Friday, November 19, 2010

Column #42 - Is it Dull Knives, or something else?

I just got to thinking that these past couple of columns have been more and more like a Saturday morning cliff-hanger…I set out the problem and just when you think I’m gonna give up the answer, I put it off until next week…?
Alright, this week, I really will give you the final solution to the problem.

We do need to recap, if we have some new readers…So here it is: you’ve been using your lunchbox planer, and it has been working just fine…but all of a sudden, it refuses to plane the wood. You can’t even shove the wood in and get it to work. It used to be that it practically pulled the wood out of your hand as you fed it…now, it ain’t happening. Last week, we brought up a dirty, or pitch encrusted bed surface and dirty or wood flour-caked-up feed rollers.
I left you with a teaser about there being one more solution that many people think should be number 1 on the list.

Here it is… Dull knives. Yep, that’s it. I have seen many a planer, just quit planning and the owner changes the knives, or flips his over to a fresh edge, and the planer resumes ‘doing it’s thing’ just fine. One needs to understand that when the knives get dull, they start beating on the wood and they actually create more resistance to the job the feed rollers can do (that being push the wood through the planer). Yes, changing the knives CAN do that.

Now, if you’ve read the past couple of columns, you may be asking: “If it’s that simple, why didn’t he just say so?” Well, here’s why… let’s pretend that your planer quit working as we have described and you change the knives…and…it…still…doesn’t…feed. Now what? Well. More than likely, your problem was a dirty bed or caked up feed rollers (or maybe both)…which you will now have to clean, with those freshly sharpened knives right within a finger’s reach. Do you know how easily fresh knives will cut flesh? LIKE BUTTER.

So, as I suggested, clean the bed and the rollers first. That way, your fingers are at least close to used knives. Don’t get me wrong, they will still cut the mess out of you, but not quite as easy as fresh knives will.

Also, there is a possibility that you will get more board feet cut with your knives before you need to change them, if you will clean the bed and rollers first. That was my thinking behind my suggestions.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Column #39 - The ‘Hidden Art’ of the Wood Planer

This week is the lead off column of a series on a machine that many woodworkers find to have an almost ‘mystical’ air about it. This is the Wood Planer or, as it is known in Europe, the wood thicknesser. In all fairness, “thicknesser” is a more appropriate description of what the machine actually does, than is the name ‘planer’. While handtool history is not my ‘thing’, I suspect that the thicknessers acquired the name ‘planer’ simply because what they did was so similar to a hand plane that smoothes a boards surface.

Over my many years in the industry, I don’t suppose there was ever another machine that caused as many headaches and problems for my customers as did the planer. I think most of that was because the average woodworker just doesn’t understand how these things work, and because the typical planer has so many adjustments that it is a bit intimidating.

The best starting place for our discussions is most likely to define the types of planers that are out there. Decent sized shops would have a planer that would be capable of planing 18” – 20” – 24” or even 36” wide stock. These types of planers are the ones with all those adjustments I mentioned because they have chipbreakers, pressure bars, spring-loaded infeed and outfeed rollers and bed rollers. All of those components must be adjusted properly and they have to be adjusted with consideration given to each of the other components. This is what I call an Industrial Planer.
Further down the scale is the planer that is typically found in home workshops. It’s easily portable and usually has a capacity of only 12”- 15” wide. These planers do not have pressure bars or chipbreakers or bed rollers. As you can see, the number of adjustments is way down from the Industrial types. These planers are fondly called “lunchbox” planers.

I think we will start or series off talking about lunchbox planers because I think that is the most likely type of planer my readers would have. Now, I could be wrong and if I am, I trust those of you who may have industrial planers in your shop to drop me a note and let me know.

Most lunchbox planers are ready to use, right out of the box. Oh, there might be some accessory tables to add or a stand to put together, but essentially the planer is ready to plane wood… and that is a bonus for the buyer.

Let’s pause here for the week. See ya next time…

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Column #38 - The Adventure of the 1955 Nomad

Well, let’s see, after 5 hard weeks of ‘machine talkin’ it’s about time for another of my famous ‘detours’. This one is into the world of car shows and the adventures that come with ‘em.

