Tips & Tricks: Issue 100

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This article is from Issue 100 of Woodcraft Magazine.

A Yorkie brush 

While my wife was away on business, I decided to make her a new jewelry box as a return surprise. Things went well until it came time to finish, when I discovered that my only brush was fouled with hardened varnish from my last job. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get a new one. I was pondering my predicament when I remembered I needed to feed my wife’s Yorkshire Terrier. As I entered the kitchen, there sat the solution. I grabbed a pair of scissors and got to work making myself a custom doghair brush. I trimmed off a handful of belly fur and secured it between two handle-shaped scraps of wood as shown, applying hot-melt glue to each half to keep the bristles in place. It worked pretty well, but the finish didn’t lay down as nicely as I wanted. Some trial-and-error snipping here and there revealed that the fur from Peppy’s jowls did the best job of dispensing the varnish with beautiful flow. It worked so well that I went ahead and made a few extra brushes while I was at it. I’m happy to say that my wife loves her jewelry box and promises to let me out of the doghouse soon. 

—Rube Clemens, Moline, Illinois

Epoxy be dammed

Like many woodworkers, I use slow-curing epoxy to fill cracks and voids in slabs and other boards. The problem is that you have to babysit the application, often refilling it multiple times as it settles and seeps into the void, which is time consuming. I’ve discovered that you can use hot melt glue to create a “dam” around the recess that creates a reserve to replace seepage. It also keeps the epoxy from oozing across the surface where it’s not needed. After the epoxy cures, just use a card scraper to remove the hot melt glue and epoxy overfill for a flat, smooth, void-free surface.

—Brett Whited, Washington, West Virginia

Anti-rack vise jig

Clamping a workpiece at one end of a wooden bench vise often racks the jaw, compromising its grip. The common prevention for this is to clamp a scrap of equal thickness at the opposite end. But it’s a nuisance searching for the right size scrap and unwieldy trying to hold both pieces in place while tightening the vise. This multi-fingered jig—consisting of various spacers mounted on a threaded rod—provides a great solution. Simply place it atop the bench with the appropriate sized finger dangling between the vise jaws. To make the jig, drill a 1/4" diameter cross-hole in one end of a 4" long 2×4. Then rip the piece to yield a series of incrementally sized strips. Mount the strips on threaded rod between washers and nuts. 

—John Esposito, Foster, Rhode Island

Easy offset biscuits

When applying wide solid wood facing to plywood, it’s wise to offset the facing a little bit to allow trimming it flush to the plywood surface afterward. I like to attach facing with biscuits, but creating the offset requires first slotting all the shelves, then resetting the fence to cut the edging slots. Instead, for more efficiency, I begin by cutting the slots in the shelf edges with the biscuit joiner resting on the bench, then I simply slip a piece of notepad cardboard under the tool when slotting the mating edging, which is inverted for the job. 

—Chad McClung, editor-in-chief


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