Dust Collection

I have owned a Jet Dust collector for some time now, and have always hated emptying the bag. Recently, one of my customers offered to swap this cyclone from a school wood shop for a product in my store. It was perfect for my needs so I jumped on the opportunity. Having several pieces for the duct work already, I did not have to buy much to get it set up and going, The worst part was finding the time! Using 5″ flex hose I rerouted the air flow to go through the cyclone. The  bag only gets what little goes through the filter on the dust collector.


Now, instead of dreading the battle with the bag, it takes only a couple of minutes to empty the trash can. I own 8 1/2 acres so I just spread the shavings in my field. It helps the weeds to grow!


I got really lucky finding this, but there are after market cyclones available from Woodcraft and other sources. The size of this one was perfect for my shop and system. Years ago I found some larger cyclones from a cotton gin that closed that were used at my door shop. In fact, the fan also came from a gin. Great way to build a system if you live where cotton is prevalent like I do. I built that system about thirty years ago and it is still going strong. We dump that system into a couple of custom made trailers we have. Most of those shavings go to horse barns for bedding in stalls.

Thanks for looking!


Work Holding Part 3

When it comes to work holding, Festool products are hard to beat. I have the earlier version of the MFT table which is awesome in the shop or as a portable work bench. Using their clamps, I find it very versatile for sanding, routing and other applications. Certainly beats trying to hold with one hand while using a tool with the other. You can even clamp to the side of the table for edge work.

In the bottom two right pictures you see how I use the Festool clamps on a home made straight edge I use for several things. Recently I have been cleaning up the edge on passage doors using a flush trim router bit. Simply mark your line, line up the rail and clamp from the bottom with no clamp on top I n your way! The T-Track is routed into the board. I have several lengths handy since they are I inexpensive and fairly simple to make to make.


I use a T-slot router bit on a router table for this for this. I find it easier to route the middle part first with a 3/8″ straight bit to hog out material. The router table fence can remain in the same position. Sorry about the picture but you should get the idea.


More to come 0n this subject soon!


Work Holding Part 2

Last time I promised to show how I use a router for T-bolts, a very important part of my work holding methods. Since there are several different methods, your choice will be determined by both your equipment and your personal preference. I find I don’t do this the same way every time, basically because I live in a perpetual state of confusion. Actually, my methods are usually determined by several factors–like how many am I doing, what size are the pieces, or maybe even which of my tools are free at the moment. Unfortunately, some of my methods are not available to everyone. However, you may find them interesting anyway.


As I prepared for this blog, I discovered the method that most of you can do turned out to be the most logical way to do just a few slots. This method is not restricted to just slots for T-bolts either. I use a lot of slots for my jigs. For this you need a plunge router with an edge guide.



I laid out pencil lines to mark the ends of my slots. Usually the length of the slots are not critical so you can eyeball that as you route. Set the plunge depth to just over the thickness of your material. Be sure to clamp on top of a sacrificial board so you don’t ruin your workbench. For safety and convenience, do not attempt with out clamping. You cannot control the router with one hand. I like to do this in multiple passes. It is safer and does a better job. This is very basic for using a plunge router. Be sure and hold the edge guide firmly against the work piece. I know some of this I information is a bit basic, but I want anyone to be able to do this no matter what there experience level is.


This is what you end up with. This slot is done with a 3/8″ straight router bit. Then I changed to a 1/2″ bit to router the other side for the T-bolt head. Flip the work piece, clamp the piece and with the edge guide in the same position and referenced off the same edge route just deeper than the thickness of the bolt head.


I also use my router table for this application. I use the Woodpecker Sidewinder router lift. Unfortunately it has been discontinued. I choose it because you can raise the bit through the work piece with it in position. JessEm Tools makes a lift you can raise from the side, available from Woodcraft. I am not sure if anyone else does at this point. I used to have to drill a hole at the beginning of the slot and position over the router bit to start the slot.


I placed tape with pencil marks to show the start and stop positions marked on the work piece


With the bit running I can raise it with the side crank through the piece. Be very aware of the bit position and keep your hands away. The feather board helps maintain control as the bit plunges from the bottom. This method is similar to the first in principal. I frequently use a sled for very small pieces which I will cover in a later blog.


I use my Torque Work Center often for this, but since there are so few of these machines in the US, I won’t go into detail for this method. You can see this machine in some of my previous blogs.

