Why I Bought a SawStop

Posted: May 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

In this post I want to go over some of the reasons I bought a SawStop table Saw.  I ended up buying the SawStop Jobsite Saw  It has been a great saw.  I’m convinced it was the right saw for me.  Whether it is the right saw for you depends on you and your needs.  I just want to go over some of the reasons I bought this saw.  I realize this decision is almost religious or political in some peoples mind.  If you don’t pick the saw they chose, you are an idiot.  I just don’t feel that way.  Whatever meets your needs, is right for you.

I was using older Craftsman Contractor Table Saw.

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I bought it about 18 years ago when we moved in our first house.  I was building a headboard and footboard and needed something to cut the big pieces better than a circular saw (because I could never make a straight line).

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The things I disliked most about that Craftsman saw were the following:

  • It had non-standard miter slots.  I could never just run to Rockler and get any sleds or anything that would fit the saw.
  • It never seemed to cut true.  I could get everything squared up and before long it was back to cutting weird again.

The non-true cut was the final straw.  I was making a test piece.  A stave Snare Drum.  While the test did work out.  I had so many issues getting the staves to come out right, I just kinda gave up.

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So I had made the decision that I needed a new saw.  There were a lot of good options:

So I had to come up with the things that were really important to me.

First I knew I needed a portable saw.  While I love the cabinet saws with the iron table, it just wasn’t practical for me.  For one thing, my shop is pretty much my garage.  I have half full of all my stuff.   The other half is so the wife can put the Jeep Wrangler in there when it is bad weather.  So I have to compact all my stuff as much as I can.

Here’s a picture of my garage/shop:

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I also need the ability to take the saw with me.  I volunteer for a few groups.  First my wife was Kid’s Pastor.  So I built a lot of games for VBS and stuff.  It was much easier being able to take the tools with me.

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I also work with the Football boosters group at my son’s school.  We build the football floats they use in the big city-wide parade.  We typically end up at someone’s house doing all the construction.  Again being able to take the saw with me is a big advantage.

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I also help out with my daughter’s marching band.  We help build the props they use during the halftime show.  These build days are typically at the school, so again having a portable saw is awesome.

We made the PVC boxes in this show along with the wood bases (with casters) they sat on.  We also built the stage on the left 35.

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In this show we built the beds (again on casters).  We also made the sideline cover frames.

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And since my dad passed away, we moved my mom in with us.  She kept their house and is renting it out.  It is in another state from where we live.  So when it is time to do work on the rent-house, I’ll need to pack everything up in the truck and head over there for a few days.  Couldn’t easily move a cabinet saw.

The next biggest question is did I want to pay the extra money for a saw that has flesh-detecting technology.  At the time I bought my saw, there was SawStop and Bosch that made flesh-detecting saws.  Bosch was making their REAXX saw.  It had a similar design to the SawStop in that it removed the blade away from the top of the saw.  The difference was that the Bosch didn’t stop the blade, it only dropped it below the saw top.  Thus it didn’t cause the blade to be damaged.  I won’t get into the details on why, but they are no longer making that saw.

So back to the question for me.  Do I need flesh-detecting technology.  Here are the reasons I chose to go with it:

  • My dad lost one of his fingers while working at the Paper Mill.  It wasn’t saw related, but I saw the effect of that finger loss.  He was a talented guitar player, but after the finger loss, he never played again.
  • My mom’s dad (I called him Pappa Floyd) lost his finger using a large saw cutting down a tree.   I actually have this saw in my garage and look at it often to remind me to be careful.
  • I use a computer keyboard for a living.  I also play drums, so the damage a finger loss could do to my life might be difficult to take.

Here’s a picture of me holding the saw that cut off my grandpa’s finger:

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For the above reasons, I had made the decision to go ahead and pay the extra money for flesh detecting technology.

Like I mentioned at the time, there was a choice between the SawStop Jobsite Saw and the Bosch REAXX saw.  The REAXX was actually a little more than the SawStop.  But the REAXX would be cheaper to replace after an activation.  To be honest, cost doesn’t matter after a near-miss.  I would just be happy to have all my fingers.  But after a false activation (like cutting wood that is too wet or something), then the cost might matter since I would need to replace the blade.

To be honest, I was worried that if I bought the REAXX saw, pending lawsuits might make it hard to get replacement cartridges.  I also work in technology, so I know how unreliable newer releases and products can be.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk my fingers on a new product.  I have a great deal of confidence in the SawStop technology.  It has been around for years.  If it wasn’t reliable, they would have been sued numerous times.

