Been quiet for a while. Quite busy with traveling and some other non-wood activities. But I haven’t been idle. Made some progress on shop tasks as well as some honey-dos outside the shop. Continued working on my Holtzapffel bench – learning a lot about how to use the tools I’ve got. I have completed the top, legs and stretchers – or least roughly. A little flattening and trimming to do, but I am thinking of that as part of assembling the frame. I’ll get to that as soon as I get home, but at present I am on the road again, so have to content myself with virtual woodworking, i.e. Reading about other folks work and planning what I’ll do next.
Here’s a shot of the current state of the nation:
However, I thought I would share one new lesson that I recently learned: Brush your teeth! Especially if you eat southern yellow pine.
In an earlier blog, I explained that ripping the yellow pine that I got for the bench was proving to be a challenge as the wood was very reactive. Some of it could be ripped but others proved to be a bear. Got a great tip from Nils in Michigan (thanks Nils!) about ripping it halfway through, flipping it over and ripping it the rest of the way from the other side. That worked, but even then it was rather an experience. I would be most of the way through the second rip and the board would split lengthwise more or less along the rip line. And I mean split explosively, like C-R-A-A-ACK! A little unnerving to be honest, but I got through it.
However, once through that I moved on to cutting the billets down to build up the top then legs and stretchers, jointing, planing and clamping. Nothing earth-shattering. But towards the end our son came to visit for the 4th of July. He is a general contractor and an extremely good carpenter and electrician, very skilled and experienced in the shop. He gave me a number of tips which were quite useful to a newbie like myself.
He watched me ripping some of the boards for the leg and was frowning. The saw would start ripping through the board but towards the end it would start bogging down. “Something wrong here”, he said. “Shouldn’t be anything like that hard. This saw should chew through this like butter.”
He examined the saw and said, “There are three problems here. First, this blade that came with the SawStop isn’t very good in the first place and now it’s bent. Just a tiny bit, but some of the teeth are a little bent.”
This probably occurred when I had all the problems with ripping the yellow pine and it grabbing the blade.
“But the other problem you have here is that the blade is dirty. It’s all gummed up with pine tar.”
He showed me that if you looked really close at the teeth and the gaps between them there were tiny deposits of tar from the yellow pine. Pretty small, but easy to see if you looked close.
So I got a small brass brush and some Zep and spent the better part of an hour scrubbing both the crosscut blade and my Freud rip blade. After that was all done, I re-mounted the blade and Mirabile Dictu! The saw did chew through the wood like butter. What a difference!
I felt kind of dumb – I should have thought to clean the blade but didn’t realize it would have such a significant impact. Apparently, the tar wouldn’t affect the cut too much initially, but as the blade heated – exacerbated by the drag of the tar – the tar would get hot and sticky, causing more drag and more heat and on and on.
This is normal for any wood, but the yellow pine is so pitchy that it accumulates much faster than with nice kiln-dried oak and maple. As I said, I should have thought of this myself, but to be honest, in all the blogs and stories by Chris Schwarz and others about using yellow pine and how wet it might be, etc. nobody mentioned the accumulation of pine tar and how it has to be cleaned out frequently. So another lesson for the newbie and another shop maintenance task added to the list…
-- Ric, Northern Illinois, "Design thrice, measure twice, cut once... slap forehead, start over"