come by nowadays, at a freakishly fast rate. I did a ballast bypass upgrade on all of the installed fixtures. These are double ended ballast bypass LED tubes. The amount of light they output is much higher than what the flourescent tubes put out.


Miter Saw Cabinet Drawers

The miter saw cabinet drawers are kind of on hold. Not super important although I need to get it done, but just not super high priority.

Blown in insulation.

Nope. Not yet. This is a time and budget issue. I just don't want to move the stuff against that wall yet...

Not on the prior list. What's been done, what else needs to get done.

Done.

A post was already made on this, but I made a quick and ugly bench grinder / sharpening station, and a flip top tool stand. I have already started on the second. The thought process is I do NOT want to drag my bench tools on and off of, well, anything.

The sharpening station has been moved since this pic to
immediately at the overhead door. I like it better there...

The flip top stand is a VERY basic 2x4 and plywood design.
I am in process of building a second one for my sander / scroll saw.



To do.

  1. Finish up my second flip top stand. Need some more 2x4s, Too cold to go get it today.
  2. Finish up the migration to 5" ducting for the dust collection.
  3. Build a box to house 2 salvaged drawers as a lathe tool storage, and of course moun it above the spreaders on the base of the lathe stand, build and install a ballast enclosure under the spreaders with levellers, and retractable casters.
  4. Build a base cabinet for the drill press that provides storage for my hand drills, drill bits, hole saws etc...

28 January, 2022

The green monster is alive. A flip top jointer and planer rolling cart.

Like many, probably most older folks, I have creaks, groans and pains that have come through a life lived with the bumps and knocks of just living a life. In my case some pretty serious back pain that I mostly learn to live with.
Before it became painfully obvious that the pain was here to stay, I had set my shop up with a Tool Stacker system, made up of closetmaid heavy duty shelf standards and brackets, with 18x24 3/4" plywood mount boards for my bench top tools.  

Those bench top tools are.

  1. Dremel 16" scroll saw. VERY infrequently used.
  2. Ryobi 8" bench grinder with Wolverine jig / skew platform / VariGrind. Used VERY frequently with the lathe. 
  3. Ryobi AP1301 13" lunchbox planer, used frequently with rough sawn lumber.
  4. Sunhill SM-150B 6-1/8" benchtop jointer used frequently with rough sawn lumber.
  5. Rigid EB4424 oscillating edge belt / spindle sander. Used frequntly but it is pretty light...



First things first, I had to get the grinder / sharpening jig squared away and kept close to the lathe so touch ups on my turning tools can happen RIGHT NOW. I took a cast off hunk of 4x4, some 3/4" pine legs for an abandoned valet project, and cobbled up a quick sharpening station / grinder stand, painted it green using Rustoleum brush on hunter green paint, there will be a theme with this stuff, stick with me here...  Now my choice of a full speed grinder I know is controversial. I picked it because OneWay MFG, the folks that made the Wolverine jig recommended it.



So now I was down to 4 bench top tools, I have enough material to fully build one stand, so I need to chose the first two to be put on a stand.

The sander is light, and super easy to move around. So that one is out. 

The scroll saw is kind of heavy, but lighter than either the jointer or planer, and it doesn't get used a lot.

The jointer, and planer, so related functions, AND are close in weight, they seemed to make the most sense for getting put on the first stand.  So they are chosen.

As I mentiond, I needed a flip top stand, well actually two, but had materials to build one... And I have wanted to build these for well over a decade now, I just, well never thought of a simplified 2x4 construction grade lumber build... You always see cabinet grade plywood or better. Not my target for sure!

First go to Sketchup and knock out a design and make sure it all pivots and clears right. No problem... Honestly my build deviated in several key ways form the design due to materials I had on hand. Most notably the 2x4 corner braces were actually 2x6 triangles, the side fill panels that were to be rabbeted in are omitted as the 2x4 stock I had had a lot of, uh, live edge / bark inclusion and there was no way to make a clean rabbet. And the bases feature an additional brace running full width across the front and back between the casters.



