§ by Randy Maxey on November 29th, 2007
If you’re a subscriber to Woodsmith or ShopNotes magazine, or live in the state of Iowa, you probably already know that we’ve been busy around here. We’ve been working hard on a new TV show that has been airing on public television (PBS) stations in Iowa and will soon be available nationally in December.
The Woodsmith Shop is unlike any other woodworking show you’ve seen. It’s the first one to be filmed and produced (by Iowa Public Television) in High Definition. That means the picture quality is unsurpassed. You’ll see all the details of the tips and techniques we talk about on the show.
Second, The Woodsmith Shop isn’t a project-based show. What I mean is we’ll spend an entire episode talking about a particular woodworking joint, tool, or technique instead of building a project. That means you’ll get more detail about woodworking than you’ll find on any other show. And you’ll have the opportunity to download project plans and articles from our web site that are related to the show’s content.
We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback so far from those that have seen the show. And a lot of folks nationwide are anxious to take a look. Now is the time to take a minute to email or call your local public television station and tell them you heard about The Woodsmith Shop and want to see it in your area. This link will take you to the show’s web site where you can find out if the show is airing in your area. You’ll also get a list of PBS stations in your area and a contact link for each station.
Let us know what you think of the show.
§ by Randy Maxey on November 28th, 2007
Well, the news from the Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps rolling in. Today, I received notice that Performax and Wilton miter saws are being recalled. These are Chinese import brands distributed by WMH Tool Group (makers of Jet and Powermatic tools).
Here’s the hazard they’re reporting:
“The saw handle’s switch can fail, causing the saw to smoke, spark, and trip circuit breakers, and disable the safety brake. The saw also can keep operating unless the unit is unplugged, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.”
Yikes. You can contact WMH Tool Group for a new saw or a full refund if your saw is included in the recall.
For additional information, contact WMH at (800) 689-9928 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.wmhtoolgroup.com.
You can read the entire text of the recall notice here.
§ by Randy Maxey on November 26th, 2007
I’ll admit it. When it came time to set up my shop, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on lighting. Yep…I’m cheap. So I went to my local big box store and picked out the least expensive flourescent shop lights I could find. But just so you don’t think I’m a total cheapskate, I did upgrade half of the tubes to the newer (and more expensive) daylight or full-spectrum tubes for more natural lighting. I learned that lesson from our new shop here at August Home Publishing. Natural lighting makes a big difference.
Now, my cheapness may come back to haunt me. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has sent out notification of a product recall for shop lights made by Cooper Lighting. You can read all about the recall here. To see the announcement on the CPSC web site, click here.
Well, since my shop lights look suspiciously like the ones that are being recalled, looks like I’ll have to climb a ladder and check them out. And if yours look like the one shown in the photo here, you should do the same.
§ by Joel Hess on November 12th, 2007
How many times have you overheard somebody make this comment? “Finishing is my least favorite part of woodworking. It’s so hard to figure out the difference between BLO and Danish oil and Teak oil, and all the other brands of varnishes and oils available.” I’ve been woodworking for years and I totally agreed with the comment. But it doesn’t have to be such a mystery.
Doug Hicks has a clear and concise way of explaining it all during this weeks Woodsmith Woodworking Seminar Podcast. Instead of “…apply two coats and let dry,” his directions for finishing with varnishes and oils will make everything crystal clear.
You’ll want to pick up the Seminar Guide at the Woodsmith Podcast Store. It’s full of great information on oils and varnishes.
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§ by Joel Hess on November 8th, 2007
I’m keenly aware of the affects of breathing in too much dust thanks to an unfortunate attempt years ago to carve a duck decoy with a moto-tool! Now, whenever I’m sanding or routing (or doing any job that produces a lot of fine dust) I wear a dust mask. The problem with your typical dust mask is that they don’t work very well.
Believe me, this is not an area where “good enough” suffices. You certainly don’t want to scrimp on dust protection, but too often I’m using an old mask that’s past the point of effectiveness. That’s why I recently spent the money on a half-mask respirator (photo at left). I like this 3M product for several reasons, including the fact that it’s comfortable to wear and economical (they retail most places for around $10 – $12).
But the thing I like best about it is that there are a wide variety of filters available. There are cartridges and filters designed to be used when working with sawdust, as well as fiberglass insulation, pesticides, lawn chemicals, and spray finishes. The respirator I purchased didn’t come with a cartridge included, so I was able to save a little by buying just the ones I needed.
I picked up my respirator at McFeely’s.com, but they’re available at several locations including Ace Hardware and Lowes.
