Tips & Tricks Issue 67

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jumbo jaw standoff

Jumbo Jaw standoffs

Like many turners, I use adjustable, flat-plate “Jumbo Jaws” to hold a bowl inverted for the final turning of its foot. However, I find that if the rim of a bowl tapers inward, the grip of the rubber buttons against the work can be compromised. My solution is to mount the buttons on “standoffs” I make from 5⁄8"-dia. dowel rod. The increased reach makes all the difference.

The standoffs can be made to any suitable length, and bored through their axis using a drill chuck on the lathe. For stability, make sure the ends are cut perfectly perpendicular to the length of the dowel. Replace the stock button machine screws with longer versions from the hardware store.

—Eugene H. Schlaman, Charlotte, North Carolina

scraper sharpening jig

Scraper sharpening jig

Years ago, I discovered the capabilities of a cabinet scraper (like the Stanley #80). This steel-bodied tool, with its “gull wing” handles and 45° beveled blade, is great for smoothing large surfaces without dishing them as a card scraper might. And it will make fine cuts if the blade is sharpened well. Unfortunately, the short blade doesn’t suit most commercial honing jigs, so I made my own from hardwood scraps.

The head of the jig is mounted at 45° to the body, matching the blade’s bevel angle. A clamping strap made of 1⁄8"-thick scrap steel holds the blade to the head, secured by thumbscrews. A lag screw at the base of the jig can be adjusted in or out to fine tune the sharpening angle. To use the jig, I simply clamp the blade in place, projecting out a bit from the edge of the head, and then sight the angle of the blade on the stone using a 45° triangle. A bit of work on a 1000-grit stone, followed by an 8000-grit stone, produces amazing results once the burr is turned.

—Philip Houck, Boston, Massachusetts

brass ball catch upgrade

Brass ball catch upgrade

I like to use brass ball catches for fine furniture because they’re classy looking, secure, and they can be mounted in a variety of orientations. However, I’ve experienced two problems with them. The first is that their springs are so stout that you really have to tug on the door to open it. (Even adjusting the spring caps outward doesn’t help.) To fix the problem, I replace the stock springs with ballpoint pen springs cut to about the same length. The second issue with these catches is that, when mounted vertically, the bottom spring cap can back itself out from repeated use, ejecting the spring and ball. The solution? Unscrew the cap, apply a dab of fingernail polish to the threads, and reinsert while wet.

—Paul Anthony, senior editor

precision drilling with a large diameter bit

Precision drilling with a large-diameter bit

Handheld drilling with a Forstner or multi-spur bit can be a skittish operation. However, sometimes it’s necessary when a panel is just too big or cumbersome to place on the drill press table. In those cases, simply make a small guide panel at the drill press, using the desired diameter bit to drill the hole. Then clamp or screw the guide panel to your workpiece.

The guide panel doesn’t need to be much thicker than 1⁄2" or so. To allow precise targeting of a centerpoint, extend long crosshairs outward from the initial guide panel centerpoint, and then carry those lines down across the edges of the hole afterward. That way, you can align them with long crosshairs laid out on your workpiece.

—Mike Johns, St. Louis, Missouri

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