Category Archives: Woodworking


So I had some Christmas money from Dad to spend. Dawn suggested a new rug for the living room, which suggestion I found utterly horrifying. First, because I like the current rug a lot, even if Dawn doesn’t. But mostly because I didn’t want to add Christmas gift money to the general household revenue fund. I wanted something special.

Luckily, whatever rug(s) Dawn had/has her eye on were/is/are apparently a lot more than what I had to spend. So she, budget director but with a heart, gave me her blessing to buy whatever I wanted. And, as it happens, there was a little something that had caught my eye.

I have at various times had on my Amazon wish list a planer. First I think I had the Delta, replaced at some point by the Grizzly. Both in the $200 range. Well, the Grizzly more like $250, since it was $225, but since it’s not sold by Amazon but rather by Grizzly, there’d be shipping charges on top of that.

But recently a Palmgren planer had popped up on my radar. I hadn’t especially ever heard of Palmgren before, or what I’d seen maybe just hadn’t much registered. I think maybe I’d noticed the benchtop jointer before. But this planer was suddenly up on Amazon for $199. They said its original list price was $529, but who knows what list price means in these cases.

Well, I suppose we can compare to the Delta and the Grizzly. The Delta is $199 from a list price of $317. And the Grizzly is just $225, with no other price, list or otherwise. (But it’s available for the same $225 at, so let’s just go with that as the list price.) My dream planer would be the Dewalt DW734, but that’s list $678 on sale for $399. Way too much.

So it seemed like the Palmgren for $199 was a really good deal, although that was for the 84114, whereas the 84112 was on sale for $129. But somehow, I don’t know, I just didn’t trust that 84112. Seemed too cheap.

I read the Amazon reviews, and checked out discussions on the Woodnet forums. There was this one guy Earl Cowles, EZ on Amazon and EZEZ on the Woodnet forums. He was really enthusiastic about the 84114, but almost too enthusiastic. Almost like being-paid-to-say-these-things enthusiastic. But he seemed to be an otherwise honest guy, having given a fairly positive but not totally overjoyed review to a Bosch miter saw on Amazon back in November. He’s much newer to the Woodnet forums, so I couldn’t really tell much else there.

Finally I just bit the bullet and ordered the damn thing, the 84114. I called my brother to see if he could accept shipment at his house first though. I usually have stuff delivered at work, but Amazon said the shipping weight on this thing was 99 pounds. I didn’t think Anita the receptionist would be too pleased with that. And I sure didn’t want them just dropping it off for me at home, not in my neighborhood. Luckily, Rob works out of his home, and he agreed to let me ship it there.

That was Sunday when I ordered it. And it arrives at his house today at 2:13 p.m. I’m going over on Saturday to pick it up.


This afternoon I make a totally rocking router table fence. I use these plans from the Stots website, although I don’t own the dust sucker accessory. I’ll figure something out on my own for hooking up the shop vac.

I start with a piece of 3/4″ MDF that’s been hanging around the shop for a while. Not sure what I made with it originally, but it started out life as a two-foot by four-foot handy panel from Home Depot, and it’s an L-shaped piece now, two feet on each long side. I’m able to cut out the fence and the base pieces at 24″ long, not quite the 31 1/2″ that the plans call for having, but close enough for me. And I have to slim them just a tad, maybe half an inch short of the width in the plans. And for the fence faces I use a leftover piece of laminate-covered 1/2″ MDF. (Leftover from what, I don’t remember, until Dawn reminds me that it’s from Ikea, that we used the rest of it on the kitchen cabinets.) It’s only about a foot long, short of the 17 3/8″ in the plans, but still now proportional since the base and fence itself are shorter.

So my fence is altogether a bit smaller than it could be, but it’s still a real good size. And the laminated faces are totally sweet. The other major change I make is to reverse the fasteners holding the faces to the fence. The plans say to use screws coming through from the back into t-nuts in the faces. I use instead bolts counterbored through the faces then going through the fence and held on with wingnuts.

Mostly the project calls for drilling. A lot of drilling. Pilot holes for the screws holding the fence and base and braces together. Then big 2″ holes in the fence (in lieu of machining slots for the faces to slide side to side). Then the holes that the bolts go through on either side, counterboring them on the front of the faces. At a certain point it dawns on me how much easier all this drilling is with the drill press, how much of a nightmare it could have been.

I finish and set up the whole router table assembly, with the table and the insert and now the new fence. Oh so nice. But I don’t have anything to actually rout today. Next weekend I’ll use it to joint the balusters, to remove the saw marks before sanding. I can joint now because of the independently sliding fence faces, where I can shim the outfeed side to act as a kind of jointer. I had meant to order some proper shims from Rockler, but I have some old playing cards that’ll probably work just as well. Maybe even better since those shims are sized for Rockler’s own fence.

