*** This post is courtesy of Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench ***
A few years ago, a colleague of mine at work stopped me in the hallway. She had just returned from an extended leave of absence due to the passing of her father. “Tom, I don’t know if you know this, but my dad was a woodworker. We have his collection of tools, and I was wondering if you wanted to take a look at any of them for your workshop.”
Wow. I was floored. That was quite an honor to be considered to receive something so precious from my coworker’s dad. I told her I would come out and, even if I didn’t take anything, I would help give her an idea of what each of the tools was worth. I drove to her condo that weekend and she led me to a storage shed for her unit. As she cracked the door to the shed, I have to confess that my mind raced with the thought of being able to expand my meager tool collection and fill some needs in my shop. The reality was quite different. As we pulled tools out of the shed, they were caked with years of rust. Insects had taken up residence in warped 1970s vintage plastic cases. Wooden handles on tools were cracked, warped and, in some cases, completely falling off.
“What happened?” was the question that raced to my mind – and reflexively slipped from my lips. My coworker said that her dad was slowing down in his old age, and the neighbors were afraid he might hurt himself working with the tools. So, they took them to an old barn and just let them sit for about a decade. Apparently, the barn wasn’t as weather tight as they had expected. No one ever checked on them… decided to put them up for auction… or cared for or maintained them. I told her that if there was something special from his shop (there was a well-worn square that was protected in a case), she should save it as a memento, and that the rest of the stuff was just too far gone to salvage.
As I drove home feeling disappointed – at the tools and myself for being a jerk – my thoughts turned toward my own collection of tools. How could I prevent my tools from ending up like those poor, rusty specimens? That’s when I decided to throw myself into the maintenance mindset. It doesn’t take hours of slavish devotion to keep your tools in tip-top condition. Actually, I follow a pretty simple regimen to help keep my investment shiny new and working great.
Shop cleaning is such a turn off for many woodworkers. I mean, wouldn’t you rather be in the shop creating beautiful pieces of work than scrubbing the teeth of your table saw gears with a toothbrush? Yet, simply using proper dust collection, vacuuming dust from your tools and scraping off any dry glue beads from your clamps can keep them working like new for years.
Woodworking is mostly about making big pieces of wood into smaller ones, then – in many cases – figuring out how to attach them to other pieces to build a project. None of these tools works well if they aren’t clean and sharp. Plane irons, router bits, chisels, table saw blades… they all deserve good treatment. Not only will your work look cleaner, but sharp tools are safer and put less strain on power tool motors.
In Florida, I’m always battling humidity and I sharpen my tools with water-lubricated diamond stones. I always make sure my tools are dry before I store them, and I keep a rag dipped in furniture paste wax nearby to wipe them with to keep rust at bay. There are lots of products out there to help you get rust off your tools or to put a barrier up to prevent it from forming in the first place.
I once read a comment by a woodworker as to what he hopes happens to his tools after he passes. “I want my children to fight over them like ravenous jackals battling over a zebra carcass on the Serengeti.” While I hope my two sons have better manners, I hope one day they find the tools in my shop in good shape and ready to help them if they would like.
*** Specials thanks to Tom Iovino, a true Shop Monkey, for this post. He will be providing posts on a monthly basis for Eagle America, check back again soon. ***
I know it is spring time and for those of you north of the Mason-Dixon Line, the last thing you want to do is think about snow and ice. Well…today you just have to appreciate them because of someone combining them with woodworking tools!
I was reading a post on HJHNews.com about students from the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. Wouldn’t you know that right there in the article they say, “Who knew that chain saws, hammers, chisels, grinders and bubble and router bits could be put to task to help make one of the most beautiful works of art in Utah?” Yup, they used router bits to help make a gorgeous ice sculpture that weighed 7,800 pounds!
That made me think about you and the other woodworkers who read our posts on The Cutting Edge. The question of the day:
- Have you ever used your router and router bits for something OTHER THAN woodworking? If so, what did you make?
Post your answers as comments, we can’t wait to hear what you have been up to!
Our friend at Black & Decker have done it again! Now is the perfect time for you to do some spring cleaning in your wood shop. Do you have a really old router that is holding on for dear life? One that you have coaxed back from the dead time and time again? It’s time to reward yourself with a NEW & finely tuned machine.
From now through June 30th you can save up to $30 when you buy a Porter Cable or DeWalt wood router. Click here to see our current selection. Save on all of our most popular models, including the router table workhouse Porter Cable 7518 or the fun DeWalt 625. From a smaller Trim Router to 3HP bad boys, we’ve got your router woodworking needs covered. Enjoy!
Congratulations! In the tradition of random holidays on the calendar…this month is ours! In all honesty, we didn’t know that it was National Woodworking Month until we saw a reference to it online…did you know about it? Long story short, even if nobody else is celebrating your skills this month you should know that your friends at Eagle America are. We are very thankful for all of the woodworkers out there and respect your ability to make works of art with your hands (and the help of some fun woodworking power tools).
This holiday made us want to ask you a question:
- If you could pick one and only one NEW tool to add to your woodworking collection, what would it be and why?
Your friends at Eagle America
Our friends over at Fine Woodworking have done it again! They have found the next revolutionary woodworking tool that will be sweeping the nation. Are you confident enough in your skills to use this one? Or do you think you have woodworking safety covered without it’s help?
Rabbets are most commonly created with a table saw or router. Most often they’re cut with router bits that have bearing guides for setting one dimension. Straight bits or saw blades on the other hand have the advantage of allowing you to create any size rabbet you might need.
In either case at least one of the dimensions are reached with a series of trial and error cuts. A better way is to accurately mark off where the finish cuts should be. That’s where the Rabbet Gauges come in.
With these tools it’s very easy to scribe a line on both faces so you have a target to shoot for. In fact if you use a scribing knife you can reduce chipping along the edge. A pencil mark is also a very nice marking option. The trick when using these gauges is to stop your cut just short of the pencil mark. Keep in mind that the steps in the gauges are exactly the finished dimension so the cut should be just at but not into the pencil line.
Three different sizes are available:
- TRG-1614 (1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″)
- TRG-51612 (5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″)
- TRG-91624 (9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″)
No matter if you are scribing or drawing the line, the Woodpeckers Rabbet Gauge makes rabbeting much easier. By providing an accurate, consistent and easy to maneuver gauge for one of woodworkings most common operations, you’re sure to get plenty of use from these fine American made tools.
Each gauge is precision machined from a solid block of aluminum then anodized for durability and engraved with rabbet dimensions.
Please keep in mind that these are One-Time Tools and can only be ordered up until 11:59pm Monday April 11th 2011.
NOTE: Tools are made to order and ship the week of May 23, 2011.