Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gettiing back on the beam

Yep, as you can see, I got real slack about adding my articles to the blog. Skipped quite a few, I did.
So, let's start the year off right...tomorrow...

V5.1 - Happy New Year

Happy New Year

So now it’s Two Thousand-Fourteen, AD. Who would have figured? Not me.

Thinking about what to start the year off with and I think last year’s article was a mighty important one. We had just lost another high-schooler in a car accident, wherein she was thrown from the car and I used the incident to remind everyone to buckle up.

Once upon a time, I did not wear a seat belt – mostly because the car I drove did not have them, but later on I got a new car that did. At the time I was racing my dirt car at Riverside Speedway in West Memphis, AR and of course, one wears a 5-point safety harness (seat/shoulder belts, yes) when you’re racing.

So, one rainy morning on my way to work (seatbeltless mind you) I was driving down the interstate and all of a sudden, I felt my car start hydroplaning. That’s when the tires begin to ride on top of the water and no longer have contact with the roadway – you have zero car control. Well, my car started sliding sideways – thank God there was no one in the lane next to me – and all I could do was what you should do when this happens, lift off the accelerator and allow the car to slow down until it makes contact with the road surface and you regain control. Once I was back in control, I slowed down and drove on to work…as I did, all I could think was ‘What if I had hit the guard rail? I’d have been thrown to the other side of the car and no way could I have regained control. At that moment, I buckled my seatbelt and I have been using them ever since. I have even retro-fit them into my classic cars – I will not drive without them.

People - WEAR your seat belt. Life is too short and too precious to risk it all, just because you don’t want to buckle up. Still don’t think they are needed? Why do think that race car drivers wear them? Because they want to survive the accident. Don’t you? 

Till next time….

Send your questions or comments to:

Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

V4.44 - Happy Halloween

Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve had a detour, so, let’s do one this week.

I wonder why people thought  it was a good idea to stick razor blades into Halloween candy or fruit? Sickness? Mental disease? Back in my day, we didn’t have to worry about mess like that. Our world is steadily getting darker and darker…So, if you let your kids trick or treat - Be Safe!

So, we had our little episode of the Government “shutdown”. It accomplished nothing other than truly revealing how utterly spiteful, hateful and arrogant Barry Soetoro is. Anyone who thinks that erecting ‘barrycades’ around an open air memorial is cheaper than just leaving it alone, needs remedial thinking…and I must say that if I was visiting Mt. Rushmore and some jack-booted thug told me that I couldn’t take a photo of it…well, let’s just see if they could have stopped me.

Sure, it may sound nuts, but this whole deal looked like it was nothing more than a dry run to see just how far the sheep could be pushed before they would revolt. It was even testing the law enforcement officers to see how far they would go in ‘obeying orders’ from Der Fuhrer. It sounded like some of them followed his orders just fine. Considering just how messed up this administration is, I think some ‘out of the box” thinking is in order. One can only guess as to what will next occur.

Make sure you are prepared to defend your home and family for as long as we must endure.

If you are a Believer like me, we may not be around much longer. I truly believe that Time is getting short. The birth pangs are increasing and getting more and more frequent. The signs in the world today all point to the end of the Age of Grace and to the imminent arrival of the Rapture. We are, quite literally, in the very last moments of the opportunity that mankind has to find salvation through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus as the Savior of the world. At this moment eternal life in heaven with Jesus is a free gift. Very soon now that will change. Salvation will still be attainable, but at a very high price.

A major sign that the Rapture and the end of the Age of Grace, has to be near is the crumbling of fundamental Christian doctrines. The name of Jesus has become a dirty word in politically correct America as well as the rest of the world.

On August 11, California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law the “bathroom bill” mandating schools to allow boys to use the girl’s restrooms and locker rooms, and vice-versa.

Pray for us…pray for us all.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

V4.43 - The Last Word on Wood Shapers

Ok, so we’re gonna wrap up our informational series about Wood Shapers this week. That is, unless you folks come up with some questions that I can answer for everyone. I’m finding this sort of column a bit more difficult than I imagined because I can’t show you any pictures of what I’m talking about. I guess I’m just more used to writing Instruction Manuals when I’m talking about the features of a machine. Instruction Manuals have pictures. Now, if I’m discussing how to fix something…well, I did that over the phone for more than 20 years and Skype didn’t exist. So, “picture-less trouble-shooting” is right up my alley.

Alright, so where were we? Ah yes… another useful tool for Wood Shapers is called a ‘hold-down’. These are usually spring steel and the mount for them attaches to the fence. They apply downward (toward the table) and inward (toward the infeed fence) pressure to help keep the work snug against the fence as it enters the cutting circle. (see how a picture would be perfect right about here?)

No discussion about tools is complete without talking about Safety. A Wood Shaper is probably one of the most dangerous tools in a shop. It can cause kickback and loss of fingertips. Here are some good rules to follow when using your shaper.

1: Always wear the proper clothing. Generally it is a good idea to take off any wristwatches or bracelets and to wear tight-fitting clothing. The use of short-sleeved shirts will minimize the possibility of being pulled into the cutter. Never wear loose-fitting clothing or neckties when using a shaper. 2: Always use the appropriate hold-downs and guards. 3: Keep the cutters sharp. Sharp cutters will cut with less friction and minimum tear out. Less friction means that you will not need to use as much force to move the work thru the cutters. 4: With some cuts, it is better to make several light passes, rather than to try to make the cut in one pass. 5: Always minimize the open area around the cutters and the fence. In other words, keep the fence edges as close to the guard and cutter as possible. Too much open space can lead to snipes, gouges, kickbacks or nicks in the work. 6: Use work controlling devices such as hold-downs or stock feeders whenever possible to keep the work snug against the fence and table. 7: Always push the work past the cutters when completing the cut. Never release the work while it is still touching the cutter.    

I’m not sure where we’ll go next time, but be sure to tune in. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. If you understand the reference, you’ve had more than a few birthdays.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

V4.42 - Wood Shapers, part 3

Fences. Yep, that’s where we left off. So that’s where we shall resume.

On a shaper, the fence is placed on the table top and secured to the table with two long threaded rods, usually with knobs on top. The fence acts basically like the tables of a jointer, laid on their side. The infeed fence side controls the depth of the cut and the outfeed fence side supports the stock after it has passed the cutters. The biggest difference between the two is that the outfeed of the jointer is pretty much always higher than the infeed. That is not always true on a shaper. If the stock is not being removed from the entire edge of the workpiece, the outfeed fence will need to be level with the infeed so as to support it properly. Most shaper operations are this way.

One of the most innovative fence systems to come along in the past 20 years was the segmented fence. This fence consists of fence “fingers” that are small slats of material and they can be adjusted to conform more closely to the cutters and guard outline for better support and dust collection. For best results the opening between the fence halves should never be more than is just enough to clear the cutters and/or guard.