Now I am thinking of souping it up with proper knobs rather than the wingnuts, but, hey, let’s not get too crazy, huh?

Drill Press

After Carol’s yoga class, I head with Dawn to U Street, where lives one John P., who is selling a Ryobi DP101 10″ drill press.

The ten inches in the description refers to the drill press’s swing. The swing of a drill press refers to the diameter of the largest disk that can be drilled in the drill press. In this case, then, that disk can be up to ten inches in diameter. A normal person would just say that the quill is five inches from the shaft of the stand, but that’s not how drill presses are apparently described. It’s kinda dumb, if you ask me.

Mr. P. is a very nice guy. We meet at the back of his building and go into the storage area where his storage locker is. The drill press is taller and a lot heavier than I was expecting. We load it into the car and chat for a few minutes.

Later, at home, after I’ve hauled it into the shop, I discover the thirty-five dollars in my shirt pocket that I was supposed to give him in exchange for the drill press. I thought it was a steal at $35, but evidently I really did steal it. I call him right away to make arrangements to meet again.

Router Table

One other thing I did over the weekend was begin building a router table. I had ordered and received the Veritas Base Plate/Table Insert from Lee Valley. It came with a host of accessory items for getting it attached to one’s router, in my case a Porter-Cable 690.

First there was a positioning template, which consisted of a sheet of letter-sized plastic transparency, on one half of which were printed instructions and rows of circles with cross-hairs, while the other half was blank with a 1/2″ hole in the middle. After cutting off the half with the instructions, the half with the hole slipped over a handily included alignment pin chucked into the router collet. From there I cut out circles that matched the screw holes in my router base, taping them on the transparent sheet over the holes. Then I used an awl to punch holes in the plastic sheet where the cross-hairs in the circles met. Then I transferred the plastic transparency, now with the hole marks, onto the new base plate. Now I knew where to drill the holes to attach the base plate to the router. They even included an 82° countersink bit to drill said holes.

I had some trouble punching with the awl into the hard phenolic of the base plate. And then I had some trouble drilling the holes, though, because I don’t have a drill press. I have an old Portalign with my old 3/8″ Sears drill attached to it. It’s pretty good actually for drilling straight holes, although the plastic base is all bent to hell. But the depth stop mechanism doesn’t work very well at all, so trying to get a countersink to an exact depth is a bit tricky. So I ended up doing it pretty much freehand, starting a little shy of the depth that I eventually wanted, then sneaking up on it.

So now the base plate is on the router. Easy.

Now comes the harder part, which is building some sort of table for the router and base plate to drop into. But, as a matter of fact, Lee Valley includes some instructions for doing just that. They include these instructions I guess because this is a round base plate but yet they still claim that you can install and remove it from below the table, so as not to have to thread the cord to the router. But imagine trying to get a manhole cover down into a manhole. How do you do that?

And bonus as well is a trammel bar that LV includes to help you cut the hole in the table top. And a washer that fits into the counterbore for the brass insert that goes into the base plate. So with the washer installed, with the alignment pin in the router, the trammel bar fits over the alignment pin. On the other end of the trammel bar are two holes which act as handy bushings for drilling two 3/16″ holes in the edge of the base plate. Sadly my crappy Black & Decker drill bit makes hardly a dent in the phenolic plate. I grind at it for like five minutes, smelling the plastic burning, before giving up and heading to Fragers to get a decent bit. That B&D set of drill bits was probably like ten bucks at Home Depot. A new single DeWalt cobalt 3/16″ bit at Fragers is five bucks, but it sails through the plate in less than a second.

Then out comes the alignment pin, to get stuck into a 1/2″ hole drilled in the center of the table for the router table, upside down now this time, so that the 3/16″ pin end is sticking up. And now the 3/16″ holes drilled into the edge of the base plate stip over the pin and act as centerings, around which the router rotates, with a 1/2″ router bit carving out the recess for the base plate. First the inner hole on the bottom of the table for the drop through, and then the outer hole on the top of the table for the recess into which the router plate fits.

Ingenious, huh?

There’s also two sort of wings, one on either side, routed into the recessed ledge, so that the base plate can turn sideways and fit down into the hole. I was especially pleased with myself for chiseling out fairly straight corners, after the routering had left such round areas.

Lastly there’s a way to keep the round plate from rotating in the recess, by inserting a screw with a bushing over it, into the outer 3/16″ hole in the base plate, to act as a kind of bumper that fits into a slot in the recess. Unfortunately I countersink the wrong side of the base plate. So I have to get out the trammel arm and drill another hole with the new DeWalt bit and then countersink it. Is a minor screwup, all in all, but a screwup nonetheless.

But after all this the big old handles on the PC690 router don’t really allow enough room to tilt to get the router in and out from underneath. Turns out to have to go through the top anyway. Oh well. It was still a fun project.

