Thursday, January 20th, 2005
3:00 pm - Implements of Destruction - Part 1  
We were talking about tools in Natter, and I got to thinking about how many tools I have in my shop. There are a lot. When I counted up the saws alone I had more than twenty. Anyway, this is the first of what could be several shop inventory posts.

I have lots of saws...

Table saw - Ridgid 10" contractor's saw, bought in 2000, just after I moved into my house. This is the most used saw in the shop. I'd had two before this one. The first was an inexpensive one that I got when I in grad school. It took a lot of hard use before the motor finally died, especially since I let my landlord use it while renovating the house in Slocum. The second was a Craftsman that he bought and left in my care when he and my landlady split up, partially as recompense for killing mine. He eventually took it back not long before I bought my house. The best thing about the Ridgid is that is has one of them snazzy new-fangled rip fences that is terribly easy to set up and get parallel to the blade. That was always a chore with the crappy rip fences that came with the others. Makes me actually eager to use it. The other nice feature is the mobile base that lets me move the thing around easily, a necessity when you don't have a lot of room.

Radial arm saw - Craftsman 10" radial arm saw, bought ten or twelve years ago. The radial arm saw is great for making precision cross cuts, and for doing things like dadoing and rabbeting. It's a more specialized tool than a table saw, but at the time, I had my ex-landlord's table saw, so I got this to complement it. Second coolest tool in the shop (the first being the planer, but that's a different entry).

Miter saw - Craftsman 10", a floor model I picked up in 2001. A miter saw is sort of a poor man's radial arm saw. The nice thing about it is it's portable, so if you're working in the attic, or outside, you can bring it with you. I really haven't done much with mine. Since it was a floor model, it didn't come with a manual, and it turned out it was out of alignment, so the cuts weren't truly 90°. I've since gotten a manual, but I have yet to actually align the thing.

The nice thing about the first three saws is that the same blades fit all three, which means I can do things like set up the table saw for ripping (cutting with a coarse blade along the grain), and the radial arm for cross cutting (cutting with a fine blade across the grain), rather than constantly having to swap blades. Very handy, that.

Band saw - Delta 8" bench-top model, bought eight or ten years ago. A band saw blade is a long loop of flexible metal that runs between two pulleys. It's good for cutting curves, and resawing wood (cutting thinner slabs from thick ones), although the one I have isn't really powerful enough to do the latter. And I have trouble staying near the lines when cutting curves. Someday I'll get a full sized one.

Circular saw - Craftsman 7 1/4", bought a couple years ago. The standard construction worker's power saw. I use mine mostly for cutting plywood panels. I've found it to be far easier to cut plywood by using a circular saw and a long, sturdy straight edge than trying to muscle a 4' x 8' sheet through the table saw.

Jigsaw/saber saw - Another Craftsman (see a trend developing?). These used to be called saber saws, because a jigsaw was actually something else, a bench tool with a very thin blade. Now what used to be called a jigsaw is called a scroll saw, and saber saws are called jigsaws. Got that? I got mine as a Christmas present when I was in grad school. Useful for cutting curves, although as noted above, I suck at cutting curves. Be that as it may, if I could only have one power saw, I would probably pick a jigsaw, just because it can do pretty much any kind of cutting one would need to do. It may not be the best choice, but it will probably get the job done adequately. (My mother built our old kitchen table using only a jigsaw and a screwdriver.)

Chain saw - Craftsman again. (No picture, because everyone knows what a chain saw looks like.) Used for very fast, very rough cutting. Chain saws are not what you'd call finesse tools. Mine is electric rather than gas, which means I'd need long extension cords if I wanted to terrorize my neighborhood.

