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View Full Version : DIY Thickness Contraption (Isnt it nice when things go your way?)



cml
08-09-2016, 07:46 AM
EDIT:
Sadly, this doesn't work on real wood. The tests were performed using mdf, which worked fine. I'd suggest instead that anyone interested in this check out Pete Howlett's solution: Luthiery on a shoestring

"The Contraption" (so named by Sequoia) works! This thickness sander has been a side project that I did mostly for fun while waiting for glue to finish, because let's face it, waiting for gluing isnt the most fun of activities unless you do something else.

I know it's rather ugly, but that's because it's a real quick and dirty prototype :). All the important things are there though and all angles and surfaces are dead on. In fact, this thing sands to within 0.05-0.1mm! That's pretty darn good for a homemade quick fix isnt it :)?
It's nice when things go your way!

Here are some pictures, perhaps they can help new builders who are thinking about how to solve thickness sanding in a reliable way? I know it was something I didnt have a solution for until now!

932949329793295
Built from scrap materials, this thing hasnt costed me anything as I already had the hand held belt sander, but if you dont have one, they are rather cheap.

Matt Clara
08-09-2016, 09:17 AM
This one needs a video of the contraption in action!

spongeuke
08-09-2016, 09:39 AM
I was gifted a home made thickness sander. Rotating belt driven drum and angled, adjustable base with siding trey/board, all wood construction except for the bearings, shafts, pulleys, and the motor. I have trouble with waves and thinning of the end sections and when not in use mine occupies a precious 2 X 2 X 3.5 feet of shop space.
It seems your contraption does a better job. I like the built in dust collector and a great materials price. Plus it is storable when not in use.

cml
08-09-2016, 09:47 AM
This one needs a video of the contraption in action!
As you wish, here's 92 seconds of fun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riCXbq6yLN4&feature=youtu.be
Pro-tip: Turn the volume almost all the way down or your ears might bleed a little...

cml
08-09-2016, 09:49 AM
I was gifted a home made thickness sander. Rotating belt driven drum and angled, adjustable base with siding trey/board, all wood construction except for the bearings, shafts, pulleys, and the motor. I have trouble with waves and thinning of the end sections and when not in use mine occupies a precious 2 X 2 X 3.5 feet of shop space.
It seems your contraption does a better job. I like the built in dust collector and a great materials price. Plus it is storable when not in use.
Yes, the dust collector, or rather diverter, is great isnt it? I like the looks of it (not really). Was tired of getting the dust right on my pants. Now I just need to get a cheap mask so all that dust doesnt clog up my lungs ;).

EDIT: It might not be obvious from the photos, but the table moves up and down in two grooves and is secured with wing nuts. I dial in the thickness by putting a note pad on the table (which I open to the correct thickness, measured with a caliper) and then press it up firmly to the sander. That gets it perfectly setup and level.

tobinsuke
08-09-2016, 02:27 PM
EDIT: It might not be obvious from the photos, but the table moves up and down in two grooves and is secured with wing nuts. I dial in the thickness by putting a note pad on the table (which I open to the correct thickness, measured with a caliper) and then press it up firmly to the sander. That gets it perfectly setup and level.

Nice work. I really like the notebook idea to gauge/set your thickness.

georgiw
08-09-2016, 06:22 PM
Very resourceful and well executed! Looks like it works great.


Here are some pictures, perhaps they can help new builders who are thinking about how to solve thickness sanding in a reliable way? I know it was something I didnt have a solution for until now!

Thanks for sharing this, I will definitely be attempting a version of your contraption!

Timbuck
08-09-2016, 09:34 PM
Very Good Carl..I suggest "a thin push stick" will help keep your fingers away from the belt.

Michael N.
08-09-2016, 09:35 PM
Unless you can sort out some effective dust collection I wouldn't be using that method in a hurry. Don't take the dust issue lightly, it's bad enough hand sanding but power sanding without extraction is a hundred times worse. Otherwise learn to use a hand plane and scraper, it's a lot easier than many think once you know the method.

cml
08-09-2016, 09:39 PM
Unless you can sort out some effective dust collection I wouldn't be using that method in a hurry. Don't take the dust issue lightly, it's bad enough hand sanding but power sanding without extraction is a hundred times worse. Otherwise learn to use a hand plane and scraper, it's a lot easier than many think once you know the method.
Thank you for your concern Michael, I really appreciate it. I know it's not good for you, I've only used it twice and last time I was coughing a little afterwards. I'm getting a mask with a filter for sure. A vacuum cleaner hooked up to the exhaust would probably help as well.

