Tips & Tricks: Issue 99Comments (0)
This article is from Issue 99 of Woodcraft Magazine.
Bench caster control bar
I outfitted my workbench with pedal-style casters that attach to the sides of the legs. When disengaged, these wheels allow the bench to sit solidly on the floor. For mobility, stepping on each pedal lifts the bench slightly to transfer the weight onto the casters. They work great for the job, but I find that individual operation of the pedals cocks and tilts the bench, sometimes sending items rolling off the top. Also, raising the pedals to retract the casters can be a bit cumbersome, as there isn’t much toe space underneath, so I have to stoop down to lift each pedal.
Turns out the solution was simply to attach a length of 1"-diameter electrical conduit to connect the two pedals on each end of the bench. After cutting the pipe to length, drill 3/16"-diameter holes near each end, and slightly flatten the ends in a vise. Then clamp the pipe to the caster pedals, and drill the mating holes in the pedals. Finally, make the connections with 3/16" × 1-1/4" machine screws, lock washers, and nuts. Now it’s a quick, easy foot-push on each bar to raise that end of the bench. And there’s plenty of toe room to lift the bar for retracting the casters.
—Tom Rosga, Hinckley, Minnesota
Dado blade tray
I find that stacking dado blades and chippers on a spindle often makes it a pain to get to a specific chipper when you need it. To make all my dado components much more accessible, I made a tray to accommodate them, placing it atop a cabinet under my saw’s side extension table. To make the tray, I traced out the shape of each blade and chipper onto a piece of 3/8"-thick MDF, incorporating adjacent cutouts for finger access. After cutting out the shapes with a jigsaw, I glued the cutout panel onto another sheet of MDF, creating a custom-fitted tray that organizes and protects my now very accessible cutters.
—Rob Spiece, Schwenksville, PA
Routing through-mortises in thick stock
When faced with cutting a through-mortise in a 3"-thick slab, I opted to rout it using a combination of commonly available pattern and flush trim bits. First, I made a template from 1/2" plywood, cutting an opening in it the exact size of my desired mortise. After securing the template in place, I installed a 2"-long, 1/2"-diameter pattern-routing bit (with a top mounted bearing) in my handheld router. Then I routed out the waste, keeping close to the edge without hitting it. When the mortise was deep enough for the bearing to ride the template, I routed the full perimeter. After drilling out most of the remaining waste with a large spade bit, I switched over to a 1/2"-diameter flush-trim bit (with a bottom bearing). Entering from the opposite side of the slab, I trimmed away the remaining stock with the bearing riding against the previously routed surface. The result was a hole with straight sides completely thru the workpiece.
—Stephen Gross, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Complementary sanding backer
It’s easy to make a sanding block that perfectly matches many coves. Just adhere fine sandpaper to the face of the target surface, and then rub a piece of packing styrene against the paper as shown. You now have a perfectly complementary styrene backer that you can wrap with sandpaper.
—Paul Anthony, senior editor
White board in the wood shop
Many contractors rely heavily on dry-marker white boards for scheduling, sketching, notes, and reminders to name just a few uses. I find that they are just as useful in the shop. In addition to boards, the material is available in thin sheets with self-adhesive or magnetic backing. Suitably-sized and strategically-placed pieces of the material can be adhered to various machines to make notes regarding cutter details and settings, as well as machine maintenance records.
—Larry Koch, North Adams, Massachusetts
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