Tips & Tricks: Issue 31

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This article is from Issue 31 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Can’t-miss biscuit guide

Cutting biscuits in a frame-and-panel side proves trickier than in a solid-panel side. The problem lies not only in making matching sets of slots in the sides, shelves, top and bottom, but also in laying out the slots so that they don’t accidentally cut through the narrow stiles. This scrapwood support board addresses both issues quickly and easily. To make this jig, simply cut the support board to match the width of your frame and carefully mark out the biscuit slot locations.

Now, align the front edge of the support board flush with the front edge of the side, clamp it securely in place, and use it to guide the biscuit joiner as you slot the solid ends for the top and bottom panels. To slot the stiles for the shelves, bridge it over the panel section and slot at the marked pencil lines, as shown. To cut matching edge slots, simply clamp the support board on top of your panel and align your biscuit joiner with the layout lines. Again, make sure to register the board with the front edge of the panels.

—Jamie McLoughlin, Keene, New Hampshire

When in Vegas

For woodworkers, being a few cards short of a full deck can be a good thing. Because they’re stiff, waxy, and of uniform thickness, old playing cards can find new life as glue applicators, squeeze-out scrapers, and shim stock. If you like chasing thousandths of an inch, you can double-check your deck with a micrometer, but standard playing cards are typically between .011" and .012" thick.

—Woodcraft Magazine Editors

Tooth- and knuckle-saving blade changer

Wanting some insurance against any blade-meets-wrench or blade-meets-knuckle incidents when changing blades on my table saw, I came up with this shop-made solution. The jig is simply a narrow plywood box with a center cavity designed to shroud and snag the blade. The front nub helps lever the jig into the saw teeth, so that the blade doesn’t spin when tightening or loosening the arbor nut.

To make the blade remover, use a spare blade as a guide to sketch out the basic dimensions of the inner and outer laminations onto some 1/4" plywood scrap, then glue together a 3-ply sandwich as shown. Adjust the size of the back nub as needed to fit your saw.

—Mark Koritz, St. Louis, Missouri

An extra hand for dust bag changing

Changing the bottom bag on a dust collector—sliding then holding the slick plastic bag on an equally slick painted base, while simultaneously positioning and tightening the bag clamp—seems like a task designed for a three-handed woodworker. Rather than trying to sprout an extra limb, I bought a roll of magnetic tape, attached a few strips to my collector, and used the remaining scraps to tack the bag in place. Both hands are now free to install the clamp.

—Andrew Kerstesz, Toledo, Ohio

Re-zeroed table saw insert

Zero-clearance inserts prevent splintering and chip-out only as long as they remain zero-clearance. After a few years of use and several different blades, the slot on my insert had become too wide to do the job right. Rather than make or buy a fresh insert, I found a way to get a few more clean cuts from my old one.

To give your insert new life, affix a strip of clear packing tape over the slot from the top of the insert. Now flip it over and drip epoxy into the slot. (To save epoxy, use only as much as is needed to patch the slot top face.) Once cured, sand flush, reinsert the insert in your saw, and raise the blade to cut a fresh slot.

—Jay Trinidad, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Detachable tool tray

Many workbenches have holes on their sides or ends, either for use with side-mounted hold-downs, or as installation holes for future vises. I built this small tool tray to keep tools and materials clear of my benchtop. By mounting dowels in the back to match the holes in my bench, the tray can be pressed into service when needed or pulled out when it’s in the way. Snug-fitting dowels, coupled with the weight of the contents within, keep the tray firmly in place.

Design the tray to fit your bench. To maximize your benchtop surface, set the tray slightly below it. I made mine deep enough to store hand planes so that the handles don’t protrude above the benchtop edge.

—Mark Theil, Coral Springs, Florida


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