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Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2018 2:52:58 PM
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Getting a start on the details...15

I took the SawStop off the old dust collector and onto the new system. A 5" duct reduced down to 4" at the machine.

The switch over also made a big difference in keeping dust and chips to a minimum. The 2nd hose goes to the blade guard which in my opinion doesn't work as well as expected. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but when you have a vacuum within the blade guard, you would think that there would be nothing left on the table after a cut. So far, the little bit of cutting that I have done hasn't been as clean as I thought it would be.

The old Harbor Freight dust collector had to have it's screen removed to keep up with the saw dust. I didn't attempt to use the blade guard with that collector since it was barely keeping up with just what comes out from SawStops measly dust under blade hood contraption in the cabinet below.

SawStop has always been that way, on every machine I've used anyway... a less than stellar performance and this is no exception. I've had to vacuum out that cabinet several times before removing the screen in the HF bag collector... but the Oneida seems to get it all, until you make a cut with the blade guard dust collector in place. That's when you expect more from SawStop and again... get less.

I will say one thing about this newer SawStop design... it's easier to get under the cabinet with the door now on the left. The one piece plastic trapdoor seems to be a better fit than the old steel wobbly door on the right that wouldn't stay closed. When it was on the right side, it was much harder to get in and work on the underside.

In those days the cabinet would completely fill up with sawdust no matter what you did. We had a better dust control motor outside, but where it fell short was the 4" steel pipes running under the floor that frequently got clogged. I don't know if they were rusted out or not, they just didn't work as well as this Oneida system with it's ducts getting larger the closer it gets to the main collector.

I'm sending the old dust collectors to the Sunnyslope campus as Mr. Franklin plans to start a wood shop class down there too. Although the bag style dust collectors allow fine dust through which settles everywhere in the room, it is still a good starter for setting up another wood shop.

*** UPDATE*** 8-18-18 As I get to know the dust systems capabilities, I have learned that when a cut is completely surrounded by the wood, where the kerf works with the dust collector, it works really well, but get a cut close to an edge where wood breaks away,or where you are simply shaving away some of the wood and the dust collector can't pull hard enough to contain the saw dust, so it goes everywhere.
Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2018 3:14:51 PM
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Getting a start on the details... 16

The router table has two blast gates so it can work from two directions, one below and one above. With a quick test, it works really well, but I only made three cuts, so the best way to see will be when someone uses it more. I might try reshaping the can to spread/fan out and speed up the suction, but I'll have to have another can to put it back if I don't like the way it works.

***UPDATE*** 5-28-18 I had a chance to work at the school this morning and took another tomato can with me. I made a rectangular wedge from a 2x4 which served as a starting point for reshaping one end of the can, flatten out the circle into a rectangular shape that better fits where it is located. Having two shapes will allow this to change back if necessary.

With all other blast gates closed, the two open gates on the router table should provide enough vacuum to keep the area spotless... I hope. Of course as more blast gates get opened, that air movement will be lessened but hopefully it will still work the same.

Very little left to go now. Can you tell that I'm sick of breathing dust and cleaning up the mess around the machines? It's not that my students don't help clean up, but it is all the stuff that gets missed over time which slowly piles up in corners and under machines. I'm a realist. I know there is no perfect system and there will still be some cleaning up... just not as much... I hope.

5-22-18 Something came from Oneida by UPS... well actually two things and they were both wrong. I'm disappointed because I want to wrap this up and someone mixed up the order. One package was for someone in Oregon and the other had 5" hose when it was suppose to be 3" hose. Now when I called, I suggested that their mistakes had also cost me when I had to buy 3" clamps again, to which they responded by telling me they would work on getting a refund for that and the UPS package for 3" hose came over my e-mail, so hopefully after school is out I will get a call from the school that it arrived. But as it turns out, when it gets here I may not be in a hurry to cut it up for the scroll saws. More to the story coming up!

I forgot to mention... School's Out for Summer!
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:52:27 PM
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We got the second grant!

I saved this news for until the check arrived. Now I am re-establishing the quotes since this took longer than 30 days to complete. Once that is finished, I can begin purchasing a new band saw, now upgrading to the one with the brake and the 220v motor.

In addition, there is five Jet scroll saws, a Jet belt disc sander, a helix head planer, and since the competitors have a few lower prices here, and few there, I'm divulging bits and pieces here and there to my possible dealer choice... trying to drive the costs down. A call to their JET representative will let us know who is willing to play ball.

I don't think I will end up dealing with my second choice dealer. If I start asking questions, I'm betting they will not be as easy to work with. For one thing when I go to their website it is refurbished equipment. It's a few more miles out of the way too. My third choice is actually the closest to us, a mere 90 miles away.

Whomever it ends up being, the shop.... will be forever transformed... by these private anonymous (not state or federal government) grants... and that is a very... very good thing.
Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 3:06:24 PM
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While waiting for deliveries...

I know... who does this during their summer break? But I am trying to get stuff done before surgery tomorrow. After that, I won't be allowed to lift anything for up to 8 weeks. Yikes! Eight weeks of not being able to do anything and my equipment has still not arrived except for a few small pieces that came directly from the Phoenix Rockler store.

When the rest finally gets here I will be out of commission and will have to rely on volunteers to carry in boxes, open and assemble machines, install 220v power across the room in two different directions, and modify the scroll saw mounts so they can be attached to the existing mounts that were custom made for the old Ryobi saws.

Then there is the hooking up of dust control. The Laguna band saw needs two Four inch hoses, one upper and one lower. That's a first for me and I'm looking forward to seeing how well two hoses keep the machine and surrounding areas clean.

In the mean time while I can still be pretty active, I'm riding bike a lot, but I'm also spending a ton of time at the school manufacturing safety signs, and cleaning and organizing our wood storage which has now grown to two locations.

I have also stayed busy by updating my home dust control on the drill press...

Without thinking too much about it, I managed to simplify the system by securing the modular hose adapter under the left side of the table. This is not something I had originally intended. The post mount idea came from seeing Peachtree's on-line photo and the videos on You Tube. The mount just wasn't working the way I wanted for this machine.

Peachtree's photo

For one thing, as Peachtree confirmed in their e-mail and you can clearly see from their photo that to reach it's target, the hose has to bend further than the design allows, so the mount has to be further from the machine or otherwise rotated in some way to get that ultimate angle. Most of the time the nozzle will stay in the same position, but for those few times when it needs to be changed, the table mount is actually superior.

With the stronger table mount, the nozzle reaches where you want it every time all the time and the adjustments are easier. Loosening a single wing nut to slide the adapter closer, or further, or rotate it outward to the left or inward to the right. It quite literally can be made to fit just about any configuration, including getting it completely out of the way, all without ever removing it from the machine.

The plastic adapter/mount is costly and inferior in every way. Anyone who can think up the modular snap together hose should also have been able to design a better adapter and mount. For almost every situation, the table needs to be raised or lowered, and the under table mount automatically stays adjusted even when switching to the longest bits. I can't think of too many times when this won't be beneficial.

***Side note*** Try not to let the modular hose drop to the floor. It looks sturdy enough, but one of the twelve inch pieces slid off where we were working and it broke in one link. Of course only the broken link had to be thrown out, but even though the plastic seems sturdy and looks like it will bounce, we found out the hard way that it is not flexible enough for that kind of blunt force trauma. Hopefully it will not snap as kids move it around. The holes I drilled through the bottom modular links to keep them in place glued on to the PVC is another potential breaking point. I will be disappointed if they don't hold up but I'm reasonably sure they will. I will make sure the kids know this during my presentations and keep you posted.

