Making New Brass Look Old: fume the brass hardware in a sealed jar containing 26° to 30° ammonium hydroxide is the tried and true method.  It is however hard to get hazardous material and has become harder to get.  It is usually available at a laboratory and chemical supply company, or commercial printer suppliers.  Use it only in a well ventilated area.  Wear eye protection, rubber gloves and a respirator with cartridges designed specifically for ammonia fumes. 

First remove any lacquer that may be on the hardware by soaking it in lacquer thinner and rinsing with water. Next, suspend the hardware over a small amount of ammonium hydroxide in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Attach string to the underside of the lid with duct tape. After about an hour the brass will turn a beautiful coppery brown color. For a darker color, fume the hardware longer. We tried this process using household ammonia which is approximately one-fifth the strength of ammonium hydroxide and is readily available. The weaker solution turned the brass a greenish yellow color, much different than the full-strength ammonia. We also tried a brass antiquing solution. Immerse the hardware in the antiquing solution (a mild acid) until the desired color is achieved (half an hour in this case). This solution left a shiny, black chrome appearance on the hardware. Not exactly an antique look, to our eyes. For highlights you can burnish the hardware with a little 0000 steel wool after fuming. (American Woodworker, Aug. 99. “Question & Answer” Ed. By Dave Nunkittrick. p.8)


Cordless Drills and Accessories: every type of cordless drill which is corded is or soon will be cordless. Primary on these types are T-Handle, and Pistol Grip Drills, Hammer Drills, Circular Saws, Trim-Saws, Jig-Saws, Saber-Saws, Sawzalls, Flashlights, Tile Cutting Saws, Profile Sanders, soldering Irons, Glue Guns, and more. Removable Battery Sizes Include: 7.2v., 9.6v, 12v., 14.4v., & 18v. Of Ni-Cad Type. Note: some batteries are standardized between brands, and most of one brand will fit any of the tools in that same voltage type, the only difference is between mushroom shaped batteries, (more Common now,) and magazine types which fit into the drill’s handle completely. (Most commonly in 9.6v. And smaller sizes.) Of special note is that smaller batteries will seem to fit in larger voltage drills of the same type and brand, and work in an emergency situations fine, some brands are even made for this option. Battery Pack efficiency: 12 v. =1700 mA-h High Endurance. (Bosch Cordless, 1995 Cat. #45920)



Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries are about to hit the open market also, they boast 30% longer run time than normal Nickel Cadium types and less weight. Cordless Drills: Cordless drills are the fastest selling tool on the market. They are used by everyone from homeowners to tradespeople. Today’s models r ival even corded tools for power, they are versatile and convenient to use with variable speed control, clutches, electronic breaks, and keyless chucks. It also offers the freedom of being cordless anywhere from the shop to the job site. Three major types of drill: conventional – most cordless drills fall into this broad category, but few have precisely the same features. They range in power from the old 9.6v. Old standard to 19.2 volt powerhouses that perform most of the tasks you would expect from a plug-in drill. Beyond that, you’re paying for convenience and ergonomics. In this category fall all “T-Handle” models, “Pistol-Grip” models, and Hammer Drills with either style of grip. The second type of gun is an impact driver.


Impact drivers are used primarily to drive bolts and nuts home on autos. It delivers extremely high torque in short, loud bursts. In woodworking and construction, it is useful for protracted sessions driving long screws and bolts. Most models have a 1/4″ hex chuck; a drill chuck if available at all is an extra cost option. The third major group of cordless drill is the right angle drill: it is good for confined quarters, and is compact but powerful. In many cases it is comparable in power to equal sized corded right angle drills. This tool however is not meant to be the only cordless tool used however, it is slower and has less torque than normal drills, and also do not have the same features as normal cordless drills such as torque settings, and ergonomics for comfort and ease in use. Power: “more power” is the cry that cordless manufacturers have heard and heeded. A unit powered by a 9.6v. Battery is adequate for short term work, but more volts means more torque to drive larger bits and screws plus longer running time between charges. Go for all the power your pocketbook will support, especially if you expect a cordless to do heavy duty or extended work. (Bonk!)

12 volt drills are best for shop work, and 14.4 volt are best for work on site due to their power verses weight issues, cost is not  a factor for most people who buy tools, and 12 volt being the most economic standard for buying in bulk.  Weights are on average, 4# for 9.6v., 4.3# for 12v., 4.5# for 14.4v., and 5.7# for 18 volt drills.  The 18 volt drill thus has allot more weight for its extra run time and slightly more power.  One other thing to consider is how much the drill really gets used and what it does.  If batteries are not easily switched off for fresh ones, such as when on site on a roof, than a lesser run time drills should not be considered. On average, a 18 volt drill will last 4 hours (lunch time), a 14.4 volt drill will last 2 hours (break times and lunch time), and a 12 volt drill will last about an hour.  What they do however is a large factor in buying the drill also.  If you make large holes with spade bits or hole saws, and cannot use a corded drill, than it is necessary to use a larger drill.  A smaller drill with less torque will burn out really fast when abused.  This burning out of drills is also a factor to consider when buying a drill. This is a factor or both cooling vents/fans inside the motor and tolerances within the drill’s parts given good maintenance is not a factor.  The more a drill vents the cooler it can run.  A good balance between really good Bearing s and other moving parts and the ability to run under field conditions is also an important factor.  Like on a gun, the most expensive one with the tightest, most refined tolerances in its parts will not perform well under battlefield conditions.  Nor will a drill under day to day use. A final factor to consider is else that size of battery will power up. 

The more powerful the drill, the more tools it will power, both because that is where the consumer based buying market is going in buying tools, and the more voltage a saw has, the more cuts it can make.  These tools can range from a flashlight to a compound miter saw.  Even though 5.3/8″ is becoming the standard for cordless saws, with 3.3/8″ being the standard for older designs in less powerful 9.6v batteries.  The balance of blade diameter to battery size can overcome torque problems.  A 7.1/2″ saw was once produced with a 24 volt battery.  It also weighed almost twice as much as a corded one of the same size.  By weight it thus was not efficient for ease of use, and thus was not successful on the market.  The 18 to 19.2 volt battery sizes are probably the biggest batteries which will be produced from now on as weight with these is already a factor.  Batteries will instead have to become more efficient and motors more powerful. 

Speed and Torque: The higher a drill’s rated speed, the less torque it will deliver, and vise versa.  (Bonk!)  Most models have two speeds, or two variable speed ranges, with more torque in the lower range.  Variable speed is great for driving screws – you can start the screw slowly and speed up to drive it home.  (A dimmer switch on a drill wears out fastest when used, when it is not necessary to use the drill at a certain lower speed, the drill should always be used at its maximum speed of the torque or speed setting gears.)

Chuck: keyless chucks generally will not apply as much tightening force as keyed chucks, but they’re more convenient.  Consider a keyed chuck if you often use large-diameter drill bits with small shanks.  This also means that you do not need to worry about losing chuck keys with a cordless bit.  (It only means you have to worry about losing your bits if you do not get it tight enough.  Bits should only be put in at low gear for maximum tension on them.  They also might be hand tightened to make sure they get tight enough.

It should also if it is important not to loose the bit while walking around a job-site might be a good idea to pull on the bit to make sure it cannot fall out. This might seem simple but many times especially on older or larger chucks the bit can fall between the jaws and jam out of alignment, or have tightened in a position other than on the flats of the bit which can be knocked loose during transport or driving.  In this case, a keyed chuck might be useful with a quick release bit holder can be more secure if the bit does not have to be changed much or if other than 1/4″ hex bits are not used much.) 

