Friday, June 08, 2012

one week and getting ready...

I am just one week away from leaving for my classes at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, the Eliot School in Boston, and my lecture/presentation with the Eliot School and North Bennet St. School. At the close of my class with the Center For Furniture Craftsmanship the school will host its annual open house, so all are invited to attend. The details are as follows: 25 Mill St. Rockport, Maine, Friday, June 29, 2012 5:00 to 7:00. I will have just finished a two week class, and hopefully some of my students will be able to stay to share what they've made in class. I will also be posting photos in the WOH blog during the two week period so you can see progress.

In Boston, on July 6, at 7 PM, I will make a public presentation of my Wisdom of the Hands program, Why We Still Need a Wood Shop sponsored by Eliot and North Bennet St. Schools. Eliot and North Bennet St. had been looking for ways to collaborate, and I decided to go out on a limb and propose my own presentation co-sponsored by both. The presentation is free and open to the public and this blog is one of my only ways to generate enthusiasm for it. Feel free to help me publicize this event. As we know, when schools began abandoning wood shops and the role of the hands in learning, educators knew very little about what they were doing. It was a misguided notion. The manual arts movement in the US was first propelled by interest in three cities, Boston (centered around MIT and North Bennet St. School), New York (Teachers College at Columbia University) and St. Louis (Washington University). It was a movement that had best be resumed.

I always feel nervous when I put myself out on a limb. But as a craftsman, I've learned that I grow in skill and understanding by putting myself in precarious positions. Offering to do this presentation takes me out of my comfort zone.

Yesterday, I got both new Saw Stop saws working in the Clear Spring School wood shop. They are beautifully crafted and run vibration free. Even beyond the Saw Stop technology, the rest of the saw is beautifully designed. Most table saws come with a blade guard that covers the blade and prevents kickback during ripping operations. The way these things were designed in the past let you know they were a joke, and most woodworkers dispensed with them when they realized how inconvenient they were to use. In the case of SawStop, the blade guard is actually well designed, easily removed when necessary and is stored in a simple side rack when not in use. While most blade guards that have come with saws for the last 40 years have been junk and soon discarded. SawStop's is a keeper.

Cut away a small section of the sidewall to reduce diameter
Hooking up the dust collector provided a way to refine my technique for connecting pipes, as shown in the photo above.

First take a very short section of pipe and convert it to an insert as shown in the photos above and below.

Apply duct tape to the inside and then wrap tape to the outside.
By making a cut in the side of the section of pipe, and removing a small section, the diameter can be adjusted so it will fit inside a 4 inch flexible tube, but also fit tight in a short section of conventional pipe and thence in a conventional 4 in. joint.

Finish the connector by using tape. The use of these shop made connectors provides a leak free dust collection system.

Today Click and Clack (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) announced their retirement from Car Talk. The whole of the hands-on DIY world will miss their charming, entertaining and informative program Saturday mornings on NPR.

Make, fix and create...


  1. "As we know, when schools began abandoning wood shops and the role of the hands in learning, educators knew very little about what they were doing." Should read... "Administrators knew very little about what they were doing." And the majority are still absolutely clueless. There is a saying that has some truth to it...Those who can't teach become administrators.

    Looking forward to the lecture in Boston.


  2. Jim Dillon9:21 AM

    Which SawStop model did you get? 220v I hope. I've used both the contractor's saw and the 110v enclosed saw in my teaching at Highland Hardware. Very, very impressed with all the features and the build quality. They hold up under teaching-shop conditions (plus abuse by non-teaching employees building shop fixtures and breaking up pallets, etc.) very well. I just feel the 110v motor is underpowered on anything thicker than an inch.

    Good luck up north!

  3. Dan,
    Thanks for the suggestion. I feel all involved in education are partly to blame, even shop teachers who got so worn out, and allowed themselves to become so demoralized that they failed to speak up for the value of their programs. But you are right that administrators bear much of the blame. They get educated in the head and commence thinking the hands have nothing to do with it.

    We got two saws, one is the 220 cabinet model and the other is 110, also a cabinet saw. The 110 volt saw will mainly be used in box making, the the 220 saw used for ripping thicker stock. I have been taking my time getting them ready, because one small change in the layout of the dust collection system requires a lot of re-thinking and new layout.