Tests & Comments

When I was invited to sample the new Inca #280.10 table saw, I thought I’d be in for a real treat, a version of their #2100 (reviewed in Popular Woodworking Issue #34) that I could actually afford. Since the tool was not yet for sale in this country, there was no price on it. My friendly Inca dealer had both saws in his shop. Next to the 12″ saw, this new one is almost diminutive.

The machines differ other than just in size. The mortising table for the big saw is a rock-stable 92 pound behemoth that cost around $1,200 a year ago. Only one thing could have made that table better: the work surface could have been higher. The same complaint goes for the mortising table for the #280 as well. On the other hand, it appears to be the same mortising table that Inca has made for its smaller saws over the years, so it should be nearly a thousand dollars less expensive.

Inca has done a remarkable job of preserving the features of their big saw as they produced this model. The model #280 has the nifty multi-height rip fence, the adjustable miter guide, and loads of safety features. Since it’s likely to be far less expensive than the #2100. it might be considered a bargain, but. sad to say, it’s just not exciting. I can’t give it the unqualified recommendation that I will still give the bigger saw. You may recall that I closed my review of the bigger saw asking Santa to please remember me with one. Well, Santa, I still want an Inca saw, but, since you never do anything half-way. bring me the big one, okay?

GE Margard’ Sheet

Several Sundays ago 1 went out into rural Manitowoc County to see a fellow’s shop-made biscuit joining machine. While the machine wasn’t the sort of thing you’d give up your Lamello Top for, its guard, made of General Electric’s Mar-gard, should be of interest to anyone who makes jigs and fixtures at home. Using cutter guards made from this clear plastic material should be a mandatory safety feature on every shop-made fixture. The design of your guards won’t change much, but the material will make them much safer.

After I made that visit, I had occasion to visit a local glass shop. While I was there. I asked about this Margard. The glazier gave me a really eye-opening demonstration: He put a piece of Margard scrap on the concrete floor and then took after it with a pick-axe. After three or four good, healthy hits, he stopped and gave me the abused sample. I added some damage of my own to it with my very sharp sculptor’s axe. hitting the plastic hard enough to make the axe stand up in it. but I couldn’t break it. There were pick-axe dents in it and other visible damage as well, but the structural integrity of the sheeting is still perfect. The material is strong enough to be used for windows in the world-famous Manitowoc cranes.

More than any words 1 could say. the photo above may indicate why you’d like to have a sheet of this between you and an exploding cutter head. If a bit comes loose in my router table. I’m going to have a piece of this between it and me — it’ll be worth many times its price if all it does is slow the shrapnel! Speaking of price. Margard® costs $ 12 per square foot if cut directly from the 4′ x 8′ sheets, but you may be able to talk your glazier into discounting or even donating small or odd-shaped cut-offs. Even with all its strength, the material is easy to work, it can be easily cut with any of the standard shop saws. Using this material might one day save you from serious injury.

Cool Blocks

Cool Blocks are replacement guide blocks for your band saw. A couple of months’ use makes me wonder why they aren’t standard equipment on all band saws. Cool Blocks are available for Delta. Inca, Craftsman, and other band saws. Here is what they have done for my band saw:

Never before have I had guide blocks set so close to the blade. The manufacturer claims that this dry. self-lubricating material leads to longer blade life because the blades run cooler. Less friction means less heat and less metal fatigue; this phenolic-like material cannot damage the blade teeth, and since the blocks cost less than the price of a single blade, your investment will soon be returned. Additionally, band saws run smoother and quieter with Cool Blocks; readings on my Sound Meter showed them to be 3 dB quieter than (he steel blocks: I’m guessing that the relative «tightness” of the guide blocks has a great deal to do with the sound dampening.

The instruction manual says that a dollar bill is .004″ thick—exactly the right thickness for adjusting the Cool Blocks to the blade. My metal blocks weren’t nearly that close—are yours? If they aren’t, you owe it to yourself to tighten up your machine, and the $9.95 cost of Cool Blocks is well worth the price of admission. They are available from: The Garrett Wade Co., Inc.. 161 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY UK) 13.

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