Saw Blade Cleanup

Saw blades tend to get gummed up with pitch and glue from all the various woods you saw. I have been doing a lot of hard wood and noticed some burning in my maple cuts. The blade was looking pretty gunky. I always blew off cleaning saw blades as not being that important, but decided to give it a shot. My table saw blade is pretty new and is starting to perform poorly.

There are various products out there for blade cleaning, but Internet searches suggested simple green or laundry detergent. I always keep simple green around so I started with that.

30 or so minutes of soaking later and a scrub with a stiff plastic brush and the blade looked practically brand new!

No more pitch or burned in junk. I was starting to think the carbide had some thermal damage, but no, it looks great. It worked out so well I went ahead and tried it on my big miter saw blade.

A simple green soak plus a little scrubbing puts you back on top. I was thinking I needed to replace this blade, but after the cleaning it cuts like new. Carbide wears out eventually, but not cleaning makes it seem worse than it actually is.

Kilt Belt Loop Repair

My latest kilt is going on 3 years old and has an issue with one of its belt loops. The center one in the very back is hanging on by a thread. This kilt is a few sizes smaller than my previous ones, and I have noticed that smaller pants/kilts tend to come with fewer belt loops. It may be the fewer loops, it may be the design changes utilikilt made, but for whatever reason, I need a new loop.

About 10 minutes after snapping the above picture I put the kilt on, sat down, and broke the last threads. Good thing I have an old kilt that I kept around. I figured I could cut some material out, sew it up into a belt loop, then sew that on. Turns out one of the loops on the old kilt was in really good shape.

I went after the old kilt with a thread ripper and managed to free the loop. The way they fold it over and under there ended up being a lot of material to work with. Good thing I am a hopeless hoarder!

I bought a basic sewing machine not long after college. I used it to make a few things early on, but never really picked it up as a hobby. Every year or so I break it out to fix something and completely forget how it all works. I need to make a photo guide. To make things worse I think it needs oiling.

I picked up the old kilt and sewed a few straight lines to make sure I had the stitch settings the way I wanted. When I got done I realized my mad sewing was done in the kilt I was trying to repair, not the spare parts kilt. Oops. More time spent with the thread ripper. Thankfully it wasn’t in a highly visible spot and the final damage was minimal.

With the settings all worked out I went ahead and started tacking the repair loop down. The sewing machine had a lot of issues with the thickness and I ended up with a broken needle for my troubles. I switched out the needle and was able to finish. It looks a little ugly, but feels sturdy. I went wild with the sewing and managed to sew down the tag. Oh well, no real harm done.

Once I trimmed up all the spare strings it looks nice. I need a little darker thread next time, but this will definitely keep my belt in place for another 6 months or year. I like to get 4 years out of a utilikilt if I can.

Kilt on a Hot Tin Roof

OK, so it is probably steel, but it still has a nice ring to it. The old shed at our new place could use a little love. It is 10 years old and the fasteners that hold the metal roof down appear to be in bad shape. The tops are all rusted and the rubber washer that keeps water out looks rotted. I pulled a few, and luckily none appeared to be rusted below the surface.

The shed seems to have a constant supply of leaves on top. In fact, I think that branch has been up there since before we moved in.

Some of the leaf piles had been there so long they had decomposed into a dirt/compost looking substance. The surface finish of the roof looks really rough in places.

I swept off all the leaves and debris, then gave the roof a pressure wash to clear the rest of the dirt and prep the surface for paint. Before painting I went through and replaced every screw on the roof with a new longer one.

Once all the screws were replaced I sealed everything in with two coats of a siliconized roofing compound. It looked a lot like super thick paint. Putting it on really heavily, a 5 gallon bucket gave me two coats with a little left over.

I spilled over the sides in a few places, but otherwise it all turned out well and looks nice. I hope this buys the roof another 10 years before I have to do anything. I know walking around up there was bending the sheet metal up, so I won’t make a habit. I do need to sweep off the leaves a few times a year though. That should be an easy job with a long broom and a ladder.

Table Saw Bearing Replacement

A few months back I noticed my table saw was sounding a little ill. It was louder than usual. It had trouble getting through boards that normally didn’t give it pause, and the blade would come to a stop a short few seconds after turning off the power. I had a bearing problem somewhere.

I pulled the belt off between the motor and the shaft that runs the blade (called the arbor shaft). Turning the motor on, it spins freely and takes a while to slow down. Trying to turn the arbor shaft by hand is quite difficult. Well that was a fairly easy diagnosis. Now how to fix it. Matthew Cremona made a short video demonstrating his journey of replacing the bearings in this saw. (Ridgid R5411 Table Saw purchased in September 2009) He does a good job of showing what everything looks like, but some of the technique could be improved.

