Blade Check

If your wood gluing work is less than successful, check your blades. If the blade in your saw is getting dull, it can loosen (but not remove) a layer of fibers on the edges to be joined. Later, glue may not be able to penetrate through this debris to solid wood, resulting in weak joints. A signal that this may be the problem is if ruptured joints are coated with fibers.
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Chisel Care

As with hand planes, the key to using chisels successfully is keeping them sharp. If they are not kept sharp, your work will suffer. If you are wary of taking your good chisels to the stone, consider buying a cheaper set to practice on. Store your chisels boxed, in a tool roll, or in a wall rack. Avoid magnetic tool racks; when chisels are magnetized small metal filings will cling to their edges, making honing more difficult and dulling a keen edge much faster.
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Storing Dowels

To store dowels, molding and the like neatly off the floor in your shop, you can use empty 3-lb. coffee cans. Attach one can with a bottom 6 in. off the floor. Then attach another with both ends cut out about 2 ft. above it. Slide material down through it into the bottom can.
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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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Plane Technique

Using a hand plane on the ends of boards can be tricky. One way to keep from splitting a board at the edges is to push the hand plane so the blade goes only to the middle of the board. Then repeat the process from the other direction. To avoid dipping, try to put slightly more pressure on the front of the plane at the beginning of each stroke, and keep slightly more pressure on the back of the plane at the end of the stroke.
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Repairing Floorboards

Here's a way to save time and energy when repairing floorboards. Instead of drilling and chiseling damaged floorboards, use a plunge router. First, use a magnetic nail finder to be sure there are no nails in the way. Set scribe lines across the damaged pieces. Then, run the router across the boards for a quick, clean cut.
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Six-Mark Rule

Even on rough carpentry projects, such as laying out a wall or partition with a carpenter's square, sharpen your pencil after every six marks. Using a blunt pencil could add as much as an inch to the overall dimensions over about 20 feet. This can throw the entire structure out of whack and make it difficult to fit wallboard, sheathing and other modular materials.
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Surface Drag

If any of your woodworking tools seem to be losing their zip, make sure they aren't suffering from surface drag instead of a dull blade. Rubbing a thin coat of paste wax or paraffin on the top surfaces of tools like tablesaws, planers or jointers, or onto the sole plates of portable tools like circular saws, sabersaws or even hand planes, can make a big difference in how they perform.
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Woodworking Tools

If you're just starting out, three power tools for general woodworking that are worth spending more money on include a good tablesaw, router and drill press. With these three, plus some hand tools, you will be able to build many of the projects in how-to magazines. Which tool you buy first can depend on the projects you are planning, but a good saw usually gets priority.
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