Speed controls, trigger, and forward and reverse switches: all switches need to be accessible easily, but not too easily or they are prone to switch by accident. Of these only the speed switch does not need to be able to be changed by one hand. It can cause problems if the speed is switched during full RPMs, and thus it is best operated by a second hand in-spite of anyone’ s wishes to change speeds fast. Most good drills will switch easily between gears without the drill running with only a few minor exceptions which require a slight boost from the drill at a low speed to change gears. If a drill usually does not need to move to change gears over time needs that extra boost of the drill spinning now to change them, they probably need lubrication, or are out of alignment, and need service. The forward reverse switch on the other hand should easily be used by one hand. In this way mistakes can be corrected or holes can be backed out of easily. This is one of the primary concerns in “ergo-dynamics”. On all drills there should be a neutral setting on the drill between forward and reverse to both protect the motor from a sudden jump in direction, and lock off the trigger during transport. It should not be too easy to accidentally switch between directions. On the other hand if the neutral setting does not completely lock off the motor, the drill can run during storage which is unsafe. If the drill has variable speed, and all should by now, it should have a hair trigger which is locked off by the neutral setting. This trigger can thus be easier to pull since it is no longer just on and off. If it is easier to pull there is more range available in speed of the drill because of the amount of force needed to pull to the maximum is less given the same distance of pull. It is also easier to pull and use a feather trigger at odd holding hand positions than if the trigger is not able to be worked with any finger easily.
Electronic Breaks: release the trigger and the electronic break stops the chuck from spinning. It saves the brushes, and allows the next screw to be drilled faster or bits to be changed faster. It also on some drills usually stops moving close to the position the chuck was as when the trigger was released. These even revolutions of turn under the break makes it reacquire screw heads faster than would otherwise be the case when a drill stops and you have to either spin the chuck or the drill and your wrist to insert the tip into the screw again.

Clutch: the majority of today’s cordless models have adjustable clutches, which means you can select the desired torque for driving screws to a precise depth.  In addition to a “locked” setting for drilling holes and driving larger than average screws, almost all clutches have at least five torque settings.  A surprising number have as many as two dozen settings.

Electronic clutches, which are quiet, simply cut power to the drill when a particular torque is reached. For the most part, the lower clutch settings are not used or useful for anything but plastics as anything below two fifths takes no pressure to activate. No matter how many settings there are, unless you are doing plastics or highly specialized work, they are not used or necessary. Somewhere between ten and fifteen settings are fine on a drill. This is even considering the two fifths are not used. This electronic limit switch might be an interesting feature, however it could have either bad effects on the brushes if there is not also an electronic break, which will of course stop the drill too fast under load before the drill can be pulled off this load. This all sounds good but can be jarring to the drill’s motor instead of making a little noise, and stripping away at a part made to pick up the pressure of a motor without a load. On the other hand, if the drill uses a leaf spring to adjust tension of the clutch, that spring can become weak or out of position under use and thus not allow the drill some of its power. In this case, at least an electronic limit switch should not wear out as fast. (American Woodworker 1999 Buyer’s Guide, “Cordless Drills” p 72-79)

Handle Style and Ergonomics: conventional drills come in two basic handle styles – pistol grip, and T- handle.  A T – handle model is usually well balanced with the handle centered under the drill’s body.  It is more compact than the other model, so it is more maneuverable in tight or awkward spaces.  But the pistol grip designs makes it easier to apply force directly in line with the bit and lean into your work.  The only way you can do this with a T-Handle is to use another hand on the back of the motor.  The T-Handle is the newer style of cordless drill, it has been on the market less time as the Pistol grip, but is by far more popular and common due to its grip for holding the weight of the drill with the hand rather than holding the drill’s motor in the palm of the hand, – an at first awkward way to hold a drill and the way-old timers trained themselves to hold the drill with practice.  It thus is easier to use a T-handle drill for those who do not use a cordless drill every day.  The pistol grip is the traditional means of handling a drill used for driving things such as drywall screws. It is made so the motor fits and is held by the palm of the hand.  And things are driven with one hand simply by using the strength of the fingers or palm of the hand to hold the drill, and the forearm to drive the drill. It is a very accurate drill to use as it lines up its tip and motor with the hand and consequently the shoulder of the user while the other hand is free to hold the screw or a ladder.  It is the easiest drill for a practiced person to use, however for those with smaller hands, or less strength to hold this drill in its proper position, it is awkward and out of balance. Most 18 volt drills are produced in the T-Handle style, because with this step up in voltage, a heavier body style and motor is usually used – most smaller voltage drills are built on the same frame, this 18 volt drill in most cases has too much bulk to fit in the hand.   The T-Handle is a traditional style of home owner type drill in that it is used by supporting the motor by the handle and not in the palm of ones hand. 

A second hand than guides the drill or pushes it as is necessary and for what brute strength of one hand cannot overcome. It is due to the nature of the drill harder to push on the drill because the hand is at right angle to the axis or center of the drill while it is driving. This forces any pressure on it to have a turning force applied to the drill’s alignment to the hole in addition to the downward force which should be perpendicular to the surface. It is thus harder to drive a screw or drill bit straight one handed without it pointing away from the access of the intended drilling angle, or another angle which is over-compensated to. The T-Handle can also blister the notch between the thumb and first index finger when used for long periods of time while working hard. T-handle drills are balanced at the handle, Pistol-Grip handle drill are balanced at the trigger, both are supposed to be balanced for the palm of the hand as the center.
Rubber hand grips add some extra cushioning to the handle for extended holding of the handle. It is a good thing except when it gets ripped, than it becomes the location for a blister. Hard plastic handles are fine however if the drill is not used much. They usually are put on the lesser grades of drills if both options are available from the same brand. (B.Ship.)

A 12 volt drill best fits the needs of most home owners and wood shop personnel because the longer charge and major cordless power are not needed due to the close proximity to electrical sockets to plug in extra batteries or more powerful drills. Upon first inspection, almost all 12 volt drills seem to share many of the same features. Only the use of a dynamometer will show true differences in power and performance on a new tool with a new battery. Once both get older, however these differences in quality quickly become apparent. A battery should be charged and discharged six times before it is tested to ensure the proper average charge. No single drill will perform best in all tests, but some will perform allot better than others. Almost all 12 volt drill have standard features such as two battery packs, t-style handles for balance, electric brakes, keyless chucks, and a self diagnostic charger to help prolong battery life. Ah ratings are also on the most part better on all models than older 12 volt drill battery powers. Torque in low gear should be up in around the 300 inch pounds area, and 80% of the torque needed to burn out the drill. In high gear torque should be in the area of 70 inch pounds. These figures should be for drills with 400 RPM in low gear and about 1200 RPMs in high gear without a load. A drill which is geared for lower or faster speeds will consequently have more or less torque than the same drill with the average speed. This becomes a factor when a drill has a lower speed, given it has the same torque as a normal drill, it means a less powerful motor. Or in the case of many single speed drills, it has the same size motor, but a higher speed developing less torque. 12 volt drills should be powerful enough to run any type of bit up to a 2.1/2″ hole saw.

