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Make Beautiful Boxes By Adding A Few Splines

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The Eagle America Spline Jig was designed for your table saw to save you time and help you safely create strong, decorative joints. Used when making fine furniture, picture frames and boxes, spline joints are one of the most beautiful methods of joinery used in woodworking.

You can use contrasting wood tones or various spline thicknesses to create decorative accents. Spline joints are not only attractive but they feature extra gluing surfaces when compared to a plain joint, making them one of the strongest joints you can make.

The jig measures 12″ W x 24″ L and features an embedded t-track with two stop blocks. Use both stop blocks to sandwich and cut splines in narrow projects, one stop block to clamp and index cuts on medium sized projects or remove both stop blocks for larger projects such as boxes.

The base of the jig is made from durable 1/2″ HDPE which creates a smooth, non-marring surface that slides easily across your table saw top. The adjustable 18″ miter bar will fit in any standard 3/4″ miter slot. Made in USA!

We also recommend using our Thin Rip Jig which allows you to safely and accurately cut thin splines on the left-hand side of the blade so there is no burning, binding or kickback.

How do you use our woodworking catalog?

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

One of our woodworking friends recently sent us this video, one woman’s idea on how best to use a woodworking catalog:

So what did you think of that?  Personally…I can see that happening to a lot of our woodworking friends!  So what do you do with our catalog when you get it in the mail?  Do you quickly flip through it?  Do you put it in your shop for use at a later date?  Do you keep it next to your router table system so it is handy when you need to order some new woodworking router bits?  Let us know.

Also, if you want to avoid being hit in the head you can always flip through our online “flipbook” version of the catalog.  It’s the closest thing to having the catalog in your hands that you can get online.  Click here to see the most recent version.

Categories: Shop Tips & Tricks

RTFM: Read That Forgotten Manual

February 17, 2011 1 comment

*** This post is courtesy of Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench ***

So, I have this band saw. Bought it back in 2004. It’s a pretty standard issue 14 inch model with a ¾ hp motor.  It has a nice shiny table. I’ve equipped it with some decent aftermarket band saw blades for resawing and curve cutting, a Kreg precision band saw fence, a brush to get the dust off the bottom wheel and a set of Cool Blocks to replace the standard issue steel blade guides.

Tom had his blades...

...and he had his fence but something still wasn't right

And, yet, even with the loving care I put into the saw, it still didn’t function the way I needed it to. The saw would cut very thin materials well – maybe up to ¾ of an inch – with no bogging or struggle.  But, once you got thicker than that, the saw had this maddening habit of slowing to a stop. I would have to stop the saw, back the band saw blade out from the piece and start all over again.  It was frustrating and dangerous, and I usually ended up turning to my jigsaw to make cuts that probably should have been easily handled by the band saw.

Eventually, the time came where I had to resaw a 5 inch wide piece of ash.  I was dreading this step, because I knew it was going to take at least a half an hour to nibble my way through the board, and I wasn’t going to like the results.

That’s when the idea hit me. Before I waste my time, why not break out the manual and see if there was a way to get the saw to work better?


The biggest challenge was finding the manual in the first place.  I looked high and low and eventually found it tucked away in a lower shop cabinet with the rest of the manuals. Apparently, I must have been slipping them in the same area for years, but forgot about them.  I must have referred to it, because I did have a page dog-eared over regarding band saw blade tensioning and I had written the blade length (93.5 inches) on the front cover.

Armed with my toolbox, I pulled the saw out from its place of banishment (against the wall) and set to work.  I discovered quickly that I need to hook up my dust collection system when I use the saw – there were strata of sawdust layers from previous projects. I vacuumed out the cabinet and flipped to page one of the manual. There were plenty of safety tips there – pretty useful stuff.

How to unpack your saw … we were well past that step.

How to assemble your saw… the saw is where it needed to be, perched on top of the stand.  That’s good.

Then, I got to the good stuff – how to set the saw up.  OK, the motor mounting instructions were interesting, and everything was still nice and snug.

