Woodworking Tools

Festool Deltex Detail Sander

 Yikes ... this detail sander saves a lot of time, not to mention frustration. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when I take on projects. Recently I was asked if I could "just sand a chair " that one of the neighbours down the street was re-finishing. I said sure, bring it over. After all how tough could it be to sand an old wooden chair ... or so I thought. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision I would have to be doing a star-performance sanding job on restoring an onld windsor chair that was said to be over 100 years old. This was not going to be a job for the belt sander !!!

This was a "very special project" I was told ... only when they brought the chair over. "That's why we asked you to do the sanding". Great ... it's a special deal and now I have to treat it with extra special care. Oh did I mention I would be doing this for free !!! ... yeah, that's me, the good guy on the block. I knew my trusty Bosch five inch orbital was going to be of minimal help and I didn't want to spend the next month of my life hand sanding ALL THE DETAIL of this chair. I decided to take a trip to my local hardware store to see what new things they might have that would be in my price range that would help me out with this. I love the tool guys at the hardware store, when you ask them about a "budget priced tool" .. they don't even slow down. I guess to them, everyone has endless money.

They started by telling me they had just taken on this new line of tools "Festool" they told me an within the line was this great little detail sander. As usual, I asked the price and as usual they ignored me and went ahead an began demoing the tool. WoW ... that was great I thought, look how it chewed it's way around corners, this would be ideal for that windsor chair project. Then they reminded me that for most people sanding is the worst job, and that as a woodworker "I would know how important a good sanding job is to the final finish of the woodwork project".
Well ... I had to agree with them and at that point I knew I was going to be leaving with the tool. the good new is when I go it home and began using it, I was truly astonunded how well it worked ... and fast too. I cleaned up that old chair in no time and did an excellent job ... and in the end I got myself a new tool. Yeah they are a bit on the pricey side, but we all know to get a good tool the last, we have to invest a bit of money. No I know I can tackle any size project and not have to worry that the sanding is going to get to me .
Hmmm .... maybe I'll even charge a wee bit for the next "sanding project" I am invited to take on. 
Copyright Colin Knecht


The Jointer Killer - Freud's Glue Line Rip Blade

 There are some woodworking tools that are nice to have and some that are MUST HAVES ... Freud's Thin Kerf Glue Line Rip blade is a must have. If you are working with any kind of hardwood or softwood, or even plywood, this blade will make your jointer all but obsolete. The triple chip set tooth design is specfically created to reduce wood tear-out and make a much finer, smoother cut ... and it works like a dream. This is one blade that every woodworker with a table saw should own because of what it can do and the time it can save.  

The Thin Kerf Glue Line Rip is optimized to work with woods that are not thicker than one inch. It will cut wood thicker, just the cut will not be a fine as it will be for one inch and thinner. Freud blades have a number features that make the safer and more accurate for the average woodworker. For example, Freud actually grinds it's own carbide. The advantage to this is they can change the formula by adding other materials like titanium in order to make the carbide less bittle and therefore last longer for specfic blade types. Grinding their carbide finer also makes the carbide last longer because there are smaller grains to torn off the tips during use. This keeps the blades sharper longer, which in turn makes the blades more cost effective to use. 

What about blade balance you ask?  Freud blades are "pre-tensioned" which means each blade is balanced for optimum tracking ... under load.  The laser cut anti vibration and heat dispersion cuts also help ensure this blade runs true through your wood working projects. The Thin Kerf Glue Line Rip also has anti kick back teeth which means the blade will be less likely to kick the wood back and making safer to use.

Now the important part, the Thin Kerf Glue Line Rip ... like any blade should be positioned a quarter to a half tooth legth above the wood you are cutting. This means the top of the blade should be clearing the wood by no more than one quarter inch above the wood. The reason for this is that this is the optimum cut angle for the Glue Line Rip and any other blade. The blade tips need to be cutting horizontalling into the wood not pounding down of the fibers like they would be if the blade was positioned at it's highest depth. The other benefit to positioning the blade just clear of the wood you are cutting is that it makes woodworking with the table saw MUCH safer.

