10th Anniversary Best of Tip & Tricks

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pegboard panel pullouts

Pegboard panel pullouts

When outfitting my new shop, I needed a way to store and organize my hand tools, so I stole this storage design from my friend Bob Della-Rovere in Mesa, Arizona. The setup consists of simple 3⁄4"-thick frames covered on both faces with pegboard and mounted vertically in a cabinet on full-extension drawer slides screwed to cleats. You could fix the cleats directly to a cabinet top and bottom, but I decided to mount them to a “case insert,” which I then slipped into the cabinet opening after assembling the entire unit. This system works great for storing lots of tools in a compact area.

—Bob Kellenberger, Fairview, Texas

triangle marking system

Triangle marking system

I was in my shop trying to organize a jumble of cabinet parts, when a friend dropped by and showed me an old layout trick that has since saved me lots of time and confusion. After parts are cut to size, and before you lay out any joints, select the “show” face of each piece, orient it for best grain composition, and then organize the pieces on your bench in their desired relation to each other. Now it’s a simple matter of pressing the pieces together and striking a few lines across their faces to create a triangle, as shown in the drawings. A glance at the markings immediately identifies the “show” face, the top, the bottom, and the left- and right-hand sides of each piece. To identify multiples, strike additional lines that extend across the mating pieces.

—Gary Goldthwaite, Indianapolis, Indiana

wall-mounted lamp arm

Wall-mounted lamp arm

At my shop workstations, I like to use swing-arm lamps for adjustable task lighting. For convenience, I mount the lamp on a wooden arm that swings out from a nearby wall. Sometimes, a single arm does the trick, but when I need more reach and flexibility, I create an articulated arm by adding extensions as shown.

Make the primary arm from 11⁄4"-thick hardwood about 5" wide, tapering out to 11⁄2" at the end. Mine is 26" long, but suit yourself. Drill a 3⁄8"-diameter hole through the wide end on the drill press, using a long bit. Bore as deep as your drill press allows, and then raise the table to complete the hole. Rout or sand a bullnose onto the wide end. You can drill a hole on the narrow end to carry a lamp, or add an extension or two. Make an extension 11⁄4" thick by 11⁄2" wide, and attach it to its mating arm with a 3⁄8" carriage bolt, a washer, a lock washer, and a nylon nut or a pair of nuts jammed against each other. Tighten the hardware enough to provide both friction and adjustability. Mount two metal L-brackets to the primary arm, using a length of 3⁄8" threaded rod secured at each end with a pair of jam nuts, and then screw the brackets to a wall stud.

—Mike Kehs, Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Crosscutting short multiples

Crosscutting short multiples 

Awhile ago, I was making wooden tabletop clips and needed to crosscut multiple short pieces to identical lengths. Marking individual cutlines would have taken too much time, so I decided to set up a stopblock on my power mitersaw. Unfortunately, at the end of the cut, the saw would jettison (and often ruin) the freed piece, which had been trapped between the blade and the stopblock. 
After a bit of head scratching, I realized that the fix is to set up the cut with a removable spacer between the stopblock and the end of the workpiece. Hold the workpiece firmly against the fence and stopblock while removing the spacer. Now the sawn piece has room to fall freely away from the blade at the end of the cut. To further minimize the chance of kickback, allow the blade to stop fully before raising it out of the cut. 

—Ralph Burns, Montgomery, Alabama

perfect router-cut dadoes

Perfect router-cut dadoes

Hardwood plywood usually doesn’t match its nominal thickness; it’s typically undersized between 1⁄64" and 1⁄32". Therefore, when routing dadoes, a single pass with a 

single bit is unlikely to yield a perfect fit. (Even “undersized” panel bits sold for the purpose may not exactly suit the thickness of your particular stock.) To solve the problem, I’ve come up with a two-spacer trick to rout perfectly sized dadoes. All you need is a bit that’s a smaller diameter than the desired dado width, a couple of scraps of wood, and a straightedge fence to guide your router.

First, make a spacer that’s exactly the same thickness as your bit diameter. To set up the cut, sandwich the spacer between the fence and router base, and align the bit with the dado layout line that is nearest the fence. Secure the fence and rout your first pass. Next, replace the spacer with a scrap strip of your plywood stock, standing it on edge. Then make a second pass with the same bit to create a dado of perfect width.

—Ryan Reese, New York, New York

rotating carver's easel

Rotating carver's easel

When I’m relief-carving panels, I prefer to work at an easel, which reduces the amount this old back has to bend. While working on an intricate design recently, I found myself constantly reorienting the panel to allow carving with the grain. To make the job easier, I screwed a rotating platform to the easel, attaching the carved panel to the platform by wedging it between cleats, as shown. 

Now I can simply rotate the platform and workpiece as necessary to gain the best angle of attack.

I find that the single pivot screw creates enough friction between the unfinished easel top and platform to stabilize the platform. However, if I find it shifting under tool pressure, I’ll drive an additional locking screw through its corner.

—Philip Houck, Boston, Massachusetts


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