Tools for Working Wood

 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

Festool Package News and Some Long-Term Things You Should Be Aware Of  


Festool just released an official statement about packages. In the past if you bought a tool along with a vacuum at the same time you would be entitled to a 10% discount on the vacuum. Two tools, two vacs, two discounts. And so on. In the Festool catalog there were specific part numbers to deal with these discount packages. As the number of tools rose the number of packages got out of hand so Festool said "No More". The new policy is that if you buy a tool, any tool, including a drill, or a Vecturo, which don't even connect to a vac, you can get 10% off any vacuum or MFT/3 table that you want. It's the same discount as before but much easier to determine. So under all the tools we have added a drop-down which lists all the package add-ons. The discount is shown in the shopping cart. If you purchase more than one tool, or several vacuums the system will automatically give you the best discount it can. If you want a drill and a vacuum they aren't listed on the same page but you can add them separately and the cart will know how to calculate the best discount. I wrote the code for this feature last week. It seems to work, please let me know what you think.

While we are on the subject of Festool I want to talk about some issues that have occasionally come up with the line.

Sanding pads that wear out. Over time you might notice that the sanding pads on your sander seem to stop holding the sandpaper well. This is normal, pads do wear out, but there are a couple of things you can do to make the pads last a lot longer:

Turn down your vacuum to about 1/2 power. There is just too much suck going on for sander dust collection. What happens is that the suction from the vac pulls the sander to the work, making it stick to the work and therefore making it harder to move the sander and harder for the sander to oscillate and do sanding. So the extra friction gives you more heat, the heat softens and destroys the pad. Cure: turn down the vacuum to about 1/2 power, or actually the minimum level needed to get great dust collection. Your pads will last a lot longer, and sanding will be a lot easier.

Another reason sanding pads can wear out is if you use Abranet sanding mesh. Holes in the mesh mean that the hooks on the pad stick through the mesh and will be worn out. The solution is Mirka makes an inter-pad for Abranet (we don't stock it as we don't stock Mirka) that you should use between the pad and the Abranet.

Motor Brushes - If you use your tools a LOT. and I mean a lot, weekend warriors will probably never wear out the motor brushes on their tools, but professionals who use their tools a lot might. If you wait too long before changing brushes your tool might start operating irregularly, and if you wait even long you will damage the motor armature, requiring an expensive repair. Brushes are considered consumables and replacing brushes is a normal long-term care item. You can change your own brushes pretty easily. If you bring the tool in we will do it while you wait - it takes about five minutes. We do not charge except for the actual brushes, which are pretty inexpensive. We stock all the replacement brushes here. (we try to stock all the brushes for every tool but we probably are missing a few - give us a holler if we don't have what you need).

Tool sockets: The concept of detachable cords is great and convenient but in order for it to work you need to twist the cord in the socket on the tool a complete 1/4 turn. Otherwise you don't get a complete connection and inside the socket you get arcing. This coats both the cord and socket with carbon, reducing efficiency even further and causing even more arcing. And if you use a carbonized cord or socket with a nice clean cord of socket, the carbon layer will cause arcing and destroy the good cord or good socket. The solution: replace both the cord and socket as soon as you see carbon develop. We stock both sockets and cords for just about every tool and you can easily change it yourself. If you come to the showroom with the tool we can do it for you at no charge in about 5 minutes.

Vacuum sockets. The way the socket on your vacuum works is there are two leaf springs that form the connector to the plug of the tool. When you plug your tool into the socket on the vacuum the springs give a great contact and everything works perfectly. However over time as you move your tool back and forth, the cords sways back and forth in the sockets, and especially with sanders, those springs can wear and suddenly you get an intermediate contact. The solution is to unplug the vac and bend the socket prongs back together. This will work for ages although eventually you might have to replace the socket.

Finally, a few months ago Festool changed it's warranty. In the old days in the case of a problem Festool paid for shipping both ways in the first year of purchase, one way the second year, and you paid all shipping in the third year. The NEW and much improved policy is that Festool will pay shipping both ways for ALL THREE YEARS. You can either bring the tool to us and we will be happy to arrange shipping to Festool for you, or you can go to and create your own ticket and get a pre-paid return label. In either case Festool turns the tools around pretty quickly.

