Sunday, January 05, 2014

Changing planer blades....Priceless

Why does it always seems easier to do things at the beginning of the year? 

Like New Year's resolutions?  God knows you could vow to lose weight, or quit smoking, or start working out, or start writing that book you've always wanted to write at any time of year. But it always seems easier to do it in January.

That's why it always seems best to do some routine maintenance in the woodshop in January. I usually have a break between my classes, and it's a good time to tear the machines apart and change out parts. It always feels like I'm ass-up-in-the-air, covered-in-sawdust, and this week - that was true.

Of course it helps to have three excellent and sharp saw blades on hand, as well as a new set of planer and jointer blades. 

My buddy Richard told me about a company that carries high-speed steel knives, so I ordered a set for the planer and the jointer.

 It's really nice to have a spare set on hand, so I don't have any downtime waiting for blades to be sharpened.

I loveLoveLOVE this Bridgewood planer - 

I've had her for 20 years, and she's solid and strong. The first time I changed the blades on her, it felt like it took forever, but I decided to time myself this time. I actually blogged about this five years ago - much more in-depth, so if you want to read that post, you can click here. 

My other buddy Big John knows that my eyes are crappy, and he was kind enough to gift me this little flashlight. He felt sorry for me because flashlight I usually use in the shop is two feet long and weighs 20 pounds.  So he gave me the stubby one, which I love.

(Thanks again, John!)

The first task was cleaning the blades, they're covered with an anti-corrosion substance.  

Lacquer thinner usually does the trick.

Then it's a matter of loosening all these gib screws, there are about a dozen per blade.

 It's really easy, and in minutes, 

 the gib bar pops out.

Now is the time to do a little cleaning, I blew out everything with compressed air, and wiped everything down.  I'd forgotten that there were two small springs in there, and luckily - I didn't blow them across the shop and lose them!

There's a nifty little tool that came with the planer for setting the height of the blades. Once you get the sharp blade back in place, to place this over the blade to set the proper height. Since the device is metal, I have to be a little careful to keep from dinging the blade. 

With one blade switched out, I checked my stopwatch. 

Here's the time after the second blade, 

 and - in total - the complete job took this long.

Bridgewood planer: $3500 (1994 price)
New blades: $90
Spending 42 minutes changing blades so that your wood comes out silky smooth: priceless

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