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Thread: When did woodworkers become machinists??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie

    When did woodworkers become machinists??

    I saw this on Woodnet. For all I know AHill is a member here too. I want to make it clear this is not aimed at him personally. But what the heck is going on with Woodworkers try to cut wood to precisions in the .005 or less range??

    .... I checked my fence and it seems to be bowed a tad as well - wider at the ends compared to the middle. Could this be the cause of my poor cuts? I'm thinking I could put some shims between the UMHW and the fence tube to fix it. I got better cuts with my older contractor's saw. It's only around 0.004" difference. Should I try and fix it or just declare victory and move on?
    He went on explain that the wood was 12-16" long and it was .004 narrower in the middle than at the ends. My tape measures nor none of my rulers will measure that close. What the heck is wrong with woodworkers?? The average tolerance in a metal shop is probably +/- .005 with +/-.01 not being uncommon at all. (With some precision shops excluded of course). I am not sure who has convinced woodworkers that we need this type of precision. It's just ridiculous! And it seems to be that more and more woodworkers are falling for this and buying precision measuring tools trying to set their machines within .001. Folks. they are capable of that kind of repeatable consistency and even if they were it is totally overkill. It's just wood and it will move more than that with humidity changes.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    lutefisk capitol, USA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    I couldn't agree more. I am fortunate enough to have spent the last three weeks working for a cabinetmaker. We had a discussion about what sort of accuracy should be expected of a wood shop and his comments were the same as yours. His comment was sort of (paraphrased):

    "I can set the table saw rip fence index line on a mark, tap it a tad either way, and still not have moved 1/64, and you'll never see the change on the finished product, so why are some woodworkers trying to measure thousandths??"

    The only place where I get a bit (ok - a lot) fussy is on 45' mitres for picture frames. I guess if I ever get to make any fine furniture I'll be a bit fussy there too, but not fussy to a thous...

    cheers eh?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Jeff, I was about 0.0035" away from saying you're wrong, but I decided not to split hairs.

    I agree with you. I do try for as much accuracy as I can get, but I try not to get carried away.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    With a dynamic medium like wood, that will change dimension by ten or twenty thousandths overnight with a humidy change, it's definitely overkill to try for 0.004 (or better) accuracy. The old timers are probably rolling over in their graves, laughing at (some of) us!


    Measure it with a micrometer;
    Mark it with chalk; and,
    Cut it with an axe!
    Jim D.

  6. #6
    What most folks don't understand is that wood is a dynamic medium. It changes at will. You rip a piece and release tension within the wood and there's nothing you can do to stop if from bending or twisting. This bending or twisting can cause it to put force in such a way that if there is any movement in the blade or the fence, it won't be a perfect rip.

    A few thousandths? So what?

    Metal, however, is a more stable medium IMHO.

    I don't do metal.

    Those who expect perfection set themselves up for dissatisfaction IMHO.

    I do the best I can with what I have. If it pleases me fine....If it pleases the recipient....I was successful.

  7. #7
    One of my pet peeves as well. I use a set of digital calipers just because they are easier to read quickly but I sure don't care about .5mm (1/50th") either way.

    I think that there are some people who enjoy buying, tuning and setting machines up at least as much as making dust. I don't have any beef with them if it makes them happy but its not my cup of tea.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    N.E. Arkansas
    I taught a class in my shop one time with one of the students being a machinist. First thing I did was take his dial caliper away from him and let him use only a tape measure. You gotta remember you are working WITH the wood, you are definately not in command all of the time.
    I once heard that cats and women will do darn well what they please and that men and dogs would do well to accept it and just go on.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hager View Post
    ...You gotta remember you are working WITH the wood, you are definately not in command all of the time.
    I may just have to make a sign saying that, and put it up in my shop.

    Very wise words, Jim. You oughta be a teacher, or somethin'.

    (Good to see ya pop in, Boney.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    37 5'16.25"N 7625'28.11"W
    Agreed! I got a good chuckle when a few days ago I saw a quote of .00001 that's 1 - ONE HUNDRED THOUSANDTH of an inch!!! give me a break...

    I think internet forums had a lot to do with this phenomenon. The worst part is folks just starting out are lead to believe they have to make their cuts to .001.

    There's a time and a place for everything, seating up machines to +- a couple of thou is worth the effort, trying to make all your cuts to those tolerance is an exercise in futility. Sure takes a lot of the fun out of woodworking.


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