Monthly Archives: February 2012

Almost Ready

Back at the first of 2012, I opened this blog, posted a new entry then transferred information from my older web site. At the end of the “About” page, I added that there may also be a few surprises in the near future. This mallet is one surprise. This is a first look, except by a couple close friends and business acquaintances, at my woodworking mallet – a mallet that’s coming to market shortly.

More information is soon to come.

Build Something Great!



Filed under Hand Tools

My Favorite Woodworking Jig

I have only a handful of jigs in my shop and not one of which has a sliding T-track attached to it. I find “tricked out” jigs a waste of time and more often than not they are useless. The best jigs are those that are simple to make and easy to use.

A short list of plywood jigs found in my shop consists of a square platform jig used to create short sliding dovetails to join drawer blades to case sides (written about in the November 2008 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine), a simple fence extension that rides my Unisaw fence to keep my hands above cuts and out of harms way and a large tenon jig used to hold pieces vertical as I cut tenons. (This jig is explained in detail here.)

There is one other jig that I have to call my favorite – it’s a right-angle assembly that has many duties. In the opening photo, I’m using the jig to hold a case side as I transfer my dovetail pin layout. As used here, you get a handle on how it’s made and about size. Face pieces are 5 1/2″ wide and the overall length is 20″. There is enough width to keep panels balanced, and the length allows you to easily grab piece using spring clamps.

To hold the two pieces at a right angle I installed a couple simple braces with two screws piercing each face. When using the jig to hold panels, those braces are perfect to store  your clamps to keep them from getting too far away.

Panel work, however, was not why this jig was originally built. I have always been frustrated with fences provided with most band saws. I find the drift of my band saw blade before I attempt to rip or re-saw lumber. I can count on one hand the number of times that my drift was exactly 90 degrees to the band saw table and most fences do not have the ability to lock at small angles. To correct that problem, I use this jig along with a couple clamps to lock my fence at the needed angle to get the job done.

This week I discovered another use for my right-angle jig. As I worked at my router I had mounds of router shavings being cast over my table saw – my router, at the present time, is mounted in my out-feed table. (That’s turning out to be less than ideal.) To stop the spread of feather-like shavings, I sat this jig just behind the router bit to acts as a backstop.

A good jig has many uses. And it doesn’t take a Harvard degree to understand how it’s used.

Build Something Great!



Filed under Jigs, Routers

What Does $25 Buy You?

Take a look at the photo. I bought that for only $25. No, not the lumber. It would be crazy to think you could find mahogany and walnut for as little as 25 dollars. I’m writing about the inexpensive lumber rack that’s holding all that hardwood. (I thought about titling this entry as “Nice Rack,” but that may have drawn your attention for the wrong reasons.)

These are so simple. I have been storing lumber on racks such as these as long as I’ve been building furniture. There is close to 350 board feet of lumber stored here, all of which rests on 12 pieces of 2×4 bought at my local home center. Six of the 2x4s stay at full length. The balance are cut into a few different lengths, depending on where they are used.

Wondering about the steps? Here goes. First, set up a stop at your miter saw so you cut 18″ pieces. Set an angle of cut at 4 degrees, butt a 2x to your stop then make a cut. That piece is your bottom spacer.

Successive cuts produce spacers (angled on both ends) that fit between levels of storage , and the leftover piece is a top spacer to make the top support arm usable. Three cut 2×4 pieces along with six uncut pieces make three racks. Remaining 2x4s are chopped at 24″ in length to make your supports.

This is where it gets really simple. You could nail these pieces, but I’ve found it best to screw them together using 2-1/4″-long screws. Position your bottom spacer to one of the full-length side pieces, then screw it in place. (Use three screws per section.)

Next, butt a short piece of 2x against the end of your spacer as shown in the photo (side grain to end grain), position a spacer to that short piece then screw it to your side. Keep your spacer tight or you may find your stored lumber bowing downward under the load. Repeat these steps using two additional angle-cut supports. The last piece to fill out the length of a side – your top spacer – has to be cut to length. (I square cut these to bring all ends flush to one another.)

Wrap up the first rack by securing a second side piece to the assembly – again, use three screws per spacer.

Secure these racks to your wall. I space each rack about 3′ apart. With that arrangement you can store 10′ lumber without any worry of sagging. Here I have a wooden frame to screw to, but I’ve also drilled into concrete, driven wooden pegs into the holes then used screws to attach these racks. Whatever the scenario, I like to use a metal tie – some of my racks are tied into walls with hurricane ties, but I’m not exactly sure what I’m using with this setup. Any piece of metal that can be screwed to your wall and rack is fair game.

With three racks installed, it’s time to slip in the supports – you may have to use a hammer or mallet to knock the supports home – then load your wood.

Below this post is a simple drawing of my rack. If you would like a simple SketchUp drawing of this design, drop me a message at

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Rack Plan


Filed under Shop Tips

Router Work: Perfect Off-set Profiles

One of a handful of  important tools in my shop are routers. No, I don’t have routers sitting on shelves circling my shop as did Mr. Abram during his long-running show, but I do own more than a few. I have them not for show, but because they do almost any job you ask. When I teach routers I run through many of these uses, such as plowing grooves and dados, sliding dovetails, hogging out waste between pins, edge profiles and more.

One fun technique that I always demonstrated toward the end of the seminar was how to enlarge a hole using routers. I found this technique fun, but not all that practical. How many times do you need to enlarge a hole to a specific diameter? I do this occasionally whenever I need to hang pipe or duct-work for dust collection, and mostly that’s about all. But as I worked on a secretary interior recently, I discovered how I could put this technique to use.

Here’s the technique: Begin with a hole drilled through your workpiece – it doesn’t matter what size hole as long as you can get a rabbet bit into that hole. Next, slip that rabbet bit into the hole so a bearing runs along the bottom edge of the hole, then make a pass around the hole to enlarge the top portion as shown in the above photo. The next step is to use a pattern router bit to waste away the portion of the hole not cut with your rabbet bit. Voila. You now have a perfectly round hole that is larger in diameter. (See below.)

What makes this technique valuable is that you can step from any diameter hole to a desired-diameter hole by adjusting your rabbet size. In the photos, I took a 1-3/4″ hole and moved to a 2-3/4″ diameter hole. A second run through the process would take my hole to 3-3/4″ in diameter due to the fact that I had my rabbet bit set for a 1/2″ rabbet. If a rabbet bit were set for a 3/8″ rabbet, the hole would move from 1-3/4″ to 2-1/2″ (+3/4″). A second run through would produce a hole with a 3-1/4″ diameter (+3/4″). Any size step is possible. You can combine any different rabbet bit setups to get to exactly the size diameter you want – one pass with a 3/8″ bit and a second using a 1/2″ rabbet bit would increase your diameter by 1-3/4″ (3/8″ + 1/2″ x 2).

Nice little technique, but how is this going to help with my secretary interior? In the top photo, the bottom and middle shelves have the exact same profile except that the middle shelf steps back a 1/2″ exactly. Not simply back at all the straight areas – each curve also steps outward, too. I could have developed a second pattern (as discussed a few weeks back in my “Are Full-size Plans Available?” post), traced the pattern onto my shelf, then cut the shape at my band saw. Instead, I used this rabbet/router technique and had a completed shelf in two quick steps. I cannot believe it took me this long to put this technique to use.

This is a simple process to use and can really save you time in the shop, but I will add a caveat. It’s important to watch the direction of your grain and the undulating profile as you rout (work from high to low as you would when turning at your lathe). Also, I found it best to climb-cut most of the shape as I worked to keep from splitting out wood in chunks.

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Filed under Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips