Masking Tape Clamp

Recently, I was building the Craftsman-style clock that was featured in the November 1999 issue of  Workbench.
The long edges on the front and sides of this clock are mitered. So, the trick was trying to clamp up the clock without having the tips of the miters slip out of alignment. To prevent the pieces from sliding, I “clamped” the clock together with masking tape. (The tape also lets you adjust the fit of the miter joints.)

Start with the front and sides of the clock face up on your workbench. After you’ve carefully aligned the tips of the miters, tape the pieces together, leaving a space between each piece of tape.
The space will allow you to see whether the tips of the miters are aligned during glue-up (Fig. 1a).

After flipping the pieces over face down, put glue in the valley of the miters (Fig.1). Then flip up one side and use a small square to hold it in place (Fig.2). Now stand the second side up and tape across the two sides (see photo at top). To adjust the fit of the joint, loosen or tighten the tape.

Magnetic Clamp Pads

Whenever I use pipe clamps, I like to use a block of wood as a clamping pad.
The clamping pad helps prevent damage to the surface of my project when I tighten down the joint. Problem is, it's always been difficult to hold the block in place while I tighten the clamp.

To solve this problem, I attach small magnets to my wood blocks to keep them in place while I tighten the clamp. To secure the magnet to my wood block, I cut a recessed hole on one side of the block (the same diameter as the magnet) and then epoxy the magnet into the hole, see drawing. The magnet holds the
clamping pad in place, leaving me with both hands free to align the clamp on the workpiece. 

Locking Dowels for Dadoes

A recent project for my shop called for quite a few drawers. To make the project as quick as possible, I simply cut dadoes in all the drawer fronts to accept the sides. After I completed the project, I found the dado joints just weren't as strong as I would have liked them to be.
So next time I tried something new.

I wanted a joint that was easy to make and would also stand up to heavy use. So I tried "beefing" up my dado joint with a pair of dowels that lock each joint like a key, see photo.

After assembling each drawer, I drill a small hole on each joint line, as shown in Fig. 1. Then I insert and glue a short dowel into the hole to form a “locking” pin. 

Choose a dowel size about a fourth the thickness of your drawer front. With 1/2"-thick stock, I used a 1/8"-dia. dowel. And don’t worry about cutting them to perfect length. Just trim them flush with a chisel after they're glued in.(Fig. 1a).

Since most small drill bits are short, you'll only be able to insert a small length of the dowel into the joint. So repeat the process on both the top and bottom of the drawer (Fig. 2).

Glue Roller

Like a lot of woodworkers, I use a paint roller to spread glue over large surfaces. But instead of using an ordinary roller cover, I cut a piece of PVC pipe to fit over the roller cage.

The PVC pipe gives me a more even and smooth application, and doesn't soak up the glue like a paint roller would. Clean up is easier, too. Just let the glue dry on the pipe, and then chip it off. Now it's ready to be used again

Fitting Threaded Inserts

I use threaded inserts in quite a few of my shop jigs and accessories. A good way to make sure the insert goes in straight is to use the chuck on a drill press.

Start by drilling an undersized pilot hole for the insert. Find a spare bolt that fits the insert, cut off the head, and mount it in the chuck. Next thread a nut and the insert on to the bolt, see drawing. Tighten the nut to make sure the insert is secured to the bolt.

Lower the drill, applying light pressure with the control arm while you rotate the chuck (clockwise) by hand.

When the insert is completely embedded, lock the spindle in place and back off the
nut from the top of the insert. Then unlock the spindle and unthread the bolt from
the insert while slowly releasing  pressure on the control arm.

Corner Clamp

Whenever I’m assembling mitered frames, I have a difficult time holding the frame pieces in position while gluing or installing fasteners. But instead of buying an expensive corner clamp, I made my own using a couple of pipe clamps.

First, I attached my clamps to a couple of short lengths of black pipe and threaded them into a “T” fitting. Then I attached the whole assembly to a 3/4" plywood base with a couple large screws.

I also cut a notch in one corner of the plywood to provide clearance for assembling the frame pieces. 

To support the frame pieces while they’re in the clamps, I added supports along the edges and down the middle of the base, as you can see in the lower drawing.

Centering a Table Top

Centering the top of a table on its base used to be a time-consuming process for me. I'd spend a lot of time with a ruler checking and rechecking the overhang along all four sides to make sure it was the same all the way around. But now I use a quicker method — that's more accurate.

Applying Edging

Gluing hardwood edging to plywood has never been one of my favorite tasks. It’s always tricky to keep the edging from slipping while tightening down the clamps. So to help hold the edging in place, I made some clamping blocks.

Magnetic Featherboard

Sometimes clamping a featherboard to the table saw is more trouble than it’s worth. The cast ribs underneath the saw table always seem to get in the way of the clamps. And when I need to move the featherboard just a hair, it’s a pain to reposition the clamps.

Router Crank Handle

The fine adjustment knob on plunge routers can be small and difficult to use. So I replaced mine with a window crank that I found at my local hardware store.
The large handle makes fine adjustments easier to con-trol. Plus, the handle is a lot easier to find when I mount the router under a table.

Recycled Brush Holder

When using oil finishes, I like to keep my brush immersed in thinner until I'm finished with the project.
Problem is, if you stand the brush up in a can or jar, you'll eventually ruin your brush with permanently curled bristles.

