Tips & Tricks: Issue 36

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This article is from Issue 36 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Shop jar opener

Like many woodworkers, I store finishes in appropriately sized jars to prevent them from skinning over in a partially empty can. The problem is that no matter how well I wipe the rim of the jar before closing it, the lid often sticks stubbornly shut afterward. To solve the problem, I designed this jar opener that mounts to the underside of a cabinet, allowing me to twist the jar with both hands while the jig holds the lid firmly in place. It works so well that I made a second one for the kitchen too.

To make the jig, use 2×6 lumber sized to fit under a standard-depth wall cabinet. Shorten a hacksaw blade to fit by scoring it with an abrasive wheel and snapping off the excess. Drill holes in the blade to mount it to the wood strip with #10 panhead screws, cantilevering the blade 1⁄8" off the edge.

—Bill Wells, Olympia, Washington

Strapping tool holders

My son, who is in the heavy equipment business, happened to have a few scraps of heavy-duty tie-down strapping lying around. I grabbed them, thinking they might come in handy for something, and they did. I found that they work great as tool holders for everything from screwdrivers and awls to pliers and wire cutters. I simply stapled the strapping to a board on the wall, bunching it up to create appropriately sized “pockets” to accommodate my tools. 

—Oneil Long, Mound City, Missouri

Handscrew vise

I work for a custom stair builder and often find myself working on small or odd shaped pieces such as handrail fittings. Unfortunately, I have a hard time holding them for sanding or shaping, and the boss won’t spring for a bench vise. To make do, I’ve found that I can substitute a large handscrew for the job. I clamp my workpiece in it, and then secure the handscrew to the bench with a couple of F-style clamps. The setup actually works pretty well. Even clamped down, the handscrew can still be adjusted enough to allow repositioning of the workpiece without a lot of hassle.

—Jonathan Wisher, Matthews, North Carolina

Unifence auxiliary facing

My tablesaw rip fence is a Unifence, popular with many Delta tablesaw owners. As with any rip fence, I sometimes need to attach an auxiliary wooden fence, or facing, to prevent damage to the aluminum fence when performing operations like sawing rabbets with a dado head. The typical approach with a fence like this is to drill holes through it for securing a facing with screws. Instead, I designed this setup to speed up the attachment.

I made the 3⁄4"-thick MDF facing wider than the height of the fence and screwed on a spacer for mounting three toggle clamps. Now it’s a matter of simply clamping the facing in place instead of messing with attachment screws.

—Dick Reese, Centerville, Ohio

Lignum vitae bandsaw blocks

Lignum vitae is a great wood for making your own bandsaw guide blocks. It’s dense and durable, and its resin is a natural lubricant. The wood can also be dressed easily when necessary to smooth worn faces. The only problem is that it’s not cheap, and I hate to have to buy big pieces of it since I don’t use it for much else. That dilemma was solved recently when I discovered that wooden pen turning blanks are available in lignum vitae. For less than $3, I bought a 3⁄4 × 3⁄4 × 61⁄4" pen blank, which is big enough to make several years’ worth of guides for my bandsaw.

—Bruce Robertson, Raleigh, North Carolina


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