Speaking of guards, there are two basic types for most shapers. The “ring guard” is, as it sounds, a small ring that is mounted on an overhanging arm and it encircles the top of the spindle. The most familiar shaper guard nowadays is the polycarbonate/Lexan, clear or orange-colored disc guard with the rounded edge. It sits on top of the cutter(s) and comes with bushings and washer kits to allow it to fit most spindles. This disc has a high-speed, pre-lubricated ball bearing center that mounts directly on the spindle. It keeps the operators fingers out of harms way, away from the revolving cutter. It minimizes flying chips and yet allows excellent vision to see the work as it is being shaped.

One of the most necessary parts of a shaper is the sliding jig. Its purpose is to clamp the work securely so that it can be advanced into the cutters. It is primarily used in creating return moldings across the ends of narrow strips.

Of course each shaper has an on/off switch and most of them are mounted within easy access of the operator. Some shapers have a movable arm that can be raised above the rear of the table for very good switch access. The switch for reversing the motor is usually on the side of the motor itself.

For now, let’s end our discussion and we’ll see if we can find some more “good juice” for next week.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

V4.41 - Wood Shapers, part 2

Last week, we started our series on the Wood Shaper. We’ll pick that back up this week and give you a bit more information about this necessary wood shop machine.

Let’s talk about the shaper spindles; most spindles are solid, with different sized spindles or cutter holders on opposite ends, such as a collet to hold router bits or a stub spindle to hold cope cutters. All spindles can be raised and lowered which allows for adjustment of cutter height. Most shapers have the elevation handwheel at the front of the machine and a separate handle that locks the spindle in place at any desired height above the table.

A medium size shaper with a three-quarter horsepower motor is more than adequate for small cutters with a half-inch center bore. Cutters such as panel raising cutters or carbide cutters stacked for multiple cutting operations should be used only with shapers that have one and one-half horsepower, or larger, motors; and three-quarter inch or larger spindles. Some applications require the use of heavy-duty industrial shapers which can have motors as large as 7 horsepower.

On most shapers, the motor must have a speed of 3450 RPM in order to give the spindle the required speed. While there are certain applications the can better use a slower spindle speed, the optimum spindle speed is 10,000 RPM. Shapers may use a v-belt or a flat belt to transmit the motor speed to the spindle and some models have a reversing switch that will change the direction of rotation of the spindle and allow the user to turn the cutter over and feed in the opposite direction.

There are various spindles available that serve specific purposes. For example; the Stub Spindle is used for cope cutters; the Collet Spindle is used for router bits; the half-inch spindle is used for half-inch bore cutters; the three-quarter inch spindle is for three-quarter bore cutters and so on, up to inch and a half or larger spindles. Hollow spindle cartridges require auxiliary spindles with tie-rods so they can pass down thru the main outer spindle and be secured with a tapered nut that holds them tightly and safely while preforming shaper operations.

I’m not sure how much further we’ll get with this because it’s pretty difficult to describe things here on in, without using pictures… but we’ll see. I’ll do my best to give you some good mental visuals.    

Every shaper has a fence. ‘What’s a fence’ you say? In some cases it’s used to keep cows in, but on shapers the fence is used to brace the stock that’s being shaped.

We’ll get more into that next time.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

V4.40 - My friend, the Wood Shaper

Alrighty then, after a few weeks of discussing THE most vital shop machine, let’s move on to one of the most vital shop machine’s best friends. This machine is not as vital as the Table Saw, but if you want to get creative, it is hard to pass up. Let’s start talking about the Wood Shaper. Some of this information was previously published by Delta, in 1937 and used with Authorization.

The modern Wood Shaper is a very flexible and versatile tool. Its application in woodworking allows one to create an infinite variety of shapes in wood with a wide selection of cutter heads, offering many different profiles. The wide adaptability to many woodworking techniques likewise allows one to create many unique woodworking projects. The wide selection of lightweight to heavy industrial models offers the user many options.

At its most basic, the Wood Shaper is a stationary power tool that is designed to cut shapes in wood. Makes sense, right? Most Wood Shapers have a vertical spindle on which a variety of cutters can be mounted. The cutters cut the actual shapes in the wood, thereby creating moldings and making wood joints or joinery. While there are other tools, such as routers, that also cut shapes in wood they generally do not have the power and flexibility that a shaper has. The Wood Shaper usually has the ability to reverse the rotation of the spindle, vary the speed of the cut and to have multiple cutters mounted on the spindle at a time, which allows several profiles to be done in one pass. In addition there are several cutter combinations that expand the shaper’s versatility. The work piece is supported by a cast-iron table (Please note: my discussion leans more towards those shapers that have cast-iron tables, not so much the table-top shapers that might have aluminum tables – although the basics of a Wood Shaper is the same between them) and is controlled by a variety of supports including a fence, depth collars or special jigs and fixtures. This allows an infinite variety of applications to be handled by the shaper.

The spindle assembly is driven by an electric motor. A drive belt connects the motor to the spindle via various sized pulleys that control the speed of the spindle. The spindle size can vary from one-half inch to one and one-half inch. The larger spindles are designed for heavy industrial machines. Some shapers have spindle cartridges that are hollow which allows spindles to be interchanged much like changing a drill bit in a chuck, except that the spindle is held in place with a draw bolt.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

V4.39 -Table Saws: Pick a Fence

I know we kind of got sidetracked (remember, I call them detours) because of our discussion about Sawstop and Flesh-Sensing Brake Technology, but this week, we’re going back to our previous world of Table Saw fences. The table Saw fence is basically just a guide for the stock as you move it thru the blade and cut it. There are really only a couple of time-tested designs of fences. One is called the Jet-Lock fence. This name is not intended to be connected to any brand, but it was what old Delta called their basic fence system, starting back in the 1940’s. Many other saw makers have used the same basic design and they call it other things. I won’t go into the ‘name-calling’ here, but the way to tell what it is, is this: This type of fence does require a rear fence rail because it clamps on both the front AND rear rail. There are usually several adjustments that allow the operator to make it perform correctly. The usual problem with this type fence is that, when the operator pushes down on the front clamp handle (this handle is supposed to clamp the fence tightly against the front rail AND align the fence parallel to the sawblade) the fence clamps fine, but it does not align parallel to the sawblade. This is a most frustrating situation. Well, here’s the ‘trick’ solution: The front of the fence should clamp to the front rail BEFORE the back clamp locks the fence to the rear rail. The way this fence was designed, the very act of clamping to the front rail MAKES the fence align to the sawblade. As you can probably guess, if the back end clamps up first, then the front cannot make it align properly. At its most basic, if one adjusts the fence clamping sequence properly, and has taken the time to adjust the alignment of the fence so that it aligns when the front clamp engages, then this fence locks in and will be one of the best guides for your work.

