Saturday, August 13, 2016 -re: 9th Annual Daily Grind Bicycle Ride (and this year, Blessing)

August 14, 2016

160813 9thDGRThis bike ride, sponsored by the Albany Bicycle Coalition and the Daily Grind coffee shops, starts at the Daily Grind in Albany and ends for lunch at the Daily Grind in Troy. This year the group made a stop at St. Paul’s Church for a blessing in the Church Garden, and a tour of the church conducted by David Graham.

I had the pleasure of riding with the group on the Corning Preserve Trail, and was honored to offer the following prayer during the Bicycle Blessing:

Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, we come to you in prayer and thanksgiving.

In a world burdened by motorized transportation and consumption,
we give you gracious thanks for the wondrous bicycle,
on which we enjoy the goodness and beauty of your creation
while improving our fitness and health.

We ask you to protect the children who ride or who are learning to ride.
We ask you to keep all riders, leisure riders to elite athletes, safe from accidents.
We ask you to protect all riders from anger and theft.
We ask you to give us skill to ride in all sort of conditions, and
to help us forgive those who are negligent and mean.
We ask you, in thanksgiving for those who build or repair bicycles,
that you will guide them to be diligent and competent in their work.

Heavenly Father, be with us now and bless us as we dedicate these bicycles and their use to the preservation of lives to your honor and praise. Grant us faith to know your gracious purpose in all things. Give us joy in them and lead us to use all your gifts, including our bikes, with wisdom, compassion, patience and love.

We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Tail vise with drill press vise

August 1, 2016

One of the best ways to plane a long and narrow piece (on a bench with a traditional tail vise) is to hold it in a drill press vise. I’ve glued pieces of 1/4” ply on the jaws of the drill press vice to keep it from marring the wood. This piece of wood is a little over seven feet long, and too long to hold with the regular bench dogs.

The bench needs to be dead flat so that the wood being planed isn’t distorted by something wrong with the bench. Using this method I can take a single shaving the full length with a smoothing plane.


The Jack plane is a Union and the shorter plane is a Millers Falls – both with corrugated soles.


Another use for the drill press vise is to hold small pieces to plane odd angles for repairs.


Sermon for Jennifer Duncan RIP

August 1, 2016

East Window DetailIn the Name of the Father . . .

Jennifer was fighting for her life for a good while, and the whole family has been on a war footing against the disease.

When I went over to the house on Thursday to plan today’s funeral, Jen’s mom said to me, “Please don’t say Jennifer lost the battle.”

And then Rick (Jen’s brother-in-law) walked me to my car, and we were talking about woodworking. We both were in the woodworking business at one time. I found myself boasting about what I had done, and who I worked for. I mean I was really bragging about all that I had accomplished as a woodworker. I am sorry about that Rick.

The truth is my business was an absolute failure from start to finish. But only a failure if you count the money. I loved to do the work, and I was really good at it. But, eventually I had to get out of it. And 20 years ago I went into another high paying line of work; the ministry.

We just do not have the right perspective to judge the value of things.

I can imagine when my mother was pregnant with me: I am warm, I’m being fed, I have my thumb to suck on. If there was a pregnancy committee in there I can hear them saying, “O boy, I think he’s getting ready to leave. He’s awful big. That’s too bad.” And I would’ve said, “Hey wait a minute! I don’t want to go anywhere. I’ve got everything I need right here.”

And then I get born. My mom is yelling, and I’m crying my eyes out. And that was just the beginning of my life!

Jesus actually said something like this to his disciples,
John 16:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
21 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world.
22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (RSV)

“Human beings do not belong to one another. We are God’s children. We belong to Him. It is by sheer grace that we are together for a time—for a little while. We receive God’s gift of another person in our lives with thanksgiving. But we must realize that this person is a gift—we cannot hang on, or refuse to let go of one of God’s children when He calls.” (Martin Bell: The Way of the Wolf)

My wife, Marianne, says if you love life and love your people and love what you do in God’s creation you have won.

And Jennifer, with an absolute relentless stubbornness loved living, and loved her family and friends, and fought to have more and more life. She has won the battle and now she is on to a new adventure! Amen.

