"An Evening With Sandor:
     Tools & Technology"

a Special Guest Chat with
with Host Ellis Walentine

Sunday, April 10, 2005, 9:30 pm EST

Ellis My very special guest tonight is Sandor Nagyszalanczy, author of twelve books on woodworking, tools and home improvement published by the Taunton Press, including five that have won the NAHWW-Vaughan first-place Golden Hammer Award. Sandor has nearly 30 years of professional woodworking experience, though he doesn't look that old. He was an editor for Fine Woodworking magazine for 6? years, served as West Coast editor of American Woodworker magazine in the good old days and is a regular contributor to Woodworker’s Journal. We're fortunate to have him join us tonight for this informal chat, tentatively titled "Tools and Technology." Welcome Sandor!
Sandor Hi Ellis, Hi Everybody!
Ellis You're right on time. What a champ.
Sandor Well, I'm used to having to get goin' on time, what with all the book deadlines
Ellis Sandor and I go back over twenty years, and we've had lots of great times since then. I'm very pleased to have him with us tonight.
Ellis Deadlines are what editors live by.
Norman Are you working on a new book now Sandor?
Dustmaker I touught editors lived by finding Mistakes(-;
Ellis Sandor, I understand that you were a furniture designer craftsman for about ten years before going into writing. How did you become a writer and editor?
Sandor I just finished what I call "The big book of Jigs and fixtures" that'll be part of Taunton's "Complete Illustrated guide series. I'm gonna take a little break and try to catch up on some projects around the house--know what I mean?
Ellis Can't wait for that one, Sandor. We'll post a review when it comes out.
Norman Just when you think all the jigs have been thought of, out comes another..
Sandor Well Ellis, I started writing a rather rinky little newsletter w. another member of the then-active Santa Cruz WW association, and gradually developed a working relationship with the crew at Fine Woodworking...eventually they offered me a job, and I moved to the east coast for nearly 7 years to work with them.
Ellis I remember those days, back in the early 80s.
Sandor Yeah, the jig book is gonna be a killer--nearly 300 pages, and literally hundreds of jig ideas--hope you all will enjoy it!
gypsydave_in_alabama sounds great
JohnP should be a helpful reference
Ellis Do you talk about specific jigs or about the problem-solving process that begets them?
Sandor Ah yes, the early 80s when the woodworking renaissance was in full bloom, and John Kelsey ran the magazine--the halcyon days
Ellis John and I still reminisce.
gypsydave_in_alabama I am always looking for clever ways to solve problems
Sandor Ellis: Both actually; there'll be a lot of stuff on jig design, as well as in-depth info on how to build LOTS of specific jigs, from layout, to machining, to assembly.
Norman interesting why woodworking died off somewhat, then made a renaissance. I wonder what prompted this..
Ellis Yeah, teach a man to fish, I always say.
FredD Sandor , did you ever make a jig and save it and then much later wondered how it worked the first time and what project it was used on?
Sandor Hi Gypsydave--YES, as you know, it's much easier to build something complicated than it is to cut right to the heart of the problem and build something simple and elegant
gypsydave_in_alabama yep---and simple is always best
Norman I'm not familiar with all your books Sandor, what is your specialty?
Sandor Fred: Ah yes, and that's why I took Petaluma furnituremaker Jeff Dale's advice and now write ALL the crucial info about how to use a jig RIGHT ON THE JIG ITSELF.
FredD ;-)))
Ellis Bingo.
Ellis Excellent advice.
Norman how true...
JohnP nah, I'll never forget.....
Ellis :-)
gypsydave_in_alabama chortle
Dustmaker I use Invisable ink is that ok to use on them?
Sandor Hi Norman. I've written books on woodworking mistakes, sanding technology, vintage tools, power tools, setting up shop, dust control, and built-in furniture. Twelve books in all.
Sandor Hi Dustmaker. I only use invisible ink for my most transparent thoughts
Norman I can skip the mistakes one, I never make any :)
JohnP lol
Ellis What's your technique for diving into these topics, Sandor?
gypsydave_in_alabama woodworking mistakes?---as in approach?
Ellis Mistakes, as in how to be aware of them and hopefully avoid them...
Sandor know the big trick there is simply knowing how to cover them up so it doesn't look like you ever made them!
Dustmaker Never a mistake, always an opportunity
Norman they're called features
Ellis Cover it up like a cat does in the litter box, as Krenov would say.