Step one is to remove the table top. Remove the blade and lower the arbor all the way down (sad story about that later). There are 4 bolts around the perimeter that hold the granite beast down. Remove them and walk the table top off onto a surface of similar height. This will expose the arbor shaft. There are two big bearings (6004zz) located here (under each red arrow), one of them is likely the culprit.

Now that everything is open I would suggest some lubrication. PB blaster is pretty well rated and available at a lot of auto parts stores. Spray everything that will need to slide and come back in a day or two. That stuff can creep into places for days. Raise the arbor back to the top, remove the pulley and use a block to push out the shaft like Matthew shows. I used a really big dowel to hammer out the bearing that gets left over (left side in above picture). What I ended up with was this below.

That right most bearing is tricky. It has to slide off of its resting surface, and the one for the left most bearing. Lube helps a lot, and so does the right tool. I picked up a cheap bearing splitter kit and am glad I did. There isn’t much room between the bearing and that flange that goes against the blade. The splitter wedged itself between the two and started the bearing moving towards freedom.

The big red vise from a few weeks ago is going to come in handy now! Next I installed the rest of the hardware to start pulling up on the bearing. The extensions were not long enough. Thankfully they were 1/4″-20 threads. I cut up some threaded rod I had around and got to work.

With two adequate threaded rods installed a double fork thing hooks in and has its own threaded center to push on the shaft. A socket wrench helps provide some umph.

Careful application of force was all it took to take everything completely apart. Here is what it looks like with all the bits fully disassembled. The right most bearing was very much seized.

I broke out my new bearings (6004zz) and was a little disgusted. They had surface rust on the outside races. Both sets were individually sealed, but still had rust.

They were all I had and a little fine scotch bright pad took it right off. I used light sanding to make a lead in chamfer on all the bearing surfaces to help with initial seating. I hammered the right bearing back into place using a piece of 3/4″ PVC pipe. Most 3/4″ pipes should do, always apply load to the race you are seating. Inner in this case. The left bearing went back in with a parallel clamp just like in Matt’s video.

Everything was going well until I paid closer attention to the pulley. I had a section that was really dinged up. I had the blade off, but the arbor was near the top when I walked the granite top off. The top sat and slid around on this pulley with its delicate grooves. OOPS! I still can’t quite figure out what this is exactly called, or where to get a replacement. Careful use of needle files and a dremel got the rolled edges out of the way. I have used it a while and so far, no shredded belts.

With the drive system back together I dropped the arbor, waked the top back on and proceeded to re-align the saw. The miter slots should be square with the side of the blade. The only method of “fine” tuning available is to loosen the screws, bang it with a mallet and check again. Tedious, but I got there eventually.

I attached my dial indicator to a sled to make it all go faster. Once aligned I was back in business. Good thing too, I have done a lot of plywood cutting since this repair and have more to do.

In summary, the video linked at the beginning is a good general guide. Additionally, get a basic bearing splitter set to help ease things along. Use good penetrating oil to help in removal. Clean up everything and apply oil for re-assembly.

Chimney Cover

Home buying is a nerve racking experience. Thrills and surprises await you around every corner. One big one is the home inspection. On something as big as a house there are always items that crop up. You have to decide if they are deal breakers, or if you can take the risk of them being worse than the inspection indicated.

One thing that came up on ours was that the chase cover on the chimney was rusted. It was a surface rust, no emergency, but something to not ignore. A winter break gave me the time, and cooler weather, to get up there and do something about it while not dying of heat stroke. Close inspection revealed that it wasn’t bad and some cleanup plus paint would add many more years of life.

The big square chimney cover bridges the gap between the chimney pipe (might not be the right term) and the wooden structure sicking out of the house. My plan was to take it off, bring it to ground level and do all the paint work. The trick was I couldn’t figure out how to get that top little set of square covers off. I tried rotating the assembly but was worried something in the wall would come apart. 10 minutes of googling while on the roof didn’t give me a good answer.

Chimneys are completely new to me, so I am just feeling my way through all this. The section of roof is pretty tame so I took a grinder up there and did everything on the roof.

Sure enough, the rust wasn’t that deep. I knocked it, and as much other crud off as a I could with a wire wheel and came back with a coarse sander pad. There is still a lot of zinc left, but I had read a self etching primer would bond well with it. A few coats of that, and It was way too hot to keep working.

