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Knowing the Difference Between a Chop Saw and a Miter Saw

Chop saw and miter saw are often mistaken for one another. And while it’s true that they have confusing similarities, these two tools have significant differences that make one a more effective and appropriate tool for certain purposes than the other. So, to set records straight, we’ll discuss in brief the basic similarities and differences between the two in terms of their appearance, characteristics, function, and, finally, their application.
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Must-Knows About Woodworking

Whether you’re a professional woodworker, a weekend hobbyist who enjoys do-it-yourself woodworks, a student working on a school project, or a homeowner toying with the idea of a one-board bench for your garden, the same rules in woodworking safety applies. And it won’t hurt to know the basic dos and don’ts in woodworking as much as it would if you didn’t.

Not convinced yet? Let’s look at the numbers.

In 2011, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) published a report on woodshop machinery-related injuries, and below are the estimated annual statistics.

  • Table saw: 39, 750
  • Jointers, planers : 10,930
  • Miter saw: 6,800
  • Band saw: 3,550
  • Radial arm saw: 350

The numbers are undeniably big and the report only goes to show that woodshop accidents can and do happen. But the damages resulting from them may be significantly decreased, if not avoided, only if and when woodworkers are armed not just with the tools and machinery but also with the proper knowledge and safety gears.

Common woodworking accidents and injuries

If used the wrong way and without necessary safeguards, woodworking tools and machines can, in an instant, turn what’s meant to be an awesome masterpiece into an awful disaster. Severed fingers, blindness, deep cuts and wounds, and, in extreme cases, amputations are just some of the common injuries that result from improper handling of machines, and of passing up on safety gears.
Cutting a board in way that could result in a “kickback” wherein the board gets pinched and thrown back forcefully towards the body is one of the common woodshop incidents that cause injuries. Removing the blade guard, putting the hand directly behind the saw, getting sloppy with nail guns, and being careless with utility knives also made it to the list of small mistakes that produce big numbers of injuries.

Life saving tips for woodworker

Now, this article is not meant to scare you away or discourage you from developing and practicing your potential and artistry in woodworking. This is meant to increase your confidence when working with wood by sharing with you some of the basic safety rules that will allow you to create wooden furniture and art pieces without cutting your thumb, shooting a nail into your body, puncturing your eyes, or cracking your ribs.

1.   Don’t ditch the safety gear.

As redundant as it may sound, safety gears are for your safety. And more than the thrill and satisfaction you’ll get from creating a wooden piece of artwork or furniture, your safety should always be your top priority.

Don’t run the risk of puncturing your eyes, losing a finger, or damaging your ears just because you’re too excited to get work but too lazy to wear your safety glasses, hand gloves, hearing protection, respirator, overalls, and other necessary safety gears. A little inconvenience can spell great difference especially when you’re working with huge planks of wood, blades, and nail guns.

2.   Wear proper clothing.

Clothes that are too loose as well as dangling jewelry items like bracelets and necklaces can easily get caught in a saw blade or cutting head and put you in a dangerous position when working. Wear something that will not just allow you to move comfortably but will also keep you from getting entangled in cutting machines.

3.   Stay clean and sober.

Drugs and alcohol are not something you want running in your blood when working with your power tools. Woodworking requires full attention and focus, which you cannot do if you’re intoxicated.

So, if you want to keep your wood shop an accident-free zone, make sure you stay away from substances that can negatively affect your state of body and mind, and keep you from giving your 100% concentration when working.

4.   Unplug power tools before changing blades

Disconnecting power tools from electricity source before changing blades is one simple rule that, unfortunately, many woodworkers tend to forget. One thing you can do to avoid forgetting this life-saving rule is to use one extension cord for your power tools that run on the same voltage. That way, you’ll be somehow forced to unplug cords when switching tools and be more conscious of disconnecting your power tools before changing blades.

5.   Make sure your tools and machines are in excellent condition

Dull tools not only tear wood fibers and cause breakage but are also unpredictable and can run out of control, which can put you at risk of getting hurt. If you’re using a blade or chisel that’s not sharp enough, you’ll have to exert more force and effort so you can get your desired results. The trouble with it is that the more force you exert, the less control you’ll have over the machine or tool. And the less control you have, the higher your risk of getting into an accident.

6.  Know where to position your hands, body and tools when working

Wearing safety gears and keeping your tools and machines in good working condition won’t be enough to keep you safe from harm if you don’t know how to position yourself and where to place your hands and tools while working. Generally, you should avoid standing and placing your hands directly behind the blade. Make sure also that there are no nails, screws, and other metals laying near saw blades as these can cause kickbacks and severe injuries when left unchecked.

