Today's story is a tantalizing tale of tool turmoil, rather than your typical Toolbox Tuesday review. The events of the last several days left me seething for more than a moment, and it happened as fast as, well, getting hit by a slow moving truck...literally.
Some of you may remember, while others will not, but Wendy gave me a rather generous present for Christmas 2012. Unfortunately, as of last week, I hadn't broken it out of its box. For those of you counting, that was a little more than nine months ago, but who's counting?
The gift—a large and debatably necessary power tool I've long desired—was a Dewalt 13" Two Speed Planer. Meant for reducing board thickness to a consistent and specified amount, while at the same time leaving the face of the board smooth and ready for finishing, this beast of a machine is an implement often left off of the amateur woodworker's tool list due to size, cost, and practicality (e.g. frequency of use). But nine months ago Wendy donned her Super Spouse outfit and, with the swift click of her mousing finger, purchased this impressive and gargantuan tool for our basement arsenal.
When it came time to open my present I pretty much knew exactly what it was. The giant box in the corner, nearly too big to move, stuck out like a sore colorfully wrapped thumb. The box was so heavy that Wendy hadn't even wrapped the whole thing. Heck, she barely even got it into the house and across the room. To wrap the gift and keep the whole thing a "secret" she just made a wrapping paper sleeve that slipped over the box.
I was overjoyed the day I unwrapped it. With thoughts of salvaged lumber dancing in my head, my dad and I hauled the giant box down into the basement, almost crushing ourselves on the stairs under the weight of the 100 pound tool. And when it reached the already cluttered basement in December 2012, there it sat, waiting to be used.
The tool waited though days, weeks, months and seasons for me use it. It even waited for me while enduring a minor flood.
All the while it called out to me, politely saying "don't worry, as soon as you need me, you know where to find me."
And though the box took up room in the jam packed basement, and the box showed exterior signs of water damage, there it sat...until last week.
Last week I broke this amazing tool out of its jail like box with exuberance. I had a project in mind, and I was ready to give it a go.
We've been hoarding saving some salvaged pine flooring with a gnarly face that I just knew could be beautiful again, and my planer was just the tool for the beautification. I managed to wrestle the assembled 100 pound beast up the stairs of our basement, through the house, and into the back parking pad area. I do much of my messy work out there, such as our work on the butcher block counter tops last year. There's ample space available and when using things that require an infeed/outfeed that exceeds the workable space in the basement. In other word, it's ideal.
Though the cartoon for the ideal approach to transporting this tool suggests two people and omits details on transporting up stairs and out of a cluttered basement, I was able to make it work with just myself. I credit my success in getting the planer out of the basement to my apparent adrenaline induced strength at the thought of finally being able to use this tool.
After a few technical issues with getting things working, I was finally ready to roll. I had set up my planer and was inside grabbing the next piece of wood when the unthinkable happened. As I stood in the backyard looking out towards our parking pad, a large Ford F150 extended cab pulled through the alley and began rounding the corner. I didn't recognize this truck as a regular automobile that parks behind the house, so I was more wondering who they were than anything else. But then my concern began to rapidly change!
As the large truck made a far too tight turn onto our cement parking pad, my brow began to furrow with concern over my rather large, very pricey, and recently removed from the box power tool that I had set up in that same vicinity just a few minutes earlier. Surely the oversized truck's driver saw the bright yellow tool sitting in the middle of my home's parking pad. I thought to myself, "Surely the driver will slow, stop, reverse, and proceed around the tool. Surely they wouldn't simply drive right on through with no regard for my precious, still clean, and good smelling giant yellow power tool..."
But that's just it, they weren't stopping! It was like slow motion. I could see the whole thing unfolding before me, yet I was in our backyard, too far from the gate to take any appropriate action.
I was beginning to run towards the gate in an attempt to thwart the would be power tool assassins before their truck, cloaked in black, launched its sneak attack on our precious tool. But I was too late. My feet were too slow. My reaction too tardy. As I approached the back gate in as quick a manner as my feet would carry me, I let out a feeble yell with the full knowledge the people in the large truck would be unable to hear me.
