Joinery is the aesthetic mark of fine craftsmanship. Without strong, beautiful joints connecting two pieces of wood together, furniture, toys, and other crafts would be produced from single pieces of wood. Once the woodworking joint types below have been fully understood and mastered, they can be applied to a multiple variety of projects, to make strong, attractively crafted material.
Basic Butt Joints
The most basic wood joint, this is used when framing walls in stick-frame homes with mechanical fasteners holding the two pieces of stock in place. Click here to learn more about how and when to build a basic butt joint.
The Steel City 50130 bandsaw comes loaded with the following features:
• 12” resaw capacity • Granite table & lower wheel/cast iron upper wheel • Worklight • Mobile Base • Roller bearing guides • 1.5 HP motor
There’s no doubt the features are great, but does it measure up? That’s what we’re here to tell you. We’ll start out with what works, what doesn’t and conclude with a performance review.
What Works The components come in nicely packaged; the paint job is great and the screws are pre sorted; the fit and finish are also, mostly, great. Granite components work well we weren’t worried about table warping or rusting; the bottom part of the table is super convenient for clamping and granite wheel possesses some great momentum. Furthermore, because the mobile base has been included it saves from the hassle of purchasing a new one. That said, we did have issues with its swivel system which requires quite a bit of manoeuvrings to set it in the right position.
The fixed work light is far better than the magnetic based one that was included in the 50100 version, which didn’t have a significant enough of holding to keep it in position which was problematic. Other great aspects of the Steel City bandsaw are the 4” as opposed to the regular 2.5” dust collection ports; variable speed operation at 1500sfpm and 3000sfpm; it’s got a great trunnion and the table supports aren’t soft or easily movable like some other saws on the market. The saw also provides a quick release level for de-tensioning the blade which even de-tensioned, still has a good deal of tension on the blade.
What Doesn’t Since it’s based on the Delta 14” bandsaw design, it inevitably suffers from the same problems: poor ergonomic structure and a poor implementation of the blade structure.
It is very surprising that despite the intervening decades in between, the ergonomic structure of this tool has not been updated although we do remain hopeful for Steel City’s subsequent versions, if only because the company is young and seems interested in wanting to improve on previous models.
Moving onto the issue of the blade guard: Steel City seems to have elected for a guard that instead of folding around the assembly guide shielding you from the blade, goes all the way the down to the bottom of the guide bearings. So what results is you being unable to see enough of the blade to guide your way through cuts, which obviously is problematic.
So over all, while it reads great on paper the Steel City 50130 14” Deluxe Granite Bandsaw fails to deliver in key performance areas and while we’ve been mostly optimistic concerning their customer support, we are disappointed that they haven’t been able to capitalize on fixing previous issues with older models. This is troubling, especially if they want to increase their market share which if they continue in this status-quo perspective, they’re not going to get very far.
On a trip to your local home depot or woodworking supplier you might notice the different wood sizes on display, and be scratching your head wondering what it all means. There are a couple important things to remember when purchasing stock.
2x4 vs 1 ½”x3 ½”
The first is that 1 inch doesn’t always mean “1 inch”, so while the label might read 2x4 it actually translates to 1 ½” x 3 ½”, because of dryness and milling methods. Wood tends to shrink when it’s dried and lumber mills make adjustments accordingly. That said, the length of a piece is generally not affected so a piece “measuring” 8’ is usually very close to 96 inches.
Radial Arm Saws tend to be one of the most under-appreciated of woodworking machines which is disheartening, considering how versatile they are in the range of operations and tasks they are able to perform.
Why opt for a radial arm saw
While they may be on the pricier end of the scale, and they do tend to be both heavy and not typically fit to carry around easily. As a result, they are used mostly in professional shops where portability isn’t a priority.
That said, the variety of operations that a radial arm saw can perform from ripping to cutting bevels or miters, dadoes and rabbets, forming mouldings and in some instances, serving as router guides; is nothing short of amazing. However, like any tool there are trade-offs which come hand in hand with its versatility: difficulty in setting up cuts (as opposed to a compound miter) taking a longer time to rip stock (table saws rip faster). That said, the radial-arm saw is able to perform both these tasks, albeit a little slower than other tools, but again, it is a small price to pay.
Using a Radial-Arm Saw Always, always follow the original manufacturer’s instructional guide before using or setting up your power tool, which applies to the radial-arm saw as well, since using it to the existing specs is usually a step in the right direction.
When using the saw for the first time during cross cutting, you might end up cutting grooves onto the table top. To avoid that, set the blade depth to just below the surface of the table once the saw’s motor is up to speed. Also ensure that the stock is held securely against the fence and remember that when you pull the saw through the stock and towards you, it can cause the saw to lurch forwards damaging either the stock or yourself. As a result, always grasp the handle firmly not allowing it to determine the speed of the cut. While this may take time and consistent practice, you will get it soon enough.
