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Forum topic by whatelywoodworker posted 06-09-2021 12:06 PM 1022 views 1 time favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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whatelywoodworker

2 posts in 1292 days


06-09-2021 12:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tips hacks efficiency trick tip

I’m going to lob this question out there and see what you all think…

If you were to come up with a shortlist of your favorite pro-tips/hacks that you use in your shop, what would they be?

I’m looking to improve my overall efficiency and in reading/researching about bigger picture ideas like shop layout etc, I’ve become increasingly interested in the smaller details and tricks that people pick up over the years. While I know every seasoned woodworker would mention that each shop is run differently and personal preferences, even those for just one person, may vary or evolve over time… I’m curious what tips are so good that they should almost be universal.

These could be the use of physical objects (e.g. tool upgrades/jigs), techniques, shop organization or anything simple and small that improves efficiency and quality of work.

My favorites: 1.) Like a master chef’s mise en place… prepping all tools and materials beforehand 2.) Double-sided tape for cutting multiples on the bandsaw/template routing 3.) Permanent tape measure (recessed or stuck) to the workbench for quick measurements 4.) Finding the midpoint of a board by measuring at a diagonal, aiming for a value/distance that can be easily divided by two. 5.) Having designated maintenance or upgrading the shop days

Note: I am a full-time teacher and woodworking is a hobby. I was able to settle into a decent-sized barn for my shop and sell pieces during breaks. With two little ones at home, I’m doing my best to ensure that woodworking adds to our quality of life and doesn’t detract from it… hence the need for maximum efficiency.


45 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

758 posts in 1742 days


#1 posted 06-09-2021 01:00 PM

I am also a hobbyist. While I have a good selection of power tools, I am working more and more with hand tools. With that in mind, one of my best additions was a dedicated sharpening station.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Rich1955's profile

Rich1955

374 posts in 513 days


#2 posted 06-09-2021 01:18 PM

Woodworking is my hobby also, but my father was a custom furniture maker. I learned from him to make jigs and templets for your projects. Make them out of good quality plywood and they will last a long time. Tasks are simpler and safer with jigs and you can save them to use on other projects. I also found that making templets for a single project seems a waste of time, but if you have 4 shaped legs on a table, and you want them all to be the same, making a templet is worth the time. and who knows, someone may like the project and ask you to make them one.
Good luck and have fun in the workshop!

-- Rich

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

498 posts in 720 days


#3 posted 06-09-2021 02:09 PM

Be as accurate as you can.

This could mean:
- Taking an extra split second to make sure the number on the tape is correct
- write measurements down
- Tune your tape measure (especially make sure the end clip is adjusted correctly)
- Use a sharp knife, or sharpen your pencil as often as needed
- Place your marking device in the line, then bring your square to it
- Make sure your eyeglass prescription is up to date! LOL
- Check all of your measuring and layout tools for accuracy
- Have a little more patience
- Be deliberate

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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SMP

4188 posts in 1028 days


#4 posted 06-09-2021 02:30 PM

1. Use ONE tape measure for a project(learned this the hard way)

2. If buying dimensional lumber, use a single board to make things like face frames that require equal thickness parts, never assume s3s, s4s pieces are all the same thickness (also learned this the hard way)

3. Buy tools as you need them, unless your hobby is collecting tools.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2858 posts in 1711 days


#5 posted 06-09-2021 03:03 PM

Learn hand safety. No splayed finges or thumb. Keep the thumb tucked under your palm. Hook your pinkie over the rip fence. Count your fingers after every cut.

Piece of lexan as glue spreader for thin, 100% coverage, minimal squeezeout, gluing.

Wood glue as splinter remover.

More light.

Carbide cutters only.

Buy Incra.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

8009 posts in 1697 days


#6 posted 06-09-2021 05:19 PM

Most of my woodworking revolves around the basic box. Cabinets, small desktop boxes, and furniture casework all starts with a basic box shape. Those have to be absolutely square, kinda close gets you in trouble a lot when you try to bring it all home on final assembly.

