by John C. Westervelt
One of my favorite authors, John Powell, wrote in Happiness Is an Inside Job, “We are all mistake makers. God has equipped his animals and birds with infallible instincts. We human beings have to learn most things by trial and error.” Powell’s thoughts match my observations over a lifetime. During that time, I have learned the importance of trying.
Recently, I made some foundation vent covers out of one-eighth inch thick Masonite for my mother-in-law’s house. I cut these to size on my band saw. (A band saw has a continuous blade that rolls on two wheels.)
In the middle 1970s, I started wood carving as therapy for some depression over concern about losing my job with the completion of the Apollo program. I was going to a friend’s house across town to cut boot blanks out of two inch thick basswood. At the time, I wished I had a band saw.
For Christmas 1978, my wife Nelda put fifty dollars in a band saw savings account, and my daughter Mary Kim added twenty dollars. Gifts to the account continued on Father’s day, birthday, and Christmas 1979. In January 1980, I bought a Sears Craftsman band saw.
Last year, my band saw developed a loud, rasping, groaning sound. I wondered if, after twenty-six years, a bearing had worn out.
After sawing the vent covers, I decided it was time to try to fix my beloved saw. Gathering my courage, I unplugged the electric cord, removed the blade cover, and vacuumed the sawdust that filled every nook and cranny. Turning the wheels by hand, I could see that the blade was running on the back edge of the lower wheel. Next, I could see that the wheel was not in alignment with the end of the shaft driven by the motor. With further inspection, I found that the set screw that holds the wheel to the shaft was loose.
Over the years, I accumulated the tools I needed to maintain my household and its equipment. One of these, a small investment, was a set of Allen wrenches. These are hard steel with a hexagon cross section usually bent in a right angle. An Allen wrench fits inside the set screw of my band saw for tightening the screw. After aligning the lower wheel with the end of the rotating shaft, I tightened the set screw. With this adjustment, the noise ceased.
This story shares a life lesson. The secret to fixing the band saw was the willingness to begin by trying, followed by thinking. Trying, then thinking, continued sequentially until the problem was solved. Of course, you also must have the right tool.
Most of life’s problems are with relationships, rather than with saws. Still, the method for a solution is similar. Just begin. Try. Think about it and try again. In this case, the right tool could well be Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
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