DIY

Woodworking Tricks the Pros Use

The Beauty of Woodworking

Step 1: Wood Layout - Triangle Registration

When laying out wood pieces it's easy to get them mixed up, especially when you've got multiple cuts of a similar length. Numbering the pieces and where they join is fine, but an even easier way is to use a triangular shape. When the pieces are moved, you can quickly visualize their position relative to each other since there will only be one way that triangle shape can be made when together.

Scribe a triangle onto your wood when they are laying in the correct position, ensuring some part of the triangle hits all the pieces you want to register with each other. Using a straight edge makes this a quick and easy method to keep even the most complex glue-ups properly references.

Whether you've got boards laminated together in a particular orientation, or just multiple pieces that need to be in a specific place, the triangle registration mark is a great tool to use.

Wood Layout

Step 2: Marking Cut Lines

When measuring material to be cut I find it helpful to put a little tick mark of the side to cut on. This simple action saves countless time remeasuring and helps me account for kerf, the thickness of the blade you are cutting with.

Kerf is the divergence between the left and right sides of the saw teeth, and any cutting will result in some loss of wood that is turned into sawdust. If you just cut directly on the marked line the blade kerf would eat into your measured piece, causing your cut to be inaccurate. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you've ever had a project be a 1/8" out of measurement you know how frustrating this can be.

The solution is to measure your piece and make a small tick to one side of the measured line, indicated which side to cut on. Once measured, line your blade up to the line with the blade on the ticked side, so that the kerf will be on one side of the line and not into your measured area. If you ever work with a buddy and are dividing labor this is a great trick to keep each other informed of the areas to cut.

I use this every time I mark cut lines, and it's a great habit to fall into.

Marking Cut Lines

Step 3: Straight Lines on Dowels

Making a straight line on a dowel is something that comes up every so often and can appear to be a tough task, despite all the fancy measuring tools you may have at your disposal. However, the solution is simple: just place the dowel into any straight slotted surface. In the workshop, that can be the track of your table saw and laying a pencil against the track and dowel to create a line.

Don't have a table saw? Just use any door jamb or casing. This trick can work on all kinds of cylindrical objects you need a bisecting line on.

Straight Lines on Dowels

Step 4: Story Stick

Making accurate measurements is important but there's an easy way to cut down on repetitive measurements by making a story stick, a measured reference that can be easily made out of any squared scrap laying around.

Story sticks are great because they can be as specific as you need, are less cumbersome than a tape measure, and once you have the measurement marked there's no chance of a misread measurement.

Taking this concept further a story stick can also be used from drilling holes a consistent distance from an edge. Make a story stick as usual, but this time drill an opening at the measured mark. Now your story stick can be used as a drill guide.

Making accurate measurements

Step 5: Drill Depth

Not every hole that's drilled needs to be completely though the material. Though setting up stops on a drill press is easy enough, there are plenty of times when using the press isn't the best tool for the job (portability, size of material, etc.). Making a depth marker for a handheld power drill is as easy as using a piece of tape to mark the intended depth of that bit.

(Source: AutoDesk Instructables) 

Drill Depth

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