Friday, January 29, 2016

How to make springs

When I made my wood clip board I had to make my own spring. After getting a lot of nice comments thought I would show you how to make your springs.

Springs are nice to have in the shop for your projects but how many should you carry and what size or type should you have?
Buying springs can add up and sometimes it is difficult to find the exact one you need? 
Wouldn't it be nice to make your own.

Making springs may seem intimidating but with a few basic tools and simple instruction anyone can make them.
In this article I will show you how to make some, first the easy way then I will move on to some other tools but still keeping things easy.

Piano wire can be found at hobby shops.

Here are just some of the springs I will show you how to make.
From left to right,
  • Tension spring
  • Compression spring
  • Tapered spring
  • Torsion spring


An easy way to start is to use the tools shown below. With these few tools you will be able to safely make many different types of springs.
  1. 1/2" dowel
  2. piano wire
  3. pliers with wire cutters
  4. saw
  5. clamps
  6. cordless drill

Tension springs

cutting the dowel....

First cut a piece of 1/2 dowel about 5 inches long and cut a small slot in one end, this will be for inserting the wire. 1/2 inch dowel will work best, since this will also fit in the drill chuck. A smaller dowel will not work very well since it may not hold up to the wire.

A cordless drill works better than a drill press because you can control the speed. For Safety always use a pair of pliers. If the wire springs it may cut you.

With the drill mounted onto the workbench with the clamps, one hand is on the trigger and the other hand on the pliers turn as much as you need to make your spring. Keep the string taut as you feed it, the spring will turn out nicer.

Picture of Making a tension spring

After the spring was made I used some pliers and did some wire bending and made this tension spring. By experimenting you can make many different sizes.

Compression springs

Picture of Compression spring

Tapered springs

A tapered dowel can be made using a drill and a belt sander.
Using the same technique the wire was fed in the dowel slot. When the spring was fully turned I clipped the ends and the tapered spring was complete.

This one I had to do twice to get the hang of and the second one turned out nicer.

Torsion springs

Torsion spring was made but this time I had to use a brass rod since a smaller wood dowel would not hold up. To make it just make a few coils and space apart as needed. With a little bit of wire bending at the ends you can make yourself a nice torsion spring.

     Here is a compression spring I made using a brass rod.


Working in your shop is fun and this is just another skill you can learn.

I hope that wasn't very hard and I hope it will help you with your projects. This can also help you save money if you have to make a lot of springs.

I know that there are many other ways to make springs but for my projects I will always try to make them using this process. I hope this guide and the video can help you make your own easily.

If you have others ways to make springs please let me know in the comments.

See Also:

Wood clipboard              Auto drill press lever                 Knife switch


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Jigsaw circle cutting jig

How to cut wood circles? Most woodworkers will have to cut circles, partial circles or arcs from time to time. Cutting circles can be done many different ways using many different tools. It is nice to have plenty of options. 

    For example you can use a:           

  •  table saw
  •  bandsaw
  •  jigsaw
  •  router 
  •  handsaw
For some of these tools you can cut free hand by following a outline but this way is not very nice. 

To be precise a jig would work best. 

              John Heisz shows us how to make perfect circles on a router with his  circle cutting jig. 

            I also made a  Router circle cutting jig  using a similar setup I am about to show you, but it will be updated and better.                   


I wanted to try something different so I thought I would try a jigsaw. This jig will be very simple to make and you will be able to make small and large circles even up to 4 feet.

In this article I will show you  how to make the jig for the jigsaw and how to use it.

Building the pivot dowel

I first started with the dowel, this will be for the the threaded rod. I used my bandsaw sled to cut a 32 cm DIA dowel 45cm long. 

A hole was drilled through the centre of the dowel for a coupling nut. To do this safely I used a v-block to keep the dowel straight and a push stick for support  while I was drilling it.  

A coupling nut was inserted into the dowel. First it was tapped in a bit with a hammer then a vise was used to push it in all the way. Doing it this way will help to prevent splitting.

I bought various types of snaps and tested them out. 

They are available at Home Depot , and are inexpensive costing under one dollar each.
Screw snaps and Stud snaps will both work depending on your project. The screw type will screw into a piece of wood while the stud snaps should be glued onto a wood disk then with two sided tape it can be placed onto your work surface and when you remove it later there will be no marks.

