Tool of the Week: Planer

Pictured at left and below is one of our Tool Library members, Brian, using our portable Dewalt planer to smooth out a board.  This particular board is going to be a wedding gift to his sister.  As you can see in this image below, this particular board has a natural heart shape in the wood that will be the highlight of this table.

A thickness planer is a tool that evens out pieces of wood, so that the whole board is the same thickness.  A planer is often used in conjunction with a jointer, as a planer usually requires that at least one side of the board be perfectly flat.  More on jointers in another post.  A planer works by using cutting knives to shave off excess wood on the board as the board is slid through the machine.

The West Seattle Tool Library currently has two portable planers available for checkout.  However, if you only have a quick project and don’t feel up to lugging a heavy planer home, you are welcome to use one of the planers in the workshop, as Brian did.  Most of our tools can be used in our workshop for quick projects, saving you a return trip to bring back that tool.

As with most power tools, when using a planer it is recommended that you wear eye protection and remove any loose clothing or loose jewelry.  As well, ear protection is highly recommended.  Planers can be loud.  While Brian was using the planer in the workshop, all of us in the general area had to put on ear protection because it was so loud.  It is also recommended that users not plane any board less than twelve inches in length as a shorter board could lead to damage to the user and or the planer.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website.  If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

 

 

 

 

Georgetown Carnival Saturday: Power Tool Races, Music, & Cool Spaces Open to Public

Power tool races and more at the annual Georgetown Carnival, this Saturday, June 9.  Party, listen to music, eat, drink, be merry and communicate one-on-many with your neighbors and fellow festival-goers.  For info and more cool stuff, go to their website.

The music and display venues are places often not open to the public, so the Georgetown Carnival is an open house as well as a fantastic street festival.  You should go !

The forecast is mixed: Accuweather – cloudy with rain; Weather Channel – partly sunny with clouds/possible rain/ Weather Underground – Overcast with chance or rain.

Tool of the Week: Food Dehydrators

By Christina Hahs


When most people think of the West Seattle Tool Library, they probably imagine shovels and saws. While we have all of those available for use, we also have a collection of kitchen tools that can help you preserve the harvest. Tool #485 is an electric food dehydrator.

Dehydrators are great tools because they are so versatile. Drying can reduce large amounts of food into more manageable amounts. Drying also helps you preserve food without investing money into a freezer or time into canning. The dehydrator does most of the work for you, so you can spend more time using our other tools.

Some of our favorite ways to use a dehydrator:

  • Dried Fresh Fruit. Have an Italian plum tree or a bumper crop of grapes? Save some of that produce in the summer and enjoy it all winter long.
  • Dried Tomatoes. Nothing beats the taste of a fresh, vine-ripened tomato but a dehydrator can help you come close. Dehydrate your extra tomatoes and use them in soups, stews, and casseroles for that tomato taste in the winter.
  • Dried Vegetables. Dry your excess veggies for use in soups and casseroles. My favorite veggies to dry are onions, corn and zucchini. Some veggies, like zucchini, can be seasoned before drying to make a savory snack.
  • Save Leftovers Forever! Drying meals is a great way to preserve your extra food for when you need to eat quickly. Just add hot water and you’ve got dinner. Blended soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles are especially great for drying.
  • Create Your Own Backpacking Food. Love to backpack but don’t love paying exorbitant prices for the food? Dehydrate your own meals. You’ll save some cash and eat great. Dehydrated meals can also be used in an emergency preparedness kit, for when the next snowpocalypse hits.
  • Dried Herbs. Those little jars of dried herbs can be quite pricey. Preserving your excess herbs like basil and oregano can save you some cash and keep you in dried herbs all winter long.
  • Homemade Fruit Leather. Making your own fruit leather not only lets you cut out sugar and preservatives, but it also lets you make wild combinations. Think peach and blackberry or wild huckleberry. Don’t plan on any of this making it to winter though.
  • Jerky. Dehydrators can be used to make both meat jerky and tofu jerky.
  • Pet Treats. Don’t forget about Fido when using the dehydrator. Start making homemade treats like dried liver or dried filet mignon. You’ll have the happiest pet on the block.

