Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reconditioned Tools

Last year I was in need of a framing nailer to build a couple of decks I needed to get to, so I stop by Home Depot to check out their Ridgid stick nailer. The price was comparable to Senco and Bostitch, both I have owned in the past. The nailer uses paper stripped nails which I like better than the wire stripped ones for safety reasons. I started looking for a attendant, when this guy tells me that there is a store at the local outlet mall in Jeffersonville that is selling reconditioned tools and they have the same nailer there for a lot less money. Now I am no framer and I only build decks every once in a while, so I decided if I could pick up a nail gun cheaper I would especial since I don't need it that often. So off I went to find the magic store that sold cheap tools. It was right there in the mall like the man said it would be. I open the door not really expecting to find much that would help me, but boy, oh boy was I wrong. They carried all kinds of reconditioned tools, like Milwaukee, Ryoba, and Ridgid. I found the section that had the nailer and couldn't believe the price, well lets just say that for the price of the framing nailer at Home Depot I bought a narrow crown stapler, fifteen gage finish nailer, the framing nailer and a twelve volt lithium powered drill and still had enough money to take my wife to Bob Evans for dinner. All the tools are reconditioned but they come with a one year warranty, I know that Home Depot offers the life time if you get the tool at their store, but man for the price I paid I will except a cut on the warranty. This find couldn't of came at a better time because the next week my Porter Cable finish nailer broke a drive rod and the replace part was eighty nine dollars, that was thirty more than the Ridgid cost me.
Now I know a lot of guys who wouldn't even consider recondition tools most them are hobbyist. Now if they worked every day with these tools I could almost understand that, but to pay all that money for a tool just gets used a couple times a year seems unnecessary to me, after all there are many carpentry crew that use only reconditioned tools and love them, and I have never heard any them say that they wouldn't them again. If you get a chance to pick up some of the reconditioned tools go ahead they are a great value, and if your are coming to Cincinnati for WIA this October you might just want check the store out for your self.  I will post a more detail review of tools in a future post since I have been using them now for a year and have a pretty good feel for them.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Glue It, Screw It or Nail It

Glue, screws or nails, this is a question that at some point every woodworker ask themselves when it comes to attaching molding to their casework. You just got the case assembled and now its time to put the crown and the intermittent moldings on and you have to decide what method to use to make them stay. This really depends what material you used for the case, if you have used sheet goods for the case then you don't have to worry about wood movement as much, so then gluing  is a good option as long as you have the means to keep molding in place while the glue sets. There are some situations that you can blind nail or screw it from inside the case to hold it in place while the glue sets, this way you won't have to deal with filling any nail holes, which is always a pain.

One trick I use if I have to nail molding on, especially if it is an open gain wood that will hold wood filler and show up when I put the finish on. I will put a strip of blue tape on the molding where I plan on nailing, then shoot the pins in from a pin nailer though the tape and then fill the hole with a good wood filler like Elmer's, then when you pull the tape off it leaves the molding clean with no filler except in the hole. I then take a small blade from my razor knife and use it to scrap the nail hole level, when it is level I hit it with some 220 sand paper and it is ready to finish.

I never glue a piece of long grain molding across the grain of a case.This would prevent the wood in the case from moving and will eventually cause damage. this isn't as big a problem with plywood cases as it is with solid wood.

Sometime if I glued up solid boards to make the end panels for a case and I want to put a long grain molding across it, like a cove mold or a rail molding I will screw a dovetailed block to the case and then cut a matching dovetail slot in molding. this lets me slide the molding on to the keys where I will glue the fronts at the miters and the rest of the molding is free to move. I use the same method on angle blocks for coves and crowns, except when there isn't enough wood in the cove to rout a dovetail which in that case I cut screw slots in  the end panels and screw the bocks down no glue. Then I glue and nail the cove to the blocks, the slots in the case let the block slide freely while hold the molding, you normally only have to do this on the end panels since the top rail is usually long grain.

Sometimes the moldings are to small for this technique, in that case I will glue the moldings at the front by the miter then shoot a few brads in the rest of the molding along its length  that I didn't glue, The brads are flexible enough to let the wood move. I glue at the miters instead of gluing the middle of the moldings like a lot woodworking books recommend, this way the glue holds the miter in place and the brads holds the rest. This is the way many older woodworker did it and it works just find.

I do use screws in the construction of my work especially cabinets, they are fast and have great holding power when used right and mixed with glue. I use a Kreg Jig, but only in places that they will not be seen. I see tons of country furniture that has been screw together without any attempt to hide the screws. This always bugs me, there is nothing like seeing a nice rustic piece of furniture with a line of drywall screws staring you in the face.