N. B. After writing this blog I reread it and I am hoping that you don't get the impression that Festool products aren't what their reputation has lead you to believe. The actual number of tools that come in for repair of any sort is tiny. With a three year warranty Festool simply cannot afford to make junk. But like any high end item the tools aren't meant to be disposable, and at some point some of your tools might need some assistance. What makes Festool a great tool company is not just that they make great tools, but also that support them in a professional way. Part of both our and Festool's job is making sure that if you do have a problem you aren't alone.
Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions
Comments: 0

Sleep Like an Egyptian  


Every since I was a kid I have been fascinated by this Egyptian funeral bier which is on exhibit in the Egyptian wing of the Met. Over the years, with each shifting of the galleries, it has been moved hither and yon but fortunately it is still on display. Dating from the Dynasty 1-2 about 2966-2926 BC (about 5000 year ago), its use of bull hoofs as feet is both functional and elegant. They have other biers of similar style on display, including ones of ivory. The front of the biers have bull forelegs and the backs have the rear legs. The mortise and tenon joinery is of coarse familiar to use and in fact the structure is entire familiar. But what it makes it, at least for me, this piece that has drawn my eye for nearly a half century, is the imagining of the bier as an animal. Not some plain post, but a person is on top of an bull. Now these are funeral biers for carrying the body into the tomb (I think before mummification but I am not sure) and it makes sense to be riding a bull. I think also that the use of bull feet was also done on beds for the living but again I am not sure. But also look at the power in the foot. It's not really stylized. Five thousand years ago, using bronze and copper tools, some skilled craftsman carved this object and for all that I don't live on the Nile, and that we don't have herds of bulls roaming Grand Army Plaza I can still connect with it. And a modern bed, higher up and larger, with similarly carved (and maybe painted hoofs - would be totally awesome.

The ivory Madonna and child in this picture was something I noticed as my son and i were wandering through the medieval wing. While in comparison to the Egyptian bier, at only 900 years old, this sculpture is brand new. What stuck me is how tender and affectionate the mother and child are. The baby is reaching up to cluck his mothers chin (the photo doesn't do this justice) and they are both enjoying each others' company.

Of course that these objects have survived so long is amazing, but for me what truly is wonderful is the emotional contact the creators have made with me over eons of time.
Make something special, make something worthwhile, make something, as functional as furniture, and it can touch people, cheer them up, and enrich their lives for generations, maybe even for thousands of years to come.
Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques,Historical Subjects
Comments: 3

Game Changer: Should You Buy the Festool Conturo Edge-Bander?  


Should You Buy the Festool Conturo Edge-Bander? First of all as a seller of tools with a mortgage to pay the obvious answer as far as I am concerned is a rousing "Yes!" However, from your standpoint it's the most expensive piece of equipment Festool has ever brought to the US, and it's too expensive just to sit in the shop and take up space.

In all seriousness I think the Conturo is a game changer because it allows a smaller shop to apply edge banding that has the same level of quality ( up to 3mm/ 18" in thickness, up to 65mm in width (2-9/16"), and curves (only when using the machine hand-held) but up to a teeny-tiny 2" inner radius), as a large shop can using a stationary giant machine of many times the cost, with similar savings in labor and time.

In other words one competitive edge of a larger shop just disappeared, and the minimum expected quality of a small job just increased.

As far as I know there are, including the Conturo, six ways of applying edgebanding. (^*&! - notes below)

MethodGluing MethodolgyCapacityFinal AppearanceLabor CostCapital Cost
Clamps & Cauls
wood glueAnythingCan be Awesome!Very High!, and some skill is needed.0^*
Iron on - Freehand
pre-glued banding is neededvery thin, Glue has to be melted with an iron through the bandingOK - You have limited options in edging, and the thin edging limits edge treatmentsHigh and some skill is needed0*
Iron on with a fixture
pre-glued banding is needed
very thin, Glue has to be melted with an iron through the banding
OK - You have limited options in edging, and the thin edging limits edge treatments
Not as high as without a fixture<$1000
Hand held Festool Corturo
hot melt applied to the edging
up to 3mm (1/8") bending, needed to be at least slightly flexibleExcellent! As good as any edge banding I have seenLow compared to all methods except a Big Fancy Bander2800-3500!
Table Mounted Festool Conturo
hot melt applied to the edging
up to 3mm (1/8") bending, needed to be at least slightly flexible
Excellent! As good as any edge banding I have seen
Big Fancy Edge Bander.
hot melt applied to the edgingUsually anything, even very thick ridged stock.=C2=A0Awesome. Depending on the machine you can have a finished edge in no time, with any material you can imaginge, with more consistent results than by hand.Low compared to other methods10k and UP#

^ - I am not including the costs of clamps because lots of clamps are used for tons of things in the shop, not just applying edge banding.
* - you do need some sort of Laminate trimmer to flush the edges. There are some inexpensive trimmers that are just a blade in a fixture but they work OK at best. On heavier edging that

! - The higher number includes the MFK700 laminate trimmer - which if you don't have one you don't absolutely need.