Working on Dadoes & Rabbets Radial-arm saws are made for cross cutting dadoes and rabbets especially for producing slots for shelves. Before starting work, set your stacked dado’s thickness as desired and ensure the blade is raised away from the table. When setting the dado stack, ensure that it is installed in the correct direction with respect to the blades’ rotation. Once it has been installed and the (blade) guard reattached, find the appropriate depth of cut for your dado using a scrap piece of wood as a guide. The same dado set can also be used when cutting tenons. Miters and Bevels While the saw can cut normally up to sixty degrees in either direction in miters and up to 90 degrees in bevels, the trade off is that it is only in one direction. And though the radial-arm saw is able to cut more non traditional angles than compound miter saws, it is a lot more difficult to get the angles of the cut just right. So before commencing, always ensure that clamping levers are locked into place.
Ripping Stock Radial-arm saws can also be used for ripping stock and are often no less harder to use than table saws, provided they have been set up properly. During the setup, ensure you use the anti-kickback assembly making use of riving knives and pawls. Riving knives are used to prevent stock from binding onto the blade although should the blade jam, the pawls will grab the stock protecting it from a possible kickback. One important fact to remember: pawls might not grab the stock during ripping plastic laminated or melamine stock, should there be a kickback. In fact any non-coated stock might face this issue.
Safety Tips When using your radial-arm saw, be aware of the blade guard—never turn on the saw without the guard in place and without ensuring the guard’s lower section has not been tampered with. Also ensure that the guard can be lifted easily during the saw’s operation and that it drops back into position on release.
It is usually safer to set up the unit with a slightly backward slope, preventing it from sliding towards you.
Other important tips to keep in mind:
Don’t begin a cut without waiting for the blade to hit its maximum speed.
Always control the speed of the cut.
Ensure that the hand holding the stock piece is well away from the path of the blade.
Remember to use feather boards and push sticks as and when necessary.
===================================== Of all the woodworking power tools in your shop, the radial arm saw is probably the most important tool to make sure you get the right blade for. It is VERY important to have to correct tooth angle and if possible, has anti-kickback features. These will help make the radial arm saw safer to use, give better cuts and make it easier for the woodworker to use. =====================================
When buying plywood from your local Home Depot, Rona, Lowes or other wood supplier, you might have noticed that all the plywood is "graded". The most common plywood grading scheme is from A to D, with A being the highest quality with zero blemishes and great sanding, and D being the worst with the greatest number of blemishes (allowed).
Grading also typically comes in pairs where each grade addresses a different side or “face” of the stock piece, ie one letter will address the quality issues of the front face and the second, the side opposite to the face. So for instance, an A-C plywood sheet would be highly finished on the front face with a relatively poorer finish on the back. Similarly, construction grade C-D (referred to as CDX) plywood, is great for structural use but not for projects requiring a high quality finish.
Along with the plywood grading system, plywood comes in different bonding where each type is differentiated by the glue used to bind the layers (aka plies) of plywood. We’ll cover each in turn.
Interior Plywood This type is made for interior use only, from hardwood and softwood species and is generally used in places where exposure to moisture is minimal, e.g. furniture, wall sheathing, cabinetry, etc. Interior plywood is available in most grades and comes in a variety of hardwood species like birch, oak and cherry.
Exterior Plywood By far, much more sturdier and moisture-resistant than interior plywood, this type can be used outdoors and is easily available from local suppliers. Like its interior counterpart, it also comes in various grades—A-C, B-C and CDX are widely available—and hardwood species.
Marine Plywood If you’re really looking for highly moisture-resistant plywood, look no further than Marine Plywood, which is both manufactured in top quality and uses the highest adhesives. And though commonly graded A-A for two highly placed faces, hardwood choices for exterior use (where the type would be most useful) are limited.
Structural Plywood If you’re looking for beauty over brawn, this type is ideal although it is rarely found in a grade higher than C-D and is atypically used in construction sites (as concrete forms). Special resins are used to adhere the layers together and they are designed in such a way that the plies are less likely to separate.
Plywood Sizing Just like hardwood and softwood sizes, plywood sizes can be just as confusing if not more. Although sheets are usually sold as 4’ wide, they may sometimes be found in 2’ and 5’ widths. Similarly, just as a typical plywood sheet’s length is 8’ they can also be found in 4’ and 12’ sizes as well as metric sizes. The variety can easily confuse the best of us.
And that’s just the beginning; the variation of sizes above will be a walk in the park compared to the thickness dimensions. Common sizes on the US market are ¼”, ½” and ¾”. That said, a ¼” plywood sheet is really 7/32”; ½” a 15/32” and ¾”, a 23/32”.
And though the 1/32” doesn’t seem like much, it can make all the difference when working with plywood. Consider this: a wood craftsman is constructing a bookshelf where a ¾” shelf is inserted into a dado cut into the shelf standards; the 1/32” gap will not only be noticeable, the dado will feel sloppy and unprofessionally handled. To counteract such a situation, the dado will need to be cut at 23/32”, ensuring a snug fit.