Old dog

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No matter how old the dog, despite what conventional wisdom says, he can still learn a new trick.

I tend to think I know just about everything. (Just ask me.) But the fact is that although I know a lot after decades of woodworking, I don’t really know everything. Not by a long shot. I think a lot of you probably fall into that category, too.

You use a router, or a miter saw, or a drill press or whatever for year after year and you get pretty good with it. And why not? You repeat certain functions countless times. But you most likely also tend to rely on a set of specific functions, while others go unused for a variety of reasons – it’s not the kind of woodworking you do, you don’t make a particular thing needing those functions, you have other tools you prefer for that function, you just never thought of using the tool for that, etc.

Perfect example: I wrote a magazine tutorial on miter saws a few months ago, and as part of the article I covered all the things a miter saw can do. Once done, I looked around the Internet to see if there was anything I’d missed. And, yeah, I found one – roughing out dados with a sliding miter saw.

You set the depth control, define the sides of the dado with a couple of passes and then either just nibble out the center waste with the saw for narrow dados, or use a chisel to clean out waste for wider ones. I’ve used my table saw countless times like that when I didn’t want to install a dado cutter, but it just never occurred to me that I could do it faster and with less fuss on my sliding miter saw. So, this old dog learned a new trick, proving that it is possible. Next, I need to master “stay” and “roll over.”

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