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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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...


Tricks of the Trade: Easy Way to Biscuit-join Edgebanding

by James Quinlivan Page 12 I edge-band plywood shelves with solid wood, attaching the edge-banding with #20 biscuits. It’s no problem at all to hold the plywood shelf solidly while cutting the slot; that’s what bench dogs and an end vise do so well. But the edgebanding itself can be a little squirmy, either bending or...

Fold-away work horse diagram

Sturdy, Fold-away Work Horses

Here are some useful sawhorses for woodworkers like me, who have limited room to work, and even less room dedicated to storage. I cannot claim design rights for these because I got the general configuration from a workman who came to my house several years ago to install a water purifier. His were made...

Tarnishing New Brass

Have you ever seen shiny new brass on an old piece of furniture? It just doesn’t look right. What I do is tarnish the new brass to give it an antique look that better suits the furniture it’s attached to. Pour a little ammonia in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Place a...

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Truing Your Squares

I didn’t have to drop the last framing square I bought to knock it out of square – it came from the store that way. So I chalked that up to Murphy’s Law, took it back and got another one from a different manufacturer. It too was out of square! While whining about this...

Dog Bone Frame Clamps

‘Dog-bone’ Frame Clamps

There are some amazing specialty clamps for gluing miters, and we’re also amazed by some of the prices. It’s no trick to spend $40 apiece for mitered corner clamps. And because most frames have four corners, you can spend $160 very easily. By stealing some much less expensive hardware from a commercial application, we’ve...