When using dowels, select a size half the thickness of the wood being joined. For example, for 3/4-in. stock, consider 3/8-in. dowels.; for 7/8-in. stock use 7/16-in. dowels. The length inserted should generally be three times its thickness. Thus, a 3/8-in. dowel should be about 2-1/2 in. long to penetrate into each member 1-1/4 in.
You can use a rule to quickly find the center of a board's width without dealing with small fractions. Lay the rule across the width, keeping the scale's zero mark lined up with one side. Then angle the rule so that an even number lines up with the opposite side. Mark the board at half the distance. You can also find the center by drawing an "X" diagonally across from one set of opposite corners, then across from the other set of opposite corners. The exact center will be where the lines cross.
When you are fastening two pieces of wood with screws, keep the pilot hole through the top piece slightly larger than the diameter of the shank of the screw. This will allow the wood screw to pull the two pieces of material tightly together. If the pilot hole is too small, the top piece can climb the threads of the screw and leave a gap between the two pieces.
On certain projects, you may be required to work with brass screws. While the brass results in an attractive finished project, it is a soft metal that can easily be scratched or damaged. The solution is to use your drill to create a pilot hole, then drive a regular steel screw of identical size into the hole. After the hold is created, remove the steel screw and replace it with the brass one.
Here's the best way to remove finish nails from old woodwork. After carefully removing the woodwork from the wall, pull out the nails using a vise grip. Grasp the nail with the vice grip on the unfinished side of the wood and pull the nail through. Repeat this procedure until all the nails are removed. This method keeps the finished face of your woodwork intact.
Carpenters who do rough construction get very proficient at "close-enough" measuring. For example, to quickly draw a line parallel to the edge of a board, you can place a pencil at the end of a combination square and move both the square and pencil along the board. Some combination squares have a hole in the blade for this purpose.
Here's how to remove painted woodwork for refinishing. Score the paint with a utility knife to prevent splitting the wood. Gently begin to separate the wood using a dull chisel or flat bar. Then use a stiff putty knife and a prybar to remove the woodwork. Keep the putty knife behind the prybar as you work to avoid marking or denting the wood. Proceed carefully to remove the whole piece.
Low grade stainless steel screws and nails will sometimes stain the surrounding wood.
To get a better grip in a stripped screw hole, insert a few wooden toothpicks before rescrewing.
To increase accuracy, some woodworkers avoid using the zero end of a rule or tape and use the 1-in. mark instead. You can also use other starting points, such as 2 in. or 3 in. However, when using this technique, you must remember to subtract that number from the actual reading further down the rule.