Quick Tips – Methods of Work 4

Backer block handles all cross-grain routing

This router-table push block, or backer block as I like to call it, stabilizes the workpiece and reduces tearout. It is handy for backing up the cut across the grain, such as when profiling a panel, but it’s especially useful for milling the ends of narrow stock, such as when cutting stub tenons in a frame.

Made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), it features a skewed handle that’s glued and screwed to the base. The handle keeps fingers away from the cutting action and, being skewed, it automatically applies pressure against the fence as you push the workpiece through the cutter. The two finger holes make holding long, thin workpieces much easier.

To use, simply hold the workpiece against the block and push through, keeping the block firmly against the fence. The block can be reversed to make a new zero-clearance backer, and it’s easy to replace when it gets worn out.

Medical stand is perfect spray-gun holder

When spraying finish in my shop, I didn’t have a convenient place to set my spray gun and small pressure pot. I considered making a custom stand, but then I discovered this chrome-plated, rolling medical IV stand, which I could buy for less than the cost of parts to make one.
The stand has hooks to hold the gun and pressure pot, an adjustable mast, and four casters on a wide base, which makes it very stable. I can roll my spray equipment to where I need it and have a convenient place to hang up my gun and pressure pot. New and used IV stands are available for less than $30 from eBay and other online sales and auctions.

Easy way to carry and store spring clamps

This caddy is one of the best ways to organize a collection of spring clamps. To make it, cut a 1-ft.-long handle, thin the lower edge with opposing rabbets, and pop the clamps onto the caddy. You can carry the clamps from place to place, where they stay neatly out of the way until you need them.


Mesh-bag vacuum filter keeps small parts on the bench

Horizontal surfaces such as benchtops are great collecting areas, not only for wood dust but also for miscellaneous small parts and hardware, such as screws, that might be needed for a current project. Here’s how I solved the problem of vacuuming that dust without devouring the small parts. I put a small mesh bag, the kind used to hold practice tennis balls or used for sweater or lingerie laundry bags, over the business end of my shop vacuum. The vacuum sucks up the unwanted dust while the mesh keeps out the small parts. It really works well.

Quick Tip
My saber-saw blades were always rattling around in the tool case and dinging their edges. I found that the blades fit into a compact-disc jewel case perfectly so they sit all in one level and are easy to see. I can tuck the case into my tool bag or the saw case for easy access.

Simple, precise tapering jig

This tapering jig starts with a base of 3⁄4-in.-thick plywood, about 8 in. wide by 5 ft. long. Attach a 1 and 1⁄2-in.-sq. by 10-in.-long stop to one end. Then install a flathead screw in the plywood base 1⁄2 in. from the stop.

To use, mark where you want the taper to start on the workpiece and determine the amount of taper you need. If you want a 1⁄2-in. taper, for example, unscrew the screw 1⁄2 in. Place the jig against the rip fence with the bottom of the leg against the stop and the screw. Slide the rip fence over until the blade just touches the mark where you want to start the cut.
The 5-ft.-long jig gives you plenty of support against the rip fence, plus it will handle legs of virtually any length.

No-clamp veneering with yellow glue

I was making an end table and wanted to use a nice piece of walnut veneer on the top. Unfortunately, the substrate was too big to use a sandwich-and-clamp method, and I did not want to buy a veneer press for one job. A friend, Neil Artman, told me about a method that doesn’t require clamps or a press.

First, I bought a plastic paddle, the kind used to spread drywall mud, and cut kerfs into it about 1⁄8 in. deep and 1⁄4 in. apart. I then sprayed the show side of the veneer with water. I flipped it over and used the paddle to spread a liberal, even amount of Titebond Original Wood Glue on the other side of the veneer, being sure to cover the edges. As the glue soaked in, the veneer started to flatten out. Next, I spread an even layer of glue on the substrate with my altered paddle.

At this point, I let both the glue on the substrate and the veneer dry separately for at least an hour.

Once the glue dried, I carefully placed the veneer (glue side down) on the glue side of the substrate. Once I had it in position, I used an iron set to medium heat to reactivate the glue and adhere the veneer to the substrate. I started in the middle and worked toward the edges to cover the entire veneer. I first tried this on a sample piece and was shocked at how well it worked.

Editor’s note: Although the process worked well with Titebond Original, a customer-service representative at Titebond says Titebond II will work better because it tends to have better grab and provides more strength in the wet form.

Durable carbide scraper reaches tight spots

I make scrapers using 3⁄4-in.-sq. carbide inserts for machining metal. These scrapers excel in corner and edge work because the scraper head is small enough to get into tight areas.

The solid carbide is sharp, long-lasting, and maintenance-free. These carbide inserts, which come in different shapes and sizes, have a predrilled mounting hole and feature four separate sharp sides on the same blade. Carbide Depot is one source.

Screw a blade to a homemade handle and you’re ready to scrape. Angle or skew the blade if you wish. Although sharpening a dull carbide blade is next to impossible unless you have the right diamond hones, one carbide cutting edge will last a long time if you are scraping only wood and wood glue. Steel scrapers, on the other hand, constantly need tuning up.
I’ve been using the same four-sided carbide insert blade in one of my scrapers for three years. You just cannot kill one of these tools.

Quick Tip
I buy PVA glue by the gallon and pour it into reusable plastic squeeze bottles. But the squeeze-bottle cap is often difficult to remove due to buildup of glue in the threads. To solve this problem, I clean the threaded portion of the cap and bottle with water, dry, and then apply a bit of paste wax to the threads of both the cap and bottle. Now I’m able to unscrew the cap with hand pressure alone, every time.