Tips & Tricks: Issue 16

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This article is from Issue 16 of Woodcraft Magazine.

A Clear Advantage

I USE EXPENSIVE VARNISH (Epifanes is up to $35 a quart) on the natural-edge tables I make. I have found that dipping finish from the container is easier and less messy than trying to pour small amounts into another container. You also eliminate getting finish in the rim of the can which we all know makes it impossible to remove and eventually finds its way into the finish.

To make the job easier, I use little plastic “shot glasses.” They are available at party stores and drug stores. To hold the cups for dipping, I made a little jig using a small piece of wood and an electrical alligator clip. The cups are inexpensive and disposable, and they eliminate another possible opportunity for contamination.  They are also handy for mixing small quantities of epoxy, paints and stains – just be careful that the solvent from whatever material you are using doesn’t dissolve the cup. Being clear, liquid levels easily show through the sides, so keep a permanent marker handy.           — John Esposito, Foster, R.I.

Waxing Eloquent.

I LOVE MY CORDLESS DRILL, but finer finish work makes me reluctant to use if for fear of getting careless and overdoing it. When I do have to resort to elbow (or wrist) grease, I will lubricate my screws with wax to make driving them easier. To keep a supply handy, I drill a hole in my old screwdriver handle (this can be tricky, so make sure it is secure) and fill it with wax. Watch the kind of material you’re drilling, keep the hole under 3/8", and avoid getting the wax on unfinished wood. A little goes a long way.

— Oliver Wayne, Columbus, Ohio

Combo Sanding

SOMETIMES IT WOULD BE AN ADVANTAGE to be able to fine-sand a bunch of small parts on a disk sander and not have to change out the disks from coarse or medium to fine. One solution to the problem is to cut out the center of a large disk of coarse paper to accommodate a smaller-diameter disk of fine sandpaper. Cut out the proper sized area from the back of the large disk (possibly the size of a small disk – depending on the small disk available), and attach the small disk to the middle of the sander with the large disk around the outside. This, in effect, gives you two grades of paper on the same sanding disk. Be really frugal and save the center of the large disk that you cut out for the same sort of setup on some other job.

— Janice Farver, San Clemente, Calif.

Hands-Free Nailing

WHEN USING SMALL NAILS, BRADS TACKS, etc., and it’s hard to hold them with fingers while driving, put the nail in the open end of a bobby pin. Put the head down close to the pin to make it easier to hold.

— Jeremy Weston, Chicago,  Ill.

Come to Grips With Your Keyless Chuck

I HAVE A KEYLESS CHUCK on my cordless and corded drills, and I could never get them tight enough to prevent my drill bits from slipping. Then one day I thought about my wife’s hand-held jar lid opener, and my problem was solved. I cut two strips of insulation off a piece of old tool cord, removed the wires and slipped the insulation over the arms of the opener (to protect the plastic coated chucks).

I grip the narrow section of the chuck with the opener and the larger end with my hand. I get it so tight now that I even have to use the opener to loosen the chuck when I am finished. 

It’s amazing how such a simple little thing can make someone so happy!  — Wayne Johnson, Grand Ledge, Mich. 

Hammerless Nailing

IT PROBABLY WON’T HAPPEN OFTEN, but there may come a time when you need to drive a small nail and absolutely can’t find the room to swing a hammer. Try using a C-clamp instead. Position the nail so that the fixed pad of the C-clamp is fitted on the nailhead, and the clamp is tightened to force the nail into the piece of wood. Use nails of a length that will not go into the second piece of wood and end up against the movable pad of the clamp. If the blocks of wood being nailed are also glued, the clamps can be left in place until the glue has set.  

— Alan B. James, Phoenix, Ariz.

Knife Saver 

KITCHEN KNIVES WILL STAY SHARP LONGER if they do not rub against each other in your knife box or drawer. Saw kerfs in a hardwood dowel located as shown here will keep the blades separated and upright.

— Marrten Smith, St. Louis, Mo.


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