Porch Handrailing


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Normally, this would be considered a carpentry job, and not really woodworking, but this case calls in some woodworking.

The porch on a house we're preparing to rent is not quite 3' off the ground, and never had any handrails.  We don't want to rent it without that safety in place.  We also don't want to cut any more of the view out, so we don't want any heavy parts.

In the Summer of 2019 I bought some 4x6's for the process of saving a chimney that was collapsing on a 1798 house.  When we pulled them down, I stacked them on stickers in a shed.  They are as dry as they will get, and have lost over half the weight of pressure treated wood from a building supplier.  I had exactly the number I needed to get the 1-7/8 x 2-3/4 pieces out of.  I don't have anything else I can get them out of, and didn't really want to go looking for something that doesn't exist anywhere close to us.

The bandsaw base was made for this job, so I could get it outside.  I rolled it down the short ramp outside that building, and left it on the slant so gravity helped me keep them against the fence. 

I clamped a board near the width of the piece being run, but it was not really tight enough too push against the 4x's.  It just kept anything from getting too far away from the fence.  I ran the pieces to about 2-1/4 to get the 1-7/8's out of.  I didn't set up roller stands, but just man handled them.

Every piece had the pith in it, and the majority of the wood was juvenile wood.  I really would not have bet any money that at least half of them would have gone completely haywire.   Not a single piece did!   Only one piece had any stress in it, and that not too much to keep me from using those two pieces that came out of it as the bottom rails for the floor to help hold the bow up.  I'll get into the details as I build them.

For today, I just ran all the rough pieces.  I feel extremely lucky with this so far.

The bandsaw was very easy to handle, but I couldn't roll it back up the ramp, so I pushed it back in the building with the tractor.

A 24" bandsaw is almost a completely different machine than the more common 14"er's.  It laid these 4x's open like it was no work at all.

Balusters with be 1/2" round black aluminum, with as close to 4" open spaces as I can make them, keeping every space the same width.

 

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I'll show my low tech protection to the VFD.  It's just a furnace filter tied around it.  Works like a charm.  No dust got in the VFD.  I blew everything off with a leaf blower before putting the machine back away, and there was nothing to blow out of the VFD or its cooling fins.

I VFD can convert single phase power, that I have here, to 3 phase for the bandsaw motor.  It also can control other things like speed, direction, and spool up speed.

 

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The pieces are somewhat irregular, as expected running them like this, but nothing a few extra passes through a planer can't take care of.  I ran them all full length although none are really needed that long.  One pair has a big bow on one end, but the bow is past what I need for the handrails going down beside the steps.

 

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Only one piece has stress in it, and not really enough to keep me from using the two pieces that came out of it.  I've seen, and expected worse.  Pictures are halfway through the cut, and after.  Full length only opened up about 5/8".

 

 

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That's going to be a nice railing, Tom! Having done my deck railing with those black aluminum balusters, I can verify that they have minimal impact on the view.

I used a story stick to mark my baluster spacing, with marks from the center outward. It seemed to be less noticable to have any deviation in spacing to occur on each side of the 4x posts, where the pattern is already interrupted. It sure made locating the rails go faster.

Come to think of it, I made a video:

 

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I always use dividers to step them off.  No difference in any of the spacing.  With dividers that have a screw adjuster, step the length off, and if it doesn't work out exactly, the slightest turn of the adjuster can make a difference, and go again with the stepping off.  I step off each section if they are not all exactly the same.

I have an 8" jointer buried in another building here.  I'm going to dig that out tomorrow to use for this.  I have a complete shop setup in one of the old houses I look after, but it's 10 miles away, and I can't be more than two minutes away if Pam needs me to lift my Mother, so I'm making out with what I have here, and really kind of enjoying the extra challenge.  I'm getting stuff done that I needed to do anyway, like making those mobile bases.

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It took me about an hour to get the old 8" jointer out of this building.  It wasn't on a mobile base, but I had one for it already.

This building started as a 16x36 horse trailer shed 40 years ago-the part where the scaffold planks are seen hanging in this picture.  A couple of decades later I added on a 16 x 36 shop to one side of that, and then soon after that added on another 16' down the other side of that.  It was too small to do much work in, so quickly became just storage after I quit using a stepvan for building houses.  It's about a hundred feet from the house, and a little over 100 yards from the larger building I'm using now.

I bought this Delta 8" at a school auction in 1975, the same auction that I bought the drill press I just built a mobile base for.  I haven't used it since the last new house I built in 2007.

I'll move it to the other building with the tractor.

 

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On 5/17/2022 at 12:59 PM, Tom King said:

Here's the porch they're going on.

The rental price should start off at $1000 just for the view. All else is extra. Is there a sunrise or sunset viewed from that porch? 

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Today's step in this process is just to move a tablesaw to the building where I'm working. 

This is a Powermatic 62.  It's the predecessor to the 64, and Much heavier built.  Both the top and wings are solid cast iron.  It does have the best mobility kit that I've ever seen on a contractor saw.  The wheels at the back are close to the floor when it's sitting on all four legs.  On the front, there are two handles that fold down when you don't need them.  Lift them up, and you can move the machine like a wheelbarrow.

