Custom Wood Craft

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By terrawooddesign, Dec 17 2017 07:45PM

If you've been to our shop or taken our classes you know we like to run Festool sanders in conjunction with Festool Vacs. Together they make a heck of a good (relatively) dustless sanding system but there is a catch. This system is spendy and to add to it, the Festool vacuum bags are NOT cheap. We spend about $5 per bag everytime we catch a gallon of dust and we make a lot of dust! It's not uncommon for us to go thru 2 or 3 bags a day.

Enter Oneida's Dust Deputy. I've seen this odd contraption before at woodworking shows but always passed it off as just another gimmick being marked to hobby woodworkers. It's a type of cyclone seperator that swirls the air around and allows the dust and big stuff to drop out of the incoming air and fall into a dedicated dust bin BEFORE it goes into the Festool vacs $5 bag. At a little over $200 it's about the same price as 40 Festool vac bags. We smoke thru vac bags like crazy so I decided to try one. They SUCK in a great way. The dust does indeed fall into the bin before it has a chance to make it into the vac bag and the vacuum suction is just as good with the Dust Deputy conncected as it is without.

I should have invested in this Dust Deputy system long ago but I was a bit of a skeptic. It might be a little cumbersom to haul on the road but for use in a woodshop I can say I highly recommend it. If you are not on the Festool bandwagon there is a stand alone version of this that fits on a 5 gallon bucket. I have not tried the stand alone version but I plan to equip our jobsite tools with these now that I know how well they suck.

Find the Festool version HERE or the stand alone type HERE

Cheers to clean air and less vac bags!

By terrawooddesign, Dec 13 2017 02:43PM

We get calls quite often from friends and clients about standing trees that they would like to sell or "donate" to us. You know, the tree that has been littering the yard for years with walnuts and now it's time to get it the heck out of there, this is the typical offering. Sounds great until you do the math and add things up. Let's have a look:

Cost to cut tree down without taking out the owners house: $250-$1000

Cost to "buck" the tree fallen tree into smaller logs and remove all of the limbs from site: $250 - $1000

Cost to repair any yard damage that occurred during felling: $ who knows

Cost to run a traditional sawmill: $800/day

Cost to haul the lumber to storage for drying $250 - $1000

Your probably starting to get the picture. It's VERY expensive to take a tree down even if it's "donated" and there is always the chance that once it's down, the tree is rotten or is full of various bits of cultural artifacts - nails, bullets, fence posts. It's a gamble and we haven't even talked about the cost of drying the wood by either hiring kiln services or air drying at a rate of 1 year per inch of thickness.

The tree part, that can be a bit tricky. So what's a woodworker to do? You either have to make your own lumber or pay the hefty price for convience. With lumber prices going thru the roof and the quality of lumber being what it is these days, we really enjoy going Alaskan. So what is an Alaskan you might be asking? Well the story goes like Alaskan mill is a contraption that connects to a chainsaw allowing the chainsaw to become a portable sawmill. These little mills were design probably in Alaska and probably eons ago for "bush folks" who could not get a regular bandsaw mill deep into the woods to mill lumber OR who could not afford to layout $10k plus for traditional sawmill. You know, the homesteader DIY type, the kind of folks that Discovery Channel likes to make reality TV shows about. All one really needs to mill trees into lumber is a big capable chainsaw, an Alaskan jig and some muscle....oh, and of coarse some trees.

Take a walk thru a forest and you will find many a standing tree but you will also find windfall trees. For someone with an Alaskan rig this is the perfect situation. A fallen tree without the liability associated with working in someones yard. We are fortunated enough to have a few friends who own "managed forests" in NW Indiana. Big lumber companies come in and selectively cut the big straight trees. They skid out the long straight logs and leave all the rest. They dont mess with windfalls, burly log sections or damaged trees. Their refuse pile is a GOLD mine for decomposing fungi and woodworkers like us with Alaskan mills. Big thanks to R.H. for allowing us to glean the woods this season!

Our Alaskan mill attached to a Stihl 660 Mag saw
Our Alaskan mill attached to a Stihl 660 Mag saw
About 4 hours of work with an Alaskan
About 4 hours of work with an Alaskan
Big wide American Black Cherry
Big wide American Black Cherry
Indiana cultural artifacts
Indiana cultural artifacts