§ by Randy Maxey on June 24th, 2009
Many of you know Joel as the organizer and facilitator of the woodworking, gardening, and cooking demonstrations and seminars at the Woodsmith Store in Des Moines, Iowa. He is also an editor for Woodsmith and ShopNotes magazines and facilitates the blog you’re reading now. It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that Joel lost his wife Lisa on Wednesday, June 24, 2009. She died from complications of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Lisa Hess was an amazing individual filled with kindness and gentleness. She was a gifted gardener and her landscapes were always filled with immense beauty. She will indeed be greatly missed.
Lisa, while you’re tending to gardens much more beautiful than we could imagine, we promise to try and keep Joel out of mischief.
§ by Randy Maxey on March 30th, 2009
The older I get, it seems I’m making more frequent trips to the doctor’s office. If it’s not for an exam, there’s blood to be drawn for lab tests. As my dad is fond of saying, “It stinks getting old.”
But fortunately, woodworking is one of those hobbies that can help keep us — more specifically, our brains — younger. I ran across this article this morning in the Imperial Valley News out of San Diego.
To quote the article:
“A hobby like woodworking, which stimulates the mind through complex measurements, visualization and creative problem solving, can have significant positive effects on the aging brain.”
To me, it’s just another reason to head out to the shop.
§ by Randy Maxey on March 14th, 2008
It’s no secret around the office and among my family members that I have an affinity for old tools. It could be old hand tools or “old iron” power tools. I have a couple of antique scroll saws and a very old three-wheel Craftsman band saw in my shop. I guess I inherited this habit from my dad. He’s always bringing home a “bargain” from the latest garage sale or auction.
Last week, he called me and told me he just “acquired” an old Craftsman planer (model 103.1801 made by King-Seeley). He wanted me to research it and find out what I could about it. Naturally, the first place I look for old manuals and history of old tools is www.owwm.com. They’ve become the online library for photos, tool manuals, and company history for old tools. You can submit photos of your old tools and scanned manuals and parts lists for the rest of the world to share.
As I was trying to research the history of dad’s planer and find a manual for it, I discovered that the OWWM web site was down “due to technical difficulty.” I was heartbroken and afraid that something terrible had happened. I thought perhaps all the data that had been accumulated over the years would be lost. So I emailed the webmaster to get the scoop. Here was his reply as of 10:00pm CST on Thursday, the 13th of March 2008:
We had some issue with our former host and changes that they made to their server that “broke” the code that runs our site. To resolve this problem, we decided that the best course of action was to invest in a new server, which we will own and control. This has turned into a longer process than we first anticipated. We first had to raise around $2,500 for the hardware and software to run our site. We fortunately were able to get the majority of this donated through our many members. Next, we had to order a server, which took several weeks to get built and delivered. The new server arrived at our new host late last Friday and they have been working hard this week getting it set up to run. We are very close to launching the new site – maybe by the end of this week but in reality, probably the first of next week. No data was lost, it is just taking us longer than we like to get everything up and running on the new server.
Hopefully, they’ll be back up and running soon.
Do you want to know how OWWM got started? Well, you’ll have to wait until the web site is back up and running, but when it is, visit this page for a complete history of what got Keith started down this road. It’s an interesting read.
Oh…by the way, Keith puts a lot of time and effort (and dollars) into this web site. If you use and enjoy the content of www.owwm.com, why don’t you donate a few bucks to help him out? You’ll find donation links on the web site.
§ by Randy Maxey on December 27th, 2007
There are guys that “trick out” their cars…or motorcycles…with fancy paint jobs and chrome. Why not do the same with the tools in your shop? Wood Werks Supply in Columbus, Ohio is giving you the opportunity to order a customized Powermatic table saw.
To quote Wood Werks Supply:
“This won’t be just any saw. We start with the award winning Powermatic PM2000 10″ table Saw. We’ll Blanchard Grind the top, add the reliablility of an American Made Baldor® motor, then install your favorite accessories. You’ll decide exactly what color it will be, and we’ll finish it off by prominently displaying your name on the front of your perfect saw.”
Create and order your customized Powermatic PM2000 here. I created the one you see in the photo here with just a few clicks. It’s got a 3hp, single-phase motor; paint colors to honor the OSU Buckeyes; and a cast iron extension wing with cast iron legs.
If you’d like to find out more and join in on the long-running discussion over on WoodNet, click here.
