Three things I learned on day one

1. Rags damp with plant-based oils used in polishing wood (such as linseed or tung oil) can spontaneously combust under certain conditions. The oil must be properly evaporated before reusing the fabric as a beatnik headband.

2. Chisels do not come sharpened out of the box. In fact, sharpening a chisel properly is somewhat of a samurai art. First, use a couple types of sandpaper to smooth the bottom plane, making sure you have a completely uniform scratch pattern on the steel surface. Then use a grinder and water stone to fashion the perfect 26-30 degree bevel. Short cuts such as honing jigs are for wimps…lucky, lucky wimps.

3. One of our school’s table saws, the StopSaw, can detect if a person has touched the moving blade through some space-age gypsy magic. Actually the blade carries a minor electrical signal, and since the human body is conductive, the machine can detect the slightest change in the current. Within 5 milliseconds of contact with the skin, the blade would simply drop down into the table, ruining the blade, but saving your digit. One less finger I have to worry about.


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