Like it or not, we live in a global economy, and with very few exceptions, the power tools you and I use every day are made in some country where they speak a language other than English. For example, engineers in a machinery plant in China may first write the owner’s manual for a tablesaw in Chinese, then someone has to translate it into English before it gets shipped over here. The translation doesn’t always go smoothly—it’s like those people have a different word for EVERYTHING! (I’ve heard a couple of manufacturers refer to the broken English as “Chinglish.”) Read more
Last night, I had to crank out a dozen little 2×2” tabletop flag holders for my son’s Eagle Scout ceremony this weekend. Simple little things: just a square of ¾” thick oak-veneered MDF with a little chamfer around all four top edges and a hole in the middle for the little plastic flagpole. I’d promised my wife I’d do this last weekend, but never got around to Read more
While working on a cross for my church’s fall festival auction yesterday, I made another batch of crosspieces that connect the inner cross frame to the outer. I bandsawed these pieces to 3/8” x 3/8” x 1-1/2” long. The carbide-toothed blade on my bandsaw left them a little rough (I knew it would, so I cut them a little oversize) so I had to sand each one of the 20 or so piece smooth. Ugh.
Whenever I’m faced with a dull task like that, I try to find a way to speed it up with a power tool. Read more
After taking a weekend off to recover from the IWF in Atlanta, I took a few minutes on Labor Day and got one 220-volt outlet wired from my subpanel. That means I can finally get to work on the Powermatic PM2000 I bought used last winter. (The rest of the rewiring can wait until the fall camping season is over.)
Because it was “preowned,” the saw was already fully assembled, but after hauling it across town on a trailer in Read more
One of the most memorable parts of the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) in Atlanta last week was stumbling upon the Wood Werks Supply booth. This woodworking supply house in Columbus, Ohio, sells, among other things, Powermatic’s PM2000 cabinet saw. Big deal—a lot of places sell that machine, right? But at Wood Werks, their “Powermatic Customs” program allows you to trick out your saw before they ship it. Read more
So last weekend, I pulled the feeder line from my main panel through the finished part of the basement ceiling, through the unfinished part of the basement ceiling, and out into the garage for the subpanel. Hate to even say it, but it went smoother than I expected. It went so well, in fact, that we finished about the time I thought we would, and that NEVER happens!
I pulled 6-gauge 3WG cable for the feeder. Working with that stuff is like wrestling a boa constrictor, it’s so stiff and thick. And expensive, too–a 75′ roll set me back almost $200, by FAR the largest expense of the project. My buddy Dominick, who owns our local hardware store (always a good buddy to have) told me that copper prices have gone up something like 600% in the past few years. Knew I should have started this project long ago!
We did have one little hitch: I had some 30″ fiberglass rods that thread together. I bought them many years ago to scrub muck out of the chimney flue when we had a wood-burning fireplace, but they come in handy for other things like hanging Christmas lights. Anyway, I threaded all my rods together and poked them through the finished space in my basement ceiling to fish the cable through. Came up about 5′ short. Dang.
Went to the hardware store and bought three 3′ lengths of 3/8″ threaded rod, and coupled them together with a nut at the joint and a jam nut on either side. They hooked together fine, but the threads on my fiberglass rods were something odd I couldn’t match with all-thread. Hmmmm…
Time to enlist the handyman’s helper: duct tape. Actually in this case, I used Gorilla Tape–GREAT stuff. Stuck one end of the threaded rod into the female end of the fiberglass rods and wrapped that sucker with tape. The threads caught enough that I could pull that stiff cable without a problem. A little Vulkem to seal where the PVC conduit enters the house, and we were off to the Iowa State Fair to see the Blue Band and butter sculpture of U.S. Gymnast Shawn Johnson. Yee-haw!
From the putting the cart before the horse department:
Last spring, I got a screaming deal on a Powermatic PM2000 cabinet saw. I don’t have the required 220-volt power in my garage shop. No worries, I told myself, with the money I saved, I can have an electrician pull the 220 and properly wire my garage for the way I use it. (Two 110-volt outlets on one wall circuit currently, plus another shared circuit for lights—really bare-bones, and never designed for a shop.) Read more
Being a hot-shot editor at the world’s largest woodworking magazine has its fringe bennies. I threw my weight around a little (and Lord knows I’ve got enough to throw around) and got an exclusive tour of Mickey’s personal shop. Sorry for the poor quality of these photos, but The Mouse has a strict “no photos” policy, so I had to sneak them or else risk a visit from a couple of Mickey’s goons. Read more
You just never know when (or where) you’ll stumble across a great idea for your shop. While on vacation in Orlando a few weeks ago, my daughter bought a brass ring from a streetside vendor. (Actually, it was right outside the “Hoop-De-Doo Review” at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, but I digress…) Read more
Over the weekend, I started on a project I’m building for my folks: a wall-hung desk that holds bills, pads of paper, rubber bands, stapler, etc. etc. The front folds down to make a writing surface, and then folds up flat against the wall when not in use. The desk tapers from a little over 6” deep at the bottom to 4-1/2” at the top.
Anyway, I’m making it out of birch: solid for the top, and sides, and birch ply for the bottom and front/writing surface.
When I cut the solid birch pieces, they didn’t sit quite flat—they had a very slight twist to them. For the top, no problem—I just flattened them on my 6” jointer. But I couldn’t do that with the sides, which are wider than my jointer’s capacity. I could run them through the drum sander, but it tends to act like a planer—the pressure rollers press the twist out just long enough to sand, then when they let go, the board goes back to twisting.
I contemplated hot-gluing the low corners to a carrier board and shimming the high corners to keep the sander from pressing the twist out, but I wasn’t thrilled with that, either.
So here’s the manual-labor fix.
I put a couple strips of 100-grit self-stick sandpaper on my tablesaw top, then pressed down on the two low corners of the workpiece while rubbing them fore and aft on the sandpaper. You can see how the top right and lower left corners of the sandpaper are getting all the wear in this photo.
I just kept sanding until all four corners touched the tabletop, then I ran the boards through the drum sander with that face down until the top face was sanded parallel.