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Rack rant

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I know I don’t do this often here, but after finishing some new cabinets and racks for my shop I’m in the mood for a rant about the quality – or lack thereof – of materials today.

Yeah, a lot of things are a lot better in the woodworking world. Battery technology for cordless tools, for example, is light years of what it was even five years ago. The tools are better, lighter and have longer runtimes. But when it comes to a lot of materials, just the opposite is true.

Case in point: The last time I made clamp racks was about a dozen years ago. These were simple affairs made of 1/2”-thick plywood with slots for the clamp bars to slide into. I still have these racks, but since I now have more clamps I needed two more. So I headed to the local Big Box store for some 1/2” ply of the same type I used before, brought it home and – using my original racks as templates – made two new ones identical to the older ones.

The racks are all mounted on the same wall, and with all the clamps in place it’s clear that the new racks are sagging; the old ones are straight as … well, straight as a board. The new plywood simply isn’t as good as what I bought a bit more than a decade ago. It also didn’t machine as well, it was a lot more splintery, and it had a lot more voids.

In short, the stuff is awful. And yet it was the same type, same grade and purchased at the same source as before. I’m sure it’s from China, but the origin isn’t the issue. The issue is that it’s garbage. If I were a professional cabinetmaker, I wouldn’t blame a customer of mine for being upset with anything I’d made with that stuff. But I made this for myself, and have only myself to displease.

And I am very displeased.

Till next time,


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