Quick Tips – Methods of Work 2

Multipurpose workbench is a space saver

My entire shop must fit into half of my garage, so I have to make the most of the available space. Toward that end, I’ve built a workbench that also serves as an outfeed table for my tablesaw, and a power-tool workstation with interchangeable modules.

When in outfeed-table mode, I increase the support area for sheet goods by sliding out an extension. This dovetailed, U-shaped frame attaches to the apron of the bench. Slots in the
front and back of the extension allow it to slide open 16 in.

At the far end of the bench, I’ve built a square opening that’s designed to receive one of four tool modules: a down-draft sanding platform, a chopsaw, a bench grinder, or a router table. Cleats inside the opening support the modules when they are dropped in. I built the chopsaw module so that the table of the chopsaw is even with the top of the workbench. My default is to keep the down-draft module in place because it does not interfere with the tablesaw or other operations on the workbench. When the modules are not in use, I store them in a rack on the back wall of my shop.

Grooved clamping blocks for panel glue-ups

A common procedure while edge-gluing several boards into a panel is to use clamps at the joints to align the boards. But this often allows glue to get trapped under the clamp head, which creates some sticky situations and difficult cleanups. To avoid this problem, I use grooved blocks under the alignment clamps.

To make the blocks, I start with a 4-in.-wide piece of 3⁄4-in.-thick scrap. I rout a 1⁄4-in.-wide by 1⁄4-in.-deep groove down the center, then cut 3-in.-long blocks from that workpiece.
During glue-up, I place one block above and one block below the glueline, with the grooves straddling the joint so that no glue touches the blocks.
When the glue starts to set, after 30 minutes or so, I remove the blocks and peel the soft glue off the joint with a chisel.

Quick Tip
Tightening and loosening bar clamps has been getting more difficult with arthritis creeping into my hands, so I’ve started to use one of those rubber pads made to grip and open jar lids. This kitchen accessory gives an excellent grip on the clamp’s handle.

Easy-access shelf for drill-press accessories

This shelf, made from 3⁄4-in.-thick Baltic-birch plywood, keeps bits and other accessories for my drill press close by and prevents them from rolling off onto the floor.


After cutting the tray to size, I used a circle cutter to make a 3-in.-dia. cutout (to match the diameter of the drill-press column), centered 1 and 1⁄2 in. from the end. Then I added the lip and trimmed the end to create the U-shape that slides easily over the column.

The two-part plywood mounting collar also was made using a circle cutter. Size the inside diameter to match the drill-press column and make the outside radius 3⁄4 in. or 1 in. larger. One half of the collar is screwed to the tray, aligned with the inside edge of the cutout, and the other half fits around the column. The assembly is held fast with a hose clamp.

Repairing veneer with a can

A good way of repairing damaged veneer is to use a metal can to guide identical cuts in the damaged piece and in the veneer sheet for the repair.

Place the can over the damaged area and hold it securely while you cut a crisp line. Use as small a can as possible to keep the repair area small. If the damage is on the edge or end of the piece, just place a portion of the can over the damaged area, supporting the rest on a scrap of wood.

To clean out the damaged section, I typically use a chisel, but you also could use a router with a straight bit set to make a cut that’s equal to the thickness of the veneer. Now, place the can on a sheet of veneer that matches the grain of the workpiece, and cut around it to make the patch. Trim the patch if the repair is on an edge, then glue it in place. Clamp the veneer in place using a wood block as a caul, with a piece of wax paper between the repair and the block to prevent the block from sticking. When dry, sand the patch flush.

Caddy keeps sawblades organized

Sawblades are expensive and easily damaged by poor storage and handling. So I came up with a sawblade caddy that protects the blades while minimizing storage space and permitting transport.

The caddy is simply a piece of 1⁄2-in.-thick Baltic-birch plywood with a 1⁄4-in.-dia. carriage bolt protruding from the front. I place the blades over the bolt and separate them with 1⁄8-in.-thick hardboard disks, which I cut on the bandsaw using a circle-cutting jig. A large, threaded knob holds the stack of blades securely. I drilled a hole in the top of the caddy to hang it on the wall. The caddy gets heavy with all the blades, so use a large screw that is well secured into a stud.
I have two caddies, one for 10-in. blades and one for 7 and 1⁄ 2-in. blades.

Quick Tip
I inspect my lumber before I run it through the jointer or planer, looking for any grit or metal. So I was surprised to suddenly get a chip in my jointer blades. After looking more closely, I realized that the end of the plank had a few small grains of sand in it, probably picked up while it was standing on end in the lumberyard. Now I make it a practice to cut off about 1/4 in. from both ends, just to be safe.