Spot-On Task Lighting
EVEN THOUGH MY SHOP Is well lit, sometimes I need more light right on my work area. Instead of rigging up additional lights, I attach a small clip-on LED light to my cap's brim. It's great for working inside cabinets or doing close work of any kind. The light shines right where you're looking. You can buy these lights at your local home center for about $5.
Gary L. Curry
Slippery Paraffin with all the high-tech, expensive tools in my shop, I still find a dozen uses for a simple, inexpensive hunk of paraffin wax. I use it anywhere I need lubrication to slide material: the tops of my tablesaw, router table and jointer, the sides of my miter gauge, the bottom of my router base plates, and so on. I apply paraffin to drawer sides, too, and rub it on the bottom of a plane every ten strokes or so, which makes the plane much easier to push.
If you're using an oil-based finish, you needn't worry about contaminating parts for finishing, because paraffin is a petroleum-based product. Paraffin is easy to find-it's sold as canning wax at grocery stores. You can get a supply that'll last years for less than $5.
Phillips Tip Repair when your phillips tip gets beat up, don't throw it away. Make a stop at your bench grinder first, and grind about 1 /I6" off the tip's end. This allows it to sink deeper into a screw's head, so you can get a little more use out of the tip before tossing it.
Putty Stabilizer a clogged tube of wood filler is really annoying. I don't want to throw it away-but I can't use it, either! To solve the problem, I filled an empty eye drop bottle with acetone (and remembered to clearly re-label the bottle). When I find a clogged tube, I just put a couple drops of acetone into its nozzle and let the solvent do its magic. As a preventative measure, I now put a drop in the tube after each use.
E-mail your tip to thriftywoodworiier3 americanwoodwofker.com or send it to American Woodworker. Thrifty Woodworker, 1285 Corporate Center Drive. Suite 180. Eagan, MN 55121. Submissions can't be returned and become our property upon acceptance and payment. We may edit submissions and use them in all print and electronic media.
The Well-Equipped Shop Our Pick of the Latest Tools
Super Mortise and Tenon Jig
LEIGH INDUSTRIES HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN FOR its line of sophisticated dovetail jigs and, more recently, the FMT, a jig for making mortise and tenon joints. The original FMT came with a pretty big price tag, but now Leigh has introduced a much less expensive model-the Super FMT-without any sacrifice in precision or versatility.
We gave the original FMT high marks when it was first introduced. (Leigh has renamed it the FMT Pro.) Standard mortise and tenon joints are easy to make with it, but the jig really shines in making compound-angle joints, the ones that can drive you crazy when building a chair. With its adjustable front face, the FMT can handle those angles with ease.
So, what's the difference between the FMT Pro and the Super FMT? Mostly, it's what they're made of. The FMT Pro's body is CNC machined aluminum, while the Super FMT's body is made of CNC punched and formed steel. The only other significant difference is how work is clamped to the jig's face. The FMT Pro uses cam-action clamps that slide in track built into the face; the Super FMT uses standard F-style clamps that you position in holes in the jig's face. Rare-earth magnets hold the clamps tight to the jig while you adjust them. There are a few other minor changes, but they have little effect on the convenience and versatility of the jig.
Using a small or mid-sized plunge router, the Super FMT can make over 70 sizes of mortises and tenons, ranging from a tiny 1/16" x 1/8" to a massive 1 /2" x 5". It's capable of nearly any combination of angled and compound angled joints as well as single, double (tandem & side-by-side), triple and quadruple joints. Five 5/16" joint guides and a HSS spiral upcut bit with a 1 /2" shank are included with jig, but you can also purchase 21 additional joint guides for 1/4", 5/16", 3/8", and 1/2" bits.
Source: Leigh Industries, www.leighjigs.com, (800) 663-8932, Super FMT Frame Mortise & Tenon Jig, $449.
COPED JOINTS ARE FINE for lightweight doors or doors with glued-in plywood panels, but what do you do for doors that need more strength? The answer is easy: Make long tenons. At least, it's easy with Freud's new stile and rail bits, which allow you to make tenons of any length. That's a welcome new feature in this field.
Freud's bits come in a variety of familiar profiles: roundo-ver, ogee, bevel and roundover with bead. They'll accommodate stock from 5/8" to 1-1/4" thick. As with the best stile and rail bits, they can be adjusted with shims to fit the exact thickness of your plywood or solid wood panels. Source: Freud, www.freudtools. com, (800) 334-4107, Roundover bit set. #99-760, Si 19.99; Ogee bit set, #99-761, $119.99; Roundover Bead bit set, #99-763, $119.99; Bevel bit set. #99-764, $119.99; Optional cutter for double-sided profiles, S95.99; Optional glass cutter, $35.99.
Improved Trim Router
RIDGID WENT BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD foracom-plete redesign of their trim router. This router is heads and shoulders above the last model, the R2400.
New features include an improved micro-adjust dial for setting the depth of cut and a flat top that allows the router to stand upside down. Both features make it easier to measure a bit's height. The router also has a quick release lever for separating the motor from the base in order to change bits. A 5.5 amp, variable-speed, soft-start motor delivers 20,000 to 30,000 rpm. It has electronic feedback to maintain speed throughout a cut.
The router comes with a square base and a round base, which got us to thinking: Why use one or the other? When routing along a guide, a square base guarantees that the bit is a constant distance from the guide. But you must hold it solid against the guide-wiggle it a bit, and your cut is off. A round base allows you to hold the router at any angle when following a guide. Wiggling the base may affect the path of the cut, because the base may not be concentric to the bit. If so, the cut won't be off by much. Source: Ridgid, www.ridgid.com, (800) 474-3443, Trim Router R2401. $99.97.
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