Torque Requirements of some typical tasks:

  • 2″ long x #6 screw = 10-35 inch pounds
  • 3″ long x #8 screw = 50-75
  • 1/4″ Twist Drill Bit = 30-50
  • 3/8″ Twist Drill Bit = 50-75
  • 5/8″ Twist Drill Bit = 100-130
  • 1/2″ Spade Bit = 75-100
  • 3/4″ Spade Bit = 100-150
  • 1″ Spade Bit = 130-200
  • 1/4″x1.1/2″ Lag Screw w/o Pilot Hole = 150-200
  • 1/4″x1.1/2″ Lag Screw with Pilot Hole = 80-110
  • 5/16″x1.1/2″ Lag Screw w/o Pilot Hole = 175-250
  • 5/16″x1.1/2″ Lag Screw with Pilot Hole = 100-130
  • 1.1/8″ Hole Saw = 100-150
  • 1.3/4″ Hole Saw = 150-250
  • 2.1/2″ Hole Saw = 225-350

Notes on Drill Variations or Types: The faster in wood, a drill turns in high gear, the cleaner it will drill holes given how closely it conforms to recommended drilling speeds.  A drill that cranks along quickly  under load, will help you drive fasteners with greater speed.  This is of course given the load it can drive is matched to the gear it is in.  A three inch screw will go in really fast in high gear, but will burn out most drills because this is more load than the motor can handle, especially repetitiously. Some drills bog down under increased load more than others.  Better drills have electronic feedback circuitry that senses added load and sends more electrical energy to the motor to keep the speed constant.  A RPM loss of 0-25 is good, with an increasing load of up to 50#, a drop of  75 to 100 RPM s seems to be standard or 1/4 its speed, and losing more than 1/4 the drills speed or over 100 RPMs is bad. The higher the Ah rating a battery has the more energy it can store and thus the more work it can do.  2.2 Ah NiMH is better than 2.0 Ni-Cad.  1.3 to 1.5 Ah Nicad batteries are common on low end and older model drills.  1.7 Ah is the standard to most cordless drills designed within the last five years, and 2.0 Ah is common to new drill designs or companies which Specialize in or advertise their batteries as much as their drills.

Chuck Grip: few cordless drills will achieve 240 or more inch pounds of pressure which is the best for gripping strength this is especially important when larger round drill bits are used.  Many chucks are the same style if not brand  thus almost all drills have the same grips with odd brands of chuck having either better or worse gripping power within the 100 to 150# range.  One brand with a ratchet mechanism in it grips really well but can have problems releasing.  For the most part gripping power follows other trends in cordless drill quality those with the most power, the best batteries and other features also have the best quality chucks.

Dropping strength: when dropped, the battery in many cases will eject from the drill to save the frame from damage by this heavier battery where it attaches to a light section of the drill.  This is a good thing.  If the battery does not eject, damage in most cases will be done at least to the battery retaining mechanism if not the frame of the drill itself.  If the drill hits squarely between its tip and its battery however it is not likely the battery will eject and the combined weight of the motor and battery in many cases will cause the frame to crack where the frame is weakest between the forward/reverse switch and trigger.  On many drills a good drop will also eject the trigger switch and possibly even move around components inside the drill such as gears.   No one drill does excellent to dropping abuse, each seems to have a critical place for it to hit which will destroy the drill.  Thick high impact  plastic frames on the whole survive better than cheaper thinner drill frames.  One good way to tell how well a drill will withstand abuse is to push on or even clamp the frame of the drill.  It should not give under pressure, but should be soft enough to scratch without chipping.  Drills that give way on the outside will also give way on the inside letting gears to slip out of position or the motor or trigger to move out of position when dropped or abused.

Electronic Overload Circuits and Thermal Breakers: this feature protects a motor by cutting off power to it before it is overloaded during high-torque applications, or in the other older drill style thermal breakers when the drill gets too warm. In the latter case, the drill will shut off and stay off until it cools down again and when warm, will act erratically between shutting down and running, even when not working hard later. Few drills use either feature because of the erratic operating the drill will have after the first time it shuts off.

Overall either feature will save the motor when abused by overloading or overheating but seemingly the technology is not in place yet to shut the drill down after the trigger is released and the work done and not in the middle of it which can be frustrating enough to remove the mechanism. When the drill gets warm to the touch of your cheek, or bogs down to about half its rpms it is in danger smoking and possibly Burning out the motor. If used well after it is warm it can also get hot enough to melt the wires feeding the motor shorting out the motor and possibly arcing its way thru the motor housing or melting the battery.

Drill Design: Ideal features for drills used under extreme conditions such as rain, warm weather, high rates and volumes of use, and much more abuse are to follow and for the most part also do not exist. First off even though the price will be higher, NiMH batteries should be available. Second ventilation of the motor is a must, and even a cooling fan within the drill would be nice but would also sap the power of the drill some and let more dirt and contaminants into the drill. Drills operating systems and gears come in two different forms, one has the gears and operating mechanism encased in a housing separate from that of the drills frame. With these drills, it is impossible for the owner to service or lube their drill, and the working parts keep the heat into a more confined space. To their benefit however, it is easier to circulate air around these working parts without dirt and contaminants getting into them. These shields will also rust out when wet but prevent the parts inside of them from rusting when the drill gets wet. As long as the lubricants inside compensate for the extra warmth, this orientation will be much better than ones where the drills gears and grease are exposed to contaminants. Drills with their gears not in a frame other than the exterior housing, will for the most part stay cooler and cool off once warm faster. However, they will also get dirtier and thus require more oil changes as it were than ones with their gears encased or they will wear out faster.


Thermal mechanisms do not work as they will prevent the drill from optimal use for hours until they cool down that is why they are no longer used. Torque breakers are also very rare because they are hard to set up to match the actual strength of the drill. If it is set for too high a torque to match a new or well maintained drill with new batteries, it will be set too high for a drill which has an old or weaker motor with old or partially discharged batteries. It thus is impossible to set such breakers to an optimum setting on the drills power and consequentially are set much lower than the actual power of the tool making it less effective. They in many ways can work the same as the clutch on the drill but is internal and not adjustable. Both are good ideas but should be developed to better monitor what the motor is doing and only kick in when the motor bogs down to 50% power or gets to a certain temperature, and only after giving a clutch like warning sound and not actually shutting off the drill until the trigger is released thus the work done. Cooling fans would go a long way towards cooling off the tool. After the thermal breaker is tripped the drill should be able to run at no load pushing a fan to cool itself off rather than shutting off until barley cool enough than shutting off again when it gets warm again. As for overloading protection, it should work like a clutch but be linked only to the motor for activation only when bogged down, but not overly effect the drill when not under this same load. Ratcheting chucks are superior to normal keyless, and to some Degree keyed chucks in clamping down on bits. They have problems releasing however and thus need some improvement however before they can really be useful. Anyone who has lost a driver bit because it loosened up or was not seated right, much less had the bit spin in the chuck will understand the superior nature of a ratcheting chuck which probably only needs a better release mechanism.


Another improvement would be an easy to change chuck between 1/4″ hex drive and keyless chuck for use of the drill both as drill and driver. The number of bit holders commonly available on the market clearly indicates the need for such a chuck which would not require a separate bit holder adding weight to the drill and throwing off the drills balance. Internal levels are also a nice thing for drilling, along with flashlights mounted on them as accessories for some drills these are nice things. If nothing else a flat part to the tool with velcro mounted to it would be nice to enable such levels or flashlights or even magnets for bits and screws to be mounted to the drill as accessories. Rubber handles and ergonomic designs as well as weight control, high impact plastic, and balance are all highly needed and specialized in each brand, but none have all features best of all especially in a T-Handle design which prevents choking up on the drill for more control when the seam of the drill is right where the web of the hand will be. A “Bull Pup” rifle like design with the battery located behind the trigger might also be an interesting balance change to the drill, even with the battery located in line with the motor so that the tendancy for the drill to angle upwards when pushed from only the trigger hand will be a little less because there is less weight on the handle. It could also as a design hang better and easier in a holster due to the weight being on line instead of forcing the drill to hang on an angle. A third gear in addition to the variable speed would be a nice improvement but not very likely due to the added complexity of gear changes, and extra space and weight needed to complete this goal. Another option on a really good drill design would be impact driver mode in addition to hammer drill mode which needs improvements on the actual blows it makes to let such hammer drills cut thru concrete in addition to just brick. Using this “bull pup” design, tools such as saws should be able to mount two batteries for more power or longer use with the same battery used in a drill this would be a vast improvement on the amount of cuts and types of cuts which are able to be made off one charge.