Want to learn more about dehydrating food? Check out these great resources, available through Seattle Public Library:

  1. Backpack Gourmet by Linda Fredrick Yaffe
  2. The Busy Person’s Guide to Preserving Food by Janet Chadwick

The Electric Food Dehydrator is just one of over 1,000 tools currently available at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, feel free to drop in on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm or Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 pm to explore the Library, meet our community of DIYers, and even sign up for a membership. In any case, we would look forward to meeting you soon!

The Tool Library will reppen in its new location at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, with a grand re-opening on Saturday, April 9th.

Not only will this new location quadruple the Tool Library’s square footage but it will also offer a community workshop space. All the more reason for you to visit your Tool Library and get involved.

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Tool of the Week: The Power Plane

By Patrick Dunn

There’s a beautiful image that comes to mind when you think of an old woodworker in his shop, shaving off a paper thin slice of red cedar with a jack plane as the wood burning stove in the corner helps heat up a kettle of coffee for break time.

This picturesque scene surely still takes place here in Seattle but often there are a few modern conveniences thrown in to alter that nostalgic vision and maybe add a little noise and dust to the recipe. Among other tools, a power plane is usually one of the key culprits…and with good reason.

The power plane is designed to accomplish the same task as a traditional plane, which is mainly to smooth, flatten, straighten, or square off a wooden workpiece. With its additional muscle, however, it can far outperform a traditional plane in terms of speed and productivity. This performance undoubtedly comes at the cost of a little bit of finesse and woodworking poetry. Once you use a power plane, though, it’ll still be difficult to revert back to the aesthetic beauty of traditional planes.

Unlike a traditional plane with a solid base and an adjustable blade, a power plane has front and rear base plates and a non-adjustable blade drum. Rather than adjusting the blade, a user selects how much material to remove simply by rotating the front handle, which raises or lowers the front plate. The difference between the height of the front plate and the rear plate will then determine the amount of material that the plane removes.

Throughout these adjustments, the power plane’s blades remain fixed on a rotating drum, much like on a jointer. The smooth cutting action that results allows the power plane to handle wavy grain or knots with barely a change in pace.

To the inexperienced user, though, that smoothness can be both a help and hindrance, as it makes it much more difficult to feel the cut and to understand what the tool is actually doing. It’s also sometimes hard to tell when the wood grain of a workpiece suddenly changes direction, a variable that is crucial to fine woodworking. Users who are new to power planes and trying for that pretty look therefore often end up with a little cleanup work to do after they’ve completed the planning process.

Once you get the hang of it, though, the power plane can be a thing of beauty, even to the most hardened and stubborn, traditional woodworker.

The Power Plane is just one of over 1,000 tools currently available at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, feel free to drop in on Saturdays from 9am-2pm or Sundays from 1-5pm to explore the Library, meet our community of DIYers, and maybe sign up for a membership. In any case, we look forward to meeting you!

The Tool Library is currently located in the LHO Complex off the North Entrance to South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW. In April, however, the Tool Library will complete its move to the Denis Jorum Workshop at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, and begin full operations at that location.

Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

http://www.sustainablewestseattle.org/tool-library/

Tool Library tool of the week: Hammer Drill

By Patrick Dunn

Some folks have a downright fear of drilling through masonry, even if it’s just to hang a picture. Though largely irrational, it’s still understandable. After all, masonry can eat drill bits, especially if you use the wrong kind. And the actual drilling often takes forever, especially if you use the wrong drill. That’s why it’s almost a heavenly experience when a person finally picks up a hammer drill and a masonry bit and realizes that the job is actually a heck of a lot easier than they’re making it.

