Tips & Tricks: Issue 70

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This article is from Issue 70 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Vise conversion

Not having a proper woodworking vise, I’ve been forced to use my metalworking vise. However, its narrow, relatively small jaws are hardly ideal for woodshop chores. To solve the problem, I cobbled up these wooden inserts, which mimic the wide, flat jaws on woodworking vises. As shown, the magnetically attached 3⁄4"-thick hardwood jaws extend from the top edges of the metal jaws fully down the opening. Wooden tabs screwed to the ends of the jaws prevent them from sliding in use, and the filler blocks direct clamping pressure fully across the faces of the jaws when closed. The inserts don’t take long to make, and work great. Just make sure to inset the magnets absolutely flush to the surface of the wood.

—Wayne Johnson, Grand Ledge, Michigan

magnetic crosscut standoff

Magnetic crosscut standoff

When crosscutting at the tablesaw, never use the rip fence as a stop. That’s because the freed offcut, being trapped between the blade and the fence, wants to kick back. One traditional approach is to clamp a thick stopblock/standoff to the rip fence forward of the blade, which both registers the cut and creates a safe “fall-off” space for the offcut between the blade and fence. To make things easier yet, I created a magnetic block for the job by installing a MagJig 150 Switchable Magnet in a piece of 3⁄4 × 21⁄2 × 3" wood. I use my rip fence scale to set up the cut, adding 21⁄2" to my desired crosscut length. Then I simply place the magnetic block against the fence, and I’m ready to cut.

Tom Roessler, Appleton, Wisconsin

Quick-set bandsaw fence

The bandsaw I inherited from my dad came to me without a fence, so I made a wooden one. But rather than clamp it down to the table at each end, which can be problematic due to the cavity on the table underside, I decided to use a quick-set pistol-grip bar clamp to span the table, clamping to its sides instead. The length of the fence is just a tad shorter than the width of my saw table, and the groove in the top of the fence precisely matches the thickness of the clamp bar. The fence works great and couldn’t be faster to set up.

Austin Zach, Omaha, Nebraska

Shelf bracket as workpiece support

I regularly use my drill press to bore holes in the ends of long workpieces. Rather than setting up a freestanding, height-adjustable work support, I simply screwed a typical metal shelf standard to a nearby cabinet. When working with long pieces, I just attach a shelf support bracket to the standard at the proper height to carry the workpiece.

Fred Frommelt, Janesville, Wisconsin

chipbreaker grinding quide

Chipbreaker grinding guide

When grinding a plane blade, you need a guide to ensure a straight edge. Some aftermarket tool rests include blade-holding jigs that run in a groove in the rest. Alternatively, you can simply clamp to the blade a short wood or metal “fence” that runs along the front edge of the tool rest. However, many metal-bodied planes have their own built-in guide of sorts. Simply switch the chipbreaker to the opposite side of the blade, and rotate it 90°. You can then slide the chipbreaker up or down as necessary to create the proper orientation to the grinding wheel, and then lock the chipbreaker in place using its own screw.

Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk, senior editor

Easy split double-faced tape

Double-faced tape can be a woodworker’s best friend when it comes to temporarily attaching templates and holding parts together. Unfortunately, it can be maddening trying to remove the backing from cut pieces. Turns out there’s a simple solution: Instead of cutting the tape to length, tear it, which roughly separates the tape and backer, providing easy-to-grab layers.

Serge Duclos, Delson, Québec

Shop-made squaring sticks

One of the best ways to check assemblies for square during glue-ups is to compare opposing diagonal measurements to make sure they match. And one of the best ways to do that is to use squaring sticks, also called pinch rods. I like to make my own, as shown here, using any straight-grained stock. The tongue-and-groove joint keeps the sticks aligned in use, while a spring clamp pinches them together to register the distance for comparison.

Paul Anthony, senior editor


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