So my latest IoT (Internet-of-Things) project has me doing some woodworking, and much to my surprise, the woodworking piece is much harder than setting up the Pi, programming Python scripts, and wiring up I/O. It just does not come naturally to me. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Respect (and fear) power tools. Getting on the table saw for the first time was a bit nerve-wracking. This is a machine that will take your digits without hesitation. The saw I use does have a saw stop so it would only lightly maim me if I was so careless to touch the blade. Still, everytime I use the device, and before every cut, I take a deep breath, doublecheck what I’m doing, and make sure to keep all pieces of me as far away from that blade as possible
- The other big risk with the table saw is kickback. With each cut, there is always some nonzero chance that a piece of wood will get picked up by the saw and thrown back towards you. I was initially using this technique to cut bevels, and the offcut would either get stuck between the sacrificial fence and the blade, or get thrown forward. So in addition to avoiding the blade on each cut, I also make sure I’m standing to one side or the other, so any kickback gets thrown right past me and not into me.
- A lot of seemingly basic operations need a lot of steps to complete. For instance cutting a precise 45 degree beveled edge is not trivial. I tried the above-mentioned technique which worked well but is not the safest. Other techniques include building sleds (e.g. this) which is like a whole other project before you can start your project. I finally settled on this technique, which is safer and easy but may give up some precision.
- Some operations still have to be done manually. I needed to cut a rectangular slot in a piece of wood. I assumed there would be some power tool that would do that for me quickly and efficiently. But it turns out they way this is commonly done is to drill out as much of the slot as possible and the square it up with a chisel! It’s called a mortise, for those not in the know. A totally manual, old-school process.
- Accuracy is key. The “measure twice and cut once” mantra is no joke. I definitely had to learn to go slow and doublecheck my measurements before cutting after wasting wood stock more than once.
- Woodworking is a tooOOoon of fun. There’s something about creating something with your hands, and the immediate feedback of watching a piece of wood transform into your creation. There’s tons of finishing options (stains, dyes, paints) these days that can make your wood project look amazing with beginner-level skill.
- You learn fast when you keep doing it. Because it’s so hands-on, muscle memory comes quick.
That’s what I have so far. I’ll continue working with wood for the next couple months for my current project and hope to learn new techniques and machines, including a CNC machine, which I am very excited about.