Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Bad Day in the Shop

Woodworking is fun and most days spent in the shop are rewarding and, usually, successful. This wasn't one of them. It began when I set about removing the dado set from my table saw. After neatly packing it away in its case, I got down several saw blades from their peg on the wall to select the one I wanted to install next. As I moved around the table saw, my loose shirt tail caught the teeth of one of the saw blades and dragged it off onto the floor with a resounding clang. Upon inspection, I saw that one of the teeth had been damaged and there was nothing to do but consign it to the waste can. It was a Forrest Woodworker II blade, my best and most expensive one.

I chalked that one up to experience. Then I moved on to cutting the fences for a miter jig I'm building. The next step called for cutting through the aluminum T-track I'd installed in the maple fences. My table saw, a SawStop, is equipped with a safety system designed to stop the blade if it touches anything conductive, like a finger--its intended purpose--or soft metal, like aluminum. There's a bypass procedure, however, that allows the saw to cut aluminum without triggering the safety system. So, armed with what I thought was the correct information about using the bypass system, I proceeded to cut through the first piece of fence. No sooner than it had touched the first bit of aluminum than I heard a pop and the blade disappeared below the tabletop. After opening the table, I saw the results of my misguided handiwork--the safety device was firmly attached to the now-ruined saw blade. Scratch another blade and chalk it up to . . . experience. The good news is, the safety system works.
Now wiser about the bypass procedure, I installed my remaining saw blade and a replacement safety cartridge I'd had the foresight to purchase. Then I cut the aluminum-studded fences with no trouble. I learned a lot today. But it was a costly set of lessons.

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