Other tools such as jig saws and sawzalls could also then be made for less than 18v tools. Flashlights with new xeon lamps are nice but should be variable focus and might even be nice to be re-designed into lazar range finder, levels and designators using the drill battery. Chargers within radios are nice but should be 15 minute and also have CD players and or TVs put into the design which can be run off drill batteries. Other features which drills and cordless saws should feature are safety lanyards which attach to the loops almost all drills have so it becomes more rare a drill will come sliding off a roof when the holder loses his grip. A shoulder strap for the saw would also be nice to have along with more blade options and better designed knobs to adjust the saw. Most cordless drills use the same manufacturer for their motors. On these motors, their brushes are inaccessible by anyone. This means depending on the value of the drill, when the brushes are warn, it might be cheaper and faster to get a new drill than send it back to the factory in China for new ones if they will even replace them. On most moderately priced to high end models however the brushes can be accessed by either opening up the drills housing or thru access covers on the outside of the drill. Either method works well as brushes should not have to be changed more than once every couple of years.


Drills should with moderate use be sent into be cleaned and lubed at least once a year with moderate use (at least used a few hours a day, 4 days a week. Or all weekend long.) If used less than moderately it should be serviced at least every second or third year. If it is used every week day, and than some, it should go in for service at least twice a year. Once in for service, other things such as triggers, brushes and contacts should be checked, cleaned and or replaced when needed as part of the service. Always make sure these things were checked as you are probably paying for it and it can prevent later costly breakdowns. Cordless drills have become more and more complex and thus not easy anymore to preform any maintenance to them more than such things as changing a trigger or chuck. Most service centers however will perform such things as removing a chuck for free as long as you put the new one on, because of the hardness of doing so. Many brands also have excellent warrantees covering every part of the drill or battery especially and including if the battery broke due to being dropped. Another really good feature is lifetime service with a maximum price. In this way no matter what is wrong with the drill, it will either be replaced or fixed for up to that maximum charge. These guarantees combined with more power and features and ease of changing brushes make the better drills much more worth buying than ones without such service and support. If you plan to use your drill more than once or twice a month buy a better drill because the lesser ones will have parts in them which will wear out quicker, withstand less abuse, and be more expensive and harder to service when they do need it. This in addition to performance levels that are better. Knowing where a tool was manufactured is not necessarily as easy as looking at its name. In fact it is very rare a company originating from one country also makes their tools in that country for better or worse especially when parts are needed from overseas it can take a long time. (Wood Magazine, “12 Volt Cordless Drills” Dec. 1999 p.72-77)


Chargers are 1 hour , 15 and 12 minute in charging time. Note: Most Batteries no-longer have memory chips in them, so it is not necessary to “run the charge out of a battery” before charging it, unless the battery is going into storage for a few months without being used. Also the faster the charger the better or more potent the charge the battery will receive. Leaving batteries in a charger is also okay for frequent use purposes, in most cases, it will not hurt the battery, and will receive frequent charges to keep it at its maximum potential. There is also a backpack mounted battery on the market for those who never want to change batteries. Chargers are available in car charger and multi-bay types also. Most modern chargers will also charge any voltage of battery under the same brand name and style. Some chargers are marketed to charge any type or brand of Battery this could simplify things greatly in shops with many different brands and styles of batteries in use in that round pegs will hopefully not be put into square holes by novice carpenters any longer, given they are put in – in the right direction. Batteries: Ni-Cad, & A-H Hi-Capacity with Power Display (Supposed to have 25% more capacity) Accessories For Cordless Drills Include: Holsters, Clip on Flashlights, Drill Mounted Levels, Bit holders, Spare Bit or drill bit Holders, Magnets for extra screws, and automatic belt or drum feed screw gun attachments. (B.Ship. +Bosch Cordless, 1995 Cat. #940285)


NiMH Batteries: Ever since the 1950s, nickel cadmium (Ni-Cad) cells have been the battery of choice for portable rechargeable applications. And over the years, Ni-Cad cells of the “sub C” size used in power tools have improved to the point where they can store about 2.0 amp hours (Ah) of energy. But only small, incremental improvements will come in the future. Because of this energy-storage limitation, as well as environmental concerns about cadmium, battery makers developed nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) cells about 10 years ago. These batteries can theoretically hold about 40% more energy than NiCads, according to our sources at Energizer Power Systems, a U.S. based manufacturer of MiMH batteries. Our cordless-drill test included one drill with a MiMH battery pack with a 2.2 Ah capacity, but you will see more NiMH batteries in the future. Several companies have hinted at having 3.0 Ah batteries soon. So why haven’t all manufacturers switched completely to MiMH? In a word, cost. NiMH batteries cost more than Ni-Cads, and manufacturers tell us their research shows that consumers may not be willing to pay significantly more for something as intangible as additional run time. (Almost 50% as much in price) to this end, which would sell better a $45 or $75.00 battery. Of course, with the proliferation of NiMH batteries, prices for them should come down. For example, cellular phones and laptop computers used to be powered by NiCads, but now nearly all of them run on NiMH or lithium ion batteries. (Don’t expect lithium-ion batteries in cordless power tools any time soon; they store lots of energy, but dispense it in doses too small for power tools.) (Wood Magazine, “What’s With These New Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries?” Dec.1999 p.88)


Temperature and Ni-Cad or Ni-MH Batteries: the batteries are themselves not effected by temperature unless it is in the absolute extremes. They may run a bit sluggish on start-up when cold, but under use should warm up and be fine. In warm conditions, operating and discharging does not effect the battery the biggest challenge for either type of battery is in getting it to accept a full charge when it has been subjected to extreme temperature. Batteries charge best between 45 and 85 degrees to accept a full charge. it has been in a temperature other than this let it cool down or warm up first. (Also be ware of “Rifle Sweat” problems when a battery or any really cold tool is brought into the warmth, and also the brittle ness of plastic under these conditions. In addition to extreme physical problems, the extreme temperatures of heat can be multiplied by the heat generated by a charging tool or running/working battery, and the tool and battery can suffer from melt-down easier in warm temperatures if dirty, (vents and cooling mechanism clogged, or over-used). Many of the current generation of chargers have thermostats which will prevent charging until the battery is cool enough. Otherwise if it charges outside the range, it will not accept a full charge. (American How To, May 1999 “Expert Answers”by Hal Handy. p.90)

Power screwdriver Bits: Precision manufactured with 1/4″ hex shanks. These bits are made of shock resistant tool steel for durability and longer life. Use: #1 Phillips bit for screw size no. 6 #2 Phillips bit for screw size no. 8, 10 & Drywall type power driven screws#3 Phillips bit for screw size no. 12


Other bit types socket types and drill heads are available in every type of style and construction from 1″ to 6″ long. Single ended and double ended variants, and notched ends for use on bit holders are also available. Most common in these are Flat Head, Torx, Posidrive, and Square Recess bits which conform in size to Phillips point types. (B&D 1987 Cat. p138)


Power Magnetic Screw Driver Bit Holders: Usually have a 1/4″ hex shank into the drill, and a magnet bottomed 1/4″ hex shank receptacle with a spring action O-ring, quick locking slide ring with ball bearing lock, or sliding sleeve to cover the intended screw. Other variants are available including combination bits which combine the pilot hole, counter-sinking drill and the screw driving tip in one tool. (B.Ship)


Flex Bit Holder: Extends and flexes to drive screws in hard to reach places when used with variable speed drills and power screw-drivers. Has 1/4″ hex shank drive and accepts 1/4″ hex shank bits. (Bosch 1995 Cat. #950303 p12)


Drilling Rules of Thumb: Small holes are drilled in soft materials at high speeds. Large holes and those in hard, tough materials, as well as specialized tasks like countersinking, reaming, stirring, or rolling are undertaken at low speeds.

