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Topic: Recommend a list of tools for a workshop?
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 21, 2011 10:32PM)
I'm looking to learn how to build my own illusions for my shows.
I was wondering if you gents might tell me what bigger power tools I will
need?

I took a basic class in wood working at the local vocational school. It wasn't
great, but did give a decent overview of very basic skills.

I'm trying to find a class in cabinet making, but haven't found any
schools that actually offer it.

Tools I'm looking into:

table saw
jointer
planer
router and router table
miter saw
scrolling saw
drill press

With the table saw, should I try to get one with the largest
possible platform?

I'm also going to sign up for welding classes in September at
the votech.

Thanks for any suggestions you might offer.

Richard
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 21, 2011 10:47PM)
Hi Richard,

The two workhorses in my shop are my table saw and router table. I would also suggest that you purchase good quality saw blades and router bits. I started out with a small benchtop table saw but soon after purchased a full size contractors saw.

One other suggestion is to check Craigslist for the tools on your list. You can save a lot of money buying second hand.


Nick
Message: Posted by: Magic Researcher (Jun 21, 2011 11:35PM)
Get some safety glasses.
MR
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 22, 2011 12:37AM)
The illusions you build will dictate the need. A table saw is the most often tool used in my workshop, but you can't cut curves with it. A drill press is good for drilling nice perpendicular holes, but you can't pick it up to drill into the side of a half built prop, if you need to drill pilot holes for attaching some hardware.

Start with your project plans first, then determine what tools you'll need to do the job.
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 22, 2011 02:24AM)
Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your ideas and suggestions. Appreciate your help!

I guess in my original post to open the thread, I should have asked for suggestions on prioritizing which I might need more than others. For example, it seems the table saw is probably the number one power tool to invest in.

In that wood working class at the local votech, we used a jointer for just about every aspect of our projects. Seems like another priority power tool to get. But what about a planer?

Remote Guy -- A wonderful idea. I'll start checking Craig's List on a regular basis to see what I can find. Probably save a lot of money going that route, right? What I'd like to do is prioritize the list, and then go hunting for used equipment. Any input on prioritizing the list?

Magic Researcher -- Good idea! Just got a pair of safety glasses from Lowe's.

Michael -- Looks like a good way to approach the situation. I probably don't know enough at my stage to know what tools I would need for any particular project. I saw a Café link to a thread by illusionman building his version of Modern Art. Wondering if that project might be within my reach, and might give that one a try. I'm sure there are several easier projects for a novice, but I'd really like to sink my teeth into that one.

I searched on the internet for plans on that, but didn't find any. Only Jim Steinmeyer's book. Does the book seem a little pricey for containing only three illusions? Do I need to invest in the book in order to have rights to build it and perform it?

Thanks again for your help everyone!
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 22, 2011 02:27AM)
Michael, let's say I'll tackle the MA first. I was thinking this should be my list sorted by priority of which items I should purchase first...

Most important
1. table saw
2. jointer
3. miter saw

Secondary
4. router and router table
5. scrolling saw

Optional for later on
6. planer
7. drill press

Any thoughts? Thanks again for helping me out with your ideas and suggestions!
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 22, 2011 05:04AM)
With a high-quality table saw, such as a Delta, and a Freud glue line blade, you can probably postpone the purchase of a jointer for a while. I seldom use my jointer and planer for illusion construction, simply because most everything is built of plywood and dimensional lumber. Read some of the illusion building books by Gustafson or Osborne for suggestions.

To start, I suggest:

1. Table saw
2. Drill press
3. Router
4. Saber saw
5. Sander(s)

Add later:

5. Miter saw
6. Other stuff
Message: Posted by: MikeHolbrook (Jun 22, 2011 05:38AM)
I would also put the table saw first. I try to keep a piece of cheap masonite around that I can put on top of my tablesaw once my cut list is finished. If your saw extensions are setup properly this gives you a flat surface for assembly work. Don't leave the masonite on the saw when you don't need it or the saw will become one of those horizontal surfaces that accumulate stuff and it will take at least an hour to clean it off when you need to use the saw. I also replaced one of the cast iron wings on my saw with a router table.

Mike
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 22, 2011 05:38AM)
Hi Richard,

I've never built a MA, so I'd be of little help. Of those I have seen, some had a long sweeping curve on the front of the left side "table". This would require a hand saber saw, as most scroll saws would not have a large enough throat to accept a piece that big.

As an aside, I think there is also some sheet metal work involved which you'd need to be prepared and sourced for, although some designs may avoid this somehow. I'm showing my ignorance on this particular illusion, so hopefully someone else can chime in on some of those aspects. The point from me is, that many illusions require toolings for more than just woodworking, which is another good reason to study the plans first.

A hand electric drill is a must, even well before a drill press. Buying bits according to the sizes you need is perhaps a bit less costly, but buying a drill bit set will save you time, as you'll automatically have a wide range of sizes on hand all the time.

I have a jointer, but rarely use it, unless I need to true one edge of hardwood boards prior to other machining. Most woods that you will use for illusion projects will either consist of plywood, or S4S boards (surfaced 4 sides). Standard thickness is approx. 3/4", which is considered a 1" x whatever various width. Some home stores like Lowes, Home Depot, etc. have an assortment of some pre-dimensioned woods like poplar, oak, and sometimes clear pine in other thicknesses... usually 1/2", 1/4", and sometimes 3/8".

These are a bit more expensive than the standard fare, if pricing per board foot, but may be sufficient to complete your tasks, and certainly less expensive initially than a good planer. Truthfully, about the only time I use my planer is to dimension hardwoods like Walnut, Cherry, etc. These woods are rarely used in illusion building. They are too heavy for the average performer to want to lug around. 75 years ago, you might find some illusions built from Oak, but thank goodness, times have changed. My illusion building days prior to committing to what I do now, were entirely without owning a planer. I never once felt the need for one, although other builders here may have other reasons why they have their's.

As well, I found little use for a router when building illusions, but for the box joinery that I do now, it is indispensable. I would imagine though that some tasks could be simplified with a router. I recently replaced mine with a Bosch that I bought on sale at Lowes. It is a great set with both fixed and plunge bases, and I am considering the additional purchase of a table mount base, so I'll never need to un mount the base from the table. The motor is easily transferred from one base to another, but the satndard kit would require the entire unmounting if I wanted to use the fixed base in a freehand mode.

The router table I have was given to me by a friend. It is a benchtop kit version, and very nice for my needs. An illusion builder however, may want a more formidible table.

A finishing sander is another must, although the old-fashioned way is certainly still available! ;) I would avoid hand held belt sanders initially, as they have a habit of quickly destroying projects.

A chop saw (miter saw) is a good investment, as some angled cuts are easier done there than on a table saw, which generally requires some jigs to accomplish the same task.

Some projects require clamps, and they will vary in type and quantity based on the project. Clamps because of the variety sometimes needed can be costly, but are essential to many projects.

Hand tools are often used, and again will vary by project. A good collection of screw drivers, wrenches, sockets, files, hammers, etc. can all find their place in your shop.

A shop vac is also to be considered an essential shop tool. In addition to the typical uses, it can be put to work as a basic dust collection device. This can be very important, depending upon where you set up shop. And don't overlook a good work bench, and probably a set of saw horses, too.

I could go on and on, but I hope this helps.

~michael

EDIT: ClintonMagus and Mike Holbrook both posted while I was typing, and both with great thoughts.
Message: Posted by: MikeHolbrook (Jun 22, 2011 05:52AM)
Michael Baker brought up a good point about a hand saber saw as compared to a scroll saw. I have a scroll saw that is used a lot for cutting Christmas ornaments and other small stuff. I also have a band saw with a 12 inch throat but when I'm working with large panels like for lawn decorations, I reach for the saber saw. I can set up a couple of saw horses in the yard and work without having to figure if I have enough room to feed a panel through the band saw. There is a wide assortment of blades available for matching the material and type of cut you want to do.

Mike
Message: Posted by: Made to Measure Magic (Jun 22, 2011 07:08AM)
I have two Shopsmith machines in my workshop. These are multi purpose machines which as standard have a table saw, Drill press, horizontal borer, Lathe and a superb 12 inch disc sander. There are many attachments available. I have the bandsaw, jointer, biscuit jointer. There is a thicknesser and other available.

