A Trip Through a Log

Yesterday, my friend and lumber supplier, Dave Kilpatrick, brought over a piece of yew which he wanted made into trivets. I built a sled and crosscut a series of 1-1/4″-thick slices on my bandsaw.

Slicing Trivets I took a series of photos as each slice was removed, which allowed you to see how the section of log changed shape along its length.  I compiled the pictures into this video (duration – 0:28).

Child’s Loft Bed, Session 1 – The Quest for Perfect Legs

My next project is a commissioned loft bed for a child.  It has a set of stairs up to the bed on one side and a slide down from the other side.  There will be drawers in the side of the stair case and the top will be draped with cloth to complete the canopy.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN FOLLOWING A TWEET-ALONG OF SIMPLER PROJECTS SUCH AS THIS ONE?

PLEASE VOTE IN THE POLL AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.

I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks This new project is a loft bed for a child. For once I created a CAD drawing, to convey my intentions to the client. #flairww -2:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks are you making this from maple slabs!? -4:15 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Old growth Douglas fir. #flairww -4:15 PM Jul 21st, 2012

josh_ulloa Awesome. I think more adult beds should have slides :) -4:47 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @josh_ulloa It would make it easier to get out of bed, wouldn’t it? #flairww -4:49 PM Jul 21st, 2012

josh_ulloa And more fun! #flairww -5:19 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy and poles!… RT @josh_ulloa: @FlairWoodworks Awesome. I think more adult beds should have slides :) -6:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks FlairWoodworks: Why poles? -6:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Like a fire station -6:45 PM Jul 21st, 2012

josh_ulloa @HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Yep, like a fire station ;) -9:24 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy The ladies like fire stations :) -9:25 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The clients have given me complete creative license and trust me to make something amazing. It won’t be too crazy, but still fun. #flairww -2:31 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @ravinheart is also building a loft bed. Mine is cooler though :) #flairww -2:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The process for this loft bed is very different from what is normal for me, but probably normal for most woodworkers. #flairww -3:00 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I started with a drawing (CAD – computer-aided design, in this case) and am working on a cut-list now. #flairww -3:03 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got a cut list for the bed frame, which I’ll build first. The stairs and slide will be separate, detachable parts.  The top will be covered with fabric for a canopy. #flairww -3:19 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I was provided with old-growth Douglas fir for the project. Approximate size: 12’x18″x2″, each. #flairww -3:23 PM Jul 21st, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks nice lumber haul. -3:27 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks There’s more too! #flairww -3:28 PM Jul 21st, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks they must have been planning to have the bed made for a while. -3:28 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @DyamiPlotke Yes, they’ve been thinking a bed for a while. We started talking a few months ago. #flairww -3:29 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Most of the stock is straight-grained and clear (free of knots), but I want to choose the best stock for the legs and rails. #flairww -3:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks A hand plane gives me a peek under the rough-sawn surface. #flairww -3:38 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks This board has a green stain, which I like, but it wouldn’t be good for legs. One green leg? Uh-uh. #flairww -3:51 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think I’ll find the legs in ths stack of 3″ material. #flairww -3:57 PM Jul 21st, 2012

asliceofwood @FlairWoodworks those are some serious pieces of lumber. -4:03 PM Jul 21st, 2012

ToddInMontana @FlairWoodworks I love this image. -4:43 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @ToddInMontana Do you know why? #flairww -4:43 PM Jul 21st, 2012

ToddInMontana: @FlairWoodworks it is the “before” shot of material that will be transformed into a finished project #flairww -4:48 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Tumblewood @ToddInMontana @FlairWoodworks Is that some 4x material? What flavor?-5:22 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks That’s my picture of 12/4 (3″) Douglas fir. #flairww -5:33 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The first three thick slabs weren’t clear enough. This one looks promising. #flairww -4:07 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Planing revealed a light streak. I’ll check the two remaining thick slabs and pick the best. #flairww -4:12 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The next slab showed a similar variation. If there is enough variation for four uniform legs, I’ll use it! #flairww -4:17 PM Jul 21st, 2012

