Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peace in Our Time

Over on the Popular Woodworking Editors’ Blog, Glen Huey has been getting torn apart for telling people that he uses gloves at the jointer.

Honestly, when I read his posting, a light went off in my head that told me gloves were the brilliant solution to a problem I have recently encountered…..Stiction.

Now, I will admit that stiction is probably only understood by Stephen Hawking and four other people (one of whom is Warren Coolidge from The White Shadow who wrote a technical white paper on Stiction as part of getting his engineering degree from The University of Phoenix….but I digress). I first heard “stiction” in a racing suspension context. One of the definitions of stiction is when two bodies stick together in what should be a frictionless environment….like inside a strut/shock absorber. You have a hardened steel rod surrounded by oil moving inside of a bushing…how could it ever stick??? Well, my belief is that it is exactly like wringing gauge blocks. (However, I am not implying I am one of the 5 people who understand stiction.) (Aside: Stephen Hawking shares a birthday with Elvis and me.)

In a metrology lab (or anywhere measurements are taken) steel gauge blocks (sometimes called Jo Blocks) can be stacked together to create a single steel body that measures a given dimension. In other words, there is not a block made for 1.163 inches. However, if you stack the 1.00 inch block with the 0.163 inch block …you get a single block 1.163 inches tall. The blocks aren’t just set on top of each other…they are put together with a wiping motion (called wringing) that forces out all air between the blocks and causes the block to literally stick together through molecular attraction…or surface tension…or magic… I believe this phenomenon is the same thing that happens with stiction.

Well, in my recent jointing of a boatload of hard maple, I have encountered stiction on my outfeed table. On those last passes, as the wood exits my Byrd Helical cutter head, it is basically perfectly flat. And as I push that across the outfeed table (even with a ton of wax on it) the perfectly smooth, planar piece of wood moving across the perfectly smooth, planar piece of cast iron causes the two bodies to almost wring together like gauge blocks, and the force required to keep the board moving begins to rise. (Also, as the board becomes flatter there is more wood being engaged by the cutters, so that force increases also.) Please note…I NEVER cut more than 1/32”, because I am not in a production shop. I don't have to worry about the time it takes. I take light passes to try to minimize the amount of force required to push the wood through.

Here’s where I’m going. Based upon what I learned from Marc Adams, I now believe that one has more control at the jointer if he puts his hands directly on the wood rather than using push sticks. The caveat is that the hands must ALWAYS be kept a safe distance from the moving parts/cutters (Marc’s 3 inch rule), AND the wood has to be long enough, wide enough, and thick enough to even warrant the use of a jointer. So when I am face jointing boards, I have much more control with my palms on the top of the board than with my hands teetering on push blocks above the board.

When face jointing, I end up with both hands on the outfeed side (as soon as possible) and I pull the board across the cutters. However, with the stiction phenomenon I find that the force required to pull the wood from the outfeed side is often too much for my hands. I have also found that push blocks are no better. Even with sand paper glued to the bottom of the pushblocks, they still tend to slip (or worse teeter and roll) on top of the board rather than just pulling the wood through.

So Glen Huey’s idea of wearing TIGHT, GRIPPY gloves makes sense to me. I can have grippy gloves to improve my ability to pull the wood from the outfeed side of the jointer. Well, the main complaint people had with Glen’s post is the countless horror stories of leather gloves getting caught in the knives and pulled into the cutters causing the mauling of an entire hand as opposed to the loss of a finger tip. Glen counters that his gloves are too tight to be hanging loosely enough to get caught. So, are you ready for the best of both worlds…


You don’t get much tighter. They are latex so they are as grippy as my fat fingers on a donut. And they are not strong enough to cause “extra” damage should one ever face the horror of getting a digit into the blade. Unlike leather fibers the thin latex would easily cut or tear.

So tonight I face jointed some maple wearing surgical gloves, and they gripped the wood so well that I was able to easily pull the wood from the safety of the outfeed side. And the gloves were thin enough to counter all of the anti-glove arguments that were raised on Glen’s blog posting. Also, as for the argument that the gloves could cause problems by reducing the sense of touch/feel… all I can say is for decades surgical gloves have been good enough for use in activities that require a delicate sense of touch. You know…activities like heart transplants and brain surgery.

Perhaps surgical gloves can be an example that supports Glen Huey’s position while not being objectionable to the majority of his responders. Surgical gloves might be the key to our achieving the request of Humanitarian/Great American (Convicted Felon) Rodney King who asked, “Can’t we all just get along?”


Al said...


I started to do exactly THAT today, but small cojones kept me from doing it; the gloves ARE on the workbench. Isn't it something, to learn that MY feeble mind *could* be on a par with Hawking...and you?

All kidding aside, now I wish I had just done it. Cool!

Ace HoleInOne said...

Did any of you happen to see the TV show Dirty Jobs episode on 01/29/08 where Mike Rowe was in Oregon making cedar shingles. Talk about hands and arms scary close to sharp spinning and bone crushing machinery.

So for those guys and gals that think Glen Huey’s idea of wearing TIGHT, GRIPPY gloves makes no sense whatsoever. My friends, go have a few cold beers at your Superbowl Sunday party and after all the fun is over think about while loading your fun loving had a few beers over a generous period of time (yeah right) wobbly body into your steel 4 wheeled rocket-ship…. (no...really don't do it)

We all make choices, Some make better choices than others.


JJ said...

I'm going to try it.

Matter of fact, maybe I'll try using the latex gloves next time I play tennis to keep the racket from slipping... but I digress again.