Ellis Tell us about the “Golden Hammer Award” that your book “Tools Rare and Ingenious” just won.
Sandor YES--Mistakes are an opportunity--to be clever in woodworking, as well as to explore new explatives (@#$&%!!)
Dustmaker Sandor this new book on Jigs is it mostly for the TS or other tools as well?
gypsydave_in_alabama 300 pages!!
Ellis Such a deal! You'll need 60 hours a week in the shop just to put them all to use.
Tom As a hobbyist, a mistake tells me I'm done for the day. Regardless of the hour
Sandor The Golden Hammer award is given out by the Home Workshop Writer's Association in conjunction w. Vaughan-Bushnell. It's a real honor, and I'm proud to say that this is the 5th year my books have won it.
gypsydave_in_alabama good for you, Sandor
Sandor Dustmaker: NO, Jigs for literally EVERY tool in the shop
JohnP that's impressive
Ellis How do they decide whom to give the award to?
Sandor Thanks JohnP
Tom Congratulations are in order....excellent work!
Sandor There's a panel who read all the entries and vote.
Tom Now, this panel isn't you and one other guy, is it? (-:
Tom I see arm-wrestling...
Dustmaker Na he knows which Beer they like
Ellis Of all the editors and authors I've known, Sandor has perhaps the most comprehensive talent for visualizing, acquiring and documenting a subject. My hat's off to him.
Sandor NO Tom, it's an Independent panel. There are separate categories for best book, best photography, best mag. article, and best internet writing.
Tom I've read several of your books and have been both informed and impressed. Thank you for that.
Sandor Ah Ellis, now I guess I have to pay you that $20 I owe you...
Norman so a book or article needs to be entered
Ellis Finally :-)
Sandor Thanks Tom. I certainly try to put information out there that I think woodworkers (of all levels) would like to read
JohnP Sandor, a personal do you pronounce your name?
Ellis Best internet writing?? Hey, I didn't know about that category....
Sandor Yes Norman, books need to be entered. But these days, the competition is stiff--LOTS of entries.
Ellis Phonetics, here we come.....
Norman Danny Proulx had won it up here, I wasn't sure what topic however
Tom I worked in a dusty shop for years until I read your book on dust control. That got me off my behind and finally got some control on that problem
gypsydave_in_alabama San-door
Ellis Regardless of who wins, readers vote with their purchases.
JohnP gypsydave, lol
Sandor JohnP: my FIRST name, which many mispronounce is: "Shawn-door" (I'm originally from Budapest, Hungary) My last name is: "Knot-sa-lon-see" or at least that's the best Americanized version
Norman It is like the Academy Award of the woodworking world
JohnP thanks
Sandor Or the sawdusty Pulitzer
Ellis I'm going to start calling you Oscar. :-)
Sandor OK Felix!
Dustmaker Felix?
Norman I meant to ask Sandor, do you have a web site?
Dustmaker come on now you have to tell
Sandor ...Like Felix and Oscar in "The Odd Couple" play and movie
Dustmaker Ok
Dustmaker I was hoping to get more dirt on the Boss
Sandor Norman--my website is currently being re-built; but it might take a while. the guy who is doing it is a surfer, and the waves here in Santa Cruz have been enormous lately!
Ellis The Boss don't got no dirt on him. :-)
Norman woodworkers are definitely more dust-aware these past few years
Sandor Which boss?
Ellis Not Springsteen
Dustmaker The Boss of Ellis Island
Norman ok.
Sandor Yeah, I just spent a day making redwood sawdust. That'll put some ugly fuzz in your lungs
Ellis Lemme know if you need some web help, Sandor.....
............................ paul_anthony joined.............
Ellis Yikes, an interloper.
FredD Has downtown SC been rebuilt since Loma Prieta Sandor?
Sandor HEY PAUL!!! He's my editor on the Jigs book!
paul_anthony Yep. Intruder alert!
Ellis Whaddya know?
AndyL Sandor,it seems like you are everywhere: books, magazines, even in my Carpenter's magazine you appeared as a guest. When woodworking for yourself, is there a specific style you enjoy that the public doesn't see?
Sandor FredD: Mostly, downtown has been rebuilt. Unfortunately, they kinda built some mini version of Santa Monica--our old downtown was a real character hangout before; I miss it.
FredD I bet no more street characters
Ellis So, Sandor, what’s you’re next book project going to be, now that Jigs & Fixtures is in the can?