asliceofwood @FlairWoodworks that will look nice with the different colors. #flairww -4:26 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The last, thick slab has even variations across the width. I need four 55″ legs. #flairww -4:27 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I would like to hear how interested (or uninterested) you are in this more straightforward project. #flairww -4:29 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I will also be writing a magazine article for Canadian Woodworking about this project, with plans and other details. #flairww -4:31 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I use blue chalk to highlight the areas I want to avoid. #flairww-4:39 PM Jul 21st, 2012

sonicfedora @FlairWoodworks this is a great lesson. Didn’t do this on a table top and wound up with a flaw in a bad place. #flairww -8:26 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @sonicfedora I’m glad that my little comments are helpful. #flairww -8:45 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks There are other square components in the bed, so I’ll cut more “legs” than I need, and choose the best. #flairww -4:41 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks If you hesitate to jump up onto your sawhorses, I may suggest that they are underbuilt. (Or overloaded.) #flairww -4:58 PM Jul 21st, 2012

[Notice that I can safely stand on the end of the beam, 2′ from the sawhorses.  This may give you an idea of how heavy the beams are.]

FlairWoodworks I cut half an inch off the end to have a look at the end grain. I want the legs to be about 2″x2″ and rift sawn. #flairww -5:04 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The ends of boards also tend to collect sand, dirt, mud, and other nasty things you don’t want to expose to your tools. #flairww -5:05 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Rift sawn is preferable for legs because the grain on all the surfaces is straight. #flairww -5:10 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Tumblewood Damn Spanky! #flairww -5:19 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Manageable pieces is the name of the game right now. First, I’m going to cut this in half across the length. #flairww -5:17 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I rounded up my same-size saw horses to make the crosscut. I started with a circular and finished by hand. #flairww -5:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Inside this crack is a hidden “live edge”. I’ll break it open. #flairww -5:40 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here are the two halves, split apart with a mallet. #flairww -5:43 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks To lay out the legs, I cut a clear plastic template. I put a piece of tape on it to make it easier to find. #flairww – 5:51 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I was pleasantly surprised that I can get four pieces from each half of the beam. Notice that the grain runs from corner to corner.  #flairww -5:59 PM Jul 21st, 2012

RareRepair @FlairWoodworks Beautiful wood, what is that again? -6:02 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @RareRepair It’s old-growth Douglas fir. #flairww -6:02 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks One of the biggest challenges this project poses is remembering to take high-quality pictures for the magazine article too. #flairww -6:01 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I screwed a straight scrap of plywood to the beam as a straight edge and tilted the table. Ready to saw! #flairww -6:28 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks To lock the table tilt, there is one lock knob on the front trunnion. I was right not to trust it. #flairww -6:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks This is how much the table shifted during the cut. #flairww -6:35 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Wow that was a lot of movement #flairww -6:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks And you can bet your last dollar I tightened that plastic star knob that locks the trunnion as tight as I could. It’s still tight. #flairww -6:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Was there a handle on a gear for tilting the table? LT-18 has that; it locks the gear in place. #flairww -6:38 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @halfinchshy At the back of the saw, the large knob controls the pinion. #flairww -6:40 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks That seems beefy enough; guess the lock knob just pushes on that smooth surface… #fail #flairww -6:44 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy The lock knob pulls the convex part of the trunnion into the concave part. #flairww -6:48 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Remember the half-machined trunnion that I had replaced?  I wonder if that would have worked better? #flairww -6:49 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I should have done this in the first place. Just another example of why I should trust my instincts. #flairww -6:51 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The retry worked fine. But I lost a leg in the first cut. I have to be extra careful now with the remaining cuts. #flairww -6:59 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I said it earlier and I’ll say it again – the most important tool is not one which you can hold in your hands. Use your brain. #flairww -7:00 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Oh, fun. The bandsaw table doesn’t tilt far enough to the left to make the next cut. To the right! #flairww -7:14 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Check out my fancy tilt-lock! #flairww -7:18 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I prefer left tilt because with right tilt, I need to push the 60-pound beam up against the fence and feed it through at the same time. #flairww -7:20 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks As soon as I started the saw, the vibrations caused the wedges supporting the table to come loose. #flairww -7:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I removed the wedges and tightened the nut on the rear trunnion with a socket. I hope it holds. #flairww -7:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The cut wasn’t perfectly straight but it was close.  The table didn’t move.  From now on, when I tilt the table, I’ll lock the nut too. #flairww -7:35 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think I could have done better with a jigsaw and a guide. It would have been easier too. This is too big for a circular saw or my table saw. #flairww -7:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Since the sawn beams now fit to the left blade, I thought I could move the fence to the right. #flairww -7:46 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks But the Laguna Driftmaster Fence won’t slide to the right. #flairww -7:47 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The threaded micro-adjust on the fence is very nice to have when the table is tilted like this. #flairww -8:03 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I am very happy to have the table back at 90 degrees. Now, I’ll finish cutting the legs square. #flairww -8:08 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got the leg blanks sawn. Next step for the legs is to joint them. #flairww -8:29 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ll leave the legs alone for now. I’ll continue cutting out components to reduce the size of the pile in front of the jointer. #flairww -8:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks and how do you plan on getting to that jointer? #flairww -8:53 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @BCcraftmaster Cutting up as much of what’s in front first, then moving what’s left. #flairww -8:54 PM Jul 21st, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks as long as it has flair! #flairww -8:55 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @BCcraftmaster Of course, I’d be cutting it into bed components, not firewood! #flairww -8:55 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I could use some food so I’ll stop here for now. Overall, it was a good day. #flairww -8:34 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks There were some frustrations today, but in the end, it was a productive day. Nothing got damaged and I didn’t hurt myself. #flairww -8:34 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’d really like to know if you are interested in following this Tweet-Along.  #flairww -8:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Garth_TW2 @FlairWoodworks Thats the bed project Chris? If so, so cool, the slide particularly I’d love to see the tweet along! -8:56 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Garth_TW2 Thanks for the feedback, partner! #flairww -8:57 PM Jul 21st, 2012