The other fence style is the T-square fence. One of the most famous of those fences systems is the Biesemeyer brand. There are many other manufacturers that make a t-square style fence, but I think that Biesemeyer is sort of like the grandfather of them all… or maybe he was just the best for a many years. Either way, it is an excellent fence system. The working difference between the T-square fence and the jet-lock style is that the T-square has a much wider front clamp AND does not use a rear rail. It is usually much more heavy-duty and is so stable that it does not need to clamp at the rear. The T-Square fence is much easier to square up to the blade and because it does not have that rear rail, there is no premature clamping on the rear to interfere with fence alignment as it locks down.

Till next time….

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

V4.38 - Table Saws: What’s Kick-Back?

So where does all the talk about FSBT leave us? Right back where we were…simply saying that new technology is good ; however, if one will USE the guards that have been part of table saw equipment since the 1930’s, one will avoid injury. Just as a side note, one of the other things that the engineers noticed with the Sawstop FSBT feature was that they felt it would encourage users to leave their standard guard off the saw. ‘After all, you now have this great flesh-sensing safety device that stops you from cutting your finger off’. Well, it’s my understanding that Sawstop still furnishes a standard guard with its saws AND they intend for you to USE it. Even THEY will acknowledge that use of a standard blade guard will prevent contact with the blade. Amazing how that works isn’t it? Truthfully, the FSBT safety device is merely another layer to help prevent injury. Sort of like seat belts AND airbags. Seat belts DO save lives, if one will USE them. Add airbags to them and you have another layer of safety. But ask yourself, would a car maker sell you a car that ONLY had airbags… and if they did, would you drive it?  I’m thinking… not.

Bottom line: USE the guards and safety devices that are supplied with your unit. Life will go well with you.

Ok, so back we go to our discussion of table saw fences. Some fences have a ‘micro-set’ adjustment knob that allows very small, controlled adjustments. In all cases, it is very important that the fence does not pinch the workpiece between itself and the blade. If that happens, the subject of ‘kick-back’ could become very familiar to you.

But since we’re on that subject, we might as well define it. “Kick-back” is a condition wherein the workpiece is grabbed by the blade and shot forward –TOWARD THE OPERATER- at tremendous speed. When kick-back happens, it not something you can dodge…well, not unless you are The Flash and are used to moving at supersonic speeds. I knew an engineer in Jackson, TN who did some very in depth studying of kick-back – even to the point of doing some hi-speed video of what happens as the blade grabs the stock and flings it back toward the operator. It was really incredible to see. The stock usually came flying out in a circular motion which produced an arced gouge in the surface of the piece. The blade deflected so far that you would have thought it would shatter, but it didn’t.   

Kick-back is not something to want to see. I’ve seen many a cinder block wall get some wood imbedded into it by kick-back. It isn’t pretty. Just guess how bad it hurts to be hit by it.

Till next time….

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

V4.37 - Table Saws: Done with FSBT

We were talking about the use of FSBT on smaller bench top table saws. Those are the lightweight 150 dollar saws that you see flopping around in pickup truck beds, going from job site to job site. Like I said last week, those saws are very lightly built - there just isn’t a lot of steel or bracing inside them and the force of the FSBT would be very hard for them to handle. Now, of course, the makers of those saws could beef up the guts of their saws to allow it to handle the FSBT. Yes, they could, but it’s very likely that the added weight would make the saw too heavy to be easily portable. Not to mention the added costs of doing so.

So, if FSBT is required by law, it might put those manufacturers out of business. Sadly, that has never seemed to be much of a concern to any Gov.Co agency. Especially nowadays. We, the people, have given them way too much power over our lives.

But I digress, sorry… Anyway, there is talk among the lawyers that handle this sort of thing that the CPSC might just write some new directives and force every saw to have FSBT. On one hand, I’d hate to see it because, as it stands now, the only workable FSBT belongs to Steve Gass. Enacting new regulations that force FSBT to be installed would make Mr. Gass immensely wealthy. Please understand, I have nothing against someone inventing something and the market going crazy over it and them getting very rich from it. (Think: “Pet Rock”) That’s what our country has been about from day one. However, I surely DO have a problem when someone invents something and then does everything within their power to gain the backing of the US Government and have them force manufacturers to buy his product. In my personal opinion, there is something just plain wrong with that. This is not letting the market forces do what they usually do.

Unfortunately, it IS the way our society has become. I’m sure that there are some parts of Mr. Gass’s thoughts that  have him just drooling at the very idea of the companies that turned down his invention, now being forced to pay him for it. Retribution? Payback? Who really knows. One would hope that his integrity would transcend those sorts of schoolyard shenanigans, but with him constantly being in the CPSC’s face and trying to push them in the direction he wants them to go… well, as I’ve said before, it just stinks. The greater good to mankind would be for him to release all claims to the patents of FSBT. THAT would show his true heart.

Too much to ask for?  We shall see.

Till next time….

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

V4.36 - Table Saws: Who Loses?

Continuing our discussion… OK, MY discussion… you’re just listening in on my ranting.

Flesh Sensing Brake Technology (FSBT) is currently available on the product called Sawstop. That’s all well and good. When the brake engages, it utilizes a replaceable cartridge that I believe costs around $80 to replace. So, let’s say that you have a table top saw that costs you $150 and it is mandated that you install FSBT on it. Currently, a FSBT retro-fit package doesn’t exist, so if a law is made that you cannot use your table top saw unless it has FSBT – you’ve just been legislated out of a table saw. So, OK… someone (be it Sawstop or another company) designs and starts selling a new table top saw that has FSBT included. The first thing that happens, the initial cost of this saw goes up to accommodate the new FSBT. But for the discussion’s sake, let’s just say that some REAL - cheap manufacturer out there finds a way to still sell a small saw with FSBT for $150…and then your brake fires…and it costs you $80 to replace the cartridge… that would be over half of the price of a new saw. Now, seriously, how many times are you going to do that before you throw the thing away?

Alright, back on target…So Mr. Gass is ‘helping’ the Consumer Product Safety Commission decide whether to adopt new product rules that require FSBT on some table saws. He hasn’t made a secret of his efforts. This is well-known in the industry. It still smells a bit unseemly, but to each his own, I suppose. Please don’t misunderstand, I believe the FSBT invention is right on par with automotive airbags or seatbelts. It IS a game-changer, but if Mr. Gass’s motives for working with the CPSC were as pure as he would have us believe, it seems to me that he would donate the patents to the open market and anyone could use them…for free. Will we see that from him? Do NOT hold your breath. I believe I’ve read articles that have him saying how this invention was so badly needed and such a great contribution to society, and in the next breath refuse to release it so that everyone could be safer. Sadly, the ultimate loser will be the consumer. How? Good question. As already alluded to, if FSBT is required, the cost of ALL saws will go up. Not good. There are some small benchtop saws wherein FSBT is totally impractical. The motor design, or the ‘guts’ of the saw, may very well not be ‘beefy’ enough to handle the sudden explosion of a FSB…and let me tell you, it is fast, loud and hard when it goes off. It has to be in order to bring a saw blade that is turning around 4000RPM to a dead stop in milliseconds. 

