Tips and tricks!

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by TimRoark posted 01-23-2012 04:41 AM 1562 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TimRoark's profile


8 posts in 2554 days

01-23-2012 04:41 AM

You’ve all been quite welcoming, and I appreciate it greatly. I am going to post a more direct question just for personal knowlege and imporvement.
I remember as a kid my dad showing me to mark a measurement with a v, instead of a line, or to slide the pencil with the combination square to draw a straight line down the piece of wood. These are the types of things that make life easier. That only come from a wealth of knowledge and years of figuring out how to do things best. What makes your life easier when building something? What do you wish you knew years ago, that you know now? What tip or trick have you picked up over the years of woodworking, construction, home repair or renovation that you think is worth sharing? Thanks everyone!

11 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1854 posts in 2554 days

#1 posted 01-23-2012 04:53 AM

Design and troubleshoot everything before starting on a project, create drawings, layout joinery details, make templates and write up a cut list.

Projects are completed faster and have better quality since I stopped jumping into production prematurely.

Of course I was told all this when I first started but it took years to actually sink in.

-- See my work at and

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 2718 days

#2 posted 01-23-2012 05:18 AM

There are so many things to learn. Today I learned why cherry is really nice to work with. Although the planer tends to tear out if I take more than about 1/64” off per pass, sawing and carving (chisel) are very nice. The fine, strong grain makes for a board that is really nice to work.

But the biggest thing I’ve leaned lately is the value of a cross-cut sled for your table saw. If you haven’t made one yet, do it next. Before you start any other project. I have one of those compound miter saws (chop saws) and I just don’t use it much any more.
For making a sled – here’s a start:

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View ELCfinefurniture's profile


112 posts in 2558 days

#3 posted 01-23-2012 07:29 AM

Doing full scale drawings before complex pieces and marking my dovetails with a pencil and not marking guage.

-- {Current North Bennet street school student}

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2594 days

#4 posted 01-23-2012 10:49 AM

Cut 4 or 5 times don’t measure… no wait thats not right whats that saying again…???

The best thing I say to anyone is slow down and don’t rush things.

When you think you have done enough sanding, look on the bright side you are half way there.

You can never have to many clamps.

If you have a table saw make a cross cut sled… very handy.

If you have a drill press make a fence system for it. Just as handy as the cross cut sled.

Sawdust is your friend, unless you are varnishing, painting or finish coating, then it is your worst enemy. Its a love hate relationship.

The most important (safety) tool in your shop is your brain and comman sense… it will save your fingers.

You can never have too many clamps.

An organised shop can help your work flow. A dis-organised shop… is about average.

Off cuts are not firewood untill there is an off cut from the off cut and even then it is most like usable as soon as you throw it away

Its not a mistake its a feature.

The good thing about woodworking there are ways to fix, hide and repair the feature inputs you have made that the client did not want.

You can never have too many clamps.

Think before you cut.

Cut before you measure… no wait thats still not right what is that saying…

Riving knife on the table saw has a job when ripping long cuts… it can’t do that job unless its on the saw.

I don’t have enough clamps.

When you do cut, cut it proud… it is easier to make it smaller that it is make a smaller bit bigger.

Dust masks when sanding anything and cutting anything espiecally MDF and chip board are a good thing… the chemials in the dust are not.

Safety googles work only when you wear them.

The required tools is never ending… which reminds me, I need another clamp or two.

Each tool has a use for a certian job, don’t abuse that relationship with your tools…

Learning to sharpen your own tools is good advice.

Don’t need to measure before you cut as your tape measure knows the length… no still got that one wrong????

Coffee is good in the shop… ensure it is away from any projects.

Putting a drop or two of hot water or steaming dents out of soft wood is a handy thing to know.

Try not have to many projects on at once… as sometimes you forget what project is what and what goes here and … (ok thats probably just me)

Still needing more clamps.

Buy the tools you need, not want.