#Depending on the specific machines there machines not only apply the banding, but can also trim, and finish the edging. Also some of these machines will take long rigid edging of 1/4" thickness or more. Most will require riggers for installation, and custom electrical wiring. There are also long term maintenance charges to consider.

Another thing about this machine and why it's a game-changer is that unlike a big machine that takes weeks to install and needs special maintenance, the Conturo is like any other portable machine. You can bid on a job taking it into account for use on the banding you need to do, then when you get the contract, come on down (or let us ship it to you - free) and that's it. And it is covered by the regular three year Festool warranty. And you can start using it when it arrives. Cost out the machine based on your labor savings and the increased quality of the result.

Check out our video that Tim made on his phone when we first hooked up our machine. It's cool and the hot melt glue system is the professional way to attach banding - no more iron-on!

We have a unit up and running in our showroom. If you are within striking distance come on by with some scrap or a couple of shelves and try out the machine out for yourself. We only have 3/4" banding samples - so you might want to bring your own if that's not what you want to try. Please call ahead just to make sure we can do the demo.

Click here for details and pricing. The units are in stock now - ready for immediate shipment beginning next Monday March 16, 2015.

Special thanks to Sebastian Lata for setting up the machine and running it through its paces for us.
Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions
Comments: 4

Guest Blog: Many Sincere Thanks  


We get lots of email, most good, some pointing out where we screwed up. This email from Tom Garry was so much fun to read, I thought that, with Tom's permission, I would share it with everyone:

Dear Tools for Working Wood:

Please allow me to share the thoughts of a dying man with you. (The doctor recently only gave me 5 or 6 more decades to live).

When I was young, I heard or read somewhere "never be afraid to buy the very best - especially when it comes to tools." That phrase stuck with me throughout my life. A couple of years ago I had to give up my then-current hobby, which was rather extreme and involved several trips to the emergency room, and I took up woodworking as a replacement. I knew very little about hand-tools, other than that I absolutely loved the look, feel, and entire concept behind them. How a man could wield such instruments of beauty and produce equally beautiful and functional pieces of furniture and art using only the power of his body, the direction of his vision, and the touch of his hands was utterly fascinating to me. So I did what any new student would do - I visited You Tube University. There, I was lucky enough to stumble across Paul Sellers and his videos on woodworking. I was hooked. It soon became obvious that chiseling with a sharpened screwdriver and smoothing wood with a massive belt sander was simply not going to get the job done. I needed to invest in some tools.

Through more online investigation, I also discovered Tools For Working Wood, and specifically, the Gramercy hold-fasts. After building my work bench (thank you Paul Sellers) I couldn't wait to hold down my first piece of wood with my new hold fasts, modified with a piece of leather from an old belt. I was amazed at the force that could be applied and the obvious durability these would have through my few remaining decades of life. I had discovered, in a world filled by the biblical flood of cheap imports, in a word - quality.

The next couple of years saw my collection of tools grow, and included the full set of Ray Isles mortising chisels. I was dying (no pun intended) to use them for a REAL mortise. So I made a walnut slant - front writing desk, where the only electrons harmed were in cutting the tapers for the 12/4 walnut legs on my portable table saw. I chopped a dozen perfect mortises with these hunks of solid D2 steel and they laughed at my feeble efforts to punish them. They were taunting me to do something that only they could do.

Not knowing if I would survive another Christmas, I revisited my favorite on-line tool store again and discovered the Moxon vice hardware of my dreams! I had an ideal piece of 12/4 walnut left over from my desk build that would be perfect for this ingenious bit of hardware. When my prize arrived a few days later I excitedly examined everything in the kit - and then I saw those 1/2" thick rectangular nuts that would still my heart...a 1/2" wide, 1" long, and very, very deep mortise! I could almost hear my English mortising chisels shudder in my tool cabinet.