Sandor AndyL: I think I enjoy the Craftsman and Art Deco styles the most, personally. I've built quite a bit of furniture in that style; just very little of it myself (as my wife will tell you in a hearbeat)
Sandor FredD: Mostly punks nowadays
Sandor The next project is to try to build MY own shop on my property--stay tuned
Dustmaker In CA watch out for the EPA police
Sandor Oh, but you asked about a book. I think Taunton wants me to do an update of my "Setting Up Shop" Book. Any ideas?
Sandor Dustmaker: OH YEAH, I'll watch for them. Fortunately I have Smith and Wesson on guard 24/7
Ellis We're dealing with shop questions all the time, Sandor. You could mine WC for lots of material.
Dustmaker How about a basic book on tool selection and what is and is not important
Sandor Last time I mined a WC, all I came up with was a ton of SH*T. OOOPS; you meant WOOD CENTRAL didn't you?
DaveW It wouldn't hurt to deal with shop size either.
Sandor The old book had a section on tools, bup of course, it needs a lotta updating.
Sandor YES, shop size is a major issue. I'm thinking of including more stuff on garage conversions too.
JohnP vast topic if you cover everything from an all hand tool shop to an all mechanical shop and everything in between.
Greg Would anyone have a "primer" out for "How to build a workbench"?? I would be interested in a book. Have the "workbench" book, but it doesnt really instruct....
Dustmaker Work flow also seems a little tough in some shopes
Ellis A lot of questions are perennial. How to apportion a 24 x 24 space (i.e. two car garage)? Machines, benches, dust control, storage.....
Sandor Dustmaker: Yes, work flow deserves a good treatment too
Sandor Yes Ellis, and ultimately for most of us, how to cram 20 lbs of "stuff" into a 10 lb bag.
Carole_in_VA Hi James. Hi Sandor...great to have you here!
Sandor Thanks, Ellis always makes it fun
James Carol I can remember when you
Ellis I think that most people need to know what to do if they fit certain profiles.
paul_anthony Sandor, I thought your "Setting Up Shop" book was a great primer on all facets of the topic. For those of you who haven't seen it, you should check it out.
Carole_in_VA Hush James!
Sandor Hey thanks Paul (I'll make sure and put that $20 in the mail to you too)
James first started in scrollsawing and now turning, and doing a fantastic job of it I might add.
paul_anthony Cool. It's up to $20 these days?
Sandor Yeah, 20 just doesn't go as far as it used to...
Sandor OK guys, any questions about say, dust collection out there?
Dustmaker half a tank of Gas if you are lucky
FredD no questions, but I would like to see you address the myths in DC
Andrew_Frank what can cause them to explode?
Ellis What's the best remote-control device to hook up to my DC unit?
Sandor Myths? The leading one must be that plastic pipe systems explode--it CAN happen, but then again, you might just get bitten by a vampire...
Dustmaker If I put my dust collector in the garage and run it into my basement shop lets say it is 1200 CFM how much air do I have to make up if any
Ellis What's the latest on the Eco-Gate controversy?
Sandor Ellis: The X-10 remote system (sold by Radio Shack) has lots of components you can use to switch your collector on and off
Ellis Aha. That's good to know. I'll check into that.
Sandor Dustmaker: I'd try to keep the filters inside, so you don't have to make up air
Norman I think I have that one Ellis, with heavy-duty modules
Sandor I haven't talked to Peter at EcoGate lately, so I don't know what's up.
FredD how about the most efficient ducting such as spiral steel tubes as opposed to corrugated plastic, PVC, Gas pipe, old stove pipe and so on
Carole_in_VA Do you really need 1 micron filters to protect yourself?
Ellis Good question, Fred.
Sandor Avoid thin-walled stove pipe, otherwise, the differences aren't significant--for smallish-sized shops
paul_anthony Sandor, when you were doing research for the shop book, did you find that a larger shop was a universal desire, or were many folks satisfied with what they had?
Sandor Carole: the whole filter micro size thing is tricky; hard to go into why in a chat room, but if you're concerned, read the filter section of my book...
Sandor Paul: I find that most people just learn to make DO with their shops, but MOST wish they had more space
Carole_in_VA Thanks Sandor. Will do. Had read some bad things about the cannisters for 1 micron.
Dustmaker When I have more space I have more junk
paul_anthony Lotta truth to that, Dust...
