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Wood shop tips and tricks

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#1 totvos

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 09:17 AM

So much of ATM involves doing stuff in the shop, working with wood. If you are like me, you may not exactly be next in line to host the New Yankee Workshop. So I am creating this topic to collect tips and tricks to do common stuff that an ATM may need to do, instead of having it be spread across a bunch of topics. For it to be usable, it must be searchable, so I propose that replies all start with a descriptive "How to...", like the following which appeared on my build thread yesterday:
 
How to cut a taper on a table saw without a taper jig:
 

jtsenghas, on 13 Jul 2019 - 11:56 PM, said:
 
As for cutting a taper on a table saw, one needn't build a taper gauge (though I have). Just set the fence a little further from the blade than the initial width of the piece you want to taper, perhaps 6" here, slice a piece of plywood or other sacrificial stock to that dimension, and attach your workpiece to that for a subsequent tapered ripping cut. Even two sided adhesive tape is adequate for that.  If you want one end of the board to end up 3 1/2" and the other to be 1 5/8" more than that (5 1/8"), then tape the 2 x 6 on to that sacrificial piece so that one end is 3 1/2" on top of it and the other end is 5 1/8" on top of it. Rip again with the blade set a little above the combined thickness of the two boards, or, if your saw hasn't that range of depth, flip the two boards over and cut it with the workpiece on the saw bed and the sacrificial piece still riding against the fence.
 
I'm sorry if I'm going into a lot of detail on an option not being considered if you consider it done already.  I just wanted to show you how simple it is to taper boards on a table saw. Simply measure the end dimensions you want and set the workpiece ends that far from the cut edge of the sacrificial piece, or calculate one of those dimensions by multiplying the tangent of the desired angle by the length, and then add or subtract the result to the chosen width at the other end. You don't need a taper gauge if you keep sacrificial scraps on hand and you can simply set the fence to a carrier board you already have and not even make a cut on the "sacrificial board". Easy peasy!  You can also start with a longer board and screw the ends to the carrier board and then trim the ends off after making the taper cut.
 

It's not rocket science and takes less time to do on three boards than it took me to post this...

I hope this turns out to be useful to people.


Edited by totvos, 14 July 2019 - 08:45 PM.

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#2 JohnH

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 11:38 AM

So much of ATM involves doing stuff in the shop, working with wood. If you are like me, you may not exactly be next in line to host the New Yankee Workshop. So I am creating this topic to collect tips and tricks to do common stuff that an ATM may need to do, instead of having it be spread across a bunch of topics. For it to be usable, it must be searchable, so I propose that replies all start with a descriptive "How to...", like the following which appeared on my build thread yesterday:
 
How to cut a taper on a table saw without a taper jig
 

I hope this turns out to be useful to people.

How to

 

Decent taper jigs for tablesaws are inexpensive



#3 roscoe

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 11:45 AM

good idea to collect all this.... info appears daily over a whole bunch of threads, maybe a subject line plus linking to another thread also would be useful..

 

And, yes, jigs and fixtures for many operations are indeed available, and sometimes inexpensive..... but requires either a trip to..wherever, or a visit by UPS or whatever, and sometimes, as offered above. ten minutes, no cost, and you can get the job done.


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#4 jtsenghas

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 02:59 PM

How to make brass bushings:

 

IMG_20190714_185618.jpg

 

 

Sometimes in ATM work, especially on projects like binocular mounts or azimuth bearings it helps to have fairly tight, low friction holes for hardware that won't wear or loosen significantly over time. 

 

So called "1/4 pipe" generally has an inside diameter of about 0.364" for steel, and a few thousandths more in brass. Outside diameters vary a bit more, but are usually between 0.520" and 0.550". This means that brass pipe nipples can be easily adapted for use as brass bushings with a little rework, and can be threaded and epoxied into 1/2" holes. The coefficient of friction between brass and steel is generally less than half of that between steel and steel, and won't squeak even if not lubricated. 

 

One trick I used on my big double parallelogram Bino mount was to adapt some 2" long brass nipples I bought in a plumbing store to be bushings. I chose the length to be long enough to get two bushings from each piece, as only the ends were used to take advantage of the tapered threaded ends. 

