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Save blade by lowering it right

Your Home Improvements

Posted: October 17, 2008 9:17 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Hey Robert,
My grandfather was a woodworker and had every tool imaginable. He always said you were supposed to lower the saw blade on a table saw to the height of whatever you were cutting but I never did ask him why. I’ve always wondered, is there a real reason for this? Is this for safety reasons or does this help save the blade?
Edgar D.

Hello Edgar,
You actually want to put the blade about 1/8 inch above the surface of the wood you are cutting. There are a few reasons why we do that. Let’s say you want to rip some 1/2 inch plywood. If you had the blade up too high, it would have a tendency to wobble on you and you won’t get a clean, true cut. Also, if it’s set too high it will cause the blade to burn and wear much faster. And when you are finished working for the day, it’s a good practice to always lower the blade back inside the table. This will help keep both you and the blade from any accidents.

Good morning Mr. Lamoureux,
I enjoy your weekly article in my local paper, The Signal and I always learn something. I’ll be closing escrow within a week or two on a 1974 mobile home. I just had the home inspection done and found out that it has aluminum wiring. Is this common and is this a safety hazard especially being so old? Can you give me a quick education on aluminum wiring and any pointers that may help me.
Gail S.

Hello Gail,
First of all, the only way to know for sure if your home is safe with aluminum wiring is to have an inspection by a professional trained in aluminum wiring hazards. 

The inspector will check if you have the “old” or “new” aluminum technology. Old technology is solid strand No. 12 and No. 10 wiring. Buildings, including mobile homes built between 1964 and 1974 will probably have the old technology.

This type is more prone to problems and was prohibited in 1973. This wiring will usually perform well if properly installed.

There are no code requirements to make improvements and typically insurance companies will cover homes with this type of aluminum wiring.

New technology means the wiring contains alloys which improved reliability. Homes constructed since 1973 should have this new technology wiring which has an aluminum compatibility labeling: CO-ALR or CO-AL.

The inspector will also check for the proper type of wire nuts, circuit breakers, receptacles, switches and for copper pigtails which is a piece of copper wiring that goes between the aluminum wire and the fixture.

The inspector will remove the cover plates on the outlets and switches and check that the insulation is in good shape, with no discoloration or bubbling.  You want to be sure that the wiring is actually under the termination screw and not punched into the back of the outlets.

The problem with the older homes and aluminum wiring is that all receptacles and switches were only designed to be used with copper. So, when the aluminum wiring was secured under the brass screw of a receptacle, because it expands and contracts differently than copper, the wire could come loose which creates more resistance which makes it hotter which could cause a fire.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission did issue a statement that homes containing aluminum wiring that were manufactured before 1972 were 55 times more likely to reach fire hazard conditions than with copper. Although most agree that aluminum wiring is more dangerous than copper, but the risks can be minimized to “acceptable limits,” I would strongly recommend that an aluminum hazard inspector be contacted for a thorough inspection. You can call the California State License Board at (800) 321-CSLB and ask for a qualified inspector.

Dear Robert,
We have called a few painting contractors to paint the inside of our home and were shocked by how much money they were asking for! So, we are going to do the job ourselves. We are both retired so we have plenty of time to make sure everything is taped and covered in plastic but were wondering if a flat or semi-gloss is considered better than the other and why?
Doris Y.

Hello Doris,
Well, there are five types of sheens you can choose from. From lowest to highest, they are: Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss. 

Flats are very good at hiding drywall problems and will make the walls look smooth. New home construction usually uses flats because they cover very easily. Because they don’t reflect light, they will give a softer and more uniform look to the room.

Most flat paint is applied on ceilings and walls, but is not recommended in children’s rooms, or in locations prone to dirt or high fingerprint areas. Flats are porous so dirt and grime will get trapped inside the paint and is very difficult to clean. 

The Eggshells and Satins have more sheen and give more depth than the flats. They are not too bright, not too flat. My home interior is painted in Satin. If I want to wash the walls, they will clean without damaging or removing the paint.

Semi-gloss and glosses will tend to emphasize any problems in the walls, but are the easiest to clean. Usually bathroom and kitchen cabinets, doors, trim, woodwork, and other high fingerprint areas are painted with semi–gloss or gloss.

Also, bathroom walls and ceilings are typically painted with glosses because they hold up well to the moisture, heat and humidity. 

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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