Next get to building... Here is sizing up / cut the half lap joints in the 2x4s. No they are not clean, I cut them on the bandsaw WAY too fast and did not to test fits so the joints are sloppy. But they suit the need.




Once the sides were cut out, joined together with glue and screws, and the kicker braces were cut, and joined to insure a 90 degree side. NOTE FOR NEXT BUILD. For my next build I will cut the half laps on the table saw and insure a TIGHT and FLUSH fit instead of the sloppy overlapping fit fo these. I will NOT use metal fasteners, but rather hardwdwood dowels so the only things in there are wood, and glue.

Sized up the pieces for the platform. Filled the backer holes for the bolts with sawdust and a LOT of wood glue, sanded it smooth and set the 1/2" PVC bushing for the 1/2" all thread axle. Then glued up the platform. I know the pic shows Titebond 2, but I actually used Gorilla Glue waterproof wood glue on this build. I took the pic of the TB2 because I was THRILLED I could finally find some locally after the stuff being out of stock for months. 



Trimmed the edges with the router / edge trimming bit.

Set sides back to back, drilled holes for the axle, and the pivot lock pins A.K.A. 5/16 x 2.5
carriage bolts.

Lots of paint, assembly blah blah blah, and it's done.
Gas Machine tool Engineering Machine Toolroom




The pivot works perfectly and it takes up less floor space than I would have thought. All in all a great project. I learned a few things in the build and am going to start on the build for the sander / scroll saw soon.

Contrary to what people keep telling me to go with a floor model, I do want to upgrade my jointer, but I want to go with a Wahuda 10" Benchtop jointer. Unfortunately this will require me to build a new flip top stand with a 4" wider platform so the pivoting platform would be 24" x 22".

So no more lifting and twisting while carrying heavy benchtop machines... 

I can now move on to my next project, which is actually continuing with an existing project. I need to source up some more 3/4" ply, and build new shelves for the linen closet in the master suite, bullnosed, and finish the drywall work in the dressing room and master bath after stripping out the 1980s wallpaper that just did NOT want to give up!

20 January, 2022

Upgrading the shop lights to LEDs, how I wired my double ended LED tubes.

So my old T12 2 tube shop light fixtures were starting to fail. Going through tubes quickly, and T12s are hard to come by these days, and the ballasts were buzzing loudly. I needed to either fix or replace these things...

Now Costco HAD some really nice I think they were either Feit or Honeywell 2 tube LED fixtures, but unlike the majority of the LED fixtures I have seen on the market, these seemed to be simply flourescent shop light casings and keystones, just no ballasts, and LED tubes instead, and I REALLY liked them.

While not a ton, shop light fixtures with their metal reflectors offer SOME, not much but some impact protection for the tubes, where the majority of the dedicated LED fixtures, the tubes themselves were structural members.

But my costco membership expired during the first month of COVID lockdown, and I didn't want to get anywhere near the insane people trying to haord toilet paper. And Sams club didn't have them.

So I started off going to Walmart, and tossed a box of T8 / T12 plug and play LEDs in the cart.  To say these were a miserable failure would be to complement them.  Searching the Walmart website and they no longer carry the ones I got. Good riddance!

I knew the problem would keep coming back if I kept the ballasts, I had to do a ballast bypass.

I started searching, and ended up on Amazon. FIrst landing on single ended, which means I had to replace the keystones as well and I did not want to do that. Mostly out of a desire to recycle as much of my original fixtures as I could. No need to toss more into the landfill, or the recylcers that really aren't recycling, especially since there are plastics involved.

So I started coming across double ended. No need for new non shunted keystones, I could recycle the keystones AND the wire from the fixtures.

The process is simple. Starting with an unplugged shop light fixture, preferrably on the bench take the fixture apart enough to expose the wiring and ballast.

Coming in from the power wire / socket, there are 3 wires, the ground runs straight out of the plug wire to a ring connector screwed to the fixtures. I left that alone.

