Shop Tips

Learn tips and tricks that make your shop time more productive. Find out how to get the most out of hand tools and power tools, including your router and table saw. See tips on finishing, gluing, clamping, sharpening, layout, and more!

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Repeatable measurements start with a simple stop
Like the head of a combination square, a ruler stop helps you make consistent layout marks from the edge of a workpiece. I made a ruler stop for nearly every steel rule in my shop, using scraps and a few pieces of hardware.
Chip dip for dowels solves sloppiness
When using dowel joinery, it's not uncommon that one of the holes fits the dowel a little loosely. The hole might be too large or misshapen for a proper fit.
Up your finishing game with simple spacers
Instead of pricey pyramids, I support small parts and projects for finishing on brad points. Not the drill bits, but actual brads drilled through readily available cross-shaped tile spacers. When I’m done, I just gather them up and store the points in a jar.
Secret sliding sharpening station
In my small shop, having a dedicated sharpening station was out of the question. So beneath my benchtop I installed sliding trays for rough, fine, and ultra-fine diamond sharpening stones and a leather hone. The trays fit between the dogholes along the front of the bench. 
A cheesy container for hardware storage
Don’t throw out those empty grated-cheese containers. They make perfect jars for storing hardware such as screws, nuts, and small nails. The dual-sided lid, with small and large openings, makes dispensing as many pieces as you need easy, with just a shake or two.
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More Shop Tips

A magnetic attraction to spill-proof finishing
When using small cans of finish or stain, I place the can inside a 6" magnetic parts tray, less than $10 at an auto-parts store.
Custom clamping spacers for consistent cabinet construction
When building cabinets, I found an easy way to guarantee parallel sides that sit square to the bottom. The simple solution utilizes a pair of fence clamps and a wood spacer during cabinet assembly.