WT116 – The One with the Flu

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On today’s show, we’re talking about hand saw sharpening, jointer/planer combination machines, milling procedures, and jointer knives.

What’s on the bench?

Matt is super excited about his freshly-sharpened saws from Bob Rozaieski’s sharpening service. Marc is just thankful to be alive after two days of stomach flu madness.

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An amazing piece of over-engineered furniture!
Don’t miss the Desert Woodturning Roundup Feb. 22-24!

Poll of the Week

Did you make any woodworking resolutions?


Chris wants to know if he should tune up his new Lie-Nielsen saw.
Blake wants to know if the jointer/planer combination machines are any good.
Mike wants to know if we let our wood acclimate before milling and if we mill in stages. Marc recommends he check out this video from Rob Bois.
No Name asked for our thoughts on carbide vs high speed steel jointer knives as well as our thoughts on sharpening jointer knives. Marc recommended this video from Fine Woodworking.

17 replies on “WT116 – The One with the Flu”

re: material acclamation vs good practice milling
I watched Rob’s video and have a few comments on that test.

Rob did a great post/video on this vexing subject. Always glad to see thoughtful, in-depth examination of positions put forth by others.

I have a number of observations which may temper the enthusiasm for following good practice being a cure-all, or even close.

First, this material from the same batch, was in his shop longer than his initial work which caused trouble. Unless it was stored off-site, but even then, perhaps some benefit accrued by the passage of time.

Also, he did mention localized differences in removal due to twist. Removing the cupping also removed significant amounts non-uniformly. The outer portion of the board its entire length had significant “extra” material removed on the concave side and much more material removed the entire length on inner portion of the convex side.

Just a point of procedure: once the board is flat and parallel, going between jointer and planer was unnecessary. Flipping the board while making identical changes to blade height on planer would accomplish the same thing, and probably more accurately. As the gauges on the jointer and planer may not be totally accurate (identical).

Bottom line, very happy whenever I see well-behaved material and would like to think our good practices made it happen. But I believe we have to accept that some days, some woods, some conditions beyond our doing, will kiss us some times, and bite us others.

Thanks for the show guys, sorry Shannon was unable to attend due to his legal situation.
; )

Good points Tom. I think we may have presented/supported the even-milling concept without telling the full story. I completely agree with your assessment in that sometimes, the wood is gonna do what it’s gonna do. But since I rarely have the patience to wait for long acclimation or partial milling, I find the even-milling method stacks the cards in my favor. But there are certainly times when, in spite of my best efforts, the wood simply has another plan. In those cases, the only other option is to use the wood in the BBQ. πŸ™‚

re: quality saw set up, necessary?
You mentioned the rake, but also impacting (I am never confident of affecting/effecting usage) the saw’s feel, especially when starting a cut, is the set. The Lie-Nielsen saws have small set, but it is possible that a bit of careful touch up may help. Safer would be to “break in” the saw. Give it some good workouts and it should improve without surgery. This also helps you develop a feel for that saw’s behavior.

I have not used the Lie-Nielsen saws (anyone, please send your rejects so that I may speak/write more authoritatively), but the Lee Valley Veritas saws have this in their instruction booklet.

“As supplied, these saws will have residual sharpening burrs on the teeth. While the burrs will disappear as the saw is broken in, a light stoning before initial use will improve starting cuts. Place the blade on a flat surface, letting the spine overhang the edge. Lightly run a stone (no coarser than 1200x) over each side of the blade, taking no more than two strokes per side for standard saw or one stroke per side for fine-tooth dovetail and crosscut saws.”


So I had to be stuck in jury duty when a hand saw question came up didn’t I? For Chris, the LN saws are ready to go out of the box. Tom’s tip on breaking the saw in is very valid and this will get rid of the “grabbiness” that makes the saw seem less fluid and sometimes more difficult to start. This goes the same for any saw that has been freshly sharpened too. Of course comparing a western backsaw to a western hand saw is a bit tough too because the cutting action (stance, plane of the saw, pitch) is different. Comparing a western saw to a Japanese saw is like apples to oranges. The tooth geometry, steel, hardening, etc is all differeent. With the saw meant to cut on the pull stroke, the geometry has to reflect that. The thin plate like Matt said plays a major role in that too. In other words, it is very difficult to do a side by side when you are dealing with totally different animals.

That other major thing to think about is like Marc said, Lie Nielsen and Veritas file their saws in a more “general” geometry. This is the difference between the high end, premium saw and the “boutique” saw. Guys like Bob Rozaieski, Matt Cianci, and Bad Axe Toolsworks will customize the tooth geometry to include progressive rake, pitch, and fleam. Altering the first few teeth can make the saw start easier but can also effect things like how well it cuts in hardwood or softwood like Matt said. People have been messing with pitch, rake, fleam, and even gullet shape for centuries looking for the perfect cut. The reality is that there is no perfect cut for everything and the reason why guys like Ron Herman (and starting to be me) has many different saws. Each one is tuned specifically for a task.

I wanted to suggest one option regarding jointer blades that I recently installed. I have an older Grizzly 6″ jointer and was moving toward getting the helix/spiral cutters but saw the reference in a recent (90 days) FWW to the Dispoz-A-Blade system. The initial outlay is modest compared to a spiral head cutter and the install was a breeze. The product uses an indexing system to set the blade and no jigs are required. I highly recommend it if you can spring for the $240 which includes 2 sets of knives.