Till next time….

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

V4.35 - Table Saws: Suits & Laws

So, where were we? Mr. Gass has started his own company, yet is still participating in hearings of the Consumer Product Safety Commission wherein they are considering forcing every saw maker to incorporate Flesh-Sensing Brake Technology (FSBT) on their products…or they will not be allowed to market their saws. Who holds the particular patents for FSBT? Why Mr. Gass, of course.

I have always thought that the surest way to get filthy rich was to create something that the government said everyone had to have, and one could only get it from ME. Obviously, Mr. Gass thinks the same way.

Now, one follow up part to this is that once the FSBT exists, you KNOW what is coming next. Never mind that FSBT was only designed for, and works on an Industrial Table Saw. Oh, no. Our society has become so enamored with ‘striking it rich’ by suing someone, that there are now court cases in the system wherein the complainant says they got hurt on their table saw…. Because FSBT was not installed on it. What sort of table saw, you ask? I am so glad that occurred to you. The most famous of these lawsuits pertains to a $150.00 bench top table saw….and I have not yet told you the real punch line.

The user REMOVED the factory-supplied guard, used the saw and got cut. Yes, you read that right. The guard was there, the user decided to take it off and got hurt. Not surprisingly, two words come to my mind: “Oh, well”. That this wasn’t just laughed out of the room when they first had a hearing, tells you how stupid some judges are. I wonder… if I decided to remove the brakes from my car and go blasting off down the road and hit a tree and hurt myself…could I then sue the car maker? According to the progression of lawsuits on table saws, I suppose that I could. Seriously tho, back to the idea that because FSBT is available, ALL saws should have it… that is also a bogus idea. There are some autos that have 4 wheel disc brakes. Do they stop better than rear drum brakes? Yes, they do. Should ALL cars be forced to have 4 wheel disc brakes? Probably not. The customer should have the option. Kind of off on another tangent, but I cannot begin to tell you how many times we (at Old Delta) made a change to a product and customers who had bought the previous model were all over us about sending them the new design. I often wondered how many times Ford sent out new parts to upgrade the older models, when they came out with a new model… Yes, laughing out loud - Not on your best day.    

We’ll talk more next time…

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

V4.34 - Table Saw: Sawstop part 2

Continuing with our saga about table saw guards and Sawstop in particular;

The story, as I lived it and heard it play out is this: Mr. Gass spent a lot of time and invented his version of ‘flesh-sensing’ brake technology and he then proceeded to contact various woodworking machine manufacturers in his efforts to get them to add his brake to their saws and pay him royalties. It might be best to mention that Mr. Gass’ profession is as a patent lawyer. At this point the Sawstop story differs. Gass says that ‘someone’  told him “Safety doesn’t sell”. But according to the manufacturers, Gass wanted way too much money for an untested product.

“Untested”..? Yes, because some engineers had some very good points. Such as: no matter how much lab testing is done, there is no ‘test environment’ that will run a product thru the ringer quite like releasing it to the public will. Sawstop was untested technology. Also, before the brake engages, the user gets hurt. Now granted, it is just a scratch, as compared to a possible amputation, but the hurt IS there. That fact scared some folks off. Kind of a side note, but all of the demonstrations I have ever seen of the Sawstop shows the item - be it a weenie or Gass’s finger, moved very s-l-o-w-l-y into the spinning sawblade. In the real world, kickbacks, which probably cause most of the ‘finger into blade situations’, happen in the blink of an eye. What I’d like to see is what the weenie looks like after someone has taken a major-league pitcher’s wind-up and thrown it into the blade as hard as they could. THAT would be a more realistic test, in my opinion.

Anyway, trying to trim a long story, no manufacturer took Gass up on his offers.

So, as inventors are used to doing, Gass started his own company which featured the Sawstop saw as its headline product. This was great…no one wants your product- start your own company and market it yourself…. But then comes the part that has turned a lot of people off.    

At some point in the process, maybe before he started his own company, maybe after… Mr. Gass made an appeal to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to have them require that all table saws MUST have ‘flesh-sensing brake technology’ on them. The CPSC has the power to force companies to comply with this… and since Mr. Gass owns all of the FSBT patents, he could write his own ticket and be wealthier than Midas in the process. If this strikes you as an ‘around the backside’ way of forcing companies to give him what he initially asked for… you’re not alone.

The same thought  has occurred to many…and it just doesn’t seem ‘right’.

More next time…

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

V4.33 - Table Saw: Guards ‘n Sawstop

Last week we mentioned fences, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at one of the Table Saw’s most important safety features - the blade guard. There are several components of a blade guard. When talking about a conventional blade guard, there is the splitter, the housing, the mounting brackets and the anti-kickback fingers. One of the newer guard features that has come on the scene recently is the riving knife. While the riving knife has been featured on European saws for many years, it’s relatively new to the USA.

Pretty much every woodworker will agree that conventional guards get in the way and are generally a pain in the caboose, but the bottom line is – they DO work. If you use them properly and allow them to do their job, they will prevent you from injuring yourself. Sadly, most woodworkers think they are too smart, too experienced, too ‘whatever’ - insert your own descriptive phrase that means ‘Those are for other folks not me’ - to need one. That’s when they get complacent and find themselves missing a finger or worse. Guards are not just for dummys. As we used to say in the Navy, most safety rules are written in someone’s blood. Guards fit this saying very well. One can be sawing along and have a kickback which throws their hand into the blade and poof, all of a sudden, there is a stump where a finger used to be. It’s NOT a pretty sight. Guards WILL prevent that, but one has to be willing to actually USE them.

Nowadays one cannot talk about guarding of saws without mentioning a newfangled invention called “flesh-sensing technology”. The background of this is an invention of one Steve Gass and it is found on saws of his creation that are known as Sawstop. (note: for a video of how this works, just Google “Sawstop hot dog”)

The invention itself, is kinda kool, but the politics surrounding it have left many a woodworker confused and some even a bit hacked at Mr. Gass. Once you see the video, I’m sure you’ll be impressed. You’ll see a hot dog slowly passed across a saw table - directly into a spinning saw blade, then, faster than you can saw ‘wow’, the blade will disappear with a loud BANG! Then you’ll see the side of the wiener and it will have a small cut on it. The hot dog represents a person’s finger, which would normally be cut severely and it will only have a small scratch on it. A truly ingenious device that can, and has, saved many a digit, I am sure.

