Thursday, November 27, 2014

V5.47 - 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: and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

V5.46 - 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: and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

V5.45 - 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: and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

V5.44 - 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… HAPPY HALLOWEEN- Watch out for the kiddos!

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