Tips & Tricks: Issue 4

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This article is from Issue 4 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Dowel Tenoning Jig

A recent project that required multiple tenons in 1" oak dowels prompted me to build a jig to machine them on my router table. The jig allows you to feed the dowels through a pair of 1" holes and cut the tenon in much the same way as you’d sharpen a pencil. The two holes provide for a straight alignment while providing support against kickback. The ¼" dowel pin provides a positive stop so that all tenons are the same length. (I didn’t glue the ¼" dowel in place, so it can be replaced if I adjusted it too close to the router bit and it became damaged.) The “wings” in the back can easily be clamped to the router table to hold the jig securely.

For a finer cut, twist the dowel as you slowly feed it into the bit. Some  wax in the holes will reduce friction.

When machining the 1¼" x 3" parts, work with longer stock and drill them simultaneously by clamping or taping them together. The parts can then be crosscut to length at the same time if a short scrap of 1" dowel is placed through the holes to keep them aligned. It’s also important to mark the top corners of both pieces so that the parts are assembled in the same orientation as they were cut. That way, even if the holes are slightly off-center, you’ll still maintain alignment.

You can adjust the size of the holes and all parts to match your needs.

— Keith Wheeler, Frankfort, Ind.

Designed for Dust 

Doug Stowe’s advice in the May 2005 issue on making your own wood filler using wood dust and glue was an excellent solution for furniture makers using material with relatively consistent color such as maple, cherry and oak. Being a box maker, my dust collection bags are rarely filled with one species of dust, and even on my occasional furniture commission I use a lot of walnut with quite a bit of color variation. Here’s a method for getting a great color match for small parts.

Cut a small block from scrap that matches the wood where the defect is. On the table saw make a series of parallel cuts about ¼" apart and at least ½" deep. Use masking tape to cover where those cuts exit the block and find the finest, most worn-out belt you have for your belt sander. Hold the block against the belt for a few seconds and turn the sander off with it still held in place. Lift the block off gently; static electricity will have held a nice amount of dust in the saw cuts. I label and save the blocks so I always have a source for fresh dust of the woods I use most often.

The small amount of tape in the mix won’t affect your color match at all.

— William McDowell, Syracuse, N.Y.

Perfect height on the shaper

I’ve found a way to save setup time and improve accuracy when switching between stile and rail cutters on my Delta 3-hp shaper for specific projects. I simply have each set of cutters on its own spindle. After initial setup with shims, all I need to do is replace one spindle with the other, and the cutting heights match perfectly. 

— Paul Daigle, Cohasset, Minn.

Stackable Storage

I use a couple of milk-crate-style storage containers to keep a large assortment of moldings and dowels organized. The crates usually measure about 12" on all sides, and have a grid on the bottom. Start by screwing two of them together, one on top of the other. Then turn them upside-down and attach them to a piece of plywood sized to fit the opening (which is now on the bottom). The resulting storage unit is light and inexpensive, and the two grids keep thin stock organized. 

There are several variations you could use: Keep the crates in the intended open-end-up position, and use the open part for storage of short pieces and still use the grid for long, thin stock. You can add wheels for portability. You can even use it to store long-handled tools for the shop and garden.

— Kevin Hemmingsen, Wabasha, Minn.


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