Don Williams got his butt kicked by a wheelbarrow this past week and it wasn’t even a close fight. The fine woodworker who has lately been known for his work with the Studley Tool Chest, and who describes himself as “192 pounds of controlled fury” usually excels at wheelbarrow wrastiln’ but this time he was felled by the old tipping over move. Didn’t see that coming. Our sources say he was hauling a full load of rose petals and dandelion fuzz which proved to be too much for him, and when he toppled over he was buried under the fluffy cargo for two days before being rescued by a bunny rabbit that proved to be stronger than he is. He escaped with a broken hip that will prevent him from teaching his upcoming class at Woodworking in America, but period craftsman Freddy Roman is slated to take Don’s place at the conference and has promised to lift all heavy objects for him in the future.
Chris Schwarz and Roy Underhill recently invaded England and held a root canal of a party at Shakespeare’s house. The two woodworking bigwigs toured the bard’s home in Stratford-on-Avon where they enjoyed a fair amount of tomfoolery crawling around on the floor among the sixteenth century reproduction furniture. The end result was nice collection of photographs you’ll find at the link in the show notes, and Interpol slapped Schwarz with a lifetime travel ban for jumping on Shakesphere’s bed.
In other news, Time Magazine reported this week that traces of Marijuana have been found in Shakespeare’s garden. Roooooy…. You DOG!
Shawn Graham wants you to get in touch with your woodworking feelings. He says that such emotional gobbledygook will enhance not only your enjoyment for the craft but also your work. Of course, he’s not just talking about warm, fuzzy, hippy, tree hugging. He’s literally referring to our sense of touch and how it can improve our woodworking skills. The way a plane iron feels when it’s set to the perfect depth, the feel of a chisel edge when it’s adequately sharp. Knowing when to stop sanding by the texture of the surface, these are skills that are well worth cultivating. And I think you’ll find his blog about this subject well worth reading.
Paul Sellers has long admired what he calls amateurism in woodworking. Now, before you get upset that some hoity-toity Brit from across the pond is insulting us Americans again, consider that he speaks English while we speak American, and the two languages aren’t the same. I mean, try ordering bangers and mash in Detroit and see the looks you get. Paul explains that amateurism is a wonderful thing in the woodworking community because it allows people to have interesting and meaningful discussions about the craft without all the macho one-upsmanship that prevails in a room full of professionals who want everyone else in the room to know they are the professionals. Amateurism helps us learn because we are willing to admit that we actually have something to learn from someone. You don’t have to be an actual amateur to display amateurism. Sellers has more than once written about how he tries to cultivate the quality, and he’s been a pro woodworker for a couple hundred years now. Anyway, his latest musings on the subject are very interesting. You should check them out at the link in the show notes.
Hand tool woodworker Graham Haydon has nine tips for preparing your stock the old fashioned way. They include choose your timber wisely, accept what you have picked, understand what flat means, don’t do it all at once, know when to stop, don’t be a perfectionist, be prepared to fail, and it’s not pointless. Now if after hearing that quick rundown, you still think it’ll be fun to prepare stock by hand, I encourage you to read more at the link in the show notes below.
You can’t buy skill via equipment. That’s a lesson Shawn Graham learned on an embarrassing mountain bike ride and subsequent ridicule from a child on a BMX bike- and the lesson has stuck with him through his woodworking career. Tool companies make a fortune by getting us to believe we can buy perfect mortices or flawless dovetails if we only trade our hard earned cash for their mass produced equipment. The problem is, those tools take a skill set of their own to use properly. Nothing in life is free, and that applies to woodworking as much as anything else. Sometimes it’s better to invest the time to learn a new skill rather than looking for a store bought shortcut.
New in Tools 1
Our senior tool correspondent, Mustache Mike is here to tell us what’s new in tools.
A woodworker in Wales named Bern Billsberry has created a simple tool that just may save your hand planes. The Nutsaver is a little leather wrench for torqueing down the brass parts on hand tools that would otherwise come loose without aggressive tightening. It sure beats using a pair of pliers. Sterling Tool Works sells them for around $40, but you could probably make one yourself with some scrap wood and leather.
A lot of woodworkers burn their scraps in a fire pit, and if you’re like me, you wait until you have a mountain to burn and causes a big inferno that threatens the house. Well a company called DR Power equipment has developed a cage that may be the solution. It’s made from stainless steel so it will withstand the heat and the elements, and it keeps everything contained in a small footprint. You don’t have to worry about ash and embers floating off and setting a fire somewhere else, you can even burn paper and cardboard without worry. I saw it in a woodworking magazine and haven’t had a chance to try one out. But I’ll put a link in the show notes if you want to investigate for yourself.
