Hard day in the lab in San Jose…

Back before the Apps lab had the important equipment moved out and replaced with IC testers…I used to fly in all the time.   I’ve stayed in just about every hotel in San Jose, and even crashed at friends’ houses, when all hotels from Pleasanton to Gilroy were fully booked,  including the EZ-8 (both locations).  IMG_0484

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Building shelves

What dodoes every smartypants do when shown a  shelf set in the Room and Board  catalog  for four thousand dollars?  He thinks he can build it!  How hard could it be, right?  🙂  The thing is, you probably can build it, but it’s a lot harder than you think.   While Room and Board’s  linear cabinets are made of solid wood, I chose to use Baltic birch plywood, and plan to save about $2900, including tool,plywood, veneer, and stain cost, but not including labor.  Solid wood would require a table saw and a lot of woodworking skill.  Since people who know me know I have an attention span only slightly longer than that possessed by the target demographic for ‘Sesame Street’ (more in the ‘Electric Company’ range), a table saw would not be a good fit for me, at least right now.   Since the rule is, do every home improvement project, but always get a new tool, I decided to buy a track saw and a plunge router and tackle this project.  Festool makes good equipment with superior dust collection.  However, after I saw the prices for Festool equipment, I went to my Makita dealer and bought the SP6000K1 track saw on clearance (it has since been discontinued) as well as the RP2301FC plunge router.  The SP6000K1 instruction manual had some interesting stuff in it, including the helpful hint not to hold the saw upside down in a vise.  Good to know!  I have done stupid stuff with tools before but I hope I never do anything that stupid.  Hard as it is to believe it had to happen enough that Makita would write this up in their instruction manual.  A contractor told me that he’s seen guys forgo the vise and just hold the skillsaw upside down,  while somebody pushes a 2×10 into it…

saw

I found you can make really accurate cuts with the tracksaw, and track.  It’s basically a skillsaw with an integral guide track the saw rides upon.  You get good value with the Makita system but there are two problems with the Makita saw: there is no riving knife, and the vacuum port is a terrible design.  The hose port always wants to stick straight down, it isn’t articulated or anything.  Because of its position, this means the hose can get hung up, especially on the track.  When this happens, you have to take one hand off the saw and try to move the hose (not good), or turn the saw off.  If you turn the saw off it will leave a burn mark on the plywood as the saw spins down.  You can’t pull the saw up because it will pull backwards because the hose is hungup and prevents it from moving out of the plunge.  The alternatives are to forgo the vacuum, which will leave a mess, or to position the vacuum hose over your shoulder.  The RP2301FC is a great router except it leaves sawdust everywhere.  I wondered why people would spend the money for Festool, and well, now I know.  Anyway, this is what the shelves look like so far…

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