So, how does this blog work?

This blog features links to Shopsmith woodworking tools and items that are related to Shopsmith tools which are for sale on the web.

We've been adding a BUNCH of FREE scans of historic Shopsmith articles and ads, and if you happen to have something we should add we'd love to hear from you. Most of these can be seen Biggie-Sized by clicking on them.

Speaking of clicking, if you'd like to enter a comment about one of the posts, please feel free. To do so just click on the bold title line (For example, this post is titled "So, how does this blog work?" If you click on the title it will open that post on its own page. There you can enter a comment, and after I moderate it, you'll see it there for all the world to see and comment back!

Please do me a favor. If you have a blog of your own or are a member of an Internet newsgroup and decide to flatter me by quoting from the text of my entries, please honor me by posting a link to this blog. Thanks and good hunting! Scott

The Shopsmith Woodworking Academy is Gone... But wait!

When I started working as an in-store sales rep in Shopsmith Inc.'s Factory Showroom back in the Spring of 1987 one of the most impressive things Shopsmith had going for itself wasn't just that they had 45 retail stores and growing, or that they published a popular national magazine titled "Hands-On!" or even that they had recently added the new and greatly improved Shopsmith Mark V model 510 to the line-up.  No, the most impressive thing to me at Shopsmith was the fact that every one of the Shopsmith retail stores had a section carved out for hands-on training by at least one full-time shop teacher, known as the Academy Instructor.  It was around this same time that Shopsmith was made aware that they were the largest private employer of full-time shop instructors!  The then president of Shopsmith Inc, John Folkerth, was smart enough to know that selling someone a tool wasn't enough, but that the tool wasn't living up to its full potential until it was being used and enjoyed and that personally guided education was an important piece of the puzzle.

Fast forward a few months I found myself the newest and youngest Shopsmith store manager as what we called the "Boston" store, in Chelmsford, MA. For the first few months of the stores' existence, we sold tools with the promise that as soon as we could find and train someone to be our Academy instructor we would begin conducting classes.  But as the months dragged on and on we discovered that what was reasonable and customary pay for an Academy in most parts of the US was ridiculously low in New England.  We actually started flying in instructors from our stores in Albany, NY and Cincinnati just to stem the flow of folks who were threatening to return their tools because we weren't living up to our promise of training and support.

It really was an exciting time! I started conducting the weekly Thursday night "Sawdust Sessions" and when one visiting instructor wound-up doubled-over sick in his hotel room for the weekend I jumped-in and conducted the "Fundamentals of Woodworking Class" by myself, while my Assistant Manager, Matt Kottman took over the sales floor. Not only did we hire one instructor, Norm Rose, but shortly after we hired a second instructor, Bill Carrol and a third expert named Bill Donahue. We became the only Shopsmith showroom that stayed open seven days a week and if Norm wasn't teaching, Bill C. was teaching, and regardless of who was teaching Matt and Bill D. and I were there offering additional support.  (See photo from Dec 1999)

Shopsmith "Boston" store team, Dec 1989 L to R (standing) Bill Carrol, Matt Kottman, 
Bill Donahue, Me (Scott Markwood) Sitting on rocking horse, Norm Rose. 
The Boston Academy was one of the few Academy's to give the Dayton Ohio based Factory Academy a run for its money. The Academy in Indianapolis, under Tom Newkirk and Tom Flack, The Academy in Cincinnati under Ted Denman and a few others were also super-busy, but we were setting company records for enrollments and tools sales every quarter. 