It's a good thing there were plenty more links to complete the job without coming up short. I purchased three 24 inch sections which come in packages containing two twelve inch pieces you snap together. I also got six nozzles so there is a back up if one gets damaged. I did not buy any other parts from them. I did get three PVC fittings from Home Depot for the connection to the five inch duct running behind the drill presses.

I know... I know. Now I have to look into revising the large drill press at school to work the same way. But before I make any changes, I will have to observe how well it is working for the kids. In this different situation, it may or may not have to change.

I'd have to pull the machine a little further out to make more room for it. At least that would bring the table crank out to an easier to reach spot. If I lengthen the hose, it will be at a much better angle too. There is definitely some things to consider, especially since the modular hose with the table mount is much better than what I had previously tried to do on my home drill press.

***Side note*** The small individual four inch dust control units like I had been using are weak compared to the Oneida system. For example, this home suction unit is probably half the suction I have been getting from the larger unit at school and that is with a few other blast gates open.

If the kids will be good about opening and closing the blast gates as they need them, it will keep great suction everywhere in the shop. Come to think of it, I need to try running it with every blast gate open for them to see what happens. That would be a good way to show the students first hand what a difference they can make by closing any unused blast gates.

I have also been working on a Scrollnado for my home scroll saw in preparation for doing this to the new scroll saws that should be arriving any day now. ...

This robust system I'm working on is made from a three inch food can that has been modified to fit completely around the saw blade... filling the space between the machine and the table. I successfully used hot glue to block any unwanted suction leaks. Some suction has to get through for the system to work properly, so there is room mostly around the bottom of the can.

The hose I used to have on the drill press is now the hose for this. I modified the black plastic to tightly fit around the three inch can. This very short piece of three inch flex hose fits snugly over the top of the three inch can...

...effectively filling the space between the can and the table top. This focusing of the suction keeps the chamber clear of dust. Previously, the dust would fall through to the floor coating everything in it's path, landing in a wide area... including on my shoes.

Looking down into the scroll saw after the can is installed. I rarely have need to tilt the table and the saw direction is actually suppose to come from the side, but in my small shop, there is only room to have it in this direction. I decided not to rotate the entire mechanism and table as you can see by the throat plate. I was worried about dust getting into the crank case if I loosened the bolts to make the change.

If I changed it to make it tilt, that would require more room then a three inch can allows. In that case I am sure that I could come up with a wooden adapter and use more three inch flex... literally hot gluing it both to the adapter and the underside of the table. That should keep enough focused suction with the table at odd angles. Hot glue stays even when my summer shop temperatures rise in the afternoon sun when the heat drives me out if I don't close the doors soon enough.

The wooden block you see attached to the lower blade makes blade changes easier. The small thumb screws were hard to turn... especially as I get older.

The end of this half inch drip line hose has been modified with a heat gun. Warm it up, put a small scrap of wood into it, and clamp it until it is cool.

It can be raised and lowered so it sits on top of the wood as it is being cut.... providing enough suction to keep the pencil line visible and keep the table top dust free. The photo was taken after four or five cuts. A few small specks will sometimes be left on the table, but it surprisingly works well and keeps the table really clean. Between this top part and the lower part, there isn't much dust left to clean up afterwards.

You can't believe how much dust the scroll saws were creating. The windows behind them were loaded with dust. That is where the kids were blowing it off so they could see their pencil lines. With a much better dust system, I'm sure this will work even better at school and that will be a lot less dust floating around the room. I'm betting that I can adapt this idea to the band saw too.

At about the time school is starting, I will be feverishly working to have the dust control in place. That doesn't even include the lathes that are waiting to be repaired. I will have to complete their dust control requirements too.

So much to do and so little time to get it done. That's been the story of my life. You would think one would consider this before taking another job beyond retirement and then applying for grants. The extra work is something I didn't think much about. But in the end.... I'm always up for a challenge. That is what is the most fun... the challenge. At least to me anyway.

***UPDATE*** 7-2-18 I went to the school this morning to check on what might have been delivered. There are a few items in boxes like the belt disc sander, the scroll saws, and a few parts for the band saw. Now I have to round up someone who can help me get them out of the box. Nine pounds... Nine is the limit and all I'm allowed to lift... for the next four to eight weeks. Now how am I suppose to do that without help.

***UPDATE*** 7-3-18 I put out a couple of calls and e-mails to see if I could round up some help. One never returned my call. One hasn't replied to my e-mail, and one said they would come in on Thursday and help me get them unboxed at least. That's good because I guess the other items aren't far off and will also be here soon. Seriously, if I can't get this done before school starts, I'll have to rely on the kids to pitch in. While there is nothing wrong with that, I still have to get the 220V and dust control hooked up.

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:08:21 PM
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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good...

Can you believe I'm about 200 posts into this thread!

It was a wonderful day as our new equipment has started arriving and I have help from a the (PAW) Prescott Area Woodturners. This is the belt disc sander being assembled by one team who as you can see are hard at work. Does this go on the inside?

In the mean time, another team is working on the scroll saws. I previously made a template for some transition plates, and actually got three finished and installed before today. This member is making the last two plywood transition plates. Now the scroll saws can fit our existing stands.

That will be the last project on this old sander. The old sander will be going down to the Sunnyslope school. Mr. Franklin has a new shop space he's getting ready down there.

OK, let's get the new sander in it's place. What do the directions say...

This is absolutely beyond my wildest expectations... not only to have such nice new equipment, but also to have two great PAW teams helping me... working in tandem.

***UPDATE*** 7-16-18 One reason to remove the old (still working) donated sander was because of how hard it is to change and adjust tracking when switching to a new sanding belt. The shop made retrofit dust control works well... but because of the way it it attached to the machine... belt changes take way too long. Also the old style tracking system can easily stretch a belt making it run oddly... and suddenly veer off course when you don't expect it. I got used to adjusting it often. This new sander also has a disc, and the belt tension is a simple spring load with a hinged door making it one of the quickest belt changes I've ever done. If I can get the kids to use it correctly, there won't be as many abrasive changes and adjustments to make.

Hey guys, who can help me move this scroll saw to the stand?

One more tweak to get it lined up...

Tightening the last bolt...

The Bad...

This comes at a time when I can't lift any more than 9 lbs. so I am not able to help very much. Now I am someone who tries to do everything by myself whenever I can. I never ask for help unless I really need it.

Well, today I REALLY needed it and I seem to only be here to unlock the door, simply watch, and tell everyone where I want things and how I want them to look. But it's not all bad. I feel very lucky and very thankful for the help and it was a very fun for me too. Thank you PAW!

& the Ugly...

The dust control suddenly quit last week and I have been losing sleep over it. It was working perfectly. What the heck happened?

And the Good again...

PAW comes to the rescue yet again as one member from Flagstaff (with an electrical engineering degree) comes to the rescue. He isolates the problem in the complicated remote switch system. The switch failure may be due to several things including high summer time shop temperatures. That day it was very hot. I didn't look at what the temperature said at the time but now we know to get a new switch.

