Tools and Process

The Arbor Tech is a tool manufactured in Australia.  Its simply a 3 cutter rotary grinder that fits on almost any grinder.  Spinning at 10,000 rpm this tool and its smaller version the mini-arbor tech can remove vast quantities of wood in a short time and is capable of fine detailing.  Its the primary tool I use to scoop out and shape shallow bowls.

The following pictures will give you some idea how to use this tool.


These are the primary weapons in my arsenal.  At the top of the picture is the Arbor Tech wheel, the second down is the Kutzall Extreme medium grit wheel and the coarse

wheel is on the bench.  The peach colored wheel is next. I mount all of the cutters on Makita 4″ angle grinders.   And lastly this Milwaukee angle head drill fitted with a 3″ hook and loop disc holder for sanding.
More tools.  On the left is a 3″ hook and loop disc holder in a Makita angle head drill, Next to it is a Sioux angle head drill with a 2″ disc holder mounted in it and last on the
far right is the Mini Arbor Tech with a small Kutzall grinder mounted on a 4″ Makita grinder.

A few more essential items when working with these tools.  I use a respirator type face mask  while working with the Arbor Tech itself.  This model fits tightly under your chin prohibiting the chips from entering your face from the bottom. Another “tool” that is always in the corners of these pictures is my burl holding devises….sandbags.  Available at any riverside in the US during the spring runoffs.

While using the other Kutzall tools I frequently shift to a dust mask and standard face shield (not shown).  While using the Arbor Tech itself I wear a welding glove on at least my left hand as the chips flying back from the tool can hurt like H… and you can see that the welding glove is taking a beating. Lastly I advise use of some form of ear protection.  Loss of hearing due to machine noise is non-reversible and a more common problem to woodworkers than maybe we care to admit. Your wives are not yelling in anger at you….just frustration.

The Patient: Another beautiful burl.  Here the decayed area goes to within 1″ of the bottom. This is a 30lb piece 22″ by 16″ by 5′ deep.  Click on the picture to get another view of the  termite devastation.

The Surgeon: And now its off to battle.  Note the sawdust shoe protection and sleeve on my left arm as well as the welding gloves.  The sleeve protects me from debris thrown back by the Arbor Tech.

Starting to cut with the Arbor Tech. Most mass removal is done with the cutter in this position.  Vertical!  Then the grinder is moved left to right (90 degrees to the rotation of the wheel).  See arrows.  When the surface is flat (like when you start) that’s the hardest cutting.  As the sides of the form slope more towards vertical the cutting gets easier.

The cutter slides down the sloped sides ( see arrows) of the form cutting easily.

Note that I hold my left arm tight to my body for support.  When reaching out on the form I will lay my left forearm on the piece for additional support and steadiness.  A frequent question is…”how do you hold the burl while your working on it?”  I use a very hi-tech and expensive system…sandbags.

The surface produced by the Arbor Tech while doing mass demolition.

Here I’m using the Arbor Tech in a horizontal position and “sweeping” or “brushing” the surface.  Very little pressure on the tool is used here.  This goes a long way towards cleaning up the “chop” left by the mass removal step.  Note the sandbags that act like pillows under the piece allowing me to move the piece into nearly any position.  The spikes on the exterior of the burl dig into the sandbags fabric and do a great job of holding it. The bags should be only about 1/3 to 1/2 full.  This way they can be easily “fluffed” up to fit the contours of the burl.

The Kutzall grinding is complete and the piece is ready to sand.

Flattening the bottom. This is often done as a first step by me on the bandsaw, but the decayed front left me unclear as to where the bottom would actually be. A special note here…if you are not fairly competent with the bandsaw….don’t try to cut the bottoms off of the burls…use the method shown above. Sometimes the Arbor Tech can do this same procedure….but I always clean up with the Kutzall.

Sanding complete to a 400 grit.  An no sign of the decay except that which I chose to leave in the upper left hand corner.

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