BUT…the method of how this invention has been presented to the market has soured many a folk. Details next time…

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you

Thursday, August 8, 2013

V4.32 - Table Saw: Drives and Fences

Ok, back to the mission at hand - Mr. Table Saw. We had introduced the Table Saw and left off talking about how the motor is connected to the arbor. One thing I might mention, there are several table saws that use a ‘universal motor’ (this motor has brushes inside it, just like your electric hand drill) and some of those motors have a cogged drive belt inside the motor unit. (most of them have reduction gears, not a belt) This gives some folks the opportunity to claim that the saw is a ‘belt-drive’ saw and cheat unsuspecting buyers. Now, technically, they are correct, but in the world of table saws, a universal motor that uses a drive belt is NOT the same thing as an induction motor, with a v-belt and pulley drive system.

Ok, to continue our saw drive information; the v-belt and pulley drive system has certain advantages over direct-drive systems. For instance: A- the maximum thickness of wood that can be sawed is greater, because it is not necessary to keep the motor down to allow for motor clearance under the table. All that is needed is room for the arbor pulley and that is a lot smaller, so the arbor itself can get closer to the bottom of the table - therefore, the blade can cut deeper. B- It is easier to change from one motor to another in case of motor failure or in case the saw is transferred from one shop to another with a different power supply. C- A belt-drive saw does not coast as long as a direct-drive saw when it is turned off. This adds to the safety of the belt-drive saw. D- Problems with the saw motor or drive system are far easier to troubleshoot on a belt-drive saw. E- If the saw motor is a true ‘direct-drive’, meaning the blade is mounted directly on the motor shaft AND the motor is an induction motor, it will be a quieter running saw. But if the motor is a ‘universal motor’ with a gear reduction drive, it will be much, much louder. The belt-drive saw is almost as quiet as the direct-drive.  

There are two methods of accurately guiding the workpiece past the blade: a rip fence and a miter gauge. The rip fence is usually guided by, and mounted to bars that are fastened to the front and rear edges of the table. On some smaller saws, the rip fence is mounted on the table edge itself. In either case, the front rail or front table edge will have graduated markings that tell how far the rip fence is from the blade. The rip fence is used for all ripping operations and is secured during sawing operations by lock knobs or clamp handles.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

V4.31 - Howdy, Mr. Table Saw

Yes, “Mr. Table Saw”…one of the brightest, shining stars in any wood shop, and one of the most necessary. In fact, most wood shops would be out of business if their table saw vanished.

Table saws have been known be various names such as: bench saws, variety saws or stationary circular saws. The table saw is one of the oldest known stationary power tools used in woodworking. It is estimated that better than 80 percent of all woodworking involves sawing, so the value of a clean-cutting precision tool for this purpose is of great value. Anyone who has used a handsaw making a cut and then used a table saw to do the same job knows the value that a powered table saw brings to the operation. Not only is there an increase in production and a decrease in expended effort, there is also a huge gain in accuracy because the machine is designed to minimize the possibility of human error.

The table saw IS the basic machine in any woodworking shop for performing the fundamental operation of “Straight Line” sawing. It is not a difficult tool to operate. Plain ripping and cross-cutting come naturally to most operators, and other jobs requiring more know-how are easily learned. In fact, there are only six basic saw cut in all of woodworking: rip, bevel rip, crosscut, bevel crosscut, miter and bevel miter. All other cuts, no matter how intricate, are combinations of these basic cuts.

The size of a table saw is determined by the largest diameter saw blade that it will accommodate. Popular sizes for home shops and schools can range from 8 to 12 inches. Table saws for industrial use can range in size from 14, 16 or up to 24 inches. Saw cutting capacity is determined by the blade size. For instance, a 10-inch saw will usually cut thru wood 3 and one-quarter inches thick; a 12-inch saw will cut to 4 and one-eighth thickness, with the blade at 90 degrees. The operation of the modern table saw is simple. The saw blade is mounted on a threaded shaft called an arbor that it turned by a motor. Some smaller saws have the blade mounted directly to the motor shaft. The blade projects through a table on which the work is rested. The arbor must be tilted to cut bevels, chamfers and certain types of miters. There is a handle to raise and lower the blade, a device to lock the blade at any degree of tilt or height and a scale to show the degree of tilt. Saws that have the blade mounted directly to the motor shaft are called ‘direct-drive’ saws. The arbor of most saws is coupled to the motor by means of a belt and pulleys.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

V4.30 - Wrapping up Drill Presses

As promised, this is the wrap up for our review of Drill Presses. My main objective for this year is to give my readers (um, there IS more than just one of you…isn’t there?) a bit more knowledge about the various shop machines that are available.

Who knows, maybe you’ve kind of toyed with the idea of setting up a machine or two in your garage and as we go through the different tools, you might discover one that is something you really need. Hopefully, these articles will help you.

Ok, this week, we run into number 9: A full line of accessories will help you get the most from your Drill Press. Accessories which are supplied by manufacturer of the Drill Press that you choose are designed for that particular tool and it will not be necessary to use ‘workarounds’ to be able to use them to their best advantage.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times, during my 23 years with Delta Technical Service, that I would get a call from someone who had bought an accessory at a bargain store, only to come home and find out that it ‘don’t fit’, or wouldn’t ‘do what it says it will’. Come to find out, that accessory was made by some third party who had nothing to do with Delta. It turned out to be my job to gently explain to the customer that Delta did not design, build or endorse that accessory and that it ‘not working’ was not our fault. Most of the time we had a similar accessory but of course, it wasn’t sold at those rock-bottom prices that the customer had found at ‘Joe’s swap meet’. Sadly, that left Mr. Customer in a bind, unless they were able to get ahold of the manufacturer of the ‘outlaw accessory’, and that was mostly impossible.

On to number 10: It costs very little more at the start and much less in the long run to equip your shop with the best in power tools. Choose a Drill Press produced by a manufacturer who has an established record of reliability and quality. Yes, there are some ‘low-cost’ options, but if you intend to use your tools and actually rely on them, it is always better to buy good stuff on the front end. I’ve heard so many examples of customers who buy the cheapest, smallest tool they can find and then expect it to perform like a machine that costs 3 times as much as they paid.   

Or like this one fellow, he ‘bought cheap’ and got a small bandsaw – a WOODcutting bandsaw mind you – and was trying to cut deer meat with it. Naturally, the blade kept slipping off the wheels from all the meat fat and blood - Duh. Yet, (you saw it coming- right?) he kept fussing with us as if this was a problem with the bandsaw.

Ah, customer stories… I got a million of ‘em.  See you next week.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

V4.29 - Drill Press: Why no Parts?

Last week, we were talking about the way tool companies supply their replacement parts, and we started outlining how Delta got into such a hole with theirs. The thing is that once Delta got taken over by the portable tool folks (first Porter-Cable, then Black & Decker) the idea of supplying parts for decades went down the drain. Truthfully, there is quite a lot of difference in the philosophy behind supplying parts for portable tools and for stationary machines. P-C & B&D just never did ‘get it’.

Sadly, it was about to get worse.