I also heard a rumor (may or may not be true) that you shouldn’t have a phone around the REAXX saw.  This concerned me.  I always have my phone in my pocket when in the garage.  I also wear my Apple Watch the entire time.  I like for my kids and wife to be able to get in touch with me in case of emergency.

Now understand, I still try to be as careful as possible.  The only tool I have with flesh detecting technology is the table saw.  I still have a miter saw, a router, and numerous other dangerous tools.  But even my grandpa cut his finger off with a non-powered hand saw.  So being careful is always job one.  But I know myself and I seem to do stupid things sometimes.

Here’s a picture of the SawStop sitting next to my Miter Saw.  Note: since this picture was taken, I’ve also replaced the miter saw stand with a portable one.

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Feel free to leave any comments about your choice for a Table Saw.  I would love to hear if you got a SawStop and if you have the same satisfaction I have.

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When I was a kid I watched the Jetson’s.  They promised the future would have flying cars and robot vacuums doing your work.

Well we don’t yet have flying cars (although Uber is trying change that), but we do have robot vacuums.

We didn’t get a Roomba.  We got a Neato.  They are known for doing a really good job with dog hair.  We’ve got two dogs and tons of dog hair.  One little grouch and one happy big dog.

 

We got the Neato Botvac D5 Connected Navigating Robot Vacuum, Pet & Allergy, Works with Alexa

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This vacuum is awesome.  We have it set to run every day at 1:30pm.  That way every day when we get home the floor downstairs is completely clean.  We have fake wood and a few rugs.  This thing keeps them looking good.

Every day after it is done, I get a notification on my phone saying she (we call her Rosie) is done.  And even better the sends me a map of where all she cleaned.

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It takes a little over an hour.  When finished, the batter still has about 50% left so it could handle a much larger space.  But even if it couldn’t it would clean until the battery got low, recharge itself on the base, and continue cleaning.

I just empty the little tray every day when I get home and it is ready to go again the next day.

 

Fence

Posted: May 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

Well I got the dreaded letter from the HOA.  They say I have to restain my fence.  I’ll admit it looks pretty rough, but I really didn’t want to spend time on it.

A few years ago, I rebuilt my fence.  At the time I wanted to come back and build a topper for the fence, but I never got around to it.

Well before I spend the trouble to powerwash and restain my fence, I wanted to go ahead and get the topper done.  Even though that wood will be new, after a powerwash and restain, it should look pretty good.

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I built the above section to show the wife to make sure she was happy with the design before I did it around the entire fence.

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I used some rusty iron stars I had.  Turns out the rust ran all over the wood after the first rain, so I decided I needed to get them painted.  I used some Rust Remover to clean the stars.  Then I just spraypainted them black…   It actually looks better.  I was going for the rustic look, but the black really looks good…

Here’s after I did one full section.

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I bought the stars at a large outdoor sale, but they are available at a number of places.

Amazon sells them: Cast Iron Stars

 

Small / Short Storage Shed

Posted: December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

As you might imagine, I love spending time in my shop (actually my 2-car garage).  But my wife likes to park in there sometimes so I have to keep everything mobile.  I realized I had too much stuff.  I have a cement mixer, a power washer, lawn mower, and tons of other stuff.  So I decided I needed to build a small shed to house some of the outdoor and infrequently used equipment.  My HOA says my shed can’t be taller than my fence.  Since I have a 6 foot fence, I’m kinda stuck with a short shed.  But that’s fine.  I’m not really interested in standing up in the shed.  It isn’t big enough to need to.

Anyway, this post will show the steps I took to build the shed…

First I started with a base.  I built it using store-bought lumber.

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I believe it was all 2X6.  I put some landscaping bricks in the ground (on the corners) for the base to rest on.

 

Then I started working on the floor

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The flooring is some leftover (aka recycled) boards from an old swingset/fort that I disassembled.  They are about an 1″ thick.  Very nice foundation.   Notice I left enough space around the edges for the walls.  That way, I minimize the chance of water getting inside the shed.

Now for the walls.

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I built the first couple of walls.  I wasn’t adding any windows or openings on the back or sides so these were easy.  Goes really quick with a nailgun.  Here’s a great one from Amazon: Bostitch Framing Nailer.

