Easiest Way to Remember Which Way to Tighten Clamps
Hand screw wood clamps are some of the most useful and versatile tools in my shop. But I always forget which way to rotate them.
Which Way to Tighten Wood Clamps?
“Hand screw wood clamps are some of the most useful and versatile tools in my shop. But I always forget which way to rotate them to make them larger or smaller, and more than half the time I make the wrong choice. Now, I draw an up or down arrow on the clamp ends along with the words “larger” and “smaller”. No more guessing!” – Kenneth “Doc” Gregie
Avoid Ugly Hammer MarksNails are easier to drive if you take a full swing. But the downside is that if you miss the nailhead, you'll leave a deep 'elephant track' in the decking. Use a 1/4-in. plywood cushion to protect the deck boards in case you miss with a hammer. It allows you to concentrate on nailing without worrying about denting the deck boards. Simply start the nail. Then slip a small square of 1/4-in. plywood over the nail and swing away. Remove the plywood for the last blow.
Testing Miter CutsAn easy way to test whether your table saw is set to 45 degrees is to cut off a short length of your trim, then hold it to a square. A gap means your angle is off.
Circle Gets the SquareHere's a magical way to trace arcs and circles for project parts. Tap two finish nails at the ends of a desired diameter, then rotate a framing square against the nails while holding a pencil in the square's corner. Spray the underside of the square with silicone or rub on some paraffin so it'll glide smoother. Then practice a little to get the feel of the three-point contact technique.
Which Way to Tighten Wood Clamps?“Hand screw wood clamps are some of the most useful and versatile tools in my shop. But I always forget which way to rotate them to make them larger or smaller, and more than half the time I make the wrong choice. Now, I draw an up or down arrow on the clamp ends along with the words “larger” and “smaller”. No more guessing!” – Kenneth “Doc” Gregie
Caulk Gun ClampDid you know that you can use a caulk gun as a clamp? It’s perfect for gluing up small projects such as a cutting board. Just place a couple of pieces of scrap wood or cardboard at the ends of the caulk gun and then squeeze the trigger to apply pressure.
Customized Chuck KeyIf you've ever scraped your fingers when tightening a drill chuck, you'll love this tip. First measure the diameter and length of the chuck key's handle and drill a matching hole in the end of a 4-in. x 3/4-in.-diameter wood dowel. Then hold the handle in a vise and tap the dowel onto the chuck with a hammer. The advantages? Besides no longer scraping your fingers on the gears, you'll have increased leverage with less effort and a much more comfortable grip when tightening the chuck.
Saw Dust Filter FanMy workshop doesn’t have air conditioning, and it gets pretty hot while I’m working. I used to blow a fan directly at myself, but it sucked in dust from around the shop and blew it at me. I had a few extra furnace filters lying around, so I tried attaching one to the back of the fan using hook-and-loop fasteners. This made a huge difference! Don’t use a super-high-performance filter, as it could cause the fan to have to work too hard to pull air through, resulting in an overheated motor. — Larry Brannock
Flush-Cutting HacksawTrim dowel plugs flush on fine furniture projects without scarring the adjacent surface. Apply a couple of layers of masking tape or a single layer of duct tape to a hacksaw blade with an untaped section between for sawing. While you're sawing, the tape elevates the blade a smidgen so it can't scratch the surrounding wood. After sawing, lightly sand the dowel to even it with the wood.
Putty Knife HackDrywall screws are very useful. Not only can you use them for their main purpose, but they’re ideal for attaching metal to wood, and many people use them instead of wood screws. However, if you try to remove a drywall screw that has missed the stud, it’ll just spin and it won’t come out. So, to get the screw to back out, stick the edge of a putty knife under the screw’s head and apply some outward pressure as you back out the screw. Viola! It will come right out with not hassle.
Last-Ditch Nail PullingIf you're trying to pull a nail and the head breaks off, try gripping the nail tightly with a locking pliers, then pull against the pliers.
Adding a Key-Holed Ruler to Your BenchYou can mount a removable key-holed metal ruler on the front edge of your workbench, for both easy measuring on the workbench and for easy access for measuring and marking projects elsewhere. Simply drill keyholes (a larger hole with an overlapping smaller hole above it) in two locations along the ruler. After drilling the keyholes we sanded them smooth to get rid of the potentially dangerous sharp edges. Next, drill appropriately sized screws (ones that will fit into the smaller sized keyhole) to the front of the workbench and use the keyholes to mount the ruler to the bench with screws. Also, it is important to note that we placed our screws in a location in which the ruler would lay flush with the edge of the workbench. This makes it extremely easy to use the ruler for quick project measurements because of its convenient location.
Long-Reach ScrewdriverWhen you need to extend the reach of your cordless screwdriver, just pull the shaft out of a four-way screwdriver and clamp it in the chuck.
Simple Curve GuidesMany woodworking projects require more than just straight line cuts to get the job done right. And instead of using complex math or a compass to figure out the curve for your project, use supplies you have laying around your workshop. You can use anything from a paint can to a tube of caulk to use as your curve guides. All you have to do is find an object with a circular bottom that is around the size of the curve you’d like; then place it on your project as a curve guide.
Longer-Lasting Utility BladesMost often, it's just the tip that gets dull on a utility knife. When it does, snap off the tip with pliers and you're in business again. Wear eye protection, because sometimes a little piece of the blade goes flying.
Mini Drywall SawA coarse jigsaw blade mounted in a scrap of wood makes a handy little drywall saw. It's easy to carry and is good for cutting around electrical boxes and other tight spots.
No-Dent Finish NailingIf you're like me and sometimes hit the wood and not the nail when applying trim or molding, try this tip. With a thin-blade saw, saw a narrow kerf 1/4 in. into the end of a wood shim. Press a finish nail into the slot, hold the shim against the molding and then drive in the nail. The soft wood shim lets you deliver a final firm blow to leave the nailhead nearly flush with the surface. Next, set the nail just below the surface with a nail set and apply wood filler.
PVC Sanding FilesStick sandpaper to cutoff pieces of PVC water pipe with spray-on adhesive and you'll be able to sand concave curves to perfection. PVC pipe is labeled by inside diameter; here's an index for the outside diameter of useful pipe sizes.
- 1/2-in. i.d. = 7/8-in. o.d.
- 3/4-in. i.d. = 1-in. o.d.
- 1-in. i.d. = 1-1/4-in. o.d.
- 1-1/4-in. i.d. = 1-5/8-in. o.d.
- 1-1/2-in. i.d. = 1-7/8-in. o.d.