Recently, Glen Huey and Chuck Bender took to the 360 Woodworking audio podcast to discuss shop cleanliness. I thought this would be a perfect subject for Mustache Mike and me to debate in another edition of point/counterpoint.
M- I think a clean shop is important if you’re going to have chicks over. Otherwise, I don’t worry about it.
S- I like my shop to be clean, neat and organized. And it ticks me off that it seldom is.
M-The reason why Stumpy has so much trouble cleaning his shop is because he has the wrong idea of what clean really is. If there’s room to walk, it’s fine. Get to woodworking!
S- At the risk of being called a fuddy-duddy, people still say fuddy-duddy don’t they, I think a messy shop is a dangerous shop. If I trip over your pile of scraps and fall face first into the saw blade, who’s going to put humpty dumpty together again?
M- Maybe if some people watched where they walk, they wouldn’t fall onto table saws. Besides, the Sawstop brake triggered and he barely got a scratch on his forehead. Which proved my theory that Stumpy’s skull is full of hotdogs.
S- It’s not just about clutter. I thought we had a lamb in the shop for a week before I realized it was the cat covered in cobwebs. We have three shop vacuums here that have never been used by anyone with a mustache.
M- You just want a floor you can eat off, right chubby.
S- How about I use that lip broom of yours to clean behind the toilet.
As many of you know, we’ve been doing an extensive shop remodel which included new dust collection ductwork. That means a lot of time without any dust collection in the shop at all, so it was the perfect opportunity to try out the Trend Airshield Pro, which is a completely self-contained air filtration system you wear on your head. Our senior tool correspondent, Mustache Mike is here to rate it based on quality, performance and overall value.
S- So let’s start with quality, how well was it made.
M- I didn’t have any problem with the quality at all. Everything’s plastic, but this is one situation where you actually want plastic because it’ll be lightweight. I don’t think anything is in danger of breaking under normal use. The face shield has three layers of tear-off film that protects it from scratches. The elastic around the face seal seems to be of good quality. I also noticed on the website that every part is replaceable if you do have a problem. One thing did disappoint me, though. The optional ear muffs really do not seem well made. They were next to impossible to attach to the helmet, and the arms are really chincy. But since those are options you buy separately and not really part of the airshield itself, I won’t knock anything off for them. Five stars for quality.
S- Ok, what about performance. Did it work as advertised?
M- Yes, I think it did. We used it while we were cutting MDF with big clouds of dust in the air. But you couldn’t even smell that strong MDF sent, which proved to me that it was filtering it all out. And I really like the way that it works, there’s a fan in the top that sucks air in through the dual filters, and then blows it lightly across your face, which creates positive pressure inside. It keeps your face cool which is nice on a hot day, and it doesn’t fog on the inside. The battery life is rated for 8 hours and I also noticed that it kept its charge despite being in the box for a couple of weeks between uses. But there was one obvious problem- it’s a little heavy. Not bad, but enough that it takes some getting used to. In fact if you don’t tighten the knob on the back each time you put it on, it won’t stay in place on your head. If you have any neck problems or if you’re wearing it all day every day, it may start to bother you. I suppose it’s just the price you have to pay for a powered air filter you wear on your head. I give it a solid 4 stars for performance.
S- And finally, what about overall value. Was it worth the price?
M- I have to admit, it’s expensive at about $600- You can almost buy a high end cyclone dust collection system for that. I didn’t expect it to be cheap, after all they’ve taken an ambient air filtration system and miniaturized it so you can wear it around. You might say $600 would buy a lot of disposable face masks, but this provides a much higher level of filtration, it won’t fog up your glasses, I found it was more comfortable to wear than a respirator even though it’s a little heavy, and they added high impact face protection and optional hearing protection- so this is way more than a dust mask. Even though we have good dust collection here in our shop, this is something we still use when we’re cutting toxic materials like walnut or exotic woods, and it’s a lifesaver for cutting MDF. I’m giving it four stars for value, only because the price is so high.
S- There you have it folks, the Trend Airshield Pro gets an average of 4 1/3 out of five stars, an excellent rating. If you want to learn more, check out the link in our show notes.
Well, that wraps things up for this edition of Behind the Sawdust. Be sure to visit Stumpynubs.com at least once a week, where we’re posting all sorts of new woodworking videos and project plans all the time. Then you can sit back and have a cold one, because you’ve earned it, my friend!
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