7.   Use tools and machines according to instructions

This is very important not just for first-timers but even for professionals. Tools are designed for specific purposes and using them the wrong way will not only render them damaged and useless but also unsafe. So if you’re not sure how a tool or machine works, be sensible enough to consult someone who knows how to operate it or, at least, read the instruction manuals and do some research.

Now that you know the life-saving basics of woodworking, you can begin and finish your work safely, confidently, and hazard-free.

 

The Right Way to Start With Traditional Woodworking

Wood is without doubt a very popular material in the construction and home decoration industry. From doors to tables, cabinets and picture frames, wood simply takes home the crown. But as the demand for it goes higher, so is the need to come up with methods and technology that can process it fast enough to meet the increasing demand.

Nonetheless, despite the high requirement for mass-produced wooden products and the efficiency that power tools and machines offer, the classic appeal of and craftsmanship put into hand-made ones leave a very good reason why it would be a shame to let traditional woodworking fade in the shadows of modern technology.

Traditional Woodworking in a Nutshell

Traditional woodworking is a wood crafting and processing method that uses traditional hand tools like saw and chisel instead of power tools and machines like jigs, bits and routers. It puts a higher premium on quality and authenticity than on efficiency and a product’s commercial feasibility.

This is not to say that modern woodworking methods are inferior to traditional ones. Both have benefits and drawsides. And depending on the goal that you’re trying to achieve, either of these methods can very well serve your purpose.

Getting Started

The satisfaction you’ll get from creating something unique with your bare hands is the most compelling reason why you’d want to do it the old-fashioned way. Here are the basic steps to get you started.

Step 1. Get the basic tools.

  • Workbench

This is used for keeping your wood in place for planing and sawing.

  • Jack plane

This is used for removing rough stock and jointing board edges.

  • Block Plane

This is used for trimming joints and end grain, and for putting champers on edges.

  • Rip and Cross Cut Panel Saws

These are used for rough dimensioning lumber.

  • Dovetail, Carcass, and Tenon Back Saws

Use the dovetail saw for cutting joinery along the grain, the carcass saw for cutting across the grain, and the tenon saw for making deeper cuts.

These are used for making accurate and square or angled lengths.

  • Coping Saw

This is used for removing waste from dovetail joints and for rough cutting shapes on the board.

  • Bench Chisel Set

A high quality bench chisel set would be worth spending for. You can use it practically for any project and can last for years.

  • Mortise chisel

This is used for chopping rectangular holes on the side of your board for tenon insertion.

  • 6-inch Combination Square

You can use this for checking the accuracy of your squares, and for scribing joints.

  • Try Square

Get a good quality metal try square ranging from 9 to 12 inches, which you will need for scribing square line on the face of your board.

  • Sliding bevel squares

This is also known as the bevel gauge that is used for scribing angles on your piece.

  • Two Pairs of Compass

Also known as dividers, compasses are used for taking and replicating measurements on a work piece.

  • Marking Gauge

A good marking gauge will help you transfer measurements with ease and accuracy.

  • Folding rule and tape measure

A folding rule is used for taking rough measurements when cutting boards.

  • Marking Knife

Marking knives are used for making accurate marking lines for your cuts.

  • Sharpening Supplies

Using dull tools will only waste your time, material, and energy so be sure to have sharpening supplies to help you keep your tools sharp.

  • Wooden mallet

This is used for hitting your chisel when cutting joints.

  • Large shoulder plane

A large shoulder plane will help you cut most sizes when trimming tenons, cutting rabbets, etc.

  • Clamps

You’ll need clamps to hold joints together until the glue hardens.

Step 2. Get your workshop in place

Tradional woodworking

Source: youtube.com

One benefit of traditional woodworking is you won’t need too much space for your work and storage area. A small loft, basement or garage will do as long as you can keep your work area quiet and clean and have a safe storage for your hand tools.

Step 3. Learn how to properly use and keep your tools in good condition

Traditional Woodworking

Source: youtube.com

This requires discipline but if you’d be patient enough to do this, you’ll save yourself a great deal of time and money in the long run.

Step 4. Know your wood.

The more knowledge you gain about the different types of wood, the defects you need to avoid, the possible sources of lumber, and the lumberyard language, the higher your chances of getting the perfect wood for your project will be. So, take time to learn.

Step 5. Learn the methods.

Traditional woodworking

Source: wgatweet.com

Practice makes perfect. Marking, measuring, cutting, and fastening are just some of the basics you’ll need to learn and keep on practicing in order to sharpen your woodworking skills.

