When I’m working in my shop using my CarveWright, I’ve noticed that I have a set of tools always at hand for easy access. These are things that help me solve normal usage issues. Most of them are obvious, but some may not be, so I’ve put together a top ten list to show you what I’ve got. These aren’t in any kind of order of importance. They are all important when you need them.
10. Small Allen Wrench
I’m not even sure what size this allen wrench is, but it’s always nearby. Its only purpose is to insert into the right side lead screw hole to manually crank it down when I crank the head up too high and get it stuck. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I don’t want to go digging around for my allen wrench. LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS
9. Tape Measure
A tape measure seems like an obvious thing to have in a shop. I have many of them. In fact, I have a tape measure at every work station, and extras in a drawer where I can quickly find them. There is nothing worse than needing a tape measure and having to go search for where you left it. I have multiple pens and pencils around for the same reason. I use a tape measure all of the time, when using my CarveWright, to check and double-check my board dimension, and, more importantly, to verify that the board isn’t tapered and going to cause a possible wedge. Depending on where you get your lumber, you may have a high likelihood that your boards are not squared up. If that width varies a 1/16th of an inch or more from one end to the other, you are taking a chance of getting it stuck and possibly breaking your x-drive gears. It’s the easiest thing in the world to avoid. Set your tape measure along the width, note the measurement, and slide it down the length to verify that measurement stays the same. If it isn’t you’ll need to square it up on the table saw or load it into a jig before carving on it. LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS
8. Bathroom Scale
Anyone who has had their CarveWright for more than a week, probably, has one of these handy. It’s part of my regular pre-flight process to check where my head pressure is. Incorrect head pressure can affect your machines performance in several ways. Not enough head pressure, and you aren’t holding the board secure enough, which can result in slipping and off-tracking on the length. Too much head pressure, and you may overload the x-drive and strip teeth off the x-gears. You really want to stay in that Goldilocks zone of 80-90 lbs. It’s not hard to do, as long as you check it regularly. Here’s an example of something that happened in my shop, yesterday. I was setting up to carve a pretty large project (about 4.5hrs on best) and was doing my pre-flight of cleaning, checking my bits, and checking the head pressure. It measured at 105 lbs. I knew this was too high, but wanted to get carving right away. I backed off the crank until it was at 90 lbs (about a quarter turn). I repeated this a couple of times to verify and ran my project. By checking my head pressure, I was able to avoid possible damage and project failure. I’ll do further maintenance later to bring that pressure down, but I was able to adjust on the fly to what I needed and get carving. All because of a cheap bathroom scale. LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS
7. 3 in 1 Oil
There are many steel parts in the machine, such as the CarveTight Spindle, the bit touch plate (slap plate), the adaptors on the bits themselves. and others. If your shop is anything like mine, humidity can be an issue. If I don’t regularly coat my steel parts in oil, they can rust. Keeping this nearby reminds me to oil these parts to keep them in pristine condition.
The almighty WD-40 is used as an all-purpose cleaning and oiling product. I feel WD-40 doesn’t seem as long-lasting as the 3 in 1 for keeping things free of rust, but it works great for removing it. It’s perfect for cleaning most of the things that can get gunked up in the machine. When carving some woods with a lot of sap in them, pitch can build up on some of the parts and inhibit the machines performance. For instance, the rails for the z-truck and y-truck that the bearings ride on need to be smooth and clear of debris for the machine to operate at its best. You will want to clean them, occasionally, and WD-40 is what you use. Is the bit touch plate not coming out? It’s probably dirty and needs to be oiled. WD-40 to the rescue. Corner posts, lead screws, idler pulley… WD-40. Everyone probably has some WD-40 in the shop already, but get an extra can to keep next to your machine. LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS
I always use a dust collection hood when I’m carving, but it doesn’t remove 100% of the dust. There is always some leftover and I want to get it out. I’ve got a small shop-vac I always keep underneath the machine table. It’s there so I can pull it out after every carve and remove all the sawdust left in the machine. Well, sometimes I wait and don’t do it until I’m going to carve the next project, but I still do it before carving, again. Sawdust just causes so many issues, if you let it. Running dust collection and vacuuming in between carves will save you money, time, and energy. Plus, I’m of the school of thought that a clean and organized work environment is a more inviting and creative space. It just motivates you to want to build things.
