Thursday, November 23, 2017

Makes Cutting Carpet Pad a Breeze

Rockwell RW8943 Sonicrafter Sonishear Scissor Attachment


A couple of years ago my wife gave me a Rockwell Sonicrafter as a Christmas present. The model 5140 came with a handful of attachments, some of which I’ve already used in projects. In particular, the little cutoff saws have proven very useful for working in tight places.

Not long ago, I had an occasion to use another attachment, the Sonishear Scissor Attachment (model RW8943). All the rugs and runners in the house were slipping hazards on our hardwood and tile floors, so that same wife picked up a big sheet of Mohawk’s rug pad. The problem, of course was that the pad was about 8 x 10 feet, but the rugs were… well, let’s just say “smaller.” The upshot? We needed to make four cuts in the thick mat, a total of about 26 feet of slicing. The rubber-backed fiber padding was far too thick (about ¼ inch) to cut with regular scissors and while my attempt to cut it with tin snips was successful, I figured it would take a couple of hours (and some very sore hands) to finish all that cutting.

Light bulb time: didn’t my Sonicrafter come with a scissors attachment? Indeed it did! So we drew lines on the mat with a Sharpie® and attacked it with those Sonishears. Time needed to make an 8-foot cut? Perhaps two minutes – in other words, slicker ’n snake snot.
Unlike most of the attachments for the Sonicrafter (according to Rockwell, this fits only the 5139 and 5140 models, by the way), the Sonishear fits over the entire end of the tool. You have to take the screw-in mount off completely, socket the hex-shaped opening of the attachment onto your Sonicrafter, then reinstall the tool. One half of the shears is fixed, while the tool works the other half back and forth in a scissors action.

     Rockwell says it’ll cut through tin (i.e., flashing), hardware cloth, wire, plastic, paper, cardboard, etc. It’s a lot faster and less “fussy” than using a utility knife on carpet and padding. The only thing that slowed us down was that the fibers kept collecting in the jaws, which sort of jammed the action. I’ve also tried it on paper and those damned plastic clamshells with excellent results. One thing I do wonder about is whether it can be sharpened…

For just a few bucks, my Sonishears attachment made short work of what would have been a ve-e-e-e-e-ry tedious task.
copyright © 2017 scmrak

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Darned Near Perfect Miter Saw Stand

DeWalt DWX723 Heavy-Duty Miter Saw Stand


For years, I had my beat-up old Delta chop saw bolted to a piece of plywood, which I would then clamp to a couple of 2-by-4s set on a pair of sawhorses. Besides tying up my sawhorses when I was using it, this arrangement provided crappy support for anything more than a couple of feet long. That’s probably why some of my cuts are just a little beveled…

That was before I received a DeWalt DWX723 Heavy-Duty Miter Saw Stand, though. Once I’d set up the saw, this stand proved to be pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread! Here’s what I mean:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Geological Creed: "My Rock Hammer is My Friend"

Estwing E30 Pointed-Tip Rock Pick


We tend to associate certain tools with familiar professions.  For medical professionals, it's a stethoscope; for lawyers it's a briefcase. Ever seen a coach without a stopwatch and clipboard, or an engineer without a pocket protector? Well, I'm a geologist: I carry a rock hammer.

Estwing E30 Pointed-Tip Rock Pick with leather handle
The hammer that lives at my house is a favorite of my fellow geologists. It’s the 22-ounce Estwing pointed-tip rock pick, clad in t classic leather handle (they call it the E30). This is my second with this design. My first, I bought before Estwing sold a hammer with a rubber handle. It’s probably still at the base of a limestone cliff in southeastern Arizona. If it weren’t I'd probably still have that first hammer almost fifty years after I paid about $12 for it. They're that dependable...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

You, too, can be a Happy Clamper with 3/4-Inch Pony Pipe Clamps

Pony Tools ¾-Inch Pipe Clamps #50


Pony Pipe Clamp
Any good woodshop has what may appear to be excessive wall space lined with clamps of all sizes and shapes. Many look at first glance to be common black pipe with bulky orange fittings on the end, and that’s exactly what they are: black pipes with orange cranks and tabs on the ends. They’re a woodworking standard, gas pipe fitted with ¾-inch Pony Pipe Clamps, and most woodworkers have several pairs.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

It’s Always the 4th of July When You Own a Palm Nailer

Porter-Cable Palm Nailer PN650


Everyone has his or her weakness, be it shoes, books, music, or whatever. One of mine – I have several, unfortunately – is power tools. Fortunately, using tools for projects gives me the best excuse to buy new ones. Can people say that about their shoe habits? Happily, my wife buys them for me as gifts – perhaps because of the carpenter genes she got from her Dad. One such gift was a device that lands somewhere in the middle between "why didn't I think of that?" and "why would anyone want that?" It's a Porter-Cable PN650 Palm Nailer. Not familiar? Think on this:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Accentuate the Natural Beauty of the Wood

Formby's Low Gloss Tung Oil Finish


The project I'd (finally) completed was small, and I'd made an unusual choice of woods: half clean, yellow-blond poplar and the other half handsome, chocolaty walnut. The choice of woods – in particular the colors --  was the point of the piece, so when it came time for finishing I wanted something that would accentuate the wood's texture without overpowering its natural colors. My Dad liked tung oil for subtle finishes, so I followed his lead by choosing some Formby's Traditional Tung Oil Finish. Although Formby's is now a member of the MinWax family, Homer's bespectacled face still decorates the label and, according to MinWax, the formula is unchanged.

The low-gloss formula I used is 70% aliphatic hydrocarbons (i.e., mineral spirits), and the rest is a proprietary mixture of oils and resins of tung oil, pressed from the nuts of a tree native to east Asia. Formby's Tung Oil is intended for use as a hand-rubbed finish, applied with lint-free cloth in a circular motion, much like waxing a car. After the finish dries -- some twelve hours, unless the humidity is high -- you apply another coat. I prefer to soften the grain with a light application of steel wool between coats. Repeat until the finish is satisfactory.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Skil's entry-level wet tile saw gets the job done for DIYers

Skil 3540-2 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw


I once laid ceramic tile in a bathroom using only the “score and snap” technique to cut my tiles… never again! It’s something you only have to experience once, if you ask me. So when I took on a project remodeling the powder room, a project that entailed ripping up the existing sheet vinyl (thank you, Rockwell Sonicrafter!) and laying 8” x 8” tiles, I sprung for a wet tile saw. Amazon had bunches, most of which were out of reach – so I went for the least expensive model they had with a name I recognized.  That mean I chose a SKIL 3540-02 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw. Being a recognizable name, though, doesn’t mean the saw didn’t come from China…