Quick Tips – Methods of Work 3

Hide-away planer table

I built a flip-up table for my portable thickness planer right into the auxiliary outfeed table of my tablesaw. I can swing the planer up into working position and then down out of the way when it’s not in use. This arrangement not only saves space but it also gives me several feet of supporting table on the outfeed side.

Most of the parts are made from 3⁄4-in.-thickplywood. When it is up, the platform is supported by a plywood leg that bolts to the front of the fixture. To install the leg, I prop up the table with a support that’s slightly longer than the leg, giving the leg plenty of clearance to slide into place.

The planer’s outfeed table must be aligned with the auxiliary table, so take that into consideration as you calculate the axle location and swing-arm length.

A simple approach is to design the platform so that it sits below the auxiliary table. Then mill up two cleats to a thickness that will bring the planer’s outfeed table level with the auxiliary table.

When I’m through using the planer I install the temporary prop, remove the support leg, remove the prop, and rotate the platform and planer down. The temporary prop is stored between the auxiliary table legs and the planer to keep the planer from swinging out. Finally, I replace the removable table insert, and I’m ready to use the tablesaw.


This push stick rides in the channel on top of a Biesemeyer-style rip fence. Though ideal for any rip cut, the design is especially useful when I need to rip thin strips of a consistent width.

The push stick consists of three main parts: the sliding block, the handle block, and the push finger. The sliding block should be milled so that it is slightly proud of the fence faces. The handle block is flush with the fence face that’s close to the blade. The notched push finger is 1⁄4-in.-thick hardwood, but a 1⁄8-in.-thick piece of aluminum would work as well. Attach the finger to the handle block with a screw and a large washer. The finger should slide against the rip fence.

To use, simply engage the workpiece with the finger and push through. When you’re not using the push stick, just pop it off the rip fence.


This sled easily rips thin strips of consistent width without your having to reset the fence for every cut. The sled is a piece of 3⁄4-in.-thick hardwood, 6 and 1⁄4 in. wide, with a 1⁄4-in.-deep notch at one end. Install a 1-in.-dia. dowel handle about a third of the way from the back end and add a thin, 2-in.-wide hardboard hold-down strip to help prevent kickback. If your workpiece is thicker than the sled, shim up the safety strip with washers.

To use the sled, set the rip fence so that the desired strip thickness is left between the sled and the blade. Hold the workpiece with your left hand and slide it through. If desired, you can joint the freshly cut workpiece to get a smooth side on the next strip.

Shop-built sanding filter

We do a lot of sanding in our prefinishing shop, and the fine dust often clogged the filter on the shop vacuum. Cleaning the vacuum filter was messy and time-consuming, so I looked for an alternative. After considering expensive commercial filters, I decided to build my own out of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and a 1-in.-thick fiberglass furnace filter.

Whatever size filter you choose (some are rectangular, some square) build the box around it for a tight fit. Holes in the top of the box receive the hoses from the sander and the vacuum, one on each side of the filter. The filter slides in from the front between wooden cleats. The door, attached with hinges, locks with screen-door hooks and eyes. I caulked all joints in the carcase and put a rubber gasket around the door to make it airtight.

I was surprised how well this simple and cheap device actually works. The vacuum filter still clogs, but now I clean it weekly instead of daily. A light tap on the furnace filter every few days helps keep it clear.

Quick Tip
I’ve hung a toilet-paper holder on my shop wall and keep a roll there. Goofy as it may sound, a wad of toilet paper is great for cleaning up glue ooze, wiping up sharpening oil, or removing a dribble of paint from the workbench. Plus, it creates lots of conversation when others first see it on the wall.

Wood guard protects handsaw teeth

Here’s an easy way to protect the teeth of any handsaw. It consists of a shopmade guard and hook, and some elastic cord (available at craft-supply stores).

To make the guard, first rip a piece of scrap 3⁄8 in. thick by 3⁄4 in. tall. Then cut it to the length of the sawblade plus 3 in. Cut a groove, 1⁄8 in. wide by 1⁄2 in. deep, the entire length of the workpiece, centered on the 3⁄8-in. side. Trim 2 in. off one end. This will be the hook.
Cut a 1-in.-long plug to fit the groove and glue it into one end of the guard to make a stop. Drill a hole in the center of the guard and the hook, insert a short piece of elastic cord, and secure with a small knot.

To install, put the guard on first with the stop toward the handle. Then stretch the hook over the top of the blade.