Wow, what a great weekend. A two night stay alone with my wife, one night in a hotel, the second at my sister’s house. When you combine long-awaited, open-communication and romance with my wife, woodworking, two meals out in great Mexican Food restaraunts, and seeing my little sister, what do you have? A great weekend I say!
The Woodworking Show http://www.thewoodworkingshows.com/
is always a good time for me, and I have already blogged about last year’s trip. This year, I didn’t notice any earth shattering, paradigm breaking new products like I found last year with the CompuCarver.
The show is a great chance to see all of the vendors and their reps. The Porter Cable folks continue to assure me that I am the only one that has ever had a bad experience with their Model 892 Router. You can see my review of that product here: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?Offerings_ID=10694&TabSelect=Reviews
The P-C folks again can’t understand how I burned out one of their 7539 Model Routers, nor why I have such problems with the small collet on their laminate trim router (I must be making it all up!).
However, I don’t make things up, nor do I work my tools in an abusive manner. So, I looked pretty seriously at the ugly yellow routers branded with DeWalt, although I can’t keep track of who is making them now.
I didn’t make any purchases though, just looking. My old standby Bosch 1450 router is starting to look pretty worn after 10 years of fairly faithful service, so my time before buying another router is drawing close. It won’t be a P-C this time though for sure. Four P-C routers ought to be enough to give them a try. Now, on to something else.
I did see a cool product that will work well with a plunge router I already have. The Router Raizer will work well with the P-C 7539 I have. This attachment will turn my plunge router into a micro-adjusting router table router. I wish they had an attachment to use when I use the router upright!
The Router Raizer is about $80 at the show, sold through Peachtree (http://www.ptreeusa.com/). When I get ready for this step, that is what I will buy to go with my router table. I looked at the Nouseau and also the Jess-em lift systems, but nothing is a sweet and simple as the P-C Model 7539 and the Router Raizer.
To use the Raizer, I just need to take off the router base plate, mount the router to the base plate in my router table, drill a hole through the base plate to insert a hexagonal rod tool, and it drives the plunge mechanism of the router from the top of the table. To make it work right, I would simply need to remove the spring locking nut on the handle that locks the plunge router in position. It is really sweet, believe me. http://www.routertechnologies.com/routerraizer.htm
There was a cool magnet product (Magswitch Featherboards) that is being applied to featherboards. Peachtree was selling them. I think this product would solve some problems for me when I am ripping trim and other things from boards that want to twist, bend, or cup while ripping them on the table saw. The price was too high for me, but I did appreciate the product and it’s quality. I think it would eliminate a lot of splinters I get on my left hand from holding boards tightly to the fence while ripping them on the tablesaw. I wouldn’t need to slide my fingers along the board using this magnetic featherboard, and it would take much less time for me set them up then my normal shop-made featherboards, which is really the key to something being used in my shop, (how quick it can be set up). My shop made featherboards only see use when I am doing a lot of repeative ripping during a project. Also, you can buy just the magnetic portion of this product and use it on any fixture, or jig a woodworker, or machinist might want to use it for. http://www.ptreeusa.com/magnetic_featherboards.html
Oh, I did look real intently at one product I hadn’t seen before, a dust Face Mask by Trend, called the Airshield. http://www.trendmachinery.co.uk/airshield/
It has two Ni-Cad batteries and a small fan that sits in the visor on the forehead and temples. The fan intake air is drawn through a prefilter and then through a small 0.3 micron (I-think?) filter. What it does is completely cover my face, even my fastly graying goatee, and ever-rounding cheeks, and provides a pleasant cooling breeze of filtered air over my face. If I want to look at something without the mask in front of me, it just simply tips up like the old shield safety visors all of us have seen.
As for weight, it is light, and is well balanced and comfortable to wear. Much more ergonomic than my double canister mask I use when I spray finishes. Although I doubt I would want to wear the Airshield the entire day, going back and forth among my different machines, if I ever was in a situation where I would be standing at a machine for a long time (like lathe turning, or Legacy Ornamental Mill work, which create a lot of dust, I think it would be great.