Table Saw To Fence Measurements

July 23, 2016

I first put a Biesemeyer fence on a Unisaw in 1980-81. And as much as I liked the fence I never used the ruler on the rail. I know some people get very fussy about adjusting the indicator on the rail. They want to be able to go over to the saw, set the fence, and start cutting.

I always want to measure from the saw blade to the fence, and actually see that the measurement is right. And I want to be sure the distance is just the tiniest bit greater at the back of the blade so the wood won’t bind. I just can’t bring myself to trust an indicator that’s almost two feet from the blade.

For years I used a white Lufkin 6’ wooden-inside-read-folding-ruler to set the saw fence. The “inside read” means that the ruler lays flat on the saw table with the numbers going 1, 2, 3 from the fence. A few years ago my ruler broke and I began using a Stanley measuring tape. It works OK, but the hook at the end of a tape moves in and out a bit to give inside and outside measurements, and this affects accuracy.

Recently, I found a composite material 78” ruler at Home Depot that works really well. The extra length means that the first leg folds out over 7″. I tested it against an accurate steel ruler and it is quite good.




Table saw measurement problems: 1. The black and red Husky tape has a metric scale on one edge. It makes it hard to measure at both the front and back of the saw blade. 2. The Lufkin wooden ruler is an “outside read” ruler and reads backwards from the fence. It also only shows 5 inches on the first leg. 3. The steel ruler is accurate but reads backwards from the fence. It is also hard to see the lines and it is so thin it can slip under the fence. 4. The Stanley tape at the bottom works pretty well, but the hook at the end wobbles.



IMG_0301.jpgMy new Milwaukee ruler: A winner! Sits flat. It’s accurate. Easy to read. Shows 7 inches in the “right” direction.





Going Cold Turkey!

July 22, 2016

Banned from shop! Chopsaw


After seeing this video by Matthias Wandel

and finally accepting how much dust this thing produces . . . I have taken my 10 yr. old Makita compound sliding miter saw out of the Woodshop and put it in the garage for use outside. It is handy for quick cuts, but I now have other ways to crosscut wood (table saw, band saw, hand saw) without producing so much dust. Even with dust collection this kind of saw throws clouds everywhere.

I miss it though, and I feel a little bad about it out in the garage. OK, I can do this. It is for the best. I can use it for handyman stuff around the house. Done.


Banned Chopsaw in the garage.

At Oakwood Cemetery . . .

July 22, 2016

IMG_0294.jpgIMG_0295.JPGthis morning to bless my mom’s grave marker and to say prayers. With Marianne, Bill S., Dcn. Alicia Todaro, L. Craig Bryce, and Laphroaig.

Robland X31 Straight Line Rip Jig!

July 18, 2016

IMG_0292The Robland X31 predates modern sliding table saws where the wagon slides very close to the saw. The newer sliding saws do a great job cutting a straight edge on a crooked or waney edge board.

Here is my new attachment for the sliding table so that I too can straight line rip like the big boys! Well, not quite. The travel on the X31 sliding table is limited to sawing about 52 inches long. But for most everything I do this is plenty long enough.

Robland X31 Update

July 15, 2016

Please see the previous June 3, 2016 post re: my ups and downs with buying and setting up an old euro combination woodworking machine. I think I have finally got the machine working properly, but it has been a struggle. I would caution anybody contemplating obtaining such a machine to proceed carefully and with eyes open.

Motor Failure Mystery Solved!

I had assumed that the previous owner knew what he was doing when he put a starting switch on the front of the machine. It turns out that the simple momentary switch he used was permanently wired to both the running and start windings. I thought that he had disabled the original switch, and positioned the new switch, simply for convenience of operation.  Probably what happened is that the original switch broke and the new switch was put on the front because it was easier than taking out the old switch and mounting a new one back in the control box. Sigh. Long before I got the machine the motors were running continuously on their startup windings, and therefore at higher amps. This type of use eventually caused the two motors to burn up.


The red button is a stop or “kill” button. There are three of these around the machine that can stop whichever of the three motors is running. The silver box has the conveniently placed, but improperly wired, starting switch. This switch eventually caused two of the motors to burn up. A completely different kind of kill switch!

The Robland X31 is intended to have a manual starter that engages the startup winding to bring the motor to full speed, and then when the starter is released the motor operates on the run winding at lower amps. In contrast, the U.S. standard is to produce motors and starters that automatically switch from startup to run mode.