Back on October 16th, I took Mrs. Mayberry over to Cool Springs for the Battleground AACA Region’s annual show. They wound up having a record turnout of almost 300 cars. The 1966 Batmobile was even there - how kool is that? I had an ulterior motive for going because of a couple of reasons. First, I needed to hand out some flyers about our cruise-in at Cannonsburgh and second, back last summer our club renovated our clubhouse and we found a poster from Battleground’s 2nd car show. It was in great shape for a poster that had been hanging on our bathroom wall for over 20 years. Anyway, I thought that club would be glad to see one of their old posters returned to them, so I took it over. They were thrilled to see it, much less actually have it given to them. I think we spread some real good will on that one.

As it sometimes the case, this show did not go down without an “adventure”.
An “adventure” is what I call it when things do not go as I plan – and you can read that as “things get really messed UP!”.

During the day I had noticed this really pretty 1955 Chevrolet Nomad wagon sitting in front of Sears and the owner was elbows deep under the hood. I had stopped by early in the day to check in and he seemed to have enough tools to do whatever needed doing, so I wished him well and went about the day. Well, sure enough, the show ended and during the wrap up, I noticed the Nomad again - still sitting where it had been all day long…and the guy’s feet were hanging out from under the dash. This cannot be good.

It wasn’t. As it turned out, the poor fellow had lost power in his electrical system and he was trying to find it again. I just happened to have a multi-meter in my tool box, so he borrowed it and started checking for voltage. We even had a fellow stop who owns a restoration shop and we all had at it. We found where the problem should have been and thought that we could jumper around that area and at least get him home. We actually got the car cranked for the first time in about 7 hours. Only…yea, I know…inside an “adventure” there is pretty much always an “only”…the underdash wiring started getting hot, caught on fire, burned a spot on his dash and we sprayed fire extinguisher dust all under the dash… what a mess…but we did NOT let his car burn down. At last report, they called AAA and got the car back to McMinnville where it remains bedded down in its nest. The Nomad’s owner and his wife seem to be real nice folks, who I would not have minded meeting on any day…I just hate that it was because of his car problem.

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Column #37 - Keeping iron dust off your floor

Once upon a time, when your columnist started this effort, he was told that no subject was unapproachable. We may be fixing to find out if that is true or not, because this column is a thinly disguised want ad. You will learn something you may not have known, but you will also get a sales pitch.

Ferrous metal dust (dust with iron in it) is obviously a problem in those shops where a lot of grinding is done, and I suspect that more than one local shop has had some issues with OSHA because of it. Way back when I was with Delta, we sold a fantastic ferrous metal dust collector. The unit was made by Torit and they are among the best at what they do. As it turned out, I became the owner of a brand new 3/4HP single phase unit. It was either take it home, or watch it go in the dumpster. So, being the tool hoarder that I am… anyway, it is a great machine that I have never run. It would be great hooked to an industrial pedestal grinder, it has two suction inlets.

This type of dust collector is strictly made for ferrous metal. One would not want to use it on aluminum or wood, and heaven forbid, aluminum AND wood. Here’s the learning part I mentioned: If you collect aluminum and wood dust in the same container, you have the basic compound of gunpowder…and all it would take is a spark of hot metal tossed into it, to produce an explosion or at least a decent fire. NEVER do this.

So, to prevent this type of event, Torit made (and Delta sold) these dust collectors strictly for ferrous metal use. It is capable of moving 500 CFM and develops a static suction of 3.5 inches of water. It has a set of filter bags in the bottom of the cabinet and the dust is shaken out of them by means of a foot pedal.

Alright - bottom line - I have this thing and I need to sell it. The last list prices of what I have were: the unit itself= $2044.00 ; a new extra set of filter bags= $875.00 ; an accessory air filtration unit= $250.00. As I said, I have never even fired it up. These prices were current in 1993. Heavens knows what they would cost today.

If you’d like to research this a bit more, the Delta model Number was 49-826- I don’t think they sell these any more. If you’re interested in this- send me an email and let’s talk, I’m very easy to negotiate with.

‘Til next week.

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