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Colin's Corner

Mar 2010

The story of a woodworking tip

Colin Mackenzie

This article appeared in the 2010 March issue of Chips & Chatter.

Woodturning is fun but there are many tasks that are less than fun than others, and one of them for me is cutting a full sheet of sandpaper in to four squares. I just hate taking out my ruler when I am in the middle of something and have to cut a fresh sheet into four small pieces. Invariably I don’t have a ruler to hand and I end up with four poorly torn squares of paper.

So imagine my delight to read in a recent woodworking magazine a tip that would make this job less of a chore and more of a joy — in fact the Tip promised increased productivity along with neatness and sharpness.

The Tip read something like this: don’t put up with odd pieces of sandpaper, improve your efficiency so you have more time on the job: do as follows.

Take all the sheets of sandpaper you wish to cut into quadrants, carefully making sure the edges of the pack of sandpaper are perfectly aligned. Mark the top sheet of the pack into four quadrants. Place the pack of sandpaper onto the band-­‐saw table. Saw with four cuts along the lines you have drawn on your top sheet and you willhave hundreds of perfectly cut quadrants of sandpaper in seconds and as an added bonus you will have sharpened saw blade.

I completed the task as instructed and was feeling quite pleased with myself as I packed my many quadrants of sandpaper away in a draw and was congratulating myself for taking out a subscription to such a useful magazine when my world came tumbling down.

My next task was to band saw a blank out of a rectangle of wood with my brand new saw blade now sharpened to even greater sharpness. Imagine my horror when I found myself trying to cut wood with a band saw without any teeth.

Oh! What a disaster. To say I was unhappy is putting it mildly.

But all is not lost.

Modify the Tip instructions as follows: When you are about to replace a blade on your band saw and need little quadrants of sand paper you will get one last task out of your old band saw even though you won’t end up sharpening it.

The moral of this story is to be careful of tips in magazines. Journalists, who have never been in a wood shop, often write them.

If you think a tip is a good idea tell it to another club member. They can try it out first, but always make sure to tell them that it wasn’t your idea — either you saw it in a wood turning magazine or that Our Dad or Scott or Kent told you about it.

This, after all, is another the way to put more fun into the art of Woodturning.  

By Colin Mackenzie

Colin Mackenzie
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