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Sampling of WOOD's Top Tips, Part 1

If you love woodworking tips, you'll love each issue of WOOD magazine with dozens of shop-tested tips from our readers and the WOOD Magazine Shop.

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  • Cranky routers raise without a fuss

    In the course of testing the do-it-all routers, I found myself making hundreds of turns of the included router-raising wrenches. Hands cramping, I decided to speed the process by converting the hex-head wrenches to cranks.

    To make one for your router, start with two square 1/2" MDF blanks with sides equal to the handle's length (or, in the case of an L-shaped wrench, double the short leg's length). Cut a centered slot in each of the blanks to snugly fit the wrench handle, and drill a centered hole in the bottom blank for the wrench. Then drill and countersink the bottom blank and secure the two blanks together with screws, as shown. Bandsaw the joined blanks round. Finally, disassemble, drill a 3/8" hole through the top blank to fit a 2"-long dowel, and reassemble with the wrench in place, gluing the dowel into its hole.

    —Jan Svec, Des Moines, Iowa

  • Magnetic attraction opens your eyes to the blind hole

    If you've ever built a bed using traditional bed bolts, as shown, you know how difficult it is to blindly match the bolt-access hole to the bolt hole in the rail. Misalign the two holes even slightly, and the nut won't slip over the bolt threads. Here's my method to perfectly mark the centerpoint of the bolt access hole.

    After drilling the bolt hole in the end of the rail (but before boring the access hole), slide the bed bolt into it. Now roll a cylindrical rare-earth magnet, or a stack of flat, round ones, over the inside face of the rail. The magnets will be drawn to the internal bolt and "find" it by coming to a rest directly over the bolt. Mark that location and repeat, moving the magnets farther from the end until they no longer attract. You have located the end of the bolt. Mark a center point there and drill the access hole.

    —Mike Schupp, Prairie Village, Kan.

  • 10-minute microadjuster

    This simple router table microadjuster takes only minutes to make, and pays huge dividends in accuracy. It consists of a rabbeted backstop that hooks over the rear of the router table and locks into the same T-track that the fence rides in. The backstop houses 6-32 pronged T-nuts in through holes to hold 6-32 threaded rod. I added a jam nut and couplers to act as a handle and a reference to indicate the adjustment amount. Each full turn of the coupler nudges the fence 1/32".

    —Richard Lacey, Rome, Pa.

  • Concealed cord catcher

    Those plastic cases that tools come in never seem to fit the tool's cord once it's unfurled for the first time. However, there seems to be ample "filler" space in the molded top. I take advantage of that space by drilling and cutting out a large slot in the top of the case, as shown. The cord stores easily inside and stays contained while I close the case.

    —Dave Jenkins, Cuba, N.M.

  • This down-low storage solution is top-drawer

    As an electronics-engineer-turned-professional-woodworker, I see the wasted space under the table of a floor-model drill press as a "bug" waiting to be fixed. I solved it by constructing these simple, stackable drawer units using 3/4" plywood for the cases and pine for the drawers.

    Overhanging sides on the bottom unit straddle the drill-press base to keep it in place. I made the top unit 1 1/2" wider than the bottom one with a 1/2" bottom lip that nests the two together.

    With a total height of 24" when stacked, I still have a good 14" between the chuck and the table. The handle on the upper unit and the hand-hold cutout on the bottom one lets me move them aside when I need more drilling capacity.

    —Bill LaPrade, Westborough, Mass.

  • Inexpensive jig turns sharpening on its head

    This scrapwood jig helps you sharpen plane irons accurately and quickly. To build it, bevel the ends of two scrap boards (one about 3" thick, 4" wide and 8" long, and the other about 3/4x3x8" as shown, to match the bevel angle of the plane iron. Leave the smaller board about 1/8" forward of the other to create a fence to square the iron against; then glue the two boards together.

    Position the plane iron against the fence with the bevel slightly above the top face of the jig, and secure it with a screw and washer. Now, guide your sharpening stone against the top of the jig to sharpen the iron in no time.

    —Don Hansen, Silver City, N.M.

  • Temporary feet make up for too few hands

    My wife and I make crafts to sell at fairs and festivals. Recently, we decided to branch out with this three-legged table design, but even with two sets of hands, we found it difficult to hold the legs upright while placing the tabletop and shelves. My wife hit on the idea of using bar clamps at the base of the legs as temporary supports. It was like having extra hands to help us.

    —Rev. and Mrs. Frank Ingram, Gibson, N.C.

  • Featherboard enjoys on-again, off-again attraction

    I didn't want to ruin my brand new tablesaw fence by attaching permanent fixtures for featherboards. So I came up with this removable jig.

    Sized to fit between the fence inside faces, the magnetic mounting block can be placed anywhere along the fence. Two spacers, each the thickness of the fence face, attach between the mounting block and the featherboard using 1/4"-20 knobs that thread into nuts in the T-track. Between uses, the jig stores on the edge of my cast iron tablesaw wing.

    —John Vento, Parkville, Mo.

  • Set precise angles vertically and digitally

    Here's a way to dial in your miter gauge for tricky angles, such as for a seven-sided frame. Cut a piece of 3/4" MDF wider than your miter gauge, as shown. Then center a dado in one face to fit your miter-gauge bar, and add the base, support block, and hold-down.

    To set an angle, insert your miter gauge into the jig, stand the jig on end, and zero a digital angle finder (such as a Wixey, Rockler item no. 27487, 800-279-4441, rockler.com) on the face of the miter gauge. Loosen the scale on the miter gauge and tilt the miter gauge head until the angle finder reads the desired angle. Now tighten the gauge and start making uber-precise miter cuts.

    —Bob Wilson, Urbandale, Iowa

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