[Note: this week was supposed to be the beginning of another glorious chapter in The Attack Of The Lesbian Squirrels. Instead I got crosswise with some pine in my workshop. It blew my scheduling all to hell. Y’all suppose that happens to real writers?]
[Edna Kampsett, the star of Road To Portland: Part 19: When Grammar Hurts, would like to point out that the initial version of this post listed options as 0, 1, and 3. Obviously that sort of Tomfoolery cannot be tolerated! Mr. Curmudgeon has had a stern talking to and a thorough beating. He has changed the options to 1, 2, and 3 and promises to never again post such shoddy work.]
I need help. Please advise:
Perhaps someone smarter than me (which shouldn’t be a stretch) can read my story and answer the age old question “should I drop cash on yet another damn powertool”. I keep thinking there’s a way to “old school” my way out of this but maybe not. This weekend my “old school” optimism kicked my ass bigly.
Here’s the background: I’m working on a “Project About Which I’d Rather Not Elaborate At This Time” (PAWIRNEATT should be a common acronym.) The goal here is to make a laminated “blank” that has the following characteristics; it must be strong, straight, reasonably light, and not warp. (The no-warp thing is where I stumbled into the whole lamination based vortex of doom.) Once I’ve made the object I’ll “shape” it further. (Which is why I didn’t just go with a chunk of plywood or something. A decision I may have made incorrectly?) The end product will not be merely rectangular in cross section.
Also, and this is a new component to my workmanship, I’d like it to not look like a chimpanzee made it. (Who knows if I’ll clear that bar.)
I picked through the local wood supply like I was sifting for gold and got the best material I could find, which wasn’t very good. Then I spent eleventy zillion man hours milling innocent 2″ thick dimensional pine stock through my table saw. I hoped to come up with a series of staves about 1″ x 1 1/2″ that were knot free and arrow straight. Fat chance. The wood was shit and mostly I made sawdust.
Being the kind of guy who cannot quit, I picked the best of the mountain of source material I’d created and soldiered on. I slathered the staves with two part epoxy mixed with wood flour and clamped them as straight as I could.
And… it sucked. Some of the wood warped a bit up, some warped a bit down, and lots of it was goobered with epoxy. It reminded me of Satan’s badly made PB&J sandwich.
I thought this was OK. In fact I smugly thought I had it well in hand. Knowing my incompetence, I’d planned for the laminated “blank” to be a bit oversized, thinking I could shave it down to perfect and remove the crappy surfaces.
I needed about 11″ wide x 3′ long by 7/8″ thick. So I’d made it about 12″ x 3’+ a smidge x 1″. Aint I clever?
I just barely managed to trim the ends with my radial arm saw. Another 1/2″ and it would have been an issue. But it worked so there’s that.
To rip it to width I scribed out lines (carefully cutting more off the ugliest edge) and…
MICE BUILT A GOD DAMNED NEST IN MY BANDSAW! THOSE BASTARDS!!!
OK, so now I’ve been at it forever and I’m tearing apart my bandsaw and I’m pissed. Shit happens and there was nothing I could do but vacuum accumulated evil from my equipment. I could have used the table saw but there weren’t any edges I thought were 100% perfectly straight. Plus I felt like like using my bandsaw.
So far so good.
Now I was looking forward to the zen like use of my trusty low angle block plane. Oh man this was going to be awesome! Well I got zen like labor alright. I got it good and hard. Hours of it. I tried my random orbital sander and that wasn’t much help (maybe a huge belt sander would’ve been a different story?) So it was back to the plane and I was not easily dissuaded. I kept at it forever. My arms are toast, my shop is filled with poetic little shavings, and I’m still 1/16″ too thick. Good gravy, a man only needs so much “wax on, wax off” zen-like work before he’s fuckin’ had enough.
So that’s where I am right now. The laminate blank is properly dimensioned in the X and Y axis but Z kicked my ass.
Now here’s the part where I admit defeat. This was a single 3′ laminate blank, I’ve “invested” far too many man-hours, and even if I “nut up” and plane away until I’m done…it’s not truly done. I’ve got to make a second and even bigger blank (about 4′ long). If one beat me this bad, a second is going shave my liver and hang it from a flagpole.
For now, I’ve closed the door on my workshop and fled. What shall I do to equip for the next sortie in this battle?
Option 1, The Current “Gettin’ My Ass Kicked” State Of Affairs:
This is what I’ve been using. It’s sweet and beautiful but apparently inadequate for taking an 1/8″ layer of pine and epoxy off 3 square feet surface area (6 feet if you count both sides). I swear I mentioned this thing sometime this spring when I bought it but I can’t unearth the link. Anyway I like my plane and it’s excellent for realistic use but it’s just too small for 11″ wide.
Option 2, The “Fuck It I’ll Solve It With Horsepower” Method:
This is what I’m considering and is probably the no-brainier correct American solution? Lord help me, I don’t want any more expenses but I’m pissed off and caressing my credit card. It seems like the only solution. I doubt I’ll use it very often. Also I have no idea if the one in this link is a good deal or shit in a plastic housing. I’m not in the market for a “last forever and good enough for a precision craftsman” tool; “good enough” is my budget.
Option 3, The “Be Cool Like Roy Underhill” Hail Mary Pass:
This would be cool, if it worked and it was (much) cheaper than a powered thickness planer. I have my doubts. I’ve had far too much character building in this project and I don’t want to buy some museum piece that’ll wear me out. I’m willing to entertain the idea but I only want to buy one plane and it’s gotta’ work right out of the box.
Also, what the hell is happening here?
So… what now? All advice is appreciated.