 

I drilled 1/2" holes (or slightly larger holes in hardwood). I then screwed the end of a nipple into the hole with a pipe wrench that grasped the middle of the nipple until it penetrated completely through the board. If the fit got too tight and was risking splitting the wood before full penetration, I backed out and filed or drilled the hole a little larger. Once I got the nipple fully seated I backed it out, painted its threads with epoxy, and put it back in. Next, I cut it off with a hack saw just above the surface. A larger drill or countersink removed all material above flush on both sides. Finally, a 3/8" reamer (or drill) was used to open up the inside diameter a tiny bit and to correct any out of round conditions on the inside from either manufacture or installation.

 

The result was very much like a brass threaded insert with the interior threads drilled out. 3/8" bolts fit and rotated smoothly and quietly in these holes and allowed for assembly with homemade Teflon washers. 

 

I found that for softwoods and plywoods the nipples cut their own threads easily. For a couple of times where I've used this in oak, I've slit the end of a nipple in a couple of places to turn it into a pipe tap that works on wood or plastic. I threaded this into the holes before following up with the actual nipple used as a bushing.

 

I can see how this idea would work not only in places where you want a quiet low friction pivot. If You have a knock down project that uses 3/8" holes in which the holes have worn oversized over time, you can easily retrofit it by drilling out to 1/2" and installing such a homemade bushing.  I can see how this may be useful in higher stress attachments such as removable wheelbarrow handles on a big dob. For such, steel pipe would work for slight cost savings, but would not machine quite as easily. 

 

With a little variation among plumbing parts I've found some nipples that a 3/8" bolt fits into, especially since some bolts are more than a few thou smaller than the nominal 0.375". Note that you may have to deburr the tips of the nipple to measure this since the tubing cutters used to cut these to length tend to squeeze the inside diameter a tiny bit at the very end. If you want to be especially careful the bushing is square, you can do that final drilling or reaming with a drill press or with a guide block previously drilled in the drill press. 

 

Anyway, here's my first (or apparently second) offering for Tom's thread! I think it's a great idea for ATM shop tips. I like Roscoe's suggestion to use it with links to other threads where things have already been described and photographed well. 

 

Just remember, if you want your link to go to a particular post rather than an entire thread page, select the actual post number from the actual post and choose "copy link address". If you paste that into the link dialogue box in this thread the link will take others directly to the post you are referencing. 


Edited by jtsenghas, 14 July 2019 - 06:02 PM.

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#5 jtsenghas

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 03:52 PM

How to retain thumbscrews:

 

On ATM projects it often helps to use thumbscrews to assemble and disassemble knock down components for transport. These can eliminate the need for tools where things need to be only finger tight.

 

These thumbscrews can be purchased as is, typically with 1" knobs on short 1/4"-20 bolts, but various manufacturers also make knobs that can be press fit onto cap screws of any length in both inch and metric sizes.

 

To avoid having the thumbscrews for the altitude bearings get lost on my folding scope, I retained all eight of them in 2014 as shown here


Edited by jtsenghas, 14 July 2019 - 07:17 PM.


#6 jtsenghas

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 05:52 PM

How to lay out an ellipse:

 

Sometimes in this hobby we need to mark and cut elliptical holes for cylinders or cones and flat surfaces they intersect at an angle, perhaps for an off-axis scope. Sometimes we want to use ellipses for the simple reason that they look COOL, as Ken Fiscus has shown with his replacement Z12 bases. Sometimes we want to make a large illustration of an elliptical orbit about a body at one focus for a sign or illustration for an astronomical purpose and are doing such things by hand (gasp!). 

 

If you know how long and wide you want your ellipse to be, there is a simple method to finding where the foci should be, and then for using those foci for laying out the ellipse precisely. The concept is age-old, but the devil is in the detail.

 

Here's my method for laying out an ellipse. 



#7 wells_c

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 07:13 PM

Aluminum can (usually) be worked with wood tools

 

Fine-toothed blades on bandsaws, miter, circular etc can be used to cut aluminum, it’s soft enough that steel blades won’t have an issue. Slower usually works better. The problem is that aluminum is sticky, it tends to clog teeth and stick to drill bits. Beeswax or any other soft wax applied to the tool helps immensely. I keep a bar of surf wax on my workbench (I surf...) and whatever I’m about to use, I use on the wax first. Cut or drill into it then the aluminum.


