Yesterday morning I started getting serious with the Bridge City Jointmaker Pro that John Economaki loaned us for a month. I’m building a quick and dirty prototype of a Frank Lloyd Wright-style table for a future issue and I needed to make a bunch of crisp cuts for the latticework between the legs.
At first I set it up to cut miters on some 5/8″ x 5/8″ x 5″ pieces for a small open square in the middle of the lattice. The first lesson I learned is that you really need the sandpaper-faced fences to hold the work securely. Even with the awesome beveled hold-downs, the work would rise up a bit on the plain poplar fence. Economaki said we would experience this, and he was dead-right. So sandpaper is definitely your friend.
I added some #120-grit sandpaper to the fence, and the thing cuts like a dream now. By way of comparison, I also cut the same miters on our table saw (which felt very dangerous, even with the guard in place), then I made the same cuts with our miter saw. The miter saw did a fairly good job, but there was a lot of rigging to hold the 5″-long pieces in place so that my hands were away from the cut. Also, the cut wasn’t as perfect as the ones on the Jointmaker Pro.
Then I made a bunch of straight cuts for the latticework, and that is when I finally got into the rhythm of the machine. One hand was on the sliding table and one hand was on the crank that raises the blade. It’s very much like riding a bike. Stroke. Raise the blade. Stroke. Raise the blade. Yesterday I went from: “Herky-jerky” to: “A-ha. Got-it.”
The cuts turned out as perfect as I could expect: Dead on, smooth and glass-like. The latticework came together as per plan. However, I’m not happy with the prototype. The legs are too chunky. I think this table is going to look a lot better when I throw it in the dumpster.
Also, Drew DePenning, our associate editor for the web, shot some video last week of Enonomaki discussing how he developed the Jointmaker Pro. We thought it was interesting enough to edit and show you here on the blog. See below.