Shop Layout Tips:

  • (1)Let the table saw hold center stage. If necessary, its out feed tables can be the primary work tables, or for more room, longer out feed can be out a garage door if necessary, but it should have priority above all other tools and work areas due to the space it requires all around it.
  • (2) the jointer and the table saw go together. Both need space to send long boards thru, and work together in forming up boards.
  • (3) Go mobile. Putting machinery on wheels enables you to reconfigure your shop space easily and fast. The work table especially is needed to be mobile.
  • (4) Pay attention to work surface heights. The top surfaces of shop carts, workbenches, router tables, and table saws shouldn’t interfere with each other when your processing material. Keep these heights the same and you can use different work surfaces for in-feed or out-feed support.
  • (5) Consider a knock-down assembly table. This work platform doesn’t take up valuable floor space when it’s not in use because you can stack its parts against a wall. The table’s rigid top is made from plywood and cleats, and can be supported at different heights to suit the work you’re doing. I rely on sawhorses for support when I need a high working height, or I use an interlocking grid of 3/4″ thick plywood. I also have a lower, 12 inch high grid to support a work surface for assembling cabinets. (Do not use this) make stage knock down platform type table which folds up and saw horses for extra tables, in addition to the primary table on casters suggested to measure 4×10.
  • (6) Use pigeon holes for portable power tools and bulk fasteners and hardware. Storage of tools in this manner is a good way to store hand tools to be able to find them quickly, see what is missing and enable others to find them with speed. It also saves allot of drawer or bench space. (7) Large doors are best. No one wants to struggle getting materials into a shop and finished products out. A boat that cannot fit out the door is embarrassing and useless. Garage doors solve allot of problems.
  • (8) Store wood where you cut it. Long boards can be stored in racks near but not above the compound miter saw table. Shorts can be stored underneath the saw’s side extension tables. Likewise the area for sheet storage should never be too far from the table saw. However, both storage areas should be placed convenient to the entrance so on loading the shop an obstacle coarse of tables and projects does not have to be negotiated.
  • (9) Find hidden space. The space between ceiling joists is great for storing long items such as lengths of molding. Exploit under – bench areas, but remember that low shelves tend to collect lots of saw dust; cabinets with doors are better. Make complete use of your walls. Tools, jigs, templates, and hardware bins are all great candidates for wall storage. The less frequently an item is used, the higher it can go on the wall. Rarely used items can live on high shelves or cabinets installed near the ceiling.
  • (10) Don’t forget the sharpening station. The grinder, wet stones, and associated sharpening equipment deserve their own spot, away from the clutter and saw dust of other operations. This makes it easy to restore an edge, even if you’re right in the middle of a job. (American Woodworker 1999 Buyer’s Guide, “Smart Shop Layout” by Tim Tolpin p.15-19)

Large Professional Wood Shop Layout: “If you cannot truck it fuck it.” This is my rule from Marine Artillery days. It also works for all aspects of shop work. First off fork lifts and other mechanical lifting devices are important things to consider in a shop. They must be able to get in and out carrying re-stock, and finished products to the dock or exit. Even if material is carried out on a dolly or cart, you must be able to negotiate it out of the work area and to the paint area or storage or dock. The table saw and wall tables, are the only things which need to be kept in one place as they go out of alignment when moved, and are too heavy to be carted around anyway. The tables or roller stands for the saw however should be readily moveable and flexible for both use in cutting, cleaning and getting at storage. Also do not use the table saw table for construction. It needs to have a smooth glide to it without any obstructions or flaws in its top which will prevent or hang up lumber as it passes by. Its top also needs to be grooved to let things mounted on the saw’s rails to pass over them. This necessitates a table devoted to it. The plainer, if used should be kept off to the right of the table, otherwise side support for panels will be obstructed. The table saw should not be in the center of the shop either, it should be off to the side with some clearance around it as it does not move and things of primary importance the work should be kept in the center. If possible also, the saw should be kept with the right side towards the wall, this will enable it to be put closer to the wall, with the ability to cut full sized sheets preserved. The chop saw and radial arm saw are of next importance in design as they require long lengths of stock support beside them. They should when space is important, be kept on the same wall near the fresh stock, on the same table with professional stops installed between them. This will save on the amount of table space needed by them as both saws can share the same space Above and below these saws should be for cut-stock storage, but not for fresh stock. There is not enough room below, given there are legs on the table, and above there is not enough depth for much stock and it is both dangerous and harder to get at stock stored well above the ground. A saw table which does not have legs or under storage however is a novel idea however, as then commonly used lumber could be forked into and stored where it is primarily used.

This open space if combined with castered racks would be easier to keep clean. Other chop saws, for detail work should be mounted on casters with fold-up stock supports, so they can be wheeled around to where they are needed and be pushed out of the way when otherwise not needed. The unusable back part of the table top for a radial arm saw or chop saw should have some storage for materials which are being cut in bulk, but should not be for the most part used for overstock. This area quickly becomes cluttered with things put there with good or lazy intentions temporarily and is hard to keep organized. It should also not be used for grinders and the like of smaller tools because of the dust near sparks and the fact that they cannot be used while others are cutting. This area however can be used for potentially structural pigeon holes which support the top shelves. Bulk storage in these places is probably the best use of space as this area is not too high and wide. Materials stored in these places can easily be found rather than being below or above the sight or easy to reach limits. The next or most important area is the work area. It needs to be in the center of the shop so it can expand as needed, have close distances to all tools, and be easy to get to or get things out of. Tables used in this area need to be mobile. They should be on casters and able to support entire bunks of plywood. If necessary, the casters can have donuts cut to chalk their wheels, but a table strong enough to hold a stack of plywood should already be heavy enough not to be moved when it is not wanted to be moved

I recommend tables which are larger than 4×8 in size. The top should be made from tempered hardboard that is easy to keep clean, harder than plywood so it does not cut up as easily, and easy to keep flat by sanding or scraping. Much of the stock made is bigger than that, and it is much easier with a larger table. I recommend 4×10 tables with six casters. If possible, the table should also be made an inch and a half wider than that so they can support four foot wide stock easier with out rails falling over the edges while it is being constructed. The longer table also in most cases gives room to set tools down. If each carpenter does not have his own rolling road-box, work carts should be constructed for each carpenter, so there is room to store tools and materials off the saws and work tables. It is also easier to control lost or stray tools in that tools on a cart will come back to the tool room to be put away, but tools laying around anywhere can be missed. It is also easier to move a carpenter from his area when he is mobile rather than spread out everywhere. The tool room is next in importance. It is much easier to lock up the hand tools, keep the dust out of tools, and keep tools from going astray when there is a separate place to store them. At the end of the day, it is much easier to have a separate place for tools, because outsiders do wander thru a shop and can have sticky fingers. It is also easier to keep an eye on that tool room door than a whole shop when outsiders are around, thieves do have the guts to walk into a busy shop from the street, walk around as a visitor or new employee, even help out for a while, than leave with tools not watched. A tool room is the best place to store valuables. It also is a good way of keeping saw dust off tools and other contaminants off tools. It is also easier to see if tools are missing when they at the end of the day are all together. The tool room should have storage bins mounted on the walls for all tools to be safely stored away and accessed easily. It should have drawers and peg hooks for storage for all other tools and parts needed for a shop. It should also be flexible enough to be changed when new tools are added. It should have one person in charged of its cleanliness and organization, instead of by committee.

