Mech Gravy

November 16, 2010 at 12:04 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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I was looking for some power tools with which I could remodel the kitchen.  Actually, I have power tools–or some, anyway.  Besides the innumerable (because I can’t remember how many) cordless drills, I have the corded drill, a circ-saw, a sawz-all, a jig saw…what else do I have?  Hmmm, I guess I need to look.
But what I was looking for was things like a table saw, a miter saw, a router, and a drill press, and other things that I don’t know the name for or what they do but would sure be fun to play with until I lose a finger.
I’m not a pro or anything–at anything–but I’m willing to tackle anything, and I like to work with wood.  Wood has a forgiving nature to it.  I believe that this is why Jesus was a carpenter.
My friend Bunny said she had a table saw I could have–actually have–in exchange for me helping her later with a project.  Like a sucker, I said yes.  I have yet to go pick it up, so I could still back out of this deal–
But I won’t.  I finally called my cousin Greg and asked him about borrowing a few tools for the winter.  He inherited most of his dad’s tools, and his dad–my Uncle Junior–really liked to work with wood.  I told him I just wanted to borrow some tools for a few months, and he said sure, no problem– So we’re going to pick a day for me to go over there and go shopping.
However, he said he didn’t want to give up his miter saw; he uses it too much.  “Miter saw, chop saw–same thing.”  After I looked at tools in the hardware store, I realize they aren’t.  If I’m not mistaken, a chop saw just makes the one 90-degree cut.  A miter saw you can change the angles on to make miters…hence the name.
Well, I knew I was going to need one, so on a whim I checked Craigslist.  As it turns out, a guy in the area had one for 40 bucks, and there was a picture of it.  Pictures don’t lie, especially on the internet, so I gave him a call and made arrangements to see it.
When I got there, the guy apologized to me, and told me he would give it to me for free.  Why?  The deck plate wouldn’t turn.  That’s the part the saw is attached to, the part that swivels and makes it a miter saw.  Locked, it’s just a chop saw.  And it was locked at 22 1/2 degrees, which is not as useful as you might think.
I offered him 20, saying, “It’s at least worth something.”  He fiddled with it halfheartedly, then said, “How about ten?”
Deal.  He was still apologizing as I left, but I said, “I have a feeling I can get this, if only because I’m…tenacious.”

The next day was Sunday, and after running around a bit and doing some chores, I settled in with the miter saw.  I cleared the spool table in the garage, brought the saw in from the van, turned the garage radio onto some country music (because that’s what you listen to in the garage when you build something or work on something), and got my glass of iced tea.  I was ready.
It was a Makita, probably a 150 dollar saw brand new.  I sat and played with various switches, triggers, and button, and anything else that would mo-
Oops.
Like most modern day power equipment like this, the miter saw had a trigger for the trigger.  It had a safety button that had to be pressed before you could depress the actual trigger.  Well, it was a delicate little piece of plastic, and it broke.  I could–
I’ll get to that part later.  I started to take it apart, after I found the right tools.  All these major parts took Hex keys, which was only a minor annoyance.  Thanks, Dad, for having all the tools!  First I took the saw off the miter plate.  Then I took the guide rail, or whatever it’s called.  There was nothing holding the circular guide plate down now.  But it still wouldn’t turn, much less come out.
I have special drawer of tools for situations like this.  But which hammer should I choose?  I tried a rubber mallet first, because I’m an optimist.  It came down to the heavier metal-working hammer.
And it popped right out.
I’m not a mechanical engineer, but I did take a class.  It’s just a metal disc that lays in a metal ridge.  Nothing holds it in.  No bearings or moving parts, either.  There was no discernible corrosion.  There was, however, considerable sawdust–and it was sticky, tough sawdust that had turned into a paste like wood filler.   After I popped the plate out, I stuck it back in and tried to turn it.  Hmmm.  Somewhere in between these two pieces of metal lies the problem…
All my tool drawers are marked.  I found the drawer marked chisels.  In there with the wood chisels was a tool that kind of looked like a chisel but I’m not sure if it is.  It was more of a flathead screwdriver, with a big, wide, flat head, and a somewhat sharpened edge.
Although I suppose that describes a chisel as well.  Anyway, I got that, and a can of silicon spray lube and a rag.
I decided to do a good job on it, and I hope I did.  I scraped all the gunk out of both pieces where they contact, sprayed them with silicon and wiped them down.  Then I sprayed them again and put it together.
Of course there’s always something.  I put them together and the plate spun.  So I attach the rail and bolt it down.
It no wanna spin no mo’.  What the–?
I had some pieces left over.  There were two tiny, very thin metal shims.  As soon as I saw them, I went “A-ha!”  They looked familiar.  Taking the rail off, I noticed two other pieces.  Now where do *those* go?
Parts of a circle.  Obviously, they go somewhere around the edge of the plate.  But not the first place I put them.  That was counter-productive.  The other place I put them worked, and then I placed the shims in.
Let’s do this carefully.  The plate still spins.  Let’s put the rail on with those tiny, tiny shims in place.  It still spins.  Okay, now let’s tight down the rail.
It still spins.  I have fixed it.  I felt purty damn cool at that moment, right up until I picked up the saw to put it back on and remembered that I broke the trigger.
I dicked around with it with a screwdriver for quite some time.  I couldn’t get *all* of the screws out, but I got most of them out, and the ones out of the handle came out easily.  The cover wouldn’t come all the way off, but it gave enough to open up and peer inside to see the guts of it.  There’s the spring…and there’s the piece of plastic that goes to the piece of plastic that I broke–
It slid right out onto the table.  Well, I think that solves it.  There’s no more safety switch, but I like to live on the edge anyway.  And it still works.  At least, I hope it does.  Let’s get it back together.
I attached the saw to the rig and tightened it down.  It still spun.  Awesome.  The trigger worked when I pulled it.  Awesome.  Wait.
Isn’t the saw supposed to swing up and down?  As in, bring it up. put a piece of wood in, bring it down, it cuts the wood?  The saw wouldn’t move.
Shit, don’t tell me the trigger had something to do with that–
Desperately, I moved, clicked, and pressed every moving part I could find.  Down near the springed hinge–where one might logically expect it to be–was a pin lock.  I pulled it out, it released the saw.  Push it down and put the pin back in–locked.
That was one of those moments where I looked around and made sure no one saw what I did.  Whew!
Now, the finale.  I plugged that mother in, then found a short piece of a 2×4, about 18 inches long.  I set the guide for a straight cut.  It was smooth like buttah.
I quickly did a 45 to the left, then a 45 to the right, making a pyramid piece.  Then a 22 1/2 degree cut, because I wanted to see the purpose.  Oh, hell yeah!  This is cool!  I quickly set and reset, switching around the angle.
Out the back, of course, the saw dust spewed out with vigor all over the table, filling my tea glass.  Who cares!  This is bitchen!  I guess I’m done for the day.

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