Putty Trick

When filling nail holes with putty, I sometimes smear the putty around without too much thought. This can cause problems if the putty is lighter than the wood around it, resulting in large ugly blotches (instead of tiny nail-sized spots). Fortunately, I found a better way to fill the holes with less mess. 

Power Stir Stick

Here's a quick and easy way to thoroughly mix a can of paint that's been sitting in your shop for awhile. 

Glue Brush Tip

I like to use a small acid brush to apply glue to my projects. Problem is that I never know what to do with my brush between applying coats. It always seems to end up on my workbench, leaving a sticky mess.

To solve this problem, I converted a standard-size baby jar lid into a brush holder.
The lid keeps my brush off the bench surface while I'm working.

And when I'm finished, I simply leave the brush in the lid and screw it back onto the jar. It's a great way to store the glue until it's time for my next project.

Finishing Wood Plugs

Whenever I use wood plugs, I like to stain or finish them before adding them to my project. Problem is, they’re so small it’s difficult to hold on to them. Plus, I usually end up with stain on my hands and fingers. To make things easier, I came up with this simple trick.

Finishing Shelves

Finishing shelves can be a time-con-suming task. Once you’ve applied the finish to one side of the shelf, you have to wait for it to dry before turning the shelf over to finish the other side.

Finishing Easel

Applying a finish to something lying on a sawhorse can be a pain, literally. To ease the strain on my back and make the work less tiring, I built an adjustable "easel" that rests on a sawhorse. Now I can work at a more comfortable height.

Shelf Pin Jig

I like drilling shelf pin holes in the top, bottom, and sides of a box so that it can be used vertically or horizontally. But that means the holes must be perfectly aligned if I want the shelves to be level regardless of how I set up the box. To get this kind of uniform spacing, I like to use a simple layout jig to mark my hole locations before I drill.

Quick Drawer Slides

Some of the older wooden drawers in my house just don't slide in and out like they should. They bind and catch in the drawer slides, especially in the more humid months of the year. Here's a quick fix I discovered that will have your sticky drawers gliding smoothly across the slides.

Overhead Storage Shelf

Finding extra storage space is always a problem, especially for seasonal items that don't get used that often. Here's an easy-to-build overhead shelf perfect for a garage or storage room.

I made my shelf from a standard hollow-core interior door cut in half (you can make two shelves out of one door). If you don't have a spare door, you can buy one for about $20.

You'll need to support the veneer skin of the door along the cut edge (it's a hollow door), so I screwed a filler block along the inside edge of the door, as shown in the drawing. To hang the shelf, simply attach it to a cleat that's lag screwed to the wall (see detail a). 

You'll need to support the front edge of the shelf, too. I used a pair of brackets made out of ½" electrical conduit for this (see detail b). You can crimp the ends in a vise, then screw one end to the shelf and attach the other end to a wall stud.

Louvered Doors

If you've ever attempted to build a cabinet with louvered doors, you know that cutting the slots for the louvers can be complicated and tedious. You could build a router jig to help with the task, but this still means more work just to build the jig. So I came up with a different method that allows me to quickly cut the slots on a table saw.

First I cut a groove in the door stile, as shown in the drawing below. Then, using my table saw and miter gauge, I make a louver strip that contains a series of angled kerfs, spaced to fit the louvers I'll be installing in the door later. To prevent tear-out, I use an auxiliary fence attached to the face of the miter gauge while cutting the kerfs. 

After all the kerfs are cut, I rip the louver strip to fit the groove I cut in the door stile. Then I glue it in place. When making the louvers, I just make sure to size the thickness of the louvers to match the width of the kerfs I cut in my louver strip.

Loose Panel Fix

I often have trouble with raised-panel doors and cabinets during the winter. Dry weather causes the panels to contract, leaving them loose and rattling in the frames. To prevent this from happening, I now put small dots of silicone near the corners of the frame before assembling the door.

Mounting Full-Overlay Doors

Sometimes it takes a lot of fiddling around to get an even gap between two full-overlay doors. So I use a simple technique to establish a consistent gap.

Two Tips for Installing Hinges

Installing a door on its hinges can be one of the trickiest parts of building a cabinet. Here are two tips I've used in the past to make the job easier. 

Self-Centering Plunge Router Base

A plunge router is great for cutting mortises on the edge of a workpiece. The only trick is getting it centered. Here's a handy auxiliary base that will center the bit automatically, and it works with workpieces of just about any thickness.

Routing Stopped Flutes

Recently I was making a bookcase with stopped flutes on the side. I was disappointed when I noticed my router bit left some pretty bad burn marks at the end of each flute.

Simple Router Trammel

Circle cutting is easy with a router and a shop-built trammel. And the trammel doesn't have to be anything fancy. In fact, on the rare occasion that I need to cut circles, I just use a scrap piece of hardboard. Then when the project is complete, the hardboard goes back into my scrap bin.

Router Bushing Thread Lock

When I’m routing dovetails or following a template, I use a guide bushing on the base plate of my router, like the one shown in the drawing below. But sometimes I have a problem with the threads of the bushing working loose due to the vibration of the router.

How to build a small wooden gift box

How to build a small wooden gift box
Part 1 / 2
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