Norm Rose teaching turning at Shopsmith "Boston" Academy 1989
During this same time, I also become the proud owner of a Shopsmith Mark V during our showroom's October 1987 grand opening, so if I wasn't making sawdust at work I was making it at home.  In 1999 I got word that there were some changed going on at the Factory Academy in Dayton and I was asked if I was interested in seeing if I could duplicate what was happening in Boston back in Dayton.  We moved back "home' to Dayton and got things going there.  Everything was changing back then at Shopsmith. They had grown to 50 stores and were about to launch an ambitious transition from exclusively Shopsmith branded tools to a concept called "Woodworking Unlimited".
Me and Matt working the Shopsmith booth at a Home Show in Woburn, MA Jan. 1988
If you've been in a Woodcraft store in the past 20 years you may have been standing in one of those very Woodworking Unlimited stores.  Yeah, there were a lot of changes going on during the mid-90's, not the least of which was a flood on stand-alone Tiwaneese and Chinese woodworking tools. On top of that, home centers were becoming popular, the internet was taking off and retails woodworking stores like Woodcraft and The Woodworkers Store (Now named Rockler) were also starting their expansion.
As they expanded, Shopsmith shrank.  Probably a bigger threat than competitive tools was the flood of Shopsmith's own past production that was finding its way back into circulation via eBay and later Craigslist. No longer were owners of their tools forced to return to the mother ship for parts and accessories, but rather they could purchase them used online.  Lord knows they are built like tanks and rarely need servicing.  That's right, Shopsmith became a victim of their own quality!
Scott Markwood, 2019
Shopsmith began selling off some of their more profitable stores to Woodcraft, many of which simply changed the sign over the door and continued on as usual. Then they closed their non-profitable stores and eventually even closed down the showroom and academy at the factory.

So that leads us to today. The factory is still chugging along slowly but steadily in Dayton, and there are more and more used tools to choose from on the second-hand market. But where can a new owner go for reliable information on the safe set-up and use of these tools?

Conducting a class in LA 2018
For the past twenty years, I have been a corporate trainer for a German cabinet hardware manufacturer, and while I love training people about hardware and LED lighting I just can't get enough time in my shop with my own Shopsmith tools. During this time I have had the desire to conduct classes on Shopsmith equipment, but I just travel too much on business for that to be practical. So I've searched for a platform to conduct online classes and after Youtube's recent "Adpocalypse" and Patreon's nebulous changes I was thinking that I'd never find a suitable platform, but then my son introduced me to what just might be the perfect platform.
Working in my shop with my sister Lisa
So that's where I have to leave this for now, but if you'd like to be kept in the loop on the upcoming launch of our online Shopsmith-centered woodworking school "MyGrowthRings", please subscribe to our mailing list below.  More to come! Scott


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Short notice of a 50% Shopsmith mug sale

 I know this is short notice, but I just learned that today only the web site Zazzle has coffee mugs 50% off, including a couple Shopsmith-related designs of mine that I posted some time back. Click here and search "Shopsmith" to see them all: also the discount code is "ZAZDAY1DEALS" so be sure to enter it in the discount box at check-out. At 50% they are only about 17% too expensive!

Shopsmith Aluminum Bandsaw Table Upgrade GAME!

 Lets' play a little game, shall we? what differences can you name between the original Shopsmith aluminum bandsaw table upgrade (Circa 1989-ish) and the current version? How about the accessories you can see and the bandsaw itself? Lots of changes to spot, so have fun and comment below. 

A 1950's Shopsmith Mark V PowerPro Headstock

I recently stumbled across a pic from several years back of my sister "Lysol" in my shop working on one of my Shopsmith Mark V 510's that had the beta test 1950's "Greenie" headstock. As part of the beta test, I was asked to add the PowerPro upgrade to the old headstock, and while that process alone was interesting, once the retrofit was done I was instructed to "use it like I stole it" so that any issues would be uncovered prior to the product's public release.  

The most interesting part of the retrofit was the fact that headstock casting of the very early Mark V's was sand-cast, so the walls were super-thick and varied somewhat in thickness from one spot to another. 

I really have to hand it to the engineers at Shopsmith, who not only brought the Mark V into the 21st Century but also made sure that even the earliest Mark V's could come along in the evolution. 

The EZtension bandsaw blade tension gauge and the Shopsmith Bandsaw

In this video, I talk about the new EZtension bandsaw tension gauge and its use on a Shopsmith Bandsaw. I highly recommend this gauge if you own a non-Shopsmith bandsaw, but if you own a Shopsmith bandsaw you owe it to yourself to watch this video first.

Here's the video: The EZtension bandsaw tension gauge is available here: (Not an affiliate link, but tell him I sent ya!)

The Shopsmith Mark V "STRETCHER!"

The Shopsmith Mark V Model 500 front table extension is one of those little add-on gadgets that brings so much more to the party than first meets the eye. In this video, we are in our buddy Isaac’s shop getting his new to him Shopsmith Mark v Model 500 ready for action after years in storage. I’ll link to Isaac’s channel as soon as it launches.

