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Missing the obvious

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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