 

Tips Beginners Need to Know

Here are some helpful tips for beginners.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask: One way to sharpen your skills is to ask those who have gone ahead of you, and have a treasure chest of knowledge and experience to share with beginners like you. Go and visit the masters while they’re still around.
  • Take some classes:Having an expert teach you about woodworking stuff in class can offer you tons of valuable knowledge and experience in a shorter time than you would need to spend reading books and online resources. So go ahead, enroll and take that class.
  • Invest in good tools:You cannot expect a good return from a bad investment. So buy some good tools and you’ll do yourself a huge favor.

Apart from wood and tools, you’ll need knowledge, skills, patience, discipline, and practice. But if you’re up to the challenge, then your traditional woodworking adventure would be nothing short of an exciting and fulfilling one.

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Woodworking Tools to Jumpstart Your Craft

Woodworking At A Glance

In any woodworking project, you’ll always have your work cut out for you. That’s because even small projects would require skill and knowledge of the craft. Cutting the wood to right size, placing joints properly and accurately, and prepping the surface for finish are just some of the things you need to master for your projects to be successful.

For many projects, a low-priced table saw, a piece or a couple of hand planes, a chisel or two, and an orbital sander would do. However, as your skills grow and your projects become bigger and more complex, you’ll need larger, more powerful, more efficient, and more expensive tools.

A Beginner’s Essentials

The following woodworking tools should be enough to get beginners started:

  1. A workbench to keep your wood in place when you’re planing or sawing. You can either buy one or, if you want to put your skill to practice, try to make one. If you’ll build one, be sure to make it strong, sturdy, and heavy enough to secure your wood in place.
  2. A low-angle jack plane for rough stock removal, jointing board edges, and for smoothing the boards.
  3. A block plane for trimming your joints and end grain.
  4. Panel saws (rip and cross cut) for rough dimensioning your lumber. Rip saw cuts along the grain while cross cut cuts across the grain.
  5. Back saws for making perfect wooden joints such as dovetail joints. To cut joinery along the grain, you’ll need a dovetail saw. To cut across the grain, you’ll need a carcass saw. And to make deeper cuts along the grain, you’ll need a tenon saw.
  6. A miter box and a miter saw, which will allow you to cut your piece to square lengths accurately.
  7. A coping saw for removing waste from dovetail joints and for rough cutting shapes on your wood.
  8. A high quality bench chisel set, which is very handy and can be used for practically any project.
  9. A ¼” (or any size close to it) mortise chisel for chopping rectangular holes or mortises into your board sides so you can insert a tenon for stronger joints.
  10. A good quality 6-inch combination square to scribe dovetail joints, to check your board’s squareness, and to make sure you’ll have perfect fit for your joineries.
  11. A good metal try square about 9-12 inches for scribing square lines on your boards.
  12. A sliding bevel square or gauge for scribing angles on your boards and for repeating those angles on another board.
  13. Two pairs of compass or dividers so you can take and repeat measurements on several workpieces.
  14. A marking gauge, which also works like dividers, used for repeating measurements on several workpieces.
  15. A small tape measure or a folding rule for taking rough measurements when cutting boards.
  16. A marking knife, which will help you get into tight spaces and make accurate lines for tight fitting joints.
  17. Sharpening supplies to sharpen and hone your chisels and hand plane irons.
  18. A wooden mallet to drive your chisels with when cutting dovetail joints or chopping mortises.
  19. A shoulder plane large enough for trimming tenons and cutting rabbets.
  20. Some hand screw and bar-type clamps to hold joints together while the glue dries up.

When It’s Time to Level Up

As you keep practicing your craft, your skills and experience grow, and the size and scale of the projects that you’d like or need to do also increase.  This is when you should consider investing in upgrading your tools. Your budget and available space should also come into play when making a decision to upgrade.

A bigger miter saw or table saw, a small jointer and planer are some of the power tools that most woodworkers would initially look for when upgrading. A miter saw would increase your speed while a table saw, which takes longer to setup, can make superior cuts. Routers and sanders are also some of the most common benchtools you’ll find in woodshops.

A track saw, which is ideal for making rip and cross cuts on plywood, are compact and handy. They can cost as much as a table saw.

Small jointers are useful for straightening edges while small planers help you clean up glue joints or prep rough timber quickly and easily. Getting a small floor model or bench model drill press would also be a good thing to consider as you can use it for most woodworking needs without much hassle.

If you do a lot of resawing, a bandsaw would be of good use to you. Getting a sturdy and powerful one would be necessary if you’re working with wide boards. Band saws can also cut faster and are safer for use than tablesaws although a table saw rip is generally smoother than a bandsaw rip.

If purchasing more advanced hand tools and machines would expand your capabilities and meet your needs and goals for your next projects, then going for an upgrade would be a wise decision. However, you should also weigh carefully whether a machine or just skill is needed for the project.