Edited by wells_c, 14 July 2019 - 07:14 PM.

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#8 JohnH

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 07:42 PM

Aluminum can (usually) be worked with wood tools

 

Fine-toothed blades on bandsaws, miter, circular etc can be used to cut aluminum, it’s soft enough that steel blades won’t have an issue. Slower usually works better. The problem is that aluminum is sticky, it tends to clog teeth and stick to drill bits. Beeswax or any other soft wax applied to the tool helps immensely. I keep a bar of surf wax on my workbench (I surf...) and whatever I’m about to use, I use on the wax first. Cut or drill into it then the aluminum.

Stainless Steel CANNOT.

 

A Tablesaw is only as good as its mitre and fence allow you to be



#9 Bob4BVM

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 07:44 PM

Aluminum can (usually) be worked with wood tools

 

Fine-toothed blades on bandsaws, miter, circular etc can be used to cut aluminum, it’s soft enough that steel blades won’t have an issue. Slower usually works better. The problem is that aluminum is sticky, it tends to clog teeth and stick to drill bits. Beeswax or any other soft wax applied to the tool helps immensely. I keep a bar of surf wax on my workbench (I surf...) and whatever I’m about to use, I use on the wax first. Cut or drill into it then the aluminum.

 How to cut aluminum safely with wood tools.

I've been cutting alum this way for years,  up to 2" thick on t-saw, up to 6" thick on bandsaw but I never violate the common sense safety stuff, such as:

1- make sure you feed slowly and control the stock firmly so it does not get away from you.

2-NO freehand cutting on table or chop saws, USE a fence or mitre gauge always ! Otherwise you stand to lose fingers or get an alum missle embedded in a body part.

3-  Tubing and round stock is only to be cut on chop saw, NEVER on t-saw or bandsaw... if it won't sit FLAT on the table you cannot control it !

4- All PPE as required for the job

 

Before cutting aluminum on tablesaw, I vacuum out the sawdust and change my chip catcher box under the saw to a specially fitted  paper box I keep just for aluminum chips. When I go back to wood, I vacuum again and put in the normal sawdust box.  This keeps me from mixing alum chips with sawdust; my wife uses the sawdust in flower beds & garden. If there is aluminum in it, it is a mess and the shiny chips will be there forever, ask me how I know...

. . 

Yes on waxing the blades, I do it before every cut. No need to get fancy, a block of plain paraffin wax works fine.

 

CS

Bob


Edited by Bob4BVM, 15 July 2019 - 11:49 AM.


#10 BGRE

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:44 PM

How to hold round stock when cutting with a vertical bandsaw.

 

Short lengths of round stock can be securely held in a toolmakers vise laid on it side and safely cut in a vertical bandsaw. A matched pair of such vises, one clamping the stock on each side of the cut can also be useful.

 

https://www.ebay.com...W-/330717171921


Edited by BGRE, 15 July 2019 - 05:38 PM.


#11 daviddecristoforo

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 10:54 PM

How To Prevent Wood From Creeping Under Clamping Pressure

 

Here’s my all time best shop tip. Anyone who has ever glued two pieces of wood together has experienced this. You got everything aligned and fitted. Did a dry run and it all goes together perfectly. Then you glue it all up and as soon as you start to tighten up the clamps, everything starts slipping and sliding around. You start grabbing more clamps to try and realign but you end up with glue all over everything.

Now I can hear the voices... use some biscuits, dummy! Cut some spline grooves. Drill some dowel holes. All good ideas but sometimes you just want to glue some wood and we all know that the glue lines will be stronger than the wood and all that extra fussing is just to keep the pieces from sliding around.

So... go get a small bag of clean, fine aquarium sand. Drop a couple of grains into the glue before you clamp up and... no more slipping and sliding! Quick, easy and cheap...


Edited by daviddecristoforo, 15 July 2019 - 10:25 AM.

