Answers to Your Tools Questions - Part 1 Answers to Your Tools Questions - Part 1

Q. I am going to do some deck work and would like to use an air compressor nailer. I am assuming I need to look for a "framing" nailer. What is recommended?

A. A nailer is not the tool to use on a deck surface. There are several forces at work to pop those puppies out, and you need all the help you can get. Screws are the best way. Building the framing might be a reasonable thing to nail and a 3-1/2 inches full head nailer would be the ticket.

Q. What is the correct RPM for drilling 1/8-inch holes into 1/8-inch steel?

A. As long as it's not stainless steel, use a fast drill motor speed, light steady pressure on the material, and plenty of lube oil no matter how many holes are to be drilled. Use roughly 1200 rpm for 1/8 inch and 600 rpm for 1/2 inch in mild steel. Sizes in between these will vary proportionately.

Q. My 20-year-old Craftsman 8 inch drill press has started acting up. When I started to lower the spindle drill, there is a slight resistance and then a one time clicking noise. It happens only when I first start. I've lowered the spindle as far as it would go and inspected the shiny cylinder. It is well lubricated and I couldn't see anyplace that appeared to be wearing. All external nuts, etc., have been retightened. Any suggestions as to what I can check next?

A. The bearing in the spindle could be worn or even just dirty. Before you consider taking it apart, you might try cleaning the spindle. Try cleaning it by putting a pan under the spindle and flooding the mechanism with WD-40. You might be surprised how much gunk comes out. If this doesn't take care of the noise, you may have to take it apart to check it out.

Q. I need to cut our back door to install a rather sizeable pet door. What tool would I use for that?

A. You'll have to drill a hole through it, and then use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. Another thing you may want to do is back the door up with wood on both sides, so you don't get a lot of "edge dents." But even if it were covered it could make it hard to install the pet door. Let's say you use an "up" blade - cuts on the up stroke - when you cut. It could pull the side toward you out of shape every time the blade comes up, and the other side, too, for that matter. Check the hardware store for an extra length metal cutting jigsaw blade. Place a 3/8 inch plywood scraps over the area you want to cut, clamp them or drill holes in the door in the area that will be removed, and bolt the two pieces together tightly. This should keep the "edge denting" to a minimum.

Now that I think about the thickness of a door and 3/4 inch of plywood, I don't know that you would need an extra length blade; regular may come all the way through. If not check for the extra length. You might find that a backer board would make it too thick for a standard length jigsaw blade. If you use a 24-tooth blade, which is what is needed for thin metal, there will be very little burring of the edge. A tip is to put masking tape on the bottom of the jigsaw's foot to prevent the door from being marked when you run the jigsaw over it.

Q. How do I sharpen drill bits? I do not have a bench grinder, nor do I have the money right now to buy one or a Drill Doctor.

A. Without a bench grinder or drill bit sharpener, for the time being, select those bits which you will be using for whatever project you have going or intend to use the bits for and have them professionally sharpened. Sharpening shops should be located nearby. The shops or places to have sharpening done will be listed in the phone book. This is also done at some small engine shops and hardware stores.

The costs vary based on the type of bit but none are expensive. Doing it this way for now will get the current project you need the bits for done. Later you can buy a drill bit sharpener.

Drill bits are not an easy tool to sharpen correctly. The bit must be sharpened evenly and correctly. If not, it will still cut, but one side may be doing more work than the other, or none at all on one side. Getting the center web even is tricky too. An uneven center web causes the bit to drift off center and/or cut off center. It's not as noticeable on wood as it is drilling into steel. Incorrectly sharpened bits dull faster, heat up quicker, take long to bore the hole, and cause users grief.

Q. I just bought my first belt sander and tried it out yesterday. I know if you leave the sander in one spot you will get gouges, but my question is that even if you move the sander around, is it still easy to get gouges using 80 grit on pine, or is the sander I bought just a piece of junk? The sander is 1300 SFPM and I only noticed one very tiny gouge. I know pine is very soft wood and my guess is I just left the sander in a spot to long, but I just wanted to double check in case and see.

A. Gouges are not only caused by leaving the sander in one spot. If you tilt it as you move it, it will gouge the surface. It's a tool you need to practice with.

Q. How do you properly check a level for accuracy?

A. Put the level on a surface that is close to level. Make note of the exact position of the bubble, then rotate the level half way around and compare the reading. If the bubble is in exactly the same position no matter which way the level sits, it is accurate.

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