Ready to assemble?

Assembling a new large woodworking machine is, for me, a love/hate relationship. It’s always fun and exciting, but it’s often maddening, too.

As noted last week, I was shopping for a new machine for the shop. Well, I got it – a new collector to upgrade my dust collection system – and it’s now in-service and working perfectly. Getting to that point took a bit of trial and error, however.

As is always the case the assembly instructions, photos and illustrations in the manual didn’t all match the actual parts and components in the box. Some things didn’t look quite as they were illustrated, while others end up being where you don’t expect them, and the manuals always seem to be short at least one key photo or diagram that would make things a lot clearer.

Then there are the parts themselves. Assuming nothing is outright damaged (admittedly, a rarity in my experience), you can almost always count on there not being enough of something, with the most common items being screws, bolts, washers and nuts. Sure enough, the parts bag was short a bolt. That missing bolt wasn’t critical and so it didn’t stop assembly in its tracks, although that has certainly happened enough times in the past that I wouldn’t have been surprised, and the machine was fully functional without the bolt. I had errands to run later in the day anyway so I just swung past the hardware store and picked up a replacement bolt for 23 cents, and popped it in once I got home.

On the other hand, woodworking machines sometimes come with extra parts, which was the case this time as well. The dust collector rides on four heavy-duty casters, the beefy kind that typically go for at least $8-$10 dollars, but there was a fifth one in the box. When I buy casters I always get exactly how many I need, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted not getting an extra – when a caster breaks or loses a bearing or something, you can never find an exact replacement later it seems. So I’m squirreling this little extra away for a rainy day.

So in this instance I was short a 23-cent bolt, but gained an $8 caster. In the whole scheme of things, I think I came out ahead.



  • SawdustTX says:

    If I may ask, which unit did you buy? I am ready, money in hand, to purchase a serious dust collector, but the dust collector religious debate on the forums has my head spinning. I’m leaning toward a 2-3 hp cyclone mobile unit, but keep reading such disparaging comments about them and wondering what experiences others have had.

  • Lee Gordon says:

    You came out ahead, but only if, when you eventually need that caster, you have any recollection of where you put it.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    SawdustTX: I got the Jet DC-1100VX-CK, which is 1-1/2-hp and just right for my needs (they do have a 2-hp version). This is the one with the canister upper filter and plastic bag below. I’m really pleased with just how nicely it works.

    Lee: What do you mean “WHEN I eventually need it?” I already have no idea where it is.

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