Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coolest thing this week

There's a tool I've been sitting on for almost 4 years, waiting for an opportunity to use it. Yesterday the opportunity presented itself. I'm sure that I didn't squeal like a little girl in excitement.

Well, mostly sure, anyway.

The tool in question is the cove cutting wheel from CMT.  I learned about cutting coves on the table saw at school, but we did it using regular table saw blades and a LOT of sandpaper for cleanup. This works MUCH better.

The wheel came with a crown molding set that I bought when I was a retail stooge. (I think you can get the wheel as a separate piece: CMT part number 235.006.07)  There's only one real problem: It's 7" in diameter, which means it isn't compatible with my hyper-intelligent SawStop. The SawStop will only run 8" dado stacks, or 10" blades. If the diameter isn't right, the saw will know, and the motor won't start. It's the only real complaint I have about the saw. But I still have the contractor saw, and it doesn't know or care what I bolt in, so the cove cutter runs just fine. And this is the part where I start gushing. It works WONDERFULLY. The rim of the thing is really heavy, to give it the inertia to keep it spinning. I knew at first sight that this thing was going to be cool.

People asked me why I kept my contractor saw when I bought the SawStop. There are a lot of reasons: It's paid for, I might need to make a quick cut, but not want to break down a setup on the primary saw, my router table is bolted to the contractor saw... they're all ok reasons, but the truth is, I kept it so I could run this cove cutter. And I have to say, It's worth it. With a dado stack, and this cutter, the contractor saw is a whole new animal that's somewhere between a table saw and a router table. I've heard of molding cutters for table saws before, and typically the feedback I got about them was "bad idea." Too many stories about knives coming loose, etc. This is a different story. It's one solid piece, with the carbide welded solidly to the disc.

Last but not least... the coves are SMOOTH. Smoother than most router cuts I've ever made. And it's quick. Table saw blades are naturally designed to cut on the edge, and they're preceded by some pretty small gullets. They can be used to cut coves, but it's a slow, tedious process. This blade has six nice, round teeth, that are sharp all the way around, and huge gullets in front of them. So it can take out a lot of wood at a time, and the gullets are huge enough to handle the bulk that's removed.

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