Tips & Tricks: Issue 27

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This article is from Issue 27 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Simple scraper sharpener

This tip may not convince you to snip the cord on your belt sander, but should shatter the myth that cabinet scrapers are some lost art.  

The only “trick” to using a scraper is making the burr. Dozens of different jigs and techniques can help you get that metal micro-hook, but my filing jig is fast and cheap. When the burr fails, I can renew an edge and resume scraping in a few seconds. 

To make the jig, all you need is a fine mill file and a scrap of wood. Using your table saw, groove the board to fit the file. (Aim for a snug fit. If it’s loose, shim the file with masking tape.) Insert the file into the groove then draw the edge of the file against the face of the scraper. Within two or three passes, you’ll have a somewhat rough, but surprisingly serviceable, hook.

This jig can also be used to hone a square edge to create a burnished hook for finer scraping. After filing, place the scraper bottom face down on your sharpening stone to knock off the rough burr; then use the edge of the jig as shown (at left) to hone a square edge. Flatten both faces one last time before drawing and turning the burr with a burnisher (or as I do, with an old screwdriver).

—Brian Hurst, Portland, Oregon

Reusable, disposable mixing cup

Good kitchen measuring cups don’t belong in the shop, or any place where you might feel tempted to use them for mixing epoxy, two-part finishes, or other nasty chemicals. If you can convince the cook of the house to let you borrow the good measurer just once, you can make a decent shop-grade substitute from a plastic cup. 

Using water, carefully pour set amounts, then mark the side of the cup with a permanent pen. Instead of repeating that measuring and marking process with each mix, simply slide a second cup inside first. If can keep the master cup clean, you can mix a boat’s worth of epoxy without needing to redo your measurements.

In addition to preserving domestic harmony, my disposable measuring cup prevents the accidental contamination that can occur when mixing chemically reactive ingredients in the same container.

—Joe Roscoe, Rochester, New York

Benchtop horse puts tools in easy reach

I like the convenience of storing my carving tools in a canvas roll, but pulling them out when I need them can be a pain (sometimes, quite literally). At a carving class I attended, I noted that the instructor draped his roll over a mini-sawhorse. Compared to a flat-laid roll, his setup required less bench space and put all the tools within easy reach.  

My version takes the original design up a notch. After sizing the beam to match my roll, I routed a dovetailed groove into each leg and routed the dovetailed ends of the beam to fit. The knock-down joinery eliminates any need for additional parts or fasteners that could get lost in transit.

—Craig W. Bentzley, Chalfont, Pennsylvania

Pen keeps pins pointed in the right direction

The pins used with 21- and 23-gauge guns are so small that it’s very difficult to determine the angled tip end from the non-existent head end. Knowing this, some nail manufacturers print directional arrows on the side of the strip. These arrows work well, until you’ve fired through that section.

To provide a can’t-miss reference, use a permanent pen and draw arrows on each strip to indicate which end goes down. Doing this will not only prevent an upside-down clip, but will encourage you to use up those partially-used strips that litter the bottom of your toolbox because you can’t see which end to shoot into the wood.

—Joe Schambow, Montclair, New Jersey

Homemade bandsaw blocks

The metal guideblocks that come standard with most bandsaws can create blade-damaging heat and friction or can damage the teeth. Aftermarket graphite and ceramic guide blocks work well, but before you buy, consider making your own blocks from any dense hardwood, such as maple. Like the blade-friendly graphite, hardwood guides can be set against the blade without risk of damaging the teeth or tooth set. When worn, hardwood blocks can be sanded or trimmed true. 

After cutting the blocks to fit, I stand them in a small container with some WD-40 to allow the end grain to absorb extra lubricant.

—Tim Feirer, Fairfield, Connecticut


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