A really interesting perspective on elitism, language use, and the real craftsmen who make the objects of our desire, rather than wax lyrical about them, by Chris Schwarz.


Lost Art Press

At my first newspaper job, I hated the 2 p.m. mail call. That was when Reese Fant would separate all the day’s mail into the black cubbyholes for the reporters. More days than not, I received a postcard.

The postcards were from a retired high-school English teacher, and just about every day she had some withering comment to make about my grammar, word choice, style (or lack of it).

I hated those postcards at first.

I think you know where this story is going, but I think you’re wrong. The natural story arc is for me to recognize the importance of word precision and embrace the subtleties and nuances of the English language and become an evangelist for its proper use.

Truth is, I hated those postcards at first, and within a couple years I came to absolutely loathe them. In fact, I actively rejected my fine Northwestern University-honed journalism…

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The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Many years from now, many will look back at this time with a real sense of regret, as they struggle to fine tune the height of their table-mounted router, be that an aging Triton, or some other brand.

A simple phenolic or aluminium plate supporting the router where it could have been a still -gleaming gold and red anodised plate with a chain-driven 4 guide rod height adjustable Woodpecker Router lift.

The units are not a cheap router mounting plate, and after doing a search on Google, you see many have attempted to replicate their function with varying degrees of success, but it would be rare for any MDF-based jig to replicate the shear accuracy of the Unilift.  The part that really peaks my interest is the chain that runs around the circumference, ensuring the router is raised and lowered from to diagonally opposite points resulting in a very smooth action without a chance for binding or slippage.

Orders can still be placed for the very last production run of these lifts (the US do not tend to use plunge routers, so previously decided to stop production, but have been encouraged to make one final run for anyone wanting one compatible with plunge routers).  Once this run is completed (and it will only proceed if there are sufficient orders received), there will be no more, and the long dark tea-time of the soul for wanabee owners will commence. (It is a Douglas Adams reference, who also created “Last Chance to See”, a TV series on endangered animals).

They are $655 inc GST each, so it is a serious investment for the one main shop machine that is generally ignored by shop machine companies by and large.

I certainly have one, and use it, (and the through-table height winding) every time I use the router table.  Yes, I have Triton routers, but as they age (mine are over 10 years old now) I am finding a tendency for slippage in the height, wear in the internal height adjustment gearing.  It isn’t a lot, but enough to affect the accuracy on some jobs, and I much prefer this robust solution.

I have taken my table a fair few steps further, creating a cast iron top for the table (made from tablesaw wings), but you don’t have to go to that extreme to enjoy the control the Router Lift provides.

Orders for the Woodpecker Router Lift can still be made from Professional Woodworkers Supplies through the link here, (please note, the $655 now $100 price is only the deposit!), and absolutely must be done by the end of the month (31 July).

For what it is worth, I have never seen one for sale second hand, despite the 100s that have been sold in the years they have been available.  Guess that says something eh!

A sight for saw eyes: Bandsaw vs Pickup Truck

After my article on bandsaws tonight, Greg mentioned www.hemsaw.com, and a stunt they pulled with one of their bandsaws.

I had a quick check on YouTube and found the video:

I skipped some of the 9 min video to see the end, but check out the bandsaw!! The size of the wheels, speed of rotation etc. Awesome!

Cheers Greg- definitely worth viewing 🙂

Best Parallel Clamp

I received an email tonight asking about parallel clamps, and thought my response may be of benefit to the wider community, so have posted it here.

The question was:
Hi Stu. Mate I was wondering what would u say is the best parallel clamps?
Jet, Bessey, Groz. And include best and value$$

My response:

The “best” without question are Frontline, with 4 tonne of clamping force, U section structural grade aluminium channel beams, thrust bearings, and a unique ability when making panels of applying pressure to push the panels flat, before pushing the boards together. Invented, and made in Australia. They are expensive compared to other clamps, and not designed to be used on something like a glueup of furniture for example.

I wrote an article in the Australian Wood Review a couple of years ago on exactly this topic, can’t remember my findings exactly, but both Jet and Bessey rated well, and would be my preference for a set of parallel clamps. Jet seemed particularly good value for money at the time, and a nice clamp, but it seems the vast majority regard Bessey as the preeminent brand, and any well stocked workshop inevitably has a large collection of Bessey clamps to hand. My clamp range is sadly lacking now I am thinkng about it. I do have a pair of Jet (and three 900mm Frontline!) and when I do get to stock up, I will only be looking at Jet or Bessey for value for money, quality and versatility. None of the other brands will get a look in.

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