Monthly Archives: May 2014

Clearing the workbench

I’ve got a confession to make. I made a mess in my shop. And I let stuff pile up on the workbench as I was doing it. The end result is simply that I had a lot of reasons to look for excuses not to go into the shop this week (memorial day, work, nice sunny days outside, no room on the bench to do anything quick, etc.). yesterday I finally got back in there and cleaned out the top drawer in the table saw cabinet, so I could re-install it. That made a significant dent in things. Today I plan to get the partitions cut for the router cabinet, and start to cut the dado’s to do the assembly. I need to glue up two panels for dividers, and I may even get that done as well.

What really got me thinking was how useful my workbench can be, when I don’t have it cluttered up. I don’t know if it’s just me, but a clean workbench is much more efficient – I can just go in, do a job and be done very quickly. Perhaps it’s too late for a new years resolution, but I’m going to start a new months resolution to keep my work bench cleaned off. (And while I’m at it, the table saw/router top as well). If I can break the habit of just piling stuff on horizontal surfaces in my shop, I suspect I can be a happier more productive woodworker.

How about you? Do you find it easier to keep a clean bench, or to let stuff pile up until you need to use it?


A tip to save a few pennies…

on band aids!

I teach a couple of classes at Woodcraft, and in the ones we use chisels, I’m extremely conscious of the fact that we are wielding a piece of razor sharp steel on the end of nice long lever that can do some real damage. My tip, is to hold the chisel by the tip, when you are doing handwork.

photo 1 Holding the chisel back at the handle and trying to push it through the wood, is an invitation to put your other hand on the far side of the piece. As Rob Cosman has pointed out  – that means everything up to the hilt is likely to go through the body part you put in front of the chisel. Instead, use your power hand to act as the hilt (limited the depth) and keep your fingers out of the way using a grip like this:photo 3photo 2


Notice two things in this grip – my forefinger is placed below the blade tip, and acts as a fulcrum – and my thumb is choked up on the blade almost to the tip. (Update: Doug Needham points out that the same approach can be used with the off hand if you use one hand on the handle for a more powerful cut – either way, you keep your soft parts behind the cutting edge).  The idea is to keep the amount of cutting steel visible, to at or below what I need. Rob’s tip on this is that doing it this way is a stitch – doing it the other way is flowers (or taps!).


5/4 Pine stock – at Home Depot?

So I ‘m at Home Depot earlier this week, to pick up the 1×5’s I use to create the lattice under the router cabinet base. I get frustrated at the lumber racks when people move stuff around, but don’t put it back. I reached into the 1×5 rack to start moving the 1×4’s out of the way, and the first thing I notice is these critters are THICK! what the heck!?!?! it’s not as thick as a two-by, but it’s nearly that thick. And it’s not construction lumber – holy smokes… When did Home Depot start selling their premium pine lumber in 5/4″ thickness?

I have to rethink a couple of projects for the classes now – I’ve used 3/4 pre-processed stock in classes because it works well for the dovetail router jigs. However, I’ve also used it in projects that would have benefited from heavier stock. Now I have another option.

“Things are not difficult to make; what is difficult is putting ourselves in the state of mind to make them.”
– Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957

New switch on the table saw

Woodworking Safety Day May 17, 2014

Woodworking Safety Day May 17, 2014

Big shout out to the MWA for taking on stewardship of Woodworking Safety Week. And thank you Marc Spagnolo for running it all these years!

I replaced the power switch on my table saw last night. It turned out to be more complicated than I thought, but still not very hard. The problem I was encountering was simply that the off setting wasn’t really engaging properly. That left the On switch feeling very touchy. On a couple of occasions I had to hit the off switch paddle a couple times to get the saw to turn off and stay off. And one time – I hit the off button, and after I left the area I bumped the table, and the saw turned back on! That was when I placed an order for a new switch. I found this one from Amazon Woodstock D4151

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