When you're working in your workshop and getting frustrated with the constant switches between sawhorses, clamps and supports and feeling the need of help around the shop, look no further than the Rockwell RK9000. This beauty is designed to replace multiple tools in your workshop so even when it's just you it feels like you suddenly have an extra set of hands.
We found the Rockwell 9000 easy enough to assemble straight out of the box and though you can make use of the instructions manual shipped with it, we didn't feel the need to. A bevy of accessories were included in the box along with the jawhorse itself:
When we received the DeWalt DW 788 Scroll Saw it came in a sturdy package measuring 12 x 22 x 30 inches with plenty of insulation for the additional parts: the saw body, cast iron table and a ziplock bag with several blades, mounting screws and a hex wrench. The assembly of the machine is pretty simple and relatively straightforward involving sliding the table's rear onto the cylindrical pin located on the saw's lower arm, attaching it with two hex bolts to the bevel scale. Slide in the saw blade and it's ready to go.
In terms of how the machine is set up, the scroll's base has a 25x10.5" footprint although combined with the table brings the saw's footprint to about 33x16". The saw comes with an optional stand but during operation, we noticed the low center of gravity coupled with its intrinsic weight and a lace of vibration, making bolting down the unit largely unnecessary. Another optional accessory is the work light which can be attached through two screws to the rear left arm.
Woodworking is filled with "special tools" that are only good for one or two jobs. The only problem is they do such a good job for their special design that using alternatives can be tedious at best. Such is the case with dado blades. They are only good for taking out huge chunks wood, but in most cases trying to do this other ways takes so much time, most of us would not bother.
There are basically two kinds of dado blades. The Stacked Dado set is the most popular because in most cases is does the best job of cutting dados and rebates, but there is also something called a dado wobble wheel blade which can also be used for making dados and rebates. The problem with the wobble wheel is that the bottom of the cut is arced somewhat, and more arced as the dado cut gets wider. The problem with this arcing effect is it makes for a less than perfect fit.
Cutting dados using a stacked dado set is not difficult, at least seemingly. The idea with any dado cut is that the piece that is to be fit into the dado cut should fit snugly in order to make it structurally sound and for the glue to work as best it can. It is IMPERATIVE that you make test cuts with your dado set before making the final cuts. If you don't you risk making cuts that are too large, and then you will a whole bunch extra work trying to make up for the mistake. The first time you omit the test cut will be the last time you omit it.
The best way to figure out the width of the cut you need to make is to measure the thickness of the shelf or other structure that you will be inserting into the dado cut. BUT DO NOT take this as the last measurement, make the test cut, try our the fit and work from there. Using a tape measure, will, in most cases not be sufficient enough to get the fit you will need, You will need a more precise measuring instrument. Selecting a dado set can be agony for many woodworkers. There are many to choose from of varying qualities and with different features ... here are some of the things to look for ...
I often hear woodworkers say something like "I always buy good quality 60 tooth blades", or something to that effect. When I hear things like that I know that they really don't know how to select blades for the table saw, radial arm saw, sliding mitre or chop saw, because arbitrarily selecting a 60 tooth blade could in fact be the worst choice they could make, depending on what they are cutting.
Cutting Natural Woods - There are only 2 blades you need if you are working with natural wood, a ripping blade and a cross cut blade. That's it - 2 blades. Ripping blades are used on table saws to cut along the grain of the wood. These blades will have fewer teeth ususally between 20 and 30 with 24 being the most common in 10 inch diameter blades. The other feature on ripping blades will be large gullets (the deep space between the teeth), these are used to clear out the long fibers of the wood as the saw blade moves through the wood. Cross Cutting Blades are used on table saws, sliding mitres, chop saws and radial arm saws and are often 60 to 80 teeth in a 10 inch diameter blades. The reason a cross cut blade can get away with more teeth is because cutting across the grain doesn't require moving much wood fibre out of the way so the blade can do a better job.
Of course with all so-called rules there is always an exception and with natural woods the exception is Combination or General Purpose blades. These blades are designed to rip and cross cut, and they do a pretty good job of both but they still cannot rip as good as a dedicated ripping blade and they don't cross cut quite as good as a dedicated cross cut blade. If you have a budget and can only purchase one blade, or if you are constantly ripping and cross cutting, get yourself an excellent combination blade. Freud had recently introduced a new multi-purpose blade that gives extraordinary results ... especially for a general purpose blade. It's called ther Freud Premier Fusion and uses a special tooth design employed by Freud. It's a bit of an expensive blade compared to others, but when you see the results that are obtainable from a general purpose blade, you will see why - they are extraordinary.
Cutting man-made woods like plywood, hardboard, Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF) Particle Board and chip boards, all require a different types of blade, depending on the materials.
Spending good money on crappy power saw blades is what every woodworker wants to avoid. Some distributors of saw blades can "dress up" an inferior saw blade with a bit of paint, some cool packaging and sell a $12.00 power saw blade for $75.00 The only way of knowing what is a good buy and what is not a good buy is to educate yourself on saw blades and how to recognize the good from the not so good.
There are basically 2 ways to manufacture saw blades, the cheapest and most popular is to "stamp" the blades our of sheets of mild steel. The second way is to use a harder steel and actually laser cut the blades one at a time out of the steel.
Stamped Blades - As you can imagine, the problem with some stamped blades is that during the process of "stamping", blades can be created that are imperfect due to the forces involved in the stamping of the steel. This means blades can wobble somewhat which is not ideal when you are trying to make a straight cut. Most often, manufactures that are "stamping" blades, are also buying their carbide off the open market somewhere as this is the least expensive way to acquire carbide. Every stamped blade that we are aware of uses carbide purchased off the open market, which is then silver soldered on to the stample blade. This manufacturing process is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest for producing saw blades.
Laser Cut Blades - Blades that are laser cut will have the advantage of using a harder steel. It's not hard to see that a blade that is laser cut will not be undergoing the metal stresses of a stamped blade. This laser cutting helps to ensure the integrity of the steel, and that the blade will be free from warping or wobbling. One of the inherent features of laser cutting is that duing the manufacturing process it is easy and convenient to also cut heat expansion slots and anti vibration slots into the blade, also helping to ensure a higher quality product. A company that would take the time to laser cut blades individually will in some cases be more selective of the carbide they use as well. Freud for example is the only blade manufacturer that we are aware of that actually makes their own carbide, 17 differet grades in fact. This helps ensure that the best grade of carbide is selected for each type of blade. For example, the carbide used in steel cutting blades is actually a softer carbide than that used in wood cutting blades. This is because carbide is like a "crystal" and tends to fracture as it is made up of millions of tiny grains. Using a softer carbide for steel helps ensure the carbide will not fracture when it is cutting the steel and thereby keep the blade sharper longer.
So ... HOW can you identify a better quality blade from those that are not ?