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STL 49: Power Tool Power

comments (8) January 10th, 2014 in blogs

thumbs up 11 users recommend

This week on Shop Talk Live, we demystify those horsepower ratings on your favorite power tools, tackle your woodworking questions and gain a better understanding of how hobbyists can tackle commission work. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

This week on Shop Talk Live, we demystify those horsepower ratings on your favorite power tools, tackle your woodworking questions and gain a better understanding of how hobbyists can tackle commission work.

Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answer questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking's biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to for consideration in the regular broadcast!


Also on iTunes Click on the link at left to listen to the podcast, or catch it in iTunes. Remember, our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page. And don't forget to send in your woodworking questions to





Shop Talk Live 49: Power Tool Power

Learn what all those hyped up horsepower ratings on your favorite power tools really mean in terms of a motor's capability. Plus, questions on workbench tops, kitchen cabinet construction, bent-wood laminations, and more! Plus, Matt Kenney dishes out on his experiences selling commisioned furniture pieces.




Mike Pekovich
Executive Art Director
Matt Kenney 
Senior editor

Ed Pirnik
Senior web producer


Listen to Previous Episodes

posted in: blogs, podcast

Comments (8)

woodworker57 woodworker57 writes: I really enjoyed this episode. You guys touched on a topic that has bounced around in my head for quite some time----how to price my work.

You are definitely right, you are not going to recover all of the hours spent on your project, but if you can recover some of it,good deal.

I am not making my living on selling my work, but I don't want to give it away either.

Blessings to you guys, keep up the good work.
Posted: 8:51 pm on February 7th

woodworker57 woodworker57 writes:
Posted: 8:44 pm on February 7th

mrossk mrossk writes: Oh, right. Sorry for the mix-up, thanks for the clarification.
Posted: 11:30 pm on January 14th

fiftyohm fiftyohm writes: Hey Ed- I wouldn't call it 'blather' at all. You apparently just misspoke. Either way, the podcast is a staple of my Saturday mornings. I enjoy it immensely, laugh, cry, hurl, and always learn something. Keep it up, Buddy!

BTW: I caught Mike's video on ammonia fuming with 'regular' ammonia. Guess that answered the question we discussed last year. Talk to you soon.
Posted: 2:02 pm on January 14th

MKenney MKenney writes: mrossk:

The stones that Lee Valley sells are the Sigma Power Select II stones. I bought the Sigma Power stones. They names are confusing, but they are two different sets of stone. Chris Gochnour also reviewed the Select II stones when he reviewed the Power stones.

Posted: 10:43 am on January 13th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: fiftyohm: Confused by your comment? Generally speaking, one wants to use a double pole 40 amp circuit. With 220 wiring - you have two hots and a ground, no neutral. Which seems like what you're saying. Who knows - I may have mis-spoken when I was balthering on.

Posted: 9:43 am on January 13th

fiftyohm fiftyohm writes: Hey gentlemen. Don't let our pal Ed do any wiring for you. 230 volt equipment does indeed require two circuit breakers on each 115V leg - but there is no "neutral"! The third wore is the Ground! Current does not, (or should not under normal operations), flow in that wire. It flows only between the 115V legs. The voltage in these is out of phase by 180 degrees, so the voltage across them is 2 X 115 or 230V. As the current flowing out of one leg must return through the other, the breakers see identical current. Therefore, if you have a pair of 20 amp breakers on your 230V circuit, you have a 20A circuit - not 40 amps.

Also, with motor ratings, efficiency is a huge issue as alluded to in the podcast. Universal motors, (really AC/DC motors), have efficiencies at load on the order of 60%, or even less. This means that when loaded, they not only slow down, but they get HOT. Table saws, Matt's big jointer, and other stationary equipment use induction motors. These run at constant speed, regardless of load, and are much more efficient - on the order of 85-90%. Very large, 3-phase motors achieve better than 95%. All this means they run far cooler at a given mechanical output than universal types.

All this is why we use induction motors for table saws. If you substituted your 3 HP router motor in your table saw and tried to rip 8/4 oak stock with it, you would shortly see smoke coming from the stock as the blade slowed down, and shortly thereafter from the motor. After that, it would billow from the base of the saw cabinet as the molten metal from the motor fell into the dust collection area.
Posted: 12:05 pm on January 11th

mrossk mrossk writes: A heads up- If they are the same, I believe Lee Valley also sells thise Sigma Power sharpening stones.
Posted: 11:22 am on January 11th

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Fine Woodworking magzine's biweekly podcast, Shop Talk Live, allows editors, authors, and special guests to answer your woodworking questions and connect with the online woodworking community.