Shop Notes


■ When it came time to install the doors on the wardrobe (refer to page 6), there was some discussion on how to hold them closed. I wanted hardware that didn't detract from the beauty. So I used bullet catches — they're nearly "invisible."

But I didn't use just any bullet catch. The ones that I chose are a 7/i6M-dia. brass set (consisting of a strike and catch plate) manufactured by Brusso. (See Mail Order Sources, page 31). They're well made catches, that are machined to tight tolerances to ensure durability.

The way they work is simple. A spring-loaded ball in the strike fits into a "dimple" in the catch plate. And the spring pressure keeps the door closed.

What's a little different here is how the strike and catch plate Eire installed. You simply drill a hole to match the size of either piece and tap them in place.

orientation. Normally, I install the strike in the door frame first. This helps me get the other half of the catch positioned accurately. With the door closed (and a small gap between the frame and door stop), the spring-loaded ball should be centered in the catch plate. But on the wardrobe I had to do things a little differently. The catch plate is installed in the door instead.

It has to do with the wardrobe design. If the strike had been installed in the door, it would drag across the overhanging top (or the bottom) and eventually wear a groove in the wood.

catch installation. To install a Brusso catch plate, simply mark a couple of layout lines centered on the width and thickness of the door stile, see Figs. 1 and la. Where the lines intersect, drill a 7/i6" hole, see Fig. 2. Note: Don't remove the layout lines. They'll be used later to mark the location for the strike.

Setting the depth can be a little tricky. The goal is to get the indentation on the catch plate

Shop Notes

Adjust stop collar for catch plate depth

flush with the surface of the wood, see photo. To keep from drilling the hole too deep, I installed a stop collar on the shank of a Forstner bit, see Fig. 2a.

Shop Tip: Check the exact depth with a scrap piece of wood. Drill a hole, cut the scrap in half, and set the catch plate in the opening.

Also, make sure the indentation on the catch plate is installed so it's parallel with the door frame.

Finally, a lot of drill bits cut slightly oversize holes. Since Brusso's catch plates (and strikes) are machined to an exact diameter, they may fit loose in the hole. To remedy this, I put a little epoxy in the hole first.

strike installation. When the catch plate was installed, I worked on the strike next. To

Bullet Catch. The strike on top will hold a door closed when its spring-loaded ball fits into an indentation in the catch.

find the location for this hole, simply close the door and transfer the lines already marked on the door stile to the top (and bottom) of the wardrobe, see Fig. 3.

Now set the depth for the strike using the same method you used for the catch plate, see Fig. 3a. Then drill the hole and epoxy the strike in place. Here the top corner of the strike is flush with the face of the wood.

Indentation on

Adjust stop collar for catch plate depth

7/k" Forstner ^ bit

Indentation on

Drawerguide Soft

■ After cutting out the arcs on the wardrobe (see page 6), don't throw the waste away. It makes an ideal sanding block for finish sanding the inside edge.

Just cut out a piece to fit comfortably in your hand, see Fig. 1. Then attach a thin strip of self-adhesive sandpaper to the inside edge. The long arc on the block follows the cut left by the band saw to smooth out any indentations, see Fig. 2.

Arc waste

Self-adhesive sand paper

Arc on sanding block matches arc on workpiece

Cut a small piece from waste for sanding block chamfer cut on the bottom edge for a sawdust groove.)

The other problem was the opening around the bit. It was too large to handle the short, 5"-long key blanks safely.

So to solve these problems, I

■ When it came time to rout the keys for the cutting board, I ran into a couple of problems. First the routed edge of the key blank would slip under the fence and change the key angle, see Fig. 1. (My router fence has a small added an auxiliary fence to the cut into this fence, the key can't table, see Fig. 2. It's simply two slide underneath, pieces of stock (a hardwood There's also a hole cut in both fence attached to a plywood pieces that's just large enough base) glued together and for the router bit. This keeps the clamped to the existing fence, workpiece from dropping into Since there's no sawdust relief the hole, see Fig. 2a.

Auxiliary fence clamps to existing fence

To cut opening raise router bit

Routed edge _. of key slips under fence

Length of router table top

Position point of V-groove bit on drawer centerline

■ Cutting a stopped groove isn't difficult. But it must be straight and true. When routing grooves for drawer guides (like in the wardrobe), I use a couple techniques to make the job easier.

To rout the grooves in the sides, the trick is getting them centered in only one pass, see Fig. 1. So I start with a V-groove bit (or some other bit with a sharp point) and align the point of the bit with the centerline on the drawer side, see Fig. la. Then slide the fence up to the drawer and lock it in place.

With the fence set, the V-groove bit is replaced with a

NOTE: To set stop block location measure from far edge of bit

Switch to straight bit without moving fence

Router fence

Guide board straight bit, see Fig. lb. Don't move the fence when changing bits. Otherwise the groove will have to be centered again.

The next step is to position the stop block so the distance from the far edge of the bit to the block equals the groove length. Finally, to keep from gouging the sides of the groove, I add a guide board to the front of the table. It prevents the drawer from moving away from the fence during the cut I thought about using a featherboard. But the fingers prevent you from pulling the drawer back after the cut.

Wood Squre Hole Cutting Machine


Cut hole for vacuum hose


If you've built an original jig and would like to see it featured on this page, send your idea to Woodsmith, Reader's Jig, 2200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312.

If we publish it, we'll send you $100 and a full set of Woodsmith back issues, with binders. (This set retails for over $300.) Include a sketch (or photo) of your jig and explain how it's used. And please include a daytime phone number.

NOTE: Drill hole diameters 5V larger than sanding drum diameter

Center holes on side of cube

Top of cube to be flush with table top

Drill Press Sanding Table

A drum sander is a quick way to sand up to a layout line. But to use one effectively, you need a sanding table. Unfortunately, there are two problems with most tables. One is matching the hole in the table to the size of the sanding drum. And the other is controlling sawdust. That's why I like the design of a sanding table sent in by Bill Charlton of Elmer, New Jersey. It solves both problems.

Typically, a sanding table uses a different size insert for each of the sanding drums. At first glance, Bill's jig didn't look much different from other tables, see photo. But after a closer look, the insert that the drum fits into isn't really an insert at all — it's a cube. This means you only have one piece to keep track of. But it will still handle up to six different sizes of sanding drums.

in the cube to match your drum sizes. The location doesn't have to be exact. Just center the holes on the cube sides, see Fig. 2.

table. With the cube complete, the sanding table can be built. It's built out of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and is nothing more than a shallow box with an overhanging top and bottom, see Fig. 3. The oversize bottom provides a good clamping surface when mounting the jig to the drill press table. And the top is large enough to handle most projects.

Start by cutting the W-thick top and bottom pieces to finished size (12" x 18"). Then cut an opening in the center of the top to match the size of your cube. (My opening was 37/s" square.)

The sides are cut next. The goal here is to make the sides tall (wide) enough so the cube is flush with the table, see Fig. 3a. Finally, cut a hole for your vacuum hose and glue the top, bottom and sides together. □

The other problem with drum sanders is sawdust. The larger drums can kick up quite a cloud of dust. To control this, a hole for a vacuum hose is added to one of the sides of the jig.

cube. Since the sanding table is built around the cube, I started work on it first. The cube consists of four sides, a top, and a bottom of V4"-thick hardboard (Masonite). The sides are the same size (3 V411 x 3 Vi) and are glued together using simple butt joints, see Figs. 1 and la.

Once the glue dries, the top and bottom pieces can be added. They're also identical in size (33/4" x 33/4M) and are glued to the sides to form the cube. holes. Now holes can be drilled or cut

All parts MDF

NOTE: Glue table together




■ Woodsmith Project Supplies offers hardware kits and supplies for some of the projects shown in this issue. Supplies for these projects are also available at your local hardware store or through one of the mail order catalogs listed below.

wardrobe. A complete hardware kit for the wardrobe on page 6 is currently available. This kit includes all the flathead and panhead woodscrews you'll need, plus the following:

• (3 pair) 2Vi>" x 2" Extruded Brass Hinges

W102-7102-100 Wardrobe

Hardware Kit $84.95

This or similar hardware is available from local hardware stores as well as the woodwork ing catalogs that are listed in the Mail Order Sources below.

wardrobe finish. To finish the wardrobe, I simply applied a few coats of General Finishes' Royal Finish. This is just a thinned down varnish so you can wipe it on and off easily. (I found that a common paint pad worked well on the wardrobe's large surfaces.)

Woodsmith Project Supplies is currently offering General Finishes' Royal Finish. W102-4003-602 Royal

Finish (Satin) $11.95 quart hardware bins. To find the bins or trays needed for the hardware storage units, you'll need to take a trip to your local hardware store. Or order them through the mail order catalogs listed below.


■ I get a lot of questions from readers looking for help when fin-' ishing a project — usually after something has gone wrong. Most of the time, the solution is simple, if you understand a little about the finish. And for this, I often suggest getting a copy of Understanding Wood Finishing, by Bob Flexner.

For starters, this book is like a good tool — it's accurate. Bob knows the chemistry of finishes and how they work. But unlike my high school chemistry teacher, he can explain the how's and why's of finishing in plain language. And he must be a woodworker because he answers many of the problems that are common to woodworkers.

Of course, it doesn't matter how accurate the information is if it's difficult to find. When

you've got bubbles drying in your finish, you don't want to spend time thumbing through a book. That's not a problem here.

There are separate chapters dedicated to specific finishes, like oils, varnish, and water-based finishes. So it's quick and easy to find the finish you're having problems with. Plus, you don't have to read the whole chapter. There are boxes and charts with helpful information you can get to quickly.

Understanding Wood Finishing is a handy tool for any shop. It's currently available from Woodsmith Project Supplies or the catalogs listed below. W102-2003-600 Understanding Wood Finishing $27.95


■ Speaking of finishes, there's one question I get asked a lot: What finish is safe to put on eating utensils and kitchen items, like the cutting board on page 18? This is a hard question to answer because no one has studied it to find out.


To order a project kit from Woodsmith Project Supplies, use our Toll Free order line. Ifs open Monday through Friday, from 7 AM to 7 PM Central Time.

Before calling, please have your VISA MasterCard, or Discover Card ready.

If you would like to mail an order in, call the number below for more information on shipping charges and any applicable sales tax.


Note: Prices subject to change after February, 1996

You could do what I do sometimes: leave it unfinished. When it begins to look dried out, simply wipe on a coat of mineral oil or walnut oil, both approved for human consumption.

Another easy answer is to suggest a finish thaf s sold as "nontoxic". But "non-toxic" implies that other finishes are toxic, which isn't necessarily true. It's the solvents in the finish that are dangerous, but most, if not all, of the solvents will evaporate as a finish cures.

A film finish, like a varnish, lacquer, or water based finish, would provide a lot more durable protection. But they won't last long on a cutting board, where the finish may flake off after being cut up with a knife.

Still another possibility would be to use an oil/varnish finish (which is what the "non-toxic" finishes are). These won't flake off because the oil in it keeps it too soft to build a thick film.


Similar hardware and supplies may be found in the following catalogs. Please call each company for a catalog or information.



Brusso bullet catches,

Wardrobe hardware (maple knobs)

Berland's World of Tools

800-339-0026 Hardware bins Enco Manufacturing Co.


Hardware bins and trays


800-443-7937 Hardware bins



Brusso bullet catches, Wardrobe hardware (maple knobs)

The Woodworkers' Store 800-279-4441

Brusso bullet catches, Wardrobe hardware (cherry knobs), General Finishes

Woodworker's Supply


Wardrobe hardware (maple knobs), General Finishes



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  • Spartaco Siciliano
    How does bullet catch hardware work?
    9 years ago

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