It's always nice knowing a few tips and tricks in the workshop to make life easier and quicker, but it's also good to know some things to avoid. Tips and tricks to avoid making your tools dull, making live harder, not easier and in some case even being unsafe are all good reasons to know what to avoid to keep things running smoothly in the woodwork shop ...
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Sometimes the tips we get seem to be ok, at least until we try them and sometimes we are lucky enough to get other people's experiences that we can use to help us judge what things are good and what ideas are just ideas ...
Zero Clearance Inserts from Laminate Flooring
Sounds like a good idea doesn't it, but anyone who has installed a laminate floor will already have thoughts on this. There is a whole world of laminate flooring and it continues to evolve from many different materials. The laminate flooring generally referred to that might be used for table saw inserts is a very hard material that, from what I have been told, his manufactured from mostly wood remnants, but some of it is combined with recycled building supplies that includes a small amount of metal embedded in the laminate flooring. The one thing I do know for sure, this material is VERY hard and it is equally hard on woodworking saw blades, that's why you can purchase special Laminate Flooring Blades.
If you try to use your good woodworking blades to cut some of this laminate flooring material, you can damage, or at the least, certainly, dull your good blades. For most of us, it's not worth ruining a good, expensive saw blade, on what was probably inexpensive or even free laminate flooring to use as an insert, when plywood will work at least as well and will not ruin or dull blades.
Watering down PVA Glues
I can't think of a good reason to water down PVA (Poly Vinyl Acetate) or ordinary yellow or white glue that is commonly used in woodworking. I'm sure there are reasons to do this, I just don't know of any. Watering down glue to use in a wood gluing application is not recommended, and even the manufacturers of the glue caution against this. Watering down glue undermines the holding power of glue to make it unknown in terms of strength, and unknown in terms of how long a glue joint may last.
Joints that are starved for glue are weak joints and adding water affects the viscosity of glue which allows it to soak into to some woods, squeeze out or others or fail to make proper bonds with yet others.
Using Gyproc, Sheet Rock or Drywall Screws in Woodworking
Drywall screws are a special hardened screw that is designed for installing and holding drywall and they are used annually by the ton. They are somewhat inexpensive, readily available and have a great tread pattern that grabs very well. They also head that snap of quite easily, which is the reason you want to stay away from these in your woodworking projects, especially for things like pocket holes.
These screws are especially susceptible to snapping heads when used with hardwoods. As the screws are driven into the wood, the heads often begin to twist because of the high friction, something that doesn't happen when used in drywall. By the time the screw head gets down to the hardwood surface, the weakened heads quickly and easily snap off and digging these things out, especially from pocket hole applications is almost impossible .. it is often easier just to rebuild the parts and start again.
Twin Chicken's Foot Push Sticks
A single chicken's foot push stick on a table saw is already a bad idea, 2 of them is joined by a rod or piece of dowel is just plain scary.
Chicken's foot push sticks should be used on band saws, or any other machine where the wood cannot flip up, or flip back on the user. The designs of most of these leave the user helpless if the wood binds between the saw and the fence and flips in toward the saw or flips backward toward the user. There are plenty of excellent commercial push sticks on the market, or you can make your own, there is no good reason to use these on a table saw.
What makes this contraption worse, is having 2 of them side by side. Now you are pushing on both sides of the wood and depending on the size of the wood and distance between the chickens feet, you could be pushing the wood against the blade and making the inside piece of wood bind even more between the blade and the fence, making a very dangerous situation.
In most cases you should not have to push the wood on the outside of the table saw blade. The exception might be if you were ripping a wide piece and needed a bit of support initially in the cut, but generally, you should not be pushing on the outside wood.
As the sawyer, you need to concentrate on the wood that can kick back on you, and that is the wood that is running between the blade and the fence. That is the wood you are cutting, the outside wood will not kick back, once it is released from what you are cutting, it will just lay there.
It's important in all things woodworking, to, first of all, make sure you are working safely. Sometimes that involves thinking thing through before you do them and anticipating what will happen, and even what could go wrong. Working safely is number one.
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Copyright Colin Knecht