Things NOT to Learn the Hard Way

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tooltipsMost of the points I am about to make are ‘old hat’ to the experienced lot of woodworkers and may sound a bit trivial. So we will direct the following to the folks that are just starting out in this wonderful world of wood and what you can do with it.

We will start out with sharp edges and how quickly they can be ruined. If you drop your chisel, in all likelihood it will land on its cutting edge. If you lay your plane or store it on its sole plate, chances are it will warp the plate in time and dull the edge on the plane blade if you set it down, lay it on its side and store them upright on their heels or on their sides.

The exception to that are wooden-bodied planes, they can be stored or displayed on the sole plate with the blades retracted. Your marking knife deserves the same care and attention; after all, it is a precision tool. Use a protective cover. As with all sharp edged tools, the result of mishandling could mean some bloodletting. Be careful.

The other day I had a metal clamp fall on the top of my table saw. When I rubbed my hand over the top, I notice it had dented and raised some metal around the dent. If I had run a piece of prized wood over the saw, it would have left a deep gouge in the surface. Take the time to repair any such damage as soon as it happens. The glue left on your flat surface will also cause some problems, especially when making face frames. Take the time to scrape it flat or wipe it up before it hardens.

Never let go of your drill chuck key, unless you are setting it down on the bench. Too many times it gets left in the chuck. If you have never seen one fly out of the chuck when you accidentally turn on the drill press, you are in for a nasty surprise. The same holds true when changing drill bits and drivers in your hand drill motor. Unplug it first. If you accidentally hit the trigger with the key in the chuck, you and your fingers can quickly become wrapped up in a spinning out of control drill motor.

Band saws are an amazing tool and do a lot of work fast. You can cause it some harm by leaving the tension on the blade. It will flat spot the tires on your wheels, as well as cause a bulge on either side of the flat spot. Chances are if your tires were installed with adhesive, which they should not have been, it will break the adhesive loose. Of course when you turn the saw on you get very bumpy noisy blade run.

It is also very hard on the wheel shaft bearings and may destroy the clearances built in to the bearings. The blades takes on the curvature of the wheels and could set up a nasty vibration when first stared, and don’t be surprise if you get blade breakage.

The same holds true for scroll saws. Leaving the tension on sets up basically the same criteria as with the band saw, the main difference is the scroll saw uses a lot more links, toggles and bushings. The reduction of stress on all these mechanical features is the main point.

Stress and tension go hand in hand. You need tension to hold things in place, make things run true, register things accurately, such as the rip fence on your table saw. Leaving the tension on the rip fence lock down stresses the link rod if your fence locks on the front and back side of the saw table.

You will find that you have to make far more adjustments than necessary and it will cause premature wear on the cam operating the rod. Again, the same holds true for your miter saw whether it is sliding or not, take the tension off the table lock.

Router collets and drill chucks are another thing. There is no reason to leave bits chucked up tight. I have heard of cases where router bits have seized up solid in their collets and had to be knocked loose with a hardwood block. This is extremely hard on outboard bearings, not to mention the router bit taking a beating and perhaps getting bent and the cutting edge turned.

Drum and belt sanders suffer from much the same problems. Drums get stretched or seize on their rubber spindles and belt sanders keep too much tension on the drive and driven wheels. Remember that hand operated belt sanders have bearings on one side only. Of course sanding belts will stretch, leaving you with tracking problems in either case.

It all comes down to respect for the tools you shelled out your hard earned cash for and enjoying them with the least amount of trouble. A properly maintained tool, be it electric or hand is a much safer tool and all the safety precautions should be followed at all time.

These are just some of the things I have learned. Some learned the hard way, some I was lucky enough to be taught by smarter woodworkers than me.

And remember, wear your safety glasses!

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