Reader Reactions: Oilstones, Track Saws, Fractal Burning

Reader Reactions: Oilstones, Track Saws, Fractal Burning

In response to last issue’s Q&A on flattening oilstones, we received a couple of responses from readers mentioning alternative methods they have used personally. – Editor

“A number of years ago, a couple of oilstones came to me from my father’s workshop when he passed away. They had been used for many years and were badly in need of flattening. I simply went to the driveway and, moving the stones in a figure-eight pattern on the concrete surface, flattened them in a few short minutes.  This removed the soiled stone and left the surfaces almost like new.  Some fresh lightweight oil, and I was back to sharpening again.” – Gordon Patnude

“I have just completed reading your article on using an oilstone or stone for sharpening. Years ago, I purchased a book on knife sharpening and the information enclosed suggested never using oil or even water while sharpening. They had attached photos magnified several hundred times showing the floating grit created when using oil or water made for an uneven sharpening on the device sharpened. This may seem rather strange with items commonly referred to as oilstones but, using the advice from this book, I have for years utilized this system when sharpening knives and such by hand. I had hoped to name this book to give you some reference but apparently long ago had given it to one of my four sons. I do own a Tormek grinder and have only tried using it without water once or twice without any noticeable difference in quality of the sharpening or differential in wear of the stone but didn’t expect to notice a wear difference. While most people will not spend a great deal of time learning to put a more sharp edge on a tool or a knife, I have been pleased with the help it provided to me over the past number of years. Thanks for the many interesting articles!”  – Dale Guibert

One reader helped Rob understand the background behind the “catbird seat” expression he used in his editorial. – Editor

“Included here is a very good link explaining what the catbird seat is: I was on an Audubon Society walk a couple of years ago when the leader heard a catbird. (You hear many birds before you see them). She then scanned the tops of the tallest trees, and there she found the catbird.” – Fred Howley

And, we heard some additional Feedback on track saws – this reader falls into the camp of “too expensive for me.” – Editor

“Hey, give us hobby guys a break about not owning a track saw. With the price of the track saw and needed accessories to use it maybe at best 10-12 times a year, the math wasn’t hard for me.  To cut a 4×8 Plywood longwise, extra track runs up the price and extra track is even needed, I
believe, to cut across 4 feet. For a long time, I used my existing saw and an 8-foot long aluminum angle piece  ($15) clamped down solid to guide
my Skilsaw. Most of my long cuts are 4 feet or less, and now I use my 50-inch Emerson All-In-One clamp ($41.00).  I just mark where I want to cut, put a premeasured block of wood which I keep handy to account for the distance between the guide and my saw blade, lay it against the line, and place the clamp on the other side. If my volume of commissioned projects was enough to warrant $565 + for a Festool track saw, I would really love to have one, but for 4 foot and shorter cuts, I doubt if my setup time takes any longer and I think the accuracy of the cut is a wash.
Thanks for your magazine, weekly emails and ideas.” – Ben Dady

Several readers also expressed concern about the safety of the process employed by the subject of last issue’s Today’s Woodworker article. – Editor

“While the subject article is interesting and illustrates some of the magnificent artistic effects fractal burning can produce, I found it appalling that there was so little emphasis on the extreme danger of using this process, particularly with DIY equipment. Here in Washington state, there have been at least two electrocution fatalities associated with using this process. It is also my understanding that some of the nationally recognized woodturning organizations have banned the use of the process for embellishing turned objects.