Learn how to use the tool to its full capabilities before complaining that you bought the wrong tool

A good wood-worker never blames his tools.

When buying tools wait till they are on special and or shop about… I haven’t paid full price for any of my tools in my small shop and they have all been on special

even my clamps though I haven’t got enough….

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3405 days

#5 posted 01-23-2012 11:51 AM

Night hawk hit on some really good ones.
The best advice I got was, being able to visualize the project and trying to fix or trobleshoot problems or possible mistakes before you make them.
This is easier said than done.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 2605 days

#6 posted 01-23-2012 03:09 PM

There you go! some more clamps


View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3207 days

#7 posted 01-23-2012 09:38 PM

The most basic ones of all:

Imagine if you will:

You’re putting a door on a cabinet. You are holding the door with one hand and a cordless driver in the other.
The screws are just out of reach. Use the magnetized driver bit to reach over and pick a bunch of screws out of the box.

You’ve put an inset door on a cabinet, you’re trying to get it to fit perfectly, only because you haven’t put the handle on yet, you can’t open the door….
Put a length of masking tape on the back of the door to make a temporary handle.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5148 posts in 4198 days

#8 posted 01-23-2012 10:21 PM

ALWAYS use good blades on anything. Why did it take me so long to learn that tip?
New tools aren’t sharp.
Learn to sharpen.
Lighting is a must.
Most of the time old tools are good tools.
Sandpaper is expendable.
Don’t keep crap.
Clean the shop after each work day.
Get an air compressor and a good vacuum. Both will help ya clean and organize.
Get a good line of credit (don’t call Dave Ramsay).
The shop MUST have adequate electrical power.
Oh! NOTHING built or finished on a TV or video show can be acomplished in the time shown.


View Alan Robertson's profile

Alan Robertson

67 posts in 4156 days

#9 posted 01-23-2012 10:37 PM

Patience. If your project is not progressing fast enough, be patient. Haste will only slow everything, including the finishing touches.
Where do you hail from, Tim.

-- MrAl

View Don W's profile

Don W

19045 posts in 2805 days

#10 posted 01-23-2012 10:54 PM

here is a few

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11147 posts in 3666 days

#11 posted 01-23-2012 11:04 PM

Story sicks are invaluable.
Here’s an adjustable model.
To gauge the inside width (of a cabinet door for the panel, for instance) two sticks of 1/2X1/8 X (whatever), and stuck through a block. Cut a 5/32” deep X 1/2” wide dado in a piece about 1” wide and 3/4 thick , cut it into two pieces about 1-1.5” long. Drill for and install a 1/4X20 tee nut in one piece. You can relieve the inside with a 3/4” Forstner for clearance of the tee nut’s barbed side. If you do, make the dado about 3/32. Epoxy in the tee nut and glue the two pieces together. Slide the aluminum through and tighten with a short 1/4X20 bolt.
I have several lengths of bar to gauge panels for small jewelry boxes up to lengths long enough for larger cabinet doors. Only need to make one holder, though.

No need to spend $50-$75 for a remote switch for your 2 hp, 110 volt DC, Just buy one of those remotes for outdoor lighting for $10-$15.

Rare earth magnets are the bee’s knees. They hold tools to metal cabinets for quick use. I have a small one that holds the chuck key for the DP. A 1/2” one holds the wrenches for the table router. Four of them hold a cloth bag under the joiner and four each hold the bags on the portable DC. Saves the hassle of the stock band.

If possible, duct your DC to the outside. Saves space and the hassle of dumping and cleaning the bags. With a 35 gal. or so, trash can collector between the tools and the DC unit, very little debris finds it’s way outside.

A set of open end wrenches are great for gauging thicknesses out of the planer.
Speaking of planers, A laminate covered shelf from HD makes a great auxiliary planer bed. Just screw on a stop for the in feed side bottom and I use a roller stand to support the long out feed end. Snipe has been banished!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics