Missing the obvious

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It’s easy to feel stupid when you try to fix something but overlook the obvious. But sometimes, the obvious thing isn’t obvious at all.

My table saw died earlier this week. I was in the middle of a cut, heard an odd humming sound for a split second, and then the saw just went silent and spun down to a stop. With a deadline for a rush project hanging over me – one requiring 44 large mortises I’d be making with a dado cutter on my table saw – this was the worst possible time for this to happen.

I checked all the obvious things first. I checked the breaker box but knew it was fine because the light on the saw’s on/off switch was glowing. I hit the reset switch on the saw motor, checked for blockage, read the manual, Googled the Internet, posted my issue on the WoodCentral forum, etc. I found lots of things and got lots of good advice, but it was all based on incorrect information because I really did miss the obvious clue.

It’s not my fault though (or anyone else’s who gave me advice and guidance). Remember I said that the power light on the saw was on? That light was hiding the obvious.

Not having time to open up the motor or dig deeper into the problem, I decided to get back to my deadline project and use other tools instead, and worry about my saw next week. Funny thing, though. When I plugged my circ saw into the same cord that had been powering the table saw, it wouldn’t work. My first thought was I was just having a week of bad saw karma, but I then tried to plug a light into that power source. Nothing.

The problem turned out to be my ceiling mounted power cord reel. After a decade of trusty service, it died in mid-cut… but not all the way. It was letting just enough juice through to light up that power light on the saw’s on/off switch, sending me on a wild goose chase.

A.J.

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