Cyclone Dust

woodshop

The thing that bugs me most about having a wood working shop in the garage is the sawdust building up everywhere. Piles of sawdust on the floor. Piles of dust in every nook and cranny.

Now I am not a great cleaner, but I try. The fact is that I can’t seem to keep ahead no matter what I do. I sweep around the machines, sweep off the desks, try to get a fine brush into the corners, but it is always a mess. The fact is there are just too many places in a garage like mine for dust to collect.

I have tried to use my shop vac as a dust collector, but that only works a little bit. It is just not a real solution to the problem. The time has come for me to think about woodshop dust collection.

Not only is wood dust a nuisance, it is also a health hazard. I know that sounds like a Nervous Nelly talking, but the fact is I have friends who are having breathing problems as they are approaching retirement and I have no desire to fight to breathe as I am trying to enjoy my declining years.

I have been around wood long enough to know just how damaging wood dust can be, and also to know how irresponsible I have been for years to not pay attention to these things. I have got to the point where I will at least wear a dust mask when the dust gets too bad. But I will admit that my version of too bad is probably at lot looser than other peoples’.

So I have been looking into collectors. I have checked the specs of all the different shop vacuum systems. I have looked into building my own system using a shop vac and that isn’t much better than just hooking the vacuum up to the machine.

I am going to get a couple horsepower cyclone system. One that will come with a pleated and really fine filter. I get the sense, though, that just a dust collector isn’t going to clean the air as well as I would really like to have it cleaned. So on the list is also a shop air filtration system. You know, one of those boxes that hang up by the ceiling and filter all the air. After doing more research, I have found that those boxes actually contain three different filters, from course to fine, and will cycle all the air from a room the size of a standard garage in about 20 minutes.

That combination won’t keep the dust out of all the corners, but it will keep the air cleaner than any I have normally been around when working with wood. I wonder if I will feel the same about cuttting and sanding without the smell of wood in the air and a nose that needs blowing every 5 minutes or so.

 

 

On Cool Tools

You may or may not have noticed  by now that I have a thing for tools. Not just for tools that every Tom Dick, and Harriette might have in their shop, but especially the tools that the average Joe doesn’t have. I take an odd delight in being able to pull out a tool and do a job for a friend when I know they are thinking, “Boy. I wish I had one of those.”

To a certain extent I get this when I pull out the big miter saw or Paslode Impulse nailer, but those are just tools that many guys have (even if mine are better). But tools like a biscuit joiner or a dovetail jig – those are tools that my friends who know a bit about woodworking get a bit of a drool over.

The other day I was at a buddy’s house installing some new laminate flooring. That is a job that has a few tricks, even though it is pretty quick and easy. But when you have to run any kind of new flooring through a doorway, you run into a bit of a sticking point. Do you just try to run the new flooring around the jamb? (You don’t). And if not, how are you going to go about cutting it off? Do you have a jamb saw? Not unless you do flooring for a living, you don’t. Do you try to cut it off with a hand saw? You can try, but it usually makes kind of a ragged cut. Do you have one of those fancy one sided Japanese thingys? That will work, but it is a lot of work.

What you do is pull out your brand new 18v multifunction oscillating cutter. When I pulled that baby out and quickly cut off the offending jambs in a nice smooth accurate line in no time at all, I am sure my guy was quite envious. Even though he covered well.

I know that it’s not cool to be so happy with myself over something like this, but It’s a little vice, and there is so little joy in the world.  Later I’ll tell you about a tool that left me on the other side of this equation.

But meanwhile, here’s a video so that you too can be jealous of me.

Need a Jump(er Pack)?

Even if you would like to spend all of your spare time and your spare cash on woodworking tools or other cool tools,every once in a while you need to buy a tool just because it makes sense. What makes sense these days is often the the type of tool that isn’t a lot of fun to own but is critical in an emergency. A car battery jumper is one such tool.

There are times when you just don’t want be at the mercy of the kindness of strangers, and having yourself or your loved ones stranded on the side of the road in the dark is one of those times. No longer is it necessary to stand by your car with the hood up forlornly hoping someone will come by with the tools and knowledge to help you get your car started when the battery is dead. That is no fun even when you are in a parking lot and you left the lights on too long and drained the battery. Heck its no fun when you are in your yard and someone left the radio on too loud and the other vehicle you should be getting a jump from won’t be around for hours.

need a jumpWith a car jumper pack you can have a portable car starter at hand at all times. You just charge the unit (keep an eye on the charge level) and carry it along with you at all times. Then in the unlikely circumstance that you find yourself stranded with a dead battery you merely pull the starter unit out of its storage place and connect it to your battery and follow the simple instructions in order to jump your own vehicle.

