fancy trim

One thing that a person doesn’t get a chance to do as a day to day construction professional creating fancy profiles.  Unless you work on remodel jobs on classic older homes where you have to recreate a piece of trim, there is little justification for spending the time and money to custom make pieces for a job. There are so many different fancy moldings available over the counter that the concept of spending the money to create something unique makes not sense unless the customer has really deep pockets.

If, however you do happen to run into a deep pockets type of project, the process of replicating and old trim can be a fulfilling project. If you have been around the trade for a while and/or have been a dedicated hobbyist, it is likely  that you already have the tools and training to undertake a project like that.

Matching an old profile is often not just a matter of finding out which bit to use on which piece of wood. It is often a matter of being able to see multi dimensionally. You have to think in three dimensions in order to understand how two or three different bits can be used and in what sequence in order to make a new piece that will match up perfectly with the pieces already in place.

Though you can often get away with a less than perfect reproduction – if the piece is in a position at some remove from the pieces already in place. Especially if you are working in another room. But this is often not the case.

Reproducing old wooden trim pieces is often a complicated task involving several pieces of equipment. Old boards are almost always thicker than the ones commonly available today. That means buying a board that is thicker than what is needed and then planing it down to match thickness. Then the board will have to go to the table saw, because not only were thicknesses different in the past, they were also of different widths, if they were standardized at all.

Only then can one begin to think about using a router or shaper to get the profiles correct.

If more than one bit and one step is required, the sequence of operations becomes important. Often the first step is to set up a full sized router and bit combination in a router table. If there is only one other bit involved, it might be wise to use a smaller hand held router like a trim router, so that the setup in the table doesn’t need to be changed. Once you manage to get the setup exactly right, which can take a lot of time to nail down, the last thing you want to have to do is to spend the time to set it up again.

Every step of this process is enjoyable if you keep the end result in mind. Especially if you enjoy the chance to utilize some skills that you have built over the years and seldom get a chance to use.

The planing to thickness, the ripping to width, and both of the profiling steps are tactile pleasures. Especially the final step. Being able to hold the router in your hand and use it for the final step that brings the piece fully into view, is tactile in a way that just pushing wood through a more powerful tool is not – though those steps are not to be discounted.

Once you finish all of those steps and get to the point where you can finally nail those pieces in place, stand back and see the results, results that only a true professional can achieve, you will have the true sense of satisfaction that comes rarely in a career made up of day to day repetition of a limited set of operations.

spray painting

No longer does painting have to be an onerous chore. Gone are the days when painting a room or a fence or another project involve countless hours spent with a brush or a roller (or a spray can, depending on the nature of the project), at least for those of us who value expedience, or sanity, over  penuriousness.

Sure one of the newer airless sprayers might cost a little bit. Though not so much really if you select one of the more affordable homeowner aimed models. But if what you value is saving time, there is nothing to compare to one. With the aid of the power painter you can accomplish tasks that might have at one time taken days in only a matter of hours.

How long would it take a person with a paint brush to apply 5 gallons of paint to a fence, for example? A long time to be sure. With an airless sprayer that has a pickup that can be place directly into a 5 gallon pail of paint, those gallons can be out of the bucket and onto the fence in an hour or less, depending on the size of the unit and the size of the tip in the gun. And that is no exaggeration.

A moderately skilled tradesman using a unit like this can prime an average 1000 square foot house, walls and ceiling, in about 6 hours. That includes spraying and back rolling the walls. If you are thinking of having it done, price the paint and the sprayer before you outsource it. You are likely to find that with less than a days labor you can save money and be the proud owner of an electric paint spray gun.

The electric sprayer is one of those tools that the average tradesman or homeowner might not find a use for very often, but when a project pops up that would benefit from one, finds that owning one is of great benefit.

If owning one does not seem to be in the cards, it is possible to rent a sprayer on an hourly or daily basis. But if you should decide to go that route, be aware that clean up on the unit itself and especially the hose can be quite a challenge, and not one you might necessarily feel up to right after a day of hard painting that you are not physically and mentally used to.

Electric paint sprayers come in a wide variety of price points. From small units that hold a quart of paint in a handheld container for well under a hundred dollars to high powered units that can pump directly from 1- or 5-gallon containers and cost upwards of a thousand dollars. As with any tool purchase, try to rationally assess your needs and where you fall on the price-quality-size-speed spectrum an then pick a tool one price point above what you think you need. You are much less likely to make  a purchase you regret and end up with a tool that more than meets your needs for years to come.

portable saw

When setting up a shop, one of the first decisions to make is what table saw you are going to make the centerpiece of your woodworking operation. Do you have a dedicated woodworking space that is set up to have a full size cabinet shop table saw permanently set up in the central location of your shop and the piece around which every other tool will be satellite?

