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May 26, 2010

The Earlex 2900 HVLP Sprayer is Really User Friendly

What the heck is HVLP anyway? Before now I never really knew but I suspected it was some sort of social disease, or maybe some new computer software site that I was missing. Turns out it stands for High Volume, Low Pressure, as in a paint sprayer. Well, so what? Let me explain.

Awhile back I bought a name-brand high pressure airless sprayer and it works well, but I am about half scared of it. When I opened the box, it had more warnings than you have ever seen about the pressures involved. This thing operates at something around 2000 psi. There is actually a little plastic card to take with you to the emergency room if you happen to stick this thing in the palm of your hand and pull the trigger. The little card instructs the surgeon who to call and warns that paint injected into your body with this thing can only be removed by amputating the affected part. What if you shoot yourself in the head with it? Are you kidding me?

Enter the Earlex 2900 HVLP paint sprayer currently available only at Highland Woodworking. They loaned me one to try out for a few weeks and I like it. I felt great relief and relaxation when I was using this thing. When I first turned it on and it was blowing this gentle breeze from the nozzle, in spite of all my negative instincts, I very gingerly stuck my hand in the air stream. Nothing!! When I first filled it, I used a bottle of water because I didn't want to clean it. In the past I have spent upwards of two hours cleaning my high pressure system and if this sprayer was going to take that long to clean, I wasn't interested.
Earlex 2900 HVLP sprayer
When I sprayed it, the water went out about two feet in a nicely formed spray. No trauma, no high pressure, no fear, no amputations. I played with it enough to use up the bottle of water and then I figured I would try some real paint. I had a new quart of interior white latex and thought that might be a good test. Without any fine furniture underway that I wanted to paint white, I had two metal sawhorses that I very much dislike at the shop, so painting them white seemed to be ample revenge for all those pinched fingers while setting them up. After using the viscosity cup as directed in the instructions, I wasn't satisfied with the results, so I thinned it down a little more and tried again. Now those nasty metal sawhorses have never looked so good. I put two thin coats on, had most of the paint left in the cup and was ready to paint anything else I could find.

I got done painting, all the while dreading the cleanup. I took the cup to the kitchen and rinsed it out in about two minutes. After that I filled the cup with clean water and sprayed that through the system and it was done. I kept looking for something else to clean, but I couldn't find it. I was going to take the gun apart and clean it, but it didn't need it. I was going to take the hose off and clean that, but no paint goes there. I was going to take the needle out and clean that, but it was already clean. No more than ten minutes max and it was done.

This really fine Earlex sprayer is available from Highland for $149.99 including a book on spraying and a demo DVD. Get your wife one of these for her birthday and she can stain the deck next time it needs it. Shouldn't take her more than ten minutes to clean the sprayer after she finishes.

CLICK HERE for more info plus a short video

May 16, 2010

Shopping for a Router and Router Table

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I talked about buying a new router with the profits from my furniture making exploits? Well, I decided to go for it, and when I went to Highland, I was really impressed with the Triton 2-1/4 HP plunge router.

301006.jpgThe thing I like best about this router is that you can crank the bit all the way up or down using the router handle. There is a ring inside the handle which, when depressed, allows you to move the bit up and down. You can move it a fraction of an inch, or you can move it the full range of motion in either direction. There is also a fine motion screw on top of the motor which operates for the full range of motion of the bit. When you crank the bit all the way down, a lock engages the collet and you can then use the wrench to remove or install the bit with one hand. It's a beautiful thing.

In addition, when you mount the router upside down in a table, there is a crank handle which fits through the top of the table and attaches to the crank mechanism on the router, which you can use to adjust the bit very precisely from above the table. When you need to change the bit, simply crank the bit all the way up (or would that be down?), it locks in place and you can change the bit with one hand from above the table. And with 2-1/4 HP, this thing will do pretty much everything you want to do in the average woodworking shop. (For heavy production work, there is also a 3-1/4 HP model.)