For me the absolute deal breaker is depending on my weakening eyes, and feeble mind in reading measurements off a darn tape measure. Who among us hasn’t cut a piece of wood to 38.375” to find we misread, and looked at the wrong side of the line and got 37.375” If you are really lucky, you cut it an inch too long. At least then you get another shot at it.

So I make and use story sticks, and pinch rods to measure with, set my TS fence with, and try to get the blasted tape measure out of my work.

A story stick, is just that, it is the story of your build. See link below.

https://www.canadianwoodworking.com/tipstechniques/story-sticks

The other great helpers are pinch rods, and sliding story sticks, measuring blocks.

I just posted pics, and links in another thread, so will just link to that.

https://www.lumberjocks.com/topics/314899

Using these you make a true length between 2 spots, so you can’t misread a tape measure, or have to trust your eyes to see which tiny line to cut to, it eliminates those “transposition errors” and if you make a good story stick, and someone admires your work it’s a cinch to make another, as you’ve already laid it out on a story stick.

-- Think safe, be safe

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therealSteveN

8009 posts in 1697 days


#7 posted 06-09-2021 05:22 PM

Piece of lexan as glue spreader for thin, 100% coverage, minimal squeezeout, gluing.

More light.

- Madmark2

Keep ALL of those fake credit card like things you get in junk mail, they are perfect for glue, then just pitch em.

Always more light is better than less. I try never to be able to see a shadow anywhere in the shop. Then at places where I do more detail work, I have additional task light, and under cabinet light.

-- Think safe, be safe

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Madmark2

2858 posts in 1711 days


#8 posted 06-09-2021 06:07 PM

You need clear to see the glue coverage is 100% ...

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View darthford's profile

darthford

740 posts in 3047 days


#9 posted 06-09-2021 08:59 PM

Outgrew my old tool chest, having to rummage through a drawer 2-3 layers thick with tools. Bought this behemoth at Home Depot so all my tools are flat in a single layer and the drawers are wide enough for 24 inch steel rules and longer items. Those bottom drawers are tall enough for cordless tools and spray paint cans to stand up straight.

I don’t have time to build and plane a workbench flat and by flat I mean mostly dead flat 0 to .002 inch flat. These Strong Hand BuildPro welding tables are fantastic. Precision ground and CNC milled 5/8 in thick steel top, CNC drilled 5/8 inch holes on 2 inch centers. They make about 1,000 clamps and clamping and layout accessories for these tables. Mine is 22×46 inch which meets my needs but they have much larger versions. That black coating is nitride, no glue or epoxy sticks to it the drips pop right off with a putty knife. Impervious to humidity and weather changes it remains flat to infinity. Yes as a matter of fact that table is nearly 300lbs which is a good thing. That’s a Grizzly mobile base, I modified it with longer rails to fit the table.

View sansoo22's profile

sansoo22

1683 posts in 777 days


#10 posted 06-09-2021 09:56 PM



- Check all of your measuring and layout tools for accuracy

- Axis39

This is one I just never thought about until about a month ago when using a 12” speed square to line up some cross cuts with the track saw. Being noobish still to wood working I just assumed the first bad cut was user error. So I double checked everything and even brought out the track saw clamps…still not square. Decided to do the strike test and it was out about a 32nd over 12 inches. That lead me to check every layout tool I own. A lot of stuff got trashed that day. If a square passed the strike test but failed the back to back test on the surface plate I kept it for my travel bag. When I go help family or a friend I’m not doing fine woodworking and if I lost one of these squares I won’t be to sad about it.

View darthford's profile

darthford

740 posts in 3047 days


#11 posted 06-09-2021 09:59 PM

In the low cost category…

1. Bag of wood shafted cotton swabs. Digikey

2. I keep a few feet of 1/4 inch thick x 4 feet wide rubber sheet on hand, sold at my local hardware store. They have a big roll of this stuff it’s sold by the foot for not much money. Primary use workbench top protector this stuff can take a serious beating from heavy metal objects. Washes clean with soap and water. I’m regularly cutting pieces off for various things. Used a piece recently to protect a planer helical cutterhead during cleaning and reassembly.

