We spend too much time looking for tools in the MiterSet Shop. It really lathers me up. In a prior life I was a Lean Six Sigma Sensei, leading teams of people to achieve greater productivity through better process management. One of the Lean process principles we used with great results is a methodology called 5S, which stands for: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. 

This week we started to practice the 5S methodology as it pertains to tool management. Here are the steps we took.

Step 1. Sort - We identified the core tools we use in the test shop. Everything else was deemed unnecessary and was moved out of the central workflow. We then took the core tools and placed them on a rolling cart in order of size, use, type, etc.

Step 2. Set in Order - We used Kaizen foam. Kaizen is a Lean word for "change for better"  and is associated with a continuous improvement strategy. Kaizen foam is a great way to visually display tools. We organized like tools together, wrenches from smallest to largest, screw drivers in order of size and type, etc. We used each tool to outline its profile and then cut a pocket into the foam into which we set the tool. 

Step 3. Shine - We cleaned all the core tools making it easy to see markings required for quick identification. The Kaizen foam displays only those tools set into place. We don't set other tools on the foam. If the tool gets used regularly then it finds a place in the foam. The best practice is to keep the tool inserts clean of debris, other tools, etc. Clutter is the enemy of a Lean process and creates waste. Notice in the 3rd picture (top right) that something is missing. Displaying tools this way make it easy to find tools and to quickly identify when something is missing and what that something actually is. In this case, it's a set of safety goggles.

Step 4. Standardize - We established a standard operating procedure for using the tool cart. There is documentation on the expectations of checking the cart into use, cleaning the tools after use, and checking the cart back in for the next user. This establishes the best practices for how to maintain this improvement to our shop workflow.

Step 5. Sustain - We remain diligent about keeping the other 4 S's in place. A person is assigned responsibility for this part of the workflow. You can bet they keep the rest of the staff inline.

Here's a quick Christmas wreath project that I made with materials right outside my shop door. 

Materials List:

  • Hardboard or 1/4" thick plywood.
  • Several pieces of dried birch logs approximately 2" in diameter
  • Hot glue gun
  • Burlap (okay that was not outside the shop door)
  • Boughs from a douglas fir
  • Winter berries
  • A ribbon I chose not to use
  • Moss which I chose not to use

I used a chop saw to cut my birch logs into discs 3/8" thick. I used a stop block and slid the log up to the stop each time to be sure the thickness of the discs was the same for all. I cut up roughly 36 discs.

I used my band saw and a handheld jigsaw to cut the hardboard into a round disc 13" in diameter and 1" wide. 

I placed a dime-size dab of hot glue on the birch discs and started to place them in the center of the hardboard support disc making sure the birch hid the hardboard behind it.

Then I glued a second row of birch discs onto the first row hiding the seam and completing the process of hiding the hardboard support.

I sliced the burlap in half. The roll was too wide and I wanted to tatter the edges so the burlap would fray. I glued the edges at the top and this serves as the hanger.

It will take a bit of experimentation to position the greenery and berries the way you want. Once you get the look you want simply glue the components in place. I glued the stems only. 

I stopped short of using the moss and the ribbon because I had achieved the look I wanted. 

Use the raw materials native to your area. It's a quick fun project to give away as a holiday gift. 

 

 

Delta Unisaw

There's no doubt that new power tools are awesome. Buy new if you can afford to do so. But not everyone has the budget for new. And woodworking is a hobby that should be within reach for all people regardless of budget.

The table saw is the anchor of any woodworker's shop. In my opinion it is the most important and most often used piece of power equipment. It makes sense to spend as much as you can on this cornerstone of your shop.

Over the past year I have put my money where my mouth is. I've always wanted a cabinet saw in my shop. For 20 years I used a hybrid saw that worked fine. However, it lacked power and I was never able to adjust the unit to the precision I wanted to achieve. One day while scanning Craigslist I found the pictured 1987 Delta Unisaw for sale. The owner wanted $400. It needed arbor bearings but was otherwise in good condition. I offered $325 and we had a deal. Did you hear what I just said? I bought a Delta Unisaw for 325 bucks! 