Michael N.
08-09-2016, 11:14 PM
Get one suited for the task, not the cheap face mask filters. I would also be tempted to do the sanding outdoors if possible. Don't forget that the mask just stops you breathing in the dust whilst the machine is running. You'll find that the dust accumulates in every single corner and on every single item in the room. As soon as you move the dust will kick up again. My workshop is virtually all hand tool. I have a bandsaw (hardly used) hooked up to an extractor. Even with hand tools there's dust everywhere and hand tools tend to produce more chips and shavings rather than fine dust. I think the biggest culprit is hand sanding and I only sand the outside of the instruments, all internal components are finished with the plane or a scraper. I'd like to finish the outside with a scraper too but the finish would be commercially unacceptable. My friend makes violins and the violin makers use very little sandpaper, most of it is scraped. His workshop is far less dusty than mine.

cml
08-10-2016, 04:44 AM
Get one suited for the task, not the cheap face mask filters. I would also be tempted to do the sanding outdoors if possible. Don't forget that the mask just stops you breathing in the dust whilst the machine is running. You'll find that the dust accumulates in every single corner and on every single item in the room. As soon as you move the dust will kick up again. My workshop is virtually all hand tool. I have a bandsaw (hardly used) hooked up to an extractor. Even with hand tools there's dust everywhere and hand tools tend to produce more chips and shavings rather than fine dust. I think the biggest culprit is hand sanding and I only sand the outside of the instruments, all internal components are finished with the plane or a scraper. I'd like to finish the outside with a scraper too but the finish would be commercially unacceptable. My friend makes violins and the violin makers use very little sandpaper, most of it is scraped. His workshop is far less dusty than mine.

I feel ready for the runway ;)!
93303
P3R dust and particle filter.

lauburu
08-10-2016, 10:58 AM
nd last time I was coughing a little afterwards.
That's because you're young and fit. Keep doing this without a mask and in a few years you'll be coughing long afterwards.
Don't ask me how I know.
Miguel

Pete Howlett
08-10-2016, 12:57 PM
With your face level with the feed table I'd advise a full face shield! Great idea tho...

sequoia
08-10-2016, 05:55 PM
Dust is a real problem as was pointed out and it only gets worse. Notice if you watch a lot of videos of luthiers, many of them have this little hack cough they don't even notice. I'm not saying it is going to kill them or anything, but I have also developed a slight hack after a couple years. It is a chronic thing and best to prevent as much as you can early before it becomes a problem. Every profession has its hazards (professional hazards they are called) and pulmonary problems can be a part of lutherie.... I could see making a simple collector for The Contraption out of cardboard (or plastic or whatever) attached to a shop vac.

I've worked carpentry since I was a little kid and we never wore masks or ear protection (what? what? I can't hear you). The difference is that lutherie produces a particularly fine wood dust that regular carpentry doesn't and it can become a problem. Off thread sorry, but I think The Contraption needs am efficient dust collections system. Oh also a little guard in front of the machine to keep fingers out.

Timbuck
08-10-2016, 08:43 PM
I started off with a face mask..since then I have had 3 vacuum type extractors and none were perfect..dust was still in the air and i was breathing it in..following a bout of Flu and respiratory problems earlier this year Mrs Timbuck made me spend some of my Old Age Pension on this (best one i've had so far) but a fine layer of microscopic particals still settle on the flat surfaces.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/dust%20extractor_zpsuirifqmh.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/dust%20extractor_zpsuirifqmh.jpg.html)

Booli
08-10-2016, 08:59 PM
I feel ready for the runway ;)!
93303
P3R dust and particle filter.


"Luke, I am your FATHER!"

