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Mini machines

I used my wife as an excuse to buy a new tool. Do I feel guilty? Nope.

Sally continues to expand her work in stained glass, and earlier in the week saw a tool she might like to have for cutting “came,” the lead or zinc angled channels used as edging on glass panels. Till now, I’ve been cutting them for her with a cutoff wheel on a rotary tool.

What she found was a tiny miter saw just perfect for that task, and it is so cute I can’t stand it.

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Actually, I’ve considered getting one for myself for some time. When not making full-sized stuff in my woodshop, I enjoy making reproduction movie props, most of which involve small parts that are difficult to cut with regular shop equipment. So, naturally, when she expressed an interest in the tool, I jumped at the chance. She thinks it’s hers. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

These tools and their makers – most notably Micro-Mark and Proxxon – have been around for years. You can’t do full-scale woodworking with them, although you can make small parts for large projects. They’re favorites of model makers, jewelry crafters, high-end dollhouse construction, and anything else that requires working small components. In addition to that little benchtop miter saw, it’s easy to find mini table saws, drill presses, disc sanders, grinders, routers and even drum sanders, all of which do the same task as their bigger brothers, just on a much smaller scale.

We’ve already put it to use – Sally cut some came for her current stained-glass project, while I cut cherry glass-retaining strips for inside a clock door. It works like a charm. And, based on how well it’s integrated itself into my woodshop (and, yes, Sally’s glass studio), I suspect additional minis will join it before much longer.

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