Quick Tips — Methods of Work 6

Sturdy, simple lumber rack

When I began thinking about a lumber-storage rack for my commercial shop, I was poised to purchase some of those huge, free-standing, cantilevered I-beam things that would cost $750 or more. The rack I built cost about a third of that in materials, plus a few hours of labor—and it is equally suitable for the home shop.

Each 24-in.-wide frame is made from 2×6 lumber and consists of two posts and a top and bottom plate. The frames are nailed together and connected with 2x4s at the top and bottom corners. Sixteen pieces of iron pipe make the four shelves that support the lumber. To stabilize the rack, you will need to attach it to joists overhead or add diagonal bracing on the sides.

Before assembling the frames, I measured and drilled holes through the 2x6s for the 1 and 1⁄2-in. I.D. (slightly under 2 in. O.D.) cast-iron pipe. I drilled holes slightly larger with a 2-in.-dia. hole saw. The loose fit made it easy to insert the pipes, after which I wrapped the pipes with duct tape to make the fit more snug.

The shelf width is just right for stacking typical lumber. Dollar for dollar and square foot for square foot of storage, this is a great wood rack.

Support sling for the drill press

Recently I needed to drill precise holes in 10-ft.-long posts. The drill-press table was about 52 in. high, and I needed to support the post at the same height. My roller stand extends only to a height of 44 in., so I needed another way. My solution was to suspend the opposite end of the board on an adjustable sling hung from the ceiling of my workshop.

The sling is a simple loop made of braided cord and a small block of wood with two holes. One hole is at 90°, the other at 45°. The angled hole helps keep the block horizontal under load. The holes must be just big enough to run the cord through.

The sling is easily adjusted, even while holding a board; it is fast and convenient to set up; and it eliminates the need for a bulky stand. Size the sling (length of rope) to accommodate a substantial beam. The block makes it easy to adjust for smaller pieces.
One potential disadvantage is the tendency of the workpiece to swing back and forth on the sling end. This is easily remedied by clamping or firmly holding the workpiece to a fence on the drill press. This technique has worked so well that I have set up support slings for other tools in the workshop.


Micro-adjuster for a misaligned tablesaw top

If you have a cabinet saw whose table is misaligned with the blade, cutting accuracy is compromised. So it’s important to correct any misalignment by adjusting the tabletop.

To adjust a saw’s table, first unplug the machine and loosen all four bolts that secure the table to the cabinet. Make a pencil mark in the space between two sawblade teeth. Rotate the blade toward the front of the saw and use a dial caliper to measure the distance between the miter slot and the side of the blade at the mark. Now rotate the blade toward the back of the saw, measure, and compare to the front measurement. If the distance is smaller at the front of the blade, tighten the bolt at the left-front corner of the saw; if it’s smaller at the back of the blade, tighten the bolt at the left-rear corner of the saw. Leave the other three bolts loose.

Next, clamp a 2×4 to the guide rails as shown. Drive 2 and 1⁄2-in. drywall screws into the board so that when tightened they will come in contact with the cabinet near the corners of the saw. Now recheck the blade-to-miter-slot measurement at the locked-down corner. Rotate the blade to the other position, and, holding the calipers with one hand, begin tightening the screw at that corner to move the table into alignment.

Before you arrive at the desired caliper reading, stop and recheck the reading on both sides of the blade because invariably the readings will change slightly. Keep turning the screw and making very subtle changes until the readings match.Before unclamping the 2×4, tighten the rest of the tabletop bolts and recheck the blade-to-miter-slot gap one last time.

Pipe-clamp fixture for routing large arcs

While building a gate, I was left with one major task—cutting an arch at the top. The thickness of the wood (8/4 mahogany) demand ed a circle-cutting fixture that was very stiff and accurate. So I devised this fixture based on the 8-ft.-long pipe clamps I had used to glue up the gate. It consists of two bar or pipe clamps, a pivot-block assembly, and a router base. The clamp block on the pivot assembly is sized so that the pipes remain parallel from one end to the other.

To cut the arch, I determined the radius and pivot point and clamped the pivot block to the gate at this location. I then clamped the router base to the pipe at the other end and carefully cut the arch by rotating a plunge router through the curve, taking light cuts with multiple passes.

Quick Tip
I wanted to try sharpening chisels and plane irons using abrasive paper on granite. Not being flush with money to buy a block of granite, I asked a tombstone company for a small broken or misworded tombstone. The broken piece they gave me is plenty big and dead flat. It really works well for this purpose.

Drill-press chuck-key holder

When I finally tired of having to search for my drill-press chuck key every time I needed to change a bit, I made a little nest for it right on the drill-press column using a ballpoint pen cap and a hose clamp.
I placed the keeper high enough so that it doesn’t disturb the travel of the table and low enough to clear the head assembly when I pull out the key from the cap.

Transport sheet goods in a short-bed pickup

My extended-cab pickup has a short, narrow bed that won’t carry a full sheet of plywood flat on the bed. So I built a rack that fits on top of the bed. It consists of two pairs of beams with cleats and notches that self-lock to control the location. Place the cleats so that the outboard pair bump against the bed rail at the front and the tailgate at the back.

To use, simply pop the rack in place and secure it to the bed of the truck (I use bungee cords to tie the lengthwise beams to cargo hooks in the bed). Put the load on the rack, and tie it all down either to hooks on the bed rails or inside the bed.