Tips & Tricks: Issue 39

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This article is from Issue 39 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Warm box for chilly glue-ups

During cold weather, it’s impractical to heat my whole shop so that a glued-up project can cure properly. Instead, I made a “warm box” using inexpensive, 1⁄2"-thick rigid foam insulation panels (a 4 × 8' panel costs about $12 at a home center). To heat the box, I use a 150-watt heat lamp, placing it a safe distance from the work and the box walls. Monitor the temperature with a thermometer, shutting off the lamp occasionally if necessary to maintain a temperature between 60-80°.

The panels can be cut and taped together to make a large box. The foil-faced variety can simply be scored on one side and snapped to create several sides of a smaller box. Leave the edge of one wall untaped for access. For the top, simply lay a piece on the box. When not in use, you can store the panels flat.

—Chuck Chinaski, Memphis, Tennessee

Shaping shelf-support pins

I like to use a 1⁄4"-diameter brass rod (available at hardware stores) to make classy-looking shelf supports, cutting them to length with a hacksaw. I round the ends for easy insertion and a finished appearance. The best way to do this is to chuck a pin in a handheld drill and then round the end against a grinder or disc sander, making sure the rotation of the drill opposes the rotation of the wheel as you move the drill in an arc. You can also round wooden dowels in this fashion for use with utility cabinets.

—Sam Strickland, Portland, Oregon

Grooving dowels

When used in joinery, dowels work better if they’re grooved to let glue and air escape during installation. Commercially-grooved dowels are available, but you can easily saw the grooves yourself on the tablesaw. To set up the saw, crank the blade over to 45° and raise it level to the tabletop. Locate the rip fence so that a dowel placed against it is centered over the teeth tips, and then lock the fence in place. Fasten a strip of plastic laminate to the saw table against the fence, using double-faced tape. Hold the laminate down with a block of wood, while raising the blade until it projects about 1⁄32". To cut the groove, feed your dowel past the running blade, holding it down firmly and rotating it after each pass to cut three or four grooves. The plastic laminate will prevent it from diving into the throat plate opening.

—Frank Crutchfield, Newark, Delaware

Shop hangers from PVC pipe

Visitors to my shop often comment on my unusual system of hooks and hangers made from plastic pipe. The idea came about when I was given some short lengths of wide-diameter PVC pipe by a local plumber. I realized I could crosscut them into rings that I could screw to the ceiling joists for hanging dowels, pipes, and strip stock up out of the way. I took it a step further by bisecting some of the rings to create “J” hangers for extension cords, ropes, and even rolled drawings. I used a reciprocating saw to do the cutting, but a hacksaw or handsaw will work. 

—Chris McKee, Landisville, Pennsylvania


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