luggermatt @FlairWoodworks Always interested in what you are making! :-) looks good so far! -9:06 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks for the feedback, Matt. -9:06 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Tools are away and I’m going to go get something to eat. #flairww -8:44 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Garth_TW2 @FlairWoodworks I’m sitting back here tonight trying to figure out how you are going to to pull off the build in that tiny shop of yours -9:01 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Garth_TW2 The bed will be easier to build in the shop than the table. All the components are shorter and lighter. #flairww -9:04 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @Garth_TW2 @FlairWoodworks Thought it was all KD connectors, no?  -9:02 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks @Garth_TW2 Oh I forgot it’s not heavy slabs this time; instead butt particle board  #flairww -9:08 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Garth_TW2 @HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks If he is working with particle board I am divorcing him :) -9:11 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy @Garth_TW2 No butt particle board here! All old-growth Douglas fir! #flairww -9:12 PM Jul 21st, 2012

In Session 2, I will continue cutting out the components and working my way towards the jointer.

You can leave a comment here if you like.

Small Ash Side Table

At 11:45 am on Saturday, December 17, I decided that I would make a small table as a Christmas gift.  I documented my process live on Twitter and what you see below are the updates.  This was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, the @ symbol indicates a username.  Every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username and they are the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you will see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are people the author is talking to.  The other symbol you will see is #, which serves as a category.  I tried to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