Finally, if you have tight budget and feel that you can still improve your skills and do much with your hand tools, then you may consider saving more money and waiting a little longer until you’re capable of purchasing and using more powerful tools and machines. Interim-sized ones don’t help much in improving skills and efficiency so it’s better to go for the bigger ones if and when you decide to go for an upgrade.

Bookshelf-Making Simplified

Got books laying around your room and piling up on your desktop? Maybe it’s time you make your own bookshelf. Here are a few easy steps to help you build one that would perfectly fit your style and space.

First Things First

Before you get too excited about cutting your wood, you need to do the preps.

  1.  First, you need to design and take the right measurements to make sure your bookshelf won’t be too large or too small for your space.
    How to make bookshelf

    Source: wikihow.com

    • How much space do you have? How tall, wide, and deep would you want your bookshelf to be? Measure the height and width of your space and determine the size of your bookshelf based on those measurements.
    • Do you want an open or closed back bookshelf? If you want the back open, you can position it against a wall so your books can lean on it and not fall off.
    • Do you have coffee-table books, paperbacks or hardbacks? You may opt for an adjustable shelving so it can accommodate different types and sizes of books.First, you need to design and take the right measurements to make sure your bookshelf won’t be too large or too small for your space.

    The next step is to choose your wood .  The appearance, durability, and the cost of making your bookshelf would depend on the type of wood you’ll use.

    • How much is your budget? Solid wood is a lot more expensive than plywood with a hardwood veneer.
    • How many plywood sheets will you need for your project? A plywood sheet is 4’ wide. Before you cut your wood, you need to calculate how many boards you can make with one sheet.
    • Which wood veneer is best for your project? If you plan on painting your bookshelf, birch would be your best option. Maple is a good base for different stains while specialty woods like mahogany, teak, walnut and cherry can really shine through with a clear finish.

Cut and Build

Once you have your design, measurements, and wood, you may start cutting your wood. Here are steps on how to do it the right way.

  1. Use the right saw. For cutting your plywood boards, you may use a table saw or a circular saw with carbide tip blade.
  2. Start cutting your sides. Cut your long boards based on your desired height and width or depth. For a cleaner cut, push the board through the saw in a consistent manner. Working with plywood can be quite difficult so consider asking a friend for help, and use a roller table or saw horses for additional support.
    How to make bookshelf

    Source: wikihow.com

  3. Cut your bookshelf top, bottom and shelves based on the measurements you took.
  4. Using a router, cut the rabbet joints on your woodpiece to make your bookcase top sit squarely and securely on the two sides.
  5. To make adjustable shelving along your bookshelf sides, drill the first holes above and below the center shelf using a drill bit that’s of the same diameter as the shelf support pegs. Then, drill a series of equally spaced holes in the template board. To drill to the correct depth, use a piece of tape or a drill stop on the bit.

After you’ve cut your wood and bore necessary holes on your board, you can start assembling your bookshelf. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Put the top in place by applying glue on the rabbet groove and attaching the top to the sides of the bookshelf. You may secure the top by adding some pocket screws.
    How to make bookshelf

    Source: wikihow.com

  2. To strengthen the frame of your bookshelf, you may opt to add support blocks. However, you won’t be able to adjust the center shelf as it would be fixed.
  3. Attach the center and bottom shelf. If you decided to have support blocks, apply wood glue on the support blocks to set the bottom shelf in place. Then, drill and countersink pilot holes on your bookshelf side and attach the shelf.
  4. If you decided to have a closed back bookshelf, you have to make sure you made perfect right angles and that all screws are tight enough for the shelf to stand in place securely.
    How to make bookshelf

    Source: wikihow.com

  5. For a more customized look, you may opt to add trim or molding or veneer banding. You may also miter the trim pieces’ corners for a more finished look. Use a router to smoothen sharp edges.
  6. To remove handling marks and raised grain, sand the entire bookshelf using a 150 grit sandpaper. Use a hand block or pad sander so you can apply even pressure while sanding.
  7. After sanding the whole bookshelf, you can prime the unit so the wood can better absorb the paint. Once the primer dries up, you may apply the first coat of paint. Once the first coat of paint dries up, lightly sand the unit again and apply the final coat.

Spice It Up

To make your bookshelf look more inviting, inspiring, and exciting, consider these cool styling ideas. Browse over the list and pick those that would best reflect your personality and match your home’s interior.

  1. Use the same paint color as your wall.
  2. Showcase a collection of your artworks on the lower shelves.
  3. Use glass doors for a polished finish.
  4. Display bright books and accessories to bring color to the room.
  5. Add decorative items with some natural elements.
  6. Sort your books according to color.
  7. Emphasize one hue or color tone.

Books are treasures. And with this bookshelf-making ideas, you can create for them a place in your home where you can keep, organize, and showcase them in a fun, simple, and stylish way.

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