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No Pleasure Without Planes

Ah spring! When a young man’s fancy turns to auctions.

For some reason I woke up around 4:00 am (It does exist! Who knew?!) Saturday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. Can’t run the planer at that hour. (At least that’s what the nice policeman told me last time.) So, nothing for it but to quietly surf the net so I don’t wake the fam. First stop: the classifieds section of my local newspaper to see what auctions are on for the day. I was not disappointed. An old tool enthusiast was liquidating his collection which included perhaps a hundred old Stanley hand planes. I had a lot of time and anticipation to kill until 10am—the start of the auction—so I spent it on a little plane lore research … Then some shop time. Then a trip to the home center. Some more shop time. A little more research. (Note to self: When you find yourself awake at 4am, go back to sleep). Then a nice little drive through the country. And finally, this:

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Stock up on the screws you use

Sometimes, I  actually pay attention to my junk mail, especially when a mail-order supplier offered nearly free shipping on fasteners. The problem was, I’m never sure which ones to buy in boxes of a 1,000, 100, or a dozen. So one evening I sat down with all the WOOD magazine issues dating back a little more than the past two years and added up the types of fasteners used in our projects. And just so you don’t waste an hour of your own time doing the same thing before stocking up on fasteners, here’s what I found:

We used #8×1¼” and #8×1½” flathead wood screws at least twice as much as any other fastener (20+ projects). Both definitely go on my box-of-1,000 list. For the next size smaller carton (100?), I’m going to pick up #8x¾”, #8×2″ and #8×1″ flathead wood screws. (If you hang a lot of cabinets or other wall-mounted projects, throw in a box of #8×3″ flatheads.) And because I can’t always find good square-drive versions of these at the home center, I’ll add a box of #8×1¼” panhead screws. Feel like covering all your bases? Add boxes of these to your order: #8×2½”, #8×1¾”, #8×1½”, #6x½”, and #6×1¼” flathead wood screws. You won’t need many, but that’ll save you a drive to the hardware store.

Categories: Our Tools, Shop Tip | Tags: ,
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An accidental discovery

That cliché about how nobody expects to have an accident couldn’t be more true than in a woodworking shop. Here’s your cautionary tale of the day: I was changing bits on the router table shown here. The switch works by pulling the red handle up and to the right, and the idea behind mounting it on the front edge of the router table was that you could bump it off in an emergency.  I thought, what could be safer? Unplugging it to change bits would be overkill, right?

Pull-on, push-off switch

Pull-on, push-off switch

Then one late afternoon, I wanted to chuck a round-over bit. Like dozens of times before, I raised the collet close to the top of the table and fished the wrenches from the router bit cabinet. Leaning over the table from the front, I turned ever so slightly to the right and got the surprise of my life as the router magically turned itself on with the wrenches only a half-inch away. Thank goodness the soft-start feature on this router gave me the split second I needed to back away from the bit.

The mystery took about 10 seconds to solve. The fly on my jeans had caught on the switch and pulled it on as I leaned against the table edge. (Please, no jokes that end with “…or were you just glad to see me.”) The moral: Nothing slices fingers faster than a shortcut. Now I take the extra five seconds to pull the plug on this router before I reach for the wrenches.

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What Not To Do: Router Base edition

Welcome to What Not To Do, the first (and hopefully last) in a series of object lessons in workshop safety wherein a WOOD editor illustrates the improper procedure. Do not attempt to duplicate this at home. We are paid professionals.

Now, take a look at this editor’s hand and try to guess what is wrong with the picture:

Router Bit Injury

No, it’s not A. That is what later became known as “the lawnmower incident.”

Nothing wrong with B, a symbol of wedded bliss.

C is evidence of recent painting and perhaps some dirt under the fingernail, but signifies nothing worse than poor personal hygiene.

Ah ha! You’ve spotted it. D is this week’s lesson in What Not To Do.

