Picking a Miter Saw

We have a new entrant on the new cool tool front. Its a twelve inch sliding miter saw.

I have a serviceable ten inch saw already that has served me well for years. I would never have taken the plunge to spend the kind of money a good sliding miter saw costs, especially a twelve incher, unless I had good reason to.

Finally a project came up that required the use of one – rim that I just couldn’t properly manage with the old trusty saw. The last thing you want to do when you manage to land an upscale trim job is to half step the quality by trying to get by with inadequate tools. Heck, trim of that type is challenge enough even with the right tools.

Shop With Chop SawAnyway, there was no way I was going to jeopardize the job and the possible referrals that might come from it by sticking with the old miter saw.

So I did my due diligence and selected a Bosch saw. And let me tell you, I might never have gotten one if left to my own devices, but boy do I love this saw.

My old saw is, as I said, quite serviceable. But that is quite different from exciting. I’m not sure that I would call the new saw exciting, but it sure is cool. It can do so many things that I thought could only be done by a radial arm saw. I have always wanted to own a radial arm saw, but I was loathe to give up the space in the shop that one takes up. Now I’ll never have to make the choice.

I will also be glad to have a saw available that can do wide cuts of the sort that before now I have had to do with either a circular saw (entirely unsatisfactorily) or with a table saw (which I really hate.

I will not go into all the things that a saw like this can do. Just check it out, and buy one the first time you have an excuse. You will surely not regret it.

Revelation – fence painting with a gun

No news on new tools today. At least I haven’t bought one.Yet.

On the weekend a buddy asked me if I would give him a hand with a little painting project. Now I’ll say up front that painting is not a chore that I generally enjoy. But I am forever hounding my friends to call me when they want help with their projects, so I wasn’t about to say no when one of them finally did.

I get to his house all ready to spend a boring day with a hand full of paint brush or roller, but when I get there he has an electric paint spray gun (http://electricpaintspraygun.com) like these. That turned a boring day of drudgery into an enjoyable day getting to know the ins and outs of a new tool. By now you already know how much I like to play with new tools. Even if they aren’t mine, I get an idea of what they are, how they work and if they are something that I want to add to my collection. Usually they are, and a paint gun is definitely on the list.

fence needs paintThe paint sprayer in question is one of the more expensive ones that has a pickup that can go right into th paint can, and uses a simple gun at the end of a 50 foot hose. A lot of the more inexpensive models are hadheld units that require that you put a quart or so of paint in a cup attached to the gun and then refill it every so often. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal setup for painting something the size of a fence. You would be running back and filling that cup every few minutes.

But with the ability to draw directly from the container, we were able to pull paint from a 5 gallon container. That kept us busy for quite awhile. The ease with which the paint gun allowed us to cover area on those old faded fence boards was a blessing. They had not been sealed for years so they sucked up paint like they were made out of paper towels. So what we did was quickly apply a medium coat in  order to seal the boards. At least that was the idea, and given the results we achieved it was a justified one. As well as getting down that seal coat it let us take turns getting a feel for how the gun operates. Knowing theoretically how you should operate a gun is a bit different from actually running one. I suppose the same could be said of any new thing you are learning, like driving a car or learning to write.

After a while we had the gun set up with the right nozzle and had a feel for exactly how much paint was applied and how fast we had to sweep the gun back and forth to achieve the results we wanted.

After that it was no more learning and was just pure enjoyment of our new mastery of the tool. That afternoon we applied 20 gallons of paint. Imagine how long it  would take to paint that fence if you had to paint the old fashioned way.

Pure enjoyment would certainly not be how I would describe that task.


I just went out and bought myself a tool that I have been coveting for a while. I should really say “tool” since what it is is one of those kits that have a cordless drill and an impact driver in it.

