Friday, April 18, 2014

Five yards and a cloud of dust (not)

Five yards is the linear amount of cabinets I'm making for our kitchen update.
Three years ago our latest (and hopefully last squatter) took up residence in my shop. Since then my shop routine has been complicated by DW's having different criteria between what is an adequate work environment for me and living quarter standards for Andy. Before continuing Andy is the shop cat formerly known as Annie- our gender mistake was clarified in her first vet visit.
Aside from puncture wounds, lacerations and amputations, dust is the most significant health hazard in woodworking/carpentry. I've always worn a substantial dust mask and limited my exposure to dust by limiting the time I spend on project to weekends and the occasional week long project. When involved in projects, the shop can positively look like a war zone.

Prior to Andy I didn't take the time to clean up at the end of each day as my spare time was and is limited. All that changed when I acquired a shopmate. DW, knowing that it would be hard to get me to clean the place up to her specifications, began to clean up after me.  I felt guilty about that as her spare time is limited as well.
 The previously mentioned Festool joiner was my first major tool  purchase in more than a decade. Aside from being exceedingly useful, it introduced me to that company's attention to dust management which is on a higher level than the other major players in the field.  My chopsaw and sander are particularly unruly dust producers and were the first candidates for upgrading. The sander was my next Festool purchase after the joiner and was rapidly followed by a compound sliding saw once I saw both the improvements in performance and dust removal. The latter allowed me to safely and precisely saw a 24"x 96" plywood sheet into smaller pieces for cabinet work. Previously I used my worm drive saw for a rough cut, followed by more precise cutting to final size with the table saw. Festool's dust management is so good that I'm able to work inside the house which makes for less time spent going back and forth between the house and the shop. Thus I no longer have to deal with a cloud of dust. Happy wife, happy cat, happy life.
The upgrade in tools has also resulted in improved productivity. We've been able to  demo a wall, buy and learn to use the new tools, build 2/3rds of the new cabinetry, build up the floor to provide level hardwood flooring for the new appliances and cabinetry and provide workable sinks/plumbing while awaiting new countertops. I've used only 3 days of my vacation time and about a month overall since we began the project. As can be seen there's lots to do but we do have a functional kitchen for now.

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