Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Table Saw Scare Tactics

I was watching a video on the new SawStop Table Saws and they showed some pretty nasty table saw injuries. It's obvious the SawStop is a brilliant invention but $3000.00 is NOT in my budget although they are correct when they say "how much are your hands worth?"

I have been running my table saw without a blade guard from the get go mostly because the splitter that is attached to the guard does not support the thin kerf blade that Ridgid shipped with the table saw. HELLO RIDGID???? ARE YOU LISTENING?

After seeing these saw accidents I am a little freaked out. So now I want to find a way to put a guard back on my saw. I looked into after market overhead guards and while they would work very well, they too are out of my budget starting from about $300.00 and up.

Enter Micro Jig and the Grr-Ripper. Now THIS system is affordable AND it also works on a router table, band saw and even a jointer. It also keeps your hands completely safe from the running blades/bits. At about $100.00 if you add in the $10.00 DVD which sounds well worth the investment, this is a VERY affordable SAFETY device for MULTIPLE tools. Can you tell it's on my MUST HAVE list?

Micro Jig also makes a Splitter to add to a Zero Clearance Insert on the table saw. They make a separate model for thin kerf blades. This along with the Grr-Ripper makes a completely SAFE system. Both splitters can be had for about $50.00.

So for about $150.00 I can feel safe when using my table saw again. Not to mention using the Grr-Ripper on the other tools. Now the only question is where am I going to pull that money magically out of?

Drill Time

I have found the floor model drill I want! It's a Craftex Radial Drill Press from Busy Bee. I had never even heard of these things till I stumbled across it on the Busy Bee site. Wow is this thing cool or what? I doubt there is anything you can't drill with that puppy. They also have a bench model but I still think the floor model will be more versatile in the long run. And that swiveling tilting head? Well that's just the CAT'S ASS!
AND it's on sale for $275.00 till the end of May.
Of course it is NOT in the budget at the moment. The top priority HAS to be the rest of my dust collection system. It's useless at the moment without a longer hose and the connectors. The really sad thing is I found a Delta air filtration unit on Kijiji for 75.00 but that's not in the budget either.
There really isn't anything exciting going on in the shop right now other then jig building. There is also no money in the budget for wood. So I am just making little things out of scrap. And pretty much just making MORE scrap. Ahh well it makes great fire wood!
I have been working on my GROZ hand planes. Yes when you buy cheap planes you will spend more time working on them then with them. But it is a great learning experience. Putting a flat sole on them has to be the most work. I have taken to running the soles on the belt sander to just get them flat enough to sand with sand paper. They are far from flat out of the box. Then the cheap irons have to be sharpened and honed quite a bit as they seem to be far from flat too. The plane iron caps have to be flattened and honed as well. It's a great time waster when you just want to hang out in the shop.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Downright Disastrous

Yesterday was NOT a good day. Everything I tried to do in the shop went horribly WRONG! Even the simplest of tasks became ridiculous. It wasn't just in the shop either. Things I tried to do elsewhere suffered the same results. There are bad days and then there are days when it doesn't pay to get out of bed. THAT was one of them.

Today was a bit better I got the boom made for my dust collection system. This will allow me to swing the hose wherever I need it and not be tripping over it all the time. Now I just need to buy more hose and a few more connections.

I also bought a plunge base for my Dremel tool. I think this will come in quite handy for doing intricate work. I might even invest in the small Dremel router table. Unfortunately I am SERIOUSLY running out of space.

I picked up a Craftex bench mortiser on Kijiji the other day. It was a terrific deal and the thing is like brand new. I don't think the fellow that sold it to me knew how to use it properly. Unfortunately he may have ruined one of the chisels in the process. However it was STILL a great deal at $125.00 I was actually looking for a floor model drill press. The search for that continues.

During all the disasters in the shop yesterday I found out my original Mastercraft router will not work with the Oak Park Guide Bushings. I guess that's not REALLY a big deal just more of a PITA. When I went to the router forums for assistance I got some great suggestions for modifying it. It was also suggested I just buy a new router that would work with all the Oak Park items. That would be the Hitachi M12 model. So now I am hunting for that as well. It seems to be rather elusive here in Canada. Maybe it will show up when I can actually afford it.

I also purchased an Incra Jig for my router table a while back from one of the fellows on the router forum. That unfortunately did not work out to be a good deal with the exchange and shipping.
I got the instructional video with it as well but I will need to watch that a few more times before I'll be ready to attempt the fancy joints with it. It makes a GREAT router fence though.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Staycation Again

I am on "vacation" for a couple of weeks and while I am happy to be away from work, it will unfortunately be more of a staycation then vacation. The contract at work is still under fire, and one of my weeks off will actually be a layoff. So spending money is out of the question. The first week I am off the spouse is on night shift, so running noisy power tools in the garage is out of the question too. I might actually be forced to do some of that "outdoor" work that keeps piling up. I swear one year I am actually going to have a REAL vacation.

There are a few "shop" jobs I could do that might not be too noisy. I need to build a boom for the hose for my new Craftex CT053 dust collector. Having a 4 inch vacuum hose running across the floor in my already over crowded garage is not working for me. Since I only hook the system up to one machine at a time it would be easier to have the hose overhead. I also need to buy all the adapters to be able to hook the hose to all the different sized ports on every machine. What a PITA. But I can tell you that having a dust collection system makes a HUGE difference. When things get settled financially I plan to add an air filtration system as well.

I could also spend some "quiet" time sharpening my planes and chisels. It is absolutely amazing how once you buy tools you suddenly have use for them. I have used a couple of the planes and chisels a few times now, and having nice sharp tools also makes a HUGE difference in the quality of work you can do. I still need a little practice on planing AND chiseling. The Groz hand planes may not be highly rated, but when you put a nice keen edge on the irons they do a fine job.

There are also numerous little jigs, push sticks, sanding accessories that I want to make as well. As long as I don't have to run any of the BIG power tools it should be fine. In the event it is raining outside I could resort to TRYING to learn Google Sketch Up. Yes I am still struggling with that.

If all else fails I could just veg and actually "vacate" life for a while. Doesn't sound too bad after I just worked a 12 hour night shift and every bone in my body hurts. Of course tomorrow I'll feel different :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Digital Organization

I knew it wouldn't be long before the spouse decided the new netbook should be a shared item. It seems it's ideal for creating collection databases of music, movies, recipes, addresses and whatever else that can be "digitally organized". I believe the quote was "It's so portable it's perfect for that!". Well okay, I can share. However finding software to accomplish all this was less then simple. My first suggestion was Microsoft Access. Unfortunately the spouse is not that tech savvy when it comes to software, and Access was just too complicated.

After a little net research and some trial and error testing I found a very simple and easy to use shareware program called AZZ Cardfile. It's a replacement program for Microsoft Cardfile and it fits the bill for all kinds of organizational items. They even offer downloads of premade databases for everything from Astrology to Italian Song Lyrics. (really... there IS such a database!)

The program can't be any simpler: create your file and add your items. Include as much or as little detail as you want. The spouse was ecstatic! Even I caught the fever and thought I should create a tool inventory database for the shop. Or woodworking magazine indexes. Or a hundred other things once I got thinking about it. If you are looking for a simple way to organize data you have to check out AZZ Cardfile. Once you get started there is no end to the possibilities. They even offer a FREE licence if you submit your database or blog/write a review about the program. Yes I am going to apply for the free license but I would have blogged about it anyway. I LOVE software that just works! And if it makes the spouse happy ...well that's even better!