DRRR Pier – Part V

Packing-Block and Jig
Like I said earlier, I went with a Packing-Block design that follows the one with the tapered bottom edge but a straight top. Visually in a Sketchup mockup I didn’t like the way the board ‘stuck down’ when the bottom edge was un-tapered. The top .. (insert shrug) .. you will at the very best .. be hard to even see from above and wasn’t worth the trouble. In addition that was probably more of a standard then a tapered design.

My mini-mill has a column. That means I can’t tilt the head to mill at angles so I had to come up with another method. In the diagram I show a jig I made (in yellow). The two dimensions .. the 0.125-in. height of the step .. and the 0.241-in. ‘tread’ were the critical dimensions. With the bottom of the Packing-Block sitting on the point of the step and touching the back of the ‘tread’ I could mill the angled portion off. When that was done then I could tun the thing 180° for the opposite side.

Milling Packing-Blocks
Milling the taper. The opposite side has allready been milled. The orange thing is the jig.

This little project convinced me of the usefulness of a couple of tools that Micro-Mark sells. I had looked them over before and thought .. “cool” .. and continued on. I have a different perspective now.

Basswood is nice to model with – but it is soft. Harder then Balsa but still, it mills poorly. I milled the caps earlier out of poplar which works much better. The problem being that you can purchase poplar at Lowes as small as 1/4’in. sq dowell .. but that’s it. If you wanted something else you would have to ‘roll your own’. That brings up these two tools I mentioned.

MicroLux Mini Tilt Arbor Table Saw : The blurb says that “…for balsa and basswood up to 1 inch thick, hardwood up to 1/4 inch thick ….

MicroLux Drum Thickness Sander : The blurb says .. “Sands wood up to 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches wide.

With those two you could make your own poplar strip-wood .. assuming you could figure a way to get your poplar planks from Lowe’s reduced to the 1/4-in. thick, 5-in. wide ‘planks’ needed to run through the two Micro-Mark tools. That would probably require a full-sized table saw and planer. *sigh*. You could find a friend I guess that could reduce your large bits to small bits if lucky.

Here I have the finished Packing-Blocks sitting on the jig like they were to be milled. This may give a better idea of how it worked.
.. and the finished Packing-Blocks and jig. While I groused a bit about the Basswood being somewhat soft to mill well .. they didn’t come out too badly. I could have cut these out individually with a X-Acto blade I suppose .. but I doubt I could have matched the precision using this method. I found that increasing the speed of the cutter helped a good bit too.

Now .. IF .. I had access to a laser cutter then that would be perfect for something like this. Since entry level models are over $2,000 .. that will have to wait.

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