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Tips for Sizzlin's Summer Program

Tips for Sizzlin's Summer Program

  • Downsize PVC to fit blast gates

    When I installed a central ductwork system for my dust collector, I used 4" PVC pipe instead of steel and saved 75 percent on the cost. But the inside diameter of the 4" PVC is 1/8" too large for blast gates designed for steel ducts. My dad and I solved that problem by shrinking the PVC pipe slightly with a propane torch.

    To soften the PVC for the joints, we slipped a hose clamp over the pipe and carefully heated the pipe until it softened. With the pipe end soft, he slipped the fitting into the pipe, slid the hose clamp up near the end, and tightened it to snug-up the softened PVC end. Once the pipe cooled and hardened, we removed the hose clamp to use for the next joint.

    Finally, I secured the blast gate to the pipe with a sheet metal screw. With no tape, glue, or steel, and only a single hose clamp, it's a clean, simple way to build an inexpensive but effective collection system.

  • Quick and easy board straightener

    I don't spend extra money to have a straight edge milled on the stock I buy because a long time ago I figured out a way to straighten virtually any board on my tablesaw as long as it's fairly flat. All you need is a straight scrap of material you can screw to the workpiece, as shown. The straight scrap rides against the fence allowing a straight cut on the opposite edge. With one straight edge in place, you only need to remove the straight scrap, turn the board around, and straighten the other edge. The attached trowels help me hoist large workpieces up to tabletop height.

    -- Niki Avrahami, Garwolin, Poland

  • All-weather runners for a tablesaw sled

    I live in a climate where the humidity varies a lot, causing wood to expand and contract considerably. As a result, my tablesaw's crosscut sled, made from MDF, would often hang up in the miter slots as I tried to push it through. To solve the problem, I created the adjustable runners shown here so I can have a snug, but smooth-running, operation regardless of the weather.

    To add these expandable miter runners to one of your sleds, begin by cutting runners that are 1/16" shallower and narrower than your miter slots. Next, attach some cloth-backed double-faced tape to the top of the runners and center them in the miter slots. Lay some pennies in the bottom of the slot so the runners will be proud of the surface, and shim the sides to keep them centered. Expose the tape and lay your jig squarely on the runners to temporarily position them.

    Remove the jig (with runners attached), and drill and countersink pilot holes through each runner and into the jig. Mark the runners so you can attach them exactly as you drilled them, and then remove the runners and tape. Use a jigsaw to cut the 1" expansion slots shown in the drawing. Now, install 1/4-20x1/2" threaded inserts into the jig bottom at each pilot-hole location, and attach the runners to the sled with the flathead machine screws. Tightening the screws causes the runner to spread slightly until it fits perfectly in your tool's miter slot.

    I check the fit each time I use my crosscut sled and adjust the width of the runners as needed. To further reduce friction, I occasionally wax the runners and the bottom of the sled.

    -- Larry Plagens, Conroe, Texas

  • Instant insert for zero-clearance cuts

    Cutting dadoes or rabbets into small pieces on a tablesaw used to be a hazardous undertaking for me. The workpiece would sometimes catch on the edges of the dado insert that came with my saw. Rather than making a bunch of zero-clearance inserts to fit into the throat-plate opening, I now fashion a new temporary zero-clearance “tabletop” for each setup using scraps of medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

    To make your own sacrificial tabletop, install your dado set, and lock your fence in the desired position for cutting the rabbet or dado. Lower the dado set below the saw's tabletop and clamp a piece of scrap to the tablesaw, as shown at right. Next, start the saw and raise the dado set slowly so that it cuts through the scrap. Raise it about 1/16" higher than the required depth and then lower it to the true cutting depth. (This extra space helps clear the sawdust as you cut.) You can use this same technique for larger workpieces, but you’ll need a wider piece of scrap.

    -- Benny Floyd, Cabot, Ark.

  • Plunge router transforms into mini drill press

    I recently needed to drill 3/4"-diameter holes into the end grain of some 82"-long bed rails: too long for my drill press, too big for my doweling jig, and vI didn't trust a hand drill to give me the perfectly perpendicular holes I needed. Instead, I drilled the holes with my plunge router and the shop-made self-centering jig you see here.

    Start by making the jig from 1/4" hardboard and two scrapwood fences spaced to match the thickness of the workpiece you want to drill. Install the jig in place of your router’s factory-supplied subbase, with the bit centered between the two fences.