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#12 roscoe

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 07:13 AM

HOW TO UPGRADE YOUR TABLE SAW FOR SAFETY AND ACCURACY

 

An outfeed table - a table out behind your saw that is the same height as the saw's surface, triples the safety-factor of your saw, because stuff isn't always trying to fall right off the back of the saw, and far too many saw accidents happen because people reach past the spinning blade to grab a part before it crashes to the floor.  The table can be permanent or fold-up, as your space allows.  Roller-stands work, but not well. If you have one canted just slightly, it'll track your part off to the side, which almost always causes problems. 

 

A 'sled' for your table saw.  This simple device makes it SO much easier to make square-ended cuts on your stock, to make repeated same-sized parts, to cut small parts, to keep your fingers away from the blade.

Look 'em up online, thousands of designs from totally simple to 'takes all winter to build' are out there.

 

Also, any saw from the cheapest home-center ones to the multi-thousand pro models needs you to spend the time getting the sawblade and the rip-fence absolutely parallel, and both absolutely parallel with the mitre slots in the table-top.  Just a slight misalignment means your cuts are not accurate, the blade sprays sawdust in your face, and the chances of kickback are dramatically increased.

 

And.... treat yourself to a decent sawblade or two.... a ripping blade if you work with lumber much, and a fine-tooth crosscut/cutoff blade for end cuts and plywood.  The red Freud Diablo blades available lots of places are excellent quality for the hobbyist and even most pro work.


Edited by roscoe, 15 July 2019 - 02:32 PM.

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#13 jtsenghas

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 09:40 AM

Okay, everyone, please read this.

 

Tom's idea to have a thread like this is excellent, in my opinion. As he said in the opening post, for this data to be useful it must be searchable. The CN search criteria only works on the individual key words. GOOGLE SEARCH, however can be streamlined to single websites if you add "site: cloudynights.com" to the search string. I just checked. A Google search "how to make brass bushings site:cloudynights.com" found my post above. Google searches also work with similar word strings. 

 

Please start your posts on specific tips with "how to" and use brief language you'd likely use yourself in a search. This has the potential to be a great reference for shop tricks particularly useful in ATM work.

 

May I suggest to those who have already posted, if you get back to this thread within 24 hours, that you edit your posts with a brief "How to...." 


Edited by jtsenghas, 15 July 2019 - 11:07 AM.

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#14 gnev

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 08:44 PM

How to drill perpendicular hole the easy way.

 

Sometimes the piece needed to be drilled is too cumbersome to use a drill press. I've taken some doubled up 3/4 in plywood and then  cut into 2 in squares. You can then drill different size hole in these on your drill press. When you need to drill a hole, place the square where needed and drill thru that hole in jig. Perfectly straight hole every time.


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#15 roscoe

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 01:44 PM

How to drill a pependicular hole, additional suggestion

 

 

Good suggestion gnev!  You can start the hole in your workpiece and drill it in 1/8" or so, then put your guide block on the bit and slide it into place.  That gets the hole started just where you want it without having to figure out how to get the block in the right place before you start.



#16 gnev

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 04:24 PM

How to drill a pependicular hole, additional suggestion

 

 

Good suggestion gnev!  You can start the hole in your workpiece and drill it in 1/8" or so, then put your guide block on the bit and slide it into place.  That gets the hole started just where you want it without having to figure out how to get the block in the right place before you start.

Thank You. I'm surprised this topic hasn't taken off. Sometimes you struggle with something and you just know there's  an easy solution out there.



#17 jtsenghas

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 05:07 PM

How to drill a perpendicular hole yet another way:

 

Here's another way to help you drill square when you may not be working in your shop and might not have your guide blocks or drill bushings handy.

 

A piece of card stock shorter than the exposed portion of your drill bit is another handy tool for sighting a perpendicular to a surface for drilling square by eye.  For smaller holes a business or discarded playing card works perfectly.

 

Just fold the card in half, being very careful to align the edges when forming the sharp crease.  Open the folded card to approximately 90 degrees and set it onto or hold it against your surface. Use that creased corner as your visual drill guide by placing the drill bit either just inside or outside of that crease. It's really easy to keep the bit parallel to the card's crease within a degree or so.  I like to put the drill bit just outside the corner and slightly away from it so that  the hole location is just over half the bit diameter from both planes of the cardboard. I'm unlikely to bump the card this way, and its easy to sight the outside of the bit to the two faces for a narrow parallel gap.