Hand saws - I have a lot of these, all different shapes, sizes, and purposes, that I've collected over the last thirty years. Some I bought and some are hand-me-downs from the ex-FIL. There are a couple of hacksaws for cutting metal, a keyhole saw for tight places, and a wallboard saw for, well, cutting holes in wallboard. A coping saw is the hand-powered version of a scroll saw, and a jeweler's saw, which is what happens when a hack saw and a coping saw love each other very much. Dovetail saws are used for very precise finish work, as are their smaller brethren, razor saws. For outdoor work, I have two bow saws, and a folding pruning saw (aka, camp saw). To be honest, I haven't used either bow saw since I got the chain saw. The pruning saw is perfectly adequate for anything I would still use the bow saws on around my yard. Finally, there is my trusty, thirty year-old standard hand saw, which I probably haven't used in twenty-five years. First of all, there's the whole not being able to follow the line thing. I never mastered the technique of making straight cuts with a hand saw. The blade flexes and wobbles, and suddenly the cut has wandered a quarter inch to one side or the other from the line. Plus, sawing wood by hand is hard work. Whenever I have a choice between using a hand saw or a power saw, I always go with the power saw.
Current Mood: sawish
Current Music: "The Lumberjack Song" -- Monty Python
( Post a new comment )
arliss: timearliss on January 20th, 2005 - 12:16 pm
My favorites are the bow saw and the coping saw. If you have a handsaw with a backbone they're easier to use, but they don't make a good musical instrument. But I've used the handsaw that came with the non-motorized miterbox. On smaller cuts it works very well. It's no good for rough work, though, as it's fairly fine-toothed.

H would kill for shop space--or at least mug a couple people. He has lots of nice tools, but having to set up "shop" on half a plywood sheet on sawbucks out on the deck puts a daylight time limit on project opportunities. And for all my go-fer, tool-wrangling, coffee-fetching, sandwich-making, other end of the wood-holding efforts, sometimes projects that have to be packed up short of completion never get gotten back to.
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on January 20th, 2005 - 01:24 pm
The miter saw with the backbone is called a back saw. Dovetail saws are their smaller cousins.

Now I'm remembering the episode of the Tracey Ullman Show with the woman who played the musical saw.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
JenPjenlp on January 20th, 2005 - 12:42 pm
You tell a good saw tale. The only saw I've ever used was, well, I thought it was a jigsaw; maybe it was a scroll saw. In any case, I used it to make bookends in shop class in 10th grade. They were very pretty. My sister still uses them. Heh. Where was I? Oh, yeah, so, you'd think a person who doesn't work with tools wouldn't necessarily be interested in them. And yet this entry about saws? Fascinating to me.

Well, I guess the how of making things is interesting, and tools are part of that, so...

Hacksaw, dovetail, bow, and pruning links didn't go to those tools for me, btw. (See? I even clicked on the links. Saw. Who knew?) Now I must go find a picture of a buzz saw. I've been wondering about that off and on since the Natter discussion.
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on January 20th, 2005 - 01:16 pm
A scroll saw is sort of like a sewing machine, except with a saw blade instead of a needle. A jigsaw and a scroll saw used to be the same thing. That's where "jigsaw puzzle" came from. You would cut the pieces of the puzzle out with a jigsaw. Then people started calling saber saws jigsaws and it became mass hysteria.

Stoopid Home Depot with the stoopid expiring links. Fixed now.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on January 20th, 2005 - 01:17 pm
Also, a buzz saw is the same thing as a circular saw.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
shirasshiras on January 21st, 2005 - 08:31 pm
Fun post. Good to check that I mostly remember all the correct names for the various saws. I have: jigsaw, circular saw, standard hand saw, jewelers saw, razor saw, mini-hacksaw, the exact same keyhole saw, pruning saw, backsaw, and my usual favorite, a double sided pull saw. That puppy cuts through a lot of wood surprisingly fast and smooth. Way better than an traditional hand saw, and easier to use when I don't want to deal with pulling out either of the power saws.

Huh. That's more saws than I'da thought.
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on January 22nd, 2005 - 06:54 am
I've been sore tempted to get a double sided saw, but I've never been able to justify on a need basis, just because I have so many power saws that can do the same jobs. I worry it would just hang on the peg board looking pretty for the rest of its life, never being used. Poor little ignored saw.

I've always found that pulling a saw makes it far easier to control than pushing it, especially early in the cut when there's no kerf to help guide the saw.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)