When the day of mortising finally arrived, I wanted to play some gothic-choir-chant-type music and wear a dark hooded robe as I lifted the mighty 1/2" chisel, named Mr. Mortise, in the air. Alas, I had no such chants, or hooded robe, so I played the Monty Python segment where they walked through the town calling "Bring out ye dead!" followed by a rhythmic 'thud' of a drumbeat. After laying out the location of the mortises twice (I was so excited I got the location wrong the first time) it was finally time to strike Mr. Mortise on the head with a mallet and see how far I could go. The mortise began to take shape and I was now swinging the mallet over my head and delivering as forceful an impact that I could muster. Mr. Mortise plunged deeper and deeper into the abyss of walnut sheering huge chunks of debris out of his way. The sides of the mortise actually became polished after brushing shoulders with Mr. Mortise time after time again. When the final blow fell silent, I dropped my stainless rule into the mine shaft to check depth: 4 1/8" deep. Straight down. No drift. No problem.

I think the finished Moxon vice looks pretty nice, if I do say so. I was so proud of surviving another year of my fatal disease called "natural causes" that I rewarded myself with the Gramercy dovetail saw. Oh I can't wait to drive that Formula 1 car around a long racetrack of joinery!

So, my toolmaking heros of the North, I would like to offer a very sincere 'Thank You' to everyone who was involved with bringing peace to a man who's years were once numbered. I'm happy to report that because of you I appear to be in remission and am as healthy as a horse. Never be afraid to build the very best - we will buy it.

Best Regards,

Tom Garry
The Woodlands, TX
Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions,Misc.
Comments: 8

Festool Vacuums and the Changing Jobsite  


This weekend I will be at the Somerset Woodworking Show in New Jersey along with our crew and a fair range of Gramercy Tools, Flexcut carving tools, DMT, Blaklader workwear, and of course Festool. We will be demoing the new Festool Conturo, an exciting new edge-bander from Festool that brings to the smaller shop the power of a professional edge-bander. The Conturo does curved as well as straight edges, perfectly fitting into the requirements of modern furniture design. We will also have (we hope) the first BT&C Festool accessory product - Spots.

In addition to us, Lee Valley will be there, along with many other top notch vendors. 360woodworking is giving free seminars all three days and I am told Frank Klausz will be stopping in their booth too. Very valuable paid seminars will be taught by Marc Adams and others.

This is our busy season and I spend a lot of time with customer, old and new, trying to understand their needs, concerns, and desires. What's really interesting to me about the modern professional woodworking market in NYC is how standards have changed. It's true that in 1900 a bandsaw would have had naked blade spinning and we know from contemporary documentation of the time that lots of people thought the guards unnecessary. Now they all have blade guards. When I was younger and we argued about guards on table saws, guards on bandsaws were taken as a given. I think the reason was that I grew up in an age when a bandsaw guard was pretty obvious. It just didn't seem weird to us. It was how you built a bandsaw. Tables saws on the other hand were a different matter.

Table saw safety perceptions are changing. Many people who are used to a bare blades and really poorly designed table saw guards consider the entire debate is about the nanny state and not being careful. People who have seen well designed guards and what happens when you don't have a guard, are probably as a group, younger. But we no longer find it odd, or non-professional, for someone to have a table saw tricked out with guards, or a saw stop. And in fact it's increasingly the standard.

The same this is happening to vacuums. When I first started selling tools dust collection was an afterthought and it was generally thought that there was nothing wrong with a jobsite covered in a haze of dust. This has drastically changed. Leaving a film of dust all over a home isn't nearly as acceptable as it was, and cabinetmakers and finishers, especially younger ones, are more and more aware of, and take preventive measurements against, dust and noise. This is all good.

It's really interesting how the idea of having a HEPA rated vacuum at a job site, not leaving a mess at the end of the day, not having to breath dust, have all become normal for contractors, not a "nice to have". I am of course appalled when I see people use demolition hammers without ear protection, sand without dust collection or masks, and abrasive cutoff wheels without goggles. But I can also say in the past ten years I see this less and less, and usually the demonstration is accompanied by a lack of skill, one step above day labor (N.B. please don't write me and tell me proudly that you never wear goggles or ear protection - I've seen or heard of too many accidents to think that's smart to do, and too many craftsman I know have permanent hearing loss from not wearing ear protection when they were younger.) Younger craftspeople are more aware than ever of the need to protect eyes, lungs, and hearing for the long-term. I think it's great.