“I, personally, have witnessed the use of this process, which indeed is fascinating and is capable of producing spectacular results. However, handling extremely high voltage equipment by persons not trained in the use of such equipment, without the use of certified high-voltage protective equipment, is a fatality waiting to happen. I have seen some of the YouTube videos of this process by people using home brew DIY equipment and have been appalled at the cavalier attitude toward the dangers of the extremely high voltages used in this process. Many of them treat these high voltages as being no more dangerous than dealing with the 120/240 VAC residential service in their homes. Mr. Blomquist is very fortunate not to be on the list of fatalities. He cites the voltage of his DIY equipment as 2000VAC — I would not be surprised if it is between two and five times that much, especially since he noted that he used multiple transformers to increase the voltage!” – Paul M. Stoops

GYRO Air G700 Dust Processor Preview

GYRO Air G700 Dust Processor Preview

While dust collection isn’t woodworking’s most riveting topic, few of us will argue against its importance for both a clean shop and long-term respiratory health. Trouble is, most conventional dust collectors are louder than we’d like them to be, and their efficiency at capturing the really fine, harmful dust is dubious.

Harvey Industries intends to take dust collection a quantum leap forward with the GYRO Air G700 Dust Processor. (They’ve even included windows atop their turbines.)

These two stainless steel chambers contain a series of aerodynamic cones that both slow the incoming air down to catch coarse debris and then spin it quickly for finer filtration.

Its silver, twin cylinders on top are where most of the machine’s high-efficiency separation happens. When dirty air enters the G700’s 6″ inlet, it passes through two levels of separation. First, an internal double cone slows down the air so that heavier debris and dust can drop down into a preliminary separation container. Then, the finer dust particle stream that remains is pushed through a turbine-shaped cone with aerodynamic vanes. This fixed turbine increases the air speed to over 4,000 rpm to separate 99.9 percent of the remaining dust particles, Harvey reports. It’s a process they call “axial centrifugation.” That finer debris drops into a secondary container. Any molecule-sized dust that’s left enters two pleated filters on the right end of the machine that trap it. Inside each filter, a brush can be manually agitated with the red knobs on top for quick filter cleaning. That dust falls into two capped cleanout pipes on the bottom right end.

Where some dust collectors promise to trap particles down to around .5-micron, the GYRO G700 beats the European standard in testing by 50 percent, with an air emission cleanliness level of .05 mg/cubic meter. In other words, once dust enters the machine, Harvey Industries’ goal is that none at all will escape.

GYRO operates at a noise rating of 61 to 72dbA — about conversation level. The company credits its quieter operation to locating the 12″ cast-aluminum impeller inside a cabinet and to the efficient airflow offered by the turbine design. Other conventional dust collectors generate more air noise because their impeller housings are more exposed, and they smash dust into the walls of the filters and collection bags rather than channeling it more smoothly.

A clear Y fitting attaches to GYRO’s 6″ inlet. You can attach a 4″ hose plus a 2″ hose, using the included reducer adapter, or two 4″ hoses by removing the adapter.

A 2hp (three-phase) induction motor powers the system; it’s controlled by a Siemens inverter that switches incoming 220-volt single-phase power into three-phase. This improves electrical efficiency over a standard single-phase motor, and it enables the G700 to have variable-speed control. You can dial the suction up or down to suit the demand at hand. While the machine develops an unrestricted airflow of 1,110 cubic feet per minute (CFM), its maximum airflow through a 4″ hose is about 700 CFM. An included clear Y adapter enables both a 4″ and 2″ hose to be connected to two tools simultaneously.

GYRO’s 32-gallon capacity dust bin is easy to empty: open the front cabinet door, unlock the bin’s seal, and roll it out. Debris collects in plastic bags for easy removal.

Once the machine fills up, it turns off automatically and a buzzer sounds. Then, cleaning the divided bin is easy: just open the front cabinet door, flip a lever and roll it out on wheels; the container holds 32 gallons of debris in removable plastic bags.

Four heavy-duty casters and a handle on one end enable the G700 to be rolled wherever it’s needed most.

GYRO’s horizontal design is meant to be compact: it measures 56-1/4″ long, 23-1/2″ deep and 33-7/8″ tall. A top handle on one end and heavy-duty casters make it easier to roll around, despite the fact that the machine weighs 445 pounds, empty.

The GYRO Air G700 Dust Processor sells for $3,495 and is available now. Learn more about it at the website