In the grand scheme of parts, once B&D had fully taken Delta over, it was not unheard of for them to discontinue a tool and immediately no longer have any parts for it. No one was doing that ‘long-distance planning’ that I told you about last week. In the portable tool world, one could buy a drill for 40 bucks, use it for a year or two and they’ve pretty much gotten their money’s worth out of it. Not so for someone who bought a lathe for 500 bucks and then, a year later, can’t get a drive belt for it. THAT is what Delta is still dealing with right now. B&D would not get a supply of replacement parts for future support of Delta tools. In fact, I know of several instances where a tool is currently being marketed and sold and a customer has a need for a part and that part is ‘no longer available’. This is NOT what a customer wants to hear… this is one of the reasons that B&D sold off the Delta brand back in 2011. The lack of foresight of B&D has really put those guys in a hole. Eventually, they will climb out of it, but it’s going to be a while. I suppose, being honest again, if I were in the market for a new drill press, and I were considering a Delta, I would make sure that it was made after 2010. I do know the ‘new Delta guys’ and they are committed to supporting their products, but they’ve been left holding an empty bag. I have even done some consulting for them and we’re working thru issues one at a time. If they can hang on, I know it will turn around.

It’s always important to consider the company you’re buying items from, or at least I do. I try my best to support businesses that employ our citizens. Think this means “Buy American”? You’re absolutely correct. Fortunately, even though a tool may be manufactured outside of our country, ‘tool service’ is still a homegrown effort. So, even when a machine is made in China, you can bet that you’ll be talking to someone in the USA if you have questions about it. 

Next week, we’ll wrap up our Drill Press review.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

V4.28 - Drill Press: Parts and Parts

Last week, we left off at item number 8 on our list of things to consider when buying a Drill Press. Item 8 is a very important thing to consider if you intend to keep your Drill Press for a while. It’s also something that is a problem for some companies. We’ll explore the reasons it’s a problem, even though there isn’t a lot that we consumers can do about it, except let the manufacturers know of our displeasure.

Ok, so number 8 says: Be certain you can get proper replacement parts and service, if needed. Now, I could leave it at that and just dump you, but I am just not that way. Any advice I give in these columns has to be impartial and honest, above all. Frankly, there is a company that is near and dear to my heart that is having some serious part delivery issues right now. Truthfully, it wasn’t their fault that they got into this condition, but they have to deal with it now.

Of course, I’m talking about Delta. For those that don’t know, I was a founding member of Delta’s Technical Service Department back in 1985 and I finished my career with them in 2005, as their Technical Service Manager. Had things not been so discombobulated (that’s a southern word meaning: messed up) I’m sure I would still be with them…but that tale was told in this column a couple of years back - so let’s move on.

Anyway, Delta - when its tools were made in the USA (and I mean FULLY made here, not just assembled here) used to be able to supply parts for decades. They stored the patterns and kept the blueprints like, forever. They understood the value of being able to support their tools far into the future. I think some of that mindset might have been due to the efforts that Delta made in the war support and schools markets. Both of those groups would probably require their supplier (Delta or whoever) to be able to support the product for a set amount of time. So let’s step aboard the Wayback machine and take a look at Delta once it started making tools in the far East. That was when Delta discovered the same thing that other manufacturers did. Once a tool that was say, made in China, was discontinued, the Chinese manufacturer destroyed all of the molds and patterns, and probably the actual blueprints. The trick to keep this from biting you was to obtain a decent record of your part purchases and make your best forecast of future part purchases. Then you’d order however many parts you think you’d need for however many years you intend to support the tool.

We need to stop here for this week, but we’ll do it more next time…

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

V4,27 - Drill Press: How to pick ‘em

Alright, if you’ve followed along for the past 3 weeks, you (hopefully) know more about the workings of Drill Presses. We’ve told you about just how versatile a Drill Press can be. Now, you’ve made the decision that this is one machine your shop could really use… but what to look for? What are the most important features to consider? What will it have that will allow you to fully utilize its capabilities? Well, let’s just take a look at some of those thoughts and give you some ideas.
1: The entire Drill Press should be solidly constructed to allow for long life and the ability to continue precision work over time.
2: The Drill Press table and base should be ribbed for strength and rigidity. They should be slotted. The table should have flats or ledges on the sides, which can be used for clamping the work. (This offers convenience and safety to the user.) The table should have a precision-ground work surface which helps keep the work accurate and the base should also have a flat surface for holding large workpieces. The table should be easily adjustable, up or down – left or right, for adapting to different drilling situations.
3: The Drill Press head should be cast iron since that offers excellent support and protection for the most important parts of the Drill press, the motor, the quill and the spindle.
4: The Drill Press should be equipped with a chuck that is tightened with a key, not by hand. The chuck should have a one-half inch capacity so that it will accommodate the various size bits and accessories. Many drill Presses feature a taper-mounted chuck. By having a taper-mounted chuck, the runout of the chuck/spindle is practically eliminated and the user is assured of accurate drilling. Some chucks feature a self-ejecting chuck key which ensures that the key is not accidentally left in the chuck.
5: The Drill Press should be equipped with a depth-stop. The depth-stop will allow the user to drill many holes at the same depth as the original hole. It eliminates guessing and allows precision accuracy.
6: The Drill Press should have an adjustable motor bracket support. It should be sturdily constructed to support the motor, yet adjustable to allow for ease of setting proper belt tension.
7: The Drill Press should have a selection of speeds for drilling wood, metal, plastic, glass and ceramics. Some Drill Presses feature a triple-pulley arrangement for easy selection of 12 different speeds, ranging from a low of 250rpm to a high of 3000rpm.
We’ll stop here, for this week…
Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

V4.26 - Drill Press: Speeds and Capacities

My, my. We’re just moving right along with our information about Drill Presses.

At some point we’re going to get into ‘what to look for when buying a DP’. I’m sure that will help anyone who is contemplating adding a new machine to their shop.

For now, let’s get back to our rundown.

Where’d we leave off? Oh yes, we were at the chuck and the next nearest thing to talk about is the spindle. The ‘spindle’ is usually driven by a stepped-cone pulley or pulleys that are connected by a v-belt to a similar pulley on a motor. The ‘motor’ is bolted to a plate that is located at the rear of the head casting at the rear of the column. The average range of speeds of the typical DP is 250rpm to about 3000rpm. Delta used to manufacturer a ‘super hi-speed’ Drill Press. It was so named because the bit speed was around 10,000rpm. The motor only turned at 3450rpm, but because of the belt ratio, it could really turn ‘n burn. It seems that jewelers loved it. Since the motor shaft stands vertically, a sealed ball bearing motor is best suited for a Drill Press. For average work, a one-quarter or three-quarter horsepower motor usually meets most requirements.

