Introduction: 7 Easy Tips to Help You in the WoodShop - Bonus Material: Woodworking Myths Busted!
These 7 easy woodworking tips will make your time in the woodshop more enjoyable and efficient. Stick around until the end of the video when I discuss woodworking Myths and how they just are not true! These are tips that I have learned over my last 8 years of woodworking either by mistakes that I have made or by other woodworkers sharing their knowledge. Hope you enjoy!
List of tools used in this build:
Step 1: Tip #1 - Straight Edge Guide
Not many beginner woodworkers can afford a table saw large enough to safely cut full sheets of plywood. Heck I still cant, which is why I have a track saw, but before that I just used my old circular saw and made a super simple straight edge from scrap wood. This guide allows you to make safe, straight cuts, without having to measure for the offset of your mark to the straight edge.
You can use just about any type of 1/4" material for the bed, the length can be up to you (mine is 4') but your going to want to start with a width of around 11" to 12".
For the guide piece I used 3/4" plywood cut to the same length as the base. Attach this piece to the base with brad nails, ensuring its square to the edge of the 1/4" base and offset from one long edge by an inch and half or so. The overhang will be used to clamp the guide to the plywood your cutting. Use your saw to cut the overhang off the other side leaving it the same width as your saw from the edge of the plate to the blade. Make sure that the plate rides snug against the guide during the entire cut.
Now that the guide is custom to your saw you can align the guide directly to your measured cut marks on the plywood, clamp it in place, and make an accurate cut using the guide.
Step 2: Tip #2 - Dividing Equal Parts
If your like me you struggle with math and measuring. This quick measuring tip allows you to quickly and easily divide a board into equal parts, wether its in half by five, this tip takes all the guess work out of it. This is especially handy when you have a board like the one pictured thats at an odd width like 8 7/16".
Keeping the inside edge of your tape against the edge of the board adjust your tape so that the opposite edge is lined up with a number thats easy for you to do the math, for the example in the video I used 10". Now, you can just make a mark at the half way point of 5" and you have the exact midpoint of this board. This works with any number for example if you adjust you tape to 16" then 8" will still be the exact midpoint of this board.
You can use this exact same method to to divid the board into any different number of equal parts. For example, if you hold the tape at 10" as explained above then you make a mark at 2", 4", 6", and 8" for five equal parts.
Step 3: Tip #3 - the Speed Square
The speed square a very under-appreciated tool in the woodshop. They have a lot of features that are handy on just about any project.
With the lip of the square flush against the edge of the board the first noticeable features is that you can easily mark a 90 and 45 degree angle on the board. It also has a 7" ruler down one side for measurement marking.
Some of the less known features are the scribe notches from 1" to 2 3/4" every 1/4" used to mark a like adjacent to the edge. On the 45 degree side of the square you will notice numbers that appear to be measurements. If you keep the corner edge of the square flush to the board and rotate the square to align with one of the numbers these numbers tell you the degree of the angel that you are making. If you want a 20 degree angel marked just rotate until the 20 aligned with the edge then make a mark along the opposite edge.
Step 4: Tip #4 - Find the Center of Any Circle
Finding the center of any sized circle can be easy and not even involve a mathematical equation if you use this tip. (Note: This one is kind of hard to explain so be sure to reference the photos attached and the video at the top of this blog.)
Take a carpenter square and a triangle and place them together as shown in the photograph. Make sure that the corner of the 90 degree angle on the square intersects the triangles edge. Use a spring clamp to hold them in place.
Place whatever size circle so that it is resting on both edges of the square and then make a mark along the edge of the triangle. Turn the circle 180 degrees (this does not have to be exact) and mark another line. The intersection of these lines will be the center of your circle. Again, this will work for any size circle!
Step 5: Tip #5 - CA Glue and Painters Tape
Double sided tape is handy for many applications in the woodshop but if your like me you never have any around. Instead of double sided tape use painters tape and CA glue. Matter of fact this is the only method I use now! This works great for temporarily securing boards to sleds or templates.
Place tape on both surfaces, apply CA glue to one side, then place the boards together. Viola, in ten seconds they are secured and ready to use! Then you can simple pull them apart and remove the tape.
Step 6: Tip #6 - a Better Glue Bottle
If you have been woodworking for any length of time then you know that these glue bottles that come with the glue are crap. The tops stop working the minute some glue dries in them and they never really seem to seal correctly again. This simple tip is to replace them with cheap condiment squeeze bottles from amazon. They work amazingly well and longer than the ones that come with the glue. You can get a six pack of them for like $10 and i use them for all other kinds of things like bbq sauce and cooking oil.
Step 7: Tip #7 - Determining Board Feet
My last tip is one that comes from a video that I watched long time ago by the Woodwhisperer (linked above). In this video he gives an excellent example of how to reference board feet when shopping for hardwoods. Hardwood dealers sell their boards by the board foot and not by the linear foot like at big box stores that sell construction pine.
So, a board foot is a board that is 12" L x 12" W x 1" T which equals 144 cubic inches or 1 board foot. So when shopping for hardwoods at a hardwood dealer you can determine board feet of a board with the following equation: (Length x Width x Thickness) /144 = board feet. This calculation should be done all in inches.
If you forget your tape measure and calculator and dont have this equation memorized then a good rule of thumb is that a board that is 8' (96") L x 6" W x 1" T = 4 board feet. This should give you a good reference point when pricing picking ou boards.
Step 8: Bonus: Myths of Woodworking
Towards the end of the video linked to this blog I discuss four claims of woodworking that are just plain wrong. They are subjects that I hear often and wanted to address them based on my years of experience in this craft. Please click the video to check these out as I didn't believe they fit well in blog style postings.
Thanks for reading!
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