I started paying attention to the room temperature since then and it was down to 82 degrees with fairly high humidity this week since we just started our summer rainy season. The rains cool it off a bit, but then the humidity actually in many ways makes it worse than the higher temperatures. It does cool down at night, sometimes as low as 65 degrees... so it is at least bearable.

I'm sure the day it quit was way warmer than that since we were up in the high 90's (easily up to 96 degrees) before the rain. All I remember was it was very hot inside the room with the sun bearing down on the red asphalt shingle roof. For all I know it could have been over 100 degrees in the room that day with 30% humidity. Opening the windows barely helps when it gets like that.

Also, when you turn on the dust collector, the hottest air goes through it first... you know the hot duct air from the upper part of the room that is trapped in the ducting. That forces the closet section where the dust collector is, to get even hotter. It's like turning on a furnace when you stand near the filter.

And where was the easiest place for Dustin to leave the switch? That's right, it was resting on the top of the filter. There is no way of knowing if that was the main culprit, but it certainly added to the problem.

Would I have done anything differently... maybe... maybe not.

I wanted the power to go directly into the closet which may or may not have affected where the box ended up being stored, although I probably would have looked into mounting it on a wall. Then again, when looking closely at the plastic switch box, there were no mounting holes anywhere I could see.

Now that may or may not have added to the issue. It could have just been a bad switch. There is also the possibility that the switch fell sometime during installation knocking something loose inside. Who really knows... since there are so many variables. This switch is much more reliable. It works fine now and that's all that really matters.

It took me a little time, researching and finding the materials locally, then (first time) bending the conduit, and fishing the wires, and there it is. The best part is it actually works. Thank you PAW... thank you... my students, the school, and I thank you.

Stay tuned. We are waiting for the Powermatic helix head planer and the Laguna band saw with the micro switch brake.
Posted: Monday, July 16, 2018 10:12:18 AM
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Getting a start on the scroll saws

Now that the scroll saws are here, I can start on the dust collection. These Jet saws have an interesting dust system and holes around the blade go through the table and into a thin dust port surrounding the blade.

The hold down system doesn't work very well. They need to be tightened so much to get them steady, and then they can still move. This will be a problem for most kids in this age group. It will be so hard to adjust and it will want to move around unless it is super tightened. I is an absolutely awful system and I plan to remove them.

One of the best ideas on this scroll saw is that there is no throat plate to come loose when kids are cutting. On our old saws, many students would try taping them down so they weren't popping up when they were trying to cut their projects. It was a real problem for them that Jet has solved.

When you flip up the lever over the blade, the blade is released. This is when a blade can easily be changed, and it is also when the upper arm can be lifted to feed the blade through on pierce cuts. This should hopefully be easier for the kids.

Looking at the underside of the scroll saw, you can see the thin dust port attached right under the holes. The actual dust connection is made by sliding a normal sized dust port into position, then adding some hose. In this case I had to heat and stretch some old vacuum cleaner hose. I barely had enough and when maintenance had to get rid of a fairly new vacuum, we grabbed that hose too. Now all the saws are hooked in with the first part of what I'm planning.

If I'm not mistaken, the thin nature of the Jet design will keep chunks from clogging up the system. On the one I did at home, anything that falls through the blade opening can go down into the dust collector. Time will tell how well both systems work and I have yet to test the Jet myself.

I made the same type plugs as before to fit the 3" dust collection point of entry. The hose openings are purposely drilled off center with the hopes of (soon?) adding another smaller dust tube to go over the table and vacuum away dust rather than blow it away.

When I mentioned the Scrollnado to the Rockler store, not only had they never heard of it, but they belittled the idea. "The Jet scroll saw has a superior dust control already," they said. I'm all for giving it a try. What's to lose?

I can make a new plug anytime if it doesn't work. The drip line is free since I changed and dug up part of my home drip line. It will take a couple of fittings to give it a trial. The hardest part will be making that U-turn to aim the dust collection towards the rear so I can get over the table unobstructed. I'll figure something out. Maybe two elbows for each saw. One to go upward at the rear of the machine and one to go over the table.

I've been noticing that the large drill press blast gate doesn't even need to be open for it to pull in finer dust and particles as you are drilling, but WOW, when the gate is open... so it shouldn't take much to get the dust system to vacuum the top side of a scroll saw as it is cutting... with the blast gate wide open, through drip line and a few elbows... or at least that's the theory. I'll keep you posted on what happens next.

***UPDATE*** 7-24-18 I finally had the time to work on my idea. I spent less than $5. That's one dollar for each saw. Here is what it looks like close up.

Looking from the side you can see how this system leaves the entire table clear of hoses. I also removed the blow tubes. We want to vacuum up the dust, not blow it around the shop.

The bracket seen here has already gone through some changes. This one looks good, but it doesn't work as well as I would like, so as you will see further down, I changed it.

Drilling the holes into the vacuum system. A round rasp will clean up the hole and flare it out so the tubing fits tight.

The tube is inserted with no vacuum leak.

Two cheap elbows bring the tubing sections up over the table.

This shop made bracket will allow tube slippage for adjustments at the blade.

When I first started, this bracket (shown in the above side view) was made to go around the entire upper arm, and looked better, but it didn't work as well that way and it was hard to make it fit right, so I cheated and made just this part which I duct taped onto the upper arm.

Now, if you pull on the hose, it will slip and get closer to the blade, and if you push it back, it can be further from the blade. Closer gets the most dust, but further can actually increase your visibility of the pencil line. It can also be adjusted up or down for thick and thin materials.

With the blast gate closed, you can see the amount of saw dust piling up on the top side and saw dust going out the bottom goes onto your shoes and the floor.

With the blast gate open, both the upper and lower vacuums away the dust. It disappears so fast it looks like magic. Clean project, clean table, and clean floor. It doesn't get much better than that.

Now that these are working, and the right length of hose has been established, I'm planning to heat the tip and reshape it so it will increase intake air speed and it doesn't vacuum up chunks that might clog it up at the elbows.

I'm crossing my fingers that it works as well for the kids as it does for me. This is one of the coolest ideas I've come across in a long time and at a dollar each, if it fails it barely cost me much more than my time. I love doing this, so my time is irrelevant.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

***UPDATE*** 12-24-18 It's Christmas eve and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except Mr. Bockman who has this to say... The homemade scrollnado idea didn't work as well with the kids as I was hoping it would. I think it might be the 90 degree bend, combined with the unforgivingly stiff water tubing, but the children did not take well to using it correctly. It was in their way so they would constantly push it out of the way which was fine, but the fine dust prevailed so I took the water line off and put the puffers back on. They also don't like the puffers, but at least they are better suited to adjusting them out of the way. As much as I wanted the water line to work, I will have to wait and hopefully find a different hose material. I'm thinking, find several people on CPAP and ask them to save the bendable hose as they change them out periodically.

***UPDATE*** 7-29-20 See what we ended up doing instead.
Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:39:55 AM
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The Laguna Band Saw

The band saw arrived Tuesday afternoon, one day ahead of schedule. We had just gone through some severe weather and I knew this had to get put inside before any more rain hits. I rounded up a couple of PAW members (Gary & Barry) and one other friend (Darryl) to make sure we could get this moved into the shop, and out of the box. Gary, Barry & Darryl... sounds like the set up for a joke but it is not a joke. Since I am only a few weeks into not lifting too much, my job was to get the packing materials out to the dumpster.