Next is a long white wire that typically but not always ran to the far side of the fixture, it connected to and jumped between 2 keystones on one end. This is the neutral wire. I cut the other wires going to the keystones on this end as close to the ballast as possible. Strip the ends back about 3/8" ish... Cut the white wire at the same length, strip BOTH parts of the white wire and using an orange wire nut, wire nut these wires together.

The other wire coming in from the power cord will either be, or be converted to a black wire somewhere in there. Cut the black wire as close to the ballast as possible. Likewise cut the remaining keystone wires as close to the ballast as possible. Strip the wire ends and wire nut those together. 

Unscrew the screw securing the ballast, slide it out and fully remove it.

Insure all wiring connections are solidly made.

They should be as follows.

Green screw through ground wire ring termnal should have remained intact and untouched.

White neutral wire should be wire nutted to the 2 keystones that originally were connected to the white wire, and this should be a good connection secure in the wire nut, and secured in the fixture.

The black wire is your hot. This should be wire nutted / tied to the wires that feed the 2 keystones that are not tied together and were only connected to the ballast. Again the connection should be securely held in the sire nut, and if needed, secured in the fixture via electrical tape.

Additional security for the connections can be done by using a couple of quick wraps of electrical tape tightly around the connection and wire nut.

Now reassemble the fixture, and install the LED tubes. Mine had a big and small end. I like having the big end on the side with the power cord. Make sure the strip the LEDs actually mount to when the tube rotates in the pin socket, points TOWARD the reflector to keep the tube oriented the right way.

With both tubes ready, and some leather gloves on, plug the fixture into your extension cord, ready to pull the connection should it somehow be bad. The result you expect to see is both tubes lighting up. You may have to fiddle with tube position, or even try a different tube. 

Out of my box of 20, I had one tube that was defective enough that it would light, but only upside down. Not exactly useful.  Amazon gave me a credit for the tube so no harm no foul...

https://amzn.to/353RjzT

The brand was Hykolity, the cost was actually right around or maybe just a shave less than repalcement flourescent tubes, and certainly cheaper than buying new flourexcent tubes and ballasts.

Now the end result?

The Kill A Watt meter showed the fixture with 2 flourescent tubes / ballasts consuming 81w. WIth just the LED tubes, 36w, a more than 50% reduction in energy use. Being that my shop / garage is in Texas, the fact these LEDs run cool and thus don't add heat to my shop is a HUGE bonus, and....

WIth the new LEDs installed, it is SUBSTANTIALLY brighter in my shop. There are 2 main reasons for that though. One is the actual brightness of hte tubes, the other is the pattern of light output.

The light pattern for starters. The LEDs emit light in a pattern 200 degrees from their mount point. Or the strip that can be seen in the tube. Thus you are not shooting actual light directly at the reflector of the fixture. Like I said, my main purpose behind the reflector is to physically protect the tubes form impact. 

The flourescnet tube is just at ube of gas that glows when energized, sort of like Neon. It emits light 360 degrees, reflecting some of it, but losing effectiveness as it does so off the reflector. Maybe mirror polished diamond plate would work better but I wasn't going to go that fancy...

The other reason for the difference is the actual light output of the tubes. 
Not sure if I believe the numbers mind you, but I have seen product descriptions of the flourescent tubes I had been using for years, and they output something like 1550 lumens per tube, so 3100 lumens per fixture. That number is debateable, but since it is the one for the ad copy for the tubes I was running, I will go with that number.

The LEDs are rated at 2400 lumens per tube, so 4800 lumens per fixture. 

And I have a total of 7 fixtures in the shop. 
Flourescent 21,700 lumens.
LEDs 33,600 lumens.

To say the least visibility IN the shop is MUCH better than it ever thought of being.

I am NOT without shadows and certainly am going to need to add task lighting at some point, but for now, I think I have gone as far as I can with these fixtures.

If you have old T12 or T8 4foot shop light fixtures you'd like to upgrade to LEDs, and would like to help me out, please consider buying from my affiliate link. Thank you.

https://amzn.to/353RjzT

04 January, 2022

I finally finished my compressed air system! Detailed install and parts list.

