The Blog for GW Pens

A peek at what we make

Don’t Ask Me, I Just Work Here

A bit late today in posting, but it’s been a busy day. Partly, I’ve been searching high and low trying to find a suitable piece of Purpleheart wood. My daughter asked for a purple version of the biplane I make, and most pieces of Purpleheart are just not cut large enough for me to use unless I start gluing them together. I reeeeeally didn’t want to have to glue pieces together. Not because of the work involved, but you lose a natural flow of grain when you do that, and I’d like her plane to be nothing short of exceptional (though I say the same for each toy I make, really).

So, the closest I had found was a piece on eBay. It was a good enough size, but it had not been kiln dried, and the amount of air drying it had was an unknown. The problem there is, as the wood continues to dry it could start to split and crack. If the seller could tell me it had a moisture level of 8-12% I’d have gotten it- it was a decent price with free shipping. But I don’t want to make a toy that will develop problems.

Then I tried a site that I’ve had bookmarked for some time now, but never really found anything to get from there. Well what do you know- they have Purpleheart in a large enough size! And a decent price with free shipping, to boot. It was almost too good to be true. I was looking for a 3″x3″x12″ piece and had been told by a lumberyard the thickest they knew of anybody carrying was 2″x2″. So I start to think, maybe this is rough cut? Rough cut is where the sawmill cuts the wood to the initial dimension. The sides are, well, rough and usually a bit wavy. It isn’t until after the wood is milled to it’s final dimensions that you have a squared off piece with nice, flat sides. The final dimensions are usually a bit shorter than what the wood is listed as, like a 2″x4″ doesn’t really measure 2″x4″.

There are 2 different types of planing which takes place: s2s and s4s. In the former, 2 of the 4 sides are planed flat and parallel to each other. In the latter, all 4 sides are planed with right angles where the sides meet. I was looking for s4s since I don’t really have the tools to plane the sides on a piece this large. Since I noticed the site had customer service chat available, I popped in and asked if the piece was rough cut, s2s or s4s.

The lady tells me it is rough cut, but doesn’t understand what s2s or s4s means.

Hold on. How do you not know what those mean, but you do know that the wood is rough cut? If it’s not rough cut, it is one of those 2 finishes.

I explain to her what the finishes mean and she takes a few minutes to check with her tech guy. She comes back and tells me all 4 sides are planed flat and smooth. Apparently her tech guy doesn’t understand s2s vs. s4s either. But alright, I got the info I needed and she did apologize for giving me the incorrect info at first.

Now, flashback to before I had my dust collector, I was looking at one for sale in Lowes. A similar model as the one I wound up buying, and I was trying to see if they carried the ductwork for it (some people prefer to use ductwork made specifically for dust collectors). Well this guy I asked goes and gets a second guy, and they both stood there and stared at the machine for a minute or two. One of them finally breaks the silence and says “OH! This isn’t for tools. This just cleans the air in the room.” You have to understand something- this machine stands about 5 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter with a 4 foot long 4″ hose coming off of it. An ambient air cleaner is about the size of 2 DVD players stacked on top of each other.

“No, this isn’t an ambient air cleaner. You run ductwork and that long hose connects to it. The ductwork goes to your tools” I try to explain.

That just blew their minds. They both started to mumble something about not seeing anything like that and split off into different directions, probably a tactic practiced so a customer couldn’t corner both of them with more questions.

Sometimes, I’m really thankful I didn’t have a more serious question. Then I’d probably be the one who walked away mumbling under my breath.


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This entry was posted on November 20, 2008 by and tagged , , , , .
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