In reality I very rarely use the jointer or thicknesser when building magic props so I think they can go well down your list.

David.

http://www.madetomeasuremagic.co.uk
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 22, 2011 07:27AM)
I also have a Shopsmith, but the table saw is really not much good for anything but small projects and square cuts. The tilting table has always felt dangerous to me. The rest of the built-in stuff and the add-on tools are all very high quality.

As for the Modern Art, the metal parts will take some cutting and fitting, but it's not that difficult. I started out using a two large sheets of fairly stiff cardboard, and I cut and trimmed until they fit together. Once that was done, I cut the sheet metal, using the cardboard as a guide, and trimmed and filed until it fit properly. Once this was completed and fastened in place, I had a friend weld the seams.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 22, 2011 10:21AM)
Safety first. You want safety glasses -and- a face shield, plus proper hearing protection, and some filter masks. (If you don't, you'll know why you should have, once you blow your nose after coming in from the shop.) You will also want to have a shop vac high on your priority list. Get one you can plug into your power tools to control sawdust.

You are also absolutely going to need clamps of all shapes and sizes- C-clamps, strap clamps, pipe clamps, spring clamps. You will always need more than you think, and can never have enough. And don't forget some sawhorses, too. Preferably adjustable ones that you can set to the same height as your table saw and router table.

In my workshop, the table saw is my workhorse. After that, the primary tool depends on the project- might be a miter saw, router (used without the table more often than with), or my drill press (this is essential, along with 3-in-1 oil and a cobalt-tipped bit, if you need steel tubes for structural support), or, more likely, two drills- one for screws, one for pilot holes. The random orbital sander comes in handy incredibly often, as well.

I don't have a band saw, but some of the people here prefer it to a table saw- though each has their uses.

If you can search for older threads about "workshops", you'll probably find a ton of advice here (including one or two threads specifically on safety which are essential reads.)
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 22, 2011 10:25AM)
Oh, by the way, illusions tend to use a lot of different materials. A well stocked shop will have both woodworking and metalworking tools, plus glass cutting tools, a sewing machine, painting tools (airbrush/compressor), and probably a bunch of other things. It all depends on what's needed for the project.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jun 22, 2011 11:08AM)
I would also agree that the scroll saw should be off the list. I had always wanted one and bought one several years ago at a yard sale. I have never even pluged it in. I don't use a jointer much either. Good saw blades on a table saw can give a smooth enough cut to make a glue joint.

Heres what large tools I use most in order of most used.

Table saw - Grizzly contractor

copound miter saw - 12" Bosch

Thicknes planer - Grizzly portable

Band saw - Grizzly 14"

Hope this helps,
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 22, 2011 11:49AM)
You've gotten some really good advice here, but one of the items that hasn't come up is how much space you have. If you're sharing your shop with your car(s), you'll have less space for large power tools than if you had a dedicated shop. My shop shares the garage with two cars and other stuff and works really well because most tools are on wheels.

There are a number of really good books on how to set up a workshop, and the woodworking magazines often have articles and photos on shops people have built, plus lots of tips and ideas. My suggestion would be to look at some of these before you spend any money. You can find them at Woodcraft, Rockler, Grizzly, and similar places, and of course Amazon and the good ol' public library. You can also occasionally find woodworking mags at Home Depot and Lowe's.

I would also suggest starting with something small before you try to tackle an illusion. :)

Have fun and keep us posted!
Message: Posted by: Made to Measure Magic (Jun 22, 2011 04:31PM)
ClintonMagus wrote that he had a shop smith but it was only good for small projects.

I can easily handle an 8 x 4 ply sheet on my Shopsmith. What size do you want to handle.

Dave.

http://www.madetomeasuremagic.co.uk
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 22, 2011 04:48PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-22 17:31, Made to Measure Magic wrote:
ClintonMagus wrote that he had a shop smith but it was only good for small projects.

I can easily handle an 8 x 4 ply sheet on my Shopsmith. What size do you want to handle.

Dave.

http://www.madetomeasuremagic.co.uk
[/quote]

You can rip a 4x8 sheet on a Shopsmith, but I disagree about the "easily" part, unless you are making a square cut and you have a friend assisting you or you have a a large outfeed table. Where I have an issue is when you need to rip a bevel on a sheet wider than about 14 inches. It is simply not suited for this type of operation.
Message: Posted by: Made to Measure Magic (Jun 23, 2011 03:35AM)
I agree that it is only straight cuts you can do on larger pieces of timber. Bevels are very tricky on anything but small pieces. Sorry if I misunderstood.

Dave.

http://www.madetomeasuremagic.co.uk
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 23, 2011 04:35AM)
Hi everyone!

A million thank you's to all of you for helping me out on this. I am delighted with such a response of helpful information to someone like me, just a lay person with an eagerness to get involved in this work. You gents are all a terrific group of men for being so interested in assisting a newby builder like myself who is just getting started in building props. Thank you so very, very much!

ClintonMagus, thank you for your recommended prioritized list. I’ve ordered books by Dick Gustafson and the Big Black Book by Paul Osborne. I also have Paul’s Illusionworks videos.

I'm under the impression that the entire success of my venture into building illusions is going to rest squarely on my ability to get the most accurate cuts when building illusions. Failing to do this will create headaches and snowballing problems, and make my work look sloppy.

I looked up the Delta table saws. Whew, they are pricey. Right now I have a Sears Craftsman table saw. Not the greatest, I guess. What is it about the Delta table saws that make them so much more accurate than a lower end hobbyist table saw? May I inquire if the accuracy of such cuts is more in the fence system of the deltas? If so, perhaps in the meantime I can purchase some kind of add-on fence for my current table saw? Would that give me more accurate cuts? If so, any recommendations?

Or do I need to eventually scrap my craftsman table saw and invest in a higher end table saw?

---

MikeHolbrook, thank you for your suggestions regarding the masonite. That sounds like a great tip! Thank you, too, for your insights regarding saber saws and scroll saws.

---

Michael Baker, thank you for your many ideas! I purchased a hand drill and a large set of assorted drill bits. I’ll have to review the MA regarding metal work. I don’t have MA plans, but found pictures and such on another thread, by illusionman who was journaling his progress in building the MA. I didn’t see indication of that in my first review of it, except for the drawer tracks. But I’m not sure either way.

Prior to this thread, I have never heard of the term “ pre-dimensioned woods”. I googled it, but could not quite figure out what it really meant? Same with the term “S4S”, or “Surfaced on 4 Sides”. When I googled that, it seems to mean that a finish has been applied to wood panels?

When you mentioned that “some home stores like Lowes, Home Depot, etc. have an assortment of some pre-dimensioned woods”, does that mean the smaller cuts of panels that I’ve seen when browsing at Home Depot and Lowes? Of those, what is a good type of wood to use for illusions, such as my upcoming MA project?

Also, I read in another thread another builder inquiring about Tuff Coat. Is that typically what I would want to apply to the illusion? Instead of painting it?

Michael, thank you for the list of additional power tools. I picked up several clamps of various sizes. Also have the usual set of home tools, such as screw drivers, wrenches, saber saw, etc.

Just to clarify, do you think that I probably wouldn’t be using the router table for bujilding illusinos, except for smaller box type projects?

---

Made to Measure Magic, thank you for the information on the Shopsmith machines. I googled that. Very interesting machines! Thanks too for your feedback on the jointer.

---

ClintonMagus, thank you for the information regarding the Shopsmith.

Maybe I can PM you regarding the metal work you referenced for the MA? I’m not sure where that work comes up.

---

EsnRedshirt, thank you for your much overlooked emphasis on safety and protective gear. I had goggles, but had not thought of a filter or ear protection.

Great idea regarding the clamps. Sounds like a good investment to gather together sets of clamps of various types and sizes. I picked up some clamps of the type that we used in that wood working class. I’ll have to hunt around for the other types.

Thank you for list of recommended tools. I was surprised that the router is used more often without the table. Glad you mentioned that. Does a router typically dismount from a table easy enough, or should I just figure on having two separate routers, one for hand use and one built into the table?