My compressed air distribution system is done!

Okay I have written blog posts in the past regarding my compressed air system, including chasing down leaks, and other issues. It has taken over a decade, life happens you know, but I have finally finished my compressed air system to where I want it!

What was the goal I was trying to get to?

Simply put, I wanted a compressed air system that would allow me a reasonable buy in cost, with the ability to move an air compressor around in a portable fashion, while providing a LARGE amount of airflow, thus a dual compressor configuration, and outlets distributed through the shop, 1 at the back wall, 2 at the front, either side of the right side overhead door, and a self retractible overhead hose reel mounted in as unobtrusive a manner as possible. I wanted it RELIABLE, and LEAK FREE. And I wanted enough hose paying out from the hose reel into the driveway that I can work anywhere, on any car in the driveway without having to add a second hose. This meant moving the hose reel to the front of the shop.

Why did it take so long?

Honestly, Issues with the initial setup didn't become apparent until after years of use, nd I didn't know all the options. 

I had intended for years, including a VERY long time Amazon Wish list to have copper pipe, and fittings to build the system out. But copper pipe and its fittings were EXPENSIVE, and involved flame soldering to make the connections properly. Not very adjustable once installed, and, not particularly reusable if I decided to, or was forced to by SWMBO into moving the shop into a dedicated outbuilding / shed.

I was COMPLETELY unaware of the Polyurethane compressed air piping / push to connect fittings systems on the market. The only options I knew were avaialble were metal pipe, which is expensive, and hard to work with, or PVC pipe whcih is cheap, easy to work with, and could potentially be deadly when a pipe fails and throws shrapnel all over the shop. Neither of which were a good option.

I had heard about Rapidaire systems, which were less expensive than copper pipe, but still several hundred dollars worth of material. Even their "Master Kit" only included a few paltry fittings, although they included at least 3 outlet blocks, but the other costs of getting enough fittings, the original outlay cost of the kit, etc... added up to about twice what I was comfortable with paying.

So in the mean time, I had used Goodyear rubber hoses to make my runs, and honestly even that was a bit costly so I kept them short with custom made lengths to get the hoses I needed. The problem is the rubber air hoses develop leaks after a few years of use, and overall are not really reliable.

Now mind you, a good amount of what I used to complete my compressed air system was carried over from what was already in my shop, what I had salvaged from other projects that were tear downs including a former automotive garage I worked at decades ago, they were tearing out the shop to put in a convenience store. So I did NOT actually have to pay for a lot of this stuff other than sweat equity to reclaim materials that otherwise would have gone to waste.

And then Black Friday / Cyber monday happened, and the opportunity to get the kit, and few remaining pieces to complete the setup for WAY less money than just the cheaper kit would cost normally hit, and my wife wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. I've never been so happy to want something cheaper than a pair of inexpensive dress pants for Christmas! 

So the components used were... I will link the least expensive versions of the items available online that I can find. Brands may differ from my actual used versions.

Central Pnuematic 29 gallon 2HP oil lubricated air compressor. https://www.harborfreight.com/29-gallon-2-hp-150-psi-cast-iron-vertical-air-compressor-61489.html I've had this about 10 years.

Central Pnuematic 8 gallon 2HP oil lubricated air compressor (discontinued, McGraw 10 gallon seems to have replaced it in the Harbor Freight Lineup) https://www.harborfreight.com/10-gallon-oil-lube-portable-air-compressor-58144.html I've had this maybe 12 to 14 years, don't recall...

Both compressors have had 1/4" street elbows, short lengths of brass pipe, and ball valves for tank dumping installed since 2014. This allows for dumping collected water from the tank and depressurizing without fishing around under the compressors...

Central Pneumatic automatic hose reel with 50' rubber air hose. Hose replaced in December 2021 with new Goodyear hose. https://amzn.to/3EUjdKU This was originally set up in the back of the shop in maybe 2012? Not sure... 

