My daughter is 1.5 years old and goes to bed around 7pm.
I get home from work around 5:30pm and after dinner, play time, and bath time, 7pm comes too quickly.
I’m not complaining that I don’t get enough time to play with my daughter, I’m complaining that I can’t make any loud noises after 7pm.
When she’s asleep, I can’t use the table saw, circular saw, air compressor, bench grinder, angle grinder, sander, router, impact driver, or shop vac.
This cramps my style.
Want to break down plywood sheets? Can’t. Want to rip a 2×4? Can’t. Want to clean up the garage? No. But even if I wanted to, I can’t.
I do have some power tools that are a bit quieter that I can use after curfew.
My bandsaw, scroll saw, jig saw, milling machine, lathe, drill press, and hand tools are all available (although hammers are iffy).
Over the course of my pergola project, I have made extensive use of my hand saw and chisels to trim posts and timbers at night… in the cold… while it was raining… barefoot… uphill both ways.
Last night I needed to cut a 1.25-inch wide channel 1-inch deep along the length of a 4×4 post 40-inches long.
The tool for the job was the table saw with a dado stack, or the router table with a spiral cutter. But since it was 8pm, these were off limits. What was available was the milling machine.
I haven’t found a lot of examples of people using their milling machines for wood, but in my experience they work very well.
Since the post was 40-inches long and my milling machine only moves 18-inches on the y-axis I had to clamp the post in place in three different positions in the vise to cut the full length, but it worked really well.
The process was simple:
- move the table all the way to the left
- clamp the post in the vice with the start of the post near the cutter
- turn on the milling machine and turn it up to full speed
- crank the handle to move the table to the right as fast as you can
- widen the cut with a second pass
- repeat as necessary, shifting the post to the right in the vice each time until the full length is cut.
The milling machine spins very slowly compared to a router (2000RPM versus 25000RPM, but the vise holds the piece securely and I was able to make full-depth cuts with a 3/4-inch end mill without bogging the milling machine down at all.
Granted, I was cutting douglas fir, but my experiments with oak have not turned out any differently. Apparently wood just isn’t much of a challenge for metal-working machines.
And it only took about 8-minutes to cut the channel in the board, including setup time, which is really not bad.
Plus I didn’t wake the baby!
Full disclosure: when I turned off the milling machine my daughter was crying, but I’m reasonably certain that was coincidental.