His mistakes should be obvious from the photo. Let’s discuss:

The first thing this editor did wrong was to forget to turn off the router’s switch after using it in his D-handle router base with an auxiliary trigger in the handle. Secondly—you guessed it—when he borrowed the cord from the router to test it’s placement in his newly assembled router table, he left it plugged in. Thirdly, he never checked the switch or the plug when he returned to the shop a couple days later. And finally, when he moved the router to his table-insert-mounted fixed base, he plugged the cord into the router motor—switch still on—with his finger dangerously gripping the insert next to the bit.

His wife thinks it’s a shame that the bit wasn’t more stylized to leave him with a prettier profile on his finger (“Maybe a nice ogee,” she was heard to remark). But as it was, the straight bit stitched a nice line of cuts from the base of the fingernail about halfway to the second knuckle. The soft start was a finger-saver as the bit didn’t immediately spin into full motion before he had time to yank the cord again.

Fortunately, the urgent care center didn’t find an urgent need to add stitches to the ugly mess the next morning and sent him home with an updated tetanus shot and antibiotics. Two weeks later, the finger is healing well, but with a slightly lumpy scar.

Learn from his example, dear reader. Don’t get in a hurry like our excited young editor. Double check your tools before you begin to use them for the day. Ensure all switches are in the off position and all cords are unplugged before you begin to change blades or bits or to work on tools.

And we look forward to no further episodes of What Not To Do.

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Mobile Tablesaw Base, Part 4

Switching over to the new blog system had me traipsing down memory lane a bit. And I realize that I’ve not updated you on the progress of my tablesaw mobile base. I know that you’ve been hanging on the edge of your seat with your fingernails, but just in case you don’t regularly read and re-read this series of blog posts, here’s where you can get up to speed: part 1part 2, and part 3. I’m riffing off of a plan that can be found in the October 2003 issue (no. 151) or for purchase here.

And here’s where it’s at now:

Mobile Tablesaw, front Read more

Shop Tips, Dust Collection, and KISS

I really hate to pass up an opportunity to gloat over what a fun job I have. So I won’t.

One of the funnest parts of my jobs is editing the Shop Tips column. Every issue, I get to call up a fellow woodworker and let them know that they’ve won a tool valued at more than (sometimes way more than) $300. There is just no way that can turn into a bad conversation. Believe me, I’ve never talked to a grumpy shop tip winner.

To rub it in some more: every couple of weeks, I get to sit down with a team of experts and pore through a fortnight’s worth of entries choosing tips from clever woodworkers who have come up with novel ways to make life easier in the shop.

And then there are the ones we don’t choose. Read more

Mobile Tablesaw Base, Part 3

Just a quick update on the mobile tablesaw base for those of you playing along at home. For those of you just joining us, here are part 1, and part 2. I’m riffing off of a plan that can be found in the October 2003 issue (no. 151) or for purchase here.

This weekend, I added the wing insert between the long fence rails. It rests on top of the router cabinet. I made it out of a double thickness of 3/4″ MDF, edged in poplar, then covered with some of my formica bonanza from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Mobile Tablesaw Base, router insert 2 Read more

Mobile Tablesaw Base, Part 2

The tablesaw base pushes onward. Next step, router cabinet. A little pre-build design work in Sketchup:

Tablesaw-wing router cabinet 1

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Something old, something new

So, while it was a tough decision to get rid of the old tablesaw and spring for a new one, I’ve decided that I will keep one memento. I’ll be switching out the fence for the Biesemeyer that was attached to the old saw. In most cases, the fence makes the saw, and I think this will be an improvement here. The fence on this saw has a bit of flex in it. To make up for it, they’ve added a rear locking mechanism, but that’s a bit less convenience than I’m accustomed to. Plus it is in the split-rail style that has become popular among the home center set. Great for shipping purposes. Not overly useful for my purposes.

But while I was in the process, I decided to make some repairs on the fence that were nagging at me. The corner of the fence nearest the operator was beginning to delaminate and some of the plywood plys had begun to work loose and splinter away. It was quickly throwing a good fence out of square. Time to replace the fence board.

Tablesaw Fence Board Replacement 1 Read more

Mobile Tablesaw Base, Part 1

Here’s the start of my mobile tablesaw base. I’m riffing off of this design.

Started by dismantling the saw, as is my habit.

Tablesaw Mobile base 1 Read more

 
 
 
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