Edited by jtsenghas, 18 July 2019 - 05:19 PM.

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#18 KLWalsh

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 04:50 PM

“A 'sled' for your table saw. This simple device makes it SO much easier to make square-ended cuts on your stock, to make repeated same-sized parts, to cut small parts, to keep your fingers away from the blade.
Look 'em up online, thousands of designs from totally simple to 'takes all winter to build' are out there.”

I just made a sled for a table saw I’d inherited. I bought a piece of aluminum bar stock for the runner from Amazon, and from Home Depot I bought a piece of thin cabinet grade plywood for the sled body and a 2x2 piece of poplar for the backstop. I was careful to make sure the backstop was square to the runner. When I finished the assembly I rubbed a birthday candle across the bottom surface so it glides smoothly over the table saw surface.
Works great and it’s a much safer way to make cuts.

#19 HunterofPhotons

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 12:03 PM

+1 for a sled.

A while back I had to interview and evaluate many woodworkers for a museum project.

I went to close to 100 shops to talk and see their work.

The one surprising take-away from all of these visits was that virtually all of these woodworkers had a second smaller table saw with a homebuilt sled.

Their big table saw might have been some Italian import with a hydraulic infeed arm, a scoring blade, and all kinds of extras but they all had a small contractor's saw with a sled.

I had at least three different sleds in my modest shop.

A good sled adds safety and accuracy to many cuts.

 

dan k.


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#20 Ed Jones

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 06:44 PM

How to drill a perpendicular hole yet another way:

Lay a small piece of mirror on your piece next to the drill bit.  Look at the drill bit reflection in the mirro.r and be sure it is in line with your drill bit.  It can be any easier.  I always keep small mirror pieces on all work benches.


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#21 don clement

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 07:18 PM

I restored a 1959 Dewalt radial arm saw and don't need a sled or the table saw anymore. The key is proper RAS alignment. This guy tells how to do it. https://www.mrsawdust.com

 

Don

 

RebuiltMBF_0719_zpsyid7wgit.jpg


Edited by don clement, 20 July 2019 - 08:25 PM.


#22 roscoe

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 11:54 PM


The one surprising take-away from all of these visits was that virtually all of these woodworkers had a second smaller table saw with a homebuilt sled.


dan k.

in my shop, I have.....a smaller saw with a sled on it. 

I have a couple for my big saw, too, and several that are for the small saw..... including a carefully-made double-sided 45-degree one (for mitered corners) and a 30-degree - for hexagonal stuff, an old beater one that gets used with dado blades, angled blade, whatever.... and a nice one that only gets used for straight-up (zero-degree) cuts.  I also have one that is just a single rail under a piece of nice 3/8 plywood about 2' square, that runs only on one side of the blade, that gets used for all manner of custom stuff, with strips of wood tacked on as needed to hold the part I'm cutting.



#23 HunterofPhotons

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 10:16 AM

I restored a 1959 Dewalt radial arm saw and don't need a sled or the table saw anymore. The key is proper RAS alignment. This guy tells how to do it. https://www.mrsawdust.com

 

Don

 

 

 

Don,

Do you do all of your ripping with this, too?

That would scare me.

 

dan k.



#24 brave_ulysses

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 11:41 AM

https://www.mrsawdust.com/

 

your link has extra characters...

https://www.mrsawdust.com/%C2%A0

 

is there a trick to using a radial arm saw? the few times i did, it did not feel safe (and i have a high tolerance for not safe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I restored a 1959 Dewalt radial arm saw and don't need a sled or the table saw anymore. The key is proper RAS alignment. This guy tells how to do it. https://www.mrsawdust.com

 

Don

 

attachicon.gif RebuiltMBF_0719_zpsyid7wgit.jpg



#25 tomykay12

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 12:14 PM

I am definitely not a radial arm saw guy, or a fan of any other tool with a body part in it's name. With the modern sliding, tilting chop saws we have now, they seem kind of obsolete to me. I have done ripping operations with one, but before I knew any better. The tablesaw is far superior for that.

+1 for the tablesaw sled...


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