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??

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