Kreg table.jpgAbout 15 years ago I made myself a wooden router table that was just awful. It is still sitting in the shop and almost never used because it was not well made and the router is very difficult to adjust from under the table. I'm going to throw it away this week. So while I was at the store looking at the routers, they also showed me their Kreg router tables. Kreg's basic model is a benchtop style which works very well with the Triton router.

Kreg router tableI ended up buying
Kreg's deluxe precision floor mounted model
. It comes with a set of very sturdy legs, which you can purchase wheels for if you like. The top is extremely stable, plenty big, and has a pattern of bumps on top of it that makes wood slide easily. It comes with a sophisticated precision fence, and has universal mounting hardware to fit most popular routers. When you drill a single hole in the right place in the top, then the crank handle that comes with the router will operate the height adjustment flawlessly. It effectively eliminates any need to buy one of those expensive third-party router lifts.

When you compare this total outfit price wise to one of those router lift mechanisms you see elsewhere, pricewise it comes out looking very good indeed. I really like this package, and am excited to have one in my workshop.

CLICK HERE to check out this router and the router tables

May 12, 2010

Woodworker's Safety Week 2010

It's Safety Week 2010 for Woodworkers - a good time to consider some of your own shop safety practices and think about what you might improve. One of our customers, Howard Van Valzah, contributed this great safety tip that could be valuable to some of you. We've also included some links below to other blogs that are also 'celebrating' safety week with links and tips that could help improve your workshop safety.

Got tips of your own? Share them in the comments!
Enjoy and be safe!

A Two Minute Safety Tip
by Howard Van Valzah

safetytip1.jpg As a veteran woodworker age 80 I have finally learned something I should have learned many years ago. Recently it became obvious to me that the majority of my woodworking injuries were on my left hand. The worst one was on my left thumb that wandered by itself into a table saw blade. Stitches didn't work so a skin graft was needed to complete the cure. That happened four years ago.

Recently I have been working on some large projects and observed on completion that I had three band aids on my left hand. Nothing major like the thumb incident, but they were scratches, bangs, and nicks. And then the realization came that this seems to happen after every major project, and to a lesser extent on smaller jobs. Then I looked closely at the way my hands get work done. In most cases I found that my right hand is directing work to be done. That would make you think that the right hand might be injured more frequently. Further study showed that my left hand was often used to steady or hold the work piece putting it right in line to be struck by a slipped tool or anything else that might go wrong. The right hand guiding the tool was perfectly safe. (The hand eye coordination required to get the work performed was the responsibility of the right hand. The left hand was used in support but the operator's eye was concentrating on the performance of the right hand, leaving the left hand unattended.)


Now that I knew that, I began to be more conscious of the left hand, but still got nicks, dings, and scratches on it. It quickly became clear that it wasn't enough to just be aware of the problem and hope I could correct it. Just about that time I purchased a pair of bright yellow cut-resistant Kevlar gloves from Highland Woodworking. I didn't purchase them for use with power tools - I bought them with the idea of using them when I occasionally have to hand carve a piece of work. Seeing them sitting beside the workbench one day I decided to try something. I put one on my left hand (they are reversible) with the thought that the bright yellow color might alert me to be cautious, as does the yellow light on a traffic signal. It seems to be working because I have not yet had a scratch or ding on my left hand, but I did bang it hard once, but no blood, just a severe "ouchie". I would encourage others to wear a "yellow caution light" on their left hand as a reminder that it is an accident waiting to happen.

A couple of safety links for you
The Wood Whisperer
Matts Basement Workshop

May 8, 2010

Highland at Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Atlanta

chrisblack3.jpg Chris Black is shown demonstrating how to restore and sharpen an old handsaw in the Highland Woodworking booth at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event on Friday, May 7, 2010 at Peach State Lumber in Kennesaw, GA (20 miles north of Atlanta up I-75). Hands-on instruction in sharpening, tuning and using hand planes by Lie-Nielsen employees (including owner Tom Lie-Nielsen) is available throughout the day.

The show continues from 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, May 8. Admission is free.