Battery-Powered-Tools, How to Get the Most From Your Cordless Tools

 I remember a few years ago one of the sales people at my local hardware store told me they were expecting the arrival of new battery powered circular saw. On hearing that, I laughed out loud and told him to call me when the battery powered table saws arrive. Within a couple of years I had purchased one of those battery powered circular saws that I so willingly scoffed at just a couple of years earlier. I soon discovered that having portable tools had huge benefits.
These days battery powered tools are available is drills, drivers, impact drivers, routers, jig saws, portable planers, circular saws, reciprocating saws and even chop saws. So to see how to get the most from these tools, read on ...

Lets stop for a moment and look at batteries that power these units. Most power packs that drive these tools are a series of small rechargeable batteries all wired together to give the optimum power. These rechargeable batteries are very similar to the flashlight batteries and so on that you buy for you flashlights, TV clicker and garage door opener.

The difference between rechargeable batteries and the disposables are that the rechargeables have higher quality shells and consist of slightly different components to make them safe to recharge. The rechargeable batteries that are wired together are normally nickle cadmium (nicad) 1.2 volt batteries. When they are wired together in series ... 8 together equals 9.6 volt, 10 together equals 12.2 volt, 12 together equals 14.4 and so on.

The more batteries that are wired together, the greater the torque (or twisting power) of the tool. Torque is created by a combination of horse power and speed, and high speed does not necessarily mean high power. Conversely high power does not necessarily come with high speed..
You will find another type of battery on the market called a "nickle-metal-hydride" (Ni-MH). These batteries use compounds that give the batteries a slightly longer life (they also cost a bit more to purchase). Some contractors prefer tools that will give them longer battery life which is the reason for this more advanced rechargeable battery version.

As woodworkers, we all know one thing, HEAT is our greatest enemy. When saw blades get too hot they lose their tensility and become dull, screws that are driven into hardwoods can snap because of the high heat created by friction. Heat is also the enemy of batteries. All batteries heat up when they are being recharged. The larger battery packs such as 18 volts and larger tend to heat up even more because there are so many batteries in the packs and they don't have heat dispersion characteristics as smaller packs because there are so many batteries next to one another. Batteries tend not to take a charge when they are hot, so keeping the ambient temperature normal to cool is a benefit.

On the flip side, batteries do not do well in cold either. Once the temperature drops below 14 degrees Fahrenheit ( minus 10 Celsius) batteries do not perform well (if at all). Most batteries will lose their power when the temperature gets this low.

The recharging of batteries is a bit of a mystery to a many people. The tendency is to keep batteries fully charged all the time. In truth, batteries need to be exercised in order to keep them in top shape. This means they should be full discharged every few months, then full re-charged. "Topping" up battery charges will make the batteries lose their effectiveness, and after a time they will only take a partial charge because that is what they have become accustomed to. This means they will lose their ability to use the full charge. If your older cordless device is doing this, sometimes you can rejuvenate the battery by charging and FULLY discharging it several time.

My old 9.6 portable drill, which is now 10 years old has been one of the best tools I have ever owned. I have no idea how many screws it has driven, holes it has bored or blades it has ground, but it's batteries have almost given up now. I checked on the price of new batteries and it will be more cost effective for me to upgrade to a whole new unit ... but I have no intention of getting a big hulking unit, I don't need it and I refuse to pack around all that battery weight, so I am currently investigating some 12 volt units and looking forward to another 10 years of service from my new drill, and when I need more power, I always have my trusty plug-in drill, and the hassle of extension cords that goes with it.

copyright - Colin Knecht 

Deep and Wide Falberg Band saws for the Ergonomically Correct Woodworker

I always wanted to be a wealthy industrialist. I didn't know you had to serve time as an entrepreneur first. I didn't really understand what entrepreneurs did for a living but a lot of my friends were self-employed contractors and got to ski on work days so I took up carpentry and skied regularly. My idea of an entrepreneur always conjured up the picture of Captain Ahab standing at the prow of the good ship Pequod with a harpoon in his hand and the wind in his face.

Being a woodworker is tough, dirty, thankless work. Liberals hate us because we smell like bleeding trees and are largely responsible for global warming. As if contracting for a living isn't bad enough, one day I was forced into a project that could only be done with a BANDSAW. If you've ever been forced to use one, you know what I mean: the blade breaks every time you sneeze, it comes off if you "force" it, it won't cut straight, and God help you if you want to cut a full sheet of plywood with one; or a two hundred pound timber.

