When bad things happen to good tools

This could have been much worse. Much worse.

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I wish I could say that I had been drinking, cause it’d be nice to have an excuse, but the reality is that I just did something stupid. I have probably made tens of thousands of saw cuts without incident…and then I did this…

The story begins at Home Depot, where I went to get a new circular saw to slice up the plywood I got to make the upstairs shelves out of. I own a Craftsman that still works great, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to change the blade. I’ve tried many times, but there is no button or hole that can be used to stop the spindle from turning while loosening the nut. And the never-read manual is probably in our possession but lost in boxes packed four moves ago, preventing me from changing the 13 year old blade, which is great at burning wood but not at cutting it. Sure, the answer is probably out there somewhere on the internets, but who has time to stop remodeling to look through websites? So after finding nothing I liked at Lowe’s for less than $100 (for some reason I am biased against the Skils and Black & Deckers with the laser beams), I headed to Home Depot, where I found a passable Ryobi for a hard-to-argue-with $29. And it even came with a spindle-locking button, which really was my only criteria.

An hour later I was up on the garage deck, which served as the week’s cutting area, getting ready to saw some plywood. The first few cuts went OK, but when I threw up the second sheet, my brain apparently turned off. I am always very conscious of where blades are in relation to my fingers or other bodily parts, but for some reason I totally spaced out the fact that I was using my Bosch table saw as the support for the plywood. I usually check under the sheet before sawing, but this time I just didn’t think. And about halfway through the sheet, the saw really seemed to strain and bog down. Now to any normal person, this would be a warning sign, a reason to stop and check to make sure everything was OK. But in my addled brain, the appropriate response was to push harder to get through the “tough spot” in the wood. Never mind that I can never remember having trouble sawing plywood…that rational thought never entered my head. The irony is that the Bosch is such a great, light saw because the deck is aluminum. If it had been steel, there would’ve been no confusion, but I’m still surprised at how the blade chewing into my table saw’s deck sounded so similar to sawing wood. After a few seconds I realized what must have happened (the fact that the saw was pointed towards the Bosch instead of parallel to it was a good clue) and readjusted the sheet to finish the cut. After changing blades, of course, since the stock blade only got to chew through wood for about 40 seconds before meeting its untimely demise.

I pulled the sheet off expecting to find a good sized nick or a mark on the edge of the table, never imagining that my $29 Ryobi could inflict such damage on my precious table saw that cost more than 15x as much. Ouch! The only saving grace is that as ugly as it is, the saw is still totally usable. The guide doesn’t slide well along that section, but I can still clamp it down wherever I need to. I feel very lucky and learned (yet another) important lesson while remodeling!

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7 thoughts on “When bad things happen to good tools

  1. Ouch! I’m glad all of your fingers are still intact. I’m not the biggest fan of circular saws… in fact I refuse to USE ours… probably because it’s BROKEN in some way that affects it’s safety…

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  2. Oh, how I wish I had a Bosch table saw to cosmetically damage!

    They say the chief cause of injury with power tools is lapse in attention. I’m glad you and your tools didn’t get the lesson in a more costly way.

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  3. I have a recurring problem with my miter fence for the table saw. I have cut several notches into it because it is over too far. ODdly enough I always jump in suprise and have to think for a few minutes to figure out where the grinding is coming from.

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  4. Ouch is right! I never did that one, but I did saw the cord off of my saw. You really do have to pay attention when working with any power tools. I’m glad you didn’t injure yourself.

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  5. On your Craftsman saw I believe that there’s a flat open end wrench type tool that you put behind the blade to hold it while you use another wrench on the outside nut and turn.

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  6. I have the same exact craftsman saw! I too had the same problem. In order for me to change the blade I have to use a screwdriver inserted between the blade teeth and the guard, works great for me.

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