Our visit to Pax River was good. We visited with Mrs. Lockard for the afternoon, and she was better off than I was hoping. She was mentally sharper than I’ve seen her in a long time, even if she’s physically weaker. We took her out for an early dinner, and hopefully brightened an otherwise dreary Saturday afternoon. I really hope we’re able to celebrate the holidays with her and show her a good time. Of course, the Ghost of Dysfunctional Christmas is standing between us and those plans, but we’ll have to deal with that when it comes.

Hard On My Toys. I’ve had a Delta table saw for about the past five years. I bought it at a time when I didn’t have outrageous amounts of money, but decided that using a handheld circular saw to rip 10′ boards lentghwise was getting to be tiresome. I went out to the Home Depot to browse, and after half an hour of looking through the field, I selected the best American-made unit I could find for under $150. Since then, I’ve ripped a couple miles of board-feet between two houses’ worth of projects. During that time I found that the saw had a number of shortcomings (cheap fittings, a very wobbly motor, few allowances for attachments, a small fence) and only a few pluses, but I was able to jury-rig it enough to get it to work for me.

This past week, I’ve hustled to finish a bunch of outstanding projects so that I could get to one that I was looking forward to: finish carpentry around the front window in the dining room. I bought some very clean, expensive wood for the trim (the good stuff is hard to find) and had just begin to rip the sill to size when the saw cut out. I unplugged it, applied Dugan’s Second Law Of Fixing Stuff (unbolted the motor, took it apart and put it back together) and got another five seconds of juice out of it before the whole thing died in a puff of ozone.

Add this to the Skilsaw circular I burned out milling the door down this spring and that makes two expensive tools I’ve killed this year. It’s not like I’ve been throwing these things off the roof or leaving them in the rain; this is everyday use we’re talking about. I think I’m going to have to stick with the brands I trust at this point—A DeWalt cordless that actually has fallen off a roof and continues to work flawlessly; a Makita circular that’s followed me through two years of High School setbuilding, four years of college, and two houses; a Porter Cable sander that’s touched every woodworking project I’ve done; and a Craftsman ¾” drill that’s older than I am and deserves a new set of bearings.

I always wanted to buy the best tools I could afford and have them for the rest of my life, and this is one of those times when a compromise burned me. And the killer is that I don’t have the cash to buy that beautiful DeWalt replacement I saw last month. I can’t say that the Delta owes me anything, but I’m probably going to have to buy another 5-year saw and kill it as well.

Date posted: November 21, 2004 | Filed under family, house, tools | Leave a Comment »

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