Timbuck
08-13-2016, 12:05 AM
I see that Stewmac are pushing the "Safe T planer" at the moment may be you could upgrade to one of these Carl and solve the dust problem.
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Types_of_Tools/Planes/StewMac_Safe-T-Planer.html?lac_guid=18e98907-9d60-e611-80cb-ecb1d775572a&utm_campaign=M0486&utm_medium=email&utm_source=EPA&utm_content=M0486_C_20160812

cml
08-13-2016, 01:20 AM
Thanks Ken! I'll bookmark it and keep it in mind for the next time I order from Stewmac. The Contraption does work though so I'll do a trial run on a scrap top as soon as the wood arrives. Still waiting for my orders unfortunately, both of them are stuck in transit at the international post handling center due to delays (summertime workers most likely). Should have them by next week hopefully!

Rrgramps
08-14-2016, 06:20 AM
I see that Stewmac are pushing the "Safe T planer" at the moment may be you could upgrade to one of these Carl and solve the dust problem.
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Types_of_Tools/Planes/StewMac_Safe-T-Planer.html?lac_guid=18e98907-9d60-e611-80cb-ecb1d775572a&utm_campaign=M0486&utm_medium=email&utm_source=EPA&utm_content=M0486_C_20160812
Good catch, Ken.

Quote from SM...
Use the Safe-T-Planer for:
Solid guitar bodies
Necks and pegheads
Peghead overlays
Nut and saddle blanks
Fingerboards
Unjoined guitar tops and backs
Unbent guitar sides

SM says "unjoined" guitar tops and backs... Ukuleles are small enough that a few passes might work on "joined" soprano plates; don't know if it could do "joined" concert or tenor plates; anyone tried it? Will it tear out the glue joint?

Regardless, I'm putting an order in for one.

------------
Edit: not. After all these years, I reneged again. I'm liking my no. 5 hand plane for now because its quite and therapeutic.
------------
BTW, Amazon sells them too for slightly less. However, it looks a little rougher, and has a round instead of hex spindle.

How I thickness now.
http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff189/indianavaquero/music/AFF4774E-4217-4475-94B2-0758E447128B.jpg

cml
08-16-2016, 10:20 AM
I've binned the contraption. Well, not yet, but I intend to. I tried to thickness sand my spruce soundboard but even going as low as 0.2mm increments, I burned through no fewer than 3 belts. It's not going to work unfortunatly, which is too bad. I really thought it'd work since the test results were so positive, but turns out it only works for mdf, which is useless.

Got a little frustrated doing this (actually a lot), but I managed to get the pieces down to 2.5mm and even across the board at least, so right now they're being glued together. Will have to resort to a local cabinet maker - just need to find his number again :).

Good thing I ordered this spruce board as a scrap piece to practice on, even if I manage to salvage it from this failure (looks like I might) I'm bound to make more mistakes down the road.

EDIT: Gramps, I love your low tech solution. I might try it myself :)!

Vespa Bob
08-16-2016, 10:51 AM
For what it's worth, after much cogitating, some time back, I built my own drum sander from plans on the web and was initially very pleased with how it turned out and thought it would be the answer to my thicknessing problems. I soon discovered that apart from making a lot of dust, therefor requiring a vacuum attached, with it's accompanying noise, it took many passes through the drum before the wood got even close to the desired thickness. About that time I invested in a plane, a good vintage one and learned how to sharpen it. After trying it out to thickness a soundboard I was hooked! Gramps has the right idea, not only does a plane remove more wood, it is silent (apart from a delicious whishing sound), and rather than dust, it makes those delightful curls! Once you have one, you'll find many uses for it. The trick is to know how to sharpen one and keep it sharp, otherwise you'll be disappointed. I only use my drum sander for the semi final stage of thicknessing, the final stage being with a scraper, another tool you might consider investing in. Good luck in your endeavors,

Bob

Rrgramps
08-16-2016, 11:13 AM
Got a little frustrated doing this (actually a lot)

Me too. That's how we learn.
:)

Good thing I ordered this spruce board as a scrap piece to practice on, even if I manage to salvage it from this failure (looks like I might) I'm bound to make more mistakes down the road.
(Me too. LOL)

EDIT: Gramps, I love your low tech solution. I might try it myself :)!
Low tech will do until and unless a thickness sander is acquired.

