Tricks of the Trade


Blue Tape Fixes Twisty Boards

While teaching a recent class, I nicked my thumb on something sharp, and the shop’s first aid kit was locked up for some reason. No matter – I closed up the wound with cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) and bandaged it with toilet paper and blue painter’s tape. While I won’t win any MacGyver awards (that...

Screw Extraction 1

How To Extract a Screw

Tube Extractors are the Best Option Sawtooth edges make these small tools very handy to have around the shop. Use a drill press, if possible, to bore a clean hole around the screw. Or, a hand-held drill with a guide block works fine for screws located outside of the reach of a drill press....


Find Center With a Combination Square

In this short video, executive editor Robert W. Lang demonstrates how to find the center of a board using a combination square, it’s easy, accurate and no numbers were harmed in the making of this video. – Robert Lang  

accuracte miter gauge

Add Accuracy to a Miter Gauge

Attach a 3/4″ x 2-1/2″ x 28″ board to your miter gauge (not an original idea), then put a piece of masking tape on the table saw in front of the blade insert. Then cut partway into a board using the miter hold down. Shut the saw off and slowly pull the board back...

Miter Saw Stopping Block

Crosscut Short Pieces Without Making Missiles

A stop block provides the most accurate and efficient way to crosscut multiple workpieces to the same length on a miter saw. For safety, the “keeper” section of the workpiece is normally held firmly against the stop block and fence, with the “offcut” unrestricted on the opposite side of the blade. However, it’s unsafe...

disc sander multi grit

A Double-duty Disc Sander

I make a lot of wooden toys and find my disc sander indispensable for both shaping and smoothing small parts. Unfortunately, this calls for the use of both coarse and fine discs, and I have only one disc sander. My solution is to mount both #80-grit and #150-grit paper to the disc at the...

drill bit marking knife

A Bit of a Marking Knife

If you enjoy making your own woodworking tools, as I do, here’s a good-quality marking knife you can create from a humble used-up spade bit and a small scrap of wood. To make the knife, begin by grinding a 3⁄4″ spade bit to a V-shaped tip as shown, then grind the bevels on one...

mortise cleaning tool

Shop-made Mortise Cleaning Tool

When mortising I found it difficult to remove waste left at the bottom of the mortise by my hollow-chisel mortising bit. Prying it out with a bench chisel often damaged the shoulder of the mortise and was not kind to the cutting edge of the chisel. I needed a tool with a right-angle cutting...

rabbet block plane

Make a Rabbet Block Plane

I recently converted a common #220 Stanley block plane into an effective rabbet plane. I think a block plane’s comfort, low profile and blade angle can provide precision for paring tenons, rabbets and bevels of raised panels (and it’s significantly cheaper than the typical rabbet plane). To begin, drill a 5⁄16″ hole through the...