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January 20, 2010

Woodworking Tips: Tool Ignorance vs Tool Stupidity

All woodworkers know if necessity is the mother of invention, then laziness is the grandfather and stupid is the father. (I think I'll try to get that added to Bartlett's Quotations.) All jigs, templates, shortcuts, power tools, dumb moves and safety practices are heirs of this illustrious family.

I must admit that grandfather laziness is high in my gene list, but father stupid works quicker for me than the other two. Fifteen years ago, in the very first two minutes I had my brand new table saw in the shop, I stuck a scrap of 1/4 inch plywood in the blade free hand. It kicked back into my midsection and the palm of my hand and I learned a good lesson very early. I instantly gained an immense respect for the tool with thankfully little damage. Good lesson not soon forgotten.

band saw.jpgLong as we are on stupid (ignorance can be cured, stupid is forever), I was working on the switch on my new Steel City band saw a few weeks ago, and like a good boy, I unplugged it first. When I finished I pushed the "on" button to check my work, and to my surprise and horror, the saw started. Totally not logical and I instantly looked to see the plug still on the table where I put it before starting to work. Now I only had one course in electricity in college a long time ago, but transmitting electricity through the air is not common even if it is possible. Soon as I got back from the bathroom, I turned the saw off and checked the cord. There are two cords on the saw, one to the task light attached to the back of the saw and the other for the saw itself. They are identical and both were next to each other in a filled four socket outlet. I had unplugged the light but not the saw. Another lesson not soon forgotten. (I taped the cords together so it wouldn't happen again.)

Then yesterday when I put a new piece of old wood on the lathe, I failed to note sufficiently the crack across the top of the wood. Ever stand out in the yard and watch a vee formation of geese fly over (never do that with your mouth open) heading away for winter vacation? I remember standing there and watching that chunk of wood fly across the top of the shop like a flock of geese. Seemed like it took a week. I have learned instinctively to stand out of the line of fire and I always wear a full face shield and thank goodness for that.

When it finally landed, I picked that missile up off the floor and screwed it to the wall (love them Spax screws) behind the lathe to remind me of what can happen. At least there was no blood or brains on it. Maybe that started curing stupid.

More Free Woodworking Tips

January 6, 2010

Kreg's New Beaded Face Frame System Is a Winner

When we saw this jig demonstrated at the AWFS Show in Las Vegas last summer, our first thought was "Who needs another specialized router table jig?"

Boy, were we wrong! Kreg's new Beaded Face Frame System has taken off like you cannot imagine. Simply put, it easily produces cabinet face frames that feature attractive professional-looking beads that connect flawlessly around the entire frame. It's either doing the work of a specialized machine that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars, or it quickly and efficiently replaces a long and laborious tablesaw project plus tedious assembly.

John Lucas has provided a detailed illustrated tutorial on using the jig on his website Wood Shop Demos.

We also have a 3-minute video demo of the tool in action.

Watch the Video Demo