Hand planing is how it used to be done, and some still do. It won't compete with Taylor, Gibson, or any modern factory -- speed wise. Plus, it takes a learning curve to produce an even-across-board surface. Sharpening to that overused phrase "scary-sharp" is a necessary necessity, and also requires a well-practiced learning curve.

I'm not there either, yet I don't want to quit again like I did in 2002. This for me, is hobby-related; and I'm ok with keeping that way. At least for now. So slow-paced hand planing works for this old dog, as I pick up on lost skills; or not.

Maybe someday, I'll be half as good as Pete and Ken. :iwant:

cml
08-17-2016, 07:26 AM
Thanks fellas!
I like the look of the safe t planer, I tried hand planing with my no 4 today, I'm not up to snuff yet...

Pete Howlett
08-17-2016, 07:55 AM
I have the answer if you will only ask....

cml
08-17-2016, 07:59 AM
I have the answer if you will only ask....
What is the answer Pete :)?

Michael N.
08-17-2016, 08:55 AM
For what it's worth, after much cogitating, some time back, I built my own drum sander from plans on the web and was initially very pleased with how it turned out and thought it would be the answer to my thicknessing problems. I soon discovered that apart from making a lot of dust, therefor requiring a vacuum attached, with it's accompanying noise, it took many passes through the drum before the wood got even close to the desired thickness. About that time I invested in a plane, a good vintage one and learned how to sharpen it. After trying it out to thickness a soundboard I was hooked! Gramps has the right idea, not only does a plane remove more wood, it is silent (apart from a delicious whishing sound), and rather than dust, it makes those delightful curls! Once you have one, you'll find many uses for it. The trick is to know how to sharpen one and keep it sharp, otherwise you'll be disappointed. I only use my drum sander for the semi final stage of thicknessing, the final stage being with a scraper, another tool you might consider investing in. Good luck in your endeavors,

Bob

Now get yourself another plane and camber the blade, set the chipbreaker back, no need for a tight mouth. Fairly aggressive blade setting and it will remove thick shavings, go straight across the grain. You'll need to make a 'holder' to capture the back, sides or soundboard. This will speed removal of material by light years.
Switch to a very finely set, finely tuned plane for the last few tenths of a mm.

Pete Howlett
08-17-2016, 08:58 AM
I'll show you tomorrow :)

cml
08-17-2016, 09:25 AM
I'll show you tomorrow :)
Thanks, I look forward to it Pete. I went at it with the planer today, with (very) limited success so hoping for a great solution :)!

I did manage to join the top fairly well though I think, at least for a first attempt...after sanding/planing off the glue etc it looks quite clean.
93475
I'm gluing together a shooting board for future attempts!

Pete Howlett
08-17-2016, 10:10 AM
I could show you how I do that as well... Be tomorrow evening by the time I've shot and edited stuff for you. All of it low tech and suited for the hobby workshop and essential for my professional set-up :)

cml
08-17-2016, 11:33 PM
I really appreciate it Pete!

Have a nice day,
Carl-Michael

Bob Orr
08-18-2016, 03:52 AM
I could show you how I do that as well... Be tomorrow evening by the time I've shot and edited stuff for you. All of it low tech and suited for the hobby workshop and essential for my professional set-up :)

Could you share with the rest of us Pete? Would be much appreciated. A link to youtube perhaps?

Regards, Bob

Pete Howlett
08-18-2016, 11:07 AM
Done: https://youtu.be/lFfL1c5MJPc

Vespa Bob
08-18-2016, 02:06 PM
:rock::rock::rock::rock: Great Idea, thanks for sharing! I don't "need" one, but I'll make it anyway!

Bob

Pete Howlett
08-18-2016, 02:19 PM
Before I made my headstock thicknesser I used it to do this difficult job. It's useful for sanding small parts and is especially good at working with very hard woods like ebony.

Vespa Bob
08-18-2016, 02:44 PM
Yes, I can definitely see uses for it, particularly with lengths of wood which are too short to run through a drum sander.

Bob

cml
08-18-2016, 07:09 PM
Done: https://youtu.be/lFfL1c5MJPc
Thank you so much for taking the time to film and share this Pete. If you ever come to the west coast of Sweden, I'll buy you a beer!

cml
08-19-2016, 02:59 AM
Edit:
Moved reply to Pete's thread. Lets consider this thread done with.