I could have saved myself a few bucks by going with an off-brand Ni-Cad set, but I have rarely been happy with cheap power tools I have bought. So I bit the bullet and bought an 18v lithium set from a name brand company. To be honest I’m not entirely sure that I shouldn’t have stepped up to 20v, but that will have to be a conversation for another day.

impact drill driverAnyway, when I was doing the research as I always do I checked out a bunch of sites like drillimpactcombo.com to get more information about sets like this. That is when I finally got sold on the idea of buying a combo set rather than just a drill.

The drill is a pretty impressive unit. It has a half inch chuck like a really powerful corded tool would have, and three settings – one for drilling, one for driving, and an actual honest-to-god impact setting.

On a side note, when I mention the power of corded drills, I remember the first time I ever used a cordless drill. At the time I thought to myself “this will never have the torque I need to do this job”. Then I used it and it caught the first time. I literally could not believe how much torque it had. The drill actually ripped out of my hand. Lesson learned.

So, the set is cordless, variable speed and has metal chucks which was important to me. The drill has all the power I could ever need. But the true revelation to me was that little impact driver. The speed and power with which it will drive a fastener is amazing. It is just  a little thing that fits easily in your hand. Because it impacts, it doesn’t have the rip the tool from your hand torque of the drill, but will actually drive a fastener that the drill just won’t. “Why have I not bought one of these before?” I thought.

Then came the time that I was working on my truck and ran into a phillips screw that I just could not get. I knew that if I tried for much longer I was just going to strip it and then I would be in for a world of trouble. So I grabbed the new impact just on the thought that it might, possibly work in that situation and lo and behold it spun the screw out so fast I nearly lost it.

Before that it had never occurred to me that I might use the tool on anything but a wood screw. A blind spot on my part. Since then I have tried it on other automotive fasteners, but it really won’t take out stuck bolts like a pneumatic impact might. But for small fasteners the ease of use trumps all.

Speaking of impact, another thing that really impressed me was using a cordless drill to drill a hole in cement. Again its ability to perform this task came as  revelation to me.

I have rarely used a cordless drill since I started using cordless tools, and I am sure I will use them even less now.


Reach out and touch someone

It’s odd, but in this ever more connected world, people are more unconnected than ever.  It’s so easy to have the illusion that you are interacting with people all the time, when in reality you never talk to anyone.

The fact that you know what is going on in someone’s life isn’t the same as knowing them. You probably know more than you want to about the Kardashians, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be having drinks with Kim anytime soon.

What you need to do is talk to your friends on a regular basis.  The  heck with facebook. Give ’em a call. Or better yet, go visit.

Taking a bit of my own advice, I recently dropped by a buddy’s shop to see what he was up to. We grabbed a beer and chatted for a while. Then he showed me his latest project.  I have always admired this guy’s abilities working with wood, and now  I am even more.

He showed me an entertainment center he’d been working on for his family room – “just to give me something to do”, he says. The level of detail on that thing would have made an old world artisan proud.

When I asked him how he did it, he offered a couple of table saw and router tricks I hadn’t thought of. I intend to try them out myself soon.

So what does that mean to you?

Well, for one thing, I had thought I was up to speed on what was going on in his life by keeping track of his social presence and chiming in on a post now and again. Sure I knew what his wife and kids were up to, and I had seen beautiful pictures of his lates foray to the grand canyon. But he hadn’t mentioned a word of what was going on with his other true passion.


If I hadn’t taken the time to sit and chat with him, I might never have known. And unless you know what is really (really) going on with your friends you don’t know them at all.

And if that goes on for long, you really will be alone.

Coming Soon

Special Friend cards is going to take a break while we decide just how we are going to approach the world.  We have always believed in adding value to the world by following our passion.  We find that that passion is changing over time and it recently became obvious to us that this site was no longer really serving that purpose.

We will endeavour to make this re-evaluation happen as rapidly as possible, and hope that you will support us in this venture. As a little hint, we have come to believe in the power of hobbies, and in our case especially woodworking hobbies, as a  major aid in balance of mental health.  We think it’s important to have an outlet that allows us to be creative in a way that brooks no contradiction – a place where we can be what we want to be and do what we want to do, and where other people’s opinions are just that.  No on can tell you what you like.

Remember that.