The compressor died

It was a sad day for us here at the shop. The compressor died. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it was rolling along famously when all of the sudden it started to sputter. Then it slowed down. Then it just stopped.

old compressorYou know what it reminded me of? The one time that I decided to blow up a car engine. You hear about people blowing up motors, but it’s usually when they are racing or something – pushing the motor faster and harder than they ought to and suddenly pieces of rod or piston are trying to work their way out of the block.

But my motor was different. We started the car, put a brick on the accelerator and then went far far away. The damn thing must have run for 5 minutes before it sputtered and slowed down, and another three or four running like it was struggling against a heavy load before it died.

The poor compressor sounded like that, but only for a couple of minutes.

So we were left with a decision. What type of compressor to buy. We had the wherewithal to get one of the big upright compressors like a proper shop should have. And, truth be told, we have always kind of coveted one. But was that really the best choice for our current operation.

Probably not. We don’t plan on doing any painting in the near future, and we don’t run a DA sander or anything like that. Mostly what we do is fill up car tires and run our air nailers and staplers. And those things don’t take the kind of air that buying a thousand dollar compressor would be necessary for.

So we decided not to decide (kind of). In today’s world, it is possible to buy the kind of compressor that would do what we needed to do for about a hundred dollars. You can buy a perfectly acceptable Porter Cable 6 gallon air compressor  for about that amount, depending on where you live, I suppose.

Not only will a little unit like this run a small air nailer or two if you don’t push them too hard, it is also really, really light. That means that if you have a use for a compressor somewhere away from the shop, you can just grab it and go. That will make us incredibly popular with friends and family. Maybe more than we would like…

And Mondo Wood Planers

Here we are. Back again. Did I tell you not to expect us to be predictable? I should have. We pride ourselves in being a little different that the run of the mill human beings you see around you every day.

There is at least one way in which we are not different though. And we are ok with that. We have an addiction to buying stuff that helps us get on with our hobbies.

We spend a small fortune on paintball stuff ( I know – aren’t we a little old for that stuff?), we like to buy shiny stuff for our truck, and we have a serious hole in our budget caused by wanting to own anything and everything that has to do with making beauty from wood.

This week it’s all about the Dewalt wood thickness planer we bought. It has got to be the coolest tool in our shop right now. Of course, we think that about every new tool we buy, but this baby is going to pair up with our jointer to give us all the capabilities of making custom furniture that we have been pining for forever.

mixed wood slabWe already have a design for a cool new breakfront we are planning to build. It has a cherry top and a walnut front with maple drawer fronts. It will make a serious statement that will go with absolutely none of the other decor in our place, and we just don’t give a damn. Nobody is going to notice the other stuff when they get their beady little eyes on that baby.

And that’s just the start. We have a plan that involves turning our whole bedroom into a display of different exotic woods. It will be truly awesome when it gets done. Maybe we’ll post pictures. The only real problem is that after we take on second jobs to pay for all the fancy boards, we’re not sure how we are going to find the time and energy to get out  to the shop.

Never mind. We have only been able to play with the planer just a little bit so far, and so far everything about it has met our expectations. It is one solid little unit. We ran a couple of oak boards through it and were extremely happy with how well they turned out.

They are smoooooth and the depth adjustment on the unit was easy, solid and precise. Love it, love it.

Just for fun we ran an oak board and a maple scrap we had lying around through the planer at nine sixteenths and glued them up. It is a really cool look, and if the boards weren’t different colors you would have a really hard time telling that they weren’t just a single slab. You can see I have a thing for mixing wood species. I just think it’s so cool. I mean, we do.

The next thing is to build a big router table. And a router. And some bits. and a….

You get the idea. Addictions can only be sated, never satisfied. Amazon, here we come

Stuff like itty bitty routers

So it took us a while to get back to you. So what. We didn’t make any promises. And we specifically didn’t make any promises because we knew this might happen.

Anyway, here goes. We want our first post here to be about one of our absolutely favoritest little tools. It’s the palm router, otherwise known as the laminate trimmer since that’s what its genesis was.

palm-routerYou might think that a little tool like the palm router would be at a disadvantage to its bigger rivals, but the truth is that unless you are looking for a beast to mount in a big table to do the work of a wannabe shaper, for most tasks the compact router is not only up to the task, in many cases it is superior.

For instance if you are ever out  in the field trying to hand on to a beast of a router while you put an ogee edge on a railing, or try to rout a piece of trim that is already in place, you know how difficult that can be. Difficult and dangerous.

The fact is that in any situation like that the palm router is infinitely more suited to the task at hand. You can easily handle the tool with one hand (thus the palm part of the name) and if you have a quality tool – which is still in the hundred dollar range – you will have many of the features of the larger tool. The Bosch that I use has variable speed and soft start, just like the big old three and a quarter horse Fein that I use in the router table in the garage.

Don’t get me wrong, that Fein is a fine tool (no pun intended) and I still get a thrill out of creating custom molding profiles in the router table I built. But the fact is that it is a particularly unwieldy tool to push around by had.

The Bosch on the other hand is a great tool that will do anything I ask of it and I can push it around all day without getting fatigued. In fact the only real downside to owning it is the fact that I have to have a second set of bits. Since I am using these bits in the field, I don’t buy the good ones, so it isn’t that big a deal after all.

If you don’t have a router yet, I’d suggest looking at a compact router like the Bosch as your primary router, especially if you don’t own a table. If you already have a full fledged router, you should think about getting hold of a smaller one anyway, I would almost guarantee that you won’t regret it. I certainly never have.