Tips & Tricks: Issue 32

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This article is from Issue 32 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Jointer knife “stretcher”

Want to push a few more boards through your jointer before sharpening the knives? Try my two-step honing process. It’s simple, safe, and easy. Once you know how to set the cutterhead, you’ll find honing a secondary bevel on a knife like touching up a plane blade. I can hone my knives three times before they need to be pulled and reground.

First, unplug your jointer and lower the outfeed table so that it’s just below the knives. Rotate the cutterhead so the tip of the first knife points approximately to one o’clock and then lock it in place with a few wooden wedges. To repeat the same exact angle for the remaining two knives, make a reference mark on the outfeed table and two marks on the ruler—at the reference mark and where the tip of the knife touches the blade. Now wrap a piece of paper around your finest stone and take about a dozen passes along the knife. (At this point, you should see a shiny microbevel running along the edge.)

Remove the wedges and use the marked straightedge to position the tip of the next knife to the same angle, wedge, and hone. Repeat the process with the third knife. Finally, reset the outfeed table so that it’s level with the tip of the knives at the highest point of rotation.

—Joe Whitmore, San Destin, Florida

Small-parts finger saver

Routing small parts is not only hard to do safely, but it also produces a double dose of ruined or kicked-back parts. Attaching a dowel to the work keeps my fingers out of the equation and gives me a solid handle to control the cut. Depending on the size of the piece and depth of cut, you can use double-stick tape, but for the strongest bond I recommend a thick bead of hot glue. Once routed, you can soften the glue bond with a few drops of mineral spirits.

—Jim Young, Springfield, Missouri

Dust collector muffler

When I set up my Cyclone, I had no idea how loud it would be. I decided to make my own muffler, using a pair of five-gallon buckets and some scraps I had lying around in my shop. The collector’s performance didn’t change, but the muffler cut down the noise level so that I could find and fix the leaks in my ductwork by listening for the hisses of air at the fittings.

To make the muffler, I used a jigsaw to remove the bottoms from both buckets and then attached them, bottom to bottom, with foil tape. Next, I sliced an old foam camping mattress into 5"-wide strips on my bandsaw and glued the strips to the inside of the buckets with spray adhesive, leaving an 8"-diameter hole in the middle for air movement. To mount the muffler to a plywood base, I drove ¾" screws through a plastic flange and then sealed the joint with caulk.

—Rob Mousel, Hanover, Minnesota

Bike gloves stop the vibes

My mountain bike hasn’t seen many single tracks lately, but my bike gloves still get a workout. I don’t recommend wearing any gloves when using jointers, drill presses, table saws or other large machinery, but they are perfect when doing benchwork, such as sanding and planing. The exposed fingertips help me keep in touch with surfaces, but the gelled palms insulate my hands from vibrations that can cause blisters, or, over time, pain and numbness.

—Chris McKim, Greeley, Colorado

Brush up your bits

At the drill press, old toothbrushes can prove handy for cleaning out chips before they become packed and clog bits. The brushes contain small, stiff bristles that you can press against the spinning bit. A minor time-saver perhaps, but if you’ve had to repeatedly stop and start your drill press in order to pick out chip buildup, you’ll recognize the convenience.

To keep the brush within reach but also out of the way, I trimmed the handle and fastened it to the long arm of my chuck key. The retractable chain keeps both in easy reach.

—Len Dorsett, Orange, Connecticut

Wipe-on shop-safe rust blocker

A thin coat of shellac is an easy (and easily reversible) way to keep rust from getting a toehold on metal hand tools such as planes, rules, and chisels. Simply mix up a fresh 2-lb. cut, wipe on with a rag, let it dry, and you’re done.

The thin film will eventually rub off surfaces that receive regular wear, but for spots that don’t see metal-to-metal or metal-to-wood contact, or tools that spend most of their time sitting on a shelf, the hard film finish provides long lasting protection. Unlike some oils or heavy film protectants, shellacked tools don’t require any special cleanup when you want to put them to use. To dissolve and completely strip off any shellac residue, use denatured alcohol and a clean rag.

—Peter Tomlinson, Cullman, Alabama


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