Jeff Skiver said...

In the last couple of days, I followed the suggestion of my supervisor at my real job, and I added these Google Ads. It's part of an effort to earn an extra $0.37 per year while cluttering the browser window and annoying decent people who want to read my words. "Thanks for stopping by now look at a bunch of crappy ads so I can earn less than a dollar a year...."

Anyway, on this page the key words have worked out so that at this moment in time the ads are for nitrile and other rubber gloves. There is also a link for ski gloves.

I can see it now...I was reading Skiver's post on rubber gloves at the jointer when I realized I didn't have all of my outerwear ready for that trip to Vail. So I clicked on a link and paid way too much for gloves that ended up not fitting well once they arrived. And Skiver got 1/100th of a penny because of it.

Thank God for Capitalism!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been using throw-away gloves from Costco (Which seems to me to be named backwards; what company would put its main characteristic (cost) right in the name? Shouldn't it be bulkco, or packagingco, or maybe even pantry-stufferco? That guy at the door that won't let you until you spend a hundred dollars or more is not helping the image either. Anyway...) for quite some time. They are called "nitrile exam" gloves, though I wouldn't know the 1st thing about examining a "nitrile." The box also includes the information that they are "latex-free" and "non-sterile." Huh? Exam gloves that are non-sterile? I don't get that part.
Turns out that nitrile is synthetic rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile (ACN) and butadiene (wikipedia). Guess that clears that up. Anyway, I first felt bad throwing so many of these things away since we seem to use them to perform weekly surgical updates to our home with reckless abandon. However, I justify it by picturing the gloves sitting buried in a garbage heap, sans my digits and any trace amounts of my blood. They'll take a millennium to break down, but they'll do it without the company of my fingers.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can take the extra bucks from google ads and buy a FLASH for your CAMERA Mr Funny. I'm tired of wasting my employer's time trying to make out what's on the walls of your shop in those dim pictures......

Thanks for caring.

Mike Oxlong said...

There is only one problem with using latex gloves: your hands will be wringing wet in time. You know, the pruny/slimy kind of wet. The kind of wet where you pull off the glove and a spray of schmutz hits you in the eye, and drips all over your perfectly jointed surface. Ick.

JJ said...

If you buy those cotton-lined surgical gloves you won't have to sweat it...

And I agree with Mr. Anonymous (is his first name Alcohol??) about the flash. The pics at the jointer were way too dark.


Jeff Skiver said...

Okay guys, I would have thought you were exaggerating about the dark photos had I not happened to pull up this page at work today.

I'll admit they are a hair dark as I look at them here on my computer at home. This goes back to a discussion with Chris Schwarz a few weeks ago where he told me how horrible flash was. Then, Al Parrish (Popular Woodworking's Staff Photographer Guru) came up to Michigan to spend a day with me and shoot some photos for an upcoming article. Al repeated everything Chris had told me about flash bleaching out the photos.

Anyway, here on my PC at home, as I pull the photos up (FROM THE BLOG SITE), they look a tiny bit dark, but they are great. You can clearly read the Edgerrin James license plate I used to have on my Mercedes. You can see the Catalonia sticker I got while working in Barcelona. You can even clearly make out the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Say No Evil carved stone monkey figurines that I bought in China in 2005. The photos provide an amazing insight to show that I am a World Traveling Indianapolis Colts fan who now lives in Michigan instead of my home town of Indianapolis.

In fact, I can even clearly read the Grizzly Part Number and Description of the Jointer in the second photo.

So, as I said, I would have thought you guys were insane (or at least HIGHLY critical of photography) had I not pulled up the blog from my desktop computer at work today.

When I did, my first thought was: What the *&^%(&( happened to my pictures?!?!?!?! However, here on my laptop at home they look great.

Pause for a moment....I'll be right back...I'm going to run into the other room and pull them up on Gail's desktop Computer. (I'll be back in about 44 seconds...)

Sorry that took so long; Gail NEVER updates her dang Virus software, so as soon as I logged in I had to download a bunch of updates.

Anyway, her PC might be a hair darker than the laptop, but they are still significantly brighter than what I saw at work. I wonder if it's video card related??? My PC at work has no real video card, it just has whatever Dell integrated onto the motherboard. However, both of these at home have 256MB dedicated video cards.

You know what...next time I'm just going to use Photoshop ahead of time to waaaaaaaay overexpose the photos before I post them.

By the way, this is also why you have to be very careful making cherry furniture or cabinets for people. It's quite possible you show up to deliver a piece that is a nice shade of rosy color somewhere between pink and red, and you could be far too light or too dark depending upon the person's paradigm of what finished cherry should be.

You can't win....

Jeff Skiver said...

Dang it, Guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While I was writing that 4000 word response Webkinz automatically logged me out for inactivity.

And I normally like to put my Webkinz pets to bed before I log out otherwise they are hungry when you go back.

I realize it's not your fault I wrote such a long response, but I mainly want to say to all of my friends (the ones who are always telling me how tough it is to find free time when you have kids and how demanding kids can be).... I understand what you mean.

Ace HoleInOne said...

My kids are fighting right now. My 12 year old is clobbering the 8 year old with a pillow. The word stop must of been repeated by the 8 year old, a hundred times. However, bits of laughter explode between the fighting. Now, Mom just screamed settle-down. Its time to go foods up. Nope...wait, the 12 year old just announced she is going poop. Ah, more time to surf.


Anonymous said...

When you hang from a gibbet for the sport of your own crows... we shall have peace.