A Woodworker Describes His Unique Challenges

Rhode Islander David Albrektson wrote to tell us how much he enjoyed the eZine. A woodworker for 30 years, David’s now legally blind (with light perception only), but hasn’t let that slow down his interest. Currently in the market for a new band saw, his shop already includes a 10″ table saw, 13″ planer, 6″ jointer, radial drill press, radial arm saw, a couple of routers and numerous portable hand and power tools. David is interested in using wood more sparingly for both economic and environmental reasons and started buying maple, oak and pine from a local sawmill. The challenge facing anyone who is blind, David explained, is not to figure out how sighted people use tools, but how to achieve the quality results he or she wants. Adjusting jointer knives, ripping to exact width, planing to exact thickness and routing to the desired depth all provide challenges for him. David is also helping a sighted friend learn woodworking skills while they work together on projects.

Though he thinks Michael Dresdner’s response to Illogical Jointer Set-up was correct, J. L. Cusimano wanted to add the clarification that the in-feed and out-feed tables are not supposed to be on the same plane but on parallel planes & so setting the fence square to one sets it square to the other. Robert Galloway thought it should be asked if the knives were set parallel to the outfeed table or set with the feeler gauge at an equal distance from the edge of the out-feed table & & since no manufacturer would make any claims about the edge of either table.

After seeing our reference to a recall in New Blade for an Old Saw, Jack Quinn thought other readers would be interested in a recall on the battery chargers that came with Skil “Warrior” drills and other battery powered tools. Since the tool is now discontinued, Skil is replacing the charger and the drill and two batteries. The recall information is at the Skil web siteSteve Giamundo wrote to thank us for pointing out the article and recall when he coincidently sent in a question about kickback problems he was having with the saw.

Upon seeing our article on Jigsaw Preferences, George Lathbury decided to share some of his wisdom regarding jigsaws and other tools:

  • Most problems are overcome by maintaining patience and control.
  • Any reciprocating-type saw allows the blade to bend with side thrust. It takes practice to control and apply force evenly in one direction.
  • If blades are dull, you’ll tend to force the cut, lose control, and end up applying side thrust.
  • The barrel grip on some jigsaws lowers the center of gravity and applies force closer to the cut point and reduces the leverage over the blade. This also puts more weight to the back of the shoe & the largest and most stable portion.
  • The shortcoming of the top handle grip (over the motor) on some jigsaws can be overcome by using both hands & one to press down and pull the trigger, the other to apply force to the rear of the saw.
  • Drills are another example of bad handle design. With most designs, applied force is 20 to 25 degrees off center. To apply it more directly over the drill bit, pull the trigger with the second or third finger to move your hand higher on the handle.
  • Pull saws (such as Shark) allow more control and the use of thinner blades because the blade is flexed less on the pull stroke than it is on standard carpenter’s push saws.
  • Practice, practice, practice!

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