Large assortment of Central Pnuematic Brass Industrial Quick Coupler Sets: https://www.harborfreight.com/brass-industrial-quick-coupler-set-4-pc-68241.html?_br_psugg_q=quick+coupler+set These have been acquired over the years, but the newest were bought in maybe 2014...

2 @ Control Devices P2525 one way ball check valve 1/4". https://amzn.to/3pSQbaf This was the manifold build in 2014

2 @ 1/4" FPT brass barstock tee,  https://amzn.to/3pT4Gen This was the manifold build in 2014

3/8 x 1/4 brass hex nipples / reducers. https://amzn.to/3EWCyem This was the manifold build in 2014, and I believe these came from the service station tear down job when we dismantled the garage before they built in the c store...

Central Pneumatic 3/8" regulator with filter. https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-nptf-air-filter-with-regulator-58178.html This was the manifold build in 2014

Central Pnuematic 3/8 Dessicant Dryer with Oil Removal Filter. https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-nptf-desiccant-dryer-and-filter-58180.html This was the manifold build in 2014

Central Pnuematic 3/8" Connector Bracket. Discontinued, no replacement. Use a 3/8" brass close nipple instead. This was the manifold build in 2014

1/4x1/4 brass hex nipples. https://amzn.to/3pViwwU These were from the service station teardown.

Bigatur Air Piping System 1/2”. https://amzn.to/3HvP8Dd

Beduan Push to Connect Fitting, 1/2" Tube OD x 1/4" NPT Thread 10 pack. https://amzn.to/3pT5Vu3

Since the Bigatur kit didn't include them, 2 @ outlet blocks used up front are Primefit 3/8 Push To Connect outlet blocks. https://amzn.to/3313v3h

1 pack 4pcs 1/4” ball valves. https://amzn.to/31m0w58 These were from adding the dump valves to the compressors, so 2014 time frame.

1 pack 10pc 3/8 to 1/4 NPT brass bushings. https://amzn.to/3JEo32A I needed to order a fresh bag of these. I was down to one...

1 pack 10 pcs 1/4" MPT brass hex pipe plugs. https://amzn.to/3EPMN4o Fresh bag. I had none.

10' custom made rubber air hose to connect 8 gallon compressor to keep it portable.


Now with the parts set up, let's explain the plumbing setup.


First off, I need to explain the "Manifold Assembly", it features largely to collect, regulate and clean, and distribute the air

My entry for June 6 2014 explains the setup of the manifolds, tees, valves etc... and is available here.https://www.daves-workshop.com/2014/06/clearing-air.html BUT let me summarize it for you.

Quick connect into one, and push to connect 1/4 thread coupler into the other check valves. 

Check valves into the first tee.

Tee into 1/4 x 3/8 nipple, and threaded into the inlet side of the regulator.

Regulator via 3/8 Coupler connected to the filter / dryer. Air coming out of this in theory will be clean, oil free and dry. Safe to use to spray finishes. 

Output side of filter dryer assembly out via 1/4 to 3/8 nipple into second tee. One side (Down) gets our first outlet, a Quick connect. Second side gets a 1/4 push to connect fitting.

Now the manifold assembly is done being described. Lett me back up to the air compressor(s) 

The 29 gallon compressor stays put, so the quick connect from its built in regulator is removed, after the regulated pressure is set to 100 psi. I never plan on exceeding 90psi, but want to fine tune at the manifold.

The Central Pnuematic 29 gallon air compressor with too much evidence that I haven't used my dust collector often enough! I need to fix that habit!

A 1/4" MPT  push to cnnect is screwed into the output of the compressor, and then a piece of the 1/2" PU tubing is sized up and connected. There first connection done.

The 8 gallon compressor has a factory fitted quick connect, a shop made / reclaimed section of rubber air hose with a male, and a female quick connect setup, connects from the compressor, to the secondary intake of the manifold.

The advantage of this is I have compressor output of just shy of 16cfm at 40psi, well beyond what I will need, and at a FAR lower cost, and space hit than a giant 60 or 80 gallon compressor!