The PAW members decided that since they were already here, they wanted to assemble the wheel base, put on the blade and also the light. It turns out we had the wrong light. This is the one meant for the 110v machine.

I contacted Rockler and they are figuring all that out since this one will have to come back off, be boxed and returned. Well, I guess I wouldn't have to switch it out, except it would have to be plugged in at the wall instead of the outlet they have provided on the back of the machine. I'd rather have it right.

One of the reasons I went with Rockler was because of their friendly customer service. I felt secure in knowing that if something went wrong, they would be easy to work with to make it right. I also had to go through a dealer.

I've noticed that as my career is coming to an end, you can't always buy direct these days which gives the dealer leverage when you have to take bids. Everyone comes in at the same price, so you begin looking at what their customer service seems to be. Some of the bidders didn't seem to care and I knew they would probably be hard to work with.

After the blade was on the machine, I wanted to make adjustments but there is so much left to do to make this run that I haven't taken the extra time.

The saw is colorful and the white ceramic guide are intriguing. They are suppose to be able to better dissipate heat which helps blades last longer.

Where's the power?

We need 220v brought over to this location and I have to get the dust collection hooked up to two machine ports. I'm hoping that two ports will help keep this machine clean.

It may seem hard to believe, but I have never had access to a conduit bender, so the only other experience I have with bending conduit is when I had to put in the dust collector switch just a few days ago. I knew that Dustin has too much on his plate right now getting the school ready for the first day.

These are the things I have to do myself and thought they would be done by maintenance. I can't complain about the quality equipment after five years of using cast offs, but it seems to be taking an awful lot of work just because I put in for some grant money.

I guess that is why You Tube is so handy to discover how to do things like this and I think I did a pretty good job. This photo is just above the panel and slightly off to the right... just before the heater. I worked all day to get the conduit run. It meant removing a section of the shelves which I have yet to put back. Now there are project prototypes and jigs all over the shop.

The upper conduit goes to the band saw, and the lower goes to the planer... or at least where I want the planer to be placed when it gets here. On the way to the planer I took a side trip to the table saw as well. A super highway for electrons.

Side note... I've discovered that for $70 extra I can get the conversion kit to change the SawStop to 220v. That means more horsepower when cutting thick materials, so it's not if I will convert it, but when I will convert it.

I managed to get the band saw wire run through all the way to the panel before I went home. The shop got to 86 degrees and it's humid, so I was drinking water like crazy, all day long. I have to say, it felt pretty good when I left the school a little more than 10 hours later. A real sense of accomplishment.

So what do I have to look forward to doing this morning. I have to get those project prototype shelves back into place, adjust the band saw, hook up the band saw dust collection, and complete the 220v going to where the (not quite here yet) planer and (eventual SawStop conversion) will be located.

***UPDATE*** 7-25-18 It's alive! I got the power going today and this machine runs so smooth. We just have to remember how much better it will continue to run if we get into the habit of releasing the blade tension every evening.

I went all through the machine and had to readjust everything. The wheel base was allowing the machine to rock. By loosening everything, it settled in and I re-tightened them. That stopped the rocking. Next, the table needed to be squared to the blade. Once that was established, the blade guide needed to be straightened to match the table.

It didn't take long to hook up two dust collector hoses making sure they were grounded at both ends. With that completed, I was able to make the first cut. What a difference from an old Craftsman band saw. Smooth and when I was finished cutting, I opened it up to reveal no dust or chips anywhere in the machine.

I also bought the re-saw king blade with carbide teeth. Between this and having such a nice planer, we will be able to stretch how far the wood goes.

***UPDATE*** 8-1-18 Printed onto a magnetic sheet, this sign alerts students about the safety considerations for the band saw.

This... by the way... is something that should be done for every machine in the shop, but for now, I'm using pieces from an old magnetic sign that I found while out riding bike. Here is the one posted on the new belt-disc sander.

Now that I know how well it works, I will have to purchase some magnetic sheets to do signage around the entire shop. Since it comes in 8" x 10" sheets, I might even remake these so they are larger.


Speaking of magnetic material... I thought I could get away from reading the entire manual. After all, I'm experienced enough to know how to do this stuff.... right? Well, not exactly. The old Craftsman band saws have a nice little blade tightening flag right in the machine. This Laguna has the same thing, so I simply tightened the blade to where it was suppose to be... or did I? It was the same as what the Woodturners left it, so why was there a problem where two blades broke, or cracked and then one broke? Huh? Upon further investigation, and a little troubleshooting from Laguna, I come to find the flag indicator is simply a magnetic sheet that is moveable. I'm not sure why Laguna wanted to let the well designed machine out to the public with that one easy to miss issue, but they did. What a dumb move on some engineers part. It's useless unless you check the tightness the old way, then set the indicator by sliding it into place. I'm sure they are paying the price for that misguided and boneheaded feature by giving out free replacement blades. At least that's what they did for us. I'm not slamming the machine, just that one single issue... so far.

***UPDATE*** 11-30-18 The saw worked, until it didn't. Now I'm wondering what is wrong here. Check everything there is to check... machine plugged in all the way... check... light still works... check... breakers still on... check... screws tight enough on the wire connections in the box and panel... check. Read the manual troubleshooting section... and the only thing I can find is maybe a bad capacitor or motor...? Really! This machine it still new and that can't be it... can it? Times up... this day is over.

We are into the 2nd day of troubleshooting and I'm off, so I E-mail to Laguna. Check the switch? What's to check on a new switch? Too much dust already, I'm thinking? I have to drive back to the school. At least the shop is dead quiet now.

I get the machine plugged in and push up the blade tension lever... ready set go... hit the switch... a barely audible sound, but from where did it come? It sounded like the electromagnet was trying to work, but not quite. Magnetic problems again... see above about the moveable magnetic tightening indicator.

Back to our topic... I hit the switch again and it roars back to life. OK... somethings clearly not right when we have tried this over and over again. Why wouldn't this work when I had a class full of kids waiting.

Can it really be in the switch? I shut it down and start it again and again. Every single time it starts up. I open up the switch area and there is hardly any dust. The switch itself looks like it is tightly sealed. I blow it off anyway and put it back together.

It's working again I tell Laguna... What?... a new switch is on it's way? It's very cool that Laguna is so responsive, and how do I put this... not cool at the same time.... because that probably means this stuff it happening to everyone who buys from the Chinese market. It's too easy to simply send out new stuff than it is to fix the actual reason like these magnetic issues. How hard is it to set the built into the machine indicator and forget it instead of making it magnetic and moveable so if it slips, it's not on the right setting... and what is with this switch? How hard is it to make one that doesn't start going bad in the first 3 months? The switch on my old 1965 Rockwell at the other school never once gave us a problem.

Otherwise the saw has been great! [Mic drop]
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2018 11:59:31 AM
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Originally Published: July 22, 2018 6:14 p.m. page 6B
Written by the Prescott Area Woodturners

Education: Woodworking at Franklin Phonetic School

Students at Franklin Phonetic School in Prescott Valley have an opportunity afforded few others in grades four through eight: they learn to use their hands in ways that involve more than just thumbs on a keyboard. Instructor Tom Bockman teaches popular classes in woodworking.

