Today was very much more of the same – I broke down the last 2 sheets of 2400×1200 MDF (one 12mm, the other 16mm) using a circular saw and a guide. I really have a very low opinion of circular saws – dislike using them at the best of times. The real danger comes with kickback, and unlike a tablesaw where the kickback results in the piece of timber being thrown, when you are using a handheld circular saw, and it tries to kickback, it is the saw that jumps and bucks, and tries to rip out of your hands. It doesn’t take much to cause that to happen either. The blade only has to bind just a little in the cut for the blade to stop doing what it is meant to, transferring the power of the motor into the cutting tips of the blade, and instead transferring the motor power into a rotational force that your hands and arms have to resist or risk a runaway saw (and potentially serious damage). Even if you get away with it, your large sheet can incur some significantly horrendous scars.
I hate circular saws. It kicked back more than once on me – each time I twisted the blade slightly during the cut. It was a moderately powered saw – 1800W with a thin kerf blade, so I don’t know what was contributing to the (user caused) problem. Was it that the blade was thin, so could distort under incorrect loading easier and therefore bind? Was it the saw itself was too powerful vs its weight? Not powerful enough, so it stopped cutting when conditions were less than ideal? Whatever the cause, there is an underlying cause – I didn’t cut perfectly straight. I got past that task, but I’ll be happy if I never have to use a circular saw handheld again (and with the imminent arrival of the Torque Workcentre, which has a circular saw mount and can cut a full 1200 wide panel, I’m hoping it means I will never have to).
You might ask why I am using a handheld saw if I dislike them so much, when I have a large tablesaw? Simple answer – I might have a big saw, but a small shed – I have to break the sheet down smaller to be able to handle it in there. There is another reason – single-handedly managing a sheet that size through a tablesaw can still result in twisting the sheet (and having the sheet stop contacting the fence), and there is every potential of a kickback in that situation too. In future, if I have to do it by hand again I am going to take Marc Spagnuolo’s approach, and have the sheet resting on the ground, with a sacrificial board underneath (he uses polystyrene) – it will take more of the variables out of the picture and result in more ability to focus on, and control the saw through the entire cut. (I found I was overreaching near the end, and that is when things were going pear-shaped).
Despite the couple of….issues during the breakdown, things were pretty productive and I got both fridges made, as well as all the doors and tops cut. Now they are getting close to needing the finer details made and fitted – taps, knobs, handles and the small things that take the build from the ordinary just up to the next level.
Some of the additional details I want to add include the fridge door- adding a shelf (on the inside obviously, like a real fridge), and an egg holder shelf. It is little, easy details like that which will elevate the overall build to a level I will be happy with giving these to friends. I still need to cut the stove elements, and the sink cavity, make the stove knobs, door handles etc etc – now that hard work (not necessarily the heavy work) begins. I’m really looking forward to this part of the project – when it comes to life.
While I was working today, I found myself using one tool (other than the Domino) a number of times – one I find really useful. It is the Black & Decker PowerFile. I’ve had it for a number of years, and it is great for getting into areas, minor shaping, quick hinge mortising etc.
It is a belt sander, running a finger-wide belt with an exposed end. Not very clear in the photo, but the notch seen here in the MDF to fit around the cabinet upright was cut on the bandsaw. I then needed to round the edge, and that is where the power file came into its own.