The metal working area should be kept separate from the shop if possible along with the finishing area. Both need a relatively saw dust free well ventilated and flame proof area and space around them to work with bar stock and a good amount of space to work with scenery. The metal area can be as little as a single wall mounted cutting table, and work table, or an entire area with band saws, chop saws, plasma cutters and the like. The wall table should be strong perhaps the strongest in the shop to manipulate materials on a great vise or pipe vise. It should also be set up much like a radial arm saw table to work with the drill press in drilling stock with a back stop and material length stops so it can be used in drilling lots of materials at set distances. It can also be used with a metal cutting saw to do these support and stop needs. In this case, grinders and wire wheels can be placed behind the back stop of a table, but it is best if such tools are kept to the front of the table close to where they can be used well. Cord should be kept under the top, so material can slide around behind the tools and they do not get burned from hot materials.. The drill press should have a movable plywood or MDF top which slides back and forward, left and right, to align the drill easiest with stock to be drilled. The mobile top should have a back stop of steel angle to keep material from spinning and in place with stops clamped to it. It will also save the drill press table plate from much abuse from drilling. The mobile top should also be easy to lock into place and secure or it will not be used to its best advantage.

The band saw and sanding table can be kept together, but should be mobile. The band saw should also have an extension table for it so it can cut larger stock and circles. The air compressor should be kept away from the general shop area so it stays out of the saw dust, and its noise does not disturb the workers. If possible it should be kept in as much of a sound proof closet as is possible to keep it clean and quiet. Controls for it should be kept in this closet right next to the gauges for this tool, so they can be checked every time the tool is turned on. Power and air to the shop floor when at all possible should be dropped form above rather than extension cords on the floor, or floor outlets which fill up with saw dust or get abused and break too easily. If ceilings are tall, the cords can be attached to a simple fly system to get them out of the way, or on cord winders to control them. Structure above is also useful for rigging up chain hoists, or pulleys. If nothing else, “unistrut” can be useful for attaching things like work lights or anything else easily and fast when needed. It is also better for distributing the load than a point load for supporting scenery. When possible distribution equipment, breaker panels and switches should be placed in convenient places around the shop for easy plug-ins.

Finally, the bosses office should be put close to the work to save time on questions and keeping an eye on the progress. This office should be out of the shop however to be kept clean and store things which need to be kept organized.

Small Workshops: Light and windows are essential for a small workshop, if not for all shops to both see the work and make tight confines seem more manageable.  High Ceilings and large doors are also big advantages, almost as important as space to work in general.  A wet sink near by is also very useful in the structure’s design.  Dust collection and ventilation should be considered before the first tool is moved into the space, where is the paint and assembly areas which should be clean, verses where the main tools will be used and in need of hook-up.  The room should have high tech security and  smoke detection, and high mobility for all non-cabinet based tools.  The chop saw should be mounted on a castered cabinet with fold out extension arms so it is mobile and can be taken out of a smaller storage space when cutting of longer stock is needed.  A crafts area or small parts work area is best near the shop sink and best of all near a large window and much set up like a desk for comfort in use.  Flip out power tools take the storage form of inside cabinets when not in use, and fold out either in front of the counter for use or onto it for use in supporting the work.  In this way counter space is freed up when the tool is not in use, yet the tool on fold out arms is also mechanically assisted to fold out and align when set up for ease and speed in installation.  The router should instead of having its own table or stand, be mounted on the extension arm of the table saw so it can use the table saw’s guide arm and does not need a separate table.  Peg-board is useful for storing tools and jigs, and also has more visual interest than blank walls. (Wood Magazine, Dec. 1999 “Idea Shop” p.57-58)

Analysis of the UPSTAGING Scene Shop a Stage Lighting Company:  The Scene Shop is too small and cluttered with things in it which do not belong.  This makes for an inefficient and cluttered room in which it is hard to keep it clean and organized.  Before any new tools are added to it, it should be re-organized to optimize space, efficiency and storage.  For starters, the entire south wall storage area, and its western wall storage area should be taken out and if not put elsewhere at least made much more efficient.  This should be the main work area for road boxes and other assembly work (the primary use for the shop.)  If possible a wider doorway into this area would also help.  A fold down table, or plywood on horses would be the best for this wall for smaller parts assemblies.  A real work table or better yet one on casters is too hard to store and therefore should not be considered for the shop.

All metal working tools and equipment, to save space in the wood shop and prevent fires, should be moved to the other side of the paint room and set up as a metal working area there.  If possible, the rack with the forklift battery charger should be moved forward in this area to the front of the paint room, which creates a work area for metal working and or welding instead of just pipe storage and parking spaces for forklifts.  This area is also well ventilated and shielded from the rest of the shop which is ideal for welding purposes.  It also has plenty of doorways to feed or load in tubing.  (There are many of us in the shop who are trained in welding, perhaps we should look into welding some.)  This area should also have a proper shop table on casters, and when not in use, it can be used as an axillary scene shop area.  The North and East walls seem to be primarily used for using bench top power tools and storage.  There is however not enough room on this north wall table to both store things and act as a work area.  It is too small to have tools on it and be used efficiently.  Because of this, most of the time the radio arm saw and table saw are used for storage and work tables.  This is the primary reason both are out of alignment, broken or constantly cluttered with stuff.  The corner power tool storage book case shelving does not help the flow of this area either.  The north counter should be extended two to four feet to the west, and run all the way to the wall on the east. It should be connected to the radio arm saw table in a large “L” shaped work area.  “Hoosier Cabinets” were the best designed bakers cabinets ever made for baking purposes in a small confined area.  The North East counter area should be thought of as the shops kitchen are a and be made with quality and design much like the afore mentioned cabinet to optimize space and efficiency in this small parts working area.

The North West corner should be reserved for a smaller storage / work table, and pedestal mounted tools like the band saw, a sanding table, and a portable chop saw. The center of the room of course should be for the table saw, with a good roller stand down range to catch the cutoff. It is too bad that the post is where it is or it would be good to reverse the direction of cut to make it easier to cut panels being brought into the room. A roller stand should be used instead of a catch table so it is less likely to be used as a in-proper work surface, and can be moved out of the way with ease. It should be enforceable by being sent home for anyone caught using the saw table for a work table, and hung as a warning above it. A fold out – rear of saw, roller extension at bare minimum would be the best solution of all to using this table, as most people in the shop are not trained or practiced in catching lumber, it is best if there is no help in this area. The saw should be moved West eighteen more inches to make some more room for catching panels and be in the center of the work area. Hand and corded tools should go in a lock-up bureau type cabinet, to keep them clean organized and more important, easy to find and find out what is missing at the end of the day. It should have heavy duty drawers below for hand tools, and above pigeon holes or specific slots for each tool to be put into (with room to grow in targeted areas.) For flexibility, this cabinet can be castered to be able to move it. If there is a specific drawer for all sockets and wrenches and specific slots or holders for each, it is hard not to be able to find the right place to put a tool away instead of a basket under a table full of assorted sockets. There is also too lax of security in this room for tools if you do not want just anyone in the room than you have to lock up the tools when the room is not under supervision.


