Quick Tips – Tips & Tricks

Dressing bandsaw guide blocks

I replaced my handsaw’s steel guide blocks with graphite-impregnated phenolic blocks (Cool Blocks). For accurate operation, the blocks’ faces should be routinely dressed to remove regular wear. I tried freehand filing and sanding, but had a hard time keeping the ends square with the edges.

To solve the problem, I made this simple jig. It’s a 3/4x2x6” scrap of hardwood, with a notch sawn in the end to snugly accommodate a guide block. A 1/8”-thick end-strip screwed to the scrap secures the guide block in place. (If necessary for a snug fit, wrap the block with masking tape). To smooth and square the blocks, position them in the jig so that they project just a bit from the bottom and rub the whole thing over ISO-grit and 220•grit sandpaper until the ends are flush with the bottom of the Jig, It’s best to do this on a dead-flat surface, like a saw or jointer table. To dress guide b locks with a 45° face. I bevel-cut the opposite end of the jig before notching it.

Woodworker’s welcome mat

After cleaning up countless shavings and sawdust trails leading from my workshop into my home, I made a heavy-duty boot brush from a few scraps of ¾” plywood and three 2×7″ deck scrub brushes. Assemble the base using screws and glue. To fasten the brushes to the base, drive 1 and 1/4” screws through the bristle-ends of the brushes. To give workshop debris the boot, stand on an end and kick your free foot over the bristles. (To make a garden-grade version, use leftover deck boards, waterproof glue, and plastic brushes.)

Jelly jar glue pot

Too often, glue bottles become clogged and/or glue brushes roll off the bench and get caked in sawdust. Inserting a brush through the lid of a small jar solves both problems quite neatly, Apply a bead of hot-melt glue on both sides of the lid to lock the brush in place and create an airtight fit.

All-purpose alcohol swabs

Single-use alcohol swabs are good for more than just cleaning minor cuts, In the shop, these inexpensive spill-proof pads are useful for erasing smudges and pencil marks, stripping the adhesive off sanding plates, and removing pitch from tools (especially thickness-planer feed rollers). Denatured alcohol won’t stain or raise wood grain and, compared to most other solvents, is safe to handle, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions.

Drill-press height gauge

I came up with this tip when the measuring tape/depth gauge peeled off my bargain bench top drill press. Now that I own a better machine, I find this tip faster and easier than using the numbers on my drill press stop, especially when drilling a hole that’s not at a neat, round-numbered depth.

To set the press, start by cutting a spacer block equal in width to the depth of the hole you want to drill. To use the spacer, simply set the bit so that the tip is touching the wood, insert the block as shown, and then lower and lock the drill press’s stop. Remove the block and you’re ready to drill.