flipped the switch as I took three giant steps
back. The tool was even more freaky-look-
ing in motion.
Holding my breath, I waited for the
explosion. Caleb cautiously lowered the
spinning beast toward our first wooden jig.
“Is it supposed to shake like that?” I
asked, taking another step back. Caleb didn’t
answer—he was holding his breath, too.
The blade belted out an ear-piercing
squeal as it made contact with the wood. I
leaned forward to see the fly cutter cutting
the wood quite nicely, despite the shaking. I
exhaled and that’s when my nostrils caught
a strong burning scent coming from below.
Caleb slapped the switch, and the twirling
monster wound to a stop.
The charred interior of the hole revealed
the blade wasn’t just cutting the wood, it
also was burning it.
They say every accident is a chain of
events, at least in hindsight. We weren’t
quite to hindsight yet, so we continued.
I went upstairs to grab some munchies,
and when I returned, the basement was
full of smoke—not the cumulous variety,
but the thin, hazy kind that fills a room
slowly without notice. It’s common in the
kitchen when I attempt to cook, but this
was the first time I’ve seen it pour out of
a power tool.
A COMMUNIT Y CONSULTATION
We stopped production and consulted the
community. Every Tuesday night while
Caleb and I work on the plane, we invite
folks to watch via a live video feed and participate in an accompanying chat room. We
get a nice mix of experienced builders, new
builders like us, and viewers who may never
build but just want to see what it’s all about.
The chat room was a buzz of activity as
we opened the basement windows to clear
out the smoke.
They say every accident is
a chain of events, at least
in hindsight. We weren’t
quite to hindsight yet, so
One of the viewers (obviously from the
“experienced” camp) asked what speed the
drill press was set to. We looked under the
hood and discovered the belt arrangement
was set to 3600 rpm. Immediately the chat
room erupted again.
We learned our fly cutter should turn
closer to 300 rpm—quite a difference from
3600—so we adjusted the drill press to 290
rpm. Not only did the machine stop its violent wobble, but the blade started to cut as it
was intended (without flames). Whew.
Accident averted. Lesson learned.