I purchased a new OEM starter from Salzer Corp in Mesa, Arizona, and after waiting three weeks for the part to arrive from Germany, I was able to install it in about half an hour. All the motors are now running without a load at under 4 amps.  They had been running at between 11 and 13 amps off of the old non-OEM switch due to the resistance of the start winding. Jeff from Gray Motors, Schenectady, says that if the saw motor runs at similar amps to the rebuilt motors there is a good chance it is not damaged. Let’s hope so! At least not for a while, so I can save up to have that motor fixed.

Note (August 3, 2016): I still have an amp clamp on a hot wire to the machine, and it is interesting to see that each of the motors start up at around 32 amps then immediately drop to around 11.5 amps, and when I let the spring loaded start switch return to its original position the motors go down to 4.2 to 4.5 amps. Within about a minute of warm-up the motors then run at 3.5 to 3.9 amps. This is not under working load. The planer will plane a 1/16″ off a 5 inch wide oak board at around 5 amps. I’ll need a helper to see what the other motors do under load (not taking my eyes off while sawing or using the shaper!). I only need to turn the start switch for a second to get each motor up to speed. Working fine now! TBTG!


Robland X31?

June 3, 2016

A typical european combination woodworking machine has a sliding table that can be used with the circular saw and the spindle shaper. The machine also has a thickness planer, a jointer, and a mortiser. These machines generally have three separate and identical motors; one for the saw, one for the shaper, and one shared by the jointer/planer/mortiser.

I bought my 1990 green Robland X31 in February of 2016 for $2100. My understanding is that it was purchased new from Laguna Tools, CA in 1990-91, was used for ten years, and then basically not used much until I got it.

In order to get it out of the basement where it was stored I had to take off the sliding table and rail, electric control box, left side cabinet, saw top (with attached saw+motor and shaper+motor), and both jointer tables.

I moved it with hired help to my basement for $500, and re-assembled it. The jointer/planer/mortiser motor burnt up within a couple of months and I managed to remove the motor through the side panel. I called Laguna Tools and they suggested having the motor rebuilt since a new motor from Belgium would cost at least $1200 plus shipping. I had a shop in Schenectady do the work and they charged $650.

Last week the shaper motor died. I used ratchet straps to take up the saw top, (and quickly bought a chain hoist) so I could remove the motor. The motor is now out being repaired. The saw motor is running at 11.5 amps and seems to be fine. [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here] The rebuilt jointer/planer/mortiser motor runs at around 11.7 amps. Even though I had run all the motors before I bought the machine, I didn’t check amps until after the first motor burnt up. I have been using the shaper and after a little while it would run over 13 amps, and it had that acrid-hot-motor-smell.

1.  The saw top is now back on the machine and the saw is running fine [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here]. The top is secured with only four cap screws, and getting inside the machine to do maintenance/repair (including the planer motor, drive belts, and chain drive mechanism) is really best done by removing it (and the attached shaper and saw) with a chain hoist.

2. By now I have almost $3500 into the machine (not including moving costs). I’m very glad I got it for the price I did. I like having one dust hose and one power cord. I like that it is compact. The mortising machine is great. Actually, the whole thing is good. I don’t even mind the saw adjustments and the fence.

3. Buying and keeping a vintage (25+ year old) euro combo machine is like taking on a long-term committed relationship. The trouble involved with moving a 1400 lb. machine out, and/or trying to sell it, makes you think twice about getting rid of it.

4. I have both a small 5” jointer and a 10” jointer/planer (Inca brand). Most of the time I use these other machines, and save the Robland jointer/planer for when I have a pile of wood to mill. It is really inconvenient to swing out the jointer tables and then have to wind the planer table all the way up (and back down again) in order to flip over the dust hood. Really.

5. A trick I learned: In order to use the saw to cut a wide board (or use the shaper), without removing the jointer fence, I can swing the infeed table of the jointer out of the way with the fence attached. This works up to 25″ – anything wider and I have to take the jointer fence off.

6. I’m not sure why but I have an amp meter on the machine all the time to check to see how the motors are running. Just a little paranoid I guess. If you have a spare Robland motor for a reasonable price let me know.


