Woodworking Love Tools

I was the happy recipient of some new wood working tools, the other day. Harbor Freight had a killer deal on just about everything, really. I’ve been looking around for a band saw and an air compressor. Craigslist and the local for sale stuff, were just not cutting it.

Since we started on this whole long journey, it has felt, maybe, a little like the Jews wandering around in the desert. Maybe, I said. I am sure they felt a tad bit frustrated by the lack of good, used, woodworking tools in their travels. Me too. Once we left the rather chilly embrace of Minnesota, and headed into the Southwest, the ease of acquiring quality used tooling, dropped off dramatically. Sure there are deals, here and there, but they largely depend on you knowing a guy that knows a guy. We moved about so much that I never made the acquaintance of that essential guy. There is a saying that gets bandied about, when talking of such things. “You’re never far enough from Chicago, that you can’t make a deal.” Apparently, I was.

The dynamics have changed a bit, with the advent of the Information Super Highway. On the Internet, I have a guy that knows lots of guys. My man Ling can get me sweet deals on electronics and everything else. And they get delivered to my door, wherever I live. There is a drawback to those sweet deals, however. Shipping costs. I can get something shipped from Chicago, much cheaper than something from China. This keeps the Chicago guys happy. You don’t want to end up with concrete galoshes.

So a hybrid deal is worked out. Places like Harbor Freight import stuff from China by the shipload, and pass the savings on to you. And quite often that cheap stuff is cheap quality. If I had my druthers, I would pick something American made, from the early ’70s, at the latest. Anything going forward from that, the quality starts sliding. Much like you get now from China, hit or miss.

I got an e-mail coupon for 25 percent off, any item, and could not pass that up. We saddled up and headed into Wichita. The store is located in a little strip mall, about in the center of town. It looked a little shabby, as did the surrounding area. The place was jammed packed full of stuff. It was hard to see any one thing. I reached for my inner Zenair-compressor tool buyer and we found focus. I serenely glided to my first stop, the air compressor, 2.5 horse, 8 gallon, oil injected. I didn’t even notice the other people sort of avoiding me and muttering, “who let the weirdo Zen dude in?” I drifted off to the next item. People parted before me. This has a draw back, as Store help won’t help when you look focused. Oh well.

Found the band saw, and I was pleased. 14 inch, 4 speed, cast iron body and saw deck. We took our chits up to the counter and the check out was stellar. He first checked to see if they had our stuff in inventory and all was good. The Mrs, always on the lookout for a sweeter deal, started haggling with the check out. He was up to it and found us a coupon band-sawfor the 25 percent off anything. He told us that the ad was misleading. You had to come on Sunday only, and had to have the printed coupon to get that deal. And here is the classic guy that knows a guy and can get the deal for you. He went to another checkout and rummaged through their till until he found a coupon and then scanned it in for us. The original price for the band saw was $430 and they had marked it down to $339 and with the 25 percent coupon dropped it down to something like $254.  While this was happening, they had hauled our stuff out to the front.

Some really skinny guy called Doc was going to load up our sweet deals into the back of our pickup. That was the working assumption, which didn’t fly as soon as Doc laboriously horsed the cart to the back of the truck. And then stooped and started grunting, while all the heavy stuff stuck to the cart and laughed at him. I was double parked, as the saying goes, and did not have time for foolin’ around. I nudged him out of the way and put the stuff on the truck. Normally, guys get offended when you nudge them out of the way and do what they can’t. Nope, Doc just stood there, with a vacant look. Maybe he was Zenning too. As we drove away, he was still standing there. City people worry me sometimes.

Got the sweet deals home and put together the air compressor. It was basically complete out of the box, I just had to install the handle and wheels, and change the oil. Then the band saw. I had noticed on the website reviews, the install suffered from bad and vague instructions. In fact, the very first instruction was wrong and you went from there. I normally don’t do instructions. I see things in my head and hear voices. It all works out. Two and a half days later and we be cutting curvy things. I won’t talk about how I put the saw blade on backwards for the first cut and immediately thought, huh, chinese junk!

I grabbed a piece of plywood scrap I had and ran it through. Sweet. Now if I can keep my fingers out of the sharp bits, I can start building a new front door, the back door, 7 windows, several cabinets…. Only 118 days to get ‘er done. No pressure, I just wish my left eye would stop twitching.