Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About #24: I think Lynyrd Skynyrd put it best...

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Blog entry by StumpyNubs posted 08-01-2012 07:38 PM 3747 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 23: The voices in my head have been getting louder... but they have some good ideas... Part 24 of Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About series Part 25: Be a mentor! Teach some kid about woodworking... and how to spit. »

The other day I was driving down the road and a bird shot in front of me and tried to outrun my truck. It was a majestic sight, the large wingspan, the sleek feathers capturing the air creating just the right amount of lift to keep it airborne, while maintaining just enough speed to keep ahead of me. On the radio Skynyrd belted out the chorus of Freebird and for a moment I thought I could fly free myself. (“I’m as free as a bird now… And this bird you can not change…”)

I had a terrible time getting all the pieces of that bird out of my truck’s radiator.

It just goes to show, what may seem like perfection may not be suited to every purpose. The light, hollow bones of that bird were perfect for flight. But they were useless in a collision with my grill.

So it is with woodworking. I’m always trying to find the perfect tool, the ideal machine capable of performing the most tasks. A table saw that can do it all with the proper jig additions. A router that can cut profiles, joinery, shapes and even signs. I spend so much time trying to squeeze every bit of function out of every tool that I sometimes forget that the perfect solution may found in many tools rather than in just one.

A block plane can smooth a surface, tune a tenon, fit a finger joint. But do I really need to make a jig for using that block plane to sharpen my pencils? That’s what I mean about the tendency we sometimes have to look for complicated solutions to simple problems.

Yesterday I saw a guy use a chainsaw to cut dovetails. They came out just as you’d expect. I sat there for a few moments as the gears in my head turned, a chainsaw dovetail jig design taking shape. Then it hit me, maybe the best tool for dovetails isn’t a chainsaw. I mean, just because it may be possible doesn’t mean it’s smart.

Some jigs make our work easier, faster, or more fun. Others make us wonder if doing something a new way is worth risking our fingers. I can flush trim a dowel joint with a circular saw, but is it worth taking the blade guard off to do it? When we design jigs, we have to remember that safety starts with the design process, and sometimes we have to step back and think of what could happen rather than what we expect will happen. Where will that blade be when you finish the cut? Make sure that’s not the place you will be holding the jig. What will happen if that work piece slips during the cut? Make sure you have a hold down to catch it.

We design a lot of jigs on episodes of Blue Collar Woodworking (which some say is the best woodworking show since the invention of wood). But we also try to make it the safest woodworking show since the invention of stitches. And that always starts with the design process.

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13 comments so far

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2792 days

#1 posted 08-01-2012 07:41 PM

Where you able to get a drumstick out of it to eat?

-- My terrible signature...

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3098 posts in 4038 days

#2 posted 08-01-2012 08:24 PM

It’s true. I see people making beautiful jigs. Some of them have materials and knobs that cost a pretty penny. When I make a jig and I think about it, it’s often a one time use for the immediate need. Then I make it for one use. An example is a recent jig to plane out the bottom of a tray made on the sides of a platform bed. I don’t know if I’d use it again So I found some straight junk wood and a couple of sheetrock screws and put it together for this one use. Back to the scrap bin afterwards.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View boxcarmarty's profile


17280 posts in 2961 days

#3 posted 08-01-2012 10:15 PM

Did this thought require a trip to the E.R. or was it just something that you had on your mind???

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View DS's profile


3359 posts in 3021 days

#4 posted 08-01-2012 10:19 PM

Worst Bird collision ever… hit the sideview mirror and bloodied the entire side of my truck.
By the time I could stop anywhere it had dried on and took some serious scrubbing.

Yeah, jigs can be like that sometimes, then, I learnt a valuable lesson. The right tool for the right job makes life a lot easier! Haven’t hit a bird since.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View DIYaholic's profile


19891 posts in 3276 days

#5 posted 08-01-2012 10:30 PM

My college roommate had a suicidal bird embed itself in his cars grill. He left it there for several weeks. We started calling the car by it’s new name “The Sparrow”. One day someone removed the “bird”, the car never ran again!!! True story!

Most of my jigs are one time use, so are built that way & look it. When I build a “keeper Jig”, it too looks like a one time use abomination!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Jake7212's profile


27 posts in 3259 days

#6 posted 08-01-2012 11:50 PM

Safety is paramount and theres more than one way to skin a cat.

View DamnYankee's profile


3312 posts in 3163 days

#7 posted 08-02-2012 12:18 AM

Here’s what happened when an American Bald Eagle hit won of our “rides”

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View DamnYankee's profile


3312 posts in 3163 days

#8 posted 08-02-2012 12:18 AM

And that IS NOT photoshoped!

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3443 days

#9 posted 08-02-2012 02:23 AM

Would agree with you, but that’s no fun. Read a quote about workshops “some people work in their shop while others work on their shop.” Might say the same thing about jigs? Unless it’s one that works for me.LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2792 days

#10 posted 08-02-2012 02:27 AM

Is that stumpy in the chopper?

-- My terrible signature...

View AnttiN's profile


33 posts in 2816 days

#11 posted 08-02-2012 02:53 AM

Yeah, those birds can make a mess for sure. But it’s those low-flying deer you really gotta watch out for!

View ptweedy's profile


75 posts in 3994 days

#12 posted 08-12-2012 05:31 AM

that aint no chopper its a c-130 cockpit. or it might be a c-123

View JohnMeeley's profile


255 posts in 2934 days

#13 posted 08-18-2012 07:51 PM

It Chopped up that Eagle pretty good! Must be a Chopper. ;)

-- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do."-Walter Bagehot

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