Here’s the vid:

OEM Shopsmith Accessories made in Taiwan while Clone parts are made in the USA!

An OEM part or accessory is a component manufactured by the "Original Equipment Company" who offered it in the first place.  Every so often someone posts a photo on the Shopsmith forum or on one of the multiple Shopsmith Facebook groups after they were surprised to receive a set of casters, (or a saw arbor, a lathe drive center, etc.) that it was clearly printed on the package that it was "Made In Taiwan"!  This is by no means a new thing.

Shopsmith Headstock Rebuilt Kit
I remember back in the 1980s when I first started working in the Shopsmith Factory Showroom in Dayton, Ohio that many of these components were being produced in Taiwan and were repackaged in packages that disguised the country of origin. I can recall a perforated anti-fatigue matt, that was in use in one section of the factory, that was filled with little gold oval stickers that said: "Made in Taiwan". The workers in that area were instructed to remove these stickers as they repacked the parts into tubes and display packages. Someone eventually called them on it and they began printing the country of origin in small print on the package, but they still don't disclose this information in their catalog or on their website, which is why I think customers continue to react with surprise when receiving their orders. 

So that brings me to the title of this post. Way back in 2010 (I'm typing this in 2020) I received an email from a gentleman asking if I'd be interested in testing an aftermarket Idler Bearing that he was producing and selling on eBay. At the time Shopsmith had announced that they were changing the Idler Shaft because the water pump bearing assembly was no longer available and that they needed to change the bearing to a higher speed version for use in the PowerPro headstock. I wrote about the Idler Shaft change here. Anyway, he sent me two to test and they worked perfectly. At the time he was exploring alternatives to selling on eBay because eBay and Paypal (the owned by eBay) we taking so much from each sale, but all these years later he is still active on eBay and on Amazon. See links below.

His company produces the "BLUE MAX" silicone replacement bandsaw tire, but more importantly, his company is producing with CNC equipment in the USA "clone" accessories for use on Shopsmith tools. I'm talking such things as lathe drive centers, live centers, 5/8" table saw arbors for the Mark V 500, 510, 520 and Mark 7. And of course, they have silicone replacement bandsaw tires. They even sell drive belts, Poly-V belts and Gilmer belts for the old pre-1962 Mark V's. On top of that, they have an adapter that will allow you to mount a Delta, Powermatic or Craftsman faceplate, or any jaw or 4 jaw lathe chuck you might want to mount.  They also offer a "Shopsmith Rebuilt Kit" that includes belts, bearings and even that idler shaft I was just talking about

I certainly do not want to take away profitable sales from Shopsmith, but the fact that these are high-quality American-made parts makes them worth a look.  BTW, they do offer a keyless chuck that is made in China but was modified for use on the Shopsmith in the USA. If you have any questions about the country of origin, send them a note prior to placing your order. 

Click this link to see American Made Shopsmith Accessories for sale on eBay and buy American!  
Here are his items listed on Amazon: American-Made Shopsmith Accessories for sale on Amazon.
I suggest checking the price on the same items on eBay and Amazon before purchasing to get the best value. 

Live Center, Cup Center, Dead Center. What's the difference when spindle turning on a lathe?

Just posted a comment on a Reddit thread about a cup center that was burning and squealing and it occurred to me that we haven't talked about these on this blog yet, so the time is now.

I concur that a live center is preferred, but a cup center is still useful. The keys to using a cup center are: 
  1. Shopsmith lathe centers
    L to R Shopsmith Live, Cup and Drive Centers
    Use a non-metal mallet to drive the cup center into the end of your stock. Make sure that the outer ring of the cup is at least slightly impressed into the end of your wood stock. If you fear that the center is going to split your wood you can use a drill to create a shallow hole prior to driving the center into your wood. Drive the drive center into the opposite end and if you like, hammer both centers into both ends. I do this so I can flip the spindle end for end during sanding.
  2. Add a little dab of paste wax to the cup. This step is often skipped, but a little furniture paste wax is a big help. Use Johnson's or Minwax or Brewax. The brand doesn't matter, just don't use car wax. 
  3. Insert the cup center into the tailstock and the drive center onto the drive spindle and insert your wood between the centers. Put just enough pressure onto the wood with the quill that the wood is trapped, but not clamped between the centers. There should be no end shake or play, but the tailstock shouldn't be under stress. 
  4. Turn, turn, turn, turn but keep an eye and ear on the cup center. It will beige to loosen due to friction, so every so often turns off the lathe and double-check the tension between centers and if needed adjust the quill out to increase the tension.
That's it. Even with these instructions, I suggest that you get a live center as soon as you can justify one. Also, check out the video Doug Read just posted on Youtube on spindle turning. He is using a cup center because that's what comes standard with the Shopsmith Mark V and because he is turning something that he can complete in just a few minutes. 
Here's an eBay seller who is producing on a CNC lathe here in the USA, drive centers, live centers, saw arbors and more for Shopsmith users. Click this link: Shopsmith Accessories For Sale on eBay

