DIY WOODWORKERS TOP TEN TIPS .pdf
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By Stuart Gardner
First eBook Edition: December 2015
Tip 1: Make reusable sanding
• Assemble the sanding blocks
• Glue four blocks and cork pads to a sheet of sandpaper.
Then cut the sandpaper with a utility knife.
• Foam sanding sponges are a great invention. They excel at
sanding curved surfaces or drywall-‐taped inside corners, but
they're a bit expensive and not practical for sanding large,
flat surfaces. Make your own reusable sanding blocks for
much less. Here's how:
• Cut six blocks from scrap 3/4-‐in. plywood for each
sandpaper grit you commonly use. Make them 2-‐1/2 in. x 4-‐
3/4 in. Spray adhesive on both a square of cork tile and 10 of
the blocks. (Buy a package of four 12-‐in. cork tiles at a home
center.) Stick 10 of the blocks to the cork and cut the cork
flush with a utility knife. Then spray adhesive on a sheet of
sandpaper and stick on six of the blocks cork side down as
shown. Cut the sandpaper flush with the cork, and label the
• When you wear out all six of a set of sanding blocks, soften
the adhesive with a hair dryer, peel off the old sandpaper
and apply new.
Tip 2: Make repetitive cuts with a
1-‐in. crosscutting stop block
• Table saw stop block
• Clamp a stop block to the table saw fence just short of
where the cutoff stock first meets the blade. Then you
can make crosscuts without binding the cutoff.
• Here's an old tip that's worth repeating. When you're
crosscutting on a table saw, set the cut length with a
block clamped to the fence. Don't ever use the fence
directly. That's a good way to get a board kicked back
right at you. Ruptured organs and broken rib—or
worse—are a very real possibility.
• Instead, clamp a block of wood to the fence before the
blade. Then the end of the board will be free of the
fence during and after the cut. If you make a block
that's exactly 1 in. thick, you can set the fence scale at
1 in. greater than the length you're after. No tricky
Tip 3: Assemble a stair
gauge/framing square cutting
• Stair gauge/framing square cutting guide
• Screw the stair gauges to your framing square and
hold it against your board to make right angle cuts.
• Stair gauges are usually used to lay out stair jacks.
You clamp them to a carpenter's square to match
the rise and run of a stair jack and then mark the
notches. But if you put them both on the same
tongue of a carpenter's square, the combination
makes a great crosscut guide for circular saws. Pick
up a pair for less than $5 at any hardware store or
home center. Clamp the square in place so it won't
slide around while you're cutting. You wouldn't like
that one bit.
Tip 4: Eliminate stains from excess
• Tape edges before gluing
• Apply masking tape over the joint and then cut it
so that the edge of each board is protected from
• To prevent stains caused by oozing glue along
joints, clamp the pieces together without glue. Put
tape on the joint, then cut along it with a sharp
blade. Separate the pieces, apply the glue and
clamp them together again. The glue will ooze onto
the tape, not the wood. Peel off the tape before
the glue dries.
Tip 5: Make layouts with a
• Drafting square measurements
• Measuring and marking layouts on boards goes
faster and easier with a drafting square.
• When you need an accurate square in the 2-‐ to 3-‐
ft. range, your options are limited. Drywall squares
are notoriously inaccurate and cumbersome.
Carpenter squares involve that nagging hassle of
having to hook them onto the edge of your
workpiece. If you have a drafting square lying
around, drag it out to the shop. Or, go to an art
supply store and pick one up. They're very accurate
and you'll find yourself grabbing it nearly as often
as you do the tape measure.
Tip 6: Clamp small stuff with hot
• Photo 1: Apply the hot glue
• Squeeze a dab of hot glue on a pedestal stick and
quickly press the workpiece into the glue.
• Photo 2: Shape the workpiece
• Shape the workpiece as needed. Then snap it off
• When you have to cut, shape, file, sand or finish
something small, reach for your hot glue gun and
glue the piece to a pedestal stick. The hot glue will
hold just about anything as well as or better than
any clamp ever could—if using a clamp is even
possible. When your project is complete, try to pop
it loose with a putty knife, but don't use too much
force—you might tear out the wood or break the
• You have two options for breaking the grip: cold
and heat. First, try sticking the workpiece into the
freezer for an hour or so. Frozen glue will usually
give way with very little force. If that doesn't work,
try a hair dryer to soften the glue. Still stuck?
Reach for the heat gun. But warm the piece slowly
and from a distance to avoid scorching the wood or
damaging the finish