Work Shop 101

Drill press table clamp

If you ever have a clamp that is broken don't chuck it, you may be able to modify it or use it like I will show you. 

 The top jaw of this clamp always came off and it was somewhat of a pain  for storage but I saved it and still used it because it still worked fine. 

I came up with this idea for use on the drill press table. The top jaw was removed and the bar was inserted into the table slot and then the top jaw was put back on.

 This inexpensive clamp works great and is too simple to use. I know I will  get a lot of use from it.

Make an nice grip handle for your chuck key

You want an easier way to use a drill chuck key, then try this simple modification. To make it you will need a couple inches of dowel and a short piece of steel rod. A nail could also be used.

After measuring the thickness of the steel rod it should be placed in a vice and drilled out a couple inches. Note; the drill bit should be slightly smaller than the rod, and should match as close as you can to the chuck key.

The two pieces are put together, I just used a hammer and pounded the rod in the dowel.

Now you can use a sander to shape it how you like. I found a belt sander works best for this. Notice the angle I am holding the drill, this will give it a nice taper. 

After shaping do some fine sanding using finer grit paper. Remove the steel rod and force it on the chuck key and give it a coat of your favourite finish. 

Dowel Hacksaw                                                 

Since my last project, mini hacksaw I had a few extra hacksaw blades. Instead of storing them I will make a few small dowel saws. They are very easy to make and can be made in minutes. 

One blade and some 1/2" dowel can make a few saws. 

To make cut a slot in a piece of dowel. The dowel should be the length to best fit your hand. I did not cut the blade but placed it in a vice and bent it till it snapped. That is the easiest since it is hard steel. A little bit of shaping was done using a belt sander.

Gorilla glue was used to glue the blades in. After the glue has dried take them to the belt sander and free hand shape them however you like. The blade can also be shaped on the sander. 


Spline  joint                                                       

Don't have a dado blade.. you can try a spline joint.  Sometimes dado          blades can be a pain to setup and it takes a lot of measuring.                                                                                           

This is a very strong joint and easy to do.                                                   
How to make                                                                                          
The plywood pieces are marked and run through the tablesaw with just one pass. The splines I used are maple and have to  be cut the same thickness of the blade. They also have to be measured and cut to the right length width to fit the depth of the cut.                                                                                              

The fun part is now everything snaps together.                              

After a dry fit I placed a sledge hammer on my test piece. There are many uses for this joint and I will be using this technique more often.


How to accurately cut wood the same length  
When you have to cut pieces the same length it is always good to use a stop block, this way will be accurate and efficient.

Marking and cutting will not be accurate, and when you have to cut many pieces the errors can add up.                               

Clean up oak flooring

The pieces below are hardwood oak it is very nice wood but has to be cleaned up. I start by removing the bottom grooves and clean up the sides.

 Now I can remove the  ends which are tongue and groove as well.
A hand screw clamp is placed on my wooden miter gauge and the pieces are cut exactly to the length I needed. 

So far this has worked out for me for pieces that fit the backboard of the miter gauge, but if you need longer perfect lengths another method is required.


Coupling Nut used as a fastener

I like to use a coupling nut also known as an extension nut on many of my projects. When they get pounded in the wood they hold up very well.

T-nuts work but only lock one side of you work piece. I still use them but they have there place.  

 I used this method when  I made my wooden clamp and it still works great.

How to do it
A coupling nut is put on a piece of a bolt and in a drill. It is then placed on a sander and the end is ground down a bit. This will help it go in smoother when it is pounded in the wood.

You can hammer it in your workpiece or place it in the vise and push it in. The vise works better for smaller pieces of wood, and the impact of the hammer may split the wood. So you have to be careful and test what works best.

When a bolt or threaded rod is placed in the coupling nut it will work like a charm.
I tried to take out the nut and had to use a hammer and smash off the 2x4, you can see the marks on the wood.

Small Pencil marker   

In a tight spot and have to make a mark, try this.

 Take a piece of scrap wood and drill a hole slightly smaller than a pencil, then cut a small piece of pencil and force it in the hole. 

You can also drill the hole in a slight angle if you have too. It is not everyday you will need this but it is easy enough to make in minutes. And you will have another tool for the shop.                                                                           

Make your own drill bit

 When you need a drill bit fast you can make one. When I was drilling the base for my circle cutting jig the drill bit I was using was to short. I needed a bit over 4 inches long to make a hole on each side and so they would  line up perfectly.