Glad you mentioned the special drill bits for steel tubes. May I ask where I would purchase such steel tubes for structural support?

Bought two drills, one for screws and one for pilot holes. Ran into that yesterday while building a large bookshelf (10’ x 8’).

I’ll look for the other threads and use the searchword “workshop”.

Thank you for the mention of other tools, such as the sewing machine, metalworking tools, etc. You mentioned the painting tools (airbrush/compressor), is there a model or manufacturer at Lowes or Home Depot that might be good for me at my current level? I’ve never done air brushing and am unfamiliar with operating the equipment.

---

gimpy2, thank you for your feedback regarding the jointer question and scroll saw. Thank you for your recommendation list, too!

---

George Ledo, thank you for your ideas regarding researching magazines and books on the initial setup of a wood shop. I picked up a few woodworking mags while at Lowes. I have not heard of Woodcraft, Rockler, and Grizzly. I’m assuming those are stores dedicated to wood workers? We don’t have them here where I live, but I’ll have to find out where the closest ones are located. Sounds like a great trip and I’ll bet the sales people are very helpful with information in getting set up.

---

Everyone, thank you so much for all of help in taking the time to share all of these wonderful ideas! I am very, very grateful and will keep you updated on my progress. It is such a terrific thing having this forum to post such queries, and then getting so many insights from seasoned pros who have many years of experience in such work. I am very grateful for your time, your kindness and your assistance!!!!

Rich
Message: Posted by: MikeHolbrook (Jun 23, 2011 05:38AM)
My table saw is a craftsman. Mine came with a biesemeyer fence so I can't comment on how good the fence is on a craftsman. I might want a bigger delta cabinet saw if I was going to use my shop for a business but my saw has served well. Buy a good blade or blades suited to the material you will be cutting, make sure the fence is setup square to the blade and maybe change the belt to a link belt to reduce vibration.

Mike
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 23, 2011 06:24AM)
Rich,

In my experience, the Delta Unisaw and the Powermatic PM2000 are, hands down, the two best table saws on the market. That's not to say that there aren't better ones out there, but only that these are the best ones that I could even imagine as being in my price range. They both come with very nice rip fences, but the Biesemeyer fences are also offered as options. The saws themselves are extremely heavy and stable. The tables are perfectly flat. They are pretty much the "standard" saws for a reason. Once they are properly set up and aligned, you can forget about them.

Other companies such as Grizzly, Jet, etc. also offer high-quality saws for less money than the Delta, and also with the Biesemeyer option. Also, there are contractor saws that will serve your purpose just as well, especially if you aren't in a production environment.

Something else to consider - if you are right-handed, look for a left-tilt saw (vice-versa for lefties). It is safer and much more convenient than the right-tilt version.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 23, 2011 12:24PM)
Rich- I use the router a lot for dadoes, and find it easier to make those cuts with it hand-held. Which reminds me, get an accurate straight edge for your hand tools. Additionally, I usually just use pre-made trim, and so have less need to use the router table to finish edges. Your usage will depend on how and what you build. You will need a selection of router bits, of course; unless you plan on doing a lot of fancy edges and need tons of shapes, then you may be best off just buying these bits as you need them.

I've got a Ryobi router with both a plunge and standard base, in addition to my table. It's fairly quick to change the mount, especially once you've done it a few times, so having two routers is not worth the cost for me.

I've got a drill bit that actually melted and curled up at the tip when I tried to cut a hole in a steel washer with my drill press- I'd been drilling aluminum all morning (which is soft enough to take a regular bit) and simply forgot to change to a hardened bit before drilling the washers. You can find the hardened/cobalt tipped/etc. bit at any hardware store. Most of them also sell flat and square tube metal stock as well (both aluminum and steel)- but expect to pay a lot for a small amount. If you can find an industrial supplier, you'll get a much better price per foot. The down side is you will probably have to buy in quantity, and in lengths that may be longer than what you can easily work with. Still, some steel support can give you a frame that is incredibly strong for its weight and size, allowing you to decrease overall thickness. Also, aluminum, though not as strong, polishes to a mirror finish and doesn't rust. It makes great trim.

Almost forgot- if you don't have a Dremel already, you'll probably want one. While less useful for big jobs, it will be invaluable for small jobs and certain finishing work.

Can't help much with compressors and paint, haven't done much with it; but some of the other people who post here can go into great detail concerning tools and techniques.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 23, 2011 12:25PM)
Hi Richard,

I'll see if I can answer a few of your questions...

I recently purchased this router, although I found it at Lowes on sale... http://www.amazon.com/Bosch-1617EVSPK-4-Horsepower-Variable-Collets/dp/B00005RHPD

You can also buy separately, a base that you can leave permanently attached to the router table. Then all you have to do is unlock the motor pop it out, and pop it into a free hand base (plunge or fixed). You won't ever need to unmount the base from the table, and that will save a ton of time. Although some people use theirs mostly not on the table, I am just the opposite. Mine stays attached to the table almost all the time. It depends on the projects.

Re: lumber - Pre-dimensioned woods would be the smaller pieces that you find at the home stores. They would be pre-cut to specific lengths (6', 8', 10', etc.) and widths (2", 4", 6", 8", etc.). The bulk of these will be planed to a 3/4" thickness, and will be referred to as 1" x whatever width.

You will likely also be able to find even smaller cuts (2', 3', 4' lengths), some in thinner boards (1/2", 1/4").

All of the above would be S4S. The 2 faces and the 2 edges would be planed smooth and square. The ends are hopefully cut square, as well.

You'd need to find an actual real lumber yard that carries hardwoods to find S2S or rough sawn lumber. S2S would have the faces planed, but not the edges, which may cause the board to vary widely in width along the board. Sometimes you'll even find bark or sap wood along those edges.

Rough sawn wood is cut but not planed smooth.

Lengths are random, and determined usually by the tree it was cut from. The thicknesses are graded usually by 4/4 (1"), 8/4 (2"), etc.

You can make use of S2S with just a table saw, but the wood is generally going to be at least an inch thick... much more than you'd want for building magic props.

For such woods as just described, a thicknes planer is a good investment, but it will pay for itself over a longer period of time. If you are lucky enough to have a Woodcraft nearby, you can find some predimensioned hardwoods and exotics, as thin as 1/8"... but you pay through the nose for it.

For illusions you'll most likely be spending most of your wood money on plywood (1/4", 3/8", and 1/2"). The better the grade, the happier you'll be. Baltic Birch is a common choice, but a bit pricey and not always easy to find. You can usually find 1/4", and 3/4" Birch ply in the home stores, but this is usually not Baltic Birch. If you want to see the quality of Baltic Birch, go to a Michaels craft store and look at their small project plywood. (overlook their prices though, as they are not consistent with lumber yard prices).

Plywood is usually sold in 4'x8' sheets, although most Baltic Birch will be available in 5'x5' sheets. Most plywoods in the home stores is available in half (4'x4'), quarter (2'x4"), and one eighth (2'x2') sheets.

The main thing is to look at whatever wood you are thinking of buying and see if it has a finish that will take paint well, without looking like crap. The more expensive the plywood, the more smoothly sanded the faces will be. Look at both sides, too. Whatever your audience doesn't see is likely what your assistant will have to put up with.

Regarding non ply woods... avoid oak unless you want it for a specific look. It is heavy and is harder to paint as it has very open grain. Poplar is good for many things, and is usually very stable and straight. It machines well. It is heavier than Pine, which can also be used for some things, but if you use pine, spend the extra bucks for clear pine, aspen, or fir. Lots of cheaper pines have too many knots to make them usuable for illusion building.

Painting and finishing is a whole other discussion. I have never used Tuff Coat, so I am not the person to ask. You can however, absolutely use paint. It has been done that way successfully for over a century! :)

You may or may not use the router table for illusions... it depends on what you might be building. Small boxes that I make are usually joined with rabbet and dado joints. Large illusion panels are often joined with hardware so they can break down for travel. A free hand router may come in handy for moulding and finishing edges.