LOL you have so many more years of Kid(‘s) going to school and bring home those lovely bugs πŸ˜›
great show and happy new year to all three of you πŸ™‚

Used tools people!

I know you talked about it during an earlier episode where I called in, but the last two episodes you have once again talked about tool purchases as though the only option is to buy new.

In this episode, you talked about J/P setups and how the current market doesn’t offer much. Here’s where used comes in. INCA made a J/P combo unit that is still incredibly desireable and in use by people with small shops and luthiers in particular. The INCA 550 and 570 were sold by Wade Garrett in the US for $2,500 back in the 80’s and 90’s. Today you can find them for $600 to $850 pretty easily, and most parts are still available. They have 10″ beds, and are incredibly well made.

In the last episode you talked though buying a bandsaw – discussing Jet, Delta and bemoaning the cost of a new PowerMatic. You guys pointed out that people end up going through two purchases – one cheap, and one that actually works.

I have a suggestion – how about getting a used one that works, and is also relatively cheap?

I picked up a nice US made Delta 14″ with all the aftermarket parts you mentioned (new fence, bearing guides, riser block) for $350. Is it as nice as a brand new Powermatic? Maybe not, but it was a smart way to change the “two-step” purchase process.

I’m not sugggesting never buying new; but by buying used, I have been able to figure out what tools I need to upgrade to new and which ones get the job done. When I buy used I have the money to get that more expensive Tablesaw, planer, or laguna bandsaw.

As far as I’m concerned, for any product in any market, used is always a worthy option. But since the used market varies so much, it’s very difficult to have a meaningful brand vs brand or price vs price discussion in that specific context. That’s why we don’t often discuss used tools. We can talk all day about how great a used Powermatic saw would be but if the person can’t find one, then it doesn’t help them very much. So this is why you’ll often hear us comparing brands, features, and prices, based on what is currently available new. Based on that information, if the buyer wants to take the time and effort to scan the used market, that is certainly always a good option. Other than reminding people that the used market exists, I’m not really sure how else we can use it to add more value to the tool discussions.


I think you’ve raised a valid point, but I’m going to take your comment as a challenge and suggest ways to incorporate – I know the show isn’t “crowdsourced” but what the heck.

At the core of your comment, you are raising the “supply” question – we can’t tell him what tool to buy because there’s no guaranteed supply. This is where the internet kinda kicks butt. Unless you need the tool “right now”, you can often find what you want in a matter of days or a couple of weeks on Craigslist. Because most power tools are too heavy to ship, it’s the outlet for table saws, jointers and the like. Even in smaller towns, woodshop tools on craigslist show up pretty regularly – and as was mentioned in a Spoken Wood Podcast article, lots of incredible cast-iron machines are now showing up on the market for pennies on the dollar from older mills and cabinet shops.

So while the “right now” supply is limited, the overall inventory is pretty rich.

Let’s put this on the context of the podcast here. The caller was looking for a J/P because of a small shop, and if I recall had limited budget. Here’s how it goes:

[open scene]

Marc: You know, there aren’t a lot of really good inexpensive J/P on the market today (discussion of one machine doing two jobs shouldn’t cost less than a machine that does only one). But if budget is your concern as well as space, there was a very popular J/P made by INCA that is still in pretty wide use. They originally sold for thousands though now they can be found for the high hundreds…

Matt: The INCA 570 sold in Garrett Wade and cost more than the car I was driving at the time! (chortle)

Shannon : You know, if you have the time and not the money, you may find some good deals in used jointers – shipping costs are high, so people will often sell them cheap. And since many of the better brands haven’t changed much over time, you can start by looking for what you would want new, but with a few miles on the tires. Stick with the Powermatic, just not this year’s Powermatic.

Matt: Yeah, but for many people, buying used can feel a bit “pig in the poke”. How do I know I won’t have to buy a second jointer to make up for the first one?

Marc: Well, I think you have to approach the used tool just like you would setting up the tools in your own workshop. If it’s a Jointer, I’d recommend going back to watch the video I did titled “this jointers jumping”. When you head over to inspect the used machine, bring your straightedge and check to see if the tables are even close to co-planar; look to see if the current owner has the knives set up right…


The reason I am harping on this is not out of some kind of save-the-planet recycling urge, but because I keep running into beginners who buy cheap (like you describe) and then drop out instead of buy new – while we normally say a poor craftsman blames his tools, in the case of beginners, an accurate tool can help make up for the experience lacked. I’d rather get them started right, and upgrade later.

So when doing the 14th podcast on ” I only have $200 and need to buy a bandsaw” maybe take a moment to highlight that what the caller is asking for doesn’t exist new in the box, but it might if they take the time to troll the internet.

Finally, you suggest that people can figure out how to look for used on their own, but I think you underestimate your show’s impact on how we all think. By not even mentioning the word used, the impression stands that new is the only way to go. I’d love it if we can move folks off of box store carpentry tools on the cheap, and get them hooked so that when they really have the motivation and money to buy – they spring for Festool, Powermatic, Lie Nielson, or one of the numerous other brands that take our money with shocking alacrity!


I completely agree with your article, the wood is gonna do what it’s gonna do. But I believe we have to accept that some days, some woods, some conditions beyond our doing. Thanks for your article its really good.

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