Shopsmith SPT (Single Purpose or Special Purpose Tool) Stand and Accessory Stand

Ever since Magna started producing the original 10ER jigsaw and jointer, owners of them have struggled for a good solution to store them when they aren't mounted on the Shopsmith. Other owners have had their shop space grow and desired to mount their excellent Shopsmith Special Purpose tools on their own stands. Enter the SPT stand and the Accessory Stand. Offered on and off since the 1950s, these stands have been sold without motors for use as simple storage stands or with motors and switches.  One interesting iteration featured a centrally-mounted motor with a through-shaft that would drive two tools simultaneously. This stand was even sold for a time as a bade for a Magna tilting arbor table saw and jointer combo.  

These stands show up on eBay from time to time and are listed under a variety of names, so you might need to do some clever searching to track them down. 

Here's a good starting point: Shopsmith SPT Stands for Sale on eBay

Click pics to "Biggie-Size"

Shopsmith Steady Rest and a story about why I built my own.

Back in the mid 90’s I did repair work for a couple antique stores in the Dayton and Waynesville, Ohio area. I was getting out of clock repair but due to some of these same shops knowing about my woodworking skills they continued to call be when they had particularly challenges issues. One such challenge was a shop that purchased a couple highboy cabinets that had sat in a couple inches of water in a flooded basement until the bottom of the feet (similar to those in the photo only slightly taller) began to mold and rot. My challenge was to mount those legs on my Shopsmith Mark V and support them without the use of a tailstock. I had to remove the rotten portion, drill a recess and turn a replacement part with an integrated tenon (think dowel) that would be glued into the original leg before final shaping and finishing. I couldn’t grip the leg with a chuck without damaging the pristine parts so I used Satellite City “Hot Stuff” CA glue to mount them to a scrap block screwed to a faceplate.  That allowed me to drive the work on the lathe, but now I needed a steady rest to support the balance of the weight and to make sure that if the glue failed that I wouldn’t lose all my hard work.
Shopsmith steady rests
At the time Shopsmith made two steady rests, shown at right. One for spindle turning that mounted in the carriage, opposite of the tool rest, and the other mounted on the lathe duplicator. The problem with those designs was that they were made to eliminate whipping in thin spindles, but they didn't capture the project. 
That lead me to construct the steady rest you see here. It is made from layers of Baltic Birch plywood, three Shopsmith “T-Nuts”, Art. #514491, and a couple short pieces of Art. #518074 T-Slot Channel miter track extrusions. Additionally I used three rollerblade wheels and mounted it to the Mark V way tubes using the clamp from a Lathe Duplicator. (Art. #51335601 Lathe Duplicator Clamp, Art. # 513743 handle)

Eventually I need to shoot a video of this, but for now you have more info than I did when I built it! 

Using the Shopsmith 5-Piece Safety Kit (Push Stick, Fence Straddler, Featherboard, Push Blocks)

I recently posted a video on my “MyGrowthRings” Youtube channel on the use of Shopsmith’s 5-Piece Safety Kit, which has been a standard part of every Mark V sold since the mid-1980’s. That hit includes an excellent Push Stick, a Fence Straddler, for pushing narrow boards through the saw, a Feather board that has been knocked-off by many and was the inspiration for many others on the marker, and a pair of beefy Push Blocks. You don’t have to own Shopsmith tools to find these useful and their use is similar to others, so if the use of these types of safety tools are you new to you I encourage you to give this vid a view.

