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Workshop Tips

Clever Ideas From Our Readers source

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Terrific Tip!

Vacuum Upgrade i often use my shop vacuum for dust collection on hand-held power tools. Two things annoy me about most vacs, though. First, they're really noisy. Second, when the vac gets full—and that can happen before you know it—the filter clogs up and airflow drops.

I solved both problems at once. I put my vac in a cabinet, connected it to a small cyclone separator, and ran PVC pipe from the separator to a flexible drop over my bench. Essentially, I've built a mini central dust-collection system.

The cabinet, lined with 1" thick foam, muffles the noise quite well. The separator collects the bulk of the dust and chips. The vac now takes much longer to fill, since it only collects the finest of dust particles. I'll empty the separator's bucket many times before I have to check the vac.

I used rigid pipe for the runs, but you could use flex hose, too. I put a couple of loose 2x4s under the separator's bucket so I can lower the bucket in order to remove and empty it.

Alan Schaffter

Miter Gauge Grip to keep stock from slipping when using my miter gauge, I rely on this simple jig. Screw a 3/4" x 2" fence to your miter gauge. Make it whatever length you need. Use a continuous hinge to fasten a section of 2x4 to the fence. Glue a piece of sandpaper to the inside bottom edge of the 2x4 where it contacts the workpiece. This fence height works for stock from 1/2" to 1-1/2" thick. For thicker stock, just unscrew the hinge and make a taller fence. The jig holds the workpiece firmly against the table and the miter gauge.

Serge Dudos

Terrific Tips Win Terrific Tools!

We'll give you $100 for every original workshop tip we publish. One Terrific Tip is featured in each issue. The Terrific Tip winner receives a $250 gift card.

E-mail your tip to workshoptlps<»«merkanwoodwork*r.com or send it to American Woodworker Workshop Tips. 128S 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.

Adjustable Push Shoe a push stick is a familiar device to prevent kickback while ripping a board, but I prefer to use a "push shoe." It's shaped like a shoe with a handle, and has a heel, just like a boot. The heel pushes the work through the saw. I'm more comfortable using a push shoe because the entire sole of the shoe is in contact with the board, unlike a push stick.

I've modified my push shoe's heel to accommodate boards of different thicknesses. Rather than cut a simple notch to form the heel, I added a 3/8" dowel to do the pushing. The dowel fits quite snug through a hole near the shoe's back end. I just adjust the dowel's protrusion to match the stock's thickness.

Charles Mak

Improved Push Pad ordinary push pads tend to slip, I've found, when face-jointing a board. I modified one of mine by cutting 1/2" of the rubber padding off its back end and then screwing on a 1/2" x 1/2" cleat. Now the rear push pad hooks the back end of the board. No more slipping!

Mike Cyr

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Workshop Tips continued

Comer-Clamping Jigs to aid in gluing small boxes, I made a set of 90° corner-damping jigs from scrap MDF and flat corner braces. (Corner braces are available at hardware stores and home centers.) Each jig costs about $4.

I use Bessey TK6 fence clamps to fasten the jigs to the inside faces of the box. These clamps keep one hand free for positioning the joints. Small C-damps would work OK, but of course you need two hands to tighten a C-damp.

To make each jig, I glued together two L-shaped pieces of 3/4" MDF and cut the assembly perfectly square. I sandwiched the assembly between two corner braces, using epoxy. I drilled holes through the jig to accommodate the damps.

BobEnderle source

McFeely's, www.mdeelys.com, (800) 443-7937, Bessey TK6 fence clamps, »WS-1003, S7/pr.

Drill Press Sharpening System here's a fast, inexpensive way to keep your edge tools razor sharp. First cut out a few 5" x 3/4" MDF discs. Drill a 1 /4" hole in the center of each disc. Next, glue different grits of sandpaper to each side of the discs, ranging from 50 to 2000 grit. While 50 grit makes quick work of re-grinding a bevel, 2000 grit brings the tool to a mirror finish.

Next, make an arbor using a 1/4" x 3" bolt, a fender washer and a 1/4" coupler nut. You'll need a jig to hold your tools at the proper angle—I built a ramp that creates a 30° bevel.

Set your drill press to its slowest speed to prevent your tool from overheating, but keep a cup of water handy to quench the tool in case it gets too hot.

David W. Bartemes

Tape Cord to Hose trailing along a power cord when I'm routing can really be awkward. All too often, my cord hangs up on a corner of the project or gets tangled around my legs. Adding a dust collection hose, which can run off in a different direction, just makes matters worse. One day I got so balled up that I taped the cord to the hose, and I've been using tape ever since.

Almost any kind of tape will work, but I've found that heavy-duty duct tape is best. I cut three or four 8" long pieces and rip them in half lengthwise. When I wrap them around the cord and hose, I overlap the ends, sticky side to sticky side. I also leave some of the sticky side exposed, which makes it easier to pull the tape apart when I'm done. I've found that each piece of tape can be re-used four or five times.

Tom Caspar


Loc-Blocks™ make woodworking easy again by gripping both your work surface as well as your project without the use of any clamps. Perfect for sanding, drilling, routing, finishing and a whole lot more. Loc-Blocks™ also function as a project support by elevating your work, which provides easy access to every edge. What makes them work? Anti-vibration, non-slip rubber pads on both the top and bottom of the blocks. Our unique design allows the blocks to be placed at each of the corners of your material or they can be connected together by their interlocking dovetails. Customize the layout of the blocks for your project - connect them together to create a straight, sturdy base for working narrow stock, or you can configure them to form a full 6M" x 6M" block for smaller projects. A must have for any size workshop.

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Workshop Tips continued

Hand-Split Tenon Jig here's a time-tested method for making small tenons on straight-grained stock. It's quick and effective, but not super precise, so I use it when I'm after a simple, rustic look.

Attach a hand plane blade, bevel-side up, to a suitably sized spacer board. Note that the blade splits the waste off the top side of the stock. The thickness of the spacer under the blade is the sum of the thickness of the tenon plus the thickness of the shoulder underneath the tenon.

Screw the spacer to a flat board and clamp the board to your bench. Screw a block of wood behind the blade to keep it from sliding. Saw the tenon shoulders first. Then place the workpiece against the

Plane blade ,— Tenon shoulder

Spacer blade and split the waste with a tap from a mallet. Flip the stock over and split the other side to complete the tenon.

Chad Stanton

Mag-jig switch

Board with attached steel plate

Mag-jig switch

Board with attached steel plate

Quick-Change Vises

I USE Two VISES mounted to separate boards when I drill pen blanks. I frequently switch the vises, but clamping and re-clamping the vise boards to the drill press table was a pain. Now I use Mag-Jigs, powerful magnets that can be switched on or off with the twist of a knob. I mounted two Mag-Jigs on each board.

If you use a standard cast-iron drill press table, you're all set. The Mag-Jigs will stick directly to it. My drill press setup is a bit fancier, though, as I've installed a large melamine table equipped with a fence. So, I mounted a steel plate on a third board. I clamp that board to the table and place the vise board on top of the steel plate.

Doug Green

S O U RC E: Lee Valley Tools, www.leevalley.com, (800) 871-8158, 20mm Mag-Jig, #03.175.95, $27.

Adjustable Support

I FREQUENTLY NEED AN OUTFEED TABLE or work support for long pieces, so I built this T-shaped assembly to use in conjunction with my Black & Decker Workmate.

The table is just a horizontal board that's dadoed, glued and screwed to a vertical board. Not all my tools are the same height, though, so I devised an adjustment to the support that's quick and easy to use. Just drill different pairs of 1" holes for each tool in the vertical board. Set the height by inserting 1" dowels into the holes. Slide the table into the Workmate's jaws and clamp.

James E. Rohen

16 AmericanWoodworkei.com octoiir/novemrer joio

Hole-Saw Helper

HOLE SAWS CAN BE FRUSTRATING TOOLS. They Stop Cutting when their teeth fill with sawdust and that causes the teeth to heat up and dull. If this happens to you, too, try this trick. Drill down just far enough with the hole saw to scribe a shallow circle. Then drill a few 3/8" holes around the circle's circumference. When you return to cutting with the hole saw, sawdust will exit out these holes, allowing the saw to cut cooler and more efficiently.

Joe Sarchioto

$2 Square

I MADE MY OWN TRY SQUARE using a 1" x 4" comer mending plate and a couple scrap pieces of hardwood. To make one yourself, first check the mending plate to be sure it's square. If it's off, true it up with a file. Epoxy wood blocks to both faces of one leg, and you're ready to go. Mending plates come in many sizes, so you can make a full set for only a few bucks!

Brad Holden

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Conflicted Bandsaw

Dignified Drill

We'll pay you $ 100 to share your favorite tools, new or old, with fellow readers. Contact us by e-mail at toolnut? americanwoodworker.com or mail us at American Woodworker, 128S Corporate Center Drive. Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121. If possible, please include digital photos of your tools.

Tool Nut Tools Our Readers Love

Conflicted Bandsaw

Dignified Drill this black & decker 1/4" drill, patented in 1917, once belonged to my uncle, Dinny Sowyer, who passed away over 40 years ago. He was a hard-working carpenter in Pennsylvania. His drill, which still works, has all the dings and bruises of an equally tough life.

I've kept the drill because Uncle Dinny awakened my first interest in woodworking, in a backhanded kind of way. When I was a kid, he would proudly show me his tools and machines and explain to me how they worked. But Dinny never really taught me how to use them. I wanted to know more, so I started woodworking on my own in my late teens. I've since built my own home (mostly from trees harvested on our land), all the cabinetry and molding in the house, and quite a lot of furniture. Thanks, Uncle Dinny!

George Buffum

We'll pay you $ 100 to share your favorite tools, new or old, with fellow readers. Contact us by e-mail at toolnut? americanwoodworker.com or mail us at American Woodworker, 128S Corporate Center Drive. Suite 180, Eagan, MN 55121. If possible, please include digital photos of your tools.

i bought this 18" bandsaw for $80 at auction, not knowing exactly who made it. It had a Delta-Rockwell badge on the upper door, but the saw didn't look like any Delta I'd seen before. It had been repainted green, the same color as General machinery, but it clearly wasn't a General. Inside the machine, under the paint, a plate read "Sears, Roebuck and Co." Sears obviously wasn't the manufacturer—they put their brand on equipment made by other folks. So, who made it?

There were two clues to the saw's identity: a Sears part number and the saw's beautiful Art Deco-style cabinet. Turning to the website Old Wood-Working Machines (www.owwm. com), I learned that my saw was made in the late'50s by Parks Woodworking Machine Co. Sold by Sears as a Craftsman tool, it was originally painted gray.

Parks was famous for its planers, but it also made a serious bandsaw. This saw's frame is heavy-gauge steel, its massive thrust bearings are 2" dia., it has a resaw capacity of 12-1/2", and it's powered by a surprisingly gutsy 1 hp Delco motor wired for 230 V.

Although I've spent about ten hours repairing and tuning the saw, I don't plan on restoring it to its proper identity just yet. I'll leave it conflicted a while longer as I debate the aesthetic merits of returning my new favorite tool to an industrial gray!

John Hough

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