In my case it was a snakey rip cut through an 8 x 8 beam with no release cuts in sight. And I had to do it twice; without going off the line, even once! I had an old Delta 14" bandsaw with worn out tires buried under all the other unused shop junk in the corner. Choking on the concentrated evil of three years' shop dust accumulation, I dragged the cast iron, spider-infested anchor out in the light of day. It was immediately obvious that the saw was as unwieldy as the beam. How does one rip linked 3.5" semi-circles down the length of a 12' beam before one reaches retirement age?

Being already weak and old, I set about butchering the bronze age artifact down to manageable size in hopes of riding the saw rather than lugging the beam back and forth in a withering ballet of death on my shop floor, where the children would see me weeping. Lest the reader think I brought this on myself and that I should have simply skimped on the kids' porridge to buy one of the portable bandsaws already on the market, I refer to the picture showing the angle of crosscut as the semi-circles join. It takes a goodly throat and balance would be essential to maintain control and accuracy throughout such a long, imposing rip cut.

The two following months of intensive cobbling got me a weaponized version of the floor standing bandsaw that was just a wonder to behold. It weighed two hundred pounds and, with the help of a floor jack, I finally got it up on the beam. With one hand I held it teetering on the end of the beam while my other reached over to turn it on. I had only meant to go in an inch or two to steady it but ended up cutting the whole length of it before I could find a stopping point. When I looked back and saw what I had done, it was like a light went on. This was it! It's ALIVE! A balanced portable bandsaw with a slick upside-down table. Not believing what I saw, I quickly clamped the two pieces together and ran the second rip. It, too, was perfect! It's pretty exiting to realize that you've created a whole new tool with amazing capabilities and I immediately set out to write a provisional patent application.

A funny thing happens when you write a patent fresh on the heels of a successful experiment like that: you start thinking you're a god and can do anything. My head was reeling with new embellishments to the bandsaw involving lasers, gyroscopes, cold fusion, magnetic force fields, and double-edged blades. Really far out stuff! It doesn't hurt to go ahead and try the impossible; what the hell, you're already in Wonderland.

Thinking I'd be a millionaire just any minute now or at least as soon as the major tool companies saw this wonderment, I set out most bravely to produce portable aluminum bandsaws for the millions of timberframers who would flock to my door in the next few days. If you're wondering why I didn't just borrow $100,000 and hire a bunch of suits you must have missed the part about my being the inventor. American venture capitalists just don't invest in American manufacturing enterprises, (but I have had some interesting contacts from foreign corporations). Now that I think of it, I don't know if there ARE any American tool manufacturers anymore. That's scary, ain't it?

Anyway, it's three years later now, and I've had to abandon the gyroscopic stabilization system, the laser guidance, magnetic force field blade drive, and cold fusion power, but believe it or not , the double-edge blade guide works quite nicely and you all should be anxious to see that in production.

The patent is getting close to issuance and the saw business should soon grow to where I can afford that next big evolutionary advance. My only hold-up now is the procurement of the blades themselves, so anybody out there with more answers than excuses should call me at once. A double-edged blade is like a single-edged blade only it has two sets of saw teeth; it's not hard, it just hasn't been done yet. Think water jet or plasma or something. Why not spot weld two regular blades back to back; staggered end joint welds would probably result in a stronger blade over-all. You'd have twenty years of patent protection to recoup your development costs. How much could you lose that you haven't already lost on those tech stocks? Are ye a land lubber, or are ye an entrepreneur!

Operating my bandsaw is still a daunting task, it takes a fair amount of skill and finesse to drive that thin strip of blade metal through 18 inches of sometimes stubborn Doug fir but for those who master the technique, the rewards are incredible in terms of time, quality, and labor. Operation will be greatly simplified again when the double-edged blades come out; you'll get tighter radii, less sawdust compacting in your kerf, and backing up will be a snap.