I still have to figure out some sort of fence system. I’ve got my eye on the the Rockler fence. But at this point I really should make it myself. I’ll go looking for plans on the Web.

Ryobi BTS20R

I finally cut some wood with the new saw.

I had had a blast putting it together at first. I love that kind of stuff, following directions from a manual and screwing this to that and whatnot. Like Ikea furniture. Just plain fun. But I had my Freud TK906 blade on Kevin’s miter saw, and I was going to put that eventually on the Ryobi. So I didn’t want to spend any time heeling the blade on the saw to the miter gauge grooves if I was just going to replace the blade and do it all over again. And I had stair railings still to cut on Kevin’s saw, is why the Freud blade was on it, so I had to cut the railings so as to be able to put the Freud blade on the Ryobi saw.


So after cutting some railings on the chop saw, I wasn’t especially happy with the results. It’s so hard to adjust the bevel. I finally decided, hell, the new Ryobi saw is just sitting there, and it’s got a miter gauge and bevel tilt, so why not give it a try? Plus, the chop saw was just spewing sawdust all over the shop. The Ryobi’s got a dust port, 2 1/2″ even, to hook up the shop vac.

So then, after moving the TK906 from the miter saw to the Ryobi, it took me a while to heel the blade to the left-hand miter groove. I started out just using my combination square, measuring to a tooth that I had colored blue with a Sharpie. But then I couldn’t find my feeler gauges anywhere. So then I got out the dial gauge and screwed it to a wooden bar, and then held that assembly on the miter gauge. Worked pretty well. Except that it was hard to measure to the same point on the colored tooth, and the miter gauge is a little sloppy in the groove. Not much, but the dial gauge measures to 1/1000th of an inch, so the slop was throwing it off quite a lot.

So then I had the bright idea to just take the Sharpie and pop a little dot on the flat part of the blade, still out towards the teeth. Easier to put the tip of the dial gauge to that rather than a tooth. And I just held the miter gauge firmly against the right side of the miter channel. And I was able to see that the blade was out of parallel by 0.011″. So I found a 4mm hex key and loosened the two bolts at the back of the motor. Was much easier system than the screws in the table of the Delta that I had, that I had to fit a closed-end wrench underneath the table.

But then for some reason I got it into my head that I had to use a wood board here to pound the blade back. I thought the Ryobi instruction manual said to do this. But after tapping then whacking with a rubber mallet, to no avail, I re-read the instructions and they said to just push the wood board and then, before letting go, tighten the bolts in back when the blade was parallel.

Finally got it to within 0.003″, which I figure is about as good as I can do.

The other cool thing about the dial gauge on the wooden bar is I was able to measure the wobble of the blade while the blade was running. It was exhilarating to do, although hard to read the results. Seemed like the needle was flicking back and forth with a 5 to 10 one-thousandth range. I think digital gauges maybe could save a range or something like that. I don’t even know if they make digital gauges, though. Maybe I’m thinking of digital calipers, which I definitely have seen. Somebody’s gotta make a digital gauge.

I probably should have measured the arbor runout when I had the blade off, now that I think about it. But there’s not a whole lot I can do about arbor runout, except maybe measure wobble with the blade rotated at different points on the arbor. More trouble than I’m willing to take at this point for three one-thousandths of an inch.

And so I cut some railing on the saw, and the cut itself was smooth. Like glass smooth. Like baby’s butt smooth. Like jointer smooth.

I still have to measure the rip fence to make sure it’s parallel. The instructions say to use a framing square. It’s funny that the manual at the beginning says that you’ll need a screwdriver, a 1/2″ wrench, and a framing square to assemble. Then you of course later need a combination square. It’s clearly pictured in the manual, but they don’t tell you up front that you’ll need one. But then maybe I can use the dial gauge assembly that I made. We’ll see.


I get many replies to my Craig’s List ad. The first one is unsigned and not so comprehensible, asking if the saw is still available. The second reply is signed with a first and last name, states quite concisely: “I would like to buy the table saw.” He also gives me a phone number and says when he can come pick it up.


We exchange a few emails, logistics and whatnot, and arrange to meet at Chez Bohls on Friday around 6:30 p.m. Dawn & I see him climbing up the stairs to our place just as we come around the corner home from work. We meet and greet and invite him in. And he’s a super swell guy, an older gentleman. He’s a tad frail, and no wonder: he explains the myriad illnesses and accidents that have befallen him.

We chat some and then he goes out the front to bring the van around back, where I load the saw in the back for him. I spy a Ryobi AP10 planer in the back as well and ask him about it. He chuckles a bit at my tool geekiness and explains that it also is a Craig’s List purchase. He says he’ll consider selling it to me when he’s done with it. I say that sounds like a grand idea.

