Crosscut Sled

I can’t believe I has been nearly 10 years since my last woodworking blog post. We’ve moved three times in that period (such is the life of a military member!) and have settled into a new home that is again conducive to having a decent wood shop in our basement. 

My first big project in this new home is to reconfigure the garage for convenient, orderly access to tools and other supplies. This will entail using a French cleat system and customized hangers, shelves, and totes for placing most items on the wall of the garage. I will write more about this later.

For now, I am discovering a lack of having the right precision tools and jigs in the wood shop itself. One key item is missing from my table saw: a crosscut sled. Of note, attempting to execute a precision, 90-degree crosscut on a board is difficult using only a miter gauge. Those things tend to slip, rack, and otherwise mess up the cut.

This past weekend I decided to build a sturdy crosscut sled that would ride smoothly in the miter grooves of my portable Craftsman table saw. The sled, pictured below, is made of a 36”x 24” piece of 1/2” plywood, reinforced on the front and rear with a 1.5” thick rail of plywood (two 3/4” pieces glued together). I placed an additional block of the same at the front of the sled to reinforce the structure and to remind me to keep my hands away from the blade. The runners are made of hardwood, glued to the bottom of the slide, and fit nicely into the grooves of the accessory table mounted on the left-hand side of the saw.

It works exceptionally well! The sled is sturdy, perfectly square to the kerf of the Saw, doesn’t “rack,” and glides smoothly across the table saw. This will come in handy as I continue constructing hangers and shelves for the garage storage system and pursue other projects.

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Tip: Military Service Verification

Military members serving on active duty occasionally need to show proof of active duty military service to a private vendor or another government organization in order to qualify for protections offered by the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

The SCRA, enacted in 2003 as an update/replacement to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA), is a federal law that ensures active duty military members are given protection rights in certain areas such as rental agreements, security deposits, rent, contracts, civil proceedings, and income taxes.  Other protections are offered as well.

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Can you hear me?

Did you know that there are hundreds of stations listening and reporting reception of your digital and CW transmissions when operating on the High Frequency (HF) amateur bands?

A friend recently pointed me toward PSK Reporter, which offers a graphical world map of active stations and allows entry of a call sign to determine where it has been heard.  For instance, I can enter “W1AW,” a time frame (such as 24 hours), and PSK Reporter will display everywhere in the world W1AW was received.

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Viewing the International Space Station (ISS)

International Space Station (photo courtesy of NASA)

In the “must do sometime in your life” category comes watching the International Space Station with the naked eye.  Only visible within a couple hours of sunrise and sunset, while the sun is still below the horizon, the ISS is large and shiny enough to appear, under the right conditions, nearly as brilliant as the brightest star or planet in the sky as it slowly moves across the heavens.

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JT65/JT9 Digital Modes on HF

I had the pleasure of giving a short presentation to the Saint Clair Amateur Radio Club during the last week of February regarding two “relatively” new digital modes of communication on the High Frequency bands that have been gaining in popularity: JT65 and JT9.  A copy of the presentation is posted here.

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IL Non-Resident Concealed Carry – Major Change

On 2 Feb 2017, to the surprise of many, the Illinois State Police changed the list of states classified as substantially similar for the purpose of allowing applications for a concealed carry license.

Since 2014, residents of VA, SC, NM, and HI were allowed to apply.  The new list retains VA, but replaces the other three with TX, MS, and AR.  Residents of states removed from the list are having their licenses revoked, despite the fact that there have been no changes to their laws.  The only difference? Those states responded differently to the newest survey sent to them by the ISP.

More information on nonresident licensing in Illinois is posted here.

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