Members of the Prescott Area Woodturners (PAW) have actively supported this wood shop since its inception, donating lathes and other equipment. Recently, the school was the recipient of a grant from Ingebritson Family Foundation to purchase new equipment.

When the first items arrived Tom Bockman was under doctor’s orders not to lift anything heavy, and he reached out to PAW. On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, six members of PAW reported for duty.

They assembled several scroll saws and a heavy sander, and PAW member Dave Madden used his expertise to diagnose an electrical problem with the dust collector for the room.

Earlier this year PAW sponsored nationally known turner Eric Lofstrom to demonstrate at a meeting. Lofstrom’s travel plans allowed time to visit Franklin School. Because standardized testing was in progress on that day, Lofstrom could not visit a class.

Instead, a representative group of students gathered in the wood shop to meet with Eric for a half hour before classes began. In that short time Eric created a spinning top. He had the attention of everyone present as he engaged several students in a demonstration of the finished product.

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2018 12:19:43 PM
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The Helix Head Planer

The planer finally made it here, but it will take some muscle to get it inside, so it rests comfortably out of the weather until we can get the Prescott Area Woodturner's to lend a hand. Hopefully it won't be too much to handle. It's really heavy, still boxed and on a pallet.

I know it will go through the doorway, but can it be lifted or even dragged is the real question.

The label shows how heavy this crate is. I looks like it is going to take a little bit of both. I can't believe a cheap flimsy hand truck would hold such a massive item, but into the shop it went without much issue. I planned to take a photo, but things happened so fast I forgot to line up a shot.

PAW is assembling it too, and we opened it up to sop up the excess oil the factory coats everything in. The helix head is beautiful. The infeed and outfeed tables are cast iron and very heavy. I couldn't... or rather shouldn't be lifting them right now. I tried picking up one of the separately boxed tables and couldn't believe how heavy they are, and I quickly backed down. No sense hurting myself after surgery. It's too soon and I still have to be careful. I'm glad there was help to get this through the door and also assembled.

I read in an old WOOD magazine article... it could actually be a "spiral blade planer" which is very efficient, quieter, easy to change blades, less grain tear out, and last 30-40 times longer since the carbide inserts can be rotated up to four times.

I once had a segmented helix head planer blade put into an old Powermatic. The Powermatic was huge and probably mid 60's vintage since that's when the school where I was, happened to be built. It was about a year and I didn't hardly get to use the new blades before they shut down the program and I retired, only to have a 2nd life at Franklin Phonetic School. Who ever ended up with that planer got something really special.

The original helix blades (photo right) are actually helix shaped using a flexible steel blade that goes all the way across the helix grooved cutter head looking a little like the inside of an old pencil sharpener, or the blade from old style push mower, which is something I did not know before reading this. The blade then shears the grain, but I think that a flexible steel blade would be difficult to change and adjust.

Borrowed from March 2009 WOOD magazine for educational purposes.

Most people have probably never seen this article and let's add this to the mix... there is one more blade style since that article that changes everything. The "Shellix" spiral blades by Byrd Tool are slightly turned to match the helix shape, but with the segmented spiral. That way it shears the wood grain. It seems helix head is becoming interchangeable with most segmented spiral cutters. This machine is a true segmented helix blade meaning the individual carbide blades are set in the head at an angle to the grain direction.

An updated article about this topic.

Here's my personal experience. I've had both straight blade and a segmented helix... listened to both cutting... seen the resulting cuts... and changed out both types. It's a no brainer... there is no real comparison.

The amount of time saved in changing out blades alone, and in how often they are changed, opposed to only having to change one or two inserts. The lack of noise and tear out... tells me that segmented helix is by far superior in every way... except start up costs. But you will find the costs over the long haul are actually less.

The wood turners use carbide insert in some of their tools. A 600-1000 grit diamond stone will keep these sharp. You put the flat larger side down and keep it flat. That give you a chance to save even more. See the video.

***UPDATE*** 7-25-18 We have the Power! This machine sounds like it is going to be fun to use. I fired it up for the first time. Next, I should run something that won't matter if machine oil gets on it, because this thing was drenched in oil that we tried to sop up. Hopefully we got most of it.
Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2018 4:38:19 PM
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After the first week of school...

And it has been quite the week... but let me begin with last week when we hosted a "meet the teachers" evening. There were more parents coming into wood shop then I have ever had before, all here no doubt to see some new equipment. It was quite nice and of course, fun to do a little bragging too. Is it 39 years or 40 years this year? I can't believe how fast it all goes!

With lots of safety upgrades, especially the SawStop and the Laguna band saw there was much excitement. The Laguna exceeded my expectations with some of the little things being the biggest news, such as how the students no longer hold up the upper guide when readjusting it, but cranking it instead.

Then there is the micro-switch break that quickly turns off the saw and completely, instantly... stops the blade. It looks a lot like a disc style brake used on bicycles.

Compared to the old Delta I had at my other school, Laguna kicks butt. Two dust ports.... finally, a decent priced band saw that literally leaves all others in the dust.

Click here for cheap bandsaw blades

Before leaving each day, the blade tension is released with the flip of a lever, and the saw is unplugged.

This will keep the tires running true and also discourage unauthorized users who may have access to a door key.

Seriously... I believe the biggest problem with our old band saws was the fact that they were light weight and had bad tires on them, making them run rough, even feel like it was slightly bouncing, if that makes sense.

My little magnetic sign clues anyone who stumbles upon the band saw for whatever reason, about what to do if they feel they still have to use it after hours. I warned the school to discourage unauthorized use by having a separate key when we first set up in this location. They shouldn't be worrying about accidents over a week end.

This week has been all about showing how to use our new stuff safely. It has also included introductions to all our available (free & recycled) materials and then a side trip through measuring.

I just had several students complete their tasks and start working.

Except for one girl who didn't focus the vacuum nozzle correctly, there has been very little to clean up. Even the holes saw doesn't phase the dust control system.

Jenny was cutting on the scroll saw and found out how easy it is to unclamp the blade, lift the upper arm and load through drilled holes on pierce cuts.

Even after moving to the oscillating spindle sander, Jenny managed the vacuum so well that there appeared to be nothing left to clean up at the end of class.

I told her to check just to be sure and there was not enough build up looking at both the floor or the machine. Not bad.

In fact, it has been great so far. Now if I could only be the example and remember to open and close blast gates as I go. It seems even I forget at times. Let's hope as we get into full swing, that it stays as good as it seems to already be.

Someone gave me a whole bunch of redwood random 2"x 6" ends averaging 24" in length. I used the new Laguna to quickly resaw them into two pieces. I didn't even change the regular blade even though I have the carbide tipped "Resaw King" blade.

I figured that redwood is soft and I wanted to see how the regular saw blade would do. The Laguna's tall fence made it a quick and easy job. The (220v) saw didn't even slow down and went perfectly down the center of each board... with absolutely no drift.

I wasn't expecting that. Something else I wasn't expecting was seeing weak sparks come from the ceramic guides. I say weak because they aren't the kind of sparks you get from a grinder. It seemed to lessen as time went on and the blade polished itself on the ceramic. Maybe I should have used the carbide re-saw blade. I'm not sure it mattered because the sparks come mostly from irregularities on the back of the blade and also the weld.