I got it home and plugged it in (after updating my 220 outlet to 3-prong) and fired it up. I was in heaven. The 3-HP motor, 3-belt drive hummed to life and I could tell there was ample power to rip through the toughest hardwoods. The mass of the steel cabinet and cast iron trunnion absorbed all vibration - a beast ready for any challenge. 

In the week that followed I replaced the arbor bearings ($30) and tuned the saw to within .001" of parallel to the slots on my table. I tuned the fence to the same tolerance and started enjoying a saw I knew would provide 30 more years of service. 

I had spent $355.00 on my Delta Unisaw and it was ready for duty. But I didn't stop there. Over the next year, as I could afford it, I added upgrades including:

  • a homemade rolling dolly: $79 in material.
  • a Verysupercooltools precision T-Square fence: $249
  • a homemade rail system to support the fence: $130 (including powder coating)
  • an extra long power cord: $60

I invested in these upgrades as I could afford it. I was patient and methodical and I never left the saw in a state where it was not part of my working test shop. A year after buying my first cabinet saw I have a power tool that will rival any new piece of equipment in terms of accuracy, durability, ease-of-use, and enjoyment. In fact, I think I likely enjoy it more because I built it to my liking.

Total 1 year spend: $813.00 ($67.75 per month)

If a new table saw is out of your reach perhaps this approach is more attainable. And I must admit I really enjoyed doing the work.

 

Mancuso Precision is expanding outside of North America and is seeking distribution partnerships with leading retailers and etailers in the following areas of the world: Latin America, Europe, Australia, Middle East and South Africa. Interested parties may contact Jack Perry (jack@mancusoprecision.com) and are asked to provide the following details:

  • Company name
  • Company URL
  • Years in business
  • Regions Served by physical retail locations
  • Regions Served via eCommerce and shipped goods

Our MiterSet Kickstarter campaign went live today and we received a pledge from  a perfect stranger within a couple hours.How great is that! We're pretty excited about introducing MiterSet to the crowdfunding community and hopeful that visitors will like what we are doing. You can see the campaign at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/miterset/miterset-precision-miter-gauge-jig-perfect-miter-j?ref=discovery

MiterSet is not just a product. It is a way for woodworkers and hobbyists to be more effective and creative with the projects they build and share with each other. We want our customers to share their project designs, show us how they were built and create lively discussions. Pledges from KickStarter.com will allow us to make key investments in connecting video, design sharing and chat forums with MiterSet.com so our community can bloom. 

 

MiterSet products are now CNC precision milled from anodized 6061 aluminum. The plates are laser etched to provide years of easy readability. The new MiterSet includes a 2 mm neoprene rubber backing that makes the jig feel soft in your hand and holds it firmly on a flat surface while you set your miter gauge. 

As part of our initial production run we have created 100 Founder's Edition MiterSets:

  • 30 MiterSet Standards that fit U.S. standard table saws with a miter slot measuring .75 inches.
  • 30 MiterSet Segments that fit U.S. standard table saws with a miter slot measuring .75 inches.
  • 20 MiterSet Standards for ShopSmith Mark V that fit the proprietary .72 inch miter slot.
  • 20 MiterSet Segments for ShopSmith Mark V that fit the proprietary .72 inch miter slot.

Each Founder's Edition MiterSet ships with a certificate that authenticates it's serial number. These serial numbers have been retired and will never be used in production again. 

The Founder's Edition is a great way for us to get our products into the hands of early adopters. It's also a great way for early adopters to be part of a small group of precision tool owners.

We are in the process of finalizing the carry case that will store MiterSet. It will either be a wood box or injection molded plastic with foam cushion. Either way, early adopters will receive their carry case around November 1, 2015 at no extra cost. 

We hope you enjoy using MiterSet as much as we enjoy manufacturing it because it's proudly made in the USA.