Now I work on adding the remaining walls.IMG_1870

It is kinda hard to see here, but the remaining walls were put up.  I tested putting the lawn more through the doorway to make sure it was wide enough.  You can see my level on the ground.  It is imperative that you keep everything level.  Here’s one from Amazon: Stanley 2 foot Level

Now to start adding the siding:IMG_1885

You can see here some progress after adding the siding.  I priced out using pre-made siding and it was going to be fairly expensive.  So I ended up going with fence boards.  These are the exact same Fir fence boards that I used to build my fence so they match perfectly.   It was more work, but it wasn’t too bad using the nailer.  Here’s a great one from Amazon: Bostitch Framing Nailer.

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You can see in the above picture, I added the roof.  It is Polycarbonate Roofing Panel from Home Depot.  I wanted clear.  But when I went to Home Depot, there were 3 panels on a cart that had damage (holes) in one end.  They were 75% off, so I got all 3 for around $35 or so.   I had to cut them anyway to make them short enough, so cutting off the bad spots wasn’t a big deal.  I also ended up with enough to make a matching doghouse.  See the picture later on.

As far as the boards at the top.  They are kinda there for decoration (why I left the dogears on them) and to keep the rain from getting in.  There was a little space between the top of the siding and the roof (since the roof panels weren’t 100% level).

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This last picture shows the shed after I put corner pieces on it.  Just just kinda finished it off.  The corner pieces are joined together using a Kreg Jig.  It makes joining wood really easy…

You can also see the back of my cement mixer inside the shed.  I couldn’t wait to get stuff moved into the shed to free up space in my garage.

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Here’s a picture of the shed with doghouse.  I added the doors to the shed.  They are basic rectangles built from 2X6 with more siding.  I’ve (since this picture was taken) added a board across the front to hold the doors closed.  Our dog loves the doghouse.  He sleeps inside, but is outside during the day.  So it is great when it starts raining.  He snoozes in there all day (lazy dog).

Not only was I able to move a lot of my outdoor and infrequently used equipment to the shed, I had a lot more stuff get stored in there.  My dad passed away in 2016.  I ended up bringing back a ton of stuff from their home place.  I want to keep it but don’t need it out.  So I made a few shelves and a lot of ways to hang stuff.  I’ll try to remember to take a pic of all of the stuff (junk) inside.  I’m constantly surprised at how much stuff fits in it.

But being able to get anything out easily, now that is another story.

 

 

When I was at VMworld last month, I was loving all of the games at the vendor booths.  One of the coolest one was a shuffleboard type game.  But the goal was to bounce the puck off the wall and try to stick on a spot to win a prize…   Here’s a few pics:

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As you can see, you start on the right.  Push your puck, let it bounce against the wall and try to stick it on one of the spaces…

I really want to build one of these.

But if building one isn’t your thoughts, they do sell pretty much the same thing on Amazon:

Snap-Back Shuffleboard Metro Model Shuffleboard with Abacus Scoring, 7-Feet/45-Inch, Black

Snap-Back Shuffleboard Tavern Model Shuffleboard with Electronic Scoring, 7-Feet/45-Inch, Mahogany

Ricochet 7 Ft. Bounce-Back Shuffleboard Table

Carmelli NG1201 Ricochet 7 Ft. Bounce-Back Shuffleboard Table in Cherry

Hathaway Ricochet Shuffleboard Table, Cherry Finish, 7-Feet

Blue Wave Products NG1201 Ricochet 7 Ft. Shuffleboard Table

 

And they even sell a “baby” version:

New Entertainment Desktop Shuffleboard

 

 

Of course they also have just regular Shuffleboard games:

Playcraft Woodbridge Shuffleboard Table, Cherry, 12-Feet

Atomic 9′ Platinum Shuffleboard Table

 

If you do decide to build your own, there are replacement parts (like Pucks) available:

Carrom Shuffleboard Replacement Pucks

Pinball Hall of Fame – Las Vegas

Posted: September 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

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I was at a conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago.  I’ve been to Vegas a few times and never made it to the pinball hall of fame.  Well I wasn’t going to let that streak continue.

After this little ad, I’ll talk about my visit…

Did you know you can purchase full-sized pinball machines from Amazon.  They will deliver them to you.