Dustmaker When is a piece of wood too small to use any more
JohnP Mike, that's a dicipline
Sandor Dustmaker--that's right! the same principle as "a job expands to fit the amount of time alloted for it"
Andrew_Frank could you use HVAC duct as dust collection?
Ellis What about the canister filters, Sandor. Are they what they're cracked up to be?
Carole_in_VA Make knobs out of it or light pulls Dust! Never too small to be useful.
Dustmaker Hay, I knew I was trying to be good but I still get a timeout JP
FredD a foot of corrugated pipe is 2 1/2 times the friction of a foot of smooth duct, this not only applies to dust collection, but is the leading reason why people have a problem with long drying cycles with their clothes drier
Sandor Andrew: most HVAC ductwork is just fine.
Sandor YES FRED! the main thing to avoid is using LONG runs of corrugated hose--it really creates a lot of air resistance and reduces system efficiency
Andrew_Frank whats the most cost wise way to go, would PVC be better, or another material
Sandor I've seen lots of PVC ductwork systems; just make sure to use the right diameters
Dustmaker going to a contractor and getting the stuff they pull outta houses or office buildings AF
Ellis I know you’ve been on several programs on the “History Channel,” including “Tool Box” and “Modern Marvels.” Any new television appearances coming up?
Carole_in_VA Ask about the cannisters again, Ellis
Sandor Dustmaker: As you probably know, It can take a lot more time to use "recycled" stuff, and ductwork, for sure!
Larry_Clinton Sandor, have you seen the Grizzly cyclones they are coming out with this month? What is your opinion of their product?
FredD How do you advise the shop owner about fire codes, fire marshals, Insurance companies, Uniform Building code in CA, and the National Plumbing code to the contrary,
Sandor I just spent a couple of days in Knoxville, making a guest appearance on two segments of "DIY Tools & Techniques," w. David Thiel. I brought some neat vintage tools, and showed some amazing Japanese tools too. It was LOTS of fun, and the segments should air on the DIY channel in a few months.
Sandor Fred: I've found it best to visit or call your fire marshall and find out what the specific codes are for shops in your area
Ellis Great, Sandor. Is there any new, cool power tool technology that you think we should be checking into?
Dustmaker The Zero Kerf Band Saw Blades look Good
Norman I would like a low cost horizontal boring/slotting machine. I used one this past week and I like it
Carole_in_VA LOL That's what mine became the other day, Dust. BANG!
Sandor A couple of things: Looks like Panasonic will be introducing a new oxide battery technology (first, as replaceable C and AA sizes), that runs MUCH longer than alkaline, and is generally better than NiCad. I think we'll be seeing it in cordless tools in the fairly near future
Dustmaker Was it painted Yellow Carol
Carole_in_VA LOL
Ellis Will they recharge with the same chargers, Sandor?
Sandor Also, Sears/Craftsman has been developing a new counter-rotating blade saw for a portable circ saw w. NO kickback!
Ellis Leave it to Panasonic.
Carole_in_VA Yeah, dream on, Ellis.
FredD a useful and reasonably priced board stretcher would be a ideal shop must have
Sandor I really don't know about the recharging process...
Carole_in_VA What is the kerf size on those circ saws, Sandor? Got to be big with two blades!
Sandor Ahh, board stretchers.. now THERE'S a project for an entreprenuer
Ellis Righteo...
Dustmaker Just cool the battery before recharging they last longer I toss my in the freezer for awhile aftter use and recharging
Sandor Actually the blades are INCREDIBLY thin, so their combined kerf is about the same as a standard saw--believe it or not!
FredD Has anybody read of the controversial blade stop developed for TS that will ( they say ) stop before it cuts you hand or finger off?
Norman probably everyone here
Sandor I saw a demo of it some time ago, and it REALLY worked great--on a hot dog. I still wouldn't want to try it w. my finger
FredD anybody believe it or bought one of the TS?
Sandor I believe...
Carole_in_VA Several people on the various boards have bought them
Sandor What do they say?
Ellis I saw it at IWF and it certainly looked like a real breakthrough.
Dustmaker but not the Skin right Ellis
Norman I like the riving knife feature thay put on it
FredD I understand every time it is activated , you need to replace it for about seventy bucks
Sandor Yeah, I've always liked riving knives on European brand saws
Carole_in_VA Of course they say they love them! BUT you have to have different cartridges for dado sets. And if the thing goes off you need new cartridges and a new blade.
Ellis the saw itself is a marvel of engineering. None of the standard Unisaw-breed of castings need apply.