What has happened in NYC is that as more and more crafts-people work with great dust collection, customers have started demanding a cleaner job site, so other contractors are forced to upgrade, and in workshops (especially with all those bearded Brooklynites who can't use dust masks effectively) people are demanding cleaner environments, which is not only safer, but also makes finishing easier.

See you in this weekend in Somerset. Along with the crew I'll be there Friday and Saturday. The show runs through Sunday.

Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions
Comments: 3

News (some good some sad)  


First of all, bad news that might work out Ok, and only effects people who live around 21th street and First ave. Ess-A-Bagel lost its lease and was supposed to close at the end of January. So far it seems to be still open. The landlord supposedly already rented the place to the Bank of America and a second tier bagel place but Ess says they found a place within a block. As Yogi said - "It ain't over until it's over." Needless to say when one is used to starting the weekend breakfasts with a couple of fresh bagels, still hot from the oven, from what is arguably the best bagel shop in the country, a story like this is of grave concern. But since it looks like it will turn out OK I have stopped panicking.

Good News:

We are pleased as punch to announce that we will be - once again - at The Woodwork Shows in Somerset NJ on February 20. We will be bringing extensive quantities of hand tools, Gramercy Tools, DMT, Flexcut, Festool, and Blaklader work wear and Etc. We might even have some new stuff to show off! In addition to us and a bunch of other great vendors 360Woodworking, the group founded by Bob Lang, Chuck Bender, and Glen Huey will be there. I don't know at this point if all three of them are coming, but the schedule shows free seminars! Our booth will be located right next to Patina and antique toolware - which is just dangerous for me personally. I'm not sure if we will have holdfasts at the show - the factory might miss the show by a week. By the way we are starting to stock a lot of Flexcut, more is being added weekly. Flexcut carving tools are made in the USA and are very affordable. They are out of the box sharp, and their multi-tool handle is quick to switch tools with no bother - I'm impressed.

For the month of February we are having a 10% off sale on the Festool Kapex and Kapex Accessories. For those of you on the fence about getting the best, most accurate, chop saw on the market, now is your chance. Remember all Festool tools come with a three year warranty and that includes free shipping to and from Festool.

Sad News:
Clico Industries - makers of Clifton Planes and other stuff has finished up. Fortunately the plane department has been sold and is still going strong under the aegis of Thomas Flinn, the makers of Pax and other saws. Jennings auger bits, hollow mortise bits, and spoon bits are currently orphaned and we have no more coming in. At this point I don't have another vendor for these products and when they are gone, they are gone. I am very sad to see them go. We have a film of the factory in operation here.

Adria Tools, sawmakers, has ceased operations. Eddie Sirotich has always maintained Adria as a part-time business. He has decided focus on other activities and will cease trading as parts run out. In 2005 we stocked Adria saws and liked them a lot. Fine Woodworking gave them a top notch review and they certainly inspired many companies, ourselves included, to manufacture saws.

I am of course depressed every time a tool company shuts down. But on the other hand most of the tools I use personally I either bought 30 years ago, or bought from someone who bought them someone who bought them a century or more ago. The companies might not be around any longer but the tools remain, and are useful testaments to past glory. And of course for every company finishing up, another starts up, and we hope to be stocking the products of a few new ventures soon.
Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions
Comments: 6
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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Recent Blogs:
Festool Package News and Some Long-Term Things You Should Be Aware Of-04/29/2015
Sleep Like an Egyptian-04/08/2015
Game Changer: Should You Buy the Festool Conturo Edge-Bander?-03/11/2015
Guest Blog: Many Sincere Thanks-02/25/2015
Festool Vacuums and the Changing Jobsite-02/18/2015
News (some good some sad)-02/04/2015
Pay For Play-01/21/2015
Diamond Sharpening - Part 2 - Grits and Scratches-01/14/2015
One Book - Three Editions-01/07/2015
Diamond Sharpening - Introduction-12/11/2014
Professional Status-12/03/2014
Cyber Monday - Actually Starts On Sunday Night!-11/26/2014
American Field Show At Industry City Nov 22 - 23, 2014-11/16/2014
PayPal, Festool, and Cyber Monday-11/12/2014
Colen Clenton - A Man and His Shed-10/29/2014
Designing a Moxon Vise-10/15/2014
The Modern Split-10/01/2014
This Weekend: Maker Faire AND The Saturday Market Project at The London Design Festival-09/19/2014
The English Arts & Crafts Movement-09/17/2014
Maker Faire 2014 - Sept 20-21, NYC - My presentation-09/10/2014
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