Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rehabbing the Table Saw

When you buy a used table saw from Craigslist for less than the cost of a new router, you can be reasonably sure you'll need to put some work into getting it ready. Especially when the owner has left it sitting in a shed for years on end after treating it kind of roughly. As long as it was going to be less work than the old Craftsman that I flipped to get the money for this one, though, it was a no-brainer.

I expected far worse than I got, however. There was some surface rust, of course, and that needed to be sanded out. I used 320 grit sandpaper and mineral spirits, then cleaned it up with WD40 to keep it from rusting again.

Before sanding (left) and after sanding.

The original blade was shot, so that had to go. Factory blades are crap anyway, so no sweat.

Apart from a little paint and poly overspray, though, there was surprisingly little that needed to be done apart from scraping off the gunk.

Within an hour or so, I had the rails reinstalled, a new blade, and a freshly sanded and waxed table top. Time for a test cut!

Dead. On. Square.

That's right: my ten-year-old table saw -- abused, neglected, and forlorn its whole life -- cut like a champ. The fence was rigid and straight. The rails were true and smooth. The blade was perfectly perpendicular. Talk about a score!

The only downside, of course, is that the owner did not have the blade guard and splitter, so I have to be extremely careful. Fortunately, I work primarily with plywood, pine, and soft hardwoods, so I'm not extremely concerned about a blade-pinch kickback (though I'm always vigilant). Once I scrape up the pennies, though, I'm in the market for some after-market safety gear.

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Table Saw Saga

So one day, my neighbor asked me to step into his garage to see something. He had seen me building my nieces' toy box, and he asked me if I wanted to have his circa 1957 Craftsman table saw.

 I said yes.

These classic "zip code saws" (so called because the model numbers often resembled postal ZIP codes) were really well made, and his (mine) was no exception. Surface rust would need to be cleaned up, sure. New blade. Probably need to clean rust off the trunnion. Whoops, it's wired for 220v; going to have to switch it back to 110. Oh, wait...the power cord is all chewed up; going to have to replace that, too -- and who knows what condition the motor is in. Aaaand, the surface rust is a bit worse than I thought...

OK, so now I had a 400-pound machine in my tiny garage shop that was useless unless I spent every minute of my precious shop time restoring it. Surely there's a vintage tool geek surfing Craigslist with the goal of buying a run-down, 50-odd year old table saw. Right?
It's not upside down anymore!

Enter Larry.

As Larry drove off with my now disassembled Craftsman stuffed into his Honda CRV, his $200 in my hand, little did I realize that a month later I'd find a fellow willing to sell me his Ridgid
saw for $150 because he was moving out of state the next day. Hey, that means I have money to put toward a new blade, too! Gotta love how things work out sometimes.

Of course, the next day, there was an ad on Craigslist for a fairly new, immaculately clean Ridgid TS3650 for $200, but who cares, right?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Upside-down table saw? What the...?

Well, if you've ever bought a used table saw that was worth worrying about when you moved it, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't want a 250-pound meteor flying out of the back of your pickup as you turn off of your Craigslist buddy's street, you flip that sucker over. Thank God I thought to Google that...

Since the purchase of my Ridgid 24241, I feel as though I've reached a watershed moment in my new woodworking hobby. In the years since I first began researching the craft, I had, ironically, managed to create nearly nothing due to Paralysis by Analysis.

I consumed Marc Spagnuolo's entire video catalog in days. I stumbled across Matt Vanderlist, Shannon Rogers, Steve Ramsey, and many others and did likewise. I even (shudder) began reading blogs about woodworking -- notably Tom Iovino and Dyami Plotke. Popular Woodworking blogs led me to the "I Can Do That" series -- which is a wonderful resource for new woodworkers, by the way. This series made me think, "Yeah, I CAN do that!", but I was dismayed by the degree of inaccuracy I'd have to embrace to make many of those projects. After all, jig saws and circ saws certainly have their uses, and it's valuable for beginners to learn how to use those tools, but I already know how to use them. After several frustrating attempts to make clean, accurate cuts, I began to long for my favorite tool: the table saw. More on that later.

So why the "Upside-Down Table Saw"?

Well, it seemed a unique name. It also was the most handy woodworking-related photo I had. And, in a sense, it kind of captures a major theme I want this blog to carry: that there's more than one way to do things. My discovery of the craft of woodworking came as it does to so many others, when I made something for a loved one. From that moment on, I was on a course to become a Woodworker. But I already had a great deal of experience as a scenic carpenter and designer for the theater, so I've always been a bit reticent to adopt the mentality of a total woodworking noob. I know how to do a lot of this stuff; I just need to learn how to do it nicely. Right?

Well, obviously I'm overstating it, but what my journey as a woodworker has been so far is a transition that has allowed me to apply the things I already know to learning the things I don't. And that's how it should be for any aspiring woodworker: let your comfort zone be your starting point.

So, welcome to The Upside-Down Table Saw, a chronicle of a novice woodworker's growth in his hobby. I'll write about tools, projects, and anything stupid that I do, and I promise I'll try to make it interesting.

Yay, another woodworking blog!