Dec 302016
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Looking back at my resolutions for 2016, I happily scored high, about a B+, with my plan to stimulate my middle son with his birthday “gift of Time” to pursue time in his shop or at a workshop to learn more about his passion for tools and fabrication. Thanks to the generous support from his partner who agreed to the plan and who took on full family care and transport for the three-day event, all went extremely well. A+ for that one and hopes for a repeat this year. My youngest son was equally delighted with the gift but at this point has not defined his plan, and I may have to give it earlier in the spring to spur his creative thinking.

This year as I think about new resolutions for myself, I enter into a year of expanding my woodturning business. This requires renovating my shop to incorporate a new piece of laser equipment that relies on a dust-free environment to protect its optics. Thinking ahead about this, I have become particularly alert to the quantity of dust that rapidly accumulates, settles, and invades nearly every possible space – inside drawers, on and under every surface, all around the ceiling mounted Jet air filter, and neatly caked on the Bridgewood dust collector that is fortunately isolated in its own exterior shed addition on the shop.

The problem, as I look candidly at my typical shop rituals, is that except for days when I have woodturning students and focus on safe practices, I nearly always fail to turn on the air filter, a piece of equipment which I proudly tell others is the “best tool in the shop.” I am clearly lazy and too-frugal on my working alone days. Similarly, when by myself, I tend to make quick cuts at the bandsaw or sand turnings without turning on the big dust-collector, relying instead on a fan to blow the dust away from me, and I too often skip grabbing my clumsy 20-year-old green air-filtered face shield in favor of the lighter and more convenient Bionic Face Shield. I do know better. I teach others better. This year seems time for me to practice what I preach!

My resolutions for 2017 include continuing my “gift of Time” to my sons working for a self-award of A+ this year. With focus on my shop, I resolve to actually use and enhance the safe-practices dust management systems to improve the air quality in my shop as well as to provide clean, dust-free air within the new clean-room space.

One of the new practices I plan is to mount an additional air filter that will blow filtered air into the new clean space and provide a slight positive out-pressure from that space to reduce the possibility of dust invasion. By wiring both the old Jet collector and my new Rikon air filtration system into a lighting circuit, I will be sure to power them up and down with the shop lights.

Another device to defeat my innately too-casual practices is to add an i-Socket Auto-start switch to my shop-vac and discipline myself to move it more readily into positions by the planer, router table, and compound miter saw where it can make the one-switch-fits-all improvement to those dust-generators.

Finally, I have looked thoughtfully at the new Trend Airshield Pro but thus far have been too tight to spring for replacing my old helmet. I understand that I have not been using it because it is too clunky and awkward to manage, but it is time to retire it and move into the current light-weight, long battery life, improved modern solution. This item actually has the same draw-back that all of the other shields present to woodturners who demonstrate and teach – the user cannot talk through the shield. While I do not need a full sound-system of lavalier mike, amplifier, and speakers to communicate with the two or three students in my shop or the “crowd” of six or eight people who might be watching my summer living history demonstrations at the Wilson Museum, I would encourage some creative sound genius to figure out how to incorporate a Bluetooth microphone into one of these helmets that could broadcast to a Bluetooth speaker (my technological ignorance continues to blossom!) Many of us would be delighted purchasers.

Now the only thing left is to actually implement these great plans and use the technology to clean up my shop air and lungs. Resolutions are for setting beneficial goals; the test is in generating the action to achieve them. In my experience, the way to do this is to make it easy, comfortable, and desirable in the daily application.

Check in next January to see how I grade myself.

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