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Slab Flattening Fixture: build thread

Discussion in 'Milling & Saw Mills' started by BlueRider, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. Jesse snowden

    Jesse snowden ArboristSite Operative

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    So I do have a question for you my friend. Why did you go the extra mile as you did? I don't mean it sarcastically at all.

    I flatten slabs with scrap wood and they come out perfectly flat. Joint a couple 2x4's, clamp them to my flattened work top, and shims to balance out the twist. Once one side is done there is no need to shim the other side, just a jack plane to take off the fuzzies. no doubt your work station gets it all done and is smooth to use, but did you see a great need to make such a piece? Or just wanted a dedicated spot to do it instead of taking up another bench top? Great work with the welding either way, looks fantastic :)
     
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  2. kimosawboy

    kimosawboy ArboristSite Operative

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    I'am curious as to your answer to the above question as well.
    Besides taking up a chunk of floor space, you are limited to your slab width??
    I use the same approach of 2 sticks of wood and shims and I never have had a problem, my sled is good up to 48" but I can easily stretch it to whatever and when done I just hang the sled on the wall..
     
  3. BlueRider

    BlueRider ArboristSite Guru

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    I should probably start by saying that I had an immediate need to flatten a 33" x 10' slab of claro walnut. Other than that there were several reasons I built what I did and the way I did:

    First off I have a very small shop and have no outdoor paved area to work on. My shop space is so small that there isn't room to set up for a 33" wide 10' long slab, other than in the same space as my table saw and extend from there into the open area of my shop. The saw wasn't wide enough to use as a surface to support a couple of 2x4's, nor was it long enough. That lead me to the idea of making something that could be repeatedly put together and taken apart for storage.

    I suppose I could have made what I did out of wood, but over time it would likely warp and move a bit. I've never had any 2x4's, even kiln dried ones, stored for several years and have them stay straight and true. That led me to think about using 2 x 6 metal studs, but as I thought about the other details I eventually settled on square and rectangular tubing. I have nearly 150 slabs, almost 90 of which are walnut and similar in size to the test slab I flattened. There is no way a wood jig would hold up the the wear and tear of flattening even half that many slabs without being rebuilt.

    Perhaps the best reason for making it out of metal is because I can. I have a TIG welder and a metal cold cut saw so in some ways it is just as fast for me to build in metal. The time consuming part of my build was the need for it to be bolt together and I could have simplified that part but I did it the way I did so I could easily assemble it by myself and easily change the length of the rails as well as substitute different height rails for thicker slabs.

    Before starting my build I think I looked at every Youtube video and every photo and video on Instagram of any kind of slab flattening set up. One thing I noticed was that a lot of guys that do this for a living or at least as a money making gig have some sort of wood /metal mixture to their builds or all metal. That told me that others had also done a cost benefit analysis and come the the same conclusion as me. My goal was to make something that was simple to use as well as sturdy and maintenance free. In some ways my Granberg mill inspired at least the spirit of my build. It is amazingly simple, reasonable sturdy and maintenance free. And just like with your question about why not use wood, there are ways of building a milling jig out of wood blocks and all thread, and I have no doubt they work and meet the needs of those that use them, just as I'm sure your wood sled and 2x4 flattening jig meets your needs.
     
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  4. wombler

    wombler ArboristSite Member

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    Best reason to do anything.
     
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  5. Jesse snowden

    Jesse snowden ArboristSite Operative

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    Because I can is the only reason anyone needs. Haha awesome! I must have missed the part where it bolts together, that makes a lot more sense. Have you thought of using your welding experience to put together a mill? Or have you already done that? :)
     
  6. BlueRider

    BlueRider ArboristSite Guru

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    At one point I considered building a bandmill or something like a Procut but I started milling so I would have wood to use not to sell and with the stockpile I have I'm concentrating my time on using up the wood I have rather than milling more. I still mill wood with my chainsaw but it has to be something special.
     
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  7. Calisdad

    Calisdad ArboristSite Lurker

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    Christmas in July ! Sanitary is the word that comes to mind.

    So what kind of dogs do you have?
     
  8. BlueRider

    BlueRider ArboristSite Guru

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    Thanks. I have Borzoi. I've hunted with them in the past but with the two I have now I do mostly racing
     
  9. Czech_Made

    Czech_Made ArboristSite Operative

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    Ha, my wife dreams of Borzois, how do you like the breed?
     
  10. BlueRider

    BlueRider ArboristSite Guru

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    I've had borzoi for over 20 years, always at least 2 and for a short time as many as 5. They are a fantastic breed, very laid back and easy going. Even when owning several they are strongly bonded to their owners and very affectionate. They really don't require much room as long as they get regular walks and an occasional run. However they are a hunting breed and will chase anything that moves and for that reason they need a fenced yard. At one time I had a cat and he was very wise, when the dogs would run in the house he would turn around and ignore them and they would jump over him without touching a hair. if a stray cat jumps into the yard it is nearly always a fatal mistake. They are very intelligent, just not in the same way as a Lab. I had a male that I used to hunt with and he used to lunge at seemingly random bushes while hunting. It took me a while to realize he was lunging at bushes that on previous trips to that field had yielded jack rabbits.

    These are the two I currently have. They just turned 3 and are both females from the same litter.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Czech_Made

    Czech_Made ArboristSite Operative

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    Thank you, BlueRider, beautiful dogs.

    We had airedales, Great Pyrenees - she was an amazing houdini :) Four dogs total for a while. Now only black lab. We have close to 4 acres in Virginia and airedales would kill anything they found on the property, coons, foxes, cats, rabbits.

    But wife got this borzoi vision and only the scarcity of the breed kept her from getting one so far. I am sure she will eventually get what she wants. :)
     

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  12. ML12

    ML12 ArboristSite Operative

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    We built a more permanent sled setup over the weekend. Based on various internet photos, it used 1 sheet of 3/4" prefinished birch cabinet plywood. That made the sled, the rails and some misc. other pieces. The slab is held to the cross pieces by "dogs" similar to what a machinist uses on a mill table. I am planning on making a set of "cams" next to aid in holding the slabs. The sled can be adjusted up/down to accommodate different slab thicknesses. The router is the big 3-1/4HP portercable unit spinning a 1" bit.

    We still need to add some dust collection and make some adjustments to optimize it. The reason it is so wide is that our maximum cut width on the mill is 55" so this can accommodate slabs that size. Took about 4 hours to crank out, but it is very nice and solid and works great so far.

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    The slab being flattened is 3ft x 3ft cedar for a friend's table.
     
  13. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    why are the pictures showing up blurry for me?
     
  14. ML12

    ML12 ArboristSite Operative

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    Not sure, they're large files (5mB or so) so that might cause it?
     

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