Saturday, December 17:  5-1/2 hours

  • @FlairWoodworks: I’m going to try to design and build a table today, starting right now. Follow along with hash tag #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 11:48 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: The first step will be to find some cool wood. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 11:48 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: This odd piece looks to be the right height for legs. I’m thinking pedestal. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 11:51 am
  • @gvmcmillan: @FlairWoodworks Good luck cutting that safely!
    December 17, 2011, 11:54 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: Smoothing the power-carved surfaces with a hand plane.
    December 17, 2011, 12:24 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I’d like to use this piece for the base and top of the table. #flairww (I later changed my mind and used the part marked “BASE” for the top and vise-versa.)
    December 17, 2011, 12:46 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: You didn’t think this was going to be just another table, did you? #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 12:48 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I cut a clean surface on the end of the leg with my sliding tablesaw. How would you do this? #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:07 pm
  • @Tumblewood: @FlairWoodworks I’d have done something similar with my Excalibur sliding table. #Flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:15 pm
  • @BobbyHagstrom: @FlairWoodworks Probably with a sled as I don’t have a sliding T-saw :( hehe… I’ve done stuff like that freehand-lots o’ clean up #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:20 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I need to glue two pieces together to make a wide, more stable base. Note the chalk alignment lines.
    December 17, 2011, 1:32 pm
  • @Tumblewood: @FlairWoodworks Nice grain alignment. #Flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:37 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Come on, glue. Hurry up and dry! #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:48 pm
  • @MansFineFurn: @FlairWoodworks ash?
    December 17, 2011, 1:51 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @MansFineFurn Ash!
    December 17, 2011, 1:51 pm
  • @gvmcmillan: @FlairWoodworks Without a sliding table saw, I would have used my compound miter chop saw. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:53 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Lunchtime! The glue ought to be dry enough to continue work when I return. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 2:21 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Any questions so far? #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 2:24 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Lunch is done and the glue dry enough to flatten the table’s base.
    December 17, 2011, 3:03 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I need to cut a notch in the upright (leg) to receive the top. This is probably the most challenging part.
    December 17, 2011, 3:48 pm
  • @MansFineFurn: @FlairWoodworks are you winging it or do you have a design?
    December 17, 2011, 3:51 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: With a saw cut to establish each shoulder, I use a chisel and mallet to clear the waste.
    December 17, 2011, 3:53 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @MansFineFurn I’m designing it as I build. This is fun! #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 3:54 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I used my side rabbet plane to clean up the sawed surfaces and adjust the angle.
    December 17, 2011, 4:00 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: That’s a good fit! #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 4:12 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Here’s the other side of the joint. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 4:13 pm
  • @TheGravedigger: @FlairWoodworks That did well.
    December 17, 2011, 4:14 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The top looks too thick so I’m going to taper it out towards the edge. I tilted my bandsaw table for this cut.
    December 17, 2011, 4:22 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The bandsawn surface is pretty flat. The burn marks are from when I hesitated feeding the board.
    December 17, 2011, 4:25 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: A few minutes with a handplane removed the milling and burn marks and reestablished a flat top.
    December 17, 2011, 4:28 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The upright is secured to the upright with a pair of long lag bolts.
    December 17, 2011, 4:43 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Sorry I’ve been forgetting to add the #flairww tag.
    December 17, 2011, 4:44 pm
  • @sharpendwood: @FlairWoodworks Cool idea, enjoying watching your progress.
    December 17, 2011, 4:57 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @sharpendwood Well, sculpting is the next step. I will wait until daylight before using my angle grinder to carve the upright. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 5:13 pm

Sunday December 18:  3-1/2 hours

  • @FlairWoodworks: After I finish lunch, I’ll be back in the shop working on the table I started yesterday. Follow along with #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 11:55 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: I’m using my angle grinder to sculpt the table’s upright. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 12:20 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Smoothing out the rough-carved surface is going quickly with 80-grit on my Mirka CEROS random orbit sander.
    December 18, 2011, 8:44 pm
  • @ArtsConnectBC: RT @flairwoodworks: After I finish lunch, I’ll be back in the shop working on the table I started yesterday. Follow along with #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 1:02 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Preliminary sanding with 80-grit is done. Now on to fine grits. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 1:02 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The upright has been sanded to 180-grit. I’ll finish sand the top now.
    December 18, 2011, 9:21 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Here’s the table assembled. I just need to shape the base. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 2:01 pm
  • @woodbard: @FlairWoodworks Right, Chris. I look forward to *yours*, though. I like what I see, but cannot imagine what the hole’s function is.
    December 18, 2011, 2:12 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @woodbard hole? You mean the pencil holder? :) (It’s actually just a knot hole.)
    December 18, 2011, 2:13 pm
  • @woodbard: @FlairWoodworks I knew the hole would be a critical part of that table. Thanks!
    December 18, 2011, 2:23 pm
  • @Tumblewood: @FlairWoodworks Pretty darn cool, Chris!!
    December 18, 2011, 2:29 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: In classic Chris fashion, I carved the edges of the base to follow the grain. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 2:43 pm
  • @DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks looks good, Chris.
    December 18, 2011, 10:53 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I plugged the screw holes. Can you see them? #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:06 pm
  • @woodbard: @FlairWoodworks Juuuussssttt barely, and ONLY with image blown up,Chris. Wonderful job matching the grain with the plugs!!! #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:09 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Time for a final inspection before the application of the finish. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:11 pm
  • @JC_McGrath: @FlairWoodworks barely for sure, excellent match
    December 18, 2011, 3:12 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Here is the table with one coat of lacquer. I’ll give it a light sanding followed by a couple more coats. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:27 pm
  • @ed_elizondo: @FlairWoodworks That durn good work.
    December 18, 2011, 3:31 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Lacquer and shellac are my two preferences when I need a quick-drying finish. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:31 pm
  • @DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks just faintly. Would have missed them if I wasn’t specifically looking. Well done.
    December 18, 2011, 3:52 pm
  • @HighRockWW: @FlairWoodworks cool table Chris, I like it.
    December 19, 2011, 4:37 pm
  • @Tooltutor: @FlairWoodworks that’s a sweet table! Can’t even see the plugs.
    December 19, 2011, 6:38 pm

