A Bad Day in the Shop
Issue: Issue 2.12
Posted Date: 7/17/2001
This is the kind of little shop of horror story we can all relate to but still cringe inwardly when we hear it. The short version of this is a woodworker goes out to his shop to plane a glued-up chunk of ash he was making into an electric guitar. The 12" planer wasn't cutting well, so he opened it up and found shavings in there interfering with the blades. Blade removal was called for.
He got one blade out fine, though the screws were pretty tight. The other blade had stuck screws that just weren't coming loose with the allen supplied with the planer and then another allen wrench that would provide more leverage. If any of you have ever had a screw head snap off on you, you know what happened next and can guess what kind of language that prompts.
Two screws sheared and left nothing left behind to grip with pliers or vise grips. He tried other methods but finally drilled the screws with the idea that he would just replace them. That got one of them but not the other. He secretly wished for a tool that would drill into the screw with reverse threads so he could get this out. He later found one at Home Depot and got a screw hole tap, too (because the planer manufacturer used non standard threads). The screw extractor didn't work, so he started tapping a new hole - very carefully.
Now, if we ask you to sit down, you probably know what happened next. The tap broke, shearing off in the hole below the cutter head.
This is where he gave up, picked up a #7 hand plane and finished the project in what he thought was an ironic "Neanderthal" twist. This remarkably honest woodworker titled his message, "what I did over the weekend, or, how to waste over 6 hours just to ruin over $300 worth of machinery and tools."
What is also remarkable is how many of the readers have had this kind of thing happen to them. One wrote, "man, you handled it better than I did. I have my own fish pond with a Delta 22-540 residing in the deep end and providing cover for the fish. I don't recommend this solution."