vinnyjojo

"AH-HA moment" Tips for beginning woodworkers

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I thought this would be a really neat and helpful forum thread. Particularly for beginners and people stumbling upon the forum.

Essentially it's the woodworking tip or trick that you were probably taught or read about a year or so after you've been practicing the craft that made you smack your head and say AH-HA! Why didn't someone tell me that sooner!?! And you've been using it ever since.

Whether it's a trick or method that will save you time for the rest of your hobby/career, or a safety tip that might just save your fingers, it might be neat to have a nice collection of them all in one thread.

I'll go first as I read this in a magazine yesterday and subsequently smacked my head and said AH-HA!, why didn't someone tell me this sooner!?!

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Finding the center of a board.

Place a ruler diagonally across your board, lining up the end with an even number, 0" and 8" for example

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Divide the number in half and there's your Centerpoint (in this case 4")

Dial it in with your square, if you have one

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(raise palm to forehead and smack)

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I know this is odd but I mill to my joinery rather than mill then do the joinery when possible. Makes tool set up a non issue mostly just an eyeball it thing. 

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Use the random orbit sander judicially.

Use a hand plane if possible.

Card scrapers and/or a No. 80 scraper plane can speed up the sanding.

Where possible, use a sanding block; not a sponge.

 

Can you tell I've been sanding?

 

Dave

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Here's one that really helped me.

TIP = "Find a finishing technique that you can fall back on."

 

If you start looking into finishing techniques you are likely to find a million of them... maybe more. But find one that you can fall back on when ever you need to get that project done. In my woodworking life there have been a lot of times I can experiment with new finishing techniques, but there are times you have to get a project done and you don't have the luxury of experimenting. That's when you fall back on your old standby.

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9- never position things in your shop in a permanent way.  Shops - no matter the size - evolve, rearrange, and grow. Mobile bases, lots of outlets, and a panel box large enough to power a steel mill isn't too much because you can not see the future.

 

 

My wife is forever giving me a hard time because I tend to reposition/reorganize often.  Glad to hear I'm not the only one.

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8-safety equipment is not nerdy...it is cool.............. One carbide tooth that flies off of a table saw blade under power can change your entire life. 

I did NOT know that was possible.  You've officially made me a bit safer and respectful of my TS.  And a little terrified.  :o

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Here's one that really helped me.

TIP = "Find a finishing technique that you can fall back on."

 

If you start looking into finishing techniques you are likely to find a million of them... maybe more. But find one that you can fall back on when ever you need to get that project done. In my woodworking life there have been a lot of times I can experiment with new finishing techniques, but there are times you have to get a project done and you don't have the luxury of experimenting. That's when you fall back on your old standby.

Sounds like my darkroom work.

I would just *love* to spend some time doing platinum/paladium printing.  But then again just getting a nice print at times takes priority. 

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Being a newbie, this is a GREAT topic.  Unfortunately, I haven't learned anything that hasn't been covered, so I can't add anything myself.  However, I can cretainly learn from the many great people here, and ultimately, that's what forums like this are all about.

 

Thanks vinnyjojo for starting this.

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I know this is odd but I mill to my joinery rather than mill then do the joinery when possible. Makes tool set up a non issue mostly just an eyeball it thing.

I'd like to hear more about this. Joinery on rough lumber???
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Watching a buddy of mine build a trinket box one time. He took a wider flat board to the miter saw, then brought the spinning bade down and "scored" the board. Without moving that board, he put his smaller project board on top and lined up his pencil mark with the "score" beneath. I thought it was a cool trick to see precisely where the blade will be contacting the project piece. This works even better with a sliding miter saw with a blade height flip stop.

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I did NOT know that was possible.  You've officially made me a bit safer and respectful of my TS.  And a little terrified.  :o

 

This is a good reason to keep a guard around the blade if you can, and never stand directly behind the blade if you can possibly help it.

 

Respect and a little bit of fear of your power tools is a good thing. When you don't, that's when you'll get hurt. They are designed to cut stuff, and unless you have a SawStop, it can't tell the difference between flesh and wood.

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Thanks for the tips and links. This a great topic.

I'm only on project #2 but have already learned that I must think through each and every step and cut. I ended up cutting too deep on a dado just because of a stupid mistake. Now I must decide to replace or repair.

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Thanks for the tips and links. This a great topic.

I'm only on project #2 but have already learned that I must think through each and every step and cut. I ended up cutting too deep on a dado just because of a stupid mistake. Now I must decide to replace or repair.

 

If it's not going to show, repair.  If it will be seen, replace.

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Buy a tape measure and a box of pencils for every horizontal surface in your shop.  You will be surprised how much time you save not wondering around looking for one.

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Going to piggyback on toms note re: tape measure and pencils.

Once I made a habit of wearing a shop apron, I never lost a pencil, eraser, cell phone, molded earplugs, tape measure, or 6" and 4" square again (clearly, the permanent contents of my apron).

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Been building solid body electric guitars for about 10 years now, but admittedly don't have an otherwise very diverse woodworking background, unless framing walls counts too...

That said, I have four AH-HA's to pass along:

1. Respect your power tools from a safety standpoint, but none more than your router. Always put enough of the bit's shank in the collet and tighten well. I once tried to just get that extra 1/4" depth in a cavity so I pulled the bit too far out of the collet to make the deeper cut. Bit caught on a bit of end grain and launched out of the router and flew right past my face, denting the drywall about 15 feet away. Was wearing my safety glasses, but don't think it would have helped much if the bit hit me in the face...

2. If you are just starting out, don't go for the best tools money can buy, but do buy good quality tools nonetheless. Anything less and you won't be pleased with the experience and you'll be more likely to give it al up as a result. I went cheap on a few key tools and was fortunate I was able to afford replacing them when I realized how badly they sucked.

3. Get a couple of those big "erasers" for cleaning sanding belts. You'll be shocked when you see how much more life you get out of sandpaper when you clean the buildup. The erasers work just as well on sandpaper sheets too.

4. If you make a mistake on a project, try to fix, but if all else fails, make it look like it was intentional...

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