~michael
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 24, 2011 12:25AM)
Rich,

As always, lots of good info above. FYI Rockler and Woodcraft are woodworking stores and each have 3 stores in Pennsylvania. They also have websites online that you can order from. Grisley is a tool manufacturer in the Northwest USA that is also online.

George's advice about books and periodicals is spot on. Whatever stationary machines you may buy, get a book on how to set it up and use it properly.

You asked about the differences between tablesaw and whether or not you should scrap your Craftsman. A lot depends on the saw and when it was made. If you have a "contractor" saw you can probably work with it with few problems. Older saws are typically better made than the newer ones but often lack some of the "nice to have" features. If you have a table top saw and you want to build stage illusions I'd sell it and buy something better. You need a large table top and a stable saw base for cutting large sheets of plywood safely. Infeed and outfeed tables are also a BIG help when cutting sheet goods.

The Delta Unisaws are heavy duty professional cabinet shop saws intended to be used every day all day to rip 2 inch plus hardwoods withpout bogging down, and to last practically forever. You probably don't need that. Contractor saws or the newer hybrid saws are great for what we do. Hybrid saws offer superior opportunity for dust collection and are somewhat more stable (saw doesn't move around on the floor) than the average contractor saw. Cabinet saws have less vibration but contractor saws can be modified with machined pulleys and link belts to reduce vibration.

Saw blades are an important part of the saw. Plan on spending $100 or more each for a plywood blade and a rip blade. You can use your plywood blade as a crosscut blade or spend the money to buy a separate one.

Rip fences are really pretty basic but they must be parallel to the blade and must not flex at the rear when side pressure is applied. If your fence is not parallel to the blade and the rearis further from the blade than the front, you will make wider cuts (kerfs)than necessary and possibly burn the edges of the cuts. This is more annoying than anything else. If however, the fence pinches the wood between itself and the blade, you will have a VERY dangerous condition that is likely to throw wood back at you with amazing velocity and power! This is to be avoided at all costs. T-Square fences are great and make for easy, repeatable set ups but they are not necessary. However, they will make your shop time more enjoyable.

I would also suggest making or buying 1 or 2 sleds for your tablesaw. A cut-off sled is easy to make and will increase your accuracy. A fixed or adjustable mitre sled is an invaluable tool that I couldn't live without. The one I use is a "Dubby" marketed by In-Line Industries. They are expensive, but incredibly accurate. I wouldn't attempt a mitre cut on a tablesaw without one.

Like someone suggested above I mounted my router to my tablesaw wing and the combo of tablesaw and router are my two most often used tools. I have a thickness sander for getting pieces to the exact thickness and have recently acquired a planer which is a great way to make lots of sawdust in a hurry. I am trading my 10" bandsaw in for a bandsaw with 14" resaw capability. It shoud arrive any day. My jointer and my scroll saw are very occasionally used tools, but nice to have when I need them. I also have a large and a small drill press, one for detail work and one for bigger stuff. That's it for the stationary woodworking tools.
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 26, 2011 11:21PM)
Hi Michael,

Thank you for clarifying that information regarding being able to remove the router motor easily with that special base that can be attached. That is certainly a very nice feature to have.

Okay, now I understand what is meant by pre-dimensioned woods. Yes, I have seen those, and bought them from time to time at Home Depot and Lowes.

So, the term S4S means that all of the cuts on these pre-dimensioned wood pieces are all supposedly square and ready to work with?

Oh, okay, now I understand when you explaned the S2S, versus S4S.

Yes, I found a Woodcraft 55 miles from here, in Allentown, and went over there. My goodness, it is like Heaven for wood working!! Loved it!! Signed up for a class. They even have clubs you can join.

You mentioned looking for wood that will take paint well. Is there a technique for discerning which wood pieces will take paint well, and which will look like crap when painted? How can I tell which is which?

The various options of available wood when building illusions seems confusing. Would you say that Birch Ply is what I should use now at my novice level, until I get a feel for the various woods, and their various aspects, features and benefits?

Thanks again for all of the details, Michael. I will copy and paste this entire thread to save it, and review it from time to time. A lot of terrific insights and wisdom gained by years of experience, as well as trial and error work over the years.

---------------------------

Hi Tim / AGMagic,

Well, I found the Woodcraft store as mentioned, and love it there. I could literally spend the entire day there.
I’ll have to find the local Rockler store, as well.

Yes, I followed George’s advice (thak you, George!) and purchased a dozen books on various aspects of Woodworking. Found a few interesting videos, as well.

Table Saw Projects ~ Ken Burton Includes Dvd
Furniture Joinery Working With Wood Dvd
Woodworking 1&2: Cabinets, Tables, Bowls, & Much More
Woodworking Video - Easy Woodworking Projects (VHS)
Fine Woodworking - Mastering Your Table Saw (VHS, 1993)
Woodworking DVD Wood Finishing Basics w M Dresdner
Shopsmith's 10 Lesson Self Study Woodworking Course
Better Homes and Gardens Wood Woodworking Tools You Can Make
Woodworking for Everybody by John Gerald Shea
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Woodworking: Tools, Techniques, Projects, Picture Framing, Joinery, Home Maintenance, Furniture Repair
Nick Engler's Woodworking Wisdom: The Ultimate Guide to Cabinetry and Furniture Making
Woodworking Projects II, Sunset Books
Cabinetmaking (The Art of Woodworking) by Time-Life Books
Basic Woodworking, Sunset Books


I just purchasd an older table saw off of Craig’s List for $115. An old craftsman. Solid iron table. Gosh, the iron and saw must weigh 500 pounds. I should have asked the seller to deliver it and set it up for a nominal fee. I couldn’t believe how heavy that thing is. I save my pennies and get one of the higher end table saws that others have mentioned above. Looks like a $1500 investment for one of those higher end table saws.

I’d be interested in learning how a table saw can be made to be more stable with pulleys and link betls. Are you basicly taking each leg of the table and securing it to the ground with link belts. Like anchoring it in the concrete floor?

That’s very interesting about fences. The fence on this old Craftsman is as solid as can be. Doesn’t wobble even a millimeter!

I’d like to learn more about making more accurate cuts. I looked on YouTube and found a few tutorials that offer some tips on this aspect of wood working.

Tim, thanks again for sharing your ideas and insights!

Rich
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 27, 2011 12:37AM)
Hi Richard,

The easiest way to tell what woods take paint better than others is to buy a small piece of a few different types and paint them all with identical paint. You should be able to form fast opinions.

Birch ply is almost always going to make you happy. Baltic Birch is better and Finnish Birch is the best. The cheaper baltic Birch plys are often referred to as "solid core". This is the least desirable of the lot. The surfaces are usually a so-so veneer over a rather "pithy" interior core. Painting the edges will be a real chore, and joinery is usually only possible with supporting hardware (corner angles, etc.). Don't try to nail or screw into the edges as it simply will not hold for long. The cores are too loose. Glue joints are also doomed to fail.

But, it should be noted that you can use a grain filler on just about any surface to make it more suitable for painting. In fact, some skeleton tables I made about a year ago began as leftover wood from another table project. A friend asked me to build him a table ala the Mark Wilson book. I told him to pick up a sheet of ply and bring it over. It was probably a B/C grade construction ply that he brought over. You could feel the grain with no problem, as it was pretty rough stuff. The backside had many knots and voids, but that was less of a concern as it would never show to the audience. That table was painted black and the cheaper wood didn't seem to bother him. Okey dokey...

Anyway, when his table was done, I told him my fee was twenty bucks and the leftover wood. From this extra wood, I cut the basic shapes for a pair of skeleton tables. I used a spackling compound and a wide putty knife to make a smoother surface. I gave it a light sanding and painted the surfaces with an oil-based, brush-on enamel. The skeletons were later stenciled on with white enamel spray. They look pretty good even up close, although not pieces of fine furniture... just nice magic side tables. From the stage they would not look any better if made from the finest Finnish Birch ply. Personally, I don't care, as long as they look good to the audience, they hold up to repeated use, and they don't break my budget. Of course, I am not selling them. If I did, I would upgrade the materials first.

In another instance, years ago I bought a sheet of oak plywood which has an open grain, even when the surface has been sanded smooth. When you paint something like this, the paint soaks into such grains at different rates, and the grain pattern is very obvious after the fact. I learned quickly at that time that this was not a good choice for the project I had in progress.