Of course the "Manifold assembly is in there, all adjusted up and happy. psi at the compressor, 90 PSI at the regulator / filter. Not shown is the input from the 8 gallon compressor. It is sitting coiled up and only connected when needed.

The Manifold assembly. This took some time a long time ago to set up. Harbor Freight has discontinued these pieces in favor of a newer brand. By the time these die, they will likely be on to a different brand again.

Now on to the output. At the push to connect I sized up a piece to go between the coupler, and an elbow to make a tight turn at the ceiling. A couple of screws through some straps into the stud at the corner secure the tubing up the wall and we now make our way across the ceiling, THROUGH the purpose drilled hole in the shop light mount, and we periodically attach via straps and screws into the studs securing the air line on its journey across the ceiling. I did have a temporary location where the hose reel WAS, so in order to avoid wasting air tubing, I used a coupler from the kit to connect and extend the tubing.

The hose reel and its 3/4" plywood mounting board was moved from the back corner of the shop, forward about 10 feet or so to the space on the ceiling between the overhead door tracks. The tubing is split with a tee from the kit, and is secured as much as possible, INCLUDING using a length of Gorilla Tape to keep it from getting hung up with the overhead door hardware. There is NOT a lot of clearance here, and I do not want to cause problems. This is securely fastened using 1/4" lag bolts directly to the rafters.

The old Central Pnuematic hose reel with a new Goodyear hose. This has been a GREAT item in the shop. Makes easy work of taking out and putting up the hose! The fit is close, but gives me a couple of inches of room for the door to operate.

We ran another segment of tubing from the tee, to the front wall, where we meet an elbow, and another Tee via short section of tubing. This elbow goes down to the first outlet block. Will describe the assembly further below as they are both the same.

The line at the tee was extended to the outside wall, and turned with a final elbow from the kit. Occasional clamps and screws along the wal, and turned down to the outlet blocks.

The outlet blocks have 4 holes in them. 1 1/4", and 3 3/8". The 1/4" is on what I consider the back side of them. I pipe sealed and installed a 1/4" pipe plug in there. The other three holes were filled with pipe taped 3/8 to 1/4 bushings. 

The top hole got the push to connect fittings (see why I bought extra?).

The front hole got 1/4" hex nipples, pipe taped, and then the quick connect couplers. You could save some time and MAYBE money by going with 3/8" MALE threaded quick couplers, but I had the female ones already. The steel quick connects that came with the kit also are female threaded with no nipples to install which I found quite odd.

The bottom hole got outfitted with the 1/4" ball / dump valves.

The dump valves should NOT have any moisture trapped as the air should be clean and dry before it gets there, BUT it does help depressurize the system if the valve at the compressor is turned off. 

The outlet block assembled and in use. That ball valve can easily and quickly dump pressure from the lines if needed. NO the drywall behind it isn't finished right. Nor do I care... It is a garage after all.

I have finished the connections and pressured up the system, compressor to 100psi, and manifold regulator to 90psi yesterday, there has been no drop whatsoever on either gauge in the last 24 hours.

I do need to add a couple more of the straps from the kit, with some drywall screws to retain the tubing to the ceiling / wall where it sags a touch, but it isn't any additional outlay of money, just some time, and it can happen after the rest of the shop gets finally cleaned up. 

But in the mean time, I have a spot, more or less anywhere I am working in the garage to plug in an air hose, and I have WAY more than enough air hose to run it out to anywhere around any car in the driveway.


What's next?

Well, since I am still knocking my brains out trying to clean, and reorganize my shop, so that I can finish building stuff for finishing the home remodel, and I have (almost) all the parts, I will finish the re-routing of the 4" dust collection main. I have the wall brackets, and fittings I need to make it happen, and I want the run straighter, blast gates easier to get to, and a LOT less flex hose in the mix of things.


The other Christmas present I got was a set of Polyurethane bandsaw tires for the Central Machinery bandsaw. I will be upgrading those AFTER the shop cleanup is done.