The ratchet straps lifted everything fine, but it was not so smooth going back down! I bought a chain hoist and had a much easier time with it.


Sermon for Katie and Ryan Clapp Wedding on Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 25, 2016

I suppose some people are getting really tired of hearing me talk about being married for 45 years. On the 23rd of June Marianne and I will have completed 45 years. My reason for bringing this up again is not to brag, but to say something about marriage. When we got married I wasn’t much of a catch. I had dropped out of high school after the tenth grade. I was 18 and was working as a guard in the county prison. Marianne had finished high school and was working as a counselor in a crisis center for runaway teens. Neither one of us had any family to rely on. We were on our own and sort of stuck with each other. I bought this ring and a matching one for Marianne and the two of us went off to North Carolina and we got married.

The first 25 years were really tough. We always had money problems and I wasn’t a very patient person. We fought all the time. We went into counseling and eventually started going to church. By the time our 25th anniversary came around we could have a nice ceremony in an Episcopal Church to renew our vows with our children, grandchildren, and friends around us.

Over the years I have had a lot of opportunity to think about marriage. When I was eighteen I thought that if we felt strongly enough about each other and had some luck we would make it. Now I realize that luck has nothing to do with it. God was looking over us the whole time, and taking care of us. I had to come to appreciate the gift of marriage the hard way.

First of all, marriage is an institution. Marriage is something we enter into. We go in and live by the rules of marriage. We promise, in public, in front of witnesses, completely freely and without coercion, to start a new life living by the rules of the institution of marriage.  These rules are not arbitrary. The rules provide for a good life and the blessing of God. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to follow the rules. I wake up and say, “but today I don’t feel like it!” Sometimes you just have to decide to love her. Sometimes you just have to decide to love him.

But I don’t want to give you the impression that you have to just grit your teeth the whole time while you follow the rules of marriage. Many people think that religion (and marriage for that matter) was invented just to keep people from doing bad things.

(It is true that there is a part of the Christian tradition that embraces self-denial; fasting, vows of poverty, celibacy, etc.)

The Song of Soloman is a very short book in the OT: 117 verses. It is included in the Bible as a picture, in human terms, of the love that flows between God and His people.

Today’s text, however, (from chps. 2 & 8) is one of the readings appointed for use in our prayer book, for a celebration of a marriage. A recognition that the content is about a man and a woman.

The inclusion of The Song of Solomon in the Bible reminds us that it is simplistic to think that religion, especially Christian Faith, is only designed to make us behave like good boys and girls. (in theological terms this is called moral restraint.)

On the contrary, we believe that God made the world out of the pure joy that comes from making something – the act of creation.

And that God has given his creation the freedom to grow, develop, and change. And to take pleasure in doing these things.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.” Genesis 1:31, RSV.

God took pleasure in making the world, and he only wants the best for us.

Song of Solomon:

“1 The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

2 O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! For your love is better than wine,” Song of Solomon 1:1, 2, RSV.

“5 I am very dark, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.” Song of Solomon 1:5, RSV.

I won’t read you chapter 7, where the man tells the woman everything he likes about her body.

OK, so you get the idea. This may be a picture of God’s love for His people, but is also a picture of human love.

In the reading for today: Chapter 2, the woman is resting and thinking about how much she loves her man, and suddenly he appears at the window and speaks – he says:

“10 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; 11 for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. 12 The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10-13, RSV.

The man wants to get away with his woman and have a good time. It is springtime after all, and flowers are blooming and the birds are singing.

Katie and Ryan: May you have many times of recreation and refreshment.

But in Chapter 8, the woman asks the man to confront the other truth about love. It is a deadly serious business. People can get hurt. People can die.

The woman says:

“6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Solomon 8:6, 7, RSV.

“6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;

The Good News Bible makes the translation:

“Close your heart to every heart but mine; hold no one in your arms but me.”

Marriage means making a commitment, and that means making a decision to love no matter what – it means that you promise to give up other loves that could ruin this love. (Not just other women – but anything that will hurt this marriage bond).

Katie and Ryan: My prayer is that you will be content with what you have today. Jesus loves you today and the next day, and all days. Marriage means making a commitment, and that means making a decision to love no matter what. May you each grow in your desire to please your spouse, and may you learn to forgive, and may your union grow stronger and stronger through the years. Amen