Tips & Tricks: Issue 41

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This article is from Issue 41 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Crosscutting Short Multiples 

A while ago, I was making wooden tabletop clips and needed to crosscut multiple short pieces to identical lengths. Marking individual cutlines would have taken too much time, so I decided to set up a stopblock on my power mitersaw. Unfortunately, at the end of the cut, the saw would jettison (and often ruin) the freed piece, which had been trapped between the blade and the stopblock. 

After a bit of head scratching, I realized that the fix is to set up the cut with a removable spacer between the stopblock and the end of the workpiece. Hold the workpiece firmly against the fence and stopblock while removing the spacer. Now the sawn piece has room to fall freely away from the blade at the end of the cut. To further minimize the chance of kickback, allow the blade to stop fully before raising it out of the cut. 

—Ralph Burns, Montgomery, Alabama

Keeping Cool at the Lathe

When sanding turnings on a spinning lathe, I often use my fingers instead of a pad to back up the sandpaper, especially for coves, beads, and other detailed surfaces. But, as any turner knows, it’s a hot operation. When I spied a package of “rubber fingertips” at my local office supply store, I knew that I’d found a solution to the problem. Designed for nimble handling of money and paper, these nibbed thimbles proved to provide heat protection for lathe sanding. They’re also effective when using a cabinet scraper, providing a good grip while keeping your fingertips cool. At about $2 a dozen, they’re among the cheapest shop accessories you can buy.

—Charles Mak, Calgary, Alberta

Bandsaw Dust Collection

I own two 14" bandsaws that work well except for dust collection. The older saw has no dust port at all, while the newer model has a port that’s too small to be very effective. I found that the solution was to attach a length of 4"-diameter metal duct to a dust-collection hose, and then place 1"-diameter rare-earth magnets in a vertical row along the edge of the saw’s lower blade cover. (Four or five will do the job.) Placing the open end of the duct directly under the saw table provides remarkably good dust collection. As an added benefit, the metal duct serves as a quick-connect fitting onto the 4"-diameter dust ports on most of my other machines. 

—Paul Anthony, senior editor

Magnetizing a Screwdriver

In my work, I often need to maneuver screws into recesses and tight places. A magnetized screwdriver that holds the screw really helps a lot. But rather than invest in a set of expensive drivers, I simply affix a small, powerful rare-earth magnet to the shank. I can adjust the magnetic strength by moving the magnet up or down on the shank. When working in tight spots, I’ll reinforce the magnet’s connection with double-faced tape or heat-shrink tubing to prevent it from shifting. 

—Tracy Longo, Ventura, California

Bandsaw Table Filler Blocks

Like many bandsaw tables, mine is cast-iron and ribbed and recessed on the underside. This makes it difficult to clamp fences and jigs to the table. To ease the job, I epoxied a couple of filler blocks to the underside, placing them strategically for common clamping chores. I grooved and notched the blocks where necessary to accommodate the ribs and table stop. I’ll admit that I was nervous at first about using such a permanent attachment as epoxy, but the blocks haven’t proved to be anything but helpful for the past decade. If you’re unsure about placement, try using double-faced tape or hot-melt glue initially.

—Jim Sloan, Baltimore, Maryland

Spin-Free Pipe Clamp Pads

Frustrated by rubber pads that don’t stay securely on my pipe clamp jaws, I made these 3⁄4"-thick wooden pads that attach using rare-earth magnets. My first attempts were simply square pads, which worked okay, but tended to rotate and shift in use. I fixed that by attaching plywood strips that hug the sides of the clamp jaw as shown. For the most secure attachment, make sure the face of the embedded magnet is very flush to the surface of the block. I used steel mounting cups designed to attach the magnets, but you could just epoxy them into their recesses instead. 

—Richard Melpignano, Bellingham, Massachusetts


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