Some would say you must have a massive cast-iron frame to make a proper band saw, but who wants a hernia from porting their portable? Unless you're running 1" blades, aluminum frames provide enough tension to break most blades in short order. Cast iron bandsaws are so rigid they need tensioning springs to prevent such breakage by taking up the slack of blade deflection. Others say you must have the power of a full blown horse stampede in order to cut thick wood when in fact ½ HP is more than enough to snap the narrow blades you'd normally use in a contour cut (and isn't that what portable bandsaws are all about?) These and other misconceptions result from the term "bandsaw" being used to describe such a wide variety of specialized machines that have no more in common than that they use a band for a blade.

You reach a point in these specialized saws where proportions become defined by the size and scope of your machine's specific function. With stationary machines a given dimension can be anything as long as it exceeds the anticipated stresses. With hand-held tools weight becomes a critical design factor and under-building is as bad as over-building. Splitting that difference to find the optimal proportions for such machines therefore requires extensive field testing in as wide a range of applications as you can find. I've relied on my customers to guide me in this testing and their feedback takes form in every new generation of Falberg Saws. I haven't had any substantial complaints from the last dozen or so saws and I now think it is safe for the less adventurous woodworkers to join in the fun. You'll find the Falberg Saw useful for stacking and gang-cutting plywood and dimensional lumber in production environments: home made proprietary jigs have proved supremely efficient for repetitive log cuts: and of course timberframers have raised the bar for quality worksmanship within their craft.

"What about the pioneers?", you ask. With each new improvement of any significance I've called back the older saws for upgrades and rebuilds. The prototype frames all required an additional cross-brace to get more blade tension but other niceties like blade guides and lever-action tensioning have been added. I no longer use a tension spring at all as there is just enough spring inherent in the frame's mass to serve that function. I've also added lower blade guide extensions, TEFC motors, a stand, and some very sexy sheet metal origami.

I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from pursuing their industrial dreams but I will say that when I now think of the archetypical entrepreneur, my mind sees Gregory Peckory tied to a foul smelling Moby Dick by a bunch of fishing line with sinkers and harpoons and boat parts and a lot of blood all over while old Moby is giving him the Evil Eye and a defiant Ahab with his broken old harpoon is looking back with salt spray in his eyes as if to say "I've got you now!"

If you're really a serious woodworker, you'll go to http://www.falbergsaws.com and buy a portable bandsaw.

Miter Gauges ... Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Since the table saw is considered the most valuable tool in the workshop, it is safe to assume that the cross cutting wood would be a main function. Even if you own some sort of a mitre saw, you will still be doing cross cutting on your table saw. Getting accurate cuts, at a true right angle can be a challenge ... but help is one the way Click Below for details on how you can finally get some satisfaction from cross cutting on your table saw ...

All tables saws come with some sort of a miter gauge, and most of them look the same, and even work the same. A simple bar which is fastened to a metallic half-moon, with a series of angle marks on it and usually a big hand tighten knob on top to secure. Unless you paid big money for your table saw, most of these somewhat simple miter gauges are not very accurate to the marks on the gauge, nor to the "click stops" (if they have any). The only way to make most of these old style miter gauges accurate is to align them to the blade each time you want to use it. The other problem with mitre gauges is that the face is often too small to hold anything but smaller pieces of wood. To correct this there are adapter holes on the miter gauges that an ambitious woodworker can attach their own wider piece of wood thus making a wider fence. There is a better way.

A few companies in recent years have actually started to manufactured a variety of different designs of miter gauges that are fast and accurate to use.

For expample if you are making picture frames or home reno moldings, Incra Miter Gauge  is perfect for you. after you make one cut, you simply use the other side to make the opposing cuts ... don't even have to make an adjustment. 

Going back to picture framing for a moment ... if you have both vertical and horizontal pieces cut to lenth, or at least marked to lenght, all you have to do is cut the opposing sides using this mitre gauge. I does it all for you. All you have to do is go ahead and glue and pin the the frame together. It has one big advantage which is ease of use and setup. If you want to do some production picture framing it is easy to attach extensions on both sides of this fence so you don't even have to measure and layout your pieces, and if you want to get really fancy you could attach some sliding adjustable fence guides ... now your talking production. 

If you are looking for a more generic mitre gauge, we have the answer for that too. A mitre gauge that does it all, easy adjustments, easy to read, precision stops and adjustments ... this is the mother of all mitre gauges ... the last mitre gauge you will ever need!!