How to set up the drive belt…. It was properly looped over the drive pulley on the motor and the pulley that connected to the lower wheel. Check.

How to tension the belt … OOOH, that’s where I made my mistake!  There were carefully written and illustrated directions on how to get the tension right… and I – in my haste to get the saw up and running – apparently ignored them.  My bad…

A few turns of a bolt later, I was set up the way I needed to be.  I ran through the rest of the set up instructions – slowly – and saw that the rest of the saw was OK.  I reassembled all of the guards and covers, plugged the saw back in and hit the on switch.

The previously wimpy saw was now strong. Beefy. Assertive.  The ash board didn’t stand a change. I went edge to edge on this two foot long board – taking my time – in about 40 seconds.  All told, even when counting the set up time, the cut took about 15 minutes. What an improvement!

So, the next time your tools aren’t functioning the way they should, do a little sleuthing and find that manual. You just might discover that a little tweak or two can turn the agony of defeat into the thrill of victory!

*** Specials thanks to Tom Iovino, a true Shop Monkey,  for this post.  He will be providing posts on a monthly basis for Eagle America, check back again soon. ***

Building A Simple Knife Block

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

The other day I was at my mother-in-laws house for dinner and she asked me if I could make something for her. I already had several irons in the fire but what was one more.

Before I even knew what it was, I told her “yes” so I was committed to the project, large or small.

She walked over to her kitchen counter and picked up a small knife block and set it on the dining room table in front of me. I looked at it and said, “Is that it?” I was shocked and relieved that I had just been asked to do one of the simplest woodworking projects I had ever seen. She told me she wanted some more to set out on the tables during large family gatherings and parties.

That evening I took her store bought version with me as a sample, even though it was not really necessary.

The next day, I gathered up some wood scraps and cut offs I had sitting around the woodshop and immediately went to work.

The cores of the Knife Blocks are 2” wide, 5” long and 2” thick. I put a full kerf blade in my table saw and set the height of the blade and my fence to the spacing I desired.  After a few passes through the table saw, I had 6 slots for the knives. I cut two 1/4” side panels for each block and glued them in place.

After a little sanding and finishing the Knife Blocks were complete. The setup process was so quick and easy; I made about 20 Knife Blocks and plan to pass them out to the rest of the family.

So, if you are looking for a simple project to make your mother-in -law happy, make her a Knife Block for her knives.

Just remember not to start making jokes when she’s putting the knives in it!

Timely Projects

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Are you looking for a quick and easy project that you can complete in a weekend?

Do you need to make a gift for someone but have no clue what to make?

Here is your chance to make a one-of-a-kind project or gift that requires only a few tools and can be enjoyable for woodworkers of all skill levels.

What could this project be?

Clock making of course!

Clocks make great gifts and can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be. With today’s broad selection of movements, hands, faces, and wood species, clock making allows your creativity to shine and show people what you can do.

 

I started making clocks when I was a child. I would go to the local woodworking supply store with my father or grandfather and inevitably end up in the clock parts section. I was always fascinated by the mechanics of clocks. I can remember getting a simple quartz movement and going home to search through the scrap wood pile to find a leftover piece of unique looking wood. Sometimes I would get lucky and find a nice burled piece.

 

With just a little cutting, sanding and finishing, I had the perfect backdrop to insert my quartz movement into. Then I would quickly assemble my clock and show it off to the family. I still see many of my simple clock creations to this day when I visit with my family.

So, moral of the story is: Be creative and the next time you need a unique gift or you are looking for a simple and unique project to occupy your time, build a clock. They can be great fun!

Abatron Wood Rebuilder

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Dan writes:

Last year I showed you what a wonderful job my Earlex sprayer did on my old porch rocking chairs. Well it was a bad weather season and the lower rockers were starting to rot out on me. What was I to do about that? Well, Abatron’s Wood Restoration Kit came to the rescue!

 

This two part epoxy system was easy to use and did the trick.

