Your table saw should have a rip fence. You’ll want one with a fine-tuning adjustment that runs parallel to the blade. Some rip fences have an adjustment knob on each end of the fence, others on just one end. The main thing to look for is torque. When you move the fence, do both ends move evenly, or does the far end hand up? This can be a real problem, and you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and stock lumber if you have a rip fence that stays parallel to the cutting blade.

Sanding curves is tricky. Sometimes you need a sanding pad that’s both firm and flexible. A small notepad works great. Just wrap sandpaper around the pad and bend the pad to whatever arc you need. Slip the one end of the sandpaper between the pages to help hold it in place on the pad. Give this a try the next time you’re working on a project that has curves and tough to reach spots.
Hard to determine which stain you need in that bespattered collection of cans? An easy-to-make “stain index,” courtesy of reader Bob Jacek, solves the problem. Section off boards of your favorite woods into squares with masking tape, and apply the different stains across the width of each wood type (pine, oak, birch, etc.). When the stains are dry, brush on lengthwise your regular finishes—polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, oil, orange shellac, etc. You’ll be able to tell how each stain looks with each finish. Label each one. Use both sides of each board, and you’ll have a wooden encyclopedia of stain and finish combinations. Plus: How to stain wood evenly.
I wanted the left edge of the jaw of the front vise to be flush with the left edge of the top, the right edge with the left edge of the left front leg. So the amount of overhang on the left depends upon the width of the front vise jaw. The width of the jaw is, at a minimum, the width of the plate that supports it, but it's normal to make the jaw extend a bit beyond the plate. How far? The more it extends, the deeper a bite you can take with the edge of the vise, when, for example, you are clamping the side of a board being held vertically. But the more it extends, the less support it has. I decided to extend by 1-12", which gives me a 2-1/2" bite, and which should still provide solid support, given that the jaw is 1-1/2" thick. This means the top needs a left overhang of 12-1/4".
This particular tray is made using reclaimed barn wood but the author of the project Beyond The Picket Fence surprised everyone with one fact: reclaimed barn wood has often some areas turned pink due to cow urine. If you check the project more closely, you’ll also notice some areas of the tray being almost bright pink. That’s something you don’t see every day!
Here’s a nifty tip—with a nifty tip—from faithful reader Don Ayers: Fill snap-capped sports water bottles with glue and stick them upside down in a hunk of 2×6. Now you don’t have to wait for the glue to run into the neck of the bottle, and the cap will control glue flow (and never get lost!). To holster the glue dispensers, cut holes in the base with a spade bit that’s a smidgen larger than the cap’s diameter.
All of your saws will have options on how many teeth-per-inch, or TPI you use. To make your decision, you need to know what you are striving for with a cut. A saw blade with a lot of teeth will make smoother cuts. However, you run the risk of burning your wood. This is because a fine-toothed saw moves more slowly through the stock. It also doesn’t clear the sawdust out of the cut as quickly, since the gaps between the teeth are smaller. These gaps are called gullets, and on fine-toothed saws, numerous small gullets hold more sawdust than the bigger gullets on a wide-toothed saw. The wide-toothed saws will aggressively buzz through your stock with less burning, but the cut will be rougher, probably requiring refinement with your orbital sander or jointer.
Work with attention and don’t forget that a good planning will save you from many issues and it will keep the costs within your budget. Invest in high quality materials, such as pine, redwood or cedar. Drill pocket holes before inserting the galvanized screws, to prevent the wood from splitting. Add waterproof glue to the joints, in order to enhance the rigidity of the structure.

With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.
Routers are really cool tools! You may not need it as often as some other tools on this list, but they can do everything from cut custom molding, cut edges and grooves in wood, carve designs, create wood joinery, and more. Routers are very versatile tools and you can do some fun, advanced woodworking techniques with them and they really aren’t hard to learn how to use.
Thread the rods through one of the legs, then set the leg flat on the table. Insert dowels into the dowel holes. Place the matching stretchers into place. Put dowels into the dowel holes at the top end of the stretchers. Place the other leg onto the threaded rod and settle it down onto the dowels. You'll probably have another opportunity to whack away with your rubber mallet.
The rubber cushion on my old palm sander was wearing thin around the edges. Because of its age, I couldn’t find a replacement pad. As I was drinking my beverage with a foam can cover around it, I realized I could cut the foam to fit the sander and glue it on. I peeled off the old pad, cleaned the metal base and attached the foam with contact cement. Works for clamp-on as well as stick-on sanding squares! You can find can covers at discount and convenience stores. — Allen J. Muldoon
For many of us, the moment we learned that a 2×4 board is actually 1.5 inches x 3.5 inches was simply mind-blowing. The reason for this apparent contradiction is that the board has been planed down to eliminate irregularities. At one point, many years ago, 2x4s actually were 2 inches x 4 inches, but their rough surfaces made them difficult to stock and handle. The old terms, such as 2×4 or 4×4, are still used, and are known as the “nominal” size of the board. These nominal sizes are used because they are easier to say and they stick to tradition. Now, thanks to a lawsuit, most big box stores list the nominal and actual sizes of lumber.

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