A hole is countersunk in the dowel and this will be for the stud snap. By countersinking the snap into the dowel it will sit better on the workpiece. I used some CA glue and a small Robertson screw to put it together. 

 Building the Jigsaw base                                                                               

  1/4 inch Baltic birch is used for the base of the jigsaw. The jigsaw was placed onto the wood and the bottom was outlined and ready for cutting.

 I used a piece of oak for the sides. They were cut on the bandsaw and I  knocked off the edges which made it look better. 

The jigsaw was placed on the board and the sides are carefully clamped tight against the jigsaw sides. This will help make a nice tight fit.

I removed the bottom soleplate off the jigsaw. It was very easy since it just snapped on.

Making a long drill bit

I did not have a drill bit long enough to drill through the base for the hole for the threaded rod. It had to go through both sides to make it line up exactly. To do this I made my own bit out off a smaller piece of threaded rod I had lying around. 

I just cut the piece about 8 inches long and put it on my belt sander and ground the tip until it made a sharp point. This did the job quite nicely. After the pilot hole was drilled with the new bit I used a regular  drill bit to match the right size for the large threaded rod.

Threaded rod in the dowel. The dowel and coupling nut will turn very quick on the threaded rod and give you an accurate measurement fast.

Here is a shot of the rod bolted to the side of the base. One nut on both sides is enough to keep it secure.

A couple of disks are cut out using a hole saw. They can either be taped to the workpiece or screwed down.  


 Most woodworkers will have to cut circles or partial circles.  This handy jig will work for most jigsaws. The snaps make it simple to use and the threaded rod and dowel makes it simple to adjust. It can be adjusted to as long as you want.
(as long as your threaded rod).

If you build one let me know how it goes or if you have another design please let me know how yours works. Good Luck!


 See also:

Cutting groves                 Quick stop block             Make a dowel station

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Best Clipboard

Where do you keep all your papers for projects and plans?
Can you always find your notes? 

If you are unorganized and have a hard time keeping things in order this project is for you. 

It is mostly made of wood except for a spring which I will show you how to make. The wooden clipboard  also has a storage compartment in the back for your other important papers.

It is an easy and fun project to make for woodworking and the workshop, or you can use it in your office and even the kitchen for recipes. 

Building the top and bottom

1/4 inch Baltic birch is used for the top and bottom board as well as the clip.
 First cut the boards on the table saw and cut them larger than a letter size sheet of paper, they can always be trimmed down later. I rough cut them 25x40 cm. The back board will be larger since it will have the back clip profile on it.

The spring clip                                          
The next part is to make the hinge. I like oak, it is strong and also a wood I enjoy working with. The length of the hinge is 35cm. 

Next is to drill the hole for a wooden dowel. The hinge will rotate on the dowel.
It is important to measure, mark and use a punch to make the centers before drilling, this will give you the best fit.

To make the other part of the hinge the first part was carefully outlined onto the first piece.

I made a mistake with the hinge and did not cut out the middle section. I removed the middle and that will be for the spring.

The piece was cleaned up using a small belt sander and the edges were rounded. Removing the sharp edges will look better.

The dowel (pin) is hammered into the hinge barrel and with just friction the pin  will not move.  If there is any creep a slight tap will set it back.  

How to make a spring                                                                          
To make the spring a slot was cut into  a piece of brass rod and a piece of piano wire was inserted into the slot. The other end should be held with a pair of pliers, I like to hold it firm with a pair of vicegrips. Then carefully start the drill and make as many coils as you need.                                               

A clip for the top was cut out using the Baltic birch and this will be glued onto the oak  hinge.

The two pieces are glued together and the spring is adjusted for best fit. The ends are slightly bent so they don't mark the wood. This will also increase the tension of the spring.

The backboard is cut out, it is cut the same length as the front plus the clip part as you can see below. The triangle on the side is cut, this will make it easy to grab the paper.

Sides are glued onto the backboard. The sides are larger than the board because they can be trimmed and cleaned up later. This way works very easy.

The last step is to glue the top on. I did not drill any holes on the clips yet because I have nowhere to hang it.


Keeping your shop clean and working from well organized notes makes things easier and now some of your shop projects can be neatly stored in the back of the clipboard. 

These will be great not only for the workshop but I will have to make a few more, one for the office and one for the kitchen

If you like this project let me know what you think. Also if you have any questions feel free to leave them below. 

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See Also:  
Make a Scrap Bin           Dowel Stop Gauge          Kitchen Utensil Holder