Such wood can also be filled before painting, though. The painted finish will be much more uniform, and in my opinion, better looking.

But for my time and money, I'd rather begin with a smoother, tighter grained wood, although you can certainly do it the other way.

In all cases, you should use a primer, if not a sanding sealer, as well before painting.

The bottom line is, the smoother and more sealed the surface, the slicker the paint finish is likely to be. Of course this is still only as good as your painting techniques, but that is an altogether different topic.

Much will depend on what you are building. For the small boxes I make mostly now, I must use a very high quality wood, as many of those pieces are commissioned by collectors. They are generally appreciated for the fine finishes, in addition to the artistic design. Functionality is of course a pre-requisite, but almost secondary to the finish, even though I build pieces with the thought that they will be used. Workers' apparatus has to put functionality first, and although the finishes are important too, they are sometimes based on how it looks to the audience, rather than under a microscope.

Your best teacher will be experience. Of course you are on the right path by acquiring knowledge through some good books, DVDs, and classes. But, experimentation with some smaller, less complex and certainly less expensive projects will educate you nicely before you take the plunge into a larger illusion.

~michael
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 27, 2011 12:51AM)
Rich,
Sorry if I confused you with the link belt/pulley set up. If your saw has a fair amount of vibration while running, it is probably the result of the cast pulleys on the motor and arbor and the V type fan belt used to power the saw. These can be replaced with machined pulleys and a link type belt. The belt is usually the worst offender as when they sit for a while they take on the shape of the pulleys that they are wrapped around. A link belt doesn't do that. If replacing the belt doesn't solve the vibration problems it is time to look at the cast pulleys. Machined pulleys are much better balanced and cause less vibration.

The first two critical adjustments on the set up of the saw is making sure the blade is absolutely parallel to the mitre track. This can be adjusted by loostening the 4 screws that hold the arbor to the bottom side of the table (on contractor saws) and adjusting the assembly until the blade is parallel with the track. You can probably search for your saw manual on line for further instructions. The second I have mentioned before - Make sure the fence is parallel to the blade so it doesn't pinch the work piece between the fence and the rear of the blade. On most saws, if you are patient and methodical, you can get these adjustments to within 1 to 2 thousands of an inch. If you don't have tablesaw set up information in the books and tapes that you have, let me know and I can point you to some good refrences. The folks at Woodcraft and Rockler are usually very helpful also.

A word of warning about woodworking...It can be very addictive! The right tools make the job easier but there is usually a way to accomplish the task with the tools that you already have. Keep your cutting edges sharp and clean and keep your saw table clean and slick. Now go make some sawdust!
Message: Posted by: MikeHolbrook (Jun 27, 2011 10:15AM)
Just changing to a link belt reduced my saw vibration to an amount I could tolerate. I would not invest in machined pullies unless you have to. The heavier the saw, the less vibration so that heavy cast iron is good (unless you have to move the saw around.

Mike
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 27, 2011 01:50PM)
Although embarrassing to say, my table saw is a small 8" Craftsman that I bought about 20+ years ago for a hundred bucks. It is direct drive. I think if I had a good table saw I wouldn't stop smiling.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 27, 2011 03:23PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-27 14:50, Michael Baker wrote:
Although embarrassing to say, my table saw is a small 8" Craftsman that I bought about 20+ years ago for a hundred bucks. It is direct drive. I think if I had a good table saw I wouldn't stop smiling.
[/quote]

Michael,

Just goes to show you do not need high dollar tools to make nice props. Your work is proof of that.

Tabman from the videos he used to post did not have top of the line tools either but he made some of the nicest props I have ever seen.


Nick
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Jun 27, 2011 03:39PM)
Agreed. I have a lot of great toys but will never be half the craftsman my father was with nothing but basic hand tools. Loook at the shop tools of Buatier De Kolta as an example.

That being said, there has been such a wealth of great information in this thread. I have to save it all!
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 27, 2011 04:36PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-24 01:25, AGMagic wrote:
I would also suggest making or buying 1 or 2 sleds for your tablesaw. A cut-off sled is easy to make and will increase your accuracy. A fixed or adjustable mitre sled is an invaluable tool that I couldn't live without. The one I use is a "Dubby" marketed by In-Line Industries. They are expensive, but incredibly accurate. I wouldn't attempt a mitre cut on a tablesaw without one.
[/quote]
Crosscut sleds are great time-savers. I've seen about a zillion different "designs" in the books and mags, but they all really boil down to the same. You can spend about an hour making a basic one or a couple of days making one with all the bell and whistles. I made mine in about an hour, some ten years ago, and it's still true and square. I love using the darn thing. Just a couple of years ago I decided to cut a handhold in it to make it easier to move, but, aside from that, it's a very simple design.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 27, 2011 05:24PM)
Re: sleds - Yes. I made a number of them. For ripping and larger cuts, of course I use the table saw fence. But, for the finer precision cuts, nothing beats a sled. I have one for straight cuts, one for mitered (45) cuts with the blade still at 90, and another for when the blade is tlted to 45.

The first two have a stop block that adjusts the width of the cut, and is held to the backstop fence with a C clamp.

FYI - I have also added two pieces of wood to the back side of the backstop fence. These are on either side of the blade track, and assure that my thumbs stay clear. You can't forget that the blade will come out the back side, and if you are looking at your workpiece, you might not be a happy craftsman if your thumbs are laying over that slot.

Sleds are real simple devices, that make a world of difference. The same could be said for a number of other shop made jigs. You can do a search for woodworking jigs, and you should find a ton of great ideas.

~michael
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 27, 2011 05:30PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-27 18:24, Michael Baker wrote:
Re: sleds - Yes. I made a number of them. For ripping and larger cuts, of course I use the table saw fence. But, for the finer precision cuts, nothing beats a sled. I have one for straight cuts, one for mitered (45) cuts with the blade still at 90, and another for when the blade is tlted to 45.

The first two have a stop block that adjusts the width of the cut, and is held to the backstop fence with a C clamp.

FYI - I have also added two pieces of wood to the back side of the backstop fence. These are on either side of the blade track, and assure that my thumbs stay clear. You can't forget that the blade will come out the back side, and if you are looking at your workpiece, you might not be a happy craftsman if your thumbs are laying over that slot.

Sleds are real simple devices, that make a world of difference. The same could be said for a number of other shop made jigs. You can do a search for woodworking jigs, and you should find a ton of great ideas.

~michael
[/quote]
My stop block attaches to the sled with a spring clamp. :)

Those two pieces of wood on the back side of the sled are a great safety device. I do believe the next time I pull out my sled, I'll add them. Thanks for the nudge.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 27, 2011 07:35PM)
Heh, my table saw is a 10" portable Ryobi that I'm happy with. It's definitely not the greatest, but my workshop is my garage, and I don't have room for anything not portable. (All my tools are portable or mounted on carts.) There are ways to compensate for reduced accuracy, and with the right trim and filler, even low-end tools can get the job done... Though expensive ones are nice and can reduce the time you spend finishing your work.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 27, 2011 07:37PM)
Rough sketch...

[img]http://www.themagiccompany.com/sled.jpg[/img]
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 28, 2011 01:43PM)
Smaller saws can be great but Rich was asking about making stage illusions so I recommended a saw with a large work surface that wouldn't move around on him. Of course, sheet goods can be cut down with a straight edge and a circular saw. A great jig is to attach a straight board to piece of Masonite then cut the Masonite off with your circular saw. This will give you a straight edge that you can clamp to a sheet of plywood that will show you exactly where your saw will make the cut. BTW I love my 4" Dremel table saw!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 28, 2011 03:52PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-28 14:43, AGMagic wrote:
Smaller saws can be great but Rich was asking about making stage illusions so I recommended a saw with a large work surface that wouldn't move around on him. Of course, sheet goods can be cut down with a straight edge and a circular saw. A great jig is to attach a straight board to piece of Masonite then cut the Masonite off with your circular saw. This will give you a straight edge that you can clamp to a sheet of plywood that will show you exactly where your saw will make the cut. BTW I love my 4" Dremel table saw!
[/quote]

All true. I sort of side tracked things here. But, there will be the occasional need for smaller pieces, and simplifying that process for safety, speed, accuracy, and efficiency never hurts. :)

Great idea on the straight edge cutting jig!

