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  #1  
Old 06-29-2005, 09:59 AM
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Working with carbon fiber fabrics, solid plates, and structural parts is what most people will be dealing with. I won't cover laminating because i've never done it :)

- Carbon fiber dust is really dangerous. At best, it is just very itchy when it gets into your skin. At worst, if it gets into your lungs or eyes you will suffer quite a bit. If it gets into the power supply of a computer, or anywhere there could be an air gap of electricity...well... CF dust is conductive and will put on one hell of a lightning show!

- Cutting carbon fabric can be done with a basic pair of tin snips or shears. Just realize that it will dull the tooling fairly quick, even steel.

- Cutting or machining solid carbon fiber parts requires some sort of ability to contain the dust. Whether this means compressed air or whatnot is up to you. A neat trick i use when machining is to spray the contact area with water. The water soaks up the dust and boom... you don't need an expensive way to handle it. I think i learned this tip from Thorbob.

- Don't use fancy TiCN or TiAlN coated end mill bits/cutting heads/whatever... just use no-nonsense solid carbide. It's cheaper and its going to dull your tooling fast anyway! Seems to be no way around it.

- To keep edges from fraying, i use high rotational speeds, and low feed rates.

Thanks for reading. If anyone sees anything wrong or odd about this please feel free to comment.
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Old 06-29-2005, 09:19 PM
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The only suggestion I might make is rather than using compressed air to remove waste material is instead use a vacuum very close to the work surface. This will keep the stuff out of your way and not scatter it from hell to breakfast. Ideally, if you have to cut the stuff you won't be around any electronics or other items that will have a tragic outcome when introduced to your experiments. Weeb's info is good to know.

Also in regard to dust, to prevent the ill heath threats composites pose to you, at the very least get a very good respirator (one with fine particulate filters) and air-tight goggles. For those of a more adventurous strain, I highly recommend the Australian-made Triton Powered Respirator. Has a fully enclosed head-protection system. The hardhat might be more than some might need, but it works like nothing else. A pic (kinda goofy, but effective):


Lack of lung protection is the quickest trip to severe lung damage. The Triton rig can be bought at Rockler for about $280.

I second the use of carbide. I have firsthand experience with it in woodworking. The most abrasive/tool-edge dulling woods cut and mill best with carbide cutters, be it shaper, planer, saw or router. (The woods I speak of would be Teak, Post Oak, most varieties of Maple, Bubinga, etc.)

The best way to laminate would be using a vacuum bag system. I also haven't done any composite layups, but I've laminated veneers and built curved doors for years with this technique. VacuPress is the brand of equipment that I use. There are others out there that are very good. I think that resources on vacuum bagging composite materials are widely available out there on the net.

If you're using router bits or mill cutters for cutting CF, Aramid/Kevlar, FRP or any plastic stock, Onsrud and Amana Tool make some killer bits.

Another way to cut composites would be with a scrollsaw. This is more effective and safer than the router method, which require the use of a template if used by hand. (A CNC mill is the best of all since your hands are nowhere near the cutters.) A scrollsaw will allow you to cut freehand very safely. It won't go fast, but I'm not aware of any method that's anything but slow. You may also go through a bunch of blades in a short time since you can't resharpen them once they become dull. I don't have a good recommendation on blade mfg'er, since most are pretty cheap one could buy a large variety and experiment. The best scrollsaws are over $1,000 European models, but the higher-end variable speed (a MUST HAVE) DeWalt and Delta models should be enough machine for most people. $250 to $450 is what you're looking at there. Here's DeWalt's DW788 20" unit:


If you go with a hand-held jigsaw, which is a bit more dangerous than a scrollsaw that sits on a permanent base I can only recommend models made by Makita (really good), Bosch (super good), Metabo (world's 2nd best) and Festool (best on the planet). Avoid the DeWalt, Porter Cable and other brands. The advantage a jigsaw would have would be longer-lasting cutters. Metabo's STEB 135 11000 variable speed jigsaw (most look like this):


A little more details on the jigsaws. Bosch units can be purchased as cordless battery powered units in 18V and 24V flavors - but they're pricey. The Metabo is a lot like the Bosch only better built but harder to find, and not available in cordless. The Festool is the ultimate in regard to build quality and reliability. Also, they have dust extraction - something that few other jigsaws have (the Metabo does as well after further feview). The big downside is it's a proprietary system, so just any shop vacuum won't work; you'll have to use the Festool vac. You can buy the jigsaw and vac combo for about $650 - it ain't cheap (the vacuum costs more than the jigsaw). Festool and Bosch jigsaws also come in D-Handle (or Top-Handle, same thing) and Barrel Grip formfactors.

The Makita and Bosch would set you back $150 to $200, and Metabo are around the higher end of that spectrum. Festools are expensive, about $300, or about the same as a 24V cordless Bosch.

