Tricks of the Trade

If there’s one thing a woodworker loves as much as a new tool, it’s a new trick! There’s nothing like discovering a slick new maneuver or a cool jig that makes life sweeter in the shop. Fortunately, Popular Woodworking Magazine readers are a clever bunch, and happy to share their bright ideas.

In every “Tricks of the Trade” column, you’ll find a cornucopia of great workshop ideas submitted by your fellow readers. They cover everything from hand tool tips, machine jigs and clever shop accessories to great advice for better finishing, joinery, layout, and sharpening, among other time-saving, skill-building tricks. To read some of our recent “Tricks of the Trade” and to watch our “Tricks-in-Action” videos, scroll down below.

To learn how to submit an idea to Tricks of the Trade, click here.

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An Easy Way to Draw Any Ellipse

On my most recent project I needed an elliptical arc. Although my arc conforms to the Golden Ratio (1:1.62), the method I use works for an ellipse of any proportion. Determine the overall size of the ellipse you need and cut a piece of pattern material large enough to encompass it. Next, draw vertical...

benchhook

Split Bench Hook

pages 14-15 A bench hook is an indispensable workholding device for crosscutting. The traditional bench hook is made of a base, a stop or rest and a cleat. It is usually used against the apron or front edge of a workbench, or clamped in the vise. To crosscut a long piece, I used to...

ArouterDepth_1411

Plunge Router Depth Adjustment Trick

A plunge router is a versatile tool, but setting an exact depth can be perplexing. There are a bunch of knobs and levers that control how far down the bit will go, but if you’re trying to make a precise adjustment you rapidly run out of hands and patience as you fight the springs...

Divide a Line in Half

No-number Geometric Layouts

Many layout problems that seem to call for math can be quickly solved with a compass and a straightedge. Numbers can confuse and complicate the situation. What you need to know is how to make things fit – not necessarily what numbers describe the lines and angles. Here are a few time-tested methods. –...

Type of Lumber Cut and Shrinkage

How to Calculate Wood Shrinkage and Expansion

Wood movement can ruin a seemingly well-constructed project. Luckily getting ahead of the material and calculating wood shrinkage and expansion is fairly easy – all you need to do is multiply three numbers together. Here’s how to find them. Step 1: Measure the board’s width. ● Know that wider boards expand and contract more...

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....

What is a Router Collet

Your Guide to Router Collets

How a Collet Works • A collet is the steel sleeve that holds a router bit in a router. The collet works with the router shaft (connected directly to the motor) and the collet nut.   • Collets are machined to perfectly mate with the tapered recess in the end of the shaft and...

Put the blade in the jig.

Woodworking 101: Basic Sharpening

Sharpen a Plane Blade There are many ways to sharpen plane blades, and woodworkers have strong opinions on the best technique. Here is a simple, reliable method to achieve a sharp edge. It takes just three waterstones, an inexpensive jig and a few minutes. 1. Get a flat back. While some blades come with...

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...