Some Pictures of the Completed Table

Your Feedback is Appreciated!

What did you think of this Tweet Along?  Would you like to see more?  Please leave your thoughts about the project, process, and method of documentation below in the comments section.

My Experience with Laguna Tools, Inc. and Canadian Woodworker Ltd.

This article is about my experience with Laguna Tools, Inc. and Canadian Woodworker Ltd.

I did not receive anything in exchange for writing this article and nobody but my friend and editor Mike knew that I was writing this article.

California-based Laguna Tools has been a hot-button topic in woodworking forums for as long as I can remember.  Along with rave reviews of their bandsaws, there have also been many comments about poor customer service.  Like many, I was impressed with their saws.  However, the virtually non-existent customer service that I kept reading about was enough to discourage me from considering buying one of their saws.

About two years ago when I began looking at sliding table saws, I requested an information package on Laguna’s saws.  I received some literature and a video to review.  A few days later, I got a call from Don at Laguna Tools asking if I had any questions.  I asked him about the horror stories I’d read of Laguna’s customer service.  He admitted that at one point they had some staffing problems but assured me it was in the past.  I found that reassuring, but wasn’t sure if I could believe him.  In the end, I bought my sliding table saw from Grizzly Industrial Inc.

Fast forward to November 26, 2010 – the grand opening of the new location of Canadian Woodworker in Surrey, BC.  A new woodworking tool store opening within an hour of my house?  I had to go.

Inside the store I walked up and down the aisles of machinery checking out the great selection of high-end machinery not found in most other local stores.  I recognized co-owner Cole Moore and wandered over to introduce myself (we are both active on the Canadian Woodworking forum).  I asked Cole about Laguna’s customer service.  He admitted that getting parts from Laguna can sometimes take a while but promised to take care of any issues I might have.

I went back to look at the Laguna bandsaws and got talking to Benjamin Helshoj (or Benny as his peers call him) whom I had met at the Cloverdale Woodworking Show the month before.  I asked him how the Laguna saws compared to other brands such as Grizzly.  He commented on how lightly constructed the Grizzly saws are when compared to his.  (I later looked it up and found that the Grizzly 19″ saw [G0514X] weighed 383 pounds, a mere three pounds more than Laguna’s 14″ saw [LT14-SUV].)  I got Benjamin’s business card and we continued to talk along with Kevin Guest, whom I knew from his days at Clermont’s Ultimate Tool Supply Inc.  Later, I left the store empty-handed but with much to ponder.

Fast forward five months when I had some serious milling and resawing to do.  My little 14″, 1HP bandsaw simply was not up to the task so I decided that it was time to upgrade.  After much research and deliberation I decided on the Laguna LT16-3000.  (I will post a review of the saw later.)

Monday morning I picked up the saw and transported it home.  With the help of my friend, Mike, we carefully unloaded the saw into my garage; moving it down to the shop would have to wait for a dry day.  We unpacked the saw and cleaned off most of the cosmoline.  That’s when I noticed that one of the trunnion supports appeared only partially machined.  I called Kevin at Canadian Woodworker and described the problem.  I took this picture and e-mailed it to him.  Shortly after, I got an e-mail back from Kevin confirming that he’d received my e-mail and was “forwarding [it] to Laguna and calling to see recommendations”.  About ten minutes later, Kevin called me and told me that Benny was upset that it had made it past quality control and the service tech thought that it was just powder coating that could be removed with 400-grit emery paper.  I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t have to do this on a $2000 machine”.

