bernie bottens

Waterborne Versus Non-UV Coatings

At AWFS, a woodshop owner was seeking solutions for meeting California VOC compliance rules, spray booths, fire suppression systems, and weighing water-borne vs. solvent-borne finishing systems.

Imitation is The Highest Form of Flattery

Charles Caleb Colton sure had it right when he stated that!I was renting a work bench at Rosemont Design Group in Portland, Oregon recently.  As a guy with no shop of his own, I sometimes need to rent time in a shop to accomplish my bigger projects.In this case, I was building a large order of fixtures.  I always struggle with sanding them.  They have big, flat sides.  All four sides slope inwards at 10 degrees so laying them on their side on the bench to sand them causes a certain amount of hate and discontent.  My random orbital sander makes the fixture crawl across the bench because of the interaction between the sander and the 20 degree cumulative angle that presents itself.I’m guessing that I have built thousands of these fixtures while searching for the best way to hold them while I sand.  I must have been complaining about my trials at the time because my Rosemont shop buddy, Steve Hawley, said that they had some vacuum clamps that might just work for what I was doing.Steve was right.  The two identical jigs that he gave me to use were the best idea I had seen and perfect for my needs.  I knew right then that I needed to build a set of these of my own so that I would have these valuable tools for the next production runs of my fixtures.Based upon a vacuum clamp made by V-Clamp and sold on-line by Lee Valley Tools,,43838, the clamp works in conjunction with compressed air to hold flat items very securely.  As a footnote, I have also noticed that Virutex is now selling the same device under their brand name.Compressed air moving through the clamp creates vacuum via a small venturi.  That vacuum sucks the work piece down upon a cylindrical rubber gasket around the edge of the clamp and pulls the work piece firmly down onto the clamp.The clamp gasket can be configured in a number of sizes and shapes to accommodate your needs.  In my case, I felt that if one clamp was good, then two clamps working together would be even better.  I was right about that and I use two clamps in one jig to sand my big fixtures.  But two is too big for my smaller fixtures, so I have one jig configured to work with one clamp.  And while cutting out these parts, just in case, I made an extra single clamp base so that I can configure both jigs as single clamp jigs if the need arises.The jig itself is really simple.  I used a piece of ½” MDF that I cut to 16” X 24.”  The standoffs on the ends are 16” X 1.5” X 2.”  They help stabilize large projects.  The block under the clamp(s) is 1” thick.  I drilled the 2” hole in one standoff so that I had room to grip the air hose connector.  I mounted the valve on a .125” block to put it more into the middle of its hole.I will add some loop Velcro to the tops of the standoffs to cushion the work piece and keep scratches, etc. from happening.Just clamp the jig to your benchtop, hook up the air, lay the fixture on top, and throw the “switch” that turns on the air flow into the clamp.  The work piece sucks down and you’re ready to go to work.  Who could ask for anything more?Well, consider this.  What if you have a need for a jig that will hold something vertically instead of horizontally, like mine?  Then you could develop a jig that would mount to the leg of your bench or, perhaps, to your bench vise.  The applications are only limited by your imagination.But, at the end of the day, the important things are that we get our sanding done, that we do it well, and all of that with the minimal amount of messing around.  For most woodworkers, sanding is that most important of jobs that we love to hate.  Here’s an idea that should help make life easier.  I know that it does mine.  My hat’s off to my buddies at Rosemont and I certainly hope that they know that I appreciate their creativity.  At the same time, I hope they feel flattered by my sharing their idea with my readers.Until next time…spray on!