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Pool table slate and other slate products are available from Structural Slate Co., P.O. Box 187, 222 E. Main St., Pen Argyl, PA 18072, (800) 677-5283.

Wooden guitar parts, bindings and inlays, luthier's tools and finishing supplies are available from Guitarmaker's Connection, P.O. Box 329, 510 Sycamore St., Nazareth, PA 18064.(800) 247-6931.

<K)t a woodworking question for the experts3 Send it to "Q&A.~ Amkrkan W(x>oworkkk, 33 E. Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098.

Nail-Pulling Wedge

Bench-Top Machines

I have a small workshop, so I have to double up tools in the available space. One of my space-saving moves was to equip my workbench with four threaded insert nuts that let me easily attach or w remove my scroll saw. 1 set them a fraction below the surface of the bench so I can install flat head machinc screws to keep dust and chips from filling the holes when the scroll saw is not in use.

Tliis idea works equally well for any bcnchtop machine that isn't used frequently, such as a grinder or a bench-top mortising macliine.

Robert fteil RocWorJ, IL

Calculating Perfect Pentagons

When making a five-sided box or frame, it's easier and faster to calculate the angles than to draw them out.

Picture the figure you are trying to make as a series of triangles that come together at a common point, as shown in the drawing. The sum of the interior angles of these triangles will always be 360°. If you divide this figure by the number of sides in the piece you want

to make (in this case five), you will get the number of degrees in the interior angle of one of the triangles (X). In the example in the drawing, the figure would be 72°. The three interior angles of a triangle must always add up to 180°, so the two outside angles (Y) must be 180-72=108°. Since these two angles arc equal, each one must be 108° divided by 2. or 54°. You can use the same calculation for a figure with any number of sides provided they are equal in length.

fhnJ firth Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada

Cutting Plywood

Cutting a full 4x8 sheet of plywood on the tablesaw is an awkward job, even with two people. The miter gauge comes out of its slot, and the fence may not have enough travel. My solution is to clamp a 2 x 4 to the underside of the plywood and let it bear against the left-hand edge of the table. It should project beyond the plywood a couple feet on each side. "Ilie edge of the table on my Delta llnisaw is 18 in. from the blade, so I place the 2x4 exactly 18 in. from where I wish to cut. I find I can safely get a clean, accurate cut each time.

Huil Mueller rrancisco, CA

Sticking Router Bits

A router bit seizing in the collet is a common problem, but the bit coming loose is worse because it can cause damage to the work and injury to you. I solved both these problems by coining the tapered threads on the outside of the split collet with a thin layer of oil. Sincc I started using the oil, I have had no problems.

If you try this, be sure not to let oil get inside the collet.

John fieri: Lanstlale, PA

This wedge is useful when nails—especially large ones. Slide the wedge forward as you extract the nail so the fulcrum stavs close

to the head. It works equally well with a wrecking bar.

Robert lupper Canton, SD

Forstncr bits, and other easily dim-aged drills that could fall through the hole in the metal table and strike the pedestal or fltxjr.

I made my table from in. ply-w(xxl faced with Formica. The slick c surface of the laminate makes oil and 1 metal cleanup easy. The supporting | bracket is a piece of 16-in. long 2x1 6 fir, which is attached to the table i with wcxxl screws. The bracket is | clamped to the column with a » in. bolt, as shown.

Kenneth Broun Virginia Beach, VA

Auxiliary Drill-Press Ta hie

This removable auxiliary table clamps to the support column of a drill press and catches most of the waste, keeping the shop tidier and saving cleanup time. It's also a handy place to put the chuck key, spare bits, and drill-press accessories. A bonus is that it catches mortising chisels.

Routing Large Dowels

When sanding by hand, 1 use two quarter sheets of sandpaper folded in half and interlocked. I can then flip the paper over for a finer or coarser grit. When the sandpaper gets worn, I

reverse the interlock. I also find that sandpaper folded this way stays in my hand better than a single piece folded in half

Ihi-iJ/htrJ

Madison, VI

Scrap-Metal Splitter

If you're like me. you run your table-saw without a guard. When you remove the guard, you're also removing the splitter, which prevents kickback by keeping the saw kerf from closing. Rather than run the risk of kickback, I made my own splitter from a discarded H*-in. aluminum sign.

I cut the new splitter to the shape shown in the drawing, filed the leading edge to a slight taper, and cleaned up the burrs. When fastened to the splitter brackets, the splitter should exactly bisect the blade. If necessary, move it sideways by shimming it with thin metal washers. Before starting the saw, turn the blade around by hand, raising and lowering it to make sure it clears the splitter.

