Tips & Tricks: Issue 72

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This article is from Issue 72 of Woodcraft Magazine.


Dead-setting a hollow chisel mortiser

When setting up a hollow chisel mortiser, it’s crucial that the chisel is perfectly aligned to the fence to ensure straight, smooth mortise walls for a strong glue bond. Using a square to do the job hasn’t always yielded consistent results, especially with small chisels. To solve this issue, I made a simple hardwood gauge that effectively multiplies the width of the chisel wall facing the fence. To use the gauge, place it against the lowered chisel, and bring the fence forward, rotating the chisel until the gauge contacts the fence at both ends. Then tighten the chisel locking screw to ensure perfect chisel-to-fence alignment, and offset the fence as necessary for the cut.

Gerald Welf, Fridley, Minnesota

Tape shim for perfect plywood dadoes

Routing dadoes for hardwood plywood can be problematic because the stuff is notoriously inconsistent in thickness, often coming in as much as 1⁄32" less than its nominal size. And that’s not good because a gap of even a few thousandths of an inch can compromise joint strength. That’s why router bit manufacturers offer “undersized” straight bits, such as a 23⁄32"-diameter bit for use with 3⁄4" plywood. These bits are great, but you often have to widen the cut a tad, again due to material inconsistency. So here’s the tip: Rather than shifting your router straightedge, just apply a few layers of masking tape to the edge of your router base that rides the straightedge. It’s fast, and a lot less risky than repositioning the cutting setup.

—Stan Kowalski, Jersey City, New Jersey

Self-supporting vertical drilling jig

Here’s a simple jig for your drill press that will come in handy the next time you need to bore a vertical hole in the end of a pen blank, post, or any other long workpiece. Unlike other versions that simply clamp to the table, my jig bolts to it. This allows the jig’s support bar to pivot easily for repositioning without risking a fall to the floor.

Use these dimensions as a starting point. If you have a large auxiliary table, lengthen the bar to suit. (If your table has T-slots, replace the hex head bolt with a T-bolt.) To use the jig, swing the drill press table clear of the bit, bolt the jig in place, and then clamp the workpiece to the fence and base as shown. When the workpiece is in position, use an F-clamp to lock the bar to the table, and then drill your hole.

—Joe Hurst, Senior Editor

Pre-shimming for wall cabinets

When installing a run of cabinets on a badly bowed wall, I find it easier and more accurate to pre-shim the wall instead of shimming individual cabinets straight and plumb as I go. Here’s the approach: Begin by drawing a level reference line that indicates the cabinet bottom locations. Then, at the height of the cabinet upper screw cleats, stretch a string taut between #8 nails driven into studs outside each end of the cabinet run. Do the same at the lower cleat location. Finally stretch two strings diagonally from the nails as shown.

Using a level, roughly plumb the two horizontal strings to each other. Then adjust the diagonal strings in or out on their nails until they touch each other and the horizontal strings, with the web as close to the wall as possible without bending the strings. You have created a flat plane reference, and can now stack shims out to the string at the stud locations. Believe me, your cabinet installation will go fast and look great!

—Paul Anthony, Senior Editor


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