He’s just pulling away when I spot the saw’s owner’s manual that I’ve left on the back deck & forgotton to load into the van. I grab it and tear ass after him, but I don’t catch him. I bolt through the house to see if I can get him before he turns on Independence on his way out of town, but I don’t make it nearly in time. On the shameful walk back to the house I realize that I’ve also got in my pocket the two wrenches that were promised in the ad. They were sitting on the saw and I stuck them in my pocket to carry the saw outside.

I feel terrible. I look up the email where he gave me a phone number and call the number, hoping that it’s his cell phone and he’s still close by. But I get a woman’s voice on an answering machine or voicemail. I leave a message explaining that I’ve forgotten to include a few things, offering to mail them on my dime. A little while later a woman calls back, saying not to worry and that mailing would be fine, but that she insists on paying postage.

Such nice people. Of course I have no intention of letting them pay the postage.

(The rest of the night and weekend replies keep coming in to the ad. I send everyone a note, saying that the saw’s been sold.

I don’t get around to buying a padded envelope for the manual and wrenches until Tuesday, and I don’t get to the post office and mail them until Wednesday afternoon. Get home from work on Wednesday and we’ve gotten a letter in the mail, with an enclosed check. It’s for twenty-five dollars. He says he feels like he’s paid too little for the saw. He also says to donate the money to charity in lieu of sending it back.

Did I mention nice people?)

Day Off and New Saw

We sleep in probably the latest we’ve ever slept in, until after ten a.m. Then we’re up and we eat and shower and then head to Home Depot. It’s finally new saw day.

We grab one of those big rolling carts and first go to the garden center. (What are those carts called, besides just cart?) We’ve got one of those panel carts, rather than the plain flat ones. We figure the saw box is going to be big.

I leave Dawn and head to the tool corral to get the saw. I grab a guy dusting the sanders on display and ask if he can find me a Ryobi BTS20R. He says that they’re stored high up in aisle 13 and to give him fifteen minutes. So I go looking for garden hoses and sprayers in the meantime. After a while I figure out that they’ve moved them; they’re outside now. I meet up with Dawn and we get what we need and a sprinkler too and then I head back to Tools.

The guy is just wheeling back a cart with what looks like two saws on it. I’m trying to figure out why, and then I realize this box is huge, about twice the size I was expecting. It’s twenty-nine inches wide and thirty-nine inches long and fifteen inches tall. That’s about ten cubic feet, if my math skills are still any good. Plus it weighs just a few ounces under one hundred pounds. And there’s no way any plants are going to fit on the cart with it, so I go put it in the car. Thank goodness for the Jetta station wagon. It never woulda fit in the Taurus.

Oh, sadly, it’s thirty dollars more than what I was thinking the price was going to be. The web site does warn, “Local store prices may vary from those displayed.” Sigh.

Back with Dawn and we buy a lot of plants and potting soil and stuff. But, again, thank goodness for the Jetta wagon.

At home we pull the car around back, and then load the saw box onto the wheelbarrow to get it across the yard to the deck. Then we stand it on end and kind of push and roll it into the shop.

It has finally arrived.

And then one of my first orders of business is to go upstairs and type up an ad for Craig’s List to sell the old saw. I’m a little sad to do this, not really wanting to part with it, for sentimental reasons. It’ll always be my first saw, I suppose. Sniffle. I used it to make my workbench. Cut my first dadoes on it.

But, then again, I’ve replaced it because it’s too small. So I type up the following:

Benchtop Table Saw

For sale: One lightly used Delta TS200 Shopmaster 10″ Portable Bench Saw,
with Delta 36-541 Extension Wing,
atop a Delta 36-519 Steel Stand
on four McMaster-Carr 2368T61 2″ Casters.

Includes a homemade feather board that fits in the miter gauge slots, using a toilet bolt actually, and another toilet bolt/washer/nut assembly. Also includes the homemade extension fence on the miter gauge itself. Also the original arbor nut wrench for changing blades. And a 10mm wrench for the blade guard/splitter/anti-kickback pawls assembly. Oh, and the original blade that came with the saw, that I mostly had hanging on the wall while I used a Freud thin-kerf blade, which I’m keeping. And includes of course the original fence.

Asking $75, but of course will consider any reasonable offers.

So that’s it. The die is cast.

Dawn graciously allows me to store the Delta on its stand in the dining room, so I can have room to unpack and assemble the Ryobi in the workshop. I open the box and take out the loose parts, of which there actually aren’t too many. The miter gauge is already assembled, as are the fence and blade guard. The rest of the parts are mostly for the wheels. The main saw assembly and stand assembly are already together, although way too heavy to lift out of the box. I have to stand the box on its side and slide it all out. Styrofoam is annoyingly squeaky. And annoyingly static clingy.

