We Heard from a Lot of You

We Heard from a Lot of You

Rob’s Editorial

Contrary to the comment by the Ohio woodworker, D. Gorney described herself as an avid woodworker, mostly interested in building fine pieces of furniture. She’s made bookcases, tables, a drop leaf cabinet with raised panel doors and is currently preparing to re-do all the cabinets in her kitchen, build a pantry in the basement, plus a garden arbor and bench. And she still finds time to make small craft type items!

Questions & Answers

Does Top Price Always Equal Top Quality?

Steve Michels’ experience with Woodline bits has convinced him that top price isn’t necessary to get good quality. The bits measured true to their dimensions (within .001″ +/-) and have held up well and stayed sharp since he bought them last April. He admits that as a hobbyist he doesn’t use them everyday, and the carbide may not be as thick as on more expensive brands, but he got what he needed. A three-piece ogee panel raising set (including a back cutter) cost him half the price of a similar, but higher end Sommerfeld/CMT set. The same philosophy does not, he noted, apply to a table saw where he feels you really need to spend the money to get a good, clean cut.

Among other things, most people judge quality by how long a bit stays sharp. That’s why George Lathbury in to suggested that woodworkers contact a regrinding service in their area and find out what brand they’d recommend or even take in a sample bit for their evaluation. (Most reputable dealers, he contends will take it back if it’s unused or undamaged.) It helped him pick out a good brand — though he didn’t mention the brand — he has a 3/8″ round over that he’s used on pine and MDF for 16 years, and it has never needed sharpening.

Out-feed Table for Powermatic 66

Alan Withey, the original questioner, wrote back his thanks for putting Cyprus on the map and for our answers. He summarized his options as buy it, make it, or look at what’s around and he’s decided to go with the first one. He especially found the Web site suggested by Michael Dresdner to be helpful.

George Lathbury offered some additional advice: For his 10″ JET, which he described as similar to the Powermatic, with a Biesemeyer 50″ fence, he built his out-feed table with a solid core door. He bolted the table hinges to the angle of the rear fence support and used blocks and shims to line that edge up with the saw. Then using his skills as a steel fabricator, he made a swing-out dead man with 1-1/4″ square tubing to support the door. Screw adjusters at the top of the tubing support, level the outboard side of the door to the table. Rout out for the T-slots and you have a very solid work surface. A woodworker’s vise can also be flush mounted on the edge, the 1-5/8″ thick door will accept bench dogs if they are mortised in, and he has his router mounted in the extension table.

Pine Wood Staining Problem

A 4:1 mixture of alcohol and commercial shellac (already let down) works great for Bob Cleereman, as a “sanding sealer” on pine. Though he admits it adds a step, his home-made finish is cheaper than store-bought solutions.

Accurate to the Nth Degree

Rich feels that the first response to a concern about the accuracy of a measuring device should have been “THROW IT OUT!” and the next should have been to buy an accurate “try” square. For the latter approach he suggests gathering together four or five of a selected brand (at the store) and checking the squares against each other. Discard any that are not true, then use other brands to go one step further in checking for true. Using his method may allow you to spend less for accuracy. And if your perfect try square is ever dropped on the floor, any accuracy will be ruined, and you should return to response one: throw it out!

Web Surfer’s Review

What’s on Your Workshop Wall?

DeJure’s favorite shop wall sayings: “The reason I have what you want is because I never lent it out before” and “Where there is no solution, there cannot be a problem.”

Dealing with Joiner Problems

For leveling in-feed and out-feed tables, DeJure also suggests using a cheap laser level (e.g., from Harbor Freight). In his approach, from a common spot, shoot at sheets with graduated marks on both surfaces like a surveyor.

Handle Questions for Woodturning Tools

Paul Laesch has heard that longer-handled tools were intended for turning bowls … to obtain adequate leverage when the cutting surface is nearest the center of the bowl and furthest from the normal tool rest.

Shop Space Heaters

After reading a woodworker’s description of how an infrared gas heater “doesn’t heat the air, but the object it’s pointing at (like the sun shining on the earth)”, Rob Retter felt compelled to point out:

1. Since the “infrared” part of the spectrum is also called radiant heat, combining the term with the word “heater” is like saying “heat heaters”.
2. The sun shining on the earth does heat the air, on the way to the ground.
3. The term “infrared heaters,” he speculates, is a marketing concoction, since he thinks they are no more and perhaps even less effective than small forced-air heaters.

Tool Maker Insider

Craftsman Tools — 75 Years Old and Still No. 1

Bob Roseman thought our article was not balanced. Citing his experience trying — unsuccessfully — to get replacement parts for his 30-year old Craftsman router, he wonders why Craftsman doesn’t warranty its power tools for life … a practice he declares that other manufacturers follow. He also noted that during frequent visits to Sears (one just recently) he’s never had a chance to try anything hands-on.

Len Gibson, a self-described “avid woodworker” and owner of many Craftsman tools, has always appreciated the way Sears replaced the few hand tools that broke with promptness and few questions. He has, however, more reservations about their power tools. His research indicated that the manufacturer of many Craftsman power tools was Ryobi, a company he describes as not highly rated. He sympathizes with having to compete against the likes of DeWalt, Porter Cable, and Makita, but feels a higher-end manufacturer would better serve the brand. He also noted that Sears/Craftsman products are often advertised at substantial discount. The frequency of these offers makes him wonder if their regular price was inflated and resolves to never buy anything from Sears that isn’t substantially discounted.

After owning several Craftsman battery-powered drills, Bill Graham has a complaint about the price of replacement batteries. They are often sold in pairs and with a price so high that it’s almost more economical to just buy a new drill … something he has done. On principal, it bothers him to have these otherwise good, but now powerless drills sitting around, but he still buys Craftsman!

Fred usually insists that each tool he buys include a parts breakdown, which tells him which parts can be replaced and which cannot. But he slipped up when he purchased a Craftsman shop vac without such a list, and lived to regret it. When the motor brushes went out, he found a $6-$10 replacement was not available and that Sears would only replace the entire motor for $130. Not having any of that, he purchased a small industrial shop vac motor ($39) at a local motor repair shop and spent a couple of hours modifying his Craftsman shop vac to accept it. Was it this cost effective? No, he admits, but it was satisfying. Will he buy another Craftsman tool? Certainly, but only if it includes a parts breakdown that he can review. And he’d apply the same principal to any brand!

Tom Harris thought the historical aspects of the article were excellent. And he’d like see more history-oriented stories about tool brands and manufacturers.

Tool Preview

Clearly Superior: Brett-Guard Sawguards

Rather than everyone automatically replacing all standard issue blade guards, Rob Retter wonders why table saw manufacturers can’t sell a good (like Brett-Guard), but inexpensive guard as part of the basic saw package. One of his theories is that manufactures believe that no matter what they provide it will be immediately removed and replaced upon purchase. He also speculated that some manufacturers might simply refuse to change long established designs … out of sheer laziness or fear of increased liability. In his mind, this latter theory would explain why an auto-stop device (which stops the saw when something non-wood touches the blade) has been kept off the market for the past two years.

Other Reader Comments

Emery boards (for filing fingernails), according to Harold, work great for sanding in small tight spaces. He uses his wife’s used emery boards or suggests you can buy new ones.

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