 The gauge has been manufactured with laser cut teeth to ensure absolute precision and crisp interlocking connections for a highly accurate setting. What's really cool is this mitre gauge already includes a 27 inch cut off fence  WITH a materials stop, so when you are doing repeat cuts or any kind of production, you set the stop and just start running the material through.

So ... your mitre gauge problems can not only be solved, there is hope that you can make accurate  cross cuts with repeat accuracy for years to come by investing in a tool that will make you life easier, reduce you woodworking frustrations and create the kind of projects you want.

Copyright Colin Knecht

We Tried it - Ridgid Tablesaw TS2410LS

  The Ridgid TS2410LS  is sound looking contractor style table saw. Although as woodworkers, don't give tool "looks" a lot of credibility, still if a tool looks sturdy it makes one want to at least try it out, which we did. Overall the saw appeared well manufactured with quality materials and nicely finished components, the first signs that you may be dealing with a quality item. At first blush, the saw seemed to have all controls easily available for the operator and everything ran smoothly. Click below to read more about what we found using this saw ...

The saw is equipped with a solid table, this is good for sturdiness. The one thing we really liked was the built-in "TSUV™ Table Saw Utility Vehicle" folding base. The base has special bracket that lets you quickly turn the saw's base into a hand trolley of sort. This makes the saw easy to move and solid to work with, a REAL bonus for so many woodworkers who have limited space and need mobility bases. The hand trolley not only lets you move the saw around, but also has room to carry wood and other items at the bottom ... saves making two trips. Many other mobile bases are unstable, use only tiny wheels, or use locking wheels, all in all my experience with this is not great, mostly because few are really solid once they are supposed to be ready for use; a real safety hazard.

Ridgid Tablesaw TS2410LS

The controls on the Ridgid were smooth and easy to use, but one would expect smooth on a new tool. One of the most important purposes of a table saw is ripping wood, and having a good rip fence is a must. We found the rip fence on the ridgid OK, not fabulous, just OK. This is not a bad thing for a contractors saw. There is a micro adjustment, which is also OK. Moving the fence back and forth was nice and smooth and when it was locked in place it was solid! We found the fence was not too hard to adjust as it was slightly out of alignment from the factory. The other thing we liked about the rip fence and the saw: a very decent extension, like 26 inches to the right of the blade and 12 to the left of the blade.

The next thing we looked for was the alignment of the blade to the mitre slots. Most woodworkers don't realize that the under carriage of the blade is adjustable and should be adjusted so that the blades are perfectly aligned with the mitre slots. This is where perfectly, non-binding ripped wood comes from. To our delight, there was NO adjustments needed to the trunion assembly, it was off slightly, but was well within the tolerances of working with wood.

The next thing was to try some ripping and crosscutting. To be honest, there is little value in testing a tablesaw unless you use a "known table saw blade". The blade that comes with the Ridgid looked OK, but we opted to use our tried-and-true Freud "Glueline Rip, 60 tooth crosscut and combination blades because we know what they produce. After installing the Freud Glueline rip and turning on the saw, we were very impressed with the smooth, very low vibration and overall "tightness" of the saw. Part of this we deemed was the extra attention Ridgid paid to the pulley and special multi-band belt that connects the motor to the saw blade. An excellent choice for smooth operation.

The first wood we ran through the saw was three quarter inch red oak. The saw, with it's 15 Amp motor ate breezed through it no problem. We decided to try some two inch beech just to see what that would do, and this was getting to be a bit much for this saw's horsepower, although it made it through with a bit of reluctance , but then we knew this was pushing this saw beyond it's purposes. We went on to try the crosscut and combination blades with a variety of woods and found the saw a real joy to use.

If we have any fault with the saw , or really with the accessories, like most saws in this category the mitre gauges are only OK. If you want or need good cross cutting with your table saw a sled or one of the aftermarket mitre gauges would be a good choice.

All in all we really liked this saw, it was smooth, easy to use and very nice for anyone with a smaller work space. If you really want a quality saw this would be a good choice and one day if you have a few extra buck, purchase a bit beefier motor and this saw will be lifetime keeper.

Copyright - Colin Knecht 

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