I know a lot of you guys that don't think an air nailer has a place in their shop, but I would not get rid mine for all the hammers in the world, but I am not someone who use my nailer in place of good technique. I see so many pieces of furniture that have been slapped together using staples and hot melt polyurethane that it makes me sad. with a little bit of discretion and some good technique, screws and nails can help a lot in the construction of a piece of furniture or they can become a vulgar reminder of how we value speed and convenience, over tradition and proper technique. Which ever way you choose to attach molding to your case or to fasten your case together, just keep in mind what your striving  for in the end, like how you want it to look, hide as much of the nails and screws that you can, use glue in a way that it will not cause damage from movement, and alway keep in mind that when you run a long grain piece of wood across the grain of another piece you have to allow for wood movement. 


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Safety Week

For one week each year all of us bloggers take a week out of our regular postings to remind everyone about how important shop safety is. Safety in a shop is a everyday quest that anyone with a interest in woodworking strives for. There are a lot of dangerous tools in a wood shop from our hand tools to the power tools to the wood it self. While most wood workers work safe it never hurts to have a reminder.

No body ever sits out to injury them selfs or someone else while working in their shops, but it happens and it usually when they are in a hurry or just flat out ignore their own common sense and do something that they know is a stupid move. That moment in time when a accident happens can never be undone no matter how much someone wants it to be.

Not only are we responsible for our own safety in the shop, but anyone else that may come into it including our pets. So with that lets all take a little time to have a look around the shop and identify any areas that can be made safer. This is why most of the shops I have worked in have a safety meetings, some only did it once a month while others once a week and it does help with pointing out safety issues. Now I know working in the shops by ourself we can't have a safety meeting, but we can do safety reviews.

  • Set a side time to make sure all your machines are working in a safe manner
  • Invite your spouse or another woodworker out to the shop and have them point out thing that look like they might be unsafe
  • Make sure you are cleaning up and putting wood and tools away 
  • Make sure you have a first aid kit and phone where you can reach it in a hurry 
  • Take a first aid course at a local red cross if you have never had any first aid training
  • Keep a safety check list and go though it once a month
  • Don't work when you are tired and don't work beyond what you are comfortable doing
  • The best tip is just use common sense

All of these are good idea. It pays being prepared in case things do go wrong so familiarize yourself with the kind of injuries that can happen with your machines and being prepared for them and means having more than just a couple of band aids in your first aid kit. I am always amazed that in most of the shops I worked at all they had in their first aid kits was tweezers, band-aids and Tylenol.

I have also noticed in my many years of working around woodworking machines and in shops the biggest and most easily corrected safety issue is clutter, it is hard to be safe when there is scraps on the floor saw dust and sharp tools laying where they can come in contact with ones flesh. Having two young grandsons who like to help me when I am building things and in the garden has made me very aware of this problem and in turn has made me stop and clean up after my self more often. So be safe and enjoy woodworking for many years.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Design of the Week Computer Stand

This is a computer stand I designed to hold my laptop. I use an extra LCD monitor and a key board so the screen on my laptop is my second screen. the only problem I have is that it sits to low for me. So what I am trying to accomplish is, giving my laptop a safe place to sit, raise the screen to a comfortable height, and improve air circulation to help keep the computer cooler. Like the tortilla press this is a project that I plan on building, so stay tune.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tortilla Press

This is the finished project that I posted in one of my design blogs. It wasn't a hard project but seeing that I built it on my porch with mostly handtools it did present some challenge.

I did change a few thing on the fly like the direction that the feet, and the top cross member ran, instead of running them side ways, I ran them front to back. This was mainly because I used short pieces of scrapes and it didn't work out the other way, no big deal really the main reason for having the cross member was to have additional material at a right angle to the grain to distribute the pressure of the lever, I wouldn't want top of the press to crack with the grain.

The bottom piece help the stabilize the the main block and give me four feet which I glued on rubber non slip pads.
The main body is made from the cut offs from a maple top I made that I just couldn't bring myself to toss, and the rest are pieces of cherry that came from different projects.

The press worked great at making eight inch tortillas, which is the prefect size that we like to eat. You can view the post where I designed the press in sketch up here. This is a great project to build and if you like making your own tortillas I highly recommend you give it a try, not to mention that it is a great conversation starter.

I also decided to enter this project in the Nothing New Except the Glue Challenge sponsored by Gorilla Glue over at LumberJocks You can see all the entries here