Despite my misgivings, I took some 400-grit emery paper to the trunnion support.  It was clearly not just powder coating and indeed only partially machined.  I called Canadian Woodworker and ended up talking to Doug, the manager, as Kevin was on the road for a couple of days.  Fortunately, Kevin had briefed Doug on my situation so I didn’t need to explain what I was seeing.  Doug agreed to let me swap out my trunnion with the one from the display model.

The next day, I drove out to Canadian Woodworker and swapped the trunnion support.  I noticed that although the trunnion support from the display model was much better, there was still about 10% that wasn’t machined.  I pointed this out to Doug before I left and asked him to order another for me.  Then I returned to my shop and installed the parts on my saw as I guessed the replacement trunnion support would take at least a week or two to arrive.

Wanting to get to work, I installed the carbide-tipped Laguna Resaw King blade that I’d bought with the saw.  I set it on the tires and tensioned and tracked the blade.  Then I noticed this: the blade barely cleared a metal flange next to the dust chute.  And I mean barely.  You could not slip a piece of note paper between the blade and chute.  While it did clear, I worried that the slightest vibration would send my $250 blade into the steel.  Not good.

I decided to try calling Laguna Tools on their toll-free number.  It was late in the afternoon and I immediately got through to Tim.  He understood my problem and put me on hold to try to figure out a solution.  I patiently waited for several minutes before he came back on the line.  He unnecessarily apologized for leaving me on hold for “so long” and explained that the technical support staff had left for the day and that he had talked it over with Torben (Torben Helshoj is the president of Laguna Tools).  Ultimately, Tim offered to check with the technical support staff tomorrow morning and call me back then.  I talked with him for another few minutes, asking him some more general bandsaw questions and talking about my experience so far.  He sounded like an experienced bandsaw user, listened to my comments and answered other questions to my satisfaction.

Thursday morning I answered my phone, expecting to hear Tim from Laguna Tools on the other end.  To my surprise, it was Kevin from Canadian Woodworker.  He explained that he and Doug had removed the trunnion support from another saw that appeared well-machined and he wanted to come and swap it out for me.  I was grateful for his offer but told him that I was waiting for a call from Laguna as well and asked him to hold off until I had heard from Tim.

About little later, I received a phone call from Brian at Laguna Tools.  He told me that the solution was to simply file or grind the protruding piece of steel back until there was 1/32″ of clearance.  Apparently, a batch of saws had arrived with that piece protruding too far.  We talked on the phone for a bit longer and he talked me through the issues I was experiencing with the saw and patiently answered all my questions.

After my conversation with Brian, I called Kevin and asked if he could come over to swap out the trunnion support.  He queried if there was anything else that I needed which reminded me of the mis-tapped setscrew hole in the table insert which I’d noticed the day before.  I asked Kevin to bring a replacement.  When he arrived, he helped me remove the table and replace the trunnion support.

I’m glad that I had a local dealer.  Otherwise, I would have had to spend my mornings sitting on the curb waiting for the mailman to arrive with parts and it would have taken longer to get the saw fully operational.  The customer service I received from both Laguna Tools and Canadian Woodworker was prompt, helpful, friendly, and courteous.  I felt like they were there to help me.

Has Laguna listened to customer feedback and put their questionable customer service issues behind them?  I can’t say for sure but I can say that I would buy from Canadian Woodworker again.  However, my shop looks complete and I’m not in the market for any more machinery.  At least for now.

You can read my review of my Laguna LT16-3000 16″ bandsaw HERE.

Review of Laguna’s LT16-3000 Bandsaw

My workshop had only ever seen a 14″ bandsaw but one month ago, I upgraded to an LT16-3000 from Laguna Tools Inc.  While setting up the saw, I ran into a few problems with the Chinese-made saw but once it was operational, it worked as I had expected.  (For the record, I believe that the overall quality of product is determined by quality control, not the country of origin.)  (Fellow blogger Paul-Marcel reviews his new Italian-made LT18 on his blog, Half Inch Shy.)