I bought this new in 1975, and it was onsite at every house I built from then through 1992, when I found the Unisaw.  No dust collection, of course, but it cuts as good as a cabinet saw.

I don't know what it weighs, but horsing it around, it feels like it weighs more than the 8" jointer.

It was the last woodworking machine in that building, and I'm glad to get it out of there.  I had used it a few times in that building by opening both the doors right where it sat, but I didn't do that but a couple of times.  I don't think it's been used since around 1994.  I burned up the stock 1-1/2hp motor sometime around 1980, and replaced it with a 2hp.  I'll clean it, and lube everything before I start it again.

 

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2 hours ago, Tom King said:

 It does have the best mobility kit that I've ever seen on a contractor saw.  The wheels at the back are close to the floor when it's sitting on all four legs.  On the front, there are two handles that fold down when you don't need them.  Lift them up, and you can move the machine like a wheelbarrow.

I rigged up a very similar mobility system for my old 9" Rockwell Beaver contractor saw. It was, bar none, the worst table saw I've ever used, but it had great mobility :)

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Nothing to show on this today, but I do have that tablesaw operating smoothly.  It was really gunked up with Pine gunk.  It's cut some number of thousands of feet of Yellow Pine in its life.  The tilt ways were pretty rusty too.  I cleaned it all up, and used 30 weight oil on the ways, and blade raise mechanism.  That may collect stuff worse than dry lube, but I felt like it needed it. When that gets gummed up, I'll clean it with carb cleaner, and use dry lube, but for now, it's unbelievable how smoothly everything operates.

The arbor bearings were making a little bit of noise, but there is no slop.  I compromised the seals slightly, and got some gear oil in them.  It runs smoothly now, but I doubt it will last long.  I'd like to just get this job done with it, and leave that for later.

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3 hours ago, Tom King said:

That may collect stuff worse than dry lube, but I felt like it needed it.

I had a good discussion with the SawStop tech about what lube was best to use under the table. Their recommendation is marine wheel bearing grease, but he said just about any grease would do. He also said specifically to NOT use a dry lube. It makes everything feel like it's working smoothly, but has almost no high pressure lubricating ability and will greatly shorten the life of those parts.

It is extremely satisfying breathing new life into an old machine by cleaning, lubing & adjusting things.

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How much high pressure are we dealing with?  It seems to me most of the wear would just be from friction without much pressure at all.   I've never found anything I consider ideal, but don't want to, and never have used grease.  To me, oil is a lot easier to wash out of anything than grease.

This machine has probably seen more use than it was ever intended for, and all the mating surfaces are in fine shape if not for the rust from sitting for a couple of decades.  I expect it's seen more WD40 than anything else, and I know that's far from ideal.  It's never been babied.  We used to flip it upside down into a pickup to move it from site to site, which was really just once a year.

I'm liking a few drops of 30W right now.  

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Using dry lube in several places I don’t want dust has not led to any premature wear. I question this advice as universal. Teflon is my go-to. I think the difference is the tolerance built into table saw gearing to allow for the grease they intend. 

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I've used dry Teflon for the majority of the time on my Unisaw and don't believer it's suffered any from it. 

I think the most important thing is that there is little friction in the parts that rub together for tilt, and raise, which lessens any pressure on the rack and pinion gears.  If anything is hard to move, clean and lube, and never force the wheels. 

I don't like using grease even on the gears because they always get gunked up with sawdust, and require more frequent cleaning.  The one saw that has a blade shroud requires the least amount of such cleaning and lubing, but the ones that don't need it every few weeks when heavily used.

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The tablesaw arbor bearings are really starting to complain, but the saw cut smoothly.  It looks like I'm going to be able to get this job done with it.  I started to make some hold in fingers.  I have plenty at the old house where I have a full setup, but I can't leave long enough to go there to get them.  I decided to just run them.  They came out fine, and one pass with the no. 8 should clean the sawn side right up.

 

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Two of the short pieces were not good enough to use, but I found a couple of really twisted 4x4x16's that have been dry in the shed for years.  I cut one of them in two 8' pieces to try to get the two 7'3" pieces I need for the step railing.

I have one piece straightened and squared on two sides on the jointer before stopping for lunch.  I took the belly out of the middle first and was able to straighten a bit over half of one end, then turned it around.  Once I had one side flat, that side was held against the fence, one half flattened, and turned around to catch the twist on the other end.  It barely leaves enough wood to get the 2"x3" piece out of it that I need.

What was that maximum length you can straighten on a jointer again?  No aids were used other than my hands and eye.

This HTC mobile base is really aggravating after using the ones I built.  They shouldn't call them "mobile bases", but "sorta mobile base".

 

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After getting the first one done before lunch, the second one went a lot easier after lunch.   I'll let them sit tonight, and if they haven't moved any by tomorrow, I'll run the finished sizes out of them.  I did have to turn this one end for end several times.

 

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