STL 134: Crosscut Sleds and Friendly Commissions

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    Question 1:

    I have built several crosscut sleds, and they all seem to be flawed enough to where after I am finished I think to myself that I might have to scrap it and start over. I built one out of 1/2 in plywood and made my reference fence from several layers of plywood. When the fence came out of the clamps, it had a bow in it. I am about give up on the crosscut sled altogether. I’m wondering if there what the pros and cons of an aftermarket miter gauge vs. a crosscut sled are. -Ethan

    Rollie Johnson – Essential Bandsaw Blades

    Question 2:

    I’m fairly new to the hand tool side of woodworking, so this may seem like a stupid question. My question is regarding how the planes are put away in tool cabinets.  Are the blades retracted prior to storage, or are they left setup to do another cut?  If the blades are retracted, it would become a nuisance to set them up each time they are being used, especially if it’s only for a few swipes.  If they are stored with the blade still set, is there a worry for damaging the edge of the blade when taking it in and out of the cabinet?  – Steve

    All Time Favorite Technique of All Time… for this week:

    Mike – Dovetailed keys to hold a tabletop in place
    Christian Becksvoort – Moldings that stay put, Issue #122–Jan/Feb 1997 (article not available online)


    Matt – Clamp in a vise

    Kenney Technique

    Tom – Go bars!

    McKenna Technique

    Question 3:

    My dad gave me an old rockwell/delta 4” jointer that works well. I got the knives sharpened and it is a joy to use. My one complaint is when I turn on the machine I have to yank the belt down to get the motor running. Can I replace the motor with a rockwell delta 3/4 hp motor I already have or do I need to get a new 1/2 hp motor to match the existing? – Ike

    Question 4:

    I have a friend who would like me to build a home bar, built-in bookcases, refinish some dressers etc., and I’m not sure what to charge. I can’t afford to turn work down as I need to build my portfolio to justify higher rates with future clients.
    When starting out, did any of you charge less than what you would’ve liked, just to have work for your portfolio or to justify tool purchases with wife? Would it be a better route to build pieces for my home to photograph for portfolio so I’m not farming myself out at low cost? -Ross

    All Time Favorite Furniture of All Time… for this week

    Matt – Cutlery Box:

    Kenney Furniture
    Mike – Jennie Alexander’s ladderback chair:

    Pekovich Furniture sewing table
    Tom – Christian Becksvoort’s wall shelf

    McKenna Furniture (yes... that's the biggest we have)

    Question 5:

    I’m working with some English walnut that has a rather unpleasant sort of barnyard smell to it. I was wondering if you guys had experience with this, and if you had any recommendations for finish and or technique to lock in the smell. I love the look of this slab and I want to make it into a Nakashima style coffee table, front and center in my living room. But I’d prefer my living room to not smell like a barnyard. -Shawn



    mp150 mk150

    Tom McKenna

    Michael Pekovich
    Executive Art Director

    Matt Kenney
    Special Projects Editor

    Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answers questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking‘s biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to for consideration in the regular broadcast! Our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page.

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