And finally, you can just drill a series of overlapping holes with a drill press and clean out with a chisel, rasp, or file. Of course this is my least favorite method for obvious reasons! I did not show this because it seemed like too much work, although I have actually done this in the past.

I hope you find this informative and as always, let me know if you have questions.

I intend on doing a video soon to cover this more in depth if anyone is interested.


Work Holding


Last time I promised a blog on work holding. This subject has almost become an obsession with me the last few years. I got tired of making do with  c clamps and other ways to clamp something firmly and safely. I grew up in a shop where safety was not always a big priority and as a result saw numerous accidents over the years. Working in production for years influenced my thinking to do things safely, but yet maintain a certain amount of speed. In the next few blogs I would like to share some of what I do to make my life easier while keeping my fingers I intact. There is a reason at 64 years old, I still have all mine!


This time I would like to show the various ways I use toggle clamps. These are readily available from Woodcraft, Rockler and multiple other sources. They come in a variety of styles and sizes, so you can always find one that suits your needs. The first picture shows a coping sled I built for some glass grills for passage doors. It is the same doors I showed in the last blog. Notice the base on the clamp. These, as well as the handle, came from Rockler. Until I discovered these, I typically screwed the clamps to my jig. That is fine for a permanent jig like this one, but for multifunction jigs you end up with a lot of screw holes.2016-09-24-08-25-56

On this jig I have routed a T-slot which allows the clamp to be positioned anywhere by simply loosening the knobs. Because of the style of toggle, this one was raised with a block to allow for the thickness of the work piece. The grills on the last doors I built had some pieces about 1 1/2″ wide and 8″ long with a 5/8″ wide profile on each side. There was no way I am putting my fingers that close to the shaper cutter. The example is not the actual piece. They were much smaller. Now the task becomes a piece of cake!



The cutter is not  for this application.  I just needed to get pictures to show the clamps

Next time I will share some of the other ways I use toggles, and how I route the t-track.


Thanks for looking!

Miter Sled


I frequently do smaller moldings in cabinet doors and other projects. I find it easier and safer to use a sled on my table saw rather than a miter saw. I can see my mark to cut by better this way. The small waste pieces don’t fly around as much. Years ago I was measuring a cabinet door job. As I was sketching the cabinets, the trim carpenter was cutting some small molding. The end piece flew off the saw and hit my face right by my eye. It bled a lot, but it turned out fine. However, it made me much more cautious.


This week I was working on a pair of sliding barn doors for a client. The top sections get glass so I needed to cut the custom molding. To me, this is the best way.


I set the miter fences away from the main fence so I can cut the length against the straight fence. leave that slightly long and then miter it. You have a little play to cut the miter. If you need to cut really small pieces, you can add toggle clamps to hold the work piece and keep your fingers away from the blade. T-slots are routed into the sled for other hold down clamps. I make some of my own and use some from Rockler and Woodcraft also. The miter fences are attached with bolts to threaded inserts mounted in the sled. They do have some adjustment in them. I can easily remove them for straight work.


If you are interested, at some point I will do a blog focused on various methods of work holding.

Thanks for looking!

Kreg Set Up Bars


For quite a while I have been using the Kreg set up bars for various set up tasks in my shop. Before I bought these I had made a set of different thicknesses of hardwood blocks. That worked well, but the Kreg blocks offer more versatility. They come in sizes from 1/8″ to 1/2″ in 1/16″ increments, nicely organized in a handy case. ( If you follow my work, you know I love organization!)


I frequently use mine for setting the depth on my drill press. Just bring the bit down just touching the work piece, lock the quill, and adjust the stop the thickness of the set up block.


 Set the height of saw blades or router bit as well. Or use the other side to check dado and groove depths.






Radius Plane

2016-08-30 08.11.18Often it is much quicker and easier to grab a hand plane to do a simple job rather than get a power tool, set it up and do the same job. (It also makes listening to Blues on the stereo more enjoyable!) I frequently use my radius plane and chamfer plane in situations like this. Does a great job with ease. This tool creates about an 1/8″ radius.

2016-08-30 08.13.34

Knocks the edge off in hurry. Similar tools available from Rockler, as well as several other online companies. Woodcraft offers some different style that accomplish the same result. Or check out Shepherd Tool & Supply in Lubbock, Texas. Both styles use 2 blades that are easily adjusted with an Allen wrench supplied with the tool.2016-08-30 08.13.49

Give it a try. “Unplugged” is often better. I find it very rewarding to see the cute little curls coming off my work piece.

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