If dust is a problem, as it is for many woodworkers, I think they could wear this lightweight shield all day, and appreciate how well they can breathe at night. I spent a lot of money on specialists and antibiotics a few years ago getting rid of Sinusitis that would have paid for the Airshield more than once if I had only used it.
I did talk with two guys at the show that have purchased these Airshield masks. They are both wood turners, and absolutely love them. They told me that each Ni-Cad battery runs about four hours for them. If they hook up both batteries at one time, they can go an entire 8 hours with the fan running. These are the same claims that the manufacturer makes with the product.
Now, I think in woodworking, my life would be extended if I had one of these $300 face shields. I think that. I know that it would be extended if I would wear one while I am mowing my yard. I live in a remote part of the Kansas Flint Hills with no real grass to mow, but with dozens of varieties of weeds. I have six acres to whack down every week, and in the dry summer, I can be sick for the next day after mowing by allergens and dust.
I have worn my spray filter mask with twin cartridges in the past, but I still get sick. My eyes seem to absorb enough of the allergens and dust that my body reacts. I feel that if I used one of these masks for mowing alone, it would be worth the investment. I will continue to ponder this question and see if another $300 shows up that I can use for such a purpose.
Tracy Anderson, the co-inventor of the Legacy Ornamental Mill has a new product out called the Revo. http://legacywoodworking.com/products.cfm?product=116
Tracy is always great to talk with, and I enjoyed seeing his demonstration of the new machine. It is a lower priced alternative to their bigger machines. It will handle a shaft that is 32” long, and does everything the bigger machines do, only on a shorter scale and lower cost. I bought a few years ago the Model 1000 that handles a 60” spindle, and I wish I had the 96” machine. However, for many folks, the 32” spindle shaft length will be just fine. Also, Legacy has a sweet small machine that is sized for table top use making things like pens, candelsticks, and other short items. I think it has a 24” spindle length. I think for someone wanting to make small items, it would work great. They have machines from 24” all the way up to, I think I heard Tracy say, 12 feet in length. I’m not sure what that corresponds to in metric lengths for all of you International jocks.
Pen Making Venture:
One Last Thing: I have been wanting to learn the craft of Pen Making. Darryl (http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/darryl) emailed me a few days back, and said that he likes making pens, something I have been contemplating for awhile. I have been wanting something that I could give to great customers at Christmas Time, and give to tourists that stop in my studio and visit. I think Pens might be the thing. Stephen (http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/Stephen) who is a marketing genius helping remodeling contractors, suggested last summer that I come up with something small for visitors to my shop to either buy, or be given to remember the trip. It is a great idea, but I have been hard pressed to figure out what I could make that was cheap on that scale.
I think custom figured wood pens might be the thing. So, I have been anxious about what kit to buy, what tools and accessories I need, etc., and so I was thrilled that Craft Supplies USA (http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/) sponsored a very thorough demonstration by an turning artist named Kirk DeHeer.
He demonstrated his tips, his tools, his techniques, what to buy, what not to buy, and how much he can sell his pens for. It was just what I needed to give me the confidence to press ahead, so look for pens being posted some day in the future.
Catch the Woodworking Show if you can, I would love to hear what you found interesting at the show.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. If you buy your wife a Dyson Vacuum, she will appreciate it! We purchased the lowest cost “yellow” Dyson from Target yesterday to replace the old Sears model she bought in 1985. The Sears one is headed to the trash, along with all of those nasty vacuum bags. I did enjoy seeing the full line of products being sold by Target now. Not one that I found had a bag in it. My Dyson has really changed the world of vacuuming, and I say hooray for him (the underdog), and “here’s my money!” We took home the vacuum, paused the Superbowl (yawn) and tried out the new vacuum. It was really sick though to see how much dirt my kids had been rolling around in on our carpets. Glad we have something better to vacuum with now. One simple push button, and all of that dirt drops quietly into the trash can. Hooray.
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com