    Now install a 3/4" plunging straight bit (such as Woodline WL-1038, 1/2" shank, $9, 800-472-6950 or woodline.com), clamp the workpiece between the fences, and plunge slowly, withdrawing occasionally to clear chips.

    With this jig, I’ve found I can plunge about 11/2" deep with my existing bits. If I need to go deeper, this plunged hole provides an effective guide for a Forstner bit in my handheld drill.

    -- Andy Newhouse, Syracuse, N.Y.

  • A surefire way to clean aerosol nozzles

    In my shop I frequently use spray cans of paint and finish and I don't like wasting the can's contents or pressure to clear the nozzle. Instead, I use a can of WD-40, as shown, to easily and completely clean the nozzle.

    -- David Buskirk, Ray, Ohio

  • Miter to picture-frame-perfect length the first time

    I've had great success cutting perfect miters for picture frames using a dedicated sled with a plastic 45° drafting triangle acting as a fence, as shown at right. After squaring the sled base to the guide bar, I cut a saw kerf two-thirds of the way through the sled. Next, I centered a fence a little shorter than the longest side of the triangle on the back edge of the sled. Finally, I screwed the triangle to the sled so that the point of its 90° angle splits the saw kerf.

    To use the sled, I first crosscut all my frame sides to finished length -- plus 1/8" to account for the kerf of my tablesaw blade. Then, I cut a scrap of stock the same width as the frame workpiece and hold a scrapwood stop against it as shown. With the workpiece butted against the stop, the blade removes half of the 1/8" excess length with each cut. It's as easy to cut on the right side of the blade as it is the left with no adjustments like you would have on a mitersaw.

    -- Niki Avrahami, Garwolin, Poland

  • Workbench expansion gives you a leg up

    I was building a corner cabinet when I realized my workbench wasn't quite wide enough for the project. To solve the problem, I enlisted my bench vise to create a temporary workbench addition, as shown.

    The extension top is a separate, compact table that's quickly but firmly held in place by the vise. To install it, I first use the bench vise to align the surface of the extension flush with the benchtop. Then I use the leveler on the bottom of the leg to firmly position the rest of the extension and take some of the pressure off the vise.

    -- Dave Wywial, Janesville, Wis.

  • Lucy, you've got some splinin' to do

    Miter joints are some of the weakest in woodworking because of poor end-grain to end-grain gluing. That's why I always reinforce my miter joints with a spline. I used to cut the spline slots with a jig on my tablesaw, but that gets awkward with a large frame.

    Recently, I began using my biscuit joiner to simplify this process. By adding an aluminum plate to the jointer's fence, as shown, the slot is automatically centered on the joint. I cut the added plate to shape using a metal-cutting blade on my bandsaw.

    A couple of caveats: When cutting the 90° bird's mouth, leave at least 3/16" of metal at the back of the plate for strength. And remember that you could accidentally cut into the added plate with the joiner's blade if you don't properly adjust the depth.

    -- Jack Williams, Elephant Butte, N.M.

  • Snap a sharp line in glass

    Having four daughters and three grandchildren, I am forever making picture frames. Usually these frames are not a common size, so I started to cut my own glass with mixed results. Finally, I made the glass-breaking jig shown right to provide uniform pressure for a clean break. On one of the plywood layers, I glued a 1/16x1" scrap of plastic countertop laminate.

    To use the jig, clamp it over the glass sheet, leaving just enough room for the glass cutter. After scoring, reclamp it next to the score line, and snap off the extra glass.

    -- Karl Mueller, Fairport, N.Y.

  • A simple wedge can be very persuasive

    Around Christmastime, my lathe becomes a production platform for platters. After trying most of the options for mounting a workpiece to a faceplate, I've decided double-faced turner's tape (Rockler part no. 50492, $7.49; 800-279-4441, rockler.com) is as close to perfect as it gets. Sometimes, it works too well: I usually have to chisel off the sacrificial faceplate and often mar the underside of the platter.

    For a solution, I made a sacrificial faceplate as usual, but I cut a 1/2" dado 9/16" deep through the center before bandsawing it round and screwing it to the lathe's faceplate with the dado facing out. Next, I make a small hardwood wedge that fits into the slot. Then, I use turner's tape to mount the workpiece to the sacrificial faceplate, and turn the platter.

    When I'm done, I insert a thin piece of veneer (to protect the workpiece) and the wedge into the dado gap and gently tap in the wedge until the workpiece pops off.

    -- Doug Green, Marble Falls, Texas

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