How Technology Is Changing Woodworking

Posted: Nov 5 2019, 8:34am CST | by , in Technology News

How Technology Is Changing Woodworking
Image: CIFF

Technology is improving everything these days, even old fashioned things like woodworking. Yes, you can still use a hand saw, but technology makes it so much easier.

Technology has changed the world in seemingly countless ways. Even the most traditional of fields, woodworking, has been touched by these advances.

Of course, it's not all computers and smartphones in the world of woodworking. The technological advancements in the field are steps forward for the craftsmen and women who participate in it, as well as for the consumer who purchases a product that's of higher quality than ever before. Here's how technology has begun to change woodworking for the better.

1. Easier Dust Collection

As any woodworker knows, wood dust is a known carcinogen. When this news came about, it required a swift shift in the way you cleaned up your workspace. Even old school vacuums didn't quite work — they often cleaned up the larger particles while shooting the dangerous dust through the air. Next came pleated filters, but even those can't compare to the ones used today.

Nowadays, you can safely clean up your workbench with filters that smartly separate larger particles from wood dust. Plus, there's an option for every budget, and each one has the power and precision to remove dust from the air. There's nothing more important than your health, so this piece of technology has revolutionized woodworking by making it safer for everyone who participates.

2. Quickly Calculate EMC

EMC stands for equilibrium moisture content. Some materials, including wood, absorb moisture and release it back into their surroundings until they find balance with the environment. EMC marks the point where the wood stops this process and finds its equilibrium in terms of moisture absorption, retention and release. Anyone who works with wood knows why EMC is a vital statistic to know. The natural material expands and contracts as it soaks up or releases moisture.

Fortunately, your smartphone can help you determine whether conditions are right for working with wood. Wagner Meters has an app called Smart Logger that can help keep track of moisture and humidity when you're on a job site and when you leave. You can also use the Wood H2O app to check the EMC of your wood and to troubleshoot moisture problems.

3. Safer Saws

You can't be a woodworker without power saws. You have a variety of options in which to invest, too. Perhaps a handheld circular saw works better for your job, or a cabinet table saw in the middle of your workroom brings the power you need. Either way, you can't do the job without at least one of these vital pieces of equipment.

The only problem with table saws is that they're incredibly dangerous, especially for the amateur user. An exposed blade at the center of the device makes slicing and dicing simple. But one wrong move can — and often, does — have a person cutting off a finger or worse.

So, physicist Steve Gass took it upon himself to create a safer saw with the help of a few scientific tenets in mind. Namely, humans are conductors of electricity, thanks to the water that courses through our bodies. Wood, on the other hand, doesn't contain any such charge.

Gass created a table saw that instantly stops spinning when it comes in contact with an electrically charged material. That way, you can safely slice wood atop your workbench with a lot less fear of slipping up.

4. Smarter Materials

Finally, today's woodworkers have the luxury of working with better, sturdier materials, many of which have human-made elements to make them this way. So, your woodworking creations will last longer, pleasing both you and your customers.

As one example, formerly lumber-centric companies have grown to include cross-laminated timber (CLT) as part of their offerings. The enhanced material brings together two-by-four beams that are then glued or laminated together to create an extra-strong piece of material. Not only is CLT lightweight, but it requires less energy to manufacture than concrete or steel. And the panels have enough strength to build a skyscraper, according to proponents of the updated material.

Japanese methods for strengthening wood against the elements have also made their way across the world. Namely, a practice called Yakisugi has begun to help fortify wood against the elements for interiors and exteriors. Not only that, but it can provide a layer of safety to a home, too. For instance, burnt cedar will adopt a charcoal exterior that makes it fire- and rot-resistant. To that end, Yakisugi-inspired finishing requires that wood passes first through a Weinig planer, then beneath a flame. It's a process similar to steel weathering, and it makes wood last for much longer.

Tech Makes It Better

The art of woodworking is just about as old as civilization itself. However, that doesn't mean you have to rely on ancient methods and outdated tools to create your pieces. Instead, adopt the above advancements to make your projects sturdier and simpler to construct. Most importantly of all, though, you'll be safer while you build, too — and that'll make your hobby or career all the more enjoyable for years to come.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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