A hammer drill works a lot like a regular power drill with one extremely important feature. Instead of just spinning a drill bit, a hammer drill also creates a percussion effect that rapidly hammers a bit into the material at a rate of thousands of blows per minute. The spinning action can then draw the waste material out of the hole. While it’s a simple little feature, that percussion is what allows a user to easily drill hole after hole into common masonry, rock, and concrete. As an added bonus, you can also simply turn off the percussion and use a hammer drill on wood, drywall, and other, less dense materials just as you would use a normal power drill.

With all this effectiveness and versatility, it’s no wonder that a hammer drill is often a prized tool among contractors and DIYers alike. The only real trick is figuring out which type of hammer drill meets your needs: the percussion hammer drill or its brute cousin, the rotary hammer. Both drills can perform largely the same task, but rotary hammers do it with a strength that puts the standard percussion drill to shame.

The cause of the added power is the rotary hammer’s piston mechanism, which delivers a much stronger blow than the percussion drill’s specialized chuck. By using a piston rather than the chuck to generate the percussion, a rotary hammer can actually deliver its blows without spinning the bit, which effectively can turn it into a little manageable jackhammer with the flick of a switch.

That power and function comes at a price, though, which often makes rotary hammers the domain of professional contractors rather than homeowners or DIYers. But if all you need to do is drill a few holes in your foundation, the percussion drill will do just fine.

Luckily, a percussion hammer drill is one of over 1,000 tools available now at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, feel free to drop in on our Ask an Expert event this Saturday from 10am-Noon to explore the Library, meet our community of DIYers, and maybe sign up for a membership. In any case, we look forward to seeing you there!

The Tool Library is located in the LHO Complex off the North Entrance to South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW.

Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/


Tool Library Tool of the Week: Handscrew Clamps

By Patrick Dunn

For the workshop dreamers among us, it’s always a tough reality to face. You decide that it’s finally time to get all the tools you need to truly supply your new home workshop. Visions of routers, table saws, bandsaws, and jointers all dance in your head. Norm Abrams and Bob Villa start popping up in your dreams. You even start to design a workflow plan for your garage that’ll allow you to glide from one gloriously shiny new tool to the other, as if choreographing a woodworker’s waltz. This all continues until the day you have that horrible realization. If you’re actually going to have a workshop, before you get any that fancy stuff, one of the first things you’re going to need is probably just a lot of plain old, boring clamps.

Luckily, there’s a huge selection to choose from and plenty of great opportunities to spend your whole budget on clamps alone. When the objective of the tool is simply to hold a couple things in place or apply some pressure, the designs inevitably become vast and varied. Nonetheless, some clamps are definitely cooler than others and the handscrew clamp probably qualifies as one of the more interesting clamps in The Tool Library’s collection.

Though it may look all antique and specialized, it basically does the same job as most other clamps. The real advantage of the handscrew, though, is that the pressure it exerts can be spread out over the surface of the jaws, from the spindles to the tips. Most clamps, such as C and G clamps, usually just apply a single point of pressure and need to be teamed up with some sort of support in over to be effective at securing a larger surface.

The great thing about the handscrew clamp is that it can also apply this pinpoint pressure as well. With a little adjustment of the screws, it can actually reach over and around a surface that doesn’t need to be clamped and still grab one that does. It’s a beautiful tool, by any definition.
Handscrew clamps are just a small part of over 1,000 tools currently available at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations.

If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, feel free to drop in on Saturdays from 9am-2pm or Sundays from 1-5pm to explore the Library, meet our community of DIYers, and maybe sign up for a membership. In any case, we would look forward to meeting you!

The Tool Library is located in the LHO Complex off the North Entrance to South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW.

Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool of the Week: Thickness Planer

By Patrick Dunn

Have you ever needed a piece of wood to be just a wee bit thinner for your project? Hardware and lumber stores will never be able to carry every thickness of wood. If you need anything outside their range of options, then you’re going either to have to fork over a couple more bucks to have the piece custom milled or you’re going to have to do a little woodwork yourself. Luckily, thickness planers make this work pretty simple.

