There was too much woodworking going on in my shop tonight. On many Monday nights, the Hillsborough Orange Woodworkers hold their weekly meeting in my shop. Tonight’s project was part of the continuing toy build for the Triangle Woodworkers Association annual Toys For Tots campaign. To recap, HOW was building toys for the TWA’s T4T 2014.

Nominally, I am in charge of the build. My shop, my project. Trouble is that the HOW people are a bunch of self starters. Hard to control. Not a bad thing, I just need to be a bit more assertive. Better overly eager than reluctant and cranky.

For most of the night there were five work stations in use, a band saw, a drill press and three different sanding stations. I have plenty of power in the shop. Problem is that I usually work alone in the shop and use only one tool with dust collection at a time. The power isn’t distributed for so many tools in use at one time.

Five people in there working, really.

Five people in there working, really.

Tonight, I had to run more extension cords from outlets I seldom use. Running out of extension cords, I plugged the band saw and it’s dust collector into the retractable ceiling cord reel. I have often plugged in the band saw there without anything interesting happening. But it usually only runs for 10 or 15 minutes. Nothing that will stress the system.

They were using the band saw continuously for around two hours when it happened. I had gone into the main house. Nothing for me to do in the shop, all the tools were in use. I came back in and was told the breaker for the ceiling outlet had tripped and would not reset. We plugged the bands saw into  another outlet and moved on.

I tried the breaker and it tripped immediately. They were right. Thinking that there might be a problem in the reel, I pulled down. It wouldn’t move. I pulled harder. It moved and I didn’t like the results. Wire was a bit toasty.


10 amps, 20 amps, what's the diff?

10 amps, 20 amps, what’s the diff?

The wire was only 16 gauge. 10 amps. I was running a bit more through it. Probably a bad idea. And the lack of air movement in the reel didn’t help.

Well, off to the recycling center, a sadder but wiser man.