If space allows, outfeed tables will make things much easier. If you don't have the room to have that as a permanent fixture, then roller stands come in real handy (assuming you are working alone).
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 28, 2011 04:31PM)
Totally agree on the outfeed table. Mine is a Craftsman tool chest on wheels; I just put a piece of 1/2" particle board on top so it matches the height of the table saw. It also doubles as a second workbench. And it rolls under the main workbench when I pack up for the day.
Message: Posted by: jolyonjenkins (Jun 28, 2011 05:05PM)
Really, you get used to working with what you have. I got the bandsaw before the table saw, and I still prefer it because it's quieter and feel I'm less likely to have an accident with it. The planer saves a huge amount of time compared to manual planing. The thicknesser alters your whole attitude to timber and I wouldn't be without it. But I've managed without a router table so far.
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Jun 28, 2011 05:14PM)
I must admit that as much as I use my table saw for smaller pieces, I use a large panel saw for ripping and cross cutting ply. It's just easier to do by myself without taking up as much space. Not near as good for really accurate things like cabinet making but I'm usually making larger props where its just not an issue. Just depends on the scale of what you're building.
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Jun 28, 2011 05:22PM)
Meaning no disrespect, but at his level of experience, he needs to watch Norm and subscribe to Wood magazine more than he needs a a 10" cabinet saw.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 28, 2011 09:06PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-28 18:05, rjenkins wrote:
Really, you get used to working with what you have. I got the bandsaw before the table saw, and I still prefer it because it's quieter and feel I'm less likely to have an accident with it. The planer saves a huge amount of time compared to manual planing. The thicknesser alters your whole attitude to timber and I wouldn't be without it. But I've managed without a router table so far.
[/quote]
Totally the opposite for me, I've got a cover over my table saw blade, and I think I'd be more likely to have an accident with the open blade on a bandsaw. Though my college drama department had an old rip saw table with zero protection on it at all. No student was ever allowed to use it.

Which reminds me, don't disable the safety on any of your tools unless you absolutely have to ( say, for example, to make a non-through cut), and replace the safety as soon as you're done. You can buy a top-of-the-line table saw with the latest European safety devices for the amount it costs to re-attach a severed finger.
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 28, 2011 11:18PM)
Hey guys, I finished my cabinet making class today! It was such a wealth of information, and one of the best classes I have ever taken in any subject matter. The instructor was fabulous. I learned so much. Well worth it. Shaved a huge bulk of time off of the learning curve had I not taken the class under such an experienced instructor.

This thread is just so awesome! Huge amounts of tips, insights and ideas! Many thanks to all of you! I am incredibly grateful! Love you guys, man!

I still have to hook up that table saw I picked up over the weekend. The iron on that behmoth must be 500 pounds, or more. They took part of it apart to fit it in our vehicle. Now I have to figure out how to reassemble it. In hindsight, I should have told the guy I'll buy it only if he delivers it. Nearly wrenched my back getting it out of our SUV.

Found it on Craig's List. I'm guessing it is like 30 years old. I'll look up the model number and stuff and find out the specifics on its date and download a manual and such. But he says a sturdy work horse that has never caused him a problem.

Any specific suggestions for making my first Crosscut sled? Any pictures available?

Thanks again, everyone! Your kindness with such an abundance of help just blows my mind!
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 29, 2011 12:55AM)
I Googled crosscut sled and found this http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com/howto_crosscut.htm There are lots of others.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 29, 2011 01:05AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-29 00:18, motivationalmagic wrote:


Any specific suggestions for making my first Crosscut sled? Any pictures available?


[/quote]
Look at my drawing above for a rough idea. Cut two runners that fit in the miter gauge slots on your saw table. They should be as close to the same width as possible, but still able to slide freely in the slots. You don't want any significant side to side play. These runners should be about 1/32" - 1/16" higher than the depth of the miter gauge slots, and long enough to reach from the near edge of the table, to about where the leading edge of the blade is (a little longer won't hurt).

Cut a piece of 1/2" plywood a bit wider than the distance between the miter gauge slots and long enough to reach from the near edge of the table to just your side of the leading edge of the saw blade.

Set the runners in the miter gauge slots and coat the top surfaces with wood glue. Glue the plywood on top of the runners. Allow to dry.

Mark a spot on the plywood surface about 3" or so from the near edge. This will be where the backstop fence will be located.

Turn on your saw and cut a kerf slot from the leading edge of the sled (the plywood), as far back as the mark.

Use a square to position and glue a piece of wood that will be the backstop fence. This should be about 2" - 4" high, and as wide as the sled. Be sure it is positioned perfectly perpendicular to the blade.

Add the thumb guards as seen in the drawing above.

Continue cutting the slot in the sled all the way through the plywood from front to back. The backstop fence holds everything together.

You can add a stop block that you can clamp in place at adjustable positions along the backstop fence. This allows you to make multiple cuts with all pieces being the same length. Measure from the stop block to the closest edge of the blade. It can be positioned on either side of the blade. You can mark measurements along the fence or the surface of the sled to speed up positioning the stop block.

By not using the stop block, you can run longer lengths of wood through the saw, and the sled will serve to keep the board square with the blade, and will also cut way down on friction, making it much easier to push a piece of wood through the blade. The only surfaces that touch the table are the runners.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 29, 2011 04:40AM)
I used a homemade crosscut sled for years but decided to take the plunge and buy this one http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=18063&filter=sled

One of the best purchases I have ever made!

Rockler will put this sled on sale a few times a year for a $100.00.


Nick
Message: Posted by: Bapu (Jun 29, 2011 10:56AM)
Hey motivationalmagic

I just want to mention one tool that won't set you back a fortune and is one of my favorites for quick, strong, joinery...especially for cabinets: the Kreg Jig for pocket screw joinery.

You can learn more about it here: http://www.kregtool.com/Pocket-Hole-Jigs-Prodlist.html

Lowe's sells them, Home Depot does not.

I have just finished another great cabinet for my daughter's kitchen. I have made several for her, both floor and wall mount. All with just these tools:

Miter Saw mounted on home-made stand
Table Saw (A small one) mounted on home-made stand
A good router (Porter-Cable) mounted in a home-made router table.
Kreg Jig with Kreg clamps and Kreg pocket screws.
Bosch battery powered driver (Love it!)
Ryobi battery powered circular saw (How did I ever get by without it!)
Assorted clamps, hammer, screwdiver.

I have not read all the posts above, so forgive me if someone has already mentioned this, but your first project should be to build yourself a decent work bench. (The Kreg tool site has free plans for work benches and cabinet joinery.)

As for ripping and cutting 4x8 sheets of plywood, just have them do that for you where you buy it. I do, and can usually cart it all home in the back of my Honda Fit. No kidding!

Oh yes, one last thing...get yourself a big bottle of Gorilla glue.

Now get out there and make some sawdust!
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Jun 29, 2011 12:08PM)
I mentioned this on another thread.. but this was a recent addition to my shop.. and I don't know how I ever survived without it..

cuts forward and reverse... NEVER BINDS.. and will cut almost anything.. including sheet metal, plastic, wood.. and with a blade change.. tile and glass.

https://www.asseenontv.com/detail.php?p=296720&ecid=PID-700000185&pa=SEM_ASOTVProducts_dual%20saw&s_kwcid=TC|15239|dual%20saw||S|e|12096955051&gclid=CN3T6ZHN26kCFWc0QgodIUNjVg

one of the few things that REALLY DOES WORK LIKE IT SAYS ON TV!!

I LOVE MINE!!!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 29, 2011 12:17PM)
Nick,

Good call on that Rockler sled. Having a built in miter gauge eliminates the need for extra sleds. Having it adjustable is good, too. Because my table saw is so small, I prefer one that rides both miter gauge slots, though.

David's mention of a workbench is good, too. (I didn't read back through the posts either!)

