Tips & Tricks: Issue 5

Handy Miter Fixture

Making perfect miters can be a challenge, but with this fixture you only have to measure a miter angle once.

Start with a piece of ½" or ¾" plywood measuring 12" x 22". Cut a hardwood guide bar sized to your miter slot that will mount to the underside of the plywood so the plywood extends ¼" past the line-of-cut of the table saw. Double-check the guide bar for straightness (so it doesn’t bind in the miter slot), and attach it to the plywood with glue and flat-head screws.

Place the fixture with the guide bar in the miter slot and cut off the excess along the cutline of the table saw – the edge is now perfectly parallel to the guide bar.

Make two hardwood fences measuring 1" x 1½" x 14". Glue and screw one fence to the top of the fixture at 45 degrees to the cutline edge (measure perfectly, then measure again to ensure the angle is exact). Using an accurate framing square, attach the second fence at exactly 90 degrees to the first fence.

Glue 80-grit sandpaper to the outside fence faces to keep workpieces from slipping when you make your 45-degree cuts.

— Arthur Chism, Hot Springs Village, Ark.

Good-bye to Sandpaper Gunk

All sandpaper – whether on belt sanders, orbital disk sanders or drum sanders – will eventually collect glue, varnish or other “gunk,” making these machines nearly unusable. So I’ve used sandpaper cleaning sticks to remove this unwanted buildup. While working on a project recently, I was out of cleaning sticks and needed to clean my last sanding belt, but didn’t want to spend an hour running to the store for a cleaning stick or more sandpaper. Since most cleaning sticks are made of some type of rubber compound, I liberally spread contact cement on a piece of scrap plywood, let it dry and then sanded it off. Within a few minutes the sanding belt was like new.                              

— Ryan W. Hager, Hickory, N.C.

Tight Spot Cleaning Brush 

To get into hard-to-clean shop areas – such as inside your table saw cabinet, around bandsaw wheels or anywhere else fine dust gets packed – modify an inexpensive, easy-to-find loop-shaped vegetable brush.

Simply clip one end of the loop where it attaches to the handle and remove the extra wire. You’re now free to bend the brush into any shape needed. In addition to its flexibility, the beauty of this little tool is that the really stiff bristles will loosen even caked-on stuff.

By the way, an unmodified vegetable brush used with cleaner is also a great tool to scrub the accumulated gunk off saw blades and drill bits.     

— R.B. Himes, Vienna, Ohio

Tubin’ Dust Solution

How many of us have several different tools in our collections, each of  which has a fractionally different exhaust diameter? I know I do.

One evening while preparing to connect my shop vacuum to my bench-top sander with duct tape, my eye happened to catch an old bicycle tube hanging in the shop. I felt like Columbus discovering America. I cut a 3" piece of the old tube and slipped it over the exhaust port of the sander, and did the same to the 1" connecter on the vacuum hose for a perfect airtight connection. With the variety of  bicycle inner tubes that are available, this would probably work with an infinite number of tools.                                                                                      

— Tom Warren, Oakland, N.J.

Quick-Fix Edge Clamps

If your find yourself  gluing up edge trim and running short of edge clamps, here’s a fast alternative. With the trim in place, firmly attach C-clamps to the workpiece edge so there’s a small gap between the trim and the inside surface of the clamps. (Use pieces of scrap to protect the surface of the workpiece.) Then, just slip wooden shims in the gaps between the  clamps and edge trim and tap them into place until snug.                   

— Jim Chappel, Wausau, Wisc.

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