On Steaming (and Flaming) Dents

On Steaming (and Flaming) Dents

Do We Have the Capacity to Change Capacitors?

A suggestion that changing a motor capacitor might be a job best left to professionals spawned a spate of insistent emails that it is really not that hard to do. One helpful writer even suggested York Capacitors, containing a wealth of both information and cautions about capacitors.  Others raised some frightening warnings. Read these before deciding if it is something you care to tackle. – Editor

“Just a quick comment about changing capacitors. Some are electrolytic capacitors and are identified with polarity markings. Be sure to connect them correctly, as electrolytic capacitors may explode quite violently if they are connected backwards. I demonstrated this to my students every semester for 37 years before retiring last year. It was a lesson several would tell me years later that they never forgot.” – Wayne M. Hope

“Finding the part is the biggest challenge. Replacing a capacitor is a simple job. If you can unscrew or unplug two or three wires, and record the terminals they relate to on a piece of paper, you can easily replace a capacitor. In most cases it is really as simple as unplugging two or three color-coded wires at two or three clearly marked spade terminals. Some caution should be used when handling it, as the nature of a capacitor is to store electrical energy, and so it should be unused for a length of time and preferably grounded to discharge any stored energy.” – Bob Forkish

Is There Metal in MDF?

A message board thread in eZine Issue 164 suggested that the “M” in MDF [medium density fiberboard] might as well stand for metal, since manufacturers grind up stray metal nails left in the wood while making it. We wondered if this was really true and asked people in the industry to respond and give us the lowdown on this issue. – Editor 

“I work in the MDF industry in New Zealand, and our product is exported to your country. We go to great lengths using magnets and metal detectors in the entire process to ensure no metal enters the system as it will damage the expensive press belts and leave visual defects on the board. And, yes, unfortunately the board is hard on tools. This is because of the type of resins used. Hope this info helps.” – Vernon Perry

“Having supplied the forest products industry with both magnets and metal detectors, I am pretty sure there is very little metallic iron in the product. The industry uses them more for their own protection than product purity. Ferrous metal can cause a spark in a grinding system when it hits the bars, blades or knives of a grinder and this can, under the right (or should I say the wrong) conditions cause an explosion in a dust-filled atmosphere. I suspect the problem may be fillers used in the manufacture that may contain a fairly high silica content. This could cause wear and dulling of high speed machine tools.” – Joe Paterson

That’s the view from the manufacturing side, and it certainly seems as if they go all out to avoid metal. However, this next letter suggests that metal does slip through, at least occasionally. – Editor

“You really do find metal in MDF. I once watched as an extremely expensive prototype saw blade cut through two screws in a sheet of MDF.” – Tom Walz

Then there are those, like Edward, who very sensibly resort to logic. – Editor

“I have also come across bits of metal in particleboard and hardboard, but I can’t visualize any manufacturer of wood products intentionally allowing metal in the manufacturing process. If they did, their tooling would get dull as well, and as their cutters are as expensive, if not more so, than the ones we use; that would not be good for business.” – Edward A. Miller


“I just want to comment on how much I am enjoying this valuable source of information. For a novice woodworker it is so important to have this access from the people who know what they are doing and are so willing to share with us. It is greatly appreciated.” – C. Thomas Vogt

We’re just glad we can be here to help. – Editor

“I read it. All of it. I like it. Thank you.” – Al Fournier

You’re welcome. We try hard. We are flattered. Thank you. – Editor

“I read the eZine every time it comes out, and it is just great. You guys overseas think you have it bad, but here in Australia, if we don’t use pine we pay an arm and leg for any decent quality timber.” – Rod Maxwell

Don’t kid yourself, Rod. We complain about the price of good wood just as much as our friends “down under,” and probably with as much cause to do so. – Editor

On Steaming (and Flaming) Dents

“As a volunteer firefighter for over 35 years, I urge further caution if attempting the ‘wet and light’ method to remove a depression in a piece of wood. Do not do this if any sawing or sanding has been done recently in the area. The microscopic particles in the air can make for an explosion the minute you light the flammable liquid. Just being extra cautious.” – Tom Frisbie

We agree wholeheartedly, Tom, which is why we added the somewhat parental sounding warning to that woodworking message board thread, and suggested that we strongly favor the water method. – Editor

“In removing dents from wood, it is imperative that you apply the water and iron first before sanding. If you sand first, you will raise the surrounding wood, and you will still be able to see the mark no matter what you do. If you add water, and then iron, and then sand, the blemish will disappear.” – Paul Christensen

Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery

“Thank you for the luthiery article. Although there are far fewer woodworkers who build instruments than furniture, those of us who build guitars, hammered dulcimers and other instruments must be very accurate in what we do or the sound won’t be good no matter how good the instrument looks.” – Ken Stephens

“Perhaps I missed it, but I did not find a location for this guitar making school anywhere in the article.” – Len Smith

The first line of the tenth paragraph was “The school itself sits on a nine-acre parcel in Phoenix…” For those who need more specifics, we always include a hyperlink that takes you directly to the pertinent web site. In case you missed it, here’s the one for Roberto-Venn. – Editor

Rob’s Reducing Regimen

“Bravo! I truly enjoy reading your articles, and this is a wonderful one. I actually laughed out loud to the point that the person in the office next to me came to my office and read over my shoulder. She laughed also. Thank you for giving us some humor with which to begin our day. Happy New Year, and good luck with the weight loss plan. I think you could market it. Start thinking infomercials and videos.” – Eric Smith

We’ll get right on that, Eric. – Editor

Typo Corner

Here’s where straying fingers create modest chuckles. – Editor

“I have red oat floors.”

Sounds like a whole grain approach to cost-effective flooring, since oats are probably cheaper than oak. – Editor

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