Products for Safer Sawing

No matter how many years I’ve used a table saw, my blood still runs cold when I think about the potential for a kickback that leads to injury. Thank goodness it hasn’t happened to me. But, others in our community haven’t been so fortunate. You don’t have to search woodworking forums for too long before you’ll find direct proof. The scary photos and war stories are definitely out there. There’s no debating the fact that kickback is one of the leading causes of table saw accidents. We all know it, but what are we doing in our shops to prevent it?

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Top 20 Clever Captions

Those of you who’ve submitted captions to our cabinet saw photo have proven this: woodworkers can take a goofy photo and made something good of it. At well over 100 captions submitted—and counting—it’s clear we’ve got a collective funnybone!

I’ve been wanting to pick a “Top Ten” list, but between the captions posted to our Facebook page and here on the blog, there are too many good ones for just ten fingers. (And despite all those cabinet saws, I still have ten to count with.) So, with Matt Becker’s help—he’s got all ten digits, too—we’ve picked 20 of the funniest ones. If yours didn’t make the cut (yeah, couldn’t help that one), it’s nothing personal. These just made us laugh out loud…but there were plenty of chuckles and smiles for the rest.

See if you agree:

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A Darker Side to Loaning Tools?

2LOANINGTOOLS2Thanks to all of you who left comments regarding my recent blog post “Loaning Tools: What’s Your Take?”

That was lively feedback, and you’ve left a lot of food for thought on this topic. Responses ranged from “share and share alike” to “no way, no how, no matter who asks.” Clearly, we have definite opinions on this issue—and some of us have learned hard lessons from loaning stuff out. But, a couple of your comments suggest that there could be a bigger problem with loaning tools than not getting them back in tip-top shape. Chuck V and R Graf suggest that there’s potential tool liability we should be concerned about if someone gets hurt while using our tools. In case you didn’t follow the complete thread, here are their posts:

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A Peek Behind the Curtain

Leigh1Because I am a woodworking tool geek, one of the things I really like about my job is that I not only get to see the plethora of new woodworking products as they are launched, but I often get to see them firsthand and get a demonstration of how they work.  (No tedious reading of the instruction manuals for me, no sir!)

A good example of this came recently when Matthew Grisley of Leigh Industries dropped by to demonstrate their new Super FMT Jig ( I have had the pleasure of knowing Matt and his family for many years now, so this demo meeting was a double treat for me. This jig forms both mortises and tenons with one setup, much like their original FMT jig, but at almost half the cost. (A great concept with all of us watching our nickels and dimes even more closely these days.)

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Loaning Tools: What’s Your Take?

Ryan's advice about loaning tools? Borrowers to pony up when they pick up.

Ryan's advice about loaning tools? Borrowers should pony up when they pick it up.

A big sawdusty thanks to all of you who left comments about the recent blog post “Got Rules for Your Tools?”. I think we woodworkers are a pretty organized, attention-to-details sort of bunch. So it came as no surprise that you folks would have some rules to live by in your shop. Still waiting to hear from some of you that don’t choose to keep the place spotless. Maybe us neatniks are missing something…

Aside from being a kick to read, your “rules” also had me nodding yes. No goofing off. Keep wet beverages off the table saw. Wear your shoes in the shop. Keep things sorted. Goggles on or you’re gone.

Yep. Check. Agreed. (Guess there’s some shop teacher genes in many of us.)

But, I’ve just got to call attention to a topic raised by Ryan, in his response:

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In Defense of An Old Friend

Sometimes the first tool you reach for points out an instinctive favorite. One of mine is Porter-Cable's 690 router.

Sometimes the first tool you reach for is a personal favorite. One of mine is Porter-Cable's 690 fixed-base router.

Lately I’ve been churning out a lot of router dovetails, and that, of course, means choosing a router. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve got several different routers on the shelf. But what did I reach for first? My good old Porter-Cable 690LRVS with a fixed base.

And that got me thinking about favorite tools.

Now, you’ll notice that Porter-Cable isn’t sponsoring this blog post. They don’t even know I’m writing it. It was just me, alone in the shop as usual on a Monday morning, and the thought process was about this simple: “Gotta rout dovetails this week…need a router…grab the 690.” My gut drove the decision.

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Got Rules for Your Tools?

When it comes to staying organized, drawers work for me.

When it comes to staying organized, drawers work for me.

“Put things back where you find them.”

Can you still hear that one ringing in your ears from childhood? I can, but in my shop, it’s one rule I really do try to live by.

Some woodworkers wonder what kind of real work gets done in a clean shop. I guess for those folks, clutter helps get the creative juices flowing, or at least it doesn’t grind productivity to a halt. But the “Oscar Madison” approach sure doesn’t work for me. Continue reading

Angling Without the Snags

Sutherland Tools Bevel Boss takes all the guesswork out of setting accurate cutting angles.

Sutherland Tools Bevel Boss takes all the guesswork out of setting accurate cutting angles.

About six years ago, I was building some outdoor furniture with lots of angles to them, and the closest thing I had to an angle-setting device was my speed square. No offense to you hard-core carpenters out there, but frankly, a speed square seems better suited to rafter tails than woodworking.

I always felt like I was plus or minus a few degrees on my cuts, which just wasn’t cutting it, so to speak. I needed something more accurate that I could really trust.

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Grinders Bite Back

Common sense has to guide all of our actions and reactions when working with shop machinery—even the relatively "safe" tools.

Common sense has to guide all of our actions and reactions when working with shop machinery—even when using those relatively "safe" tools.

The other day, while grinding a fresh edge on my turning chisels, I was reminded of a rather searing injury from my past. It’s proof that sometimes the “safe” tools are the ones that bite you back. Here’s what happened…

You might remember an Arts & Crafts Wine Cabinet I built for the magazine back in the August 2003 issue. I was nearly finished with the project and ready to hang the doors. The hinge screws were all a little too long to work right, so I decided to grind them down instead of buying shorter ones. Nothing particularly unsafe about that.

Or so I thought.

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