Three Free Woodworking Tips from our Readers

“Tricks of the Trade” is one of the most well-liked sections in our magazine. Here are three of these reader-submitted woodworking tips from the many we have published so far this year. Enjoy! And if you like what you see, consider a subscription to the magazine. It’s the one of the best ways to build a relationship with us and build your knowledge base.

Tell us some more of your favorite tricks in the comments section at the bottom of this post!

Dan Farnbach


Magic Heating Bag

heatingbagLiquid hide glue often needs to be warmed up before it’s used – particularly in a cold shop. I find it inconvenient to heat up the glue in a pot of hot water every time I need a bit of it.

My quick trick is to use a magic heating bag warmed in a microwave oven to bring the temperature to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I then wrap it around the glue bottle for 20 seconds or so. The heating takes a minute or so, including the microwaving, and it’s all done dry. Use a meat thermometer first to check how long it takes to warm up the bag to 120 degrees and note the time for future use.

Instead of buying a commercial heating bag, I used an old clean sock and filled it with uncooked rice, then closed the sock’s opening by sewing a hem.

Charles Mak
Calgary, Alberta


Shop Vacuum Multi-use Bag

I use my shop vacuum with all my power tools, and a set of bags is not cheap. I decided to economize.

Here’s my solution: I cut open one end of a vacuum bag and attached self-adhesive Velcro closures to the opening, then reinforced the end of the bag with duct tape. When the bag gets full, I simply open the closure and empty the collection bag into a large plastic garbage bag.

Bill Wells
Olympia, Washington


New use for Spring Clamp

springclampuseWhile building my workbench, I kept saying, “Gosh, I wish I had a workbench to do this on.”

Faced with flattening the 16 sides of the 4×4 legs, I hit upon a way of holding them that was secure enough for handplaning but released them quickly for working the next side.

By simply clamping two blocks of wood to a flat work surface and using a large spring clamp as a wedge at one end, I was popping the 4x4s in and out quickly and easily.

The only bit of fuss is to get the blocks far enough apart so the spring clamp exerts enough pressure to hold the workpiece – but not so much that it’s difficult to put the workpiece in place.

The setup is so fast and works so well that it’s better than some of the end vises I’ve used.

Peter A. McLaughlin
Chicago, Illinois

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Woodworking Daily Blog
Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.

One thought on “Three Free Woodworking Tips from our Readers

  1. sean3047

    That spring clamp tip is pure gold.

    I’m (slowly) building a roubo-esque bench out of laminated framing pine entirely by hand, and while I’ve been using a clamped down batten as a stop, I’ve struggled to find a suitable replacement for a wagon vice like hold (I’d tried wedges between my work and another clamped batten but had too much movement).

    Look forward to giving this a go.

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