Tips & Tricks: Issue 23

Elevate books and magazines for easy viewing

If you use books or magazines for reference when building a project in the shop, you know how quickly they can become victim to coffee spills, glue, sawdust, and more. That’s because they typically do their job lying down (on the workbench). Now you can protect them and have them stand tall while taking up less counter space with this custom holder. The angled back and support rely on a sliding dovetail system for easy adjustment front to back on the base in order to accommodate reference materials of various thicknesses up to 3". When you move the back forward, the publication becomes sandwiched between it and an 11×14" shielding piece of 1/8" thick clear acrylic, keeping it in mint condition.

—Rod Eberly, Livermore, Colorado


Marker’s magic helps hone a perfect bevel

When honing a chisel or plane iron, it’s sometimes difficult to tell exactly where the bevel is touching the stone. Eliminate uncertainty by swiping a permanent felt-tip marker over the entire bevel before you take the tool to the stone. After a few strokes on the abrasive, you’ll be able to see the exact area of contact, alerting you as to whether your angle is correct. You can repeat this process every time you switch stones to ensure that you remain on target.

—Lawrence Morrow, Grand Island, Nebraska

Transform blind slats into finishing standoffs

The quest for the perfect standoff for raising freshly finished projects off a dust-ridden shop surface never ends. I stumbled across this cost-free solution. I took old plastic Venetian blind slats, shaped a section into a rough circle shape, and pinned the ends together with a single staple (the slats tend to take their own shape.) The stapled slats provide all the compressive strength you need to hold most any reasonable size workpiece during the curing process. After use, I hook the standoffs on a long hook or nail or discard used up ones.

—Bob Klelland, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Keep hands safer with upgraded pushpad

To give my pushpads an “extra edge” in safety and control when profiling workpiece edges on my router table, I upgraded my store-bought pushpad as shown at right. To add a blade-safe ledge, drill a 5/16" dia. hole through one corner then use a 3/8×16 tap to cut threads to fit a nylon toilet seat bolt. (Aim for a tight-fitting threads.) Screw the nylon bolt in or out to match the stock’s thickness, or restore a nicked tip. For extra sideways support, such as for holding narrow stock against a router table fence, screw on a ¾" thick ×1¼" wide piece of scrapwood along the edge of the pushpad. Stick a strip of 150-grit sandpaper to the inside edge of the wood to improve the pushpad’s grip. 

When using the jig at the table saw you’ll want to detach the wood edging. (Or you might consider making a second pushpad.)

—Roger McClure, Louisville, Kentucky

Rout circles with a slide-on top

Instead of cutting circles with my handheld router, I use my table-mounted router and the simple slide-on auxiliary top as shown. The sliding top not only enables me to make the cut in safe increments without stopping to raise the bit, but also to adjust the circle’s size without repositioning the pivot nail.

To make this jig, cut a piece of ¼" hardboard slightly wider than your router tabletop and attach a pair of side cleats and stop cleat as shown. (Position the stop cleat so that the router bit grazes the inside edge.) Using the cut made by the bit, measure your desired radius, then drill a hole through the hardboard and insert a finish nail to serve as a pivot point. To rout a circle, place your workpiece on the pivot point and rotate it counterclockwise as you gradually slide it, and the table, into the bit. To rout a larger circle with the same pivot point, attach a clamp to the edge your router table to stop the front edge of the sliding table. 

—Charles Mak, Calgary, Alberta

Simplify scrollsaw sanding

My co-worker and I found an inexpensive way to make sanding with a scrollsaw easier. Cut ¼×7" strips of emery cloth in varied grits. The length allows an inch at each end to be folded over a nail (we use 5/8" #18 brads) and glued, using wood glue or contact cement. I prefer the wood glue because it does not stick to the nail, allowing easy removal for sanding inside scrollsaw cuts.

The thickness of the doubled-over cloth and nail combined make just the right size to fit in the side slot of your scrollsaw head. They work great together and are so flexible it is easy to sand both inside and outside radiuses. And you can make several at a time for almost nothing.

—Sydney Geovonti, Rosharon, Texas

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