The capacity, or ‘size’ of a Drill Press is determined by the distance from the center of the drill bit to the front of the column - then doubled. For instance, a 12-inch Drill Press can drill to the center of a 12-inch diameter circle, but the distance from the center of the bit to the front of the column is only 6 inches. This is how all Drill Presses are measured. One of the most versatile Drill Presses was the “Ram Radial” Drill Press. This was an industrial Drill Press that was used a lot, during the Second World War, in airplane factories. The head had a long appendage fastened to its back and that casting rolled inside a ball bearing track. What this allowed was that the head could be moved backwards and forwards almost 3 feet. I’m working off memory but as I recall this press could drill to the center of a 72-inch circle, or down to about an 8-inch circle…and any and all points in between. It was such a popular concept, but one that most home shop guys could not afford, that back in the 1970’s, Rockwell International created a home shop version that could drill to the center of a 32-inch circle. It could also slide in and out, just like its bigger brother, which enabled it to be just as versatile.

Next week we’ll outline a few tips to keep in mind when you’re out shopping for your new Drill Press.
Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

V4.25 - Drilling, etc…

Ok, where were we? Lost in Space? In the Twilight Zone? Maybe in a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Nah, we were just playing around in the shop talking about Drill Presses.

Back we go… A conventional DP consists of the following main parts: the base, the column, the table and the head. The ‘base’ supports the machine. Usually it has pre-drilled holes that are for fastening the DP to the floor, a work table or a bench. Some bases have a machined surface that is used to hold a workpiece that might be too large to fit on the regular DP table. The ‘column’, usually made of steel, holds the table and the head and is fastened to the base. Actually the length of this hollow column determines whether the DP is a bench model (it mounts on a work bench) or a floor model (it stands on the floor). Floor DP’s range in height from 66 to 75 inches tall and bench-mounted models range in height from 23 to 48 inches tall. The ‘table’ is clamped to the column approximately midway between the head and the base. It can usually be moved up and down the column, so as to fit odd-sized objects inside the drilling range. The table may have slots and/or clamping ledges in it to aid in clamping and holding fixtures or workpieces. Most tables have a centered locator hole through them and some tables can be tilted, left or right, while some tables have a fixed position only. Some tables have a ready-made “dummy table” which can be easily attached to the table for certain sanding operations.

The term ‘head’ is used to designate the entire working mechanism that is attached to top of the column. The most important part of the head is the spindle. The spindle revolves in a vertical position and has bearings at both ends and is housed inside a moveable sleeve, called the quill. The quill, and therefore the spindle it houses, is moved downward by means of simple rack-and-pinion gearing, worked by the feed lever. When the feed handle is released, the quill is returned to its normal up position by means of a spring. Adjustments are provided for locking the quill and for presetting the depth to which the quill can travel. The quill usually has a stroke (travel length) of 2 to 3 and one-quarter inches on most home shop models. Industrial, or heavy-duty, DP’s usually have a stroke of 6 inches.

An average DP comes equipped with a one-half inch capacity geared chuck with key. This chuck offers the best grip for the most work.

We’ll wrap up this week here and be back with you next week.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

V4.24 - My friend, The Drill Press

So… last year I got to thinking (yes, my wife was shocked at that, too), I write about tools and I’m sure that some readers see what I write and think, “What the dickens is he talking about?”… because they have never heard of a wood shaper or a drill press or a bandsaw. So, I thought that I would introduce you to the tools.

Our next few weeks will be about what’s likely, my favorite shop tool, the Drill Press. I’ve done a few columns about the chuck and stuff, but not any about DP’s in general. I call this my favorite tool because it’s the only one that’s ever tried to seriously maim me…and it was MY fault. The story is that I was getting ready to race my dirt track stock car for the very first time and I needed to make an accelerator bracket. So I had this piece of flat steel that I had bent on one end and I needed to drill a hole in that end. I was “in a hurry” and set the bent end flat on the Drill Press table, which left the other end sticking up at an angle…and I thought ‘oh, I can just hold it and it will be fine’… yea, right. I held it, started drilling the hole and BAM! before I could move, the bit grabbed the metal and swung it around so fast…and I looked down at my arm and all of a sudden I had this huge slice in it…started bleeding like a stuck pig and all because I was in too big of a hurry to clamp my work or put it in a vise. To this very day, I have a scar on my left wrist that looks like I tried to commit suicide. Seriously.

Anyway, back to our lesson…the Drill Press (hereafter referred to as a DP) was originally designed for the metalworking trades; however, with the availability of woodworking techniques and of cutting tools, jigs and attachments, the DP is now one of the most versatile tools in the shop. It not only drills in metal, it bores in wood and performs other woodworking operations such as mortising and sanding. In fact, after the table saw, the DP can easily become the second most important piece of equipment in the average home shop. Notice one technical distinction: it “DRILLS” in metal and “BORES” in wood. Since I am a tech-guy, such nuances are important. They really are. We’ll talk more about DP’s next time.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Friday, June 7, 2013

V4.23 - Collecting dust from all over

I got a question past week that might be good to pass along to my readers. Here’s the issue: “Samples are being cut from defective units. Once the employee rough trims the pieces to approximate sizes with a circular saw they use a tile saw to finish trim them and a belt sander to clean up the edges. The samples are made from Gel-Coat, resin, wood and ½” X 1” metal bar stock. What would be the best dust collection system for this?”

In his email, he gave 3 separate issues. #1-wood, #2- not wood, #3- metal. Each of these need separate consideration. The easiest is wood. Both Delta, Jet and many others make wood dust collectors. Most units are now the single-stage style- meaning the incoming material travels right thru, and impacts, the wheel. Steel is more resistant to the material’s impact and steel wheels are what is found in the single-stage units.

With that in mind, let’s look at each: wood would be fine with single-stage units and standard bags- no issues, however, with ‘not wood’, you’d need to be concerned about the bags themselves. At its most basic, wood is a porous material- meaning if the airflow was hard enough, *some* air could pass thru it. Not so with ‘not wood’. If the inside of the bag was coated with Gel-coat or resin, the airflow would stop and either it just wouldn’t work, or the pressure would build up and cause a bag seam to rupture. Your best bet here is to just collect it in a two-stage system like Cincinnati Fan has. This was the company that Delta used to get their 50-180-series units from. You’d want your dust to just drop into the barrel and not get to the bag to clog it up. Now for metal; metal is a whole different ballgame. If you are collecting wood and metal at the same time and using a single-stage, STEEL wheel, once the wood dust got to the critical ‘lower explosion level’ of 40 grams per cubic meter of air, and a metal spark was injected into the mix, a dust explosion is a real possibility. It would be safer to use the Cincinnati Fan style, two-stage collector as they use cast aluminum radial wheels so sparking is not as much of a concern; however, if you have a pile of wood dust in the bottom of the barrel and a grinding spark of metal made it thru to that pile, you could have a smoldering fire occur. Mixing metal and combustible material is never a good thing. Metal dust collection is best handled by a dedicated unit such as Delta’s old 49-826. (for those who’ve read this far and might need a good ferrous metal dust collector, I happen to have a brand new one- never used- $4000.00 value for only $1500.00) But it will not do the multi-material collecting either. It’s not good for anything but ferrous metals.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Friday, May 31, 2013

V4.22 - So, your motor just up and quit?

