Gazette Archive 4/28/02
A Book Review by Ralph Laughton
Title: Woodworker's Power Tools
Crash! What's that? A quick glance down the stairs, towards the front door, reveals a Priority Post Package sitting on the mat. Inside is my first book to review for the WWA. I already have a formidable library of Sterling Publishing's offerings so I was expecting more of the same high quality original information. Great! The first flick through confirmed it. Packed full of colour (ops! I mean 'color') photographs and illustrations. A closer look reveals the content split into seven chapters. Starting with saws. Yep 45 pages of 'em! In his introduction Peters Confesses to being "power tool junkie". He's not kidding, he sounds nearly as bad as me! His first power tools had an eerie, almost spooky similarity to my own (I'm not owning up to what they were - you'll have to read it for yourself). Contractors saws, Band saws, Chop saws and every other kind you can name. Within each category there is a wealth of information on usage and commonly available accessories.
Drills and Drill Presses are next to get the Peters treatment. I was particularly interested in the section on precision set up. Good sound advice on the drilling of various substrates. Lots more information here including fitting, and the use of, mortising attachments. Somewhat surprisingly, there is no mention of dedicated mortising machines here or anywhere else in the book !?
The Jointer and the planer are two sides of the "power triangle" (the TS being the third), in the words of Mr. Peters, are a must for any small shop. Well there's a subject for the Info Exchange. He goes on to discuss the various types available and how to get the best results from them. Again, good constructive advise on precision set up. He rounds this chapter off with a section on portable planers.
Hands up - Who likes sanding? Only 20 pages! I get the feeling I've got more in common with our author than just being a power tool junkie. In fairness, he covers the subject very well. Hand held palm sanders, through random orbit and belt to stationary and drum sanders all get a good airing. The chapter ends with a look at the sandpaper itself.
More words must have been written on the subject of routers than any other power tool. A good overview of the subject is presented here, in an orderly fashion, ranging from trimmers to table mounting. Shapers are also covered in this chapter. Not much to be had by the experienced woodworker here, but a very good introduction for the novice, well laid out and informative, without getting too bogged down in the technical stuff.
The penultimate chapter deals with air tools and starts with a useful section on compressors. Types of compressor are explained in a basic need-to-know kind of way. It will certainly make me think a bit more about the portability question next time I purchase a new compressor. There's a section on setting up a system and advice on hoses and fittings. All this before he even starts talking about the tools themselves. Here, we find a resume of air nailers, their safe use and maintenance, information on other air tools, sanders air drills etc. also included in this chapter is a section on spray painting equipment and the technique required for using it.
The book winds up the power tool experience with a look at lathes. Again, a subject that has many a page dedicated to it already. This is an exercise in balance. Just enough information to be useful, not too much to be overwhelming. Rick Peters achieves this admirably.
Great book. I would have purchased a copy had I seen it in a book shop. Its good to see other peoples views on power tools, some you'll agree with some you won't, but you will learn something - I did.
Ralph Laughton, London England.
Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble