Yesterday I took a day off work. The morning was spent in parent-teacher interviews, but I spent the entire rest of the day at the wood show. I go every year, and it's the best entertainment money I ever spend. Inspiring turnings and carvings, informative seminars, friendly people, and tools everywhere. Felt great!
I was shopping for a dovetail saw, and I was able to do a couple of really poor but telling comparisons. First I tried the Lie-Nielson dovetail saw on a piece of aspen that was maybe 3/8" thick, tops. The cut wasn't perfectly perpendicular to the end, but I'll take full blame for that. I wasn't really trying to line it up. But the cut was very straight over the entire inch to inch and a half of its length, and it was very easy to make. Crosscutting wasn't quite as easy, but no big deal. The show price was $150Cnd. I can't remember if it was tax included, but probably it was, judging from other exhibits.
On to Lee Valley. I really wanted to try their Pax saw ($100 + tax), and my buddy George spotted one way up high on the wall, thank goodness. The salesman gave me a try on a piece of maple, likely 1/2" thick (there's where the comparison breaks down a bit). It cut reasonably quickly for the material, but it was much much harder to control, wobbling from side to side and producing a much wider kerf. The cut wasn't as straight as the LN saw, there was some tearout, and if you left the saw in the kerf you could swing it side to side (yaw) and twist it to and fro (roll) over a surprising range. It seemed a bit short in length, too, because after reaching a bit of depth it started riding up where the handle was hitting the wood. I was definitely disappointed, because I was seriously considering buying this tool. $150 seems like a lot to spend on something made with just a few non-moving parts; it was enough for me to work up to the idea of spending $100 on the Pax saw. (Please, no lectures--it's my personal opinion and I'm entitled to it. I seem to be learning a lesson here, so let me take my time.)
The salesman said he had been considering buying that tool for himself, too, and since he had only been using the gent's saw ($23+tax) he was interested in my opinion. We hauled it down and frankly it performed better than the Pax saw. It took a LOT longer to reach the same depth of cut, but the cut was better. He floated the idea of changing the set on the Pax saw, but George pointed out just how much work that would be, and considering the risk, it's probably not a good choice. I left feeling that I'll probably buy the gent's saw for the time being. (I have another friend who's using one and he's not complaining. Maybe I'll just put a different handle on it.)
"If we can't afford to do it right, we certainly can't afford to do it wrong and then do it right." Have any of you tried to make do with a gent's saw only to turn around and buy something like the LN (or Adria, which I hear is also as good as the LN)? I'm interested in hearing your reactions to my story, above.
There's a guy selling a General 6" jointer for $800C, tax included, plus a good deal on a mobile base. It really seems like a good deal to me. That was the show special, but he told me he'd extend the deal for me to give me time to think about it, and talk to SWMBO. She has actually given me the go-ahead, but I'm the one responsible for filling the bank account and with my other purchases this would definitely put me over budget for this year. (I can hear the response now. "You moron, SWMBO gave you the go-ahead, so go ahead!") I think I just want to hear from you folks that this is indeed a good jointer, and a good deal for a good jointer. It's the one with the enclosed base. Anybody?
I had a great time at the show, but I tossed and turned all night thinking about that jointer. I'm the sort of eskimo that'll buy a fridge so I'm wary of being pitched to by expert salesmen. (Sucks to be me, eh?)
- Owen -