Just some extree info.
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Old 06-30-2005, 07:04 AM
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Wow, thanks for the extra input and clarification Ragnar!
That Triton powered respirator looks particularly useful... especially for bigger CF jobs, or any poisonous hardwoods for that matter...
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Old 06-30-2005, 09:30 AM
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It's great for autobody work, too. The earmuffs might seem excessive, too, but if you're using powertools to work on your composites they will come in handy. Scrollsaws aren't too loud, but routers and jigsaws definitely are.

The pack the guy is wearing in the picture is a rechargeable battery for the air circulation sustem. I believe it comes with two.
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Old 07-01-2005, 06:36 AM
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I can only second everything said here and add a little on the tool Ragnar mentioned as woodwork is my second hobby. :) Respirators, buy one, use it, especially with CF or cedar...these are your lungs we're talking about here. The DeWalt scrollsaw recommended is a great saw, probably the best mid-line saw out there. If you are going to be cutting a lot I would look at something a little nicer such as a Hegner, RBI, or Eclipse. The Hegner is German and the other two are made in the good ole' USA and all three are awesome. I use an Eclipse and wouldn't trade it for the world. I would recommend Flying Dutchman brand blades on any scroll project, the seem to last longer and provide a smoother cut. That's good for CF to leave a less ragged edge. Lastly just a note on the Bosch jig saws, the newer ones have a dust collection port on them but IMO it doesn't work exceptionally well, not well enough to forget the respirator anyway!

Be safe guys and keep more topics like these coming!
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Old 07-01-2005, 06:58 AM
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With the Bosch jig saws, I have one, and Sykox is right about hte dut collector. The bag in which it collects it isn't that great, it isn't sealed very tight, and the bag is not sewed tight enough to stop dust. If you hit the dust collection bag, you can see dust flying...

I also have a question, dont you have to seal the edges?
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Old 07-01-2005, 08:37 AM
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Sykox: The issue of lung protection was why I suggested the seemingly over-elaborate dust system from Triton. I have to be more careful at work, myself, because once I hit 40 I'll start having the symptoms of a chain smoker. I don't plan on doing this the rest of my life anyway.

I didn't go into the pro-level scrollsaws like Hegner, etc. assuming that most hobbyists might not justify, of just plain couldn't afford, a monster expense for cutting composites occasionally. Hegner's stuff is awesome, though. If a guy can afford it, it's a great investment. The other brands are some I've heard of, not a lot, but it's good to know they're super good tools as well.

Red Cedar is really hard on ya. So is Alaskan Yellow Cedar. I know more than one AK Native carver that cannot use Y-Cedar due to severe sensitization problems. If you've ever worked with it, you'll know why. It's a nice, clear smell at first, but once you start hitting a saturation point - it gets really bad. I'm at that point with it myself. I also hate working with Redwood (built a 2300-capacity wine room with this stuff once). Think Red Cedar with 5x the potency.

Rosewoods can put the hurt on you, too. I can't work with Bolivian Rosewood at all unless I have 100% breathing and eye protection. Cocobolo (not "Cocabola" as I have seen spelled/pronounced in the past - slap someone the next time they say it) is about as lethal as it gets. And don't get me started on Desert Ironwood (dust dissolves the lining of the nasal passage). I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of stuff, and I have to say the Sapélé is about my favorite wood (Entandrophragma cylindricum - it's a harder, darker relative of African Mahogany). Cherry is pretty hard to beat, too - if you can find good lumber anymore. The crap is one of the most expensive domestic woods around.

Speaking of dust and Bosch, we own a pair of their 5" VS random orbital sanders. The dust bags on those things are as worthless as it gets. They certainly trap enough dust, but they sag a little and eventually wear a hole out in the bottom because they constantly come in contact with the surface of what you're trying to sand. I really want to get a Metabo rig for myself, they have a rigid bracket that holds the bag up off the work surface. I think that newer models of the Bosch RO sanders have something similar, but I need a change regardless.
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Old 07-02-2005, 06:56 AM
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Dyer: I am not sure but I think you are correct about having to seal the edges of CF. I'm not sure what you use though, I recall someone saying you could use CA or superglue but there has to be a better method/product out there for that.

Ragna: Thanks for the info on those woods, I knew about the cedar and cocobola but was unaware of the others being toxic. I haven't worked with them yet so haven't looked up the toxicity reports yet. It's nice to know about the rosewood as that is one I do plan on using sometime soon. I am unfamiliar with Sapele but must agree on the cherry, just a fun beautiful wood to work with. I also use quite a bit of walnut as it provides a nice contrast with most lighter woods. In my scrolling I use a lot of pine and baltic birch plywood for cost savings, you hit the nail on the head about the cost of good lumber and the difficulty finding any.

