Great Ideas for Clever Woodworkers

I’ve been a woodworker for more than 30 years and I feel pretty good about my abilities to be “creative” in the woodshop, whether it’s a method to glue up a complicated joint, or if I’ve made a mistake that needs “adjusting.” I have a fairly solid memory for tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years. Most of the tricks I use without even thinking about when, or recalling where I learned them. The truth is, I did learn them at some time, and likely from someone else. And I still enjoy learning a new tip or trick.

That’s why I found editing “601 Woodshop Tips & Tricks” an interesting project. Yes, many of the tips were familiar to me. They’re also tips that I use all the time, so their value is undeniable. And many made me stop and try to remember when I learned this nugget of gold that I now take for granted. And I’m happy to report, this old dog can learn new tricks. Below, I’ve listed my three favorite newly learned tips from this must-have shop reference.

Shop-Made Compass
If you happen to mislay your compass and you urgently have to draw a circle, try using a hacksaw blade. A nail through the hole in the blade will hold it on its axis and the blade teeth hold your pencil in place. And because of the number of teeth, you should have an easy time finding a notch to match the radius required.

Safe Drill Press Circle Cutter
Circle cutters, sometimes known as fly cutters, can be downright dangerous to use. The arm and the bit are rotating at high speeds and it’s difficult to see them. To make them more visible, paint the ends a bright, fluorescent yellow. Now the ends of the cutter are very obvious, and much easier to avoid.

Circular Saw Guide
This one is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. When using a straightedge as a guide for ripping with a circular saw, you usually have to add the distance from the blade to the edge of the saw shoe to your measurements. If you don’t use this technique regularly, you probably have to verify this measurement each time you use the saw. To save some time, write the measurements from both sides of the blade to the shoe edges on the shoe itself. For better readability, write them on a sticky label.

Whether you think you already know all the tricks, or if you’re looking for a quick education in being clever, you’ll find what you’re looking for in “601 Woodshop Tips & Tricks.” While the book isn’t available until early June, we are taking orders now.

– David Thiel