Wikipedia has a nice article about drill bits sizes. It says "The length of the flutes is between nine and fourteen times the diameter of the drill, depending on the drill size. So a 12 in (12.7 mm) diameter drill will be able to drill a hole 4 12 in (114.3 mm) deep since it is nine times the diameter in length. 

Any steel rod would work if you have the right diameter. I found a piece of threaded rod and cut it to around 7 inches. Remember this will be used just as a pilot drill.

To make it just grind the tip to a sharp point and you are ready to go. I used a belt sander to make the tip shown. It is not necessary to harden the bit since it will rarely be used and it is easy enough to make a new one.

Most drill bits won't even go through a 2x4. After the hole is drilled with the homemade bit the hole can be cleaned up using the right size drill bit and drilling from both ends.    

Cutting dowels in half lengthways 

Cutting dowels in half may seem tricky but with this technique it can be
done easily. All what is needed is a clamping system made with some blocks to keep things secure.

Blocks are clamped together so they can be used as a guide.
This photo shows two different ways, either bar clamps or a couple
of screws (sometimes together). Both ways work fine but I like the
screw way better.

The dowel can be run all the way through the bandsaw or part way then turned over. Always keep the bar clamp on hand in case you need it. Do what works.


                                  I used this technique to make part of  my wood scroll holder it worked out fine and I got a pretty nice result.

Big Sandpaper board

 I have used many smaller size sandpaper paddles in my shop so I wanted to make a larger one. This one is the same size as a sheet of sandpaper. The sandpaper is glued to  a piece of 3/8" plywood. The grits are 80 and 150.

 When placed on the workbench the board will not move and the sandpaper will not buckle.

  The other side.

 To make I just cut the plywood to the size of the sandpaper and glue on with wood glue.  Easy enough to make and instead of cleaning off the old paper I will just throw it away and make a new one when needed.                                                                                          


Washers used as scribing  tool              

A pencil and a washer will give you a simple scribing tool. Depending on the size of your washer this is an easy way to enlarge circles. 

I have used it on ovals and many other edges. 

I show how I  use this technique for building my charging and storage station .

Here the washer follows the curve of the wall. Good idea if you want to put up some shelves and do some neat work.

 I am sure there are many other uses for these. I  use them whenever I can.

Miter Saw Supports

Long pieces of wood can sometimes be difficult to cut in the shop so I often use a jig or miter saw. When  the miter saw is used I use my supports. Sure makes things easier when cutting.

The support is made from some scrap 2x4 and plywood. The height is 4" and 6" long.
The supports help keep things secure and makes for easier cutting.

Un-warping plywood

In a recent project I cut up some plywood. When I had it cut to the size I needed  I laid it on my table saw top and realized that it was warped. I did not have anything else to work with so I wondered if I could get the warp out.

With the bowed side up, I rest the plywood on a small block of wood. I then applied pressure with clamps making an arc in the plywood.

I moved the heat gun around the piece for about five minutes. I made sure not to hold the gun in one section for more then a few seconds so I would not burn the wood. Next, I let it sit for about a half hour.

The piece now lays flat on my table top and is ready for my project. The problem most likely occurred because the wood is a cheap type of plywood.

Beading or Marking Tool

This is a very easy tool to make and will come in handy in the shop. It is referred to as both a beading or marking tool. Using just a screw, a block of wood and a few minutes this little jig will cut quickly and accurately on most surfaces including curved or rounded objects.

For the handle I used a block of wood 1.5" x 1.5" x  5” and a drywall screw. Soft wood works great because it is so easy to turn in the screw even by hand.  After marking the center on your block of wood, insert the screw. It is best to keep the screw higher than the center.

The head of screw can now be ground or sanded down. Hold the head flat on the sander and take off only small amounts. Make sure to stop and inspect your work carefully as you go so you keep it square. You should now have a nice sharp edge that is ready for marking .

Any screw type should be fine but I chose a drywall screw. By turning the screw with a screw driver with a philips, you can adjust the position accurately. Now your marker is complete and ready to use.  

Best Glue Bottle

Glue bottles can sometimes be frustrating because of clogging. Well the kids get the best bottle! The bottle I have been using is made by Crayola; it is a four ounce bottle and has a special applicator tip that will not clog. I just cleaned out the kids glue bottle and poured in some wood glue and keep refilling it. The hole is small so it works best on small projects.  I have used it for a couple of years and it still has not clogged.


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  2. Jack thanks for sharing these tips, really appreciated.

    1. John, I am glad you like it, many more to come.

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