I have two observations on the storage area around a radio arm saw, one that lumber cut-offs longer than can be stored lengthwise into and below the saw, are impossible to keep organized or see what is available. More specifically, a storage rack above the saw is a waste of space and asking for lumber to fall over onto the tool operator. This saw table is best used for cutting many 90° cuts at a set length, and not a huge amount more due to the relative inaccuracy of the turning mechanism built into all but the most high end of saws. This leads to observation number two, the table top of this saw can be used frequently for other things such as sorting parts and hardware, and loading in of re-stocking materials and packages before they are used or put away. (Like the counter top near the kitchen door used for groceries after they come in from the market.) Above the saw is best used for fasteners and glue storage, as all of these need some space for bulk storage, and are self contained in their own containers. More specifically if there are some shelves above the saw, they can be used for bulk storage of nails, glue bottles, drywall screws, and pneumatic staples. By chance, these are all parts which frequently need a clean counter top near by to Facilitate the sorting of them, the re-stocking and re-filling of them. There also needs to be a large heavy duty storage space for them, all of this is available above a radio arm saw table. Heavy duty above storage, also means hard points supporting the shelves from below, which means hard points for cable to attach to for locking the saw of at a proper 90° angle with turn-buckles. Directly below the saw, should be a open air saw dust bin, or a vacuum system if available. The are a directly around the arm of the saw should be boxed off without a bottom to ease in dust collection and safety. Behind the back stop of the saw on the main table level is debated storage area, it is nice to have room to store the cut material, but it fast becomes full of cut trash also. It is also a good place for small bench top tools such as a grinder, a small power sanding table, and other mounted power tools which make dust.

The back stop should be made of 2×2 lumber if possible oak, or 1.1/2″ box steel, both of which are damage resistant, relatively true and low in friction when finished. Both will also by chance take to the installation of a tape measure scale for stops and a HTH movable stop system recommended below. As for the surface material of the top, I am not a fan of Masonite, it does not hold up to abuse well especially when it gets wet or humid. Also I like some grip on my table tops so that if I want to quickly free-ball an angle off on the saw, without changing its angle, the non skid surface with good back-stop will safely let me do so. (Note: with the use of a speed square, or like shaped and at least as thick corner blocks, 45° angles can be cut with this saw very accurately without changing the angle of the saw.) The best material I have ever used was old “Borco” drafting table covering. It however will not last a huge amount of time, or take much cutting with a utility knife as I am sure will happen in this shop, so the next best surface I think is white 1/4″ tile backer board, a gypsum product which is somewhat non-skid, but also highly resistant to all heat and cutting damage. Its soft surface will not dull knife blades any more than drywall will, and when it gets too abused, while it is rather dusty, it sands up really smooth easily. This works well especially if it is used with a sealer.


The rest of the counter in this North-East area, should have the same storage as the saw table. Heavy duty cabinets or shelves above, a 30″ at least wide table top, and storage or cabinets below which are not as deep however as the storage under the saw to give leg room for use of sitting at the work table, and keeping the floor space on this wall open. This area should have the primary storage for all hardware, small jigs, and everything else besides blades to be stored in the room. It also should have handy quad boxes on the wall to ease in power tool use in this area. This wall should also be fitted with at least one connection to air power with a regulator, if for nothing else to clean tools in this area. A good under table mounted wood vise should be located somewhere on this side, with towards the west end of the table top, a really heavy duty (at least as good as in leko land,) bench vise. The 1 ton press if not moved to the metals shop, should be also moved to this end, and this entire area should be really beefed up. The drill press should be located at the end of the north counter so it can make use of the table top for support in drilling tubing sticks. A work bench which is high enough for bar stools, is comfortable also to stand at and about the proper height for use with the drill press. The press itself should have a sliding backstop made for it to help in drilling faster and more accurately. The construction of this is simple, a piece of plywood or better (MDF is best) is laminated and drilled for use on the press table. If the slots on the drill press top are parallel it is best. Flat head or carriage bolts are counter-sunk into the plywood in the middle of the slots so when loose, the top can slide up stage to down stage. It is best if to tighten the top to the drill press, if regular nuts are used below with a 9/16″ nut driver tied to the shaft / post of the drill press to adjust them. If the drill presses’ table top has “x” shaped slots, all four holes should still be drilled, but only two bolts used at a time. For a back-stop / clamping post, I use 1.1/2″ leg x 3/16″ to 1/4″ angle steel bolted to the plywood with flat-head screws from blow. Air from this wall is also useful if mounted on or near the drill press to blow away debree. Both the drill press and the radio arm saw can use task lighting by them to make accuracy easier.


The table saw itself should in addition to the roller racks, and a new arm and table assembly, should be mounted on a professional caster unit made for the table, so that if allot of cutting needs to be done with it, or if it is in the way of a big project, it can be moved. Most important however is the need for the saw dust storage directly below the blade to be removed as is the worst fire hazzard in the building. If hot saw dust, or even sparks from hitting a staple or nail in the wood hits this saw dust directly below the blade, it will cause a smolder fire which will not be noticed until at best it is quite under way, if everyone has not gone for the day. Even the factory angle for relieving saw dust from below the blade is too slight to remove the saw dust on most industrial models, a new plate should be added to fit to at least a 30° angle and dumping the saw dust out the back of the saw to be swept up after use. (Note: saw dust storage – un-like in all other tools with the exception of a sanding table is very close to the blade and as such does not have a chance to cool down as it falls.) A router base should be cut into the side table of the table saw so this tool can also be used as a router table when the guide is turned around. All safety blade guards and at least kick back features of this saw need to be at least replaced but removable, if not replaced outright with better more modern safety arms. This is especially necessary in this shop because we have people who might just cut fingers off, and insurance and OSHA would kill us if safety stuff were not installed. It is a pain but not every one is a carpenter. Also the switch to the saw should be replaced. It is not a motor switch, and as such is against code and safety in that it is not made for motor loading. It also does not feature a easy kill feature available on all other saws. This makes it dangerous especially where it is located. It would be best if in addition to a factory switch assembly, a keyed switch, a pad lock – lock out cover, or locked knife breaker switch were used for this tool to keep people from using it without supervision or permission. The arm itself is okay, I personally do not like the “Uni-Fence” as much as the “Biesemeyer” T-Square. It does not get caught in the grooves of the saw, and has less friction than the aluminum Unifence square. It is also better quality and stays square longer.


On the west wall should be put the free standing tools, and the storage for longer lumber above and behind them in a lumber rack. The open spaces between the tools would make getting to the rack easier, and open up this end of the room for elbow room and more tools. Amongst the tools I would consider for the shop are a 12″ DeWalt compound miter box, and a 14″ Delta or Jet sanding table. I would not buy a Compound sliding miter box as we do not usually cut wider lumber than 6″ and if so it could be cut on the arm-saw, and the concept of the thing is a little more scary than a saw which cuts only down. There is little to no chance that the saw can walk over the lumber and hit the operator, and also having a blade that can come out, and than chop down is a little more dangerous to fingers than one that simply comes down. I have used both styles of compound miter box allot over the years and still am not comfortable using the latter. As for a table for this saw, I designed and built one just last year for the City Shop based on the ones used at Chicago Scenic and Scenic View. I can have either the Scenic View or City designs faxed over without a problem. The basic intent of all chop saw tables it for them to be portable with fold down arms to support the material. These scene shop tables are far superior and cheaper to build than a store bought miter box stands. I can also have faxed over the drawings for some really good castered work tables I designed for the city. They were strong enough to support two bunks of plywood piled atop a four wheel unit, and still able to be moved. They were also stable and heavy enough not to move around when working at them. This would be a good table to have in the metals area. Also a good 4×8 or 4×10 heavy duty table or cart would be a nice thing to have around the shop. We used to wheel them all over the shop, or fork them where wanted when really heavy. The last improvements I would make to the shop would be to have all power tools sent in for their at least bi-annual maintenance. While I and others I am sure can and have done such things, it is always better to send power tools in to be done by people who make their living off doing such things.