This week we have a typical scenario from a client: “My 17 year old JJ-6CSX was running fine and then just wouldn't start. My suspects would be the motor capacitor or the starting switch, but I'm out of my element here. Any way to determine which one--or if it's something else?”

Translated, it would read like this: “My 17 year old JET jointer quit working and I’m not sure what’s wrong. I’m no good at electrical troubleshooting- HELP?” Just for the record, we are talking about a 1 horsepower single phase induction motor, which has a start capacitor.

Fortunately, troubleshooting a motor’s electrical problem is really not that difficult, but there is a standard way of doing it. First off – Keep It Simple.

Look for the easy stuff first.

1: Make sure you have power to the outlet. Try plugging the motor into a different circuit-one that you KNOW is working. Sometimes a breaker trips for no apparent reason.

2: With the power cord UNPLUGGED- check the wiring connections and make sure that one of them has not simply come loose.

3: If you KNOW there is power to the outlet – does the motor hum when you flip the switch? If it hums, that means the switch is working because there is power getting to it.

3A: If there is no humming- you’ll need to go deeper. But FIRST- UNPLUG THE POWER CORD. Then you will need to test the switch with a meter OR use a test cord that will bypass the switch, so you can plug it straight into the outlet and see if the motor runs. IF the motor runs using the test cord, replace the switch and you should be fine.

3B: Let’s say the motor does hum. Your problem is in the start capacitor or the centrifugal start switch. FIRST- UNPLUG THE POWER CORD. Now, you will need to find the centrifugal start switch. This usually requires some disassembly of the motor to find that switch’s contacts. Once you find them, vacuum the dust out if there is any. You can also blow it out with compressed air. Once you know that the switch contacts are clean, dry and contacting each other properly, try the motor again. If it still only hums, you probably have a bad start capacitor. You can replace that, OR you can take the motor to a motor shop for further testing and repair.

Motors are rather simple objects, but look for the easy stuff first. I had one customer who went thru everything on the motor, only to find out that his multi-outlet breaker strip had tripped out because of a little rainwater getting in it. (He had it on an open window’s sill) I promise he felt really dumb after that one.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

V4.20 - V-Belts and heat; part 2

Last week, we started talking about a fellow’s Powermatic planer that has a 3 V-belt drive system and he thinks the belts/pulleys are getting too hot. From the tone of his post, it reads as if he is amazed that there is any heat at all. My contention is that, yes, there is heat, there will BE some heat and it really isn’t unusual… for these reasons…picking up where we left off:

Just running with that and thinking out loud, with a 4500 rpm cutterhead and 3" OD cutterhead pulley (2.85" pitch diameter), I get around 3350 ft/min belt speed. If it takes a 5 lb pull on the belts to move the system at a steady speed, that's about .5 hp [375W or 1270 BTU/hr] lost in the belts and bearings (mostly the belts, assuming ball bearings). Scale that up or down if 5 lb isn't right, but that's a pretty big power loss running under no-load conditions (1/10th of the 5 hp I think that machine's motor is rated for).

Not surprising, as there are three A-section belts in there, but pretty big nonetheless. Additional power is lost through air movement and sound generation, but I suspect that's minor. But losing 1/2 hp (more or less) to heat in the drive should make for a noticeable increase in temperature, and with little skin area on those sheaves, they'll have a hard time shedding that heat, at least until they're hot enough to reach equilibrium.

Power loss in the belts may actually be higher at high speeds due to the viscoelasticity of synthetic rubbers, where the faster you deform it, the harder it resists deformation, so at high speeds it's harder to flex, and therefore wastes more energy. But for sure, the bend/unbend events are very fast, and with a 30" pulley to pulley center distance (eyeball estimate), each belt bends and straightens over 1000 times per minute (twice per round trip). Cogged AX-series belts won't heat as much, and serpentine belts far less still (they're so thin, there's little stretching/compressing of the 'rubber'). But the sliding of the vee into and out of the grooves will still be there for all belts, so some heat is generated there too, no matter what.

A possible resolution would be to reduce the belt tension a little. As long as they don't slip under heavy cutting, there's no harm, but frying the belts if the cutterhead stalls wouldn't be a good thing. I'd just run them as-is, and if they need replacing some day, use AX belts for the higher efficiency and lower heat generation.

The bottom line is that heat is going to happen. How much is too much? If the belts start melting – yep, that’s too much.

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

V4.19 - V-Belts and heat

As with most writers, it is sometimes difficult to come up with a subject for a column. What I have found that seems to be working is to just stay in touch with my friends on the internet forums and use their discussions as a basis for my next column… it seems to be working out fairly well. This week’s column fits in real nice because I was once the Technical Service Manager for the group that owns Powermatic. So, let’s start with the issue and then we will determine the resolution.

The question from a poster was: “I have a Powermatic PM15 planer with 3 drive belts. The belts seem to run very hot. The pulleys on the cutter head and motor get hot enough that you can’t hold your hand to them. The pulleys are aligned within 1/16 and are tensioned with about 1/2 inch deflection, as per the manual. I called Powermatic and talked to a tech and he said it was normal for the belts to run hot. Anybody have any input on this? This is an older used machine, not a new one. I would appreciate any ideas on this, thanks”

'Too hot to touch' is rather meaningless when it comes to stuff like this, but it's used all the time. I say “meaningless” because what might be ‘too hot to touch’ for Bob, might only feel mildly warm to Sam. Without actually giving a measurement, who really knows? Yet, people say that to describe something that they perceive to be a problem. I was curious as to just how much heat is generated by a v-belt, as I'd never actually looked into it. I couldn't find any data on it from the major belt manufacturers, so the physics of 'how hard is the pull, and how fast is it going' seems to give a reasonable answer and it seems to be in the general neighborhood of what you'd expect, at around 10% power overhead loss from friction and flexing, give or take, though 10% would depend on how big the motor is, and the belts and pulleys don't know that. They just generate heat when running at speed and when under load.

Just running with that and thinking out loud, with a 4500 rpm cutterhead and 3" OD cutterhead pulley (2.85" pitch diameter), I get around 3350 ft/min belt speed. If it takes a 5 lb pull on the belts to move the system at a steady speed, that's about .5 hp [375W or 1270 BTU/hr] lost in the belts and bearings (mostly the belts, assuming ball bearings). Scale that up or down if 5 lb isn't right, but that's a pretty big power loss running under no-load conditions (1/10th of the 5 hp I think that machine's motor is rated for).

Send your questions or comments to:
Toolsmartz@bellsouth.net and we’ll see what we can do to help you.