Hmmm... mild sparks don't photograph well, but I guess that sparking is one way ceramic is better at keeping the blade cool. It must dissipate the heat fast in the form of sparks. Just in case... to be on the safe side... I looked it up and it is not an irregular thing to see sparks, and is suppose to be safe in a dust collector too. Really?

Hummm.... if someone (where I found this information) hadn't commented that they have the same Oneida dust collector with a Laguna ceramic guide band saw and they NEVER had a single issue over the last 10 years, I wouldn't have believed it after all the explosion hype fed by the on-line propaganda. So there are opposing views on the topic.

The following quotes are taken from--

Begin quote-- "Before getting started on what may at first sound very scary, I would like to point out that I have read more than a dozen research papers on this topic recently. The thing I am most struck by is how hard these guys have to work to get dust explosions in the lab. It is not hard to get ignition if one makes a very carefully controlled, non-moving cloud with just the right dust mix, and introduces a spark from a very carefully designed sparking mechanism. But no one seems to be able in lab sized experiments to get electrostatic discharge ignition of even very highly combustible dusts in remotely realistic situations, and they do try.-------- A friend of mine who is a professional cabinet maker asked his fire inspector what he thought about the fire hazards of dust collection, and the fire inspector said he was far more concerned about people keeping lighter fluid under the kitchen sink." --End quote

And this... Begin quote-- "But if you want to worry about big sparks, it is worth noting that many more buildings burn down due to lightning than due to dust collection, so you may want to add lightning protection to your building. More houses burn down due to flammable liquids such as paint thinner and varnish than due to dust collection. Many many more people die from driving too fast; all sorts of things in your life are more dangerous than your dust collection system." --End quote

OK, maybe it isn't propaganda per say, but rather a best practices idea. I wouldn't change from the metal ducting anyway. With the way I was cutting, there really was little chance of a robust enough spark getting down far enough... through the saw kerf... then under the table... into the dust system... with enough dust going through extra length hose with just the right air to dust mixture... not likely. (I wanted to be able to pull the saw out for resawing larger boards, so I put on extra hose.)

Anyway, the resulting redwood went through the new planer and WOW... was it quiet... just as expected, with a finish that appears to leave little room for sanding. In fact it is so smooth it has a sheen when held towards the light. This includes no snipe at either end with very little other machine marks.

Now cutting boards will be much easier with my students only needing to run the random orbital sander a little on each side, instead of me doing a bunch of belt sanding first. That will definitely make less sanding dust and will also leave me more time to work with other students. I really like that.

Hindsight being 20-20, there was probably little need for the clear plastic shield that we added to the dust scoops on our lathes. If I had it to do again, I would have saved the $20. Here we have the shield pushed back out of the way as Jenny's brother Brandon, works on his pen.

The blue dust scoops however are working out great. I highly recommend them. It's much better than my first idea which was to have a large hood overhead. Opening two 6" blast gates would have severely tested the limits of our dust collector as the vacuum pressure would have dropped to a trickle on every other machine.

These scoops are easy to work around and they can be shut off with a stuffed sock, so one or two can be open without lowering the vacuum pressure. We did however notice that the suction was great enough to have one sock plug disappear right into the system, so the socks all had to be stuffed a little fatter.

Oh.. I almost forgot. I checked the chip level in the Oneida 50 gallon drum and it was beginning to get full... of redwood chips that is, or what really looked like confetti made from redwood.

These are cut into and installed through the wall above the doorway where the dust collector is.

Maintenance still has to install the detection system into the barrel so the red light will let us know when it's time to empty. The dial on the right tells you when the filter needs cleaning.

Hey, it's another win-win situation when I get to take these chips home and dispose of them around a weedy area behind the house. It helps keep weeds from coming up and works like a charm. Plus, it's easier to pull a weed from mulch than soil.
Posted: Friday, August 31, 2018 11:35:00 AM
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Time fly's when you're having fun...

Are we already past week 4 of a new school year? Is it possible time is speeding up? Everyday goes so fast. As with all my posts, I begin the story, then come back to fill in details. If you have ever noticed the story usually grows and changes a little, so if you are an early reader, come back and check again later as I always try to refine the story and update things as I go.

The Dowel maker and the SawStop

I need to restock my dowel supply, but should I risk using the SawStop with the dowel maker? I fit my dowel maker onto the saw, sliding it in all direction to see if the saw senses anything about it. The dowel maker does have a few metal parts and I'm worried that might cost me a brake and blade, so I carefully use the SawStop features to gauge it's sensitivity.

With the saw switch activated, lights on but the saw not yet running, the saw will blink its lights if you touch the (not moving) blade without setting anything off. It's a good way to see what might happen if I use the dowel maker. Nothing blinks, so I set it up and clamp it to the fence.

I just finished cutting this dowel and I'm waiting for the saw blade to stop so I can remove it from the jig. The flash was so bright against the white fence that it is hard to see the light colored dowel sticking out on the left.

And then I wonder what made me cut that without thinking about using the bypass key? In bypass mode, it won't let the brake go off so it is like not having a SawStop. They recommend using the bypass if you are cutting wet wood. Too late to try that now... but at least it was successful without it.

After running the dowel maker here and there during part of the morning classes, I end up with more than enough to get me through the first half of the year. That whole job actually takes less time and money than having to make a run to the hardware store.

Making dowels on the table saw or with the router has always been a messy job. At least the vacuum helps keep it to a minimum. I replace the guard with a shop vac attachment and that helps keep the dust down after the cut begins. In order to see the wood thread through, the vacuum has to be removed and that is the only time the extra wispy sawdust comes out onto the table. At the end of each dowel, I vacuum up the dust before beginning again. It only takes a second or two.

That sure is a far cry from what we used to do in the old shop location. I remember clearly the huge pile of sawdust/shavings that would end up everywhere. I would run dowels and then have to sweep everything up and use a snow shovel to pick it all up. It would literally fill an entire garbage bag.

Hmmmm... so the little wispy stuff I vacuum in between dowels verses shoveling up a huge bag of sawdust. Then when you start pulling the saw back into the shop at the end of the day, sawdust is falling out the bottom. Who wouldn't prefer this new dust collector!

Come to think of it... the same thing happens when I have a load of hardwood scraps that I'm turning into cutting board material. That is another one of those times where you would end up with a huge pile of sawdust/shavings to clean up.

In fact I did some of that cutting right before switching to the dowels this morning, with practically no clean up afterwards. I'm certainly loving it as the superintendent comes through my class today and says, "It looks really clean in here".

Already... an 8th grader's second project

As the day goes on, I take this photo as one of the 8th graders has designed her second project making a set of hexagon shaped boxes for a knickknack shelf. After gluing them together we used rubber bands to clamp them. With them now dry, they are sanded to even out the edges.

*** UPDATE *** 9-14-18 And here is the completed project. Emily did such a good job on this, and we were able to put the new SawStop to work making the miters. One of our teachers was passing by when I took this picture and they couldn't believe how great this project looks.

Finishing up the lathes... finally

I just got the new lathe control boxes today and spent a little time installing them onto two of the lathes. With the motor bearings now fixed and the control boxes finally in place, the last three lathes are now in perfect working order.

As I try to sandwich some extra small in class jobs between helping students, I managed to assemble the final leg of the dust collector to these lathes with their connecting copper wires.