I came back the next day, sanded the primer and used a full can of high temperature white enamel. Even early in the morning the metal was getting hot and the paint dried too quickly. It isn’t a great paint job, but looks fine from down below. The original plan was to do this all on the ground in the shade. If I had known from the get go I was going to be working on the roof I might have opted to brush on something instead.

I replaced the rusted screw hardware with epoxy coated torx head screws. There is a thin band of metal that covers the gap between the pipe and the newly painted cover. The old one was pretty rusted, but a local fireplace store had new ones, so I replaced it. Not my finest repair overall, but it won’t be rusting through any time soon. When this needs work again I might be calling a fireplace expert of some sort.

Plumbing Nightmares

I actually had a nightmare the other night about paint.  We owned a house and for some reason had cut out a huge part of a wall, but were going to put it back ourselves (lots of drywall work).  I looked at one of the remaining walls and the sheen of the paint used was all over the map, flat to gloss.  Someone started painting and accidentally mixed in streaks of black and other colors.  I awoke from that nightmare into one that might be worse.  A broken pipe in the wall.

The new house’s two spare bathrooms have pedestal sinks.  They look fine, but as I found out are dreadful to work on.  I think they must install all the faucet and drain hardware, then move them into position on the stand.  My simple faucet switch out turned into a total sink removal.

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But wait, there’s more!  Every supply valve in this house leaks when you touch it.  The valves are CPVC pipes with some kind of copper washer crushed on.  Impossible to remove.  In trying to get the valve apart so I could cut close to that copper washer I broke the cold line off in the wall.  This was at about 8:30 at night.  Crestfallen doesn’t begin to describe my state.

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Yeah, this little guy right here.  I don’t trust CPVC any more, and wish they had used copper instead.  I cut a hole in the wall and inspected.  The next day my oscillating multitool and I had made a big hole in the wall and repaired the pipe.

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Not exactly gorgeous, but no leaks and I could have the water turned on again.  With this big gash, reinstalling the pedestal sink was not going to happen.

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We picked out a nice little vanity that matched the rest of the bathroom to replace it.  The pedestal sink was high enough that a lot of drywall mudding and painting had to happen before the new vanity could be installed.  Friday night I broke the pipe off.  By Monday I had the pipe repaired, the wall patched primed and painted, and the new vanity in.  That is what a long weekend can do for ya.

In the mean time we removed the other bathroom’s pedestal sink and replaced it with a similar vanity, replaced both toilets, and took care of a half dozen other small things.  It will all be over soon.

Printer Upgrade Part 2

Last we left our printer saga, everything was quite broken, and I was waiting on parts.  The 625z bearings came in and I put the extruder motor back together.  When I could easily turn it by hand, I knew my extruder problems were solved.  Sure enough, I can extrude PETG at high speeds and no jams.  The hot end was not to blame.  I did develop a new problem though.

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That is the status of my end stops.  The printer thinks the inductive sensor is touching the bed even though it is nowhere close.  I had an occasional issue with the inductive sensor reading poorly.  That has become constant now, all my messing with the cables finished off my probe.  I can’t start a print without that probe.  I massaged the cable and found a spot that flipped the 1 to a 0.  Time to troubleshoot.

Ok, so the cable is pretty well shot.  I opened the jacket where the issues was, but couldn’t figure out the exact problem.  They used very thin wire, it could be a break within the jacket.  I just cut most of the cable and redid the wiring.  That got me back up and running.  I printed everything I needed for the upgrade plus spares in both PETG and PLA.


I double checked all the instructions to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and started with the tear down.  On the plus side I am really good at disassembling the whole hot end/extruder!  It looks so naked.

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I only ran into one small snag.  The part that holds the x-belt wasn’t accepting the belt on the right hand side.  I printed 3 different versions, and they all had the same issue.  I took that part off and worked around the groove with a hobby knife.  It eventually relented and let the belt seat fully.

After that, the extruder assembly was pretty straight forward.

The bed assembly was a breeze.  I like most of the changes they made to the cable management, and think this will be more robust.  How the rats nest gets handled in the controller box could be a little better though.  Maybe just a bigger box.

I went through the calibration wizard, did some nozzle height testing, then printed a smart looking benchy.  Dimensionally it is great, but course settings mean it isn’t cosmetically the best.

I am thrilled to be over the failures, and proud of myself for solving all the issues.  Given that is almost exactly the 1 year anniversary of getting this printer, I decided to share a few stats.

Printer Stats:

  • 380 successful prints (more than a few failures, especially these last 2 weeks)
  • 44.7 days spent printing (12% of its life)
  • 6.3km of filament