One of the things that makes us all ‘urban survivors’ is that we have an interest in self-determination.

Now, to do this at work is hard, which is why so many of our readers are into gig work, contract work, and consulting.  No boss means more fun….except that then come quarterly taxes, insurance shopping, and all that happy horse-dink…

But outside of work, the typical US reader actual does stuff so this morning a romp through some of the new tool offers at Amazon which struck me as pretty interesting…

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Fall is coming, so for $21 try a Greenworks 24012 7 Amp Single Speed Electric 160 MPH Blower.

I have a variable speed Toro and it was $90 bucks, so to find this one for $21 bucks shows you how value engineering is going.

Here’s another super deal: Westcott Titanium Bonded Scissors, Straight-Handle, Pointed Tip, 8-Inch, Gray/Yellow, 2 Pieces Per Pack (13901).

Why is it a deal?  Because it is $6.30 for two pairs.  How many times has the wife threatened you with celibacy over ‘borrowing’ scissors for shop use?  I’ve got this one solved now.  Elaine has three pairs in the kitchen (one for food, two general purpose) and I have ’em all over the shop.  (When I put a tool down, they immediately disappear and need to be replaced.)

Speaking of disappearing tools, sockets must have a secret hide-out somewhere in the woods.  So I’m looking at getting one of those wrenches which is ‘self-adjusting’.  One size fits a wide range of bolt heads.  Under $10 bucks is the BLENDX 7mm to 19mm Ratchet Universal Sockets Metric Wrench Power Drill Adapter Set – Professional Repair Tool.  Not if I use it, it’s not…

Now Let’s Talk Power Tools

I’ve already got a Dremel tool with a bunch of attachments.  But if you don’t have one, think about the WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit with Flex Shaft which is about $21 bucks.

Dremel, by the way, is out with a $25 lightweight cordless unit: Dremel 7300-N/8 MiniMite 4.8-Volt Cordless Two-Speed Rotary Tool.  Seems to get good reviews.

I should have been patient…  These rotary tools are really useful.  About twice a year I will find a problem where nothing else will do.  Example about three weeks back was the studio door.  Deadbolt was not engaging right.  About 2-minutes of rotary tool later, smooth as silk.

Must be something going around with locks and rotary tools this month.  Robin had the same problem on the door to his gazebo.  Weird coinkydink, huh?

No air compressor?

Well, if your main reason to have a compressor it topping off your bike tires, might want to look at the $59 Air Hawk Pro Cordless Portable Air Compressor, Easy-To-Read Digital Pressure Gauge.   Just be aware that the online reviews aren’t overwhelming on this one.  Harbor Freight has monthly specials in many of the home handy-bastards magazines and their pancake compressor (sure to wake the neighbors if you ride out at 6 AM) is often on sale in the $39 price range and will do real work when paired with a flex hose and something like the under $20 WEN 61720 3/4-Inch to 2-Inch 18-Gauge Brad Nailer.

I’m starting to look at my fall office remodel project.  Main reason for doing it is to make some wider counters for equipment and as long as I’ll be doing cabinetry and such, I may put in tile floors.  Lowes, now and then, along with Home Despots, occasionally have tile for under a buck a square foot.

As you remember, I did tile in the guest room/gym here and our SKIL 3540-02 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw ($89 and change) did a great job.  If you are planning to go into business, a bigger unit might make sense, but for the home projects, including a possible kitchen work-over here?  Plenty good enough tool.

A New Table Saw?

My current “Big Tool Decision” is what to do about a table saw.

I was spoiled by the Seattle Public School system back in 1961, or so, when Asa Mercer Junior High didn’t have metal detectors, but did have a huge, big deck cabinet saw in the wood shop.

This will make no sense to Millennials because we don’t let today’s sissified kids touch anything sharper than an Android.  But back in the day?  People like me made it through school on the strength of an A in woodshop to balance off the D in Spanish (which was from staring at Ms. Harvey’s physique…but a story for another day…)

Our current table saw is about five – maybe six – years old.  It was a Craftsman (Sears) but there are many parts about it that are disappointing.

Let me show you what I mean:

The top (lame) yellow arrow indicates that there is a sliding table extension which works OK.  Not real strong (as you’ll experience first-hand running 3/4″ Baltic Birch ply through it.

In the middle by the blade (left) take a yardstick (or a piece of scrap) and run it up to the saw blade.  Then look down the right side of the ruler/yardstick and you’ll find the “run in” from the table edge is only about 8-1/2 inches.  When you get good at woodworking (I consider myself on the path but not there yet)  you will want (or build, which is what this may come down to) either a sliding table OR you look for a saw with 12″ of more table in front of the blade.

Yes, it makes for a heavy table, but a good cabinet saw lets you set up precision cuts.

The bottom highlight is my last bitch about this Sears saw:  It has an aluminum table and there is an odd extrusion that your miter-gauge sits in.  OK, in theory?  Keeps the miter gauge from flipping out on a kick-back.  Keeps lawyers happy.  BUT the trade-off is when you hit www.rockler.com and want a different/better/upgraded miter gauge…it’s not going to fit!.

One more problem with the current saw:  The arbor (the ‘bolt-endy thing that the blade goes on) should be at least an inch and a half long.

This one is an inch – if that.

What this means is that when I am setting up dado cuts, I can’t go more than 1/2 inch – maybe 5/8ths at a time.  You want to do single pass dados because every time you set up a multi-pass dado arrangement, the precision takes a lunch break.

So far I haven’t replaced the saw.  Moving?  Well, if we do that, will I even need a saw?  Yee gads, man, this is a head trip.  But if no one buys this old joint at a friendly-enough price and we live out our days here, why not a first-rate saw?

The old saying “It’s a poor workman who blames his tools” is one of the BS lessons from previous generations that didn’t get down to micro traces on silicon.   1/64th of an inch is a concern to me.  1/32nd becomes a noticeable lack of skill development.  A 16th is embarrassing and an 8th is grounds for a recut of a new piece.  A quarter off?  Time to be counting fingers, about there.

I’m still waiting for the ideal saw to show up.  Would I like a high-dollar Laguna, Powermatic, or Saw-Stop?  Oh, sure.  But unless I were getting a hair up about building a new home from the foundation up, I just can’t see the payback on it.

You know that one, I’m sure.  It’s the Curse of the Tool Slut.

Even so, it’s more pleasant than thinking about all the work ahead this week…

Write when you get rich,

George@ure.net

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