The axle for the wheels has to be secured while attaching the wheels, so I stick a little screwdriver in the hole that’s provided for this very purpose, and I end up bending the poor little screwdriver. Not debilitatingly so. It’s fixable. But kind of funny. The two ends of the axle are sealed with bolts, and at first I try using these same bolts for the wheels. But they’re too short. After fumbling for a minute, I realize that the directions clearly state that these bolts are to be saved, if ever the saw needs to be re-packed or shipped or something, but the wheels actually go on with longer bolts provided. Then I of course put the wheels on but forget the outside washers, so then have to take it all apart are redo it. But eventually I get it right.

Then the bumpers go on and it’s about done. I practice getting the hang of setting it up on the stand and then putting it back down into roll/store position. Oh, it’s so great.

Then it’s time to get ready for ballet class. And I feel like the complete renaissance man, being the workshop power tool guy as well as the ballet guy.

Ryobi BTS20R

So I think I’m about set to trade up in table saws.

One of the first things I did when starting out with the woodworking thing was get a saw. I read on the This Old House website that Norm’s advice was to get the best table saw that you can afford as the first thing you had to do. So I went surfing for table saws and quickly found that they’re all pretty much way out of my price range. So I put the Delta TS200, at about a hundred bucks, on my Christmas list, hoping my Dad would buy it for me, and he did. I figured that was all the saw I was ever going to have, so I’d make do.

But since then I’ve gained an appreciation for what I can and can’t do with the Delta saw, and I think I need something better. So I’m stepping up all of one notch to the Ryobi BTS20R. Or I’m thinking and hoping to step up, but, after discussions with Dawn, I think it’s going to happen, as some sort of birthday present in June.

The BTS20R is $200 at Home Depot. You can look at that as twice the price of the Delta. Or you can figure it’s $2,200 less than the Powermatic 66. Your choice.

More accurately I suppose we should compare it to the Bosch 4000-09. The tool test for portable saws in Fine Homebuilding in July 2005 rated the Bosch the best of the bunch (Editor’s Choice), and it was the Readers’ Choice as well. But it’s $550, folks, way way out of my price range. The Ryobi was the Best Buy. Of it they said: “This saw has it all: power, portability, good peripheral equipment, great onboard storage, and an excellent price.” The one downside that they noted was that the side-support wing is tightened with knobs rather than a lever, something they said was inconvenient. But it’s hardly a deal breaker.

But in comparing it to the Delta that I have now, there are a load of differences. The Ryobi motor is 15 amps, versus the Delta at 13 amps, and will cut to a depth of 3.625 inches, versus the Delta’s 3 inches. The Ryobi is twice the weight of the Delta but comes in a collapsible stand with wheels, so it’s bigger yet more portable and will save precious shop space. Getting even more important is the rip capacity with that side-support wing, giving me 27 inches to the right versus Delta’s 9.5 inches (or 17.5 with the extension that I’ve got on it). Even better is the Ryobi’s built-in outfeed support that the Delta simply doesn’t have. And the Ryobi’s dust collection port that the Delta lacks as well — right now I have a cardboard box sitting under the Delta to catch sawdust, but it doesn’t catch much.

But the most critical items that the Ryobi has are a standard throat plate and standard 3/8″ x 3/4″ miter gauge slots. The Delta is simply more dangerous when cutting small or thin pieces that fall through the throat, and I can’t use aftermarket accessories like locking featherboards because they won’t fit into the Delta’s smaller, non-standard slots. And I have to just take out the Delta’s throat plate and go commando when using the dado set, whereas Ryobi offers an actual dado insert as an accessory. And the Delta miter gauge broke but I can’t replace it with an aftermarket gauge, so I’ve just forcibly screwed it back together. The Ryobi miter gauge looks and feels beefier and better, but I could replace it with an Incra V27 if I want. Or at the very least, it looks like the Ryobi miter gauge will more readily take an auxillary fence; the Delta doesn’t have holes all the way through to screw a fence through, so I’ve had to use little nuts and bolts that fit inside the damn thing.

And I can’t use a tenoning jig with the Delta, if I decide to get something like that, or the nifty-looking Leichtung Universal Table Saw Jig that seems to be both a tenoning jig and a kind of sliding crosscut sled for under sixty bucks. Not with those miter gauge slots that I’ve got now. But, honestly, it’s not like I’m going to be doing production work making Arts & Crafts furniture or anything like that, so I don’t know if I really need that kind of tenon making capability.

But the throat plate and miter gauge are a big deal. I would just feel safer and better with standard. And the fold-down portability is pretty cool too. That’ll save space. And I’m thinking that I could hold a router table insert in the gap between the table and the extension wing, with the insert resting on the two extension rails, and as long as it’s flush with the top and wing I could make use of the saw’s fence, so then I can get rid of the little video cabinet that I’ve been trying to turn into a router table-y type deal. That’ll save more shop space.

