Quick Tips — Methods of Work 7

Cutting thin strips on the tablesaw

Sooner or later, we all need to cut thin strips on the tablesaw. The normal procedure is to set the rip fence to the width of the strip, but this creates a situation where the strip could be captured and thrown back at you, or scarred by teeth at the back of the blade.

A safer option is to put the bulk of the stock between the blade and the fence so the strip is cut to the left of the blade. The problem with this is that the fence must be adjusted by eye each time, and the results will never be uniform.

I built a jig with an adjustable stop that enables me to cut consistently sized, repeatable strips on the left side of the blade. The base of the jig locks into the miter slot with two wing nuts that expand the rail. The adjustable stop slides along the base and is locked in place with wing nuts.

To use the jig, I lock the base in place, with the adjustable stop loose. I snug the workpiece against the fence, then slide the piece and fence past the blade until it’s set to cut a strip to the thickness I need. At that point I lock the fence in place, slide the adjustable stop against the workpiece, and lock it in place.
I then make a test cut. If the strip is the correct size, I slide the workpiece and fence against the stop again, lock the fence, and repeat the cut. If the cut isn’t the right size, I adjust the stop’s position and try again. Using this method, I can cut hundreds of strips that are all the same thickness.

Paring exposed pegs with a router

The common advice for paring an exposed peg in a mortise-and-tenon joint is to use a chisel. Over the years, however, no matter how careful I was, the peg would inevitably chip out below the face of the wood when I used a chisel. I got around the problem by building a plywood baseplate for my router that has a slot cut in it about 1 in. wide.

I first cut off the peg to 1⁄2 in. or so with a dovetail saw. Then I select a straight bit or a dovetail bit, setting the bit depth just short of the bottom of the base. I align the baseplate slots with the peg, turn on the router, and trim the remainder of the peg. This leaves a good clean cut on the peg and also removes any glue protruding from the joint. I find it takes very little sanding to achieve a first-rate joint.

Quick Tip
By conditioning my work with mineral spirits before applying an oil stain, I reduce the color difference between the end grain and the side grain. First, rub the whole project with spirits. Then, using a foam brush, add a coat to the end grain. Before the spirits evaporate, stain the workpiece. The stain will go on evenly with virtually no color difference between the surfaces. I would not try this with water-based stains.

Compressor cart

Instead of lugging your portable air compressor around the shop, build this small wheeled cart that makes it easy to roll the compressor wherever it is needed. The cart, made mostly of 3⁄4-in. material, also provides handy storage for air tools, nails, lubricant, and other supplies.

Angle-iron lumber rack

Here is an easy, cheap, and efficient storage rack for lumber. The only cost is for the 4x4s, bolts, and lag screws. Very strong angle iron can be had for nothing if you just scrounge for some discarded bed frames at the local dump—you won’t believe how plentiful they are—or you can purchase it and have it cut to length.

To make the rack, first clamp the 4x4s together and, with a circular saw, cut kerfs 12 in. to 18 in. apart to fit one side of the angle iron. Now lag-bolt the 4x4s to the wall. Cut the angle iron into convenient lengths and drill a hole in each piece for the lag screw that will hold the iron in the slot.
The beauty of this system is that because the angle iron is narrow and no braces are required, there is no wasted space.