Tips for your shop - part 1

No one knows everything about woodworking, but, with experi¬ence, we all run into better, safer, faster, or easier ways to do things.

Raising dents and scratches
Even the smallest dents and scratches mar the appearance of otherwise successful woodworking projects. To remove small dents or raise minor scratches in wood surfaces, wet and then cover the problem area with a damp cloth. Using a household iron on a dry setting, apply heat to the cloth for 15-second intervals. Take care to avoid scorching the wood.

Drill-bit straightener
Small-diameter drill bits are easily bent during normal use. To straighten a bent bit, chuck it into your drill and, while running the drill at full speed, insert the drill point into a piece of scrap wood. Apply slight sideways pressure to the drill to return the bit to its proper shape. When you release the pressure, the bit will continue to run true.

Avoiding nail splits
Even though you hammer carefully, your nail occasionally splits the wood. Blunt the tip of the nail by tapping it with your hammer to let the nail cut its way into the wood rather than part the material. Or chuck a proper-sized nail into a drill (you may need to cut off the nail head), pre-drill holes, and then ham¬mer and set nails.

First-aid for dull saber-saw blades
Halfway through a "must-do" project, you discover that the blade on your saber saw is dull, and you don't have a spare. Touch up the blade with a triangular file. Place the blade in a vise with teeth pointing up (don't pinch them). File away from you, giving each tooth two or three quick strokes. Rotate the blade 180° and file the other side.

Repairing torn grain
No matter how skillful you are with a plane, the grain patterns of some wood species make it almost impossible to avoid raising and tearing the grain. To fix tears, apply several drops of cyanoacrylate adhesive (the "super" variety made for wood and leather) to the affected area. Sand the spot immediately. Sanding presses the raised wood down, generates heat to set the glue, and produces fine sawdust that mixes with the glue to create an invisible and permanent repair. —Dean Case, Nevada City, Calif.

World-champion finishing jig
Applying finish to more than one side of an object is an awkward, messy chore. A steel swivel made to support a boxer's punching bag makes an ideal shop aid for holding objects that need finishing. Attach the swivel to a secure overhead support, screw an eye-hook into the object to be finished, and hang the piece on the swivel. The workpiece — not the woodworker—does all the moving. (A plant hanger that swivels is an inexpensive alternative for working with light objects.)

-to be continued-