Tricks of the Trade

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...

dovetial jig

Do Double-duty with a Dovetail Jig

I was intrigued with Nick Engler’s Ingenious Jigs article from December 2001 that showed you how to make a jig for cutting perfect dados in the sides of case pieces. After my last project, where the routing was the most repetitious and boring part of the piece, I thought there should be an easier...

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How-to Draw Accurate Lines Around Corners

Many years ago my carpenter square mysteriously disappeared at the start of my basement finishing project. So I started using a butt hinge to mark lumber. It worked better than I had hoped. My carpenter square is still hiding from me, but I still use a 31⁄2″ x 31⁄2″ full-mortise butt hinge for transferring...

forstner dovetail pins

Make Forstner-powered Dovetail Pins

Chiseling and paring away the waste between dovetail pins can be largely eliminated by using a Forstner bit to remove the waste. Set up a Forstner bit (the diameter equal to your drawer side thickness) in your drill press and set the depth stop to just shy of the bottom layout line. Drill into...

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How to Sharpen Dull Router Bits

Most shops have two types of router bits – dull and sharp ones. It’s easy to tell the difference because the sharp bits ease through the wood while the dull bits labor. Sometimes a good cleaning is all the bit needs. Any good blade solvent will rid bits of pitch and resin. Once the...