You need to be careful to use the unit wisely, of course, so that you don’t overheat it and damage it or your car, and a jumper won’t start the car if whatever caused it to stop in the first place is an underlying condition that needs to be addressed, But if those are not the case, if you just need a jump to get you on your way, then a car jumper system is just the thing that you need. Its the kind of inexpensive insurance policy that just makes sense to own, even if you (hopefully) never need to use it.

And who knows, one day perhaps you can be the good samaritan that comes to the aid of some poor traveler who has not yet had the wisdom to purchase the insurance policy that you are so wise as to obtain.

And ain’t that a mouthful. Happy charging.

On Table Saws

The centerpiece of any real woodworking shop is a table saw. It is the one piece of equipment that can’t very well be replaced by some combination of other, lesser tools. It is really the workhorse of the shop.

But how do you decide the best table saw for your space? There are three major components to a decision like this. How big is your shop? How big is your budget? Do you have to move it?  Some combination of these three factors will lead you to the answer you need. In my case that means a portable tablesaw.

I have always wanted one of those really big contractor saws. You know the ones – enclosed base, huge bed, big damn sawincredible fence system. Preferably one with an extended bed for wide rips, outfeed tables with rollers to handle long pieces, and enough power to handle four by oak material with ease. There is a problem with that. A saw like that requires a really big shop. It takes up an incrredible amount of room, and to be honest, if you have a need for a saw like that, it means you are going to be running some big stuff through it. (maybe).

Saws like that also cost a lot of money, especially with all of the add-on goodies. They are worth it, but still.

The other problem aside from space, is that I still dabble enough that I need a saw that I can haul around wiht me now and again. Not for nothing, but you really can’t move a contractor saw with any much less than a moving truck. And not a small one at that. I don’t have one available, so whatever saw I choose will have to get from place to place in the back of a small pick up truck.

So what I did was start by checking out the various saws offered by the major manufacturers of contractor job site tools, including some of the second tier ones that have proven to have good offerings in their line up. My criteria were that it be a solid, well built machine that would handle some abuse. That it have a decent warranty and good reviews.

After that I concentrated on the fence system. I consider the fence to be the key piece of a good table saw. An excellent fence will make it easy to make accurate, consistent cuts with a minimum of fiddling. A cheap fence will make that nearly impossible. After that comes the stand. I refuse to sit on the floor to make cuts on a jobsite any more so a stand is mandatory. And I have had experience with trying to haul around a small saw on a fixed stand – not too hard with two people, very difficult for one. So the stand needs to be collapsible and in reality is going to need wheels. Both for loading and for moving around the job.

One last thing to consider is how easily the saw allows for adjustments to blade height and angle. This is important for the same reason a good fence is, with the additional caveat that fighting with these can be extremely annoying. Large adjustment wheels are preferable, and if possible two of them. Most saws of this type combine both in one method, so that may be asking a bit much.

Soon I will have made my decision, and the centerpiece to my new shop will be in place. Then on to the rest of my tool bucket list.

Wanna Shop

Here’s a really great video about the small woodworking shop. In a small shop (like the one we have access to) it is very important that you use the space efficiently. Here is an example of a small shop that has many of the most important woodworking tools and a layout that efficiently makes use of both floor and wall space.

We hope you pick up some ideas here. We sure did.

Coming Soonish

Rebuilding now.

In the coming days and weeks and months we would like to share with you a new vision, one that takes the idea of curios and enlarges on it. No more trinkets from third world countries destined to disintegrate at the merest provocation.

Curios in the sense of unique objects of beauty designed to give lifetimes of joy to those who observe them, to those who have the good fortune to surround themselves with them, and to the generations who get to revel in the sense of shared history that good heirlooms embody.

How exactly will we do that?  Stay tuned as we design on the fly. You will know when we do.

One thing we can say is we will be sharing a combination of useful information and unadulterated opinion. Both of which we feel strongly will give you a chance to gain insight into out view of the world and may (hopefully) stimulate you to come along on this journey with us and in your own way.

The tapestry of life is only made richer by having a multitude of threads.