FXina littery

Crestline, OH

ass bcrapers Every body knows that glass is sharp, but few people realize that it can be made into an excellent scraper. I get free scraps of window glass from the local hardware store, and then make a holder for it by sawing a slot in a piece of hardwood. If the kerf is too wide, I bind the edge of the glass with masking tape before inserting it. With a bit of practice, I've found that I can cut freehand curves in the glass to match a piece of trim or molding.

IX>nalJ Kinnaman Pnoenix, AZ

Routing Large Dowels

With that done, I cut my 4x4 blank and drilled Vin. holes at the centers of both ends. I drove )6-in. threaded rods into the holes to serve as a pivot. At one end, I improvised a handle.

I used a H-in straight bit in the router and pushed it slowly away from me as I turned the handle. It works best to take light cuts and to saw the corners off the blank first.

)cnng Chan Mill brae, CA

I needed a 4-in. dia. dowel rod for a table base. I couldn't find any ready-made and didn't have a lathe to turn it myself, so I decided to rout it. First I glued up a plywood box—no top or bottom—the length of the dowel I needed. I then made a new plywood base for the router with wood strips clamped to the sides. I wanted the router to slide back and forth along the sides of the box.

Getting the Right Angle

This jig is handy for drilling perpendicular holes without being limited by the throat of your drill press. Use hard-wo<xl—or metal if the jig will be used often—but bore all the initial holes on a drill press to make sure they are square to the base. I made my jig to accommodate drill sizes from tie in. to Vi in.; you can modify that for your needs. Be sure to hold the jig firmly when drilling or, better still, clamp it.

Boles DzrcnJa West Seneca, NY

Folding Sandpaper

Sticky Fingers

To get the surface clean at the final finishing stages of a project, I wrap a couple inches of masking tape (sticky-side out) around my left forefinger, and if I spot a speck of sawdust or other foreign matter, I pick it up with the tape.

Line Oknghouse Everett, WA

Know a Ixrttcr way of doing Mimi-thiny' IX--signcd a dever |ir? Send your woodworking tip>. along with a sketch or a snapshot to: "Tcch Tips," American WoofwoRKFx, 33 F„ Minor St., Ummaro. FA 18098. We ll pay you $50 if wc publish your tip.

Finding good slock among the endless piles at a lumberyard is miirli easier if yon understand a hit about wood grades, yield, and use.

One of my woodworking specialties is the art of cajoling lumberyard workers into letting me sort through their lumber piles, looking for that perfect board for my next project. Sometimes I have to pout and threaten to take my big-time business elsewhere. Usually, though, I get permission simply by promising to restack everything when I'm done.

And so, I've spent many a morning working in another guy's business, lining up about a quarter ton of lumber just to get a few boards that suit me.

I've met quite a few fellow woodworkers during these hunts. Some know exactly what they want, be it wood free of knots, splits, and ugly dark streaks, or that elusive "pretty board." But others bypass all the sorting and just buy the top—read that as most expensive—grade available, whether or not they need it. (See sidebar, Grading Wood, page 24.) There are times when the best grade is the

Knowing the Basics Can Save You a Bundle best choice, but more often, you can save money and get the perfect wood for your project by using lower grades if you know a few basics about buying lumber.

Finding Diamonds in Hie Rough

The first thing you need to do is rid yourself of the idea that you have to use top-grade lumber or a perfectly clear board for everything you make.

Most furniture makers don't. They use

fairly short or narrow pieces that can l>e cut from even the lower grades of lumber. You can, too. Just take the time to analyze the size and type of parts you need before you start.

"The average woodworker should be buying more of the common grades for framework and stiles," says lumber dealer Steve Wall of Mayodan, North Carolina. "A lot of people don't realize that the price range for common grades can be less than half the price of select grades."

It s especially cost effective to get thicker components out of lower grades of wood. If you want 8/4 table legs, for example, you can usually cut around the knots to get them out of No. 1 common boards at considerable cost savings.

Wall often speaks to woodworking groups throughout the Southeast. To make his point on how much good wood there is in a common board, he will cut a board apart, and then separate the clear wood from the waste.

The loss in a typical 12-ft. common oak board is pretty minimal, as shown in the photo.

Another thing to consider when buying wood is what you want to build. This might sound overly simple, but Wall says he often finds new customers hunting for an exceptionally long, clcar board, something like a dear 14-ft. 1 x 10, to build a coffee table with no component longer than 36 in. Many apparently just total up all the needed components and specify that size board. This strategy is expensive and wasteful and can be aesthetically unwise, too. Often, better boards don't display as much beautiful figure and character as lower-grade ones.

Another fan of less-than-clcar stock is Kelly Mehler, a furniture maker in Berca, Kentucky. I worked

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