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.

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...

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...

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″...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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....