Readers Pipe Up

Readers Pipe Up

Oil and Water: A question about waterbased stains elicited this comment from a reader. – Editor

“Why did Michel Dresdner not point out the important compatibility point that if you use an oil – based stain under an oil finish you’re asking for trouble?” – Ray Small

Probably because it is not true. Both oil-based and waterbased stains are quite compatible under an oil-based finish. It is only the other way around, waterbased finish over oil stains, that you might run into trouble, but even that is not an absolute, since many waterbased finishes will adhere over many oil-based stains. – Editor

Readers Pipe Up

In an answer to a question about compressed air lines, one of our experts said that both hard drawn copper and black pipe were acceptable. That drew these responses. – Editor

“What’s wrong with soft coiled copper? In refrigeration service it is exposed to pressures sometimes exceeding 400 psi, much higher than any normal air compressor will generate.” – Willard H. Duffey, Sr.

“I have a big workshop and the entire shop is plumbed for air with copper pipe and soldered fittings and has been in use over 15 years. I agree steel is much cheaper these days, but how many people with small shops have threading gear and the knowledge to use it properly?” – Andrew Fowler

Others had a contrary view of copper pipe. – Editor

“You may find heavy-duty copper pipe, but the normal elbows and fittings are the weak link. They are not designed to hold high air or gas pressure.” – Jim FitzGerald

Judging from the following, plastic pipe is another favorite among woodworkers. – Editor

“I used three-quarter-inch PVC with solvent-welded fittings. It works just fine, and I have used it up to 100 psi. It is inexpensive and quick and easy to install. It has been installed for several years with no leaks or problems, so that seems to be another option.” – David Bunker

“I’m a retired professional cabinetmaker, and I used plastic air lines throughout my six-story building for 30 years, with no problems. When I installed the piping, I slanted it so it would drain back to the compressor on the third floor. It worked great, and no condensation at the tool ports.” – Robert A. Thomas

“We built our air system of schedule 80 PVC pipe. It is easy to handle and is the cheapest way to go. We used our original system for around three years, and it never failed us.” – Kenneth McCutchen

“Copper is expensive, black iron is cheaper, yes, but how about all the cutting and threading? Common CPVC water line is fine, probably the least costly and certainly the easiest to install. Operating pressure of the material is 100 psi at 180 degrees F. I’m about to install shop air and plan to use three-quarter-inch diameter CPVC. At first, I considered the idea ridiculous, but after seeing an air line installation at a local auto shop using it and operating regularly at 150 psi, I changed my mind.” – David L. Hall

But not everyone is a fan of plastic pipe, or black pipe, for that matter. This writer had two warnings to share. – Editor

“I wouldn’t recommend using black pipe (or any other ferrous pipe) for an air line to the workshop. The inside will quickly form rust due to moisture in the compressed air. I ran my pneumatic line using type ‘L’ rigid copper tubing. Copper is highly recommended by all major air compressor manufacturers for this purpose. Copper will never rust or corrode and will easily withstand air pressures in excess of 120 psi. Also, don’t even think of using anything like PVC. It’ll work OK for a short time, but the air will dry out the material, creating weak areas, and could eventually lead to an explosion!” – Dan Pottenger

Roy Underhill

After a reader mentioned that Roy made a shave horse on one of his Woodwright’s Shop shows, we identified the particular episode. In response, we got this gentle gibe. – Editor

“You’re a PBS geek, aren’t you? Keep up the outstanding work, I love the magazine.” – Richard Barber

Yep, we certainly are, and proud of it. Thanks for the kind words about the magazine, Richard. – Editor

Typo Corner

Our funniest segment, the typo corner, wouldn’t be possible without the help of spell check programs, and we suspect this next entry owes its existence to one. – Editor

“I used to build canapés…”

As this gent was writing to a woodworking publication as opposed to a cooking magazine, we are almost certain he meant to say that he built canopies, and not hors d’oeuvres. – Editor


“I just finished reading the article on Waterlox. I have used it for about 70 years, and it has worked very well for me. My father and grandfather were cabinetmakers. I am over 80 and still love it.” – Larry Toburen

That’s impressive, Larry. There are darned few folks out there who can give a recommendation of any finish they have personally used for 70 years. – Editor


“To say I am a little bit angry and miffed at your sending someone to Asia is an understatement. I am not sure why you would send someone to Asia, especially China, to see how our tools are made. I support the ‘Boycott Made in China’ campaign. Why should we be supporting and in effect advertising that government and those products?” – Al Compoly

Exploring what the manufacture of woodworking tools in Asia means to woodworkers in the U.S. – our primary audience, although Woodworker’s Journal, and particularly the eZine, has subscribers from around the world – is one of the reasons I am currently in Asia. A trip to find out more does not mean I “support” one side or the other of an argument: it means I am gathering facts to present to our readers. I do know that I enjoy the opportunity to communicate with woodworkers all over the world, including those in China. – Rob Johnstone

Sadly, most of our tools are being made in China, but I still buy tools made in the U.S.A., and if all of us only bought tools made in the U.S.A. all of our tools would be made here, and a lot more people would have good-paying jobs. What is happening here is not worth saving a few bucks on a saw or drill that we are going to have for many years. Divide the few bucks saved by the years you have the tool (or car). Don’t forget to add the cost to our country of having good, hard-working people who can’t find a decent job. I hope you enjoy China. I wish you were just going there for a vacation though. – Susan Rice

One of the reasons I decided to take this trip was to see what was happening in Asia and what was the scope of this situation. As I am sure that you know, the tool industry is not the only segment of the economy that is shifting its production to Asia. What I have discovered is that manufacturing is moving to Asia from all over the developed world: North America, Europe and even places like the Middle East. A question that some of the tool makers have asked me when I challenged them on choosing to move to Asia is: am I applying the same standard to other products that I am to woodworking tools? Do I only buy computers made in the U.S.? How about cars, cell phones, clothing, shoes, etc.? – Rob Johnstone

Posted in: