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.

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...

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...

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...