Check to make sure that the radio arm saw has a 40 tooth radio arm saw blade designed specifically for this tool on it, any other saw blade cuts into the wood at the wrong angle which in addition to too many teeth is why such saws give the users problems. Speaking of teeth, we have no way to cut aluminum here. We need a band saw blade for aluminum with less teeth so it does not melt its way thru the cut. It would be nice to throw out that trash steel band saw cutter and get a better-wet cutting Pneumatic cutter, which will save in blade life and cut faster. It would also be nice to get a bigger more powerful bench grinder with a rough cut wheel and twisted wire wheel for hacking away at steel stock. It would also be nice to get a fine cutting wire wheel grinder for use on corroded plugs and stuff like that. We need more air connections and general purpose receptacles in the shop for more than one person to work in there. We also need for general purpose more hoses, and especially a 100′ air hose to get around the shop and outside with. We also need some dedicated 10/3 and bigger “SO” cable for the shop’s big power tools especially if the chop saw is to be portable, possibly the use of 20 amp Edison or twist plugs to keep this cable in the tool room. Bigger motors need bigger cable to feed it. This was one of the reasons the power washers’ plug suffered from melt down while you were gone, in addition to the fact that the jacket on the cord shrunk out of the strain relief which cut into the wires. Somebody used a 10-5 cable on a 29 amp power washer which is fine except for voltage drop on a 100′ cable. Finally, saw blades as stored in the cabinet they currently are in is a useless operation. They have out-grown their allotted space and nothing can be found in those drawers if one does not already know what is in them. Blades should be either hung on the wall on a removable plaque or stored in drawers custom fit to the blade size so that the stack stays neat. I bought a fine cross cut blade for the table saw for use with the last project I worked on. I promptly stored back in its shipping package to keep it from getting broken by rough handling, but could not find a place to store it. I also could not find any tools to change blades on the saw. Why not have saw blades, the square, and table saw wrenches mounted directly to the saw, or other respective tools similarly mounted so they are easy to find.


I hope these notes are helpful to you in the layout and design of the tool room, when I had to use it last, and ever since I have come here I have found the area not at all user friendly, especially if there was more than just my self in the room trying to get something done. Having that metal working area more than any thing else would solve much of the problems of space in this room, not to mention having another area to work on things like road boxes when more space is needed. I have also included a copy of the last city shop inventory to help you if nothing else have a check list for parts to stock and buy, and see how I did it when I was a carpenter. More important, it can be used to compare the tools currently in stock with what is needed or missing. I also included on disc a copy at least to date of my book (the Backstage Handbook) I am writing. If you have Windows Word Perfect 95, you will see lots of stuff in it, but mostly you will also eventually find the section I am currently bogged down in on power tools. It from the articles and personal experiences I have with them might help you in buying new power tools for the shop so you do not get stuck with a load of crap again like the Wagner Screw Gun. You should by the way replace that gun with a DeWalt or two, and keep that one in reserve for the road or extra hands needing it.

P.S. A professional pipe threader machine would also be a nice thing to have in the shop along with a boat load of couplers so the threads on our pipe do not get as dinged up.  You also cannot ever have enough clamps but have no large ones. Workbench Notes: Height: 33 to 36 inches on average.  Make it the same height as your bench mounted power tools.  (Home Depot 1999 Calender Jan.2&3.) 

Portable Miter Saw Tables: A good Miter Saw Stand is Portable, Sturdy, has side arms large enough to support most wood required of it, and allows miters to the extent the saw will turn. Shop Built- the heart of a shop built miter saw stand is in its carcase. With this, there is support of the saw, support of the arms, and if desired, effective dust collection and storage.  In this way, a well built stand will be far superior to a store bought one when used in shop conditions where taking it in and out of trucks or up and down stairs is not a concern.  The base for all extensive purposes is either a light cart frame supporting the saw or a full fledged storage cabinet with even with dust collective ability where space is concerned.  A cabinet below the saw also adds stability with its weight to the saw so it does not shake or wobble as you cut.  The top shelf should be about 24″x29″ minimum to fit most saws.  Each Brand of saw has its own footprint so standardization after that is not possible, however all saws need holes below and or around them to catch the saw dust that the bag and vacuum system does not.  From these holes, some allowance must be made to collect up the stray particles of dust, even if possible a hood around the back of the saw and a full slide from the hood down to catch the dust and hold it rather than having it collect up.

Since all Power Miter Boxes are different in their needs, each will also need a different amount of space both for their general width and adjustment knob turning radius needs.  For this reason most will need extra side support custom cut and tapered to the width of the saw from the more standard 12 inch width most support tables need to have.  A 30″ table for width at a minimum is wide enough for stability and to fit most any saw on the market.  In this way only blocks will be needed between the saw and the table’s edge.  These blocks are what needs to taper to the size of the saw.

Support arms work best when they are about 12″ wide from the backstop to the front of the support arm.  This width also adds stability to an otherwise one dimensional folding arm used to support the wood for the saw.  All should have a backstop installed on them which is set to the backstop on the saw.  This is needed to true up the board to the miter of the saw, as the backplate on all saws is too small to keep lumber true at the right angle. At a minimum, there should be three feet off to each side of the saw so that at least half of a standard 8′-0″ board can be supported.  This minimum length off to each side is easily achieved due to the height of a common work table at a minimum or an above average 39″ height a saw should sit. All that is needed in the simplest stand is for these arms to be hinged to the cabinet, and for a support arm to support the weight at the end of the wing.  This can be as simple as a board put in place to hold the load, to an elaborate hinged folding arm system which collapses behind the folded wing. In any case, the backstop must be straight and able to at least hold a clamp if not a stop system for rapid cutting lumber.  In the structure and Workings of this arm are the complexities of the saw.  A good arm with plenty of support, will last a long time and keep its shape under allot of abuse.  In larger shops, it is necessary to cut longer lumber, or do many miters on longer than four foot boards.  For this a side arm longer than three feet is needed, and either add on tables to extend the arm is needed or a more complex arm yet, with double folding supports is needed.  For all extensive purposes this qualifies as a folding wall table. Ideas for Construction of the table: keep the arms light. 

They when properly braced do not need to have much more framing than 1×4 at the most and less at the best.  To keep dust off the top which will build up and get in the way, the top should not be solid, instead it should be ladder-like with supports about 4″ on center.  This way materials will not try to fall thru the slots, and will slide across the table without getting caught in the slots.  These ladder rungs at best are rollers, but should be at least 2×2 stock with at least 1/4″ round-overs on all edges.  1x lumber does not work well for the rungs because it will not round over with enough flat wood left over to support the lumber well.  Laminate works almost as well for the table top of the arms due to its flatness and friction free nature requiring only a brush or blow to come clean.  It also has an inherit neatness to its look which is a bonus.   Either top works well.  The backstop in addition to keeping the lumber true to the saw, also helps to keep the arm true.  It needs to be strong and friction free.  An easy support for the arm is an “L” stiff mounted to a larger table.  Steel also works as well as laminate facing mounted to the “L” stiff.  A hard wood 2×2 will stiffen the support arm and accept most commercial stop systems.

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