Monday, April 03, 2006

Bondo

I used Bondo for the first time today. The question is not "What did you use it for?" but rather "What will you use it for next?"

Bondo is automotive filler. It takes 2 minutes to mix up, then cures hard in 20-30 minutes. It can be milled, shaped, and painted after that. If there's something missing that should be there, maybe Bondo will fill the gap.

In fact, I used the Bondo to make a zero-clearance throat plate on my table saw. I put a piece of duct tape over the slot in my throat plate, filled the back in with Bondo, and then let it harden. After it cured, I replaced the throat plate in the saw, then gradually raised the blade until it cut a new slot in the Bondo. Except that this slot matched the width of the blade exactly: zero clearance on either side of the blade.

The advantages of the zero-clearance throat plate are two: (1) Safety. It's less likely for a slim cutoff to bind between the blade, and then get shot back at the saw operator; (2) Minimizing tear-out. When the blade cuts wood with the zero-clearance throat plate directly backing it, the saw is more likely to cut the grain cleanly. Otherwise the grain can tear, creating an unsightly cut and poorly fitting joinery.

Bondo might soon be elevated to the lofty status of WD-40 (if it's stuck and it shouldn't be) and duct tape (if it's not stuck and it should be).

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