Tips & Tricks: Issue 34

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This article is from Issue 34 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Self-contained grinding station

Fed up with the metal particles and wheel grit strewn all over my sharpening station, I decided to house my bench grinder in a simple plywood box. The box corrals the detritus and provides a mounting place for a task light overhead for good grinding visibility. An “undercounter” fluorescent light (available at home supply stores) was easy to attach and serves the job well.

I also wanted to accommodate a variety of grinding jigs and tool rests to suit my turning tools, chisels, and plane irons. The solution: attach the grinder to a plywood panel that mounts atop two pairs of solid wood cleats centered under the grinding wheels. The resulting channels accept support arms for mounting my various jigs and tool rests. I can secure each arm in its channel at any location with a stud lock knob that threads into a T-nut attached to the underside of the panel.

—Louis Lovas, Hollis, New Hampshire

Tighter threads for smoother turnings

After some detective work, I discovered that the minor vibration issues that I was having with my lathe were because the 1" × 8 TPI threaded headstock wasn’t providing adequate metal-to-metal contact with screw-on chucks and faceplates. Consequently, they tended to wiggle a bit in use. To correct this problem, I now wrap the headstock’s threads with plumber’s Teflon tape. In addition to making a more solid fit, the tape lubricates the threads, easing removal of the chuck when I’m done.

—Craig Borgman, Plymouth, Minnesota

Clamp-on saw guide

I discovered that I needed to trim several 4×4 posts on an outdoor project. I was unwilling to attempt the cut with a portable circular saw, so I devised this self-clamping jig to guide a handsaw for the job. The jig consists of two 3/4"-thick wooden bars connected by a pair of carriage bolts and lock knobs. I sized the bars a few inches longer than the width of the pieces to be cut, and ensured alignment of the bolt holes by stack-drilling them on the drill press. A ledger strip on the top of each bar provides a wider bearing surface for the handsaw. I used polyethylene for the strips for durability and minimal friction, but dense hardwood would work. The jig is so accurate and easy to set up that I now use it on other parts that are too big or awkward to cut on a stationary machine.

—David Miller, Clemmons, North Carolina

Flush-routing plugs

When trimming wooden plugs with a chisel, it’s easy to mar the adjacent surface or tear out the plug grain. When you have more than a few plugs to trim (such as on the Porch Swing on page 30), using a router is a much cleaner, easier approach. To do the job, attach a couple of “riser strips” to the base of a laminate trimmer or other router using double-faced tape. The strips enable the router base to ride over the plugs while a straight bit adjusted a hair shy of the work surface trims the excess. Finish up the job with sandpaper.

—Woodcraft Magazine Editors

Glue-sizing end grain

When gluing miter or butt joints, the end grain can quickly absorb the glue, causing a “starved joint” after assembly. The solution is to spread a thin “size coat” of glue first, let it soak in, then apply more before clamping up the joint. This trick even works for joints with both end-grain and face-grain surfaces. For example, when gluing a tenon, size the shoulders, wait a minute or so, then apply glue to the cheeks and a bit more to the shoulders before assembling the joint.

—Ross Gruber, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Shop-made table-tilt gauge

After installing an auxiliary table on my drill press, I found that the machine’s angle gauge (located at its rear) was all but impossible to read. To effectively shift the readout to the front, I attached a plastic protractor and plumb bob to the front edge of the table as shown. Using the gauge is a simple matter of setting the table level and square to the bit, adjusting the protractor to align its 0° increment with the string, and then tilting the table to align the string with the desired angle. No, the gauge isn’t perfect, but it homes in closely on the correct angle. For best precision, use a large protractor and a thin string.

—Jim Wurst, Omaha, Nebraska


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