Here’s the video link”":

The Shopsmith Mark V 5-Point Safety Check

Using the Shopsmith Mark V, or any of the Shopsmith multi-purpose tools for that matter, can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice it’ll become second nature, just like driving a stick or avoiding Yoko Ono music. There are a couple must-check items on the tool that I double-check every time I use mine. I’ve uploaded a video to my “MyGrowthRings” Youtube channel that is worth a look, if you are just getting introduced to Shopsmith woodworking.

Here’s the video link:

You Are (Probably) Waxing Your Shopsmith Wrong!

In order to get the most out of our Shopsmith Mark Vs and other shop tools, it’s wise to give them an occasional polish with a good furniture grade paste wax. But what is the best way to apply it? In this video we’ll run through the most common things I wax on my Mark V and I’ll offer a few tips that I learned while I was the Academy instructor at the Shopsmith Factory Showroom in Dayton, Ohio.
Here’s the link to the video:
Here's the wax I use: You can get it on Amazon, but you'll save some money if you drop by your local hardware store or home center. Here are a few of my favorite Shopsmith-inspired tee shirts: "Where there's a will, there's a Shopsmith" "Individual tools, eh? Bummer" "My other saw is a drill press" "Don't Diss da 'Smith" "Cool Woodworking Grandpa" "Five Functions of the Shopsmith Mark V"

Where there's a will, there's a Shopsmith!

I was watching Curt from the Youtube channel "Wood Reconstructed" tonight and watched him resawing some 6" thick planks on his "Greenie" Shopsmith Mark V and on his Shopsmith bandsaw and just couldn't help but think "Where there's a will, there's a Shopsmith!". I was inspired by that thought to create a new tee-shirt on Zazzle that I know I will wear with pride. Feel free to order your own and I suggest clicking this link to sign-up for Zazzle's newsletter for weekly discount codes.  

Click the pic to order your tee-shirt and to see some of my other designs. 

Shopsmith Bandsaw Fence Versions

In the late 1980's the Shopsmith Bandsaw received an upgraded table that brought several new features to the party:
  • It is much larger than the original cast iron table to offer additional support.
  • The addition of the T-Slot extrusion miter slot that accommodated the washer in the miter bar of the 510 miter gauge. This extrusion can also be adjusted to accommodate wear and to adjust the fit.
  • A snap-in table insert.
  • Several optional accessories including a rip fence, a side support and a circle cutter attachment.
The reason for this post is to point-out that the first version of the fence, shown in the left photo, did not have a rear clamp, as show in the revised version of the fence in the left photo. Additionally you can note that at some point following the introduction the fence was given through-holes to accommodate user-build accessory fences. This fence is made from the same aluminum extrusion used to produce the 510 fence. 

Who we are looking at the pics you may also note subtle differences between the saws, including the removal of the cover knobs, a window to view the tension scale and added warning stickers on the upper guard.

I've circled the two parts that are the most obvious additions to the fence. BTW, the term "Rear clamp" is probably a misnomer, because this fence is mounted backward on the bandsaw from it's normal configuration on the Mark V.

There are several post about this saw elsewhere on this blog, so feel free to use the search box above for more details.  

When is a Shopsmith Mark II not a Shopsmith Mark II?

As is so often the case I don;t have time to write this now, but I did want to get this content off my PC and into your hands for your edification. So the question was, when is a Shopsmith Mark II not a Shopsmith Mark II? When it's modified with a variable speed pulley and sold by Montgomery Ward as Ward's Powr-Kraft "Dyno-Shop". The first pic is a headstock that I purchased from eBay and intend to add to a Mark II frame, but the other pics are from listings and articles from around 1964 when this was offered for sale. How many sold? I have no earthly idea, but if you own one, please type the serial number into the comment field below and tell us a little about how you came to own it. 

Shopsmith SPT Power Stand Switch Box and Source for Missing Red Key!

Shopsmith SPT Stand Switch Box
There's a lot to say about the Shopsmith SPT Power Stand, but the biggest issue that owners seem to be having these days is that Shopsmith is no longer producing the red plastic key that is used to unlock the power switch! Early versions of the stand had a simple toggle switch. Some times this is seen with sheet metal wings that shielded the switch from accidental contact, and it even had a hole that accommodated a padlock to lock the switch in the off position.

There's another lockable switch box from Magna that incorporates a cylindrical lock core and a couple receptacles.