3. Handsfree headband type magnifying glasses with super bright LED light in multiple magnifications. $26.99 https://www.amazon.com/MG81000-SC-Headband-Magnifier-Multiples-Charging/dp/B07PG4FBPS

4. At only $44.99 one of the best buys out there this 4 piece square set accurate to .00063 inch. Order it from Northern because you actually get what is shown in the photo, the case, the squares etched with the info. Other sellers use this photo but many complaints that people only receive 3 of the 4 squares, they don’t get the case just a cardboard box and the squares are not etched with any info so who knows where they were made, by whom, or what the accuracy is. https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200667463_200667463?cm_mmc=Housefile-_-SHIPPED-_-1206-_-CONF

These are more expensive but time savers and useful

5. Trying to square up your table after tilting, the Starrett Spindle Square will dial in a drill press table dead accurate with minimal time and effort. https://www.toolsid.com/starrett/649-series-0-250-sae-spindle-square-mpn-649-1.html?singleid=3067346907&utm_source=email&utm_medium=order&utm_campaign=order_tracking_number

6. Centering microscope, throw away your center punch. When a hole needs to be absolute dead center this 45x magnification scope lets you put the cross hairs in the center of a scribed line which looks like the grand canyon through this scope. Chuck it in your drill press and center the cross hairs. Resolution .0001 https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/06539332

View whatelywoodworker's profile

whatelywoodworker

2 posts in 1292 days


#12 posted 06-10-2021 01:01 AM

Love these… I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Incra before but I just went through their products and wow… I will certainly be picking through that catalog. Thanks for the suggestion.


Learn hand safety. No splayed finges or thumb. Keep the thumb tucked under your palm. Hook your pinkie over the rip fence. Count your fingers after every cut.

Piece of lexan as glue spreader for thin, 100% coverage, minimal squeezeout, gluing.

Wood glue as splinter remover.

More light.

Carbide cutters only.

Buy Incra.

- Madmark2


View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2858 posts in 1711 days


#13 posted 06-10-2021 01:13 AM

Buy their 6” marking T-rule square & a .5mm mechanical pencil first …

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

1282 posts in 3622 days


#14 posted 06-11-2021 08:10 AM

For hand tool woodworking, look (and then look again and again) to Paul Sellers videos; they are full of little gems.
Sometime we don’t catch everything at the first look.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

841 posts in 902 days


#15 posted 06-11-2021 12:23 PM

Here are some things that have helped me. Some passed on from my father years and years ago.

Measure less. Once you have the bounding box of a piece, most if not all other parts can be taken from carcass to board. For example, don’t measure an opening for a drawer then try and cut parts to the measure, present the milled stock to the opening and scribe the long width and length.

The second a tool is not perfectly sharp, stop and sharpen it. After all, it is often the last few strokes of the blade that will leave the finish that is seen. Make sharpening easy and something that you do automatically while working. Along the same lines, learn to sharpen tools amazingly well. Invest in the gear to get the edge that sails through end grain like butter.

Don’t get lost in the numbers (see no measuring above). Lots of folks talk about chisel/plane angles, dovetail ratios and other numerical ways to describe our work. Don’t focus on those things to the point where they detract.

Learn grain. Understand before you cut into any wood product what exactly is going to happen…will your chisel glide along the surface taking a nice shaving or dive into the work? Will the plane leave a smooth finish or leave a wasteland of tear out? If you get in the habit of thinking about the grain before every cut, you will have far fewer issues.

Flat and square can be measured. If a piece isn’t, it isn’t done. Don’t assume flat and square. If you watch Rob work, you will get the idea. Mistakes happen and a one or two degree error in a core part will impact your final work.

Table saws, planers and jointers do not make flat and smooth surfaces ready for glue. Test it out. Rip a board on your saw then count how many plane stokes it takes to get a single full width shaving.

Finally, invest in the right tools. A $25 chisel that will perform poorly and only last a few years is more costly in the long run than a $75 one that will do an amazing job and last a lifetime.

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