One thing that I don't recall being mentioned is how fast your effective workspace diminishes as you begin to acquire tools. I used to make illusions for my own show. Now, I hardly have room to set out a handful of Die Boxes! Ha!

~michael
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jun 29, 2011 10:11PM)
AGMagic,
That link looks great! The animation makes it easier to understand! Thanks for the link!

Michael,
Thank you for the information on building a sled. Unfortunately I do not understand most of the terminology. I need a wood working for dummies book that has a list of terminology! lol I kind of understand the picture, but not fully. I’ve read through it a few times and picked up on the meaning of some of the terms, but still cannot follow the overall concept of what to do.

RemoteGuy,
Thanks for that link to the Rockler sled!

David,
I just finished a cabinet making class, and had the good fortune of being able to use that very same Kreg Jig for doing the cabinet joinery. Such a great jig. It was very cool putting the face frame together for the cabinet using that Kreg Jig. (We were all joking about what a smart guy this Kreg fellow must be! lol). Oh, I did just spot the Kreg Jig at Home Depot for $100. The same thing was $140 at the Woodcraft store.

Makeupguy,
I just watched the entire demo video for that saw. Truly incredible! I want one! I’m curious, though, how a saw can manage to do something which creates straight cuts. I just used my circular saw all day long today building something, and I found out that I never really had a straight cut with the circular saw unless I used a home-made fence or guide. How does that DualSaw always get such a straight cut like they do on the video? (Oh, man, I was thinking what a punk joke it might be to cut your buddy’s car in half like on the video!)

Michael,
Glad you mentioned that about having a sled that rides in both miter slots. I'm guessing that gives the sled more stability and less play back and forth? (And I’ve been wondering if there is a name for those two slots on the table saw. Now I know! lol). We live in the mountains, so fortunately space is somewhat flexible. I’ve been looking at these prefab sheds that are 12x25, and sell for $5400. Thinking that might make a nice space for a prop biulding shop, as well as storage for whatever I build.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 30, 2011 02:01AM)
Richard,

The concept of a sled is pretty easy. It's just a carriage that follows the miter gauge slots, and allows you to push boards through the blade, instead of having to push the board itself.

It actually makes cutting easier by stabilizing the board. This eliminates much of the kickback possibility, which is usually caused when a board is accidentally twisted into binding with the spinning blade.

This can easily happen, especially when using a rip fence as a guide for cross cutting. In that case, the board has to be pushed along the length of the fence.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/ripfencefeed.jpg[/img]

Friction can occur, causing the board to shift or twist, and bind between the blade and the fence. What can happen is that the blade will grab the board and kick it back at you. Not a good thing, and potentially dangerous... more so the higher the horsepower of the motor.

The sled allows for a the use of a stop block, which sets the desired length on the sled, so the board remains stationary in relationship to the stop block. Length of cut is however limited to the size of the sled.

[img]http://themagiccompany.com/sledfeed.jpg[/img]

Stop blocks allow for multiple cuts of the same size with great efficiency.

~michael
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 30, 2011 09:25AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-29 23:11, motivationalmagic wrote:
I just finished a cabinet making class, and had the good fortune of being able to use that very same Kreg Jig for doing the cabinet joinery. Such a great jig. It was very cool putting the face frame together for the cabinet using that Kreg Jig. (We were all joking about what a smart guy this Kreg fellow must be! lol). Oh, I did just spot the Kreg Jig at Home Depot for $100. The same thing was $140 at the Woodcraft store.
[/quote]
Sounds like a great (and short) class. Where was it? How long was it?
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 30, 2011 11:59AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-29 23:11, motivationalmagic wrote:

... We live in the mountains, so fortunately space is somewhat flexible. I’ve been looking at these prefab sheds that are 12x25, and sell for $5400. Thinking that might make a nice space for a prop biulding shop, as well as storage for whatever I build.
[/quote]
Make sure it's got a very wide door (preferably a roll-up or garage style door), because no matter the size, you're going to eventually run into a situation where you want to stick the long end of a sheet of plywood out of it. (And I've read a story or two about someone building an illusion in their new workshop, only to discover it was too big to get through the door.) Oh- if you're using it for storage and construction, put in a divider to act as a dust cover, or your props [i]will[/i] be covered in sawdust.

I wish I had space like that... who am I kidding? It'd just end up as cluttered up as my garage workshop already is anyway.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jun 30, 2011 02:02PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-29 23:11, motivationalmagic wrote:

Makeupguy,
I just watched the entire demo video for that saw. Truly incredible! I want one! I’m curious, though, how a saw can manage to do something which creates straight cuts. I just used my circular saw all day long today building something, and I found out that I never really had a straight cut with the circular saw unless I used a home-made fence or guide. How does that DualSaw always get such a straight cut like they do on the video? (Oh, man, I was thinking what a punk joke it might be to cut your buddy’s car in half like on the video!)

[/quote]

Heres some tips for cutting straight with a circular saw. Mark a narrow but vissable line. Follow the side of the line with the side of the blade don't try to split the line. forget the guide mark on the saw keep your eye on the spinning blade and the side of the line.

Michael,

Nice job on the art work and detail description. You need to write a book, FANTASTIC!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 30, 2011 02:47PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-30 15:02, gimpy2 wrote:


Michael,

Nice job on the art work and detail description. You need to write a book, FANTASTIC!
[/quote]

I guess I was too lazy to drag out my camera an shoot a photo of the real thing! Ha! I figured, well I'm already sitting here on my butt...

It was the middle of the night, too.

Not sure about the book, but today I came up with the idea for a topic here devoted entirely to workshop words of wisdom. I want them to be cryptic but enough to conjure up random images. My first entry...

[i]"You really begin to understand the integrity of something after you hit it with a hammer."[/i]

~michael
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Jun 30, 2011 03:41PM)
Heres mine.

"measure twice and cut once or up to five times tell it fits then hit it up to five times till it goes in the hole then thwow the piece away and mesure better"
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 30, 2011 04:01PM)
A few thoughts on sleds. The boards or runners that go in the mitre slots can be hardwood, UHMW plastic or store bought sled runners. They sould fit the slots so the sled moves freely with no slop. Hardwood runners will vary in dimension as the weather changes which, depending on the weather where you live can be significant. UHMW plastic is stable and easily machineable and of course most store bought runners have adjustment screws and can be adjusted to the proper fit. Whatever material you use, the runners should not come in contact with the bottom of the slot.

Build your sled and get it square, then carefully raise the blade up through the sled to make the cutting slot. This will insure that the blade does not bind in a pre-cut slot and will keep the kerf on the sled as narrow as possible. Make sure the fence on the sled has some adjustment so you can be sure that the fence is square to the blade. And make sure that your saw is properly set up BEFORE you make a sled.

You will probably need two or more sleds, one for crosscuts, one for fixed 45 deg. miters, one adjustable for other than 45 deg. miters and perhaps a large sled for trimming panels.

One thought on Michale's post above...don't use your rip fence for a stop block when crosscutting, it is very dangerous because the cut off piece can easily get caught between the blad and the fence. Instead, clamp a block of wood to the rip fence in front of the blade and use that your stop block. A 1" or thicker block works well. The work piece should be clear of the stop block before it reaches the blade. That way if the piece should happen to twist if will not get caught between the blade and the fence and become a thrown accross the shop or into you!

Michael - my addition "To the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 30, 2011 04:07PM)
Or as we ued to say in the amusement park business "Mark it with a grease pen, cut it with an axe, file to fit, paint to match."
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 30, 2011 06:20PM)
"Measure once, cut twice, cuss three times."
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 30, 2011 07:29PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-30 17:01, AGMagic wrote:
They sould fit the slots so the sled moves freely with no slop. [/quote]
Mine has very little side to side slop, but even with that minimal amount, I tend to push the sled always snugged to one side. This makes certain that multiple cuts are more exact duplications.

[quote]Whatever material you use, the runners should not come in contact with the bottom of the slot.[/quote]

I do just the opposite. I find less friction having the runners as the points of contact, elevating the sled base above the table by a fraction of an inch. You loose a minimal amount of depth, but it has not been problematic for me.

