Friday, July 17, 2015


Or is is geology??

Anyway, whatever it is. . . .

I was working on a project in the shop this morning when I dropped something down inside my table saw.

 It was one of my brass setup-bars. Bars that are machined to very accurate dimensions in increments of 1/16th of an inch. In this case I was using the 2/16's bar to set up a shallow dado cut on the table saw.

Now it just so happens that the width of the saw blade I was using is 1/8th of an inch, and that's also the width of the slot in the zero-clearance insert through which the blade protrudes. (Actually, since the insert is old and has been victim of blade vibration a few times the slot is a little wider than 1/8th inch in a few places.)

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

I had just finished setting the blade height using the setup bar by running a fingernail back and forth across the top tooth of the blade and the setup bar, adjusting the blade height until my fingernail didn't catch going either way. I went to get the bar out of the way, (brass or not, it's not something you want the blade to be hitting!) but instead I performed a very neat, but unintentional, 2-pointer by dropping it right down through the slot.

Like many, I can't afford or justify a high-end cabinet saw for my shop, so instead, many years ago, bought a decent contractor's saw, removed the legs and built my own cabinet around it. What can't be seen in the photo above is the 4" PVC pipe slung under the saw which connects to my dust collection system and pulls sawdust from the chamber directly below the saw itself.

This is where my setup bar went, right down into that chamber, and the last place I wanted it to end up is in the dust-collector after going through the 2 horsepower steel impeller!

Fortunately I had enough foresight at the time I built the cabinet to install a hatch into this chamber which is held in place with 4 screws that can be removed quickly.

As you can see, the spiders and I live cooperatively in the shop. For the most part they don't seem to mind me all that much and I'm not bothered by them

When I did that today I found sawdust piled up against the opening and in the layering of that sawdust a clear record of my past and current projects. I'm sure that with mass-spectrometer and a little lab time, a CSI could match sawdust to specific projects and use the layering to put a timeline to them, but since Abby of NCIS isn't in the habit of dropping by my shop, (Not that I would mind that Abby, if you happen to be reading this and don't mind lecherous old men!!) I'll have to leave that for another time.

This photo was taken by turning on the flash and blindly extending the camera through the small space left by the piled sawdust.
Using a flashlight through the insert opening in the top of the saw table I already knew that the bar had fallen, unerringly, all the way through the chamber and into the PVC pipe at the bottom.

I was afraid that if I just shoved the historical record of my work on in and out of the way, it would fall right on top of the setup bar and I'd be sitting on the floor of the shop sifting through a big pile of sawdust for hours. Fortunately there was just enough room for me to snake my arm in past the obstruction and eventually fish the bar out of the depths of my saw. . .

Now, where was I when I was so rudely interrupted by my own fumble-fingers??

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wardrobe malfuction!

Here it is, my 100th post on this blog, and it comes about due to a wardrobe malfunction!

Over the past few days I've been putting in some bench time working on the preliminary stages of a project. This particular project has a lot of glue-ups that require several hours of cure time during which I can hang up my gear, kick back and recover from my heroic efforts. (As I'm writing this up I'm also waiting out another cure time.)

When I came back to the bench after one of these cure/recovery times I found my shop apron laying on the concrete floor of the barn.

'Well that's strange' I thought. When not actually wearing it the apron hangs on the outside of my storeroom door, which, truth be told, if very rarely ever actually closed. This leaves anything hanging there at the mercy of the winds that sometimes whip through the barn when I have the doors at both ends open, which is pretty much all the daylight hours.

I also keep a long apron hanging there that I wear when I'm working at the lathe, along with a throw-away pair of old pants I don't mind getting paint, oil and other gunk on, as well as a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt where I can grab it when I need protection from the often intense Texas sun. The shirt is usually the one that gets blown off the nail, not the apron. In fact this would be the first time ever either of the heavy aprons had blown off it's nail.

(Contrary to what westerners seem to believe, bare skin is not the proper response to hot, sunny conditions! If you don't believe me just go lay your hand on the hood of that old truck sitting out back. Not only has the UV faded and cracked the paint, but the dang thing is hot isn't it! So tell me, just how is that any different from your exposed skin? Unless it's protected with a lightweight layer of cloth that can deflect the solar energy and stop the UV rays, such as desert dwellers the world over have been doing for thousands of years, how is your skin in the sun any different than that truck in the sun?? Other than the fact that that the truck can't die of heat exhaustion nor contract skin cancer.)

Only turns out nothing had blown off of anything, instead one of the webbing straps had failed. Don't ask me how. It doesn't really look like it's been cut, the edges are just a little too raged for that, but there's also no sign of excessive wear at that point either.

Oh well. Whatever the cause it needs to be fixed.

Because of it's location I couldn't just overlap the two ends and staple them together. (Yes, I admit it. That was the first fix I thought of.) This would have made the two straps down to the top of the apron lopsided. Now I know none of us are perfectly symmetrical, least of all me, but I'm not that crooked!

So a little hunting through some scraps turned up a bit of webbing of the right width. True, it wasn't the right color, but just who am I trying to impress anyway?!

I temporarily put my current project on hold and cleared it off the bench to make way for the sewing machine. The machine just happened to have lime green thread in it from whatever the last sewing project was. True, I could have rummaged around and found the black thread I know is in that bag somewhere, but again, who cares?

I butted up the two ends of the original webbing so they would stay the same overall length and then tacked on a short length of new webbing to bridge the gap and I'm good to go again. (Though since I butted the ends up tight, technically there was no gap to bridge so. . . Oh never mind.)

Thankfully I didn't expose anything - well - horrible, during this wardrobe malfunction or I might have been liable for some unfortunate observer's lifetime of therapy!!