§ by Randy Maxey on December 21st, 2007
If you own a DeWalt cordless drill/driver, you may want to check the table below. These models are being recalled because of a potential fire hazard. DeWalt wants you to stop using the drill immediately if it’s included in the list below:
||Heavy-Duty XRP™ 1/2” (13mm) 18 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver
||200723 through 200742
||Heavy-Duty XRP™ 1/2″ (13mm) 14.4 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver
||200625 through 200746
||Heavy-Duty XRP™ 1/2″ (13mm) 14.4 Volt Cordless Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver
||200627 through 200746
||Heavy-Duty XRP™ 1/2″ (13mm) 14.4 Volt Cordless Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver
||200635 through 200746
||Heavy-Duty XRP™ 1/2″ (13mm) 12 Volt Cordless Drill/Driver
||200635 through 200746
You can find out all about the recall here on the CPSC web site. You can take your drill to your nearest service center for a free inspection and free repair, if needed. Click here for instructions on DeWalt’s web site.
§ by Randy Maxey on December 10th, 2007
I had recently acquired a barely used planer from Sears. It was one of those deals where the price was right and I couldn’t pass it up.
When I first brought it home, I fired it up and ran a few boards through it. It seemed to work great, but I didn’t need it right away, so I stored it under the bench. Let me say right here that when Sears calls this a “benchtop” planer, that’s an outright lie. This monster is heavy. I’ve got to build a stand for it one of these days. But I’m getting sidetracked.
While I was in the process of building the project mentioned in this previous post (where I injured my thumb on the table saw), I needed to plane some 3/4″ curly maple boards down to 1/2″ thickness. (Yes, it broke my heart to see 1/4″ of those boards go to waste as chips.) As I was planing, I noticed that there was a wide, shallow groove along one edge of the boards along the entire length. Since the two boards I was planing were cut from longer stock, I thought that the boards were rough-planed that way and that’s how I brought them home. A couple of shallow passes later it dawned on me that the groove wasn’t going away. “Great,” I thought. I was going to have to tear down this planer to see what was going on.
Fortunately, this planer is designed to make it fairly easy to get to the cutterhead. A few screws remove the dust shroud to gain access to the knives. As I rotated the cutterhead around, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The gib holding the knife in place was bent outwards and the remaining cavity between it and the knife was crammed full of chips. You can see what I mean in the drawing at right. (I tried to hightlight the area in red.) The item labeled ’65′ is the gib. Item ’64′ is the knife. (Item ’60′ is the cutterhead.) Now, what to do?
Figuring that the worst-case scenario was ordering a new gib, I attempted to straighten it. I clamped the bent area in heavy-duty vise and torqued it as far as I could go. That took care of the majority of the bend. Then some carefully placed taps on the leading edge of the gib with a wood block and hammer took care of the rest. Some minor filing was all it took to get a smooth, straight edge. I re-installed the blade and gib and ran a few boards through it. No sign of a “groove.” I was relieved and glad that I was able to repair it.
But the question remains…what caused the gib to bend in the first place? It’s possible that it was like that when I first bought it. But the mystery remains. When I talk to the other guys in our shop, no one can come up with a plausible explanation. Very strange. If you’ve got any thoughts, leave a comment here.
§ by Randy Maxey on December 8th, 2007
It’s been a rough week. Sunday night, I was in my shop working on a small project. It was nearing dinner time and my wife stepped into the shop to inquire about my plans for dinner. I was in the middle of resawing a small workpiece. I knew she was standing there, so it didn’t startle me. But something happened to the workpiece and in a split second it kicked back with a loud bang. I instinctively shut the saw off and reached for the workpiece.
Then I saw it. The workpiece was not the only thing I was cutting. The end of my right thumb had somehow come down directly on the spinning blade. I hadn’t even felt it. Yet. My wife saw the whole thing happen.
The end result after some microsurgery is a shorter thumb without a thumbnail. I’ll spare you all the gory details. The prognosis for a full recovery is good after some physical therapy.
But what I have left to deal with now are all the questions. And anger and blaming myself for letting it happen. I haven’t been back to the “scene of the crime” since it happened. I suppose I’ll have to face up to it here in the next day or so.
I lay awake at night second-guessing myself. Not believing that I’ve been woodworking for over 30 years without serious injury. The full range of emotions and “what-if” scenarios.
I’ve already wrestled with the 100 different ways I could have accomplished my goal that night. And what I should have done differently. The constant blame game you play in your mind.
But that’s behind me and life must go on. My point of telling my story is that you should always listen to that voice in your head that says, “Perhaps I should do this another way.” For that’s exactly what I was thinking precisely one-half second before I permanently injured my thumb.
§ 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.