Responding to Rob’s Letter

Responding to Rob’s Letter

Rob’s Editorial

How Do YOU Choose?

Roberta Moreton works hard for her money and first needs to justify the use of the tool. Then she looks at the features … are they important to her? Does it fit her … is it balanced … is it not too heavy, but substantial. And finally … what’s the warranty and price … and how do they compare with others. What’s most important? Ease of use sold her on the DeWalt scroll saw. The warranty gave the edge to the Ridgid spindle sander. Features and balance sold her on the Firestorm cordless drill.

Whether it’s MADE IN USA is the first criterion for James D. Cornwall. After that’s established, he looks at quality, fair price, performance, and features. Only if he can’t find anything made here will he consider offshore sources … with Asian sources at the bottom of his list.

Price is the main factor for Joe Allen, although he may make exceptions for his favorite brands (Bosch and Porter-Cable), for bigger machines (Grizzly prices help), hand tools (cheap ones are junk), and for bits and blades (should be the best quality).

Noting that we never seem to review or compare no-name brand tools, Keith Anderson points out that not everyone has the money to buy the best … especially if we’re just trying something out. He also feels that ability is more important than having the right high-priced tool. That out of the way, he admitted that the right tool did improve the quality of his work, but explained that his tools were a mix of name brands and cheaper, off-shore knockoffs … all of which worked fine.

When it comes to purchases over $200, Bill first determines which tool will give him the most bang for his buck. Then he researches features and the company behind it. If possible, he buys American, but only if the price and quality are right. His money is tight, so he keeps close track of big retail promotions and surfs the net for bargains.

With tongue perhaps in cheek, Baer Charlton accumulates all the ads, brochures and other background information on each model. Using a scale of 1-10, he uses the dossiers to rate each product and enters the number in column “A,” Then, he takes the number of years in business, divided by number of products manufactured, multiplied by products actually made in the USA, and divided by number of employees in offshore plants and enters that number in column “B.” Creating a list of pros and cons for each manufacturer, he comes up with a number reflecting the balance between the two. That number is then multiplied by the salesman factor: 2.1 for professionals, 1.0 for amateurs, and -1.9 for the “drivel that comes out of a salesperson’s yap that just two months before was asking if you wanted fries with that”. The number is combined with those in A and B and entered into column “C.” He then presents his selection to his wife as what he needs to make her that new “______” for her. More seriously, he advises buying the best you can afford, but that still fits your needs.

Three words — research, research, research – guide Toshi Kinoshita’s decision-making process. He goes online, he asks about firsthand experience and he tries to buy the best quality he can afford … or that his wife says he can afford. If it’s going to get plenty of use, he leans toward high quality. For limited or specific projects, price is more of a factor.

Though relatively new to woodworking, Jeff Conrad has established a pretty clear process for choosing new tools. Generally, if the tool will help him earn money, he’ll buy the best. If it’s a one-time need, he’ll beg, borrow or rent the tool … or buy it at the lowest price. Once he decides to buy, he follows a more detailed criteria:

– Quality … based on magazine reviews, web forum feedback, warranty.

– Is it the right tool for the job and easy to use/setup?

– Features … new stuff that really makes a difference (e.g. laser “sight” line Craftsman saw is nearly a “must.”)

– Price … when it comes down to two or three equally qualified models.
Reputation … if everything else is equal, go with the brand you trust.

Today’s Woodworker

Richard Jones: Professional Furniture Maker

Don Rumrill tells us the method used by Richard Jones to calculate drawer heights is called the Fibonacci Series and was first developed by Leonardo of Pisa (known as the “son of Bonaccio” or “filius Bonacci,” which is shortened to Fibonacci) in 13th century Italy. He also noted that the series is related to the Greek’s Golden Rectangle used to proportion temples such as the Parthenon.


Using Splines

Don Jones wrote that he uses splines in his butt-joined miters — one or two depending on the width of the piece — and that they make a fairly strong joint, and the contrasting spline wood makes an attractive accent. Using a mortise and tenon bit to cut the slots, here’s his method:

Cut a long length of spline at the same angles as the router bit, cut off the excess with a flush-cut handsaw, and sand.

Make a simple “M-shaped” jig … a board is attached to the base of the “M” with a slot cut to accommodate the router bit. The angle for the jig is the same as the piece to be splined. (90 degrees for a picture frame.) The router table fence adjusts the spline position.

Hard vs. Soft Wood

Contrary to popular conceptions, Ron Orr pointed out that the arbutus tree of the West Coast is a non-deciduous hardwood.

Going Cordless – But What About The Batteries?

According to Tom Johnson, Battery Plus Inc stores claim they can replace or repair any battery with either Ni-Cad or Ni-MH.

First Tools

Referring back a few issues, Johnny Z declared that his first choice in buying tools would be a good table saw …at least a contractors size (it’s the most versatile tool in the wood shop: it can also be used as a shaper, jointer, and sander). Next would come a good jointer … at least a 6″ (it’s indispensable for tight glue joints). Third would be a radial saw (which, along with the table saw, can do anything a sliding miter saw can do). And be sure to check voltage requirements before you buy to avoid surprises back home.

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