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woodworking hints and tips

chuck key

It's helpful having the key chuck within easy reach when using an electric drill. You can attach the key chuck to the drill's power cord using the rubber "tie" that most manufactures provide. Often these ties don't fit tight enough, so the key slides around on the cord, often out of reach. To help keep the chuck within reach, try sandwiching the tie between a couple of tightly wrapped rubber bands.

Keeping the dust off your wet varnish

You are about to varnish a project, and still have on those dust-covered clothes you wore while sanding. It's a good idea to change into some clean clothes. This will help keep dust to the minimum, and means you will end up with a smoother finish.

Which direction to plane?

When handplaning boards, it is hard to know which direction to choose to avoid a tearout. Checking the grain on the board's side helps, but doesn't always tell the whole story. This additional method works very well.

Look at the end grain of the board. You will have one of two patterns for flatsawn lumber: hills or valleys. Next look at the surface of the wood to see where the grain forms rounded points (called cathedrals). If the end grain is a hill, plane into the points. If the grain is a valley, plane away from the points.

Save your socks!

Don't toss out those old socks quite yet! Instead, wash them and put them to use in the shop. When worn on your hand, an old sock is great for rubbing down or polishing a finish. You can also wipe any excess stain off your wood. Then when done with your project, throw them away.

What should you use to refinish that wood project?

How do you determine whether paint remover or a furniture refinisher is needed for a particular refinishing job? Use a cotton ball, moisten with nail polish remover and touch it to the furniture. If the cotton ball sticks, the finish is varnish, lacquer or shellac, and you need to use a furniture refinisher. If the cotton ball does not stick, you need to use paint remover.

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