[quote]Build your sled and get it square, then carefully raise the blade up through the sled to make the cutting slot. This will insure that the blade does not bind in a pre-cut slot and will keep the kerf on the sled as narrow as possible. Make sure the fence on the sled has some adjustment so you can be sure that the fence is square to the blade. And make sure that your saw is properly set up BEFORE you make a sled.[/quote]

I never precut the blade kerf in the sled. I begin with just the base on the runners. Then setting the blade to sufficient height to cut the base, I cut back to the mark where the backstop fence will be. This allows me to then attach the backstop squarely with the blade. Once it is in place, I finish cutting through to the back.

Not mentioned in any of my other posts is that the backstop should be at least twice as high as the slot cut through it. This uncut area at the top of the backstop is all that holds the two halves of the sled together.

Yes, this basically makes a zero clearance blade slot, which is crucial for the sometimes very thin plywoods that I cut. It keeps the edges of the wood from fraying, especially when you must trim off very small amounts from an edge.



[quote]One thought on Michale's post above...don't use your rip fence for a stop block when crosscutting, it is very dangerous because the cut off piece can easily get caught between the blad and the fence. Instead, clamp a block of wood to the rip fence in front of the blade and use that your stop block. A 1" or thicker block works well. The work piece should be clear of the stop block before it reaches the blade. That way if the piece should happen to twist if will not get caught between the blade and the fence and become a thrown accross the shop or into you![/quote]

This is a good point that I overlooked. Thanks for calling me out on that! I have become more comfortable with my smaller saw. Jams tend to just stop the blade. :) Larger, more powerful saws will not yield.

[quote]Michael - my addition "To the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
[/quote] :) [i]"To the wife, every butter knife looks like a screwdriver."[/i]
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 30, 2011 08:00PM)
Michael, who am I to argue with success? My crosscut sled is about 3 ft. square so I like having it sit firmly on the saw table so it doesn't bow. I just keep everything waxed so it moves easily. The rest of your post I completely agree with.

"When you are up to your a** in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp"
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jul 1, 2011 08:35PM)
"Don't start vast projects with half-vast ideas"
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 1, 2011 10:44PM)
[quote]
On 2011-07-01 21:35, AGMagic wrote:
"Don't start vast projects with half-vast ideas"
[/quote]
Ha!!

[i]Definition of "Separation anxiety" - the feeling that consumes you after you've CA glued your fingers to the little box.[/i]
Message: Posted by: motivationalmagic (Jul 2, 2011 08:55PM)
Craig’s List is GREAT! Today I found a seller that gave me quite a deal. I purchased all of the following used items for a total of only $40. 15” Bench Scroll Saw, 6” Sander/Polisher, Electric Grinder, large square, small square, electric chain saw.

The deals are out there, for sure. I found, though, that I have to check Craig’s List fairly often because the deals are snatched up very quickly. Speaking of which, someone needs to make an app whereby you can be notified by phone of a new listing on Craig’s List that matches your criteria!

=====

Michael,
Thank you for your wonderful kindness in creating a graphic image explaining the concept of the sled. That makes more sense to me now. I get it now. Keeps the board stable and prevents the board from kicking back while sawing. Sometimes I’m a little slow, but eventually things sink in! Also, too, I thank you for your patience in being willing to share your knowledge with someone new to wood working and building things. I am very eager to learn!

In your diagram, is the “rip fence” actually on the sled? Or is that the fence that is on the table saw?

In the second diagram, is there a slot in that fence for the saw blade to go through that fence? Or do you simply stop sawing when you get to that fence?

When I was at the Woodcraft store, I saw that they sell these metal “sleeves” that fit into the miter gauge slots of the table saw. However, when I inserted them into a table saw there in the store, I was surprised to see that they wiggled back and forth quite a bit. They sold these metal sleeves for $10 each. Is it better to make your own, so that there is less play back and forth? Don’t they make any such sleeves that are slightly more snug without any of that play back and forth? I want to get the most accurate cuts possible.

Can I assume that using the sled also aids in giving you a more accurate cut that is more “square”?

=====

George,
The class was at a wood working store here in Pennsylvania. It was 15 hours long over two days. The pace was fast, but full of information. I wish I were able to video tape it, because the information flew by so quickly. I did take extensive notes, though. I’ve hunted around for videos to purchase that might have all of that same information, but didn’t find anything so far.

=====

EsnRedshirt,
Yep! The shed I’m looking at actually is a garage (12x25), with a garage door and two windows, but it is sold as a shed. (Not sure why they don’t just call it a garage). Sells for $5400. They have one slightly smaller for $3500, which is 12x20, but those five feet really seem to make a difference when you go inside and visualize where this and that will go.

=====

gimpy2,
Thanks for the tips! I did that today and it worked much more nicely with straighter lines. It really surprises me how easy it is for that circular saw to veer off. I would have thought it would tend to make sraight lines. Sooo… now I focus my attention right at the tip of that blade. Much more effective that way! A great tip!

=====

AGMagic,
Great insights regarding sleds. I’ll have to start hunting around for YouTube videos and such to learn how to make the other sleds you described.

That’s a good idea to slowly raise the blade up into the sled. I was trying to figure out how I was going to put a slot in the sled without cutting the front and back! Your method now seems all too obivous!

Tim, may I ask what you use to “wax” up the table saw surface area? That sounds like a good idea.

What kind of material could I use to expand the surface area of my table saw?

Thanks again, everyone! Such a great thread!

Rich
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jul 2, 2011 11:00PM)
Rich, Great deal on Craig's list. I am jealous, but not too much as I just picked up my new bandsaw yesterday.

I use Johnson's floor paste wax on the saw table. There are other,very pricey, products sold in the woodworking stores that prevent rust and provide a slick surface, but I have found that paste wax works fine. If you have rust on the table and wings it can usually be cleaned up with WD-40 and Scotchbrite pads. Once the rust has been removed, remove any trace of the WD-40 with lacquer thinner then coat the table with paste wax. Do not use any wax with silicone in it. The silicone may rub off on your work piece and make it very difficult to finish (paint etc.)properly later.

As for expanding the surface area of the saw table, many build a plywood or MDF (medium density fiberboard) table and cover it with a laminate (like Formica) top. Google outfeed tables and I am sure you will find something suitable. Basically, you are looking for something to help stabilize larger pieces of sheet stock so you don't have to balance them as they go through the saw. Many of the plans you find can be easily modified to suit your situation and your shop.

One last thought. If the saw that you bought does not have the blade guard/splitter any longer, either replace it (recommended) and/or make or buy a splitter. The splitter sits behind the blade and keeps the kerf (cut) frome closing up and pinching the blade, creating the aforementioned projectile out of your work piece. DO NOT rip boards or cut large pieces of sheet goods without some kind of splitter on the saw. It is way too dangerous.

Woodworking and creating props is great fun but your magic will be better if you keep all of your fingers.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 2, 2011 11:44PM)
Answers to your questions directed at me...

The rip fence is the one that comes with the table saw.

The slot in the sled runs from the very front edge (the leading edge that comes to the blade first) and goes all the way through the sled, and out the back, including through the backstop fence. The backstop fence is at least twice as high as the blade. The cut is only through the lower half.

You can push the sled entirely through the blade and off onto the floor if you wanted to. The thumb guards described and shown in the earlier B&W drawing are there to make sure your thumbs don't accidentally lay over that blade slot as the blade is passing through the backstop fence and emerging from the back side of it.

Not sure about those metal "sleeves" you mentioned. I've never used them. The runners on the bottom of my sleds that actually run in the miter gauge slots are cut from hardwood... poplar, maple, etc. Just some kind of smooth grain wood unlikely to warp. I cut them so they fit in the slots, and move as desired with very little side to side play. Obviously, you need a bit of slack so they will slide and not stick. That small amount of play should be insignificant to your final results.

The sled serves a few different purposes, one of which is a more accurate, square cut. Other benefits include, reduced kickback potential, and more control over the workpiece as it goes through the saw.

If you've ever seen one of those circular blade meat slicers at the deli, they are doing kind of the same thing. The width of the cut is determined and the carriage (sled) holds the meat, as it is pushed through the blade, sometimes over and over. All cuts are uniform and it is easier than trying to push the hunk of meat through without it. :)