Tips & Tricks: Issue 75

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This article is from Issue 75 of Woodcraft Magazine.

curved tapers on the jointer

Curved tapers on the jointer

I recently had to replace a broken leg on a Duncan Phyfe style candlestand table. These legs are curved, so you can’t taper them on the tablesaw. They are also tapered fully end-to-end, so you can’t shape them on the jointer the way you can a stop-tapered leg. So here’s how to pull off the job: After planing the leg stock to the thickest dimension at the head and cutting the curved shape, mark the desired thickness at the toe. Then prepare a piece of sacrificial support stock that’s wider than the head end by an amount equal to twice the desired taper, and longer than the length of the head by a couple inches. Center the support across the thickness of the head, attaching it with two screws. Run the piece over a jointer from head to foot in successive passes until the support is flush with the leg, at which point it should be down to the thickness marks you made at the toe.

Russ Svendsen, Olean, New York

Self-positioning assembly braces

 Squaring braces can be very helpful for assembling cases and drawers. Expensive commercial versions are available, but simple plywood triangles with notches or holes serving for clamp purchase work pretty well. However, I decide to upgrade to the shop-made fenced versions shown for a recent large cabinet project. Unlike standard flat triangles, these braces can rest atop case or drawer side edges, holding the parts together while you set the clamps.

I recommend making large and small braces to accommodate different size cases. The dimensions aren’t critical, but the outermost corner must be an accurate right angle. Locate the fences about 1" out from the inside corner so that they don’t get in the way when positioning a divider or shelf in the middle of a case. These braces are designed for 3/4"-thick adjoining pieces. For thicker wood, or for assembling face frames or other projects, they can be clamped to the inside corners, like simpler fence-less braces.

Joe Hurst, senior editor

Tape rule trammel

Tape rule trammel

Trammel heads—the kind that clamp onto a strip of wood—are the tool of choice when laying out circles and arcs. Unfortunately, they can be expensive, and require a suitable strip of wood for the job, which may not be available when you need it. A handier alternative may be sitting in your kitchen junk drawer: an old tape rule.

All it takes to convert a tape rule into a trammel is a few minutes on the drill press. I drilled a row of 1/8"-diameter holes (roughly the diameter of a #4 finish nail) at one inch increments in the tape blade. (For a custom sized arc, it’s easy enough to drill or punch another hole where needed.)

—Walt Summers, Miami, Florida

Hide your dark side

When you’re trying some new technique or finish on a project, start off in a discreet area like the back, an underside, or low at the rear of the piece to let you get the feel of it. That way, if you happen to screw up, you won’t be loudly announcing the flaw. And when you do make a mistake on a piece, for gosh sake, don’t ruin someone’s compliment of your work by immediately pointing out and apologizing for the goof. Well, try not to, anyway.  

—Uncle Remus, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico


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