Check out these links:

Stern Pinball Ghostbusters Pro Edition Arcade Pinball Machine

Stern Pinball Spider-Man Vault Edition Arcade Pinball Machine

Stern Pinball WWE WrestleMania Arcade Pro Edition Pinball Machine

Stern Pinball Aerosmith Premium Arcade Pinball Machine

Stern Pinball The Walking Dead Arcade Pinball Machine – Pro Model

Stern Pinball Game of Thrones Pro Edition Arcade Pinball Machine

So I was staying at Mandalay Bay.  I looked on Google, it said I could walk to the Pinball Hall of Fame in around an hour.  I walk a lot in Texas, so I took off.  Well turns out, it was 112′ that day.  So I only made it about half way.  Then I flagged down a taxi for the rest of the trip.

The Hall of Fame was an amazing experience.  I loved pinball machines.  I’ve owned about 20 of them in my life.  Always bought in pretty sad shape and fixed them up.  Moving forward, I think I’ll buy one of the ones listed above…

Here’s some pictures from my visit:

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The pictures don’t really do justice to the number of pinball games at this place.  My favorite part was getting to play Haunted House again.   I loved that game as a kid, but haven’t seen it lately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chairs our church purchased didn’t have offering / visitor card holders built in.   We were using these horrible paper holders with a sticky back.  The sticky was gone.  Someone had added Velcro to try to make it stick better.  But it looked just horrible.  There was no place to put pens.  They got put in the man area, but would fall down and made it hard to retrieve them from without tearing the compartment.

I found a few plastic versions on the internet.  Although they looked like they would work fine, they are from $4 to $8 each.  We needed a hundred or so (putting a few per row).  As normal, we had no budget for this.  So I decided to try to build some.  Sorry I don’t have exact specifications any more, but maybe this blog will give you some ideas:

I got some red-oak from Home Depot.  Any wood would be fine, but I would suggest a hard-wood.

Here’s a sample of the wood cut:

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Here’s how I cut the area for the cards in each holder.  I just clamped borders on 3 sides, of my tablesaw.  I installed my dado blade.  The goal is to quickly rip out the un-needed wood.  This could have also been done with a router.

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This shows the process of cleaning out the wood.  Looking back, this makes me nervous.  At the time, I didn’t have a Saw Stop.  I currently have a Saw Stop JobSite saw.  At least if I screwed up, hopefully the Saw Stop would catch it…   Here’s a link to the Saw Stop:  SawStop JSS-MCA Jobsite Saw

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Here’s a pic of the holder flipped around after the wood was cut away.  As you can see, the bottom is super clean, but it doesn’t matter and that part doesn’t show.

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Here’s my jig I made for drilling the holes for the pens.  I put one on each side.  NOTE:  After drilling with the drill-press, I had to drill deeper with a handheld drill.  There wasn’t enough travel in the drill-press to go deep enough.

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Here’s the holder after both sides were drilled for pens.  NOTE:  I have actually cleaned up my benchtop since this pic a few years ago.  I’m embarrassed to see how messy it was…

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OK, so a few sections were skipped (no pictures).  I routed the sides, to add some decoration.  I also setup a jig to drill the screw holders with the drill press.  I used a countersink bit make sure the screw heads kinda disappeared.

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Here’s a look at a few of them.  I was testing the size with a standard offering envelope.

 

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Here’s my test-fit I did.  I hadn’t painted/stained the holder yet.  Just wanted to get approval from senior staff/board before moving forward.   Offering Envelope Matthew 10:8 (Package of 100)

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Once I was to the point of installing them on the chairs (after they were painted), I built a jig to make sure they were installed at exactly the same spot on each chair.  Also, please NOTE:  make sure the screws don’t go far enough into the chair to stick the person sitting in the chair.  Especially someone fairly large.  They may compress the pad quite a bit…   But at the same time, make sure the screws are long enough to keep the holder in place.  Since I was normally sitting at the sound booth, I could see when these were in use.  Smaller kids would use the holders to pull up.  So they have to be fairly well secure.  But as far as I know, none have came off.  They are also thin enough not to interfere with stacking the chairs…

Here’s a stack of ones I built.  Seeing this picture remember how much work this was.  But it turned out very very good.

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I built a sanding jig: Basic Sanding Jig  I used it to smooth all of the holders.

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unfortunately, I can’t find a final picture of the product once installed.    I painted them a very very dark brown.  It actually looks black once installed, but a tiny bit of wood grain comes through.  The cost of this only came out to be the cost of wood.  I think it was less than $40…

If you have built some, I would love to see them.