Tips & Tricks: Issue 40

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This article is from Issue 40 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Wall-mounted lamp arm

At my shop workstations, I like to use swing-arm lamps for adjustable task lighting. For convenience, I mount the lamp on a wooden arm that swings out from a nearby wall. Sometimes, a single arm does the trick, but when I need more reach and flexibility, I create an articulated arm by adding extensions as shown.

Make the primary arm from 11⁄4"-thick hardwood about 5" wide, tapering out to 11⁄2" at the end. Mine is 26" long, but suit yourself. Drill a 3⁄8"-diameter hole through the wide end on the drill press, using a long bit. Bore as deep as your drill press allows, and then raise the table to complete the hole. Rout or sand a bullnose onto the wide end. You can drill a hole on the narrow end to carry a lamp, or add an extension or two. Make an extension 11⁄4" thick by 11⁄2" wide and attach it to its mating arm with a 3⁄8" carriage bolt, a washer, a lock washer, and a nylon nut or a pair of nuts jammed against each other. Tighten the hardware enough to provide both friction and adjustability. Mount two metal L-brackets to the primary arm, using a length of 3⁄8" threaded rod secured at each end with a pair of jam nuts, and then screw the brackets to a wall stud.

—Mike Kehs, Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Clamping with Styrofoam

I do restoration work that often requires gluing on odd-shaped pieces such as moldings and carvings. 

I discovered that scraps of Styrofoam serve as great clamping cauls for pieces that lack flat clamping surfaces. Just cover the part to be clamped with waxed paper or cellophane, and then lay a piece of Styrofoam about 1" thick over it, topped with a wooden caul for support. Under clamp pressure, the Styrofoam will compress over the part, providing fairly consistent pressure overall. This technique works not only for moldings and carvings, but also for inlay repairs where the patch might initially be a bit thicker than the underlying area.

—Brian Hillman, Stockbridge, Georgia

Dowel-grooving collar

After seeing the “Grooving Dowels on a Tablesaw” tip in the last issue, I thought I’d share an approach that I’ve been using for years to groove dowels up to 1⁄2" in diameter. My trick is to use a “collar jig” that has a feed hole through the axis, with nails projecting into the hole to create the grooves as the dowel is fed through the jig. I have several of these, each one suiting a particular dowel diameter.

To make a collar, drill through the axis of a 11⁄4"-long section of 11⁄4"-diameter dowel, using a bit that matches the diameter of the desired dowel size. Next, lay the collar on its side and use a 1⁄16"-diameter bit to drill a hole completely through, intersecting the main hole at its center, and exiting the opposite side of the collar. Insert a 4d finish nail through each side hole, far enough for the tip to project into the center hole about 1⁄32". Slide the collar down a length of dowel to create two opposing grooves, then reorient it 90°, and take a second pass to create a total of four grooves in a dowel. That’ll do it.

—Gary Rohs, Cincinnati, Ohio

Quick-release magnetic pickup

It seems I’m always gathering up small screws and other hardware from the bench during hinge installation and other operations. I got tired of having to pick them up by hand, so I came up with this little solution. It’s just a magnet attached to the end of a dowel that slides inside a 35-mm film canister. To “activate” the unit, slide the magnet to the bottom of the canister and pick up your hardware. To release the hardware, retract the magnet. Simple. It’s also a great way to separate steel screws from brass and aluminum versions.

To make the pickup, attach a 1"-diameter rare-earth magnet (Woodcraft #150952) to the end of a 1⁄2"-diameter dowel about 3" long. I screwed on a 1" steel cup designed for attaching magnets (Woodcraft #150962), but you could use epoxy instead. Drill a hole in the canister cap to accept the dowel, put the parts together, and it’s ready to go.

—Lee Dabkey, LaGrange Park, Illinois


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