Overview

The LT16-3000 is a 16″ bandsaw (16″ diameter wheels) that weighs approximately 450lbs.  The weight comes from the heavy, welded steel frame, cast iron wheels and table, and big motor.  The Leeson motor is rated at 3hp and runs on 220V, single-phase power.  Though the motor is rated at 16.5 amps and the label on the bandsaw’s frame states 12.8 amps, the saw peaks at a much higher number during startup due to the weight of the cast iron wheels and tension of the blade.  For that reason, Laguna recommends running it on a 30-amp breaker.  The motor is controlled by a magnetic switch and there is a microswitch on the foot brake.

The 132″ blade (131-1/2″ fits as well) is tensioned by a levered knob on top of the cabinet that is easy to grip.  Inside the top cabinet is a tension gauge.  The gauge is unlabeled and Laguna instead recommends that the blade be tensioned by feel, looking for 3/16″-1/4″ of deflection 6″ from the wheel’s tangent.  Once the blade is properly tensioned, the tension gauge can be marked to reference the blade being used in order to properly reset the tension when changing blades.  A large lever on the back of the saw releases the tension in a controlled manner.  Tracking is adjusted with two knobs on the back of the saw as normal.

The two doors that cover the cabinets are on lift-off hinges, allowing unrestricted access to the guts of the saw.  There are windows in the upper cabinet and door to track the blade or view the tension gauge.  The lower cabinet has a sliding cover at the top right corner.  It is the gray part with two slots in the front.  When extended, it seals the cabinet to increase the effectiveness of the dust collection.

The sliding cover needs to be lowered so that the lower door can clear the knob used to lock the table in place.  The 16″ x 19-1/2″ cast iron table has two T-slots in it (though no mitre gauge is provided).  To assist with tilting the heavy table, it is equipped with a hydraulic strut and rack and pinion adjustment.

Also controlled by a rack and pinion is the upper guide post.  (One thing about my last bandsaw that constantly frustrated me was that every time I adjusted the upper guide post up or down, I also needed to adjust the guide blocks.  That is not necessary with this saw.)  If the guide post isn’t quite inline with the blade, adjustments can be made.

Laguna’s ceramic guide blocks are well-known and have a good reputation.  They provide a lot of support for the blade, preventing it from moving laterally or backwards and twisting.  The new Laguna guides use convenient plastic knobs to lock their position.  It’s a great convenience that most of the adjustments on the saw require no tools; however three extra-long, ball-end hex keys are provided to make the few adjustments that do require tools.  They can be stored in the on-board tool holder.

Setting Up

Setting up the saw was not difficult but it didn’t go as smoothly as it could (should) have.  The most obvious problem was the half-machined trunnion support bracket.  The dealer replaced the part.

A less-obvious problem was that the anodized aluminum throat plate had a set screw in a mis-tapped hole.  Unfortunately, the replacement provided by the dealer was warped and needed to be straightened with my vise.

There was a third problem that could not be easily detected until a blade was installed.  Part of the upper dust chute located just below the table protruded too far and could have easily come in contact with the blade.  I solved that by grinding it down with a rotary tool.

The last problem I had was driving some small machine screws that secure a tool holder to the frame.  The holes had been drilled and tapped before the machine was painted so the threads were filled with paint.  I thought that I could use the machine screws to clean out the paint but ended up stripping the machine screw’s head.  I should have first used a tap to restore the threads in the frame of the bandsaw.

The accessory DriftMaster fence without difficulty.  With the saw fully assembled, the next step was to hook up the dust collection by running 4″ flex hoses from each of the two 4″ diameter dust ports and connecting them with a wye.  One port is located to the right of the saw frame just below the table and the other at the bottom left corner of the lower cabinet.

When hooked up to a dust collector, dust chips are adequately contained.  The upper port is well positioned and a 3/8″-thick piece of plywood run into the blade (while hand-turned) creates a sort of zero-clearance insert to keep the majority of the dust from getting into the lower cabinet.  The bottom port keeps the lower cabinet pretty clean.