Well, lastly, back on subject for a second :), I will have to check out that triton system. I currently use a 3M cartridge system but find it uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. With the kind of hours I can sit behind that table I need comfort as well as safety, and I don't realllly want to give up either! :)
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Old 07-02-2005, 09:34 PM
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One of the things that makes me enthusiastic about the Triton rig is that I have a terrible time wearing dust masks and respirators because I wear glasses and I'm a bit larger than some guys - a lot of them just don't fit me.

Some Rosewoods have a strong almost urine-like smell. Keep the stuff out of your nose and eyes, and it's all great stuff. Some of the worst smellin' wood is Wengé (I had to learn how to say this - it's "wen-gay" or "wen-gee"...hard 'g' as in 'agree', not 'wenj' as some instrument builders insist on <_<) and a close second is Zebra wood. My oldest bro used to joke that it was named Zebra Wood long before they looked at the grain - it smelled like something a zebra would've left behind him, so to speak. I love the smell of Sapélé - if you're familiar with a wood often called Spanish Cedar (famous for humidors - also happens to be part of the mahogany family) you'll know what Sapélé is like. A warm, almost cinnamon-y spicy smell.

Baltic Birch is really popular with the scrollsaw'ers. The few woodworkers up here that were big into jigsaw puzzles used it exclusively just due to the stability of it. I like using it for router templates. :nice:
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Old 07-05-2005, 07:40 PM
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Router templates....mmm, I just got my router setup finished and promptly had to take it down as we are about to move. I am learning each tool a bit at a time but seem to keep coming back to the scroll, it's just relaxing. I like the sound of Sapélé, I'll need to hunt some down. I love the smell of most cedars but once again they aren't the safest to be snorting out there. I really want to try out some birdseye maple but it is so dang expensive and I can't find a local supplier. Once you get into some of the really high dollar woods I have a hard time not getting to hand select it you know. At any rate I believe I'll avoid the Zebra and Wengé, my wife fusses enough over the dust, I probably shouldn't give her any more ammo! :)
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:04 PM
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Not to be tootin' my own horn, here, but if you would like to see what Sapélé looks when finished head over to our website on this link: Sapélé Library

It was a curved library that we did about - gad, I can't remember. :blink: The curvature you see in the one wall is not lens distortion - that wall had an actual curve in it.

It's interesting that they call Spanish Cedar a Cedar at all. It's not a Cedar, the stuff is a mahogany (Mahogany family is Meliacaea). In fact the other woods they call Cedars ain't Cedars, either! Western Red, Alaskan Yellow, Aromatic/Eastern Red, Southern White and Port Orford Cedars are actually part of the cypress family (Cupressacaea). The only true Cedars, Cedar of Lebanon (aka. True Cedar) and Atlantic Cedar grow in the Middle East and North India (they're part of the Pine family). Weird crazy mess. I can only guess the false cedars are called cedars in the first place is the strong smell. True cedars (genus Cedrus) are also very pungent.

Talk about off-topic hijackage! We gotta get this crazy train back on the rails!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:37 PM
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Carl, if I could afford it, I would snap up some of your family's furniture in a heart beat! I love your stuff!
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Old 07-06-2005, 12:17 AM
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I wish I had time to do more of my own thing. 90% of the work featured on the website was created by my father's gifted hands. Most of the furniture was done while I was still pretty young. The work I contributed in some of the stuff on the site were things like basic assembly, milling, sanding, assisting with finishing - lotsa grunt work. Although, most of the mechanical drawings were done by myself. I can't do much of anything anymore. I'm losing the strength I once had to...something insidious...don't know what it is yet. Thought it was osteoarthritis, but that theory is up in the air now. I saw a physician last week - doing an arthritis panel with the bloodwork, and might have to do a Lupus panel. Waiting on the results. It's agony just to use a pencil, and careless typing brings tears to my eyes. I used to be a synthesist, and I can't play at all anymore. All I've done since we finally got the shop moved out to Wasilla is work on drafting, and that's been hell. I can't help like I used to. Pain medications can relieve me of some of what I'm suffering but make me dangerous to work in the shop. Enough belly-aching. :beer&buddy:

My specialties are small super-fancy boxes.

EDIT: Moved the bidniss over here: Klicken ze hier I've diverted Weeb's topic far too long.
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Old 07-06-2005, 12:24 AM
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Gyaahh! Can't attach images. :cryin: Whadah doo? I broke the thingy! :pcrage:

If I can't get the attach function to work I'll amend my post and do everything in the future Pigpen thread. :nice:


EDIT: The attach function doesn't even appear. Might've been disabled or sumptin'. I'll continue my woodworking prattle in a Pig-Misc thread. Sorry.
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Old 07-06-2005, 07:50 AM
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Hmm, you shouldn't have any issues with attachments, your group all has the ability to attach files up to 100k
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