Old Magna Shopsmith Switch Box
Finally came the grey plastic Shopsmith Inc. SPT switch box. This box has a single receptacle in the bottom and requires a small plastic key to be installed and left in place in order to lift the switch into the on position.  If the key is lost you can depress the release within the switch body with your Shopsmith 5/32" hex wrench or the shaft of the chuck key, but it doesn't take too many on/off cycles to make you want to find a new key! Unfortunately, Shopsmith doesn't currently offer a replacement key, but the good news is 3D printing technology has come to the rescue.  One important note: You don't need to turn the key to start the tool! Once the key is inserted you turn it 1/4 turn to hold it in place. One of the reasons these break is people turn them like they are starting a car and the small retention tab snaps off. The key will still work for depressing the internal catch, but no doubt it will likely disappear during use since nothing will hold it in place.
3D Printed SPT Switch Box Key

Click this link to find the 3D printed Shopsmith switch key on eBay.

Click this link to find complete old and new style Shopsmith SPT switch boxes for sale on eBay

BTW, SPT stands for either "Single Purpose Tool" or "Special Purpose Tool".  Shopsmith Inc used both definitions and the creator of the SPT's didn't use the acronym at all, so take your pick!

Shopsmith Universal Biscuit Joiner

Way back in 1989 Shopsmith came to market with a Mark V-mounted biscuit joiner that I wrote about in an earlier post:

By 1990 Shopsmith realized that they had a good thing on their hands with the now popular Shopsmith-mounted biscuit joiner selling like hotcakes, so they went back to the drawing board and came up with a concept to make the unit universal, meaning that it could be powered by any tool manufacturer's drill press.

Shopsmith Main Table Router Table Mods

I recently saw a photo on the FB Shopsmith Owners Group, of someone milling the bottom ribs off of a Mark V Model 505/510/520 main table in order to allow it to accept a router base. Because I'm recovering from knee replacement surgery and don't have access to my shop at the moment I thought I'd share some pics of a similar router table and horizontal router set-up by a buddy of mine: Tom Newkirk. Tom used to work as the Academy Instructor and later, Store Manager of Shopsmith's Indianapolis, IN store. You can see that rather than mill the support ribs from the bottom of the table, Tom added a plywood sub-table that affords him flexibility in mounting the router to the table and the table to his Mark V using various mounting methods, as wells as some dust collection capabilities.

The keen-eyed among you have already noticed that Tom switched the table supports and trunnions from the main table to what used to be an end support table and replaced them with the support from the side support table. That means that the router table is adjustable in height but the table no longer tilts. Likewise, with the trunnions and supports for the main table now relocated to the smaller side table, Tom has created something akin to the Shopsmith Joint-Matic, but with the ability to angle the bit. In the bottom photo, you can also see the dust port that Tom added to the table, which does a fine job when the bit is totally buried in a slot mortise. (Think Festool Domino)

Tom is a sharp, wise businessman and one of the most inventive and resourceful guys I have ever met. Hey, "Tom Sharp" is another name from the past, but that's for another post.

"How to reverse the directon of my Shopsmith Bandsaw"

Why the odd post title? Because I have noticed a recent uptick in searches on this blog for this very thing.  So let's just cut to the chase: When you are standing in front of your Shopsmith tool, with the switch facing you, the SPT (Special Purpose Tool or Single Purpose Tool) such as the bandsaw, jointer, beltsander, scrollsaw, jigsaw, etc. should be mounted on the left end of the base, as shown in the photo with the jointer mounted in the proper position. I guess because people who sell used Shopsmith tools tend to load the tool with every SPT it will hold you'll often see Mark V's for sale with SPTs mounted on both end or just on the right. This is wrong!  If mounted on the right, not only will it be a long reach with the quill to even reach the tool with the power coupler, but once connected the tool will run backwards.  The exception to this is the strip sander, which can run in reverse, and the sprayer/air compressor, which can also run while being powered backwards.  The other exception is if you happen to have the SPT mounted on the old Shopsmith Mark 7 on the current a Mark V or Mark VII with a reversible PowerPro headstock or on a Shopsmith Crafter's Station, which also runs in reverse.

I remember talking to a guy in the Factory Showroom in Dayton about an issue he was having while bandsawing with the board wanting to lift from the table during the cut. He said "I have the hold-down set as tight as I can..." It was then that I knew, and now you do too.