Monthly Archives: November 2014


Retainer ring came loose on this flipper bit
Quick change flip drill driver bits are handy little gadgets that combine a drill/countersink and screw driver into one compact unit. They can save lots of time because there’s no hunting around for separate bits or drivers. Another convenience is that only a single drill is needed. I think they’re here to stay. The way […]

Quick Change Flip Drill Driver Bits


Matching the screw to the pilot hole
There’s something screwy going on here! Unless you’re doing rough construction with soft woods, a pilot hole is generally required when inserting a wood screw. A pilot hole makes it easier to install the screw in hard materials such as maple and also prevents the wood from splitting – especially when the screw is near […]

Wood Screw Pilot Holes



Shellac flakes + alcohol = shellac finish
Shellac is a multi-talented finishing material: Not only does it provide a beautiful top finish but it’s also an effective sanding sealer and functions well as a barrier coat between dissimilar finishes. It also dries quickly, is easily repairable, and is non-toxic when dry. Why don’t we use this stuff more often?? The thing with […]

Mixing Shellac


Swiss lake marquetry scene
Looking for a little diversion from a typical woodworking project? Well, why not give marquetry a shot? If you’re not familiar with this ancient art, marquetry is all about creating a design or picture using wood veneers of varying colors and grain patterns. For example, a nature scene might use sycamore for the sky, holly […]

Getting Started in Marquetry



Assortment of squares
Before one can cut, one must layout. That should be every woodworker’s mantra. And to that end, here is a list of recommended layout tools that should be sufficient to tackle most any woodworking layout task. Tape measure In my humble opinion, the tape measure ranks right up there with the wheel and fire as […]

Woodworking Layout Tools


Magna-Set alignment 2
When it’s time to adjust the knives in my jointer I usually use a device called the Magna-Set. The idea behind this gizmo is two parallel magnetic bars that attach to the outfeed table and protrude over the jointer knives. With a knife positioned at the top of its cutting arc, that is, top dead […]

Adjusting Jointer Knives With the Magna-Set



Jet JBM-5 benchtop mortiser in action
After watching Norm Abram effortlessly cut mortises with a hollow chisel mortiser, and reading glowing accounts about them in woodworking mags, I decided it was high time to equip my shop with one of these bad boys. It also happened that I was planning to build several tables with mortise and tenon joinery so this […]

Jet JBM-5 Hollow Chisel Mortiser


It’s a pain reaching for a paintbrush only to discover that the bristles are a hardened mass because you didn’t properly clean the brush after the last use. Then it’s off to the store to buy yet another new brush. Fortunately, cleaning a paintbrush isn’t rocket science. It just takes a little diligence. Think of […]

How to Clean a Paintbrush



Bearing down on the cut works best with a rock-solid work platform
A hollow chisel mortiser offers several advantages over other mortising technologies: it cuts a square hole so there’s no need to round tenons, it’s faster than cutting mortises by hand, it’s much quieter than a router, and it’s a dedicated machine whose sole job is to crank out mortises. This last point is a big one […]

Hollow Chisel Mortiser


Folding rule
Although not so commonly seen nowadays, the carpenter’s folding rule was once a mainstay tool of carpenters and woodworkers. This venerable measuring device essentially consists of multiple small 6″ rulers that are joined together on their ends with pivoting hinges that allow the rule to open and close. When fully extended, a typical folding rule […]

Folding Rule



Octagon tenon jig front view 1
What to do when you need to make a custom cut? You make a custom jig. While making some bird houses, I was faced with the challenge of rabbeting a 1-1/2″ wide ledge along the entire perimeter of the octagonal base. At first glance, this seemed like a simple job for the tenoning jig but […]

Custom tenon jig


Completed cherry table and mock-up
It sure is a downer to build a piece of furniture and realize when it’s finished that is doesn’t quite look right. Maybe the piece is too bulky for the space, or doesn’t quite match the rest of the furniture. Perhaps the proportions are off. Or maybe it’s just plain ugly. To minimize the chances […]

Building a Furniture Mock-up



When it comes to deriving drawer heights for a chest of drawers, there are several tried and true proportioning techniques that can be relied upon to create a piece of furniture that is pleasing to the eye. The simplest approach is a uniform progression in which each drawer has the same height. This approach doesn’t require […]

Calculating Drawer Heights for a Chest of Drawers