Well, next to the brain, I think the jointer is clearly the most important tool in my shop. My own woodworking improved exponentially when I added this essential tool to my shop. I did not have room for an 8" machine with tables twice the length of this machine, and I have not found that this limitation was a major drawback. In fact, I like to cut parts down to a manageable size before I mill them to final width and size. Rarely have I found that I need to joint an eight-foot board and it is possible on a modest machine like this. It simply requires a steady hand and patience! Good in-feed and out-feed support is nave to have as well.
The Ridgid jointer may not be top-of-the-line, but from my experience it does its simple task very well—make boards flat and square! I am very satisfied with this machine. The plans for the mobile base come from Wood Magazine's Best-ever Workshops (Dec. 2001). I used a similar idea in the spindle sander stand below.
The upsides are:
· Quiet! And it slices the wood, much better on problem grains.
· Blade installation is very simple and does not require any jigs, etc. Each section of blade is indexed with a couple removable pins.
· Blades are disposable and cheap.
· In 2002 it costs $150 for a 6” jointer
· Knives are thin. They cannot be sharpened AND they cannot be nudged over so care must be taken not to nick them. I have found they hold an edge a bit better that the Freud straight knives I had in the machine previously.
The Grizzly GO555 14" bandsaw is one tool that Grizzly got right. This saw is just a pleasure to use and has options found on high-end machines. For the money, you can't go wrong in a 14" bandsaw like this. Upgrading the blade to a Timber Wolf is a must!
I upgraded the fence and although I like the extra height and the way the fence connects to the support (the same way the Delta Unifence does), I found the barrel nuts strip very easily and to cut thin veneers, the guide must be as high as it can go. On the other hand, I really like the low position as shown in et picture above.
Other Bandsaw Upgrades
A couple simple upgrades can make a real difference in your cutting experience. A simple wheel brush helps the tires track the blade and smooth. Likewise, a stone to round over the back of the blade will help reduce stress cracks and make it easier to make cuts with a tight radius curve. A simple blade lubricant makes cutting a wonder as well. Some swear by the commercial products, I simply use Pam on a paper towel and hand spin the blade (unplugged, of course!)
The last upgrade I think is worthy of consideration is a Carter Stabilizer. A parishioner told me about this upgrade, I picked one up at the very next wood show and have found this little wheel is really wonderful. With small 3/16" or 1/4" blade (well tuned) this stabilizer allows you to make amazingly tight curves.
The Sanding Center
The Router Table
Router Table Improvements
The Drill Press
I built the table from some scrap pine and MDF I had around the shop. Both have served me very well!
I purchased this Delta 36-075 miter saw (right pict) years ago and it has preformed OK. I have never liked the way the saw rotates, always been stiff. The fence is also hard to get dead-on square in fact it is a bit bent! Safety note: notice how much of the blade is showing in the current position. This is because I had not completed the required maintenance on the spring (blowing off the dust and lubrication) at the back of the saw and therefore the saw will not rise up to the top position and lower the blade cover all the way. After completing the required maintenance, the saw rises another couple inches up, thereby lowering the blade guard, which completely covers the blade. Bottom line: don't forget to do your maintenance chores!
The saw on the left is my current saw. My first "yellow" purchase. A DeWalt DW703 10" compound miter saw. In addition, I must admit, although I am a Delta fan, I am very impressed with this saw. It is a very capable machine and after the years of struggling with the Delta, this saw is just a dream to use. In fact, I had the fence warp slightly and DeWalt shipped me a new one at no cost. Now that is customer service!