So, safety and space, what better reasons can there be?

We’ll see if we can swing this in June. It’s not like $200 will break our budget, but it’s not pocket change for us either.

Late Update: During dinner, Dawn turns to me and asks, “So when do you want to get your saw?” So not June, but now.

Sometimes I Embarrass Even Myself

I get all excited today about office supplies.

Remember I mentioned stopping at Staples a while back and trying but failing to find those plastic strips that hold magazines in three-ring binders. So I looked online and found them everywhere, but they’re like only $4.29 for a dozen, but then I’d have to pay like $9.00 shipping, so that’s no good. So finally I found them in the catalog of the office supply place that we use at work. And I talked to Tamiko in accounting, and she said I could add them to our weekly order and then just reimburse ASH by check.

Perfect! And today they arrived, although they turn out to be a different brand. But they work just the same. I take them for a test drive on a couple magazines at work, and they’re great! And they were only $3.74 per dozen. Hooray!

But then I get home and I don’t have enough. I had gotten two dozen, but I figure now I could use maybe a dozen more right away and then have another dozen on hand for new magazines and catalogs. Maybe next month I’ll order another batch.

Papal Coffin Clarification

I want to emphasize that everyone agrees that the coffin was beautiful, that it was an example of remarkable craftsmanship. Frank Klausz, whom I quoted, was saying that it was obvious that no one measured, or used a gauge, because he himself is so accomplished as not to need to measure for dovetails. He just marks ’em and cuts ’em.

And no tiny dovetail saw for him. He uses a bow saw. Or maybe that’s Tage Frid. I’m often confused.

(Some quick research proves that it’s Tage Frid who uses the bow saw. There’s some amazing video on the Woodcraft site showing Frank Klausz just zipping through a drawer. I mean fast. He says that when he bids on a job he calculates about 10 minutes to make a drawer.)

Sliding Miter Table

I was thinking today about my terribly cheap (and somewhat broken) miter gauge and what to do about it. I’ve been looking at getting a Ryobi BTS20 to replace my Delta TS200, but that’s probably a ways off. In the meantime, I’ve set a screw through the T-bar into the plastic guage to replace the little stop tab that broke, and I’ve also screwed on an auxiliary fence. And I’ve built a sled for straight crosscuts, although the 1/2″ MDF and dimensional lumber make it somewhat massive for the little bench saw.

I was looking at the Ryobi website and took a gander too at the BTS15, which does not have the built-in folding leg stand with wheels, but it does have a nifty little sliding miter table instead of a miter guage. And the more I thought about it, I realized that a shop-made version would really only need to be a board for the sliding table part, with a runner on which to slide, and then a pivoting arm as a fence. Heck, even I can probably make one of those.

So this is my concept. My first version pivoted the arm halfway up the right side, but I changed it after another look at the one that comes with the BTS15. And notice how I think I can even include a protractor. I was looking for a protractor one day and the thought occurred to me that I could just find a picture of one on the Internet and print it. It worked great. So for this I’ll just print one and glue it to the table. It doesn’t have to be especially accurate, because you really need to measure with a bevel guage and set the angle with that, and then make test cuts anyway. But the protractor is kinda handy, to give you a certain sense of what the angle is. What ballpark it’s in.

My only worry now is getting the right size runner. I think I recently noted how I used toilet bolts to fit into the non-standard T-slot to use with a feather board. But I don’t think bolts would work with this; I really think it needs a runner. My crosscut slet has two runners, on the outside, one on each side of the saw table, rather than running through the slots. Since this necessarily has to fit on only one side of the blade, rather than both with the sled, that method won’t work here. (And that’s part of why the crosscut sled is so massive. And, now that I think about it, the saw table extension I got for Christmas isn’t going to work with the crosscut sled.)

But I can buy or mail-order a rectangular bar of aluminum that’s 5/8″ wide, the same width as the miter slot. The slot’s about a 1/4″ deep, but I just need a runner that fits in the slot. It doesn’t necessarily have to hit the bottom. McMaster-Carr sells a 1/8″ thick aluminum bar that 5/8″ wide. It’s all of $5.48 for an eight foot length. But how am I going to get eight feet of aluminum delivered to my office?


The casters arrive from McMaster-Carr! I’m really excited.

And, also, I’m pretty darn pleased with McMaster-Carr as a vendor of neat stuff. I had read about them last week in a message on one of the Woodnet forums, where a guy was complaining that he couldn’t order from Grainger without a business account. Someone replied that he should try McMaster-Carr, who let you order by credit card. So out of curiosity I checked out their web site. Way cool stuff.

I’m dying to put the casters on when we get home from work, but first I have to drive to Alexandria VW to pick up our registration that’s finally arrived. I leave around 6:20 p.m., figuring that traffic is going to suck suck suck and that it’s going to take like an hour to get there. But traffic’s fine, a little slow maybe but nothing like the parking lot I was expecting.