A thickness planer allows you to work a board down to just about any thickness you like with relative ease and not a whole lot of required skill. These planers in general have a good bit of variation across makes and models, but all of them are composed of at least two main parts: a cutting head and a set of infeed/outfeed rollers. While the rollers draw the piece through the machine, the cutter head removes a consistent amount of material from the entire width of the piece. Depending on the size and motor of the planer, a piece could be trimmed to size in a single pass or may have to be passed through the planer a few times before reaching its required thickness.

While in days past, you might only find a thickness planer at a sawmill or professional woodshop, the do-it-yourself movement has largely allowed these planers to be available to even a novice woodworker. These scaled down, portable versions, however, are nowhere near as powerful nor as accurate as their far more expensive, professional cousins.

More often than not, the thickness planer is usually the one tool that can separate a casual DIYer from someone who has truly committed to the cause. Without the help of one of these beautiful machines, your projects will either always be limited to the standardized stock at the stores or you will forever be paying extra for someone to do your milling for you.

This is why our Dewalt, 12.5” thickness planer is perhaps one of our most prized tools at The West Seattle Tool Library. We purchased it in near perfect condition from a retired, West Seattle union carpenter about 7 months ago and it has seen steady use from our membership ever since. The real trick to keeping these planers working smoothly is simply to make sure you keep the blades sharp and the whole contraption as clean as possible. With the proper care, tools like these can last a lifetime.

The thickness planer is one of over 1,000 tools available now at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, please consider attending one of our bi-weekly meetups or becoming a member.

Follow The West Seattle Tool Library on:
Twitter (@wstoollibrary),
Facebook, (facebook.com/WSToolLibrary)
and Meetup (meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library).

Tool of the Week: Hand Held Circular Saw

By Amanda Leonard

One of the most popular and heavily used power tools is the hand held circular saw. You’ve probably seen them on just about every do-it-yourself show out there. Believe it or not, stationary circular saws have actually been around since the late 1770’s, though they weren’t available in a hand held form until 1923.

The basic circular saw uses a rotating blade to make relatively straight cuts across a piece of material. Though the hand held version is the type most people think of when circular saw is mentioned, there are also a wide variety of other circular saws such as miter saws, radial arm saws, table saws, and biscuit joiners. The beauty of a hand held version is that, instead of moving the wood across the blade, the blade moves across the wood. This allows for much more flexibility in the angle or length of the cut.

A circular saw blade is composed of a metal disc with teeth near the edges. These teeth are often specialized for the material you are cutting such as wood, plywood, or metal, but there are also multipurpose blades that can handle just about anything with some degree of success. Tip: When cutting plywood or laminate, use masking tape over your cut line and cut with the material upside down. This will help you obtain a clean cut without excessive chipping.

Another feature of the hand held circular saw is the ability to adjust the angle and depth of the saw blade. By adjusting the angles, a DIY’er can create more sophisticated joints in all sorts of projects, from trim work to furniture making. Adjusting the blade depth, on the other hand, simply limits the blades exposure and helps control kickback, which can be dangerous to both person and project. Tip: Set the blade so that the bottom of the blade is no more than 1/8” to 1/4” below the material. Remember to always unplug power tools when making these adjustments.

The hand held circular saw is a very powerful and potentially dangerous tool so always be aware of the blade, which is whipping around at a few thousand rotations per minute, and wear those safety goggles! You also might like to be aware of what’s underneath the material you are cutting. It’s never fun to get have way through a cut and then suddenly slice through the power cord. Of course, if you’re someone who’s prone to such mistakes, you could avoid cutting the power cord altogether by trying out one of the cordless options from the Tool Library.

For more tips and tricks to using the circular saw and other power tools, check out the new Power Tools 101 course offered in partnership with The Tool Library by South Seattle Community College. Amy Ecklund from Amy Works will be instructing the class on using power tools safely and effectively. To sign up for this course and more DIY home maintenance courses, visit www.learnatsouth.com.

