…The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley…
Between 2001 and 2004, my workshop was in the garage of the house. I didn’t know much about woodworking, or the machines and power tools and nothing at all about the hand tools. I had drills, a chop saw, a Triton table saw, a Triton Router table, an Axminster dust extraction machine, a De Walt planer thicknesser, another router, a sanding machine, a belt sander, a biscuit jointer, a dovetail jig, loads of piping for the extraction system and a screwdriver. I don’t think I had any hand tools, except for a modern Stanley No4 which didn’t work.
I crammed all that into a 2.5m by 5m (7′ by 16′) garage. I had extraction tubes all over the ceiling. I had to move one machine out the way to use another. It was noisy, dusty, hot and cold at the same time.
There, however, I built a bookcase and two tables. Every time I went in there, though, I had to turn on a fan heater for half an hour first, put on overalls, a full face Trend dust mask and ear defenders.
Pretty soon I began to ask myself exactly what I thought I was doing. Every task seemed difficult. Maybe it needed a jig to get a cut, or maybe I found myself doing something dangerous, for example leaving a guard off. After all, Norm did it for “photography purposes” so why can’t I?
Inevitably, the day came when one of the machines warned me. Thinking the cutter was retracted, I swiped my hand across the Router Table to clear some chips – and sliced all five fingers of my left hand. Lucky it was switched off.
I didn’t heed the warning, however. In the spring of 2004, I was finishing up on the Router Table, when, on the spur of the moment, I decided to trim a quarter round moulding for Mike. Fortunately, I changed the cutter from a 12mm straight to a 6mm straight. This limited the damage.
At some point the cutter became a drive shaft and pulled the moulding backwards. BANG!
It happened so quickly that I couldn’t possibly get my left hand out the way. In place of the nail, my left ring finger got a 6mm u shaped hole. You could hold a pencil in it. Doesn’t blood splatter everywhere?
For me, that was the end for machines and, eventually, almost all power tools as well.
The Router Table – along with the rest of the evil machine hordes – eventually got banished to a garden shed. I hated it and couldn’t care less about it. With the others, it could languish in there until I could be bothered to sell it. That was in 2004.
Last year, Peter came down to kindly take the Planer Thicknesser off my hands. In all these years, I’d hardly given any of the machines more than a glance. Water had got in them, though. The roof had leaked on them all.
I managed to clean Peter’s De Walt. Any rust there was, was just flash rust and came right off with the help of my non toxic rust remover. Blades sharpened, chains cleaned and oiled, Peter has had some good use out of it.
This is router table as it came out of the shed…