Dead-simple mortising setup
Loose-tenon joinery is a great way to join pieces. For ease, efficiency, and dead-on accuracy, making the joint requires using a jig that secures the workpiece on end while guiding the router. However, in a pinch, you can get away with using just your workbench, its end vise, and a simple plywood or MDF straightedge. First, clamp your workpiece into your vise with the end of the work flush to the benchtop. Lay out the ends of the mortise, and outfit your router with an upcut spiral bit. Then secure a straightedge at the proper distance away from the cut and parallel to the end of your bench. To restrict router travel to the length of the mortise, you can set up stops, or simply begin the cut by plunging to full depth at the beginning and end of the mortise, and then removing the waste between in subsequently deeper passes. You can rout the mating edge mortises in the same manner.
—Andy Rae, Asheville, North Carolina
Planing boards short and sweet
When I saw Paul Anthony’s method of snipe-free planing in issue #73’s Tricks column, I thought I’d share a somewhat similar technique that I use for safe planing of short boards. As any thickness planer manual notes, it’s unsafe to feed boards shorter than about 12" through the machine. But there’s a simple solution: Use double-faced tape to attach long scrap “runners” to the workpiece edges, making sure that the runners start off at least as thick as the stock so that the whole assembly will be pulled safely through the planer.
—Adam Swinton, Baltimore, Maryland
Standing short pieces at the drill press can be challenging if you don’t have the right kind of vise. But there’s a perfectly good way to get by with no vise at all by using a notched handscrew. For safety and accuracy when holding both round and square pieces, the notches must be cut at 90°, and their walls must be perfectly square to the sides of the wooden jaws. For best results and greatest versatility, use a bandsaw to cut a small and a large notch.
—Marge Fillmore, San Diego, California
Glue cleanup detailing
It can be difficult to clean up glue in tight recessed spots like in beads and other small profiles, but here’s a good approach. Begin by using a damp, short-bristled brush, pushing it forward to scoop up the majority of the glue. Keep the brush clean by washing it in clean water as you work. When most of the glue is gone, follow up by scrubbing the area with a wet tuft-head toothbrush, whose small cylindrical head easily gets into tight spaces. Again, keep it clean as you work to avoid rubbing diluted glue into the pores, but don’t keep it sopping, as you want to prevent dripping water into the joint.
—Frank Ellis, St. Louis, Missouri