The hand held circular saw (corded or cordless) is one of over 1,000 tools available now at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, please consider attending one of our bi-weekly meetups or becoming a member.

Follow The West Seattle Tool Library on:
Twitter (@wstoollibrary),
Facebook, (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/132474963463223)
and Meetup (http://www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/).

Tool of the Week: The Brace

by Patrick Dunn

Some tools just stand the test of time, regardless of technological advances. The brace, in all its simplicity, is one of those modern tool dinosaurs. First developed sometime in the 15th century, the manual brace hasn’t really changed much over all those years. Aside from its transition to steel, the only real advance has probably been the introduction of a ratchet mechanism somewhere along the line that allowed a user to maximize the tool’s torque when operating in a cramped environment.

The brace is composed of a U-shaped crank with two free floating handles, one on the end of the brace that fits in the palm of a user’s hand to provide the pressure and one at the base of the U that a user grips to turn the crank and provide the power. The chuck on most braces is slightly different from that of a modern power drill. Rather than being designed to accept the common, straight-shanked drill bit, braces usually have V-shaped brackets, which are actually designed to accept square-shanked bits. Though likely out of mass production, these square bits can commonly be found at garage sales. So opportunities surely abound if you’d really love to get into using a brace, as woodworkers have for centuries.

For most uses, though, the brace has largely been replaced by a variety of power drills, which are often able to complete the same task in a fraction of the time. Modern power drills also offer more accuracy, as the user’s hands and arms can remain in relatively the same position throughout the drilling process.

Nonetheless, the brace definitely still has its uses. In fact, they still often reside in the toolboxes of those who occasionally work with larger fastenings or who work away from a power supply for longer periods of time. And, if you’re a tool aficionado, they’re actually quite fun.

The brace is one of over 1,000 tools currently available at The West Seattle Tool Library. Located at The South Seattle Community College Garden Center, The Tool Library is open on Saturdays from 9am-2pm and Sundays from 1-5pm. This Saturday, January 22nd, from 10am to noon, The Tool Library will host “Ask an Expert for the Do-It-Yourselfer,” which features free advice and shared knowledge from a rotating cast of local experts.

For more information, visit sustainablewestseattle.org/tool-library
or follow The Tool Library on:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/132474963463223
Meetup: meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/
or Twitter: @wstoollibrary

Tool of the Week: Profile sander

by Micah Summers

At The West Seattle Tool Library, we’ve been thankful and fortunate to receive a large number of unique donations, from brand-new tools to obscure, vintage items. Today I’m writing about a tool donation that came to us nearly unused, a Porter Cable profile sander.

If you’ve ever tried to refinish a piece of old furniture or prepare fine woodworking for that gorgeous finish coat, then you’ve likely discovered that most power sanders aren’t too useful when it comes to the small details. The profile sander is a multi-function sander specifically tailored for working on that small stuff.

The most common attachment, or profile, for this sander is a triangular profile that’s able to reach into the corners and edges of flat surfaces. This particular sander also comes with a set of hard rubber profiles, however, that allow you to sand rounded, convex, or even concave surfaces easily and efficiently.

All of these profiles attachments can make use of standard, hand-cut sheets of sandpaper, eliminating the need for expensive specialty sandpaper. This amazingly useful tool also features a handy dust collection system and a powerful 1.8 amp variable speed motor.

The profile sander is just one of 1000+ tools available now at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on member donations. Feel free to come over and check it out!

In the meantime, visit us at sustainablewestseattle.org/tool-library for more information or to take a look at our inventory. And if you’re looking for a unique gift-idea, Tool Library Gift Memberships are now available online! Visit http://www.sustainablewestseattle.org/tool-library/holiday-gift-membersh… to sign up today.

Follow The West Seattle Tool Library on Twitter (@wstoollibrary) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seattle-WA/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/13247…).