Norman FredD: plus a new blade
paul_anthony I would love to see a riving knife incorporated into every table saw sold in the U.S.
FredD oops
Carole_in_VA Me too, Paul!
Sandor Easier to get that stuff than an new finger
Ellis Right, Fred. but what is seventy bucks compared to a finger.
Carole_in_VA True Sandor, but I am waiting to see how many false triggers occur.
Sandor Good point Carole
Ellis Jinx, Sandor
Norman I'm more concerned with kickback personally
FredD well Ellis, not to beat a dead horse, what I really would like to know is...... how come its does'nt take the woodworking industry by storm?
paul_anthony Then get a splitter, Norm. That'll prevent kickback.
Carole_in_VA Cost
Sandor It's all about liability and cost
FredD should be a OSHA chapter and verse on it
Norman I've got all that stuff Paul, just the same it's an issue
Ellis That's another question that needs substantial airing on the boards, Fred.
Sandor I'm not sure where OSHA stands regarding that saw and safely mechanism
FredD as far back as it can Sandor
paul_anthony Have you experienced kickback with a properly aligned splitter, Norm?
Ellis The inventor is a lawyer who has tried to get an ordinance requiring his techonology. That;s where he got into hot water.
FredD sounds vaguely obscene Paul ;-)
Dustmaker the worst kick back I had was with the Factory devised splitter Safety device
Norman actually, I have experienced little to no kickback, I take all the precautions..
Sandor No wonder most woodworkers remove their stock saw guards!
paul_anthony Hmmm. Usually, my obscenities aren't so vague...
Norman the quick release splitters make life easy..
Ellis Paul, :-)
Sandor OK kids, any more questions before I go fix dinner?
Carole_in_VA Sandor, What do you think of the cannister filters for DCs? I have read that they clog really easy.
Dustmaker I was going to try those little plastic ones to see how they do
Dustmaker What is for Dinner?
Carole_in_VA The micro-jig splitters work well, Dust.
paul_anthony They really work pretty well, Dust. The price is certainly right too. Just make sure your zero-clearance insert plate fits well.
Sandor Carole: The smaller ones do tend to clog more easily, but ultimately, if you're using proper preseparation (a cyclone or drop box/cannister) ahead of the filtration, it shouldn't be a problem.
FredD Onieda advises using compressed air to clean the filter from the outside in Carole
Carole_in_VA I haven't tried one with really thick stock though
Carole_in_VA Which I don't have, Fred. :( So the cannister might be a real hassle for me.
Sandor Dustmaker: leftover lamb stew
Dustmaker Sounds Good
Norman I can't say enough good things about preseparation since I set mine up..
paul_anthony It works fine with thick stock too, Carole.
Dustmaker how well do the trash can seperators work
Carole_in_VA Great..thanks, Paul
Sandor Carole, Jet builds a rotating manual cleaning tool into their cannisters
Sandor Dustmaker: They can work great, if everything's set up correctly
Norman dustmaker, they work fine. get a real tall can though. It makes a huge differnece
Carole_in_VA Have you actually used one for any length of time, Sandor?
Sandor Yes Norman.
Ellis Thanks for joining us tonight, Sandor. I hope you will visit WoodCentral again and keep us posted on your latest ventures.
Norman Thx Sandor
Carole_in_VA Was that blinking lights, Ellis?
paul_anthony Night, Sandor.
Dustmaker Thank You Have A Great Night and Enjoy your Dinner
Carole_in_VA Night and thanks, Sandor!
Sandor Yes, I've used a couple of different cannister filter systems on a regular basis for a long time, and I'm a huge fan--they do a much better job, on par, than filter bags do.
Ellis Yep
Sandor Thanks Ellis and everyone! It's been a pleasure
Dustmaker You don't have to go home Carol you just can't stay here
Ellis Paul found the smilies feature.
Carole_in_VA LOL
FredD good night Sandor and I will wait to buy your latest with very little patience
Sandor Hey, I just found the BEER feature
Ellis I hope we can have you back here again....
paul_anthony Do they they make an emoticon for that vague feeling of angst?
Ellis With or without the beer?
Dustmaker That means you are buying the next 6 rounds Sandor
Sandor Preferably with....Thanks again...Bye bye!
Ellis I may have to cook one up for that, Paul. :-)
rubes Thanks, Sandor and Ellis. Good night.
Ellis Thanks for joining us tonight, folks. The edited transcript will live on in our chat archives.