§ by Joel Hess on November 7th, 2007
My shop is only 400 square feet. Things are always underfoot and I’m constantly having to move one machine so that I can get to another. The lathe is stored in an adjacent (finished) room, the miter saw and stand are out in the garage, and I have to set up a couple of sawhorses out there just to cut a sheet of plywood down to size. Boy, what I wouldn’t give for a big addition to my house for a new shop!
The problem is, I don’t have an extra 25 grand laying around to spend on fixing up my home. But I could. And so could you.
That’s because Home Depot is giving away a $25,000 gift card (and many more prizes) to the best YouTube video entry showcasing the projects Home Depot customers would like to tackle around the house. You can submit your video from November 10 to December 15, 2007, and the winners will be announced sometime just before Christmas.
Think about it, you could finally add that gourmet kitchen you’ve always wanted…or put on a new roof…or add a backyard getaway…replace all the flooring…the list goes on and on. Or if you need some really great ideas for your video, pick up a free preview issue of Workbench. It’s full of practical ideas for your improving home.
Are you feeling creative? Then get to it.
To keep track of everyone’s videos, log in to YouTube and join the Home Depot “Gift Card” group.
§ by Randy Maxey on November 5th, 2007
This weekend was one of those weekends when my lovely wife made it very clear that she had some things she wanted me to get done around the house. One of those tasks I had managed to put off for over a year.
She wanted a white board put up in the kitchen so she’d have a place to write her grocery list, notes, and whatever else came to mind. Our 1960′s-vintage kitchen still has the original cabinets with the rabbeted plywood doors. But the way the cabinets were built, there’s a bumpout in one corner that is essentially the back side of a closet. Strange floor plan, I know, but this whole house is strange. Anyway, where the wall cabinets meet this bumpout, there’s an adjacent empty space on the wall that had been framed in 1×2′s. The area is about 28″ high by 14″ wide. A perfect size and location for a whiteboard, my wife so strongly hints.
So here’s the challenge: Can I get a ¼” whiteboard panel to fit inside this framed area without having to add trim to hide any gaps? I brought in my framing square and was pleasantly surprised to find out that one corner was only out of square by about 1/8″ over the 28″ length. “Hmmm. Not bad,” I thought. “This will be easier than I thought.” (Usually, this thought gets me into serious trouble…but not this time.)
I cut the panel just about 1/16″ oversized on my table saw and kept trimming a little off until the panel just started to slide into the “narrow” end of the frame. Knowing that I had to take about another 1/16″ off the other end of the panel, I went back to my table saw, folded up an old business card to four thickness, and put it between my panel and the rip fence at one end. That effectively “tapered” the cut. I checked the fit of the panel and it was real close to fitting. So I brought my small block plane into the kitchen and kept shaving the edges here and there until the panel could be held in place with friction only. Of course, my ten-year old walks in while I was planing and says, “Dad, why are you doing that in the kitchen?”
After a few rounds of planing and test-fitting, I ended up not needing any glue or screws to hold the panel in place. And there was barely any noticable gap around the panel. Nothing beats a block plane for final trimming and fitting.
I was happy to get another project checked off my list and my lovely bride was happy to have a place to make a list.
§ by Randy Maxey on November 2nd, 2007
A sure sign that your table saw blade needs attention is when it becomes difficult to push the workpiece through the cut. Or when the shop fills full of smoke as you try to cut that piece of maple. That’s what happened to me in my continuing saga of saw blades. I mentioned in this post that I had a couple of blades that needed sharpened. Now I’m not so sure. I spent some time the other evening working on them with an old tooth brush and Boeshield Blade and Bit Resin, Pitch, and Gum Remover.
In ShopNotes No. 96, we had an article about Choosing and Using Bit and Blade Cleaners, including home-made cleaners. A number of folks wrote in to tell us that some of our ideas were crazy or that their solution worked better. We’ve had suggestions from oven cleaner to Formula 409. I say, use whatever works for you. For me, I tend toward the commercial cleaners. Our guys here in the shop seem to like CMT’s Formula 2050 Blade and Bit Cleaner.
Whatever chemical you use, chance are you’re going to need to use a little elbow grease, too. As a matter of fact, it took a couple of applications of cleaner while I was busy scrubbing the residue off of the teeth. I had the blade on several thicknesses of old newspaper and sprayed on the cleaner. After scrubbing one side clean, I flipped the blade over and worked on it. That left all the crud in between the teeth and on the face of each tooth. Here, I stood the blade up, sprayed on some more cleaner, and worked my way around the blade with the toothbrush. A little wiping with a rag removed the last of the residue and cleaner.
You’ll be amazed at how your blades look after a good cleaning. I inspected mine closely and couldn’t find any chipped or dull teeth. But it’s hard to make that judgement on looks alone. I’m anxious to make a few test cuts and see if I need to take the next step and actually have them sharpened.