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Here’s What I’m Working on this Week (6/7/2023)

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On top of regular ToolGuyd activities, I’m working on a couple of projects. The following are in different stages of planning and execution.

These are not typical DIY activities, but I hope you find this to be interesting.

Benchtop Mill

I have started working with my new benchtop mill. As you can see from this photo, I have a bunch of cleaning up to do. I cleared a hole so I could assemble the stand where it needs to be, and now need to find a place to put the lumber.

Wire Rope Swaging

Loos Co Wire Rope

I have been working on a garden project – a trellis for certain veggies – and have been coming up short in trying to rework its design.

The way I want things built, wire rope is the most versatile solution. So, I finally gave in and dug into things.

I searched for USA-made swaging tools a few weeks ago, and didn’t have much luck. It’s not that I required swaging tools – the crimping tool – to be made domestically, but that I wanted to buy from an established brand.

I have been redesigning around not using wire rope for a few years, and so I have a good idea as to the types of projects it can be useful for. If I’m going to buy a swaging tool, it’s got to be a good one, as it won’t be a one-time tool.

Looking into it again, it seems that Loos & Co and Nicopress are the two main brands. Loos & Co seemed more easily available, and both brands’ tools work with their own and other’s compression sleeves.

There are other connection types than compression fittings that need to be crimped, such as bolt-tightenable clamps, and special plug-lock end terminations.

Clamps are considered temporary and would be installed in a position they’d be difficult to tighten. I considered plug-lock terminations, but they’re expensive – $68 each for stainless steel ones, plus the need for an installation tool.

Swaging tools cost quite a bit up front – $200 and up – but allows for inexpensive fittings for creating strong looped ends.

This will be interesting.

Industrial Control Box Wiring

Phoenix Push-in Terminal Blocks for Sensors

I’ve talked about terminal blocks before – DIN-Mounted Terminal Blocks – but a lot has changed in the industry since then. Well, a little has changed. These Phoenix terminal block with push-in connections and sensor-friendly wire connection setup looks to be compact and straightforward.

I’m planning out the electrical controls for my CNC conversion project, and an enclosure filled with DIN rails and terminal blocks is a good way to keep things neat and organized.

A block like this isn’t necessary, but will save a lot of space.

The most common terminal block makes a 1-1 wiring connection – a point where two wires meet. For instance, if you have a wire entering a control panel enclosure, it gets connected to where it needs to go, or to a terminal block. From the terminal block, it then connects to where it needs to go.

The terminal block shown here is a special one for 3-wire sensors. Three sensors could be connected via four terminal blocks and two jumper/bridge wires. One block brings in positive voltage (e.g. 24V) and common (0V), and jumpers distribute it to three other blocks. For the three sensor blocks, proximity sensors can each be connected to the separate positive, common, and signal ports. The last port takes the sensor signal to where it needs to.

Or, the simpler way to do things is to connect positive voltage (2 terminal blocks), common voltage (2 terminal blocks), and sensor signals (3 terminal blocks) separately. This would take 7 blocks and 2 jumper/bridge inserts (for the voltage distribution). Or, distribution blocks (such as Wago Lever Locks) can be used for positive and negative/0V connections, plus the 3 sensor signal blocks.

Four blocks seems more straightforward, but costs a bit more. There’s also one that has an LED to signal sensor activation, but it’s at considerably higher cost.

Three sensors can also be wired with 2 4-way blocks plus 3x double conductor blocks. That would be 5 terminal blocks vs 4.

Having a single sensor attached to a single block is elegant and allows for easier troubleshooting or replacement.

Do I overthink things? Absolutely. I’m not saying you should buy this, or that I will; it’s simply good to know what’s out there any why.

As this is my first time combining AC and DC in a single enclosure, I did some research into wiring color codes. There’s a lot more to look into, such as disconnect switches, a circuit breaker, and so forth.

How Square are Squares?

Suburban Tool CS-6 Cylindrical Square

I have been looking for a good way to test squares for squareness, and cylindrical squares seem to be it.

There are other ways, such as a granite triangle, which takes up a lot more space on a surface plate, and metal squares that are known to be good.

The curved surface should make it easy to see and measure gaps.

This wasn’t the first thing I tried. At first I ordered an 4″ x 4″ x 6″ iron right angle bar from the same company, but when it arrived I realized it wasn’t flat enough to serve as a master square.

A reader put the idea in my head a while back. They complained to me that their square wasn’t square, and I saw the same with mine. But at the time the most I could do is compare several squares together. With this, I’ll be able to measure exactly how out-of-square a square is.

I ordered the 12″ online with a coupon, and am also looking for a good price on the 6″. I went with Suburban tool, partially because it’s made in the USA, and partially because few other brands make them. Fowler has 6″ and 12″ cylinders, but the 12″ isn’t available right now and the 6″ is too small.

Checking the squareness of triangular-shaped tools – and others – with a cylinder doesn’t seem very intuitive, but I can’t think of a better way.

The 12-inch cylinder is said to be square within 0.00015″, and the 6-inch 0.00010″.

At least ToolGuyd will be getting its money’s worth – the cylinder weighs 50 pounds and comes with a fitted wood case. The Fowler looks more user-friendly and has a useful-looking lifting handle.

Amazon has the Fowler 6-inch square in stock for $281, and I’d consider it. However, I doubt Amazon’s ability to ship something like that to me unscathed.

The 12-inch square might look silly next to smaller squares, but it should serve as a good squareness reference for shorter and longer tools all the same.

Proto Blue Tool Box Combo Tower

A shiny new Proto tool storage combo arrived.

I stacked everything up, but quickly decided that I would test the components separately. The top chest was placed on a workbench, and the bottom rolling cabinet will be used for heavy duty tool and part storage.

This is from the Proto Velocity series, their most affordable line of USA-made tool storage products. I have an older 540 series tool box, and this one is definitely better in some ways.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

And with that, a question – do you guys tip freight delivery drivers? I usually do, depending on the size and weight of the load.

Please let me know if you wish to learn more about any of the above topics.