Dovetail Joints

Making perfect dovetail joints can involve some shop practice, so consider starting out with a less-expensive jig that is designed for making only one or two types of joint styles. Then you can later work your way on up to the more expensive and versatile jigs that will let you make up to four or more styles of dovetails. With any dovetail jig, try to avoid using a router that is very light; heavier routers will produce crisper and cleaner cuts.
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Sawing Wood

When sawing wood, take time to consider which side of the material to having facing up. Keep the good side up when you are using hand saws, scroll saws, bandsaws, tablesaws and radial-arm saws. Keep the good side down when using a portable circular saws or sabersaws. The principle is to have the tooth of the blade first break through the rough side of the board or panel.
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Recycled Wood Safety

One of the more dreaded occurrences for any woodworker is when a tool collides with a metal object in recycled wood. Before you start to cut, plane, or sand, be sure to thoroughly inspect the wood for metal objects such as nails or screws, especially if you are using power tools
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Hacksaw Space

If you need to hacksaw through a fastened pipe or rod, but the space above is cramped, try this: Remove the hacksaw's blade, straddle the pipe with its frame from below, then reinstall the blade upside down. The teeth of the saw will cut through the pipe from the opposite side. In many cases this trick will allow you to complete a cut that would be otherwise impossible.
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Precision Marks

Use a well-sharpened pencil to make cut marks for your shop projects. A blunt pencil, held vertical to the rule, will make a line too far away from the edge. Angle the pencil about 45 degrees to keep the line at the edge of the rule. For greater precision, make your cut marks with a utility knife using a sharp blade.
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Handsaw Re-Cut

If you're using a handsaw and find that a board you have just cut is 1/16 in. or 1/8 in. too long, here's a way to re-cut the board without making a mess of things. Find another board the same width and clamp it over the top of the board you want to trim. Then mark the cut line on the top board and make the cut. The kerf of the top board will keep the saw in line for a perfect cut below it.
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Sawdust Collection System

As a practical matter, workshops can be set up just about anywhere space is available. But if you set up in a basement, consider adding a sawdust collection system. While new tools are designed to control sawdust as much as possible, central collection systems are effective and economical to install.
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Growing Pattern Syndrome

Try to avoid what pro carpenters call a "growing pattern syndrome." This can occur when you are cutting a number of studs or other pieces to length, then always use the most recently cut piece to mark the next piece. The catch is that after two or three generations of cuts, the length can begin to grow longer. If, for example, each stud is off by 1/16 in., after you cut four studs, you will be off 1/4 in. For accuracy, it is better to use one master pattern and use it for every cut.
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