 

 

I first cleaned out the rotten wood and  mixed the Liquid Wood resins in a rubber mixing bowl and brushed it onto the rotted out runners. While the Liquid Wood was still tacky, I mixed the two parts of the WoodEpox on a piece of glass and using my spatula, I spread it over the rocker and built up a nice base.

 

A helpful hint was to keep placing my spatula in  water which really helped smooth it out.

 

After a few days of curing and drying, it was sanded, painted and ready for another few years of good use on the old front porch at my house.

 

 

 

 

But I didn’t stop there.

 

To protect it and make it slide a little easier, I put a slick strip (400-1158) over the runners.

 

It was fast, easy and a pleasure to work with. I have lots left over for more “rotten” projects in the future.

The Router Bit Basics

January 21, 2011 1 comment

*** This post is courtesy of Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench ***

So, you have a router.  Great. It’s a very useful tool, allowing you to cut joinery, shape moldings, thickness boards and a host of other uses. Maybe yours has an ultra-smooth plunge action. Perhaps a soft electronic start. A massively useful edge guide. Go ahead. Open the case on your router and breathe in the multitasking goodness.  Take your time.  I’ll give you a minute…

Tom really, really loves routers!

Oh, wait, there may be one little detail you have overlooked, isn’t there? That’s right – the router itself has to be paired with router bits to do its woodworking goodness. Without router bits, your router is really a high-tech, tricked out paperweight.

So, what can you do to remedy this situation?  There are two different routes you can take.  First, you can buy bits one at a time as the need arises. But, if you do that, there’s a chance you’ll be mid-project without the bit you need.  The other option is to buy a set of bits to have the basics on hand. In this scenario, you’ll discover that you use some bits until their carbide is about to fall off while others sit idle in the case.  I’ve approached the router bit buying routine from both sides as my woodworking skills have developed and have arrived at a third avenue of choice.  That would be to ask your woodworking friends what bits they use the most and pick those most useful up first.

What are my most used bits?  I’m glad you asked.  They include:

A 1/2” straight cutting bit. If you are going to route dadoes or rabbets, you could do a whole lot worse than this workhorse. If you are working with material thicker than ½”, you can cut your dado and then use the bit to rabbet the material being inserted into the groove so it fits the channel. This bit can also be used to set your router table up as a jointer using an offset fence.

A 3/8” up-spiral bit. Your plunge router makes a very handy and effective mortising machine. Since I frequently use 3/8” mortises when joining ¾” material, this bit gives me the dimension to shoot for. The up-spiral bit helps eject the router shavings effectively while you are plunging the router.

A 1/2” top bearing pattern following bit. If you want to ensure that identical project pieces are truly identical, cut a template from an inexpensive sheet material such as MDF and pattern-route the pieces to shape. A very cool technique that will improve your woodworking. A bonus use – you can run this bit against a straight edge and cut dadoes in sheet goods.

A 1/2” round over bit. Cut pieces of wood have very sharp edges on them. Easing these edges makes your projects more comfortable to handle and the rounded over edge is less likely to splinter if handled roughly. You can adjust how much is cut by changing the amount of bit that’s exposed for cutting.

A 1/2” cove bit. This bit cuts the mirror image of the round over bit, scooping out an area of wood. Combining the round over and cove bits creatively can allow you to cut some very cool looking moldings with basic bits.

A 3/4” chamfer bit. In addition to knocking a 45 degree edge off of projects and moldings, you can also use this bit to ensure mitered project parts are accurately milled to 45 degrees, ready to be joined into perfect, airtight miters.

A 3/4”, 14 degree dovetail bit.  When you buy a router jig to cut dovetails, you probably won’t be using this bit to do your cutting.  Most jigs require different sizes or diameters of bits to work properly.  However, this bit can allow you to master another awesome joint – the sliding dovetail. Once you learn how to cut one, you’ll be hooked.

*** Specials thanks to Tom Iovino, a true Shop Monkey,  for this post.  He will be providing posts on a monthly basis for Eagle America, check back again soon. *** Read more…

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