No more than a mere half second after my last ditch effort to stop the truck using...apparently with, a Jedi mind trick or force push of some sort, I heard the most horrible a sound. A loud thud followed closely by a crunch and a significant clang of the tool coming to rest. At roughly this moment I finally reached the rear of the truck and hit its right rear panel with my open hand with all of my might. The driver had already stopped, but it felt good to return a love tap of sorts, knowing what I might see next could very well be the gross innards of a completely destroyed tool.
At this point, I think, I lost it. No, actually, I'm sure I lost it. Completely. I couldn't see the end result, but I figured the planer was now a goner. There's no way it would be able to survive the business end of an F-150...could it?
"What the F@$K do you think you're doing?!?!? You've got to be $&@)$ing me! YOU JUST RAN OVER MY BRAND NEW PLANER!!!!"
As the confused driver and somewhat clueless passenger looked out on me as I stomped around the car, they realized they had hit something, something that made me rather upset, but in an angry way, not in an "OMG you ran over a person" kind of way. The driver jumped from the cab of the truck, she was probably 5' 3" and was in the area behind our house because she was cleaning one of the neighboring houses. As she and I rounded the edge of the truck, there was my precious planer, half sticking out from under the area beneath the passenger door.
I wish I had the wherewithal to actually snap a photo of the planer sticking out from under the truck. It might have even added some much needed levity to the situation. At this point all I could see was my Christmas gift that had patiently sat in our basement for nine months just waiting to get some use now sitting just behind the front wheel of a massive pickup truck only a handful of hours after I had removed it from its box. Oh! The humanity of it all!
I proceeded to pull the planer out from under the edge of the car, half expecting pieces to being falling off any moment, literally crumbling apart in my callused hands. Much to my surprised elation, the majority of the tool seemed rather intact.
After a bit more ranting the driver made a bit of an apology and pulled away, attempting to park in a stop that was far too small for the very large truck. At which point I may have yelled over one last shot, "I think you should probably park on the street." She responded, "I think I will." And she drove away.
I surveyed the damage that had been done and hoped beyond all hopes that this planer somehow still functioned. I flicked on the power, and shockingly, it powered up. I looked at the reflection of the rollers and blade, both spinning. However, I noticed the handle on the height adjustment wheel had been broken off in the melee, and when I tried to crank the handle to lower the top it was sort of stuck.
I inspected the back of the planer and noticed where the truck had slammed into the case. It was scuffed and a plastic vent seemed to have been pushed into the device. I pried the plastic vent away from the planer and noticed that it had been impeding the chain that is responsible for raising the lowering the top. After removing that vent and prying the plastic parts away from the chain, I was able to once again lower the top.
With that little fix I ran a test board through and it worked perfectly. This 13" Dewalt planer had just been literally hit by a truck, and it was still working perfectly.
The crank handle had been broken, case banged up a bit, and the wheel for raising/lowering the top is a little bent, but it's still working, and that's the important part.
I'd also like to point out that the woman that was driving the truck came back by about 10 minutes later to check and see how badly it had been broken, which was a very nice surprise. She wanted to give me her number and wanted me to let her know how much it cost to repair the broken parts. I thanked her and told her that all seemed to be in working order and that I would probably not be calling her. I really did appreciate the fact that she came back around after the fact, and the last thing I need to be doing is tracking someone down for a $20 part. If there had been serious damage it may have been a different story, but there's no need for smaller stuff like this.
Personally, I'm just completely relieved and jubilant over the fact that my giant and brand new planer had been run over by a several ton vehicle and had not only survived to plane another board, but seemed to have done so with only mild cosmetic damage! How incredibly fortunate.
Had I been using it in the opposite direction, the controls may have been damaged. Had I not been cleaning the rollers, the top wouldn't have been as high and there's a chance the truck would have gone completely over the top of it, crushing it along the way. Or even worse, had I been crouched down using the tool, head down and not looking, I could have even been hit in the process. All things and options considered, I'd say we're pretty fortunate for the outcome, in so many ways.
After only a few days of using the tool, I like it and it seems to work well, but a full review is a little premature at this point. However, I can say that this planer is so solid that it can (in my case) keep working, even after getting hit by a truck. How's that for a sound endorsement?