Home Theater Tools
Modern power tools are an invaluable aid to weekend home do it yourselfers
like me. Here are some of the tools I used.
DW706 compound miter saw. This saw is awesome! It got a lot of use cutting panel
molding, as well as base cap molding and crown molding. I replaced the
factory blade with a finer tooth blade for cutting millwork. This project
would have been impossible without a good compound miter saw. I have
no idea how this saw compares to other similar saws since this is the only
one I've used, but it seems to work great. For a lot of my project, I was
sawing molding in the media room, which had the potential to spew a lot of
sawdust. I hooked up my small shop vac to the hose connector at the back
of the saw. Having the shop vac on is noisy, but it does reduce the amount
of dust that gets thrown around. I also found that if I cut slowly, the
vacuum sucked up a higher percentage of the sawdust.
DW368 circular saw. This is not a particularly high-end circular saw,
but it has worked very well for my needs. It is powerful enough to do long
rips on 3/4" plywood, and the sights are very easy to use. It never
binds up. Prior to this saw, I was using a Skilsaw that my Dad had had at
least since the mid 1970s that got handed down to me after college. On
cuts where the Skilsaw binds up or labors, the DeWalt cuts through
effortlessly. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact
that I had never changed the blade. Hmmm ...
10" Table Saw. This is a low- to mid-range table saw, and it also
worked well for my needs. I had to rip lots and lots of plywood for
the project, including the runners for the paneling, the vertical pieces
for the columns, the base boards, etc. The black dust collection bag that
you see in the picture doesn't really do a whole lot. After doing my whole
project, it has collected about 1/4 bag's worth of dust. Meanwhile, I've
had to vacuum up 1/4" layers of dust from my garage several times. I
don't suppose the bag is hurting anything, but it doesn't seem to help
much either. I really like the quick-release fence on this saw.
and Decker JS700K Jig Saw. This is the top-end jig saw from a
relatively low-end manufacturer. I had a lot of trouble with jig saws on
this project, probably because I didn't really know what I was doing! I
burnt out the motor on my old SkilSaw jig saw, then I tried to use my
wife's really old jig saw, and was scared by the lack of safety
features. (One of the goals for the project was that I would still have
all my fingers at the end of the project, and my wife's old saw started to
put that goal at risk.) This saw works fine. It's powerful, it takes
pretty much any blades you might have on hand, and I like the dust blower
feature and the light.
Cable Plate Joiner. The plate joiner is a pretty specialized tool. I
debated about whether I really needed this tool (which cost $169 at Home
Depot, with rebate), but it really helps when joining pieces of wood side
by side, i.e., joining paneling that I didn't want to come apart.
protection. A couple years ago, I bought a 200 pack of ear plugs from
Duluth Trading Company. 200 pairs of ear plugs might seem excessive, but I
found that when I had only a few pairs on hand, I'd always be wondering
whether it was really worth using the ear plugs, and I often wouldn't use
them. With 200 pairs on hand (at a cost of $0.15 a pair), now I always use
ear plugs and don't worry about using them up.
|Dust Mask and
Respirator. I hadn't realized
how sensitive I was to breathing sawdust until I started wearing a dust
mask consistently. I stopped coughing almost entirely.
I don't like the kind of plain papery dust mask that covers my mouth
and nose. It gets clammy inside the mask pretty quickly. It also seems to
force the exhaled air up under the safety glasses, which makes the glasses
fog up. If I'm working in my garage on a cold day, that makes me choose
between the mask or the safety goggles. Hmmm. Would I rather lose my eye
or cough a little? I'd rather cough a little, but I don't really like
those as the only two options.
3M makes a variation on the plain papery mask that has a little flapper
valve in the front that opens when you exhale. It's a dollar or two more
than the plain version, but I found that it didn't get anywhere near as
clammy, and after trying it, I doubt that I'll ever use the clammy kind
For the final stage of my project, I was applying stain and
polyurethane in an enclosed space. I had all the windows in my basement
wide open, and two 20" fans blowing the air into the media room and
around inside the media room, but there were still some pretty strong
fumes in the media room. The AO Safety respirator, which cost about $25, worked
incredibly well. With the respirator on, I couldn't smell the fumes at
all. It was actually kind of spooky to be breathing clean-smelling air
with the respirator on, loosen it a little bit, and get an overwhelming
hit of fumes. There's no clammy feeling whatsoever with the respirator,
and I found the fitting over my mouth and nose to be comfortable. It is a
little heavy (certainly heavier than the paper masks), but I wore it for
2-3 hours at a time and the weight really wasn't much of an issue. .
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