I get there about 6:45, in time to stop by the parts counter to ask about replacement windshield wipers. The guy says that front ones are $18.00 and the back on is $12.00. He says I should check their website for a coupon, so I leave without buying any yet.

When I get home I finally get to put the casters on the saw stand, and they don’t really work. The casters attach to the little rubber feet of the stand, and the feet bend and pull off when perched atop the casters. I try using a wooden shim between each caster and rubber foot, but that works only marginally better, which is to say still not good enough. My next option is to try a full board between the stand and the casters. I’m worried about raising the saw too high, but I figure I’ll try like 1/4″ plywood, which isn’t appreciably higher than the 2″ casters are going to be anyway. And the board will serve as a handy shelf too.

Toilet Hardware

After work I stopped by Candey’s Hardware on 18th Street and bought some toilet bolts. They work pretty well with the Delta bench saw that I have.

I had been planning to buy toilet flange bolts, because of the relatively small thickness of the heads, but I spotted hanging next to those some brass toilet seat hinge bolts that looked like they’d work. I measured the diameter of the heads and it was 3/4″, which is the width of the widest part of the miter gauge T-slots on the saw.[1] The heads on the flange bolts aren’t round, they’re more like oval-shaped, so I was happy to find round but thin and not too wide.

Both sets of bolts come in a package with other hardware, but the seat hinge hardware included wingnuts, which I also wanted. I had been worried about finding matching wingnuts for the flange bolts. And I had been worried about finding bolts that were fully threaded. So I was darned pleased to have the right size bolts, that were fully threaded, and that came in a package with washers and wingnuts. And all for four dollars.

When I got home I tried the bolts in the miter gauge slots and the bolts were just slightly barely too big. But the belt sander was propped upside down in the bench vise, for use as a grinder, so I just fired that up and ground a bit around the head of each bolt until they fit. Then I grabbed my homemade feather board and cut a channel in it. Then I slipped the bolt in the T-slot, put the feather board over that, then popped on a washer and tightend on a wingnut. And now I have a better way to hold down the feather board.

[1] Standard saw slots are 3/8″ x 3/4″. Delta lists the TS200 slots at 5/16″ x 5/8″, but I measure them as 1/4″ x 5/8″. In such measurements, the first number is the depth of the slot, and the second number is the wide of the slot at its narrow point. Below that slot is the wider slot for the head of the (upside down) T, in my saw’s case 3/4″.

Diamond Bench Stone, pt. 2

My biggest problem now is with getting the angle right for the bevel. I’m using the basic generic honing guide, the single-roller one you can get just about anywhere. I can just jam the blade in the guide and get any old angle, but the problem is trying to get an angle that I want and, even more important, being able to repeat that angle.

But I think what I remember from high school trig will help out here. We all remember soh-cah-toa, don’t we? The sine of an angle in a right triangle is the length of the opposite side divided by the length of the hypotenuse. From our diagram above, we get sin θ = b / c. And here b is the height that the honing guide holds the blade and c is the length of the blade that sticks out of the guide. And a of course is the sharpening stone. So

sin θ = b / c

Or, for our purposes

c = b / sin θ

Let’s imagine that the height b is 5/8″ and we want a bevel angle of 25˚. So, 5/8 divided by the sine of 25 is 1.47887598947 inches. Let’s call that 1 1/2″ okay? For a 30˚ bevel angle, c would be exactly 1.2500″.

I just need to set up a block or something and scribe some measurements on it to be able to repeat the angles. And measure the height of the honing guide exactly, rather than using 5/8″ as we did in our example.

And there are two different places the guide holds blades, sort of an upper area for plane irons and a lower for chisels. Have to note different c lengths for the two different settings as well.

But better that than the Veritas Mk.II for $48.50, huh? Although the Mk.II does have a better way of making sure the blade is set square to the stone …

Diamond Bench Stone

I got a new sharpening stone and am so pleased with it. It’s a DMT DuoSharp stone, an 8″ model, with the coarse grit (325) on one side and extra-fine (1200) on the other.

I had been getting nowhere with my oilstones, a small starter set that I got at Woodcraft for like 8 bucks. Granted there’s a soft and a hard Arkansas stone, along with honing oil, in the set, but the stones are only an inch and a half wide and three inches long. Really too small for a plane iron that’s two inches wide.

So I was trying Scary Sharp as well, which worked just fine on the iron from my antique Stanley Bailey#4 smoother, but it took a long, long time to flatten the back. And I’ve got 11 chisels and — how many planes? Let’s see, the recently manufactured Buck Brothers jack and then the antiques: the #4, #29 transitional fore plane, #9 1/2 block plane, and cute little #75 bullnose rabbet plane — five planes. I was dreading all of that slow sandpaper sharpening.

Plus I’m still working on the grinder. I bought an antique Carborundum Co. grinder, but the wheel was way too coarse. So I bought a good aluminum oxide wheel at Woodcraft, but I can’t get it balanced right on the antique grinder’s arbor with the plastic bushings. So I’m lacking in the grinder department right now too.

Hence the diamond stone. I figured the coarse side would help with flattening the back and establishing the initial bevel and the extra-fine side would finish off the rest. And it’s working pretty well. It’s super fast compared to the oilstones or the sandpaper, although, again, the bevel part really needs a decent grinder.

New Toys

 I’ve been trying to sharpen a big old back saw from my mitre box. It’s like only 12 tpi but I’m so old that I can’t see what I’m doing. I have this cheapie little Radio Shack microscope that magnifies 60x, but that’s too much magnification.

So I ordered these babies, which arrived today. Eye loupes from Grizzly, at 2x, 5x, and 10x. Neat, huh?

Planche M.A.C. Board

Dawn and I have been watching Wonderfalls on DVD from Netflix lately. I really like it.Basically it revolves around one Jaye Tyler, who is either delusional or a prophet of some sort. Small objects speak to her. Small animal objects: a wax lion, plush toys, lawn flamingos, a cartoon buffalo on an apron, etc. They tell her, somewhat elliptically, to do or not do certain things, which things lead to hijinks, coincidences, and bad things that turn out in the end to be good things.

I’m glad that the show does not shy away from the heavily religious implications of its premise, by the way. Well, sometimes the show deals rather heavy-handedly with the religious implications, but better that than ignoring them.

Anyway, what with coincidences and bad things/good things, remember that printer that Dad and Sharon gave me that I had also gotten the day before? And how I felt bad about it? Well, right before I left, Sharon pressed into my hand a $90 check, in lieu of said printer. And then the next day I was reading a woodworking book that Rob & Carol had given me at the very same Christmas celebration at Dad & Sharon’s. The book is Your First Workshop by Aimé Ontario Fraser, and it’s really great, by the way.

And in the book Ms. Fraser shows this jig for a circular saw for crosscuts and miters, and it’s so way totally cool. I looked at it and immediately saw that it would be perfect for router use as well. Perfect, I tell you. And here I had some Christmas money to spend, on this perfect gift that I didn’t even know had existed until just this very moment.

It should arrive tomorrow. I’m very excited.

More on the Saw

Looking more closely into this, I have to say that what the website says about the saw vs. what the saw actually is, well, there’s some confusion here.

The saws were on sale at Woodcraft precisely because Spear & Jackson were fiddling around changing their models, so I shouldn’t have relied on the info from S&J like I did. Or at least I should have understood that just because they look similar, are the same colors, etc., they are not in fact what I bought.

The blue saw that I was using, that looks like but is not exactly the one pictured in the earlier entry, is not a coarse finish but a standard finish. But it’s still an aggressive cutting tool. The red is the universal, the blue is the xpress.

Oh, and it’s eight points, not ten. (7 ppi, not 9).

So, yeah, a 7 ppi saw with fleam? Cuts your hypothenar muscle group like butter.

The Saw

This is what saw I was using on Monday, the one I used to cut my hand. It’s a Spear & Jackson hardpoint saw, twenty-two inches long and 10 pts (meaning 9 points-per-inch), further described thusly:

For the fastest cutting across the grain on both the forward and return strokes with a coarse finish.

Note that it was my understanding at the time that it was a rip saw. That’s what it said on the tag from the store where I bought it and that’s what I was doing with it. Ripping.

Not that it matters that much, really, but the other saw I had bought that morning was the one I should have been using. Although it was designated by the store tag as a crosscut saw, in actuality, according to Spear & Jackson, it’s a universal saw, for both ripping and crosscutting. More importantly, it doesn’t cut on the return stroke. And it produces a standard, not coarse, finish.

Let’s just go ahead and stipulate that I would have cut my hand anyway. Likely, though, the cut wouldn’t have been so severe, is maybe the point here.

But if we’re looking to assign any blame, it’d still have to be all mine mine all mine. Although the store tag said “rip,” the cardboard cover, on the saw I was using for ripping, clearly says “fleam” on it. And of course, rip saws have no fleam. Crosscut saws do.


So, while technically true that neither saw I had that day was a rip saw, the universal saw would have been a smarter choice over the fleam saw.

The Accident

With a brand spankin’ new Spears & Jackson saw, ripping a (too small) piece of pine, I very severely sliced my left hand, cutting completely through the hypothenar muscle group.

My wonderfully understanding and kind sister-in-law Carol took me to the emergency room and waited for several hours with great and stoic patience.

The grandly confident Dr. Phillip J. Chang, a hand plastic surgeon, stitched me up.