A mirror you say? Yes, I’ve got a small mirror I salvaged from somewhere that has become my CarveWright mirror. I’ve seen other users with dental mirrors or even makeup compact mirrors. These are used to see inside the machine places that you can’t get to with your eyes. Want to look at the board sensor on the bottom of the Y-truck or trying to see the compression roller switches? Lay a mirror down on the belts and crank the head to where you need it. The dental mirrors can get you into even tighter areas. It’s handy to have when you need it, so I always have it right there.
3. Compressed Air or Bulb Syringe
Compressed air is extremely useful when dealing with a tool that can create so much sawdust. Just like sand at the beach, no matter what you do, it will still get everywhere. We minimize this, as much as possible, with dust collection and the shop-vac, but it will still find its way into some places, such as the compression roller switches and the board sensor. The board sensor is the most vulnerable to the dust. No matter how well we’ve sealed that sensor, dust will still find its way in. Then you go to carve, and the machine tells you “check board sensor”. I’ve talked to some users who would go buy a new board sensor every time they saw this. Please, for the sake or your wallet, don’t do that. There is a simple fix. Blow it out. I have a compressor in the shop, so I’ve got an air hose with a gun nozzle on hand, and I get that nozzle right up on the edge of that sensor and blow it out. I’ll even use my fingers to kind of cup the area around that sensor to really force that air in there. It clears the sensor 99% percent of the time. No purchases required. I have another trick too for those without air compressors. Sometimes, I’m doing a demonstration somewhere with no compressor, and I get a “check board sensor”. What do I do? I could remove the sensor and blow it out with my mouth (I’ve made that work before), or we’ve found that using bulb syringes, (the kind they sell for cleaning out baby’s noses) work perfect for clearing a board sensor. They work so well, I keep one around even though I have an air compressor. Sometimes, it’s closer. LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS
2. Stubby Phillips Head Screwdriver
This short little screwdriver seems like it was made for the CarveWright. It fits in perfectly to most of the places you need to get. If your Y-axis is acting up, the first thing to check is the belt tension. This is done by tightening the screw on the right side of the y-belt with a stubby phillips head. Getting a “Please Close Cover” message when the cover is closed? First, check to see if there is any play in the cover’s hinge pins. If that cover isn’t tight, it will have trouble properly engaging the switch. Then, tighten the screws that hold the hinge pins with a stubby phillips head. If you have to replace a cover switch, board sensor, tracking sensor, belts, or compression switches, you are going to use… you guessed it, a stubby phillips head screwdriver. I do keep other screwdrivers near by, but this one seems to be the most used. Also, magnetic tipped is, always, a plus.
1. Masking Tape
Users have been talking about and swearing by masking tape for years on the CarveWright User’s Forum. It can really come in handy. The number one use for it is as a tracking aid. The little brass tracking wheel has teeth that bite into the board as it rolls across it and measures. It’s very accurate when it has a good surface to grab into, but sometimes the material you are using is too smooth or too dense to get a good bite. Example materials are plastics, MDF, and some super dense exotic woods. (This is where the masking tape comes in.) Put masking tape along the length of the board on the edge that will be riding on top of the brass tracking wheel. Make sure it is smooth all the way down the length and you’ll have a perfect surface for the wheel to grab. Another use is for dark materials. The board sensor uses contrast to find edges when measuring. If the board is too dark, it can’t distinguish the edge and won’t be able to measure properly. By running masking tape along the width, under where the sensor is, it will give it the contrast needed to see the edge. Make sure you wrap it around the edges nice and crisply to get an accurate measurement. You may also need to run some on the ends for the length measurement. Just observe where the board sensor is, and make sure the tape is going to be under it. LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS
I hope this was informative and helpful for you. These items have sure been helpful to me. Do you have similar items near your CarveWright? Do you have other things I haven’t even thought of? Please comment below and let us know!