Tips & Tricks: Issue 1

Comments (0)

This article is from Issue 1 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Versatile Bench Hook

WHETHER I’M USING IT FOR PLANING, sanding or carving, I find this bench hook very versatile. It’s great for holding all kinds of differently shaped items, especially odd or round shapes. By using a wide base and adding some extra holes, I gained the ability to easily adjust the width of the jaws. I also made up a straight bar that can replace the angled jaws when that suits my purposes better. 

— R. B. Himes, Vienna, Ohio

Turn of the Screw 

ALTHOUGH THEY’RE EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE in a variety of projects, brass screws are notoriously soft and easy to break if not installed carefully. Taking three easy preparatory steps before attempting to drive a brass screw into wood can help. 

First, drill a pilot hole of the correct size. Then drive a steel screw of the same size into the hole to create threads. 

Finally, wax the brass screw with beeswax and drive it home.  

 — Don Guillard, contributing editor

Let’s Go to the Tape

ALWAYS HAVE A ROLL of clear packing tape in the shop. It’s inexpensive, but get the premium grade; it only costs a buck or so more and you won’t be using that much of it. I’ve found clear packing tape to be one of the most useful “tools” in the shop, with almost unlimited functions. Here are just three:

It makes a quick drill stop − Use a 1/2" strip to mark the depth you need on a drill bit. If you fold it around the bit so a little flap sticks out on one side, it will also act as a fan and blow chips away from the hole. Conventional stops are a pain; you need so many of them and they take too much time.

Bundling parts for machining − If you have to drill, bandsaw or even sand several identical parts, tape them together and go at it. Pencil marks show right through, and with experience you will learn where to tape and in what order to do the machining so all parts have some tape holding them until the end of the procedure.

Identification − It’s waterproof and quite durable, so I use it to cover my name tags on the tools I occasionally loan out.

— William McDowell, Syracuse, N.Y.

Straight and Easy

DRILLING A PERFECT 90-DEGREE HOLE on the drill press is a piece of cake, but using a hand drill can be more daunting. Here’s a jig that’s easy to make from available scrap that can help keep your hand drill perpendicular to the work surface. Cut a rabbet into the corner of a rectangular block of hardwood sized to easily fit your hand while working. Line up your mark in the corner of the rabbet, using the sides to support the shaft of the drill bit as a guide. Once your hole is started, just pull the block away and finish drilling the hole to the desired depth.

Here’s an additional tip: If you frequently have to drill a lot of holes of the same depth, you may want to make several blocks of differing thicknesses. Just match the thickness of the block to your drill bit so that it stops the drill chuck at the precise depth you need. The block will not only help make perfect 90-degree holes, but will also act as a drill stop to make each hole the exact depth. 

— Nate Common, Mystic, Conn.

Q-Tip Shop Tip

TWO OF MY FAVORITE and most-used tools in the shop came from my wife’s bathroom cabinet. 

I’ve found that ordinary Q-Tip swabs have dozens of uses: getting finish or glue into tight spots (or getting finish drips or glue runs out of tight spots), applying oil or grease to bearings, and cleaning the insides of drill chucks and router collets are just a few. I always have Q-Tips in a sealed container (to keep them dust-free) close at hand.

I also keep a cup of emery boards within easy reach. Thin, flat, strong and with different grits on each side, they can fit inside and sand places not normally accessible. Cleaning out mortises, dovetails and dadoes is a snap, as is sanding into tight corners and crevices. 

A whole package of emery boards only costs a few cents, though, so you’ll be far better off buying your own supply than raiding your wife’s stash. Don’t ask me how I know this. 

— Terry Hinzman, San Mateo, Calif.

It’s In the Bag

USING A MAGNET is a fast way to pick up dropped nails or screws, but picking all the nails off the magnet can be a chore, especially for those super-strong rare earth magnets. To make it a lot easier, turn a small snack-sized Ziploc bag inside-out over the end of your magnet before picking up the nails. Once the nails are all picked up and stuck to the magnet, just turn the bag right side-out and pull it off the magnet.

— Jim Brook, Denver


Write Comment

Write Comment

You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In

Top of Page