Always Check the Basics
Most everyone is familiar with the saying “When the editor is away the other staff members will play” (or you’re familiar with a similar saying). Late last week and early this week, our editor was away for a short vacation down south. The other staff members, two of whom were legitimately working on upcoming projects for the magazine, were in the shop doing what we do. I was out there to begin a project due a few issues later in the year.
After a quick rip at the table saw, I returned to make another cut. As I flipped the switch, the automatic dust collection turned on, but the blade simply gyrated back and forth like a metronome sitting on a piano. I stood silent wondering what happened.
My quizzical look attracted the others, and soon the three of us were staring at the Powermatic 66 that has been in the Popular Woodworking Magazine shop for as long as I can remember. I must admit that my first thought was that the saw just crapped out. A second staff member suggested that the capacitor must have died, and the third member boldly stated that we could continue working if we were all using handsaws – a true but funny statement given that he was working on an involved project build out of quartersawn white oak.
After a short time, editor B and editor C returned to the work. I studied the problem then decided to look into the switch, thinking the problem could be there. Being educated in electric – only to the point of knowing shock is not fun – I went to the wall plug to pull the cord. That’s when I noticed that the plug was hanging from the outlet. It wasn’t far enough out to stop the flow of electricity, but it was just out enough to break the link on the third leg (I guess) – it’s a three-phase unit.
I pushed the plug in, twisted the connection to lock things in place then flipped on the saw’s switch. Bingo. The saw roared back to life. Immediately, editor B let loose with, “Now I know why all the tool manuals begin with ‘Make sure the power cord is connected.’”
Sometimes the problems are simple to correct.
I’m sure you would have checked the plug, but if you’re befuddled about any of your major wood shop power tools, you need to order our Power Tool Tune-up Collection. You’ll find answers there.