The student who took this photo didn't notice it being out of focus, as were both of his others. This was the best of the three. I told him to hold it still and slowly take the picture. I'm not sure he has ever done it before, especially with a digital camera that doesn't take the picture right when you think it does, but rather after you click and start to move, then a flash. Like anything else, it's hard to get used to if it's your first experience.

Maintenance still hasn't installed the sensor that will tell you when it is time to empty the bin, but everyone is trying to be helpful by opening and closing blast gates. I'm still finding that the younger kids are not putting the drill press nozzles close enough to what they are drilling, and also to what they are cutting on the scroll saws. That still is an easily clean up with our "always on" (when the vacuum is running) 3" hose and wand.

Missing pieces of the puzzle?

Thursday morning, when I first turned on the dust collector, I hear a rattle rattle and then it was making a racket that just didn't sound right. It reminded me of an out of balance washing machine. Something came through (rattle rattle) before it had reached full speed and set it into a tizzy.

After turning it off and then on again, it cleared the small object which I'm sure is one of the puzzle pieces that a 4th grader lost into the system at the end of the final after school class the day before. It must have happened just as the system was powering down, so it sat in the ducting somewhere along the way. I remember someone telling me theirs got sucked up. Too bad, it's gone now. Just make another one next time.

After emptying the dust barrel, I have found a few of these mishaps. One of them was the half a small woodturning that sucked through the system. Even a rag here and there. I have to say, the system is performing very well and sometimes you can hear the small blocks in the impeller, but a simple stop of the vacuum and the blocks have fallen through to the barrel. I'd hate to think what might happen if something bigger goes through.

You know... we are usually so caught up in what we are doing that we rarely remember when class ends until the next class shows up. That means we don't usually stop and clean up, but the shop still stays cleaner because we are all pitching in trying to remember to open and close blast gates. It's only when suction is low that I go around and close the forgotten ones. We all do it... forget once and a while. Me included.

However, one of the best things I added was the 3" vacuum hose we keep on most of the time. With a custom made transition, it fits any wet dry vac attachments, so we have the wand that extends our reach to the floor without bending. Anytime I catch someone off task, I ask them to please start vacuuming. It's not a punishment as much as you might think. They like it. It's fun to watch the debris disappear and it helps keep the shop floor clean and you don't have to constantly be emptying it. Everything goes to the same barrel.
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 2:31:56 PM
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Everyone should have a SawStop!

This is what can happen when you don't have a smart safety saw. One of our staff was making a cut on their home saw and this is what happened and what stitches look like after the first week. I didn't ask, but it almost looks as if it hit the bone. Ouch.

The hurt thumb...

When she stopped me in the office and told me the story, I couldn't believe it. I promised to relay the safety message to everyone on-line without revealing her name even though she said I could.

I've had a couple of close calls on the table saw, but have been lucky to not have hurt myself... knock on wood.

Here are some of the scraps that the cabinet shop gives to us. These are being prepared for the students to make cutting boards since they can't make these cuts themselves. It looks like red oak, white oak, hickory, maple, mahogany, alder, poplar and walnut.

Thank you for helping Mr. Leon. Some day this shop will be yours and this is part of your training. While you have only spent two class periods cutting so far, I have been at this on and off for a couple of weeks already, and this is my sixth year at this school.

Speaking of donations, I have a former colleague from my other school who is starting to downsize and invited me to back in at his garage so we could fill the back of my truck. Some of these items will be perfect for school and some for home.

I score tons of free stuff for the school and this is one of those scores. Although a bit old, the glue in these six bottles still flows and still works for our purposes.

Then,using my connections, we for the first time have a complete set of hole saws with all the mandrels. Now the new students who begin with the puzzle have a way to not only keep better track of their progress, but also to share the hole saws on multiple machines.


Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018 6:47:36 PM
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The box makers

Champ is now our 8th grade class president and is also one heck of a wood shop enthusiast since at least the fifth grade. When he wanted a special box for his game pieces, he drew it up, put sizes to it and decided the redwood I recently cut and planed would be perfect for the project.

The small drawer has a lathe made knob and the top is hinged. Rabbet and dado joints help hold this together. The photo is before hinges and before applying a clear oil finish. The front has laser engraving using an old laser someone gave the school. After tinkering with it, it works, but we just aren't sure for how long. See Champs last project.

Hannah made her oak box with finger joints. The top is friction fit and has an alpaca engraving that she loves so much. Her box turned out so well that one of the teachers commissioned one with an elk on the lid.

Once it was completed, to the delight of Ms. Post, it was perfect in her eyes and mine.

Jenny has been in my class since the forth grade and is also making a finger joint oak box with a friction fit top.

Nathan shows off his work which is yet to be completed. First time in wood shop, 7th grade and wow... he is loving wood shop.

I was playing with back ground colors to see if I could make the photos match the page background since I can't save clear anymore.

I made Nathan open the corner for effect. Made on the router table, he had only one or two that needed adjustments when he was done. He also learned about grain direction when he went down the wrong way on one end.

The T&G softwood wood came from one of the local builders. It was resawn on the band saw to make it thinner and to save wood.

Also in 7th grade, Haylie loves wood shop too. Here is her box before being glued.

Haylie glues two opposing corners, makes sure they are sitting square, then waits to glue the final corners. Each finger needs a coating of glue. More surface area is what makes this a strong corner joint.

And yes... that is the newly donated glue. It runs thick and makes the job a little easier by keeping drips to a minimum.

Nathan can't wait and makes a bottom, glues the corners and walks away satisfied knowing the bottom will hold it square and the clamps will keep it in place until it is ready.

We are now over 300,000 hits. I'm pretty sure that is a record on this site.
Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2018 10:16:33 AM
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Emerging talents

As these 7th graders are proving, they can really build the projects. Jenny is an old hand at this having started in the 4th grade. I've also perfected the way to get the right background color to show without being even being a tint off. Although it is tedious to take out the background for this, it does set off the image in a striking way.

Project skill increases with each build. Crankyman is coming together nicely.

As for the skill building... Hannah is a first timer in wood shop, but make no mistake, her skills at "hands on" learning are impressive indeed.

Hannah has been introduced to multiple machines and has is a natural when it comes to details like the crank handle.

And, with only one week remaining before fall break, both of these girls can be proud of their work as they have been cranking out impressive project after impressive project.
Posted: Saturday, October 6, 2018 1:39:37 PM
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Adding another detail...

The grant is all about making our shop safer. Our pint sized safety storage cabinet just got here. Just out of the crate with packing materials still in the door, I can't wait to fill it.

I have to raise our work table 2" in order to get this cabinet to fit beneath it and out of our way. In a small area like we have, every square inch is meaningful and I have never felt comfortable with keeping our combustibles out on the table, hidden under the table, or put away in a cardboard box somewhere.

Now I'm waiting for an eyewash station to be moved over to the shop from another room where it is currently unused. Luckily there's enough grant left to get this done and to continue making our shop great. Next, I'm thinking about adding led lights to brighten up the room.
Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:22:08 AM
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On a personal note...

When I do finally decide to retire, I'd wouldn't mind coming home to something like this in my shop...

A concept by Matthias Wandel that has been made into this mostly metal, accurate final product. After seeing this, I can imagine myself getting one. I don't usually purchase stuff for myself, but when it comes time, this could be on my wish list.

