Tips & Tricks Issue 68

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This article is from Issue 68 of Woodcraft Magazine.

twin handled tool rack

Twin-handled tool rack

I use a lot of pliers, nippers, wire cutters, and other “twin-handled” tools at my bench. To keep them sorted out and at-the-ready, I took a tip from my electrician dad and created a rack for them on my bench wall using conduit clips. These inexpensive, commonly available saddle-shaped metal clamps, or “straps,” are typically used to surface-mount electrical conduit. Available in various sizes, they’re perfect for holding one handle of a tool solidly to a wall, leaving the opposite handle extended for easy grabbing. Installing them side-by-side sharing a mounting screw consolidates the tools into a small area. And unlike some pegboard hooks made for the purpose, the straps won’t accidentally pull away from the wall.

—Bil Mitchell, Riegelsville, Pennsylvania

small brad holder

Small brad holder

We’ve all seen tips for holding brads and small nails to avoid whacking your fingers–including using a slotted piece of cardboard, a comb, etc.–but here’s a better approach. It’s a holder that’s very quick to use, and one that easily positions the brad in a vertical position for accurate starting taps. All you need is a tongue depressor or popsicle stick and two 1⁄4"-diameter rare-earth magnets. Simply cut a small V-shaped notch in one end of the stick, and then epoxy a magnet in place so that its edge is tangent to the bottom of the notch. To use the tool, position the brad against two stacked magnets, as shown, to hold it in place as you give it a starting tap or two.

—John Cusimano, Lansdale, Pennsylvania

multipurpose crosscut sled

Multipurpose crosscut sled

If you have a crosscut sled for your tablesaw, you actually have much more than a crosscut sled. What you have is a sliding base to which you can attach all sorts of custom fences and hold-downs to accommodate specialty cuts. For example, say you need to saw multiple plywood gussets for a project. Simply tack or screw two fences to your sled base, as shown, to quickly and accurately make the cuts. You can even outfit the sled with fences and hold-downs to safely cut tapers on small workpieces like those shown on page 36. Using a sled like this can be a great labor-saving alternative to making dedicated jigs that will see service only once or twice.

—Paul Anthony, senior editor

slimming down dowels

Slimming down dowels

Anyone who uses dowels knows that they seldom match their stated diameter. They’re almost always slightly oversized and have to be sanded down a bit to fit their holes. Unfortunately, this can be pretty tedious work to do by hand. I’ve found that a great way to speed it up is to chuck a short length of dowel stock into a drill, and then wrap a sheet of coarse sandpaper around the spinning dowel. After a bit of testing and fitting, you have a perfectly sized dowel. This technique also works great when you need to undersize a dowel enough to create a freewheeling axle in a wooden vehicle or other toy.
—John Hutchinson, Delaware, Ohio

Tennis ball bumpers

For years, I’ve used heavy-duty shop shelving systems like those featured in issue #67. These systems, with their wall-mounted standards and heavy metal arm supports, serve as great lumber racks. However, I’ve found that the arms can be pretty sharp. To prevent accidentally bumping into them, I outfitted each with a brightly colored tennis ball, slitting it, and then slipping it onto the projecting end of the arm.

—James Kajpust, Freeland, Michigan


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