Or are you, like so many of us, the owner of a work shop that has to do dual duty for your woodworking and all of the other tasks that are needed to keep up a home? If that is the case then you are going to be in the market for a portable table top saw to perform the duties you dream of having the luxury of having some Big Ol’ behemoth to do.

Compact benchtop saws have come a long way since the days when calling such a saw portable was doing a great injustice to the phrase. Just hauling a table saw like that to a job was a task that required two men and a pickup truck. These days a saw with similar abilities can be loaded by one person into the back of a mini van or suv. Compact saws run the gamut from inexpensive, small and disposable, to saw that have features and abilities that rival those of the less portable examples of the tool.

While some of the portable saws come without a stand at all, many have stands that are either a permanent part of the package, or stands that are assembled on site when the saw is needed. Some even have integral wheels, so that when collapsed they are easy to move from place to place as if they were placed on a dolly

As well as all the standard features to look into when deciding on which table saw to make the focus of your woodworking shop – power, table bed size, outfeed supports, adjustment ease, spend special attention to what might be the most important single part of a table top saw, the fence.

The fence is the critical part of any table saw, not just portable ones. A great one can make the act of making high quality, exact and repeatable operations on pieces of wood a treat. A bad one can have exactly the opposite affect. If a cheap fence isn’t handled with great attention it will often be out of parallel to the blade, a state of affairs that makes it nearly impossible to make consistent straight cuts on any board. As well they have to be rechecked often because the clamps that hold them in place are often not very effective, so that they slip gradually with every cut. This is a trade off that is often the price of an inexpensive saw.

Chosen wisely a compact table saw can give years of good service in replacement of a larger model, and have the added advantage of being easy to pack away, out of the way, when not in use, leaving your mixed use shop available for all of the other day to day tasks it is called on to perform.

Then when the day comes that you can get your cabinet table saw, you will know exactly what you want. When you think of it, that is one added benefit of choosing a compact benchtop saw for your first saw.

Is it working with your hands?

tools on toolboard

Well, that is manly. At least it can be a manly pursuit that leaves manly calluses on your manly hands. But is it still manly when a woman does it? I think not. I do think it’s sexy, though,when a woman gets involved in pursuits that are not normally ones that women would choose. And it;’s partly that people are attractive when they do what they want to do no matter what the social conventions are.

The fact is that real manliness has nothing to do with being mean or being strong (though it may have to do with being strong, in a not strictly physical sense, strong of purpose and resolve.) It has to do with being true to yourself and being kind to others. Anyone who has to make themselves feel strong or worthwhile by belittling others in any way is not manly. They are flawed, and that is not something to be admired.

Now as far as working with your hands, well I’m all for that. Once you have your truly manly bases covered, stop on in and see what might be going on in the world of tools. Mostly woodworking tools, but tools none the less.

Auto repair is also a manly task (or equipment repair, or home repair, or almost any kind of repair I guess), and the tools cross over quite a bit.

i am all about working with tools, mostly power tools but really any kind of tools that i can convince myself to buy. I am sure that I am not alone in this passion. If you share it at all then you may enjoy reading about the tools and when applicable, about my adventures with them.

not much else to say today I guess. I think that instead of trying to plumb the depths of my psyche for more to say on this subject today, I will get me some lunch and go enjoy the outdoors.

Is it guns? Are guns manly? I used to think so when I was younger and my definition of manly had a lot to do with being able to drink more than the other guys and be tough enough that no one could get away with giving me a hard time. That mostly had to do with fists and disrespect, but guns fit in there somewhere.

Then I began to understand that manly had to do with you being you and not letting others tell you who you should be and how you should act. It is a terrible thing to get beat down whether you are a man or a woman, but what does that have to do with how manly you are? There wll always be someone bigger and stronger, more versed in the arts of mayhem. You will never be able to take them all, and if you could they would just get together in a bunch and take you on that way.

Still, that is certainly not the point of starting this, I was just thinking out loud. When I talk about manly pursuits, be it cutting wood or playing with dirt, or youthful pursuits like running through the woods shooting at each other with paint guns, it has nothing to do with the fact that those guns might look like guns. In fact I don’t like them to.

But I digress again. What i put down here will not have a lot to do with any of that, It will be what I like to do when, and maybe a little bit about how I think about things. No doubt there will be a moment or two when I lose my way like I did here. Hopefully not too many times. It tends not to make me popular so I imagine that it won’t be a popular read either.

Done for now.