My Useage

In the month I’ve had the saw, I transformed a large stack of small logs into lumber.  I’ve been running a 1″ carbide-tipped Resaw King blade and used it to mill green (freshly cut) apple, holly and yew as large as 11″ diameter.  All three are quite dense but green wood does tend cut more easily than dry wood.  I’ve also resawn dry hardwoods as thick as 8″.  Nothing I’ve cut has slowed the saw down.

I press the “ON” button and the saw smoothly powers up, reaching full speed in about two seconds.  Throughout the cut, the saw has plenty of power and cuts predictably straight.  When the saw is shut off it takes about 15 seconds to coast to a stop, due to the inertia of the wheels.  If the foot brake is applied, the blade stops in fewer than three seconds.  At the end of each day, I relieve the blade’s tension with the quick release lever.

Conclusion

This saw is well-designed and sturdily built.  Between the Laguna ceramic blade guides, carbide-tipped resaw blade, easy-to-align DriftMaster fence, steadiness of the machine and smooth power of the 3 hp motor, the cuts are reliably straight and clean.  There isn’t much else that I could ask for from a bandsaw.  With this set-up, the LT16-3000 has the ability to handle any resawing tasks I may have.  Above all, it is easy to use and I know that it won’t let me down.  From now on, my table saw will see much less use.

Read about my experience with my local Laguna dealer, Canadian Woodworker, Ltd. HERE.

Food for Thought

For the past month or so, I’ve spent nearly every waking hour in my shop building a Dogwood dining room table for a friend (and sawyer) by the name of Dave Kilpatrick.  It totals a little more that 60 hours, but it feels like a whole lot longer.  It’s still a lot of fun though and I haven’t lost interest.  For me, not only is the construction a challenge, but the time factor is as well.  His wife would really like the table for their family’s Christmas dinner, and that deadline keeps me motivated.  I would be overjoyed if I made the December 25 goal and I know they would be too.  While doing my best to complete the table before the deadline, I am putting everything else, aside from work, on hold.  Everything has to wait until next year.  I’ll let you all know when it’s done.  I’ll take lots of pictures too.

The table, however, is not what inspired me to sit down and write tonight.  Tonight, I was inspired, my brain is in overdrive.  One of my friends from work, Dick, asked if he could stop by to use my jointer to surface a piece of spalted maple to make an instrument panel consisting of a clock, thermometer, hygrometer, and barometer, for his trailer.  He had brought over a piece he was given by Greg, who teaches some of the turning seminars.  I had a large piece also which we thought was worthy of consideration.

When Dick arrived after work, he had a look at the spalted maple and immediately decided that it was what he wanted.  He laid out the shape, featuring a natural bark edge (also known as a live edge) and some spalting, which had resulted in vivid colours and streaks.  Maple, of course, is a fairly plain wood.  Spalting is caused by rot and is highly desirable.  However, one must monitor the time rot has to set in.  Not enough time and the effect of spalting is less than stunning.  Too much however, and the wood loses all structural integrity.  This board had lots of spalting and I had written it off as unsuitable for furniture.  However, we agreed that this board would serve well as a mount for the four aforementioned instruments.

The first task was to cut the rectangular 20″ x 8″ piece roughly to size.  We used the bandsaw because there was no straight edge to register against the table saw fence and it is much quicker, easier, and arguably safer than a circular saw or jigsaw.

General 14

After that, my new beautiful 8″ jointer made short work of flattening one face of the board, followed by the edge opposite the live edge.

Delta 8

Having a 12″ compound miter saw proved handy (as it always does), with it’s 8″ crosscutting capacity.  We used it to square up both ends of the board.  After running the board through the thickness planer three times, Dick had a dressed board with a live edge.  That means two flat faces parallel to each other, one edge square to each face (the other was natural) and two square ends.  After laying out the location of the holes which were to be bored to hold the clock and weather instruments, we bored them at the drill press with a 2-3/8″ saw-tooth bit.  A little sanding was all that was required before the application of a finish to complete the project.

Time elapsed:  Less than 20 minutes!

The end result:  A well-made, functional, stylish, inexpensive, one-of-a-kind work of art.

Value:  A workpiece such as this one could sell for as little as $25 at a craft fair to $500 or more at an art museum.

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