The biggest problem I can see is... how often would I use it? How many dovetails or mortise & tendon joints would I have to make in order for the more than $1800 price tag to pay for itself. Maybe I should rethink this idea. I like what it can do, but it may not be worth that investment... at least for someone like me. Now if I had money for the school... then I could use it with the students.

About five years ago someone bought me the plans for the wooden version. That might be about as far as I can take this... using it as a "for fun" retirement project.

No offense intended toward Matthias. I think it is an ingenious invention and the metal version is fantastic. It just seems a wasteful prospect for someone to keep it all to themselves for a few projects in retirement.
Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 7:32:24 AM
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I broke my camera...

For the past 5 years I have been using my own personal camera to take pictures, and sadly that camera went bye-bye. I kept it in my front pants pocket all this time and one day the screen cracked. It still worked, but that rendered it almost useless since everything is practically done using that screen.

But the day the whole thing wouldn't even turn on was sad indeed, especially when I looked at new ones. I bought this one used from my daughter when she upgraded hers. I didn't know anything about cameras these days except about this one which was a pretty good one and difficult to replace. Who knew they could be so pricey... so I bought the cheapest Walmart camera I could find, and you know it takes pretty good pictures too. The school decided to pay me back which makes it even better.

The fact is, there have been so many good projects that I missed since they have already gone home.

I'm getting more used to the idea that it is OK to not wear a hair tie when you have to have your picture taken.

This wood is part of the lot that I cut up on the new band saw and planed in the new planer. Pretty good when you consider it was once piled outside under a pine tree.

This may sound dumb, but this 7th grader literally "nailed it"! She used the nail gun by herself to reinforce the corners. Good job Koural!

This is another 7th grade project...

And with Christmas on the way, the lovable snowman...

This is the very best snowman ever! Hadassah used hot glue for eyes and buttons, then painted them.

And... makes sure he stays warm since it just got a lot colder around here.

To jump forward to Hadassah's next post click here.
Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:15:38 AM
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Joined: 11/17/2006
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Only a few challenges remaining

While it is nice to have completed the majority of what I set out to do five and a half years ago, it is also sad in a way that there is little challenging things left. That may seem counter intuitive as we all want to simply work with our kids and be left alone for the most part, but it always makes me happiest when there are at least some things to be planning for. Who likes to just coast? Not me! What is this wood shop teacher to do?

New projects will keep coming along. I take my cues from what the students want to do. Some projects fade into the background while others come to the forefront. It happens all the time, except in high school, it was much larger items being built. One challenge that remains is a tough nut to crack... limited space.

That means we have to keep our projects on the small side. Here is what one of the 21st Century sixth graders did in just a few days.

I have yet to figure out how to take in focus close ups with the new camera. Now there's a new challenge for me to focus on.

This is from the after school program. Jillian managed to make a walking robot that works better than mine... or maybe just as good anyway. I did have to step in when we were turning the feet, you know, to get the right curve. The lathe curve has a template to check and make sure the curve is correct. Otherwise she did most of the work herself. An exceptional job since this project requires them to work from a cutting list and model and no other templates.

A roll of the dice

One of my former colleagues (about 12 years my senior) gave me a set of large dice he made in Junior High. He ended up hanging them from his rear view mirror in his 55 Chevy when he attended Rincon High School in Tucson Arizona. Hmmm.... I remember when those cars (and older) were commonly on the road.

I brought them in to show the students an "old school" project made in the 1960's junior high wood shop. I say old school because dice today have any number of sides and symbols that this old guy wouldn't care to understand.

I decided to take a gamble on my 4th graders and proceeded to make one so I knew how to set up the dots and fix the corners to have the right look... and then cut up some 2"x4"'s and let the after school kids try their hand at making one.

As for the kids, they loved it and everyone wanted to do one at the same time. Can you say, "long lines at the drill press?" And while some made theirs willy nilly... others took their time and spaced the dots correctly.

Oh well, what can you expect from 4th graders? I guess I should have made up a better way for them to understand before they drilled up all the blocks. I cut up more and started showing them what to do. That lost their interest real fast.

Isn't half the fun of woodworking doing it your own way? Everyone knows that. Especially me. :)
Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:33:28 AM
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Joined: 11/17/2006
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It's all about the 8th graders...

Madison has only been in my classes once before. Considering she hasn't been around year after year like all the other students, she took on one of our more challenging projects when it comes to the scroll saw.

Taking her time to sand everything as she goes, this is turning out to be one of the best dinosaur banks we have ever had completed. Nicely done.

The pride on her face says it all!

This next 8th grader is also an exceptional example. Marshall takes time to plan exactly what he wants for his game pieces.

He is one of the few students to do this, and I might add... completely on his own initiative.

He will go so far as to set the fence on the table saw and I will make the cuts. Another year and he can do his own table saw cuts, but there is only one high school wood shop program left around here that I know of. My guess is that he won't be able to go to that school. The sad truth is, it may not be challenging enough for him at that particular school.

Some of the adjustments have changed the way drawers open. The top drawer bottom is now also the shelf. I worry that when weather conditions turn wet, his drawers may become sluggish or won't be able to open. I've talked to him about this and we are trying to make the best of it. We have talked about grain direction on every piece. It is sure one heck of a learning experience.

***UPDATE*** 1-24-19 It rained (even some snow too) a bunch here recently and the drawers were fine. I wonder if that will be the case in the warmer temperatures. Only time will tell, but for now, Marshall is putting on the finish.

2-7-19 With the top hinges installed...

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2018 8:16:02 AM
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Boxes are cool...

This is the third year of wood shop for Izzy & Ginny. I'm pretty sure they have made almost everything there is to make for a sixth grader, so when I set them loose on the computer to look up a project idea, they came up with this...


The top was easier to make then you would think. A simple half log from a cottonwood branch did the trick nicely. There is a removable layer inside the lid that has a coin slot.

The corners were not very fancy, but they got covered up anyway.


There was a slightly competitive air about the shop as these two duked it out on who could finish first. Izzy got a little behind when her hinges didn't arrive, but her box is finally finished.

Not to be outdone, Izzy chooses to run over to the art room and give her treasure chest a festive makeover.

When Izzy's hardware showed up, it had a hook latch. Since it didn't quite fit, I tried to bend it slightly. It looked as if it would work until it snapped. I didn't expect that at all and the look on Izzy's face showed me exactly how she felt about it too.

Not wanting to admit defeat and go down in flames, I quickly recovered by making an exact copy of the original out of spare sheet metal we keep around for things like this. Although it was difficult to cut an exact copy with over-sized shears, a little time on the small belt sander did the trick to remove excess metal and form the hook just right.

One big advantage of my hook over store bought, it can bend without breaking and it appears a little more like it was hand made. It got a smile and nod of approval from Izzy and all was right with the world again. I certainly wouldn't want to disappoint a little girl this close to Christmas. Who knows which family member will get this treasure for Christmas. It may be for Izzy herself.


Then there is 8th grader Nate's redwood box. Nate spent the time to make the fancy finger joint corners from the 2X6 redwood I got out from under a tree in a neighbors yard. If it's not held perfectly on every single cut of the router table, it will need some adjusting. I'm pretty sure he found that out the hard way when some of these fingers gave him grief.

But it came together nicely. He's the first to volunteer when I need help around the shop and is one heck of a worker who never complains. I'm sure that attitude makes his parents proud.

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