Shop Notes and Information

This page is a collection of handy lessons, time saving tips, supply sources and money saving tips.


Collection of Information

Hand Tools


Equipment: Setup, Maintenance, Jigs and Advice

About Wood

Wood Properties and Uses
Another List of woods with pictures

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3D Modeling using Sketch Up

Most if not all the models on this site were done in Google Sketch Up Ver 6.
What is Google Sketch Up? It is a 3D modeling package that allows a model to be built up as in real life.

Local on this site here is a copy of
Sketch Up Ver6 as well as a Help quick reference sheet and my SketchUp template for you convenience.

More information is on the Official to Google Sketch Up site

If the model is uploaded a link is provide to a ZIP file that can be downloaded to your personal
computer and then unzipped there. PLEASE do not load or run the models from this site!
Also if a cut list is provided it would have been generated by one of these the Ruby Plug-Ins
Cut List and Materials V3.3

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Torsion Box Surface

Once of the more critical things a woodworker has face is assemble of components and
keeping then square and true. The best handcrafted parts that are assembled out of square
can degrade a great work of art to just basic or even trash.

Over the years I have gotten by with a old solid-core fire-door as a sturdy work bench. As
a precaution I have to check it from time to time with a level and straight edge. After
many years of use and abuse my old assembly table / workbench is showing it’s age. In
the near future I’m planning to retire the old bench and build a nice workbench that will
also work as an assembly table.

After doing a lot of research I now know what defines a workbench as assembly table and
not just a work bench. It is simple, by ensuring the top stays flat and true makes a bench
into an assembly table. The old style solid top benches have a tendency to shift over time
becoming less and less flat. Warping is BAD!

Constructing the top as a torsion box and using engineered lumber prevents the shifting
over time. The funny part is I never realized it, but this why my simple fire-door worked
so well as a flat surface because it is a smaller scale torsion box.

Below are some articles I have collected on Torsion Box surfaces and even have a link to
Wood Whisperer where he has a couple of great videos on building a toriosn box bench
(Episode #18 and #19).

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Gap Filling

I came across a post on a forum about using Shellac and sawdust as gap filler.

Maker sure to use clear Shellac, see my post the Router table.

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Specialist / Topic Specific Websites

The Wood Whisperer
The Wood Whisperer has a nice collection of videos (Pod cast) and articles on about anything imaginable.
I personally have been watching this Pod Cast in hopes of learning a lot more. And trust me I have been
learning a lot.

Here is a list of some of the episodes I have liked a lot and need to recommend.

Woodworking 101
A nice collection of basics.

Router Woodworking
Pat Warner is known as the Router specialist

Dust Cyclones and Collectors
Bill Pents is known for dust collection

Wood Shop Demos
Wood Shop Demos is a fantastic personal website of John Lucas
that has much to offer in terms of techniques and projects.
Just below the advertisements of his sponsors there is a link
to a collection of information.

The New Woodworker site
The New Woodworker website has a nice collection of articles and
reference material The one thing that caught my eye was the
General Shop Tips.

Old Woodworking Machines
Is a site dedicated to OLD woodworking machines

Shop Tours
Is a site that is full of pictures and articles about other woodworking shops

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My favorite places (why, what)

Bandsaw Blades
Wisconsin Knife Works; Jointer blades
Charles G.G. Schmidt & Co.; Jointer blades
Router Bits
Ovis; Cabinet Hardware
Woodworkers Hardware; Cabinet Hardware (cheap slides)
CSH Hardware; hardware and bulk slides
Wood Workers Source; Wood and Clamps
Freud Tool Store

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Sources for Turning Supplies

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Turning Information

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Sharpening Turning Tools

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Forums and Information Groups

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Personal Websites

Phil Morse Personal Website Cool Shop Ideas
Matthias Wandel's Home page Great Collection of information and projects

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Basic Wooden Mallet

OK I got a gripe!
Returning to woodworking I have noticed a severe imbalance in tools. What I would expect to cost a lot is
cheap and the most basic hand tools are pricey and even hard to get.
For Example, I can buy a really nice drill for about 3-4 times the cost of a basic wood mallet.

Plus a wooden mallet is not something you can pick up at the basic tool house! Selection is really limited and most
of the one I have found are not the great of quality and WAY over kill. UGH.

I set out to find the reason and ended up with a solution.
It appears that a mallet is so simple that one can be made in an afternoon with some scrap hardwood, not only is
cheap, and custom!

As a starting point I used this article on making a
Wooden Mallet.

I finished my Mallet and it was much easier than I expected.
With 2.5 hours total and some scrap cherry wood I ended up with the following.

Some lessons learned:
1) It is a mallet! Avoid going into perfection mode. Just cut, glue, sand, seal and use it.
2) Use a harder wood, cheery is a bit soft.
3) Only use a couple of coats of poly, this goes with avoid perfection mode.

I would think that a person should be able to bust out a mallet in less than 2 hours of invested time if they avoid perfection mode.

Another one made of oak, and with a slanted face for soft chiseling (more in the wrist).
After my first one I took my advice and made two in less than 2 hours!

My second turning project since getting a lathe.
The second project was this simple carving mallet.
It turned out to be much heaver than I like for chisel work, but is still usable.

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Jointer Blade Alignment

A fine tune jointer is pleasant to use, and likewise a poorly setup one is hell on earth.

To get by for the time being I picked up a Harbor Freight 6” Jointer on sale knowing it would never be an heirloom.
Out of the box the thing was more like a paint shaker than a jointer, it had a horrible vibration and the cut
looked more like I used an ice pick.
It was clear to me that this was going to take some tinkering and tuning before this $200 jointer would be worth anything.

I first tried aligning the knives using a Jointer Pal jig, it did ok, but I wasn’t all. Now I have a bad
vibration and horrible cut, plus the stock knives easily nicked....making the cut even worst!

It was time to get serious about this and do it right, over kill if needed, so I set off to find a solution.

Here is what I did.
To reduce the vibration I replace the stiff V-belt with a good link belt from
Woodcraft item #145530.
The Power Twist Link Belt was $30 for a 4-foot length.

At first I made the length of the link belt the same length of the original V-belt, but I still had some vibration. The source
of this vibration appeared to be caused by the belt slap. I decided to shorten the belt enough to move the motor closer to
the driven pulley, which only moved the motor about 2-3” up on the mount. After shorting the belt about 5-6”, realigning all
the pulleys and retensioning the vibration changed to a nice smooth hum.

The soft blade issue was easily cured with a trip to Sears and picking up a set of knives for their 6 1/8 jointer,
item #00922995000 Mfr. model# 22995 for $25.
It was night and day between the stock ones and these in terms of sharpness.
These were near razor share and easily cut my fingers just from handling them.

The last part of this process was setting the knives. I decided to scrap the idea of using the Jointer Pal and give Bob Vaughan's
method a try. Here is a link to the Bob Vaughan 60-minute video, and it is so worth the 60-minutes.
It took me longer to watch the video than to actually set the knives. The only problem I ran into was finding the 3/8 contact
button for the dial indicator he mentions in his video.

I ended up ordering a few different ones from McMaster Carr;
3/8 button Item Number 20625A511
3/4 button Item Number 20625A513.

Which I ended up using the 3/4 button since it glided over the blades better. After about 30-40 minutes I had all three knives
set to with 0.0005" of each other. I would like to see the Jointer Pal do this! And so in my opinion the Jointer Pal is a PITA
compared to Bob's method.

I would like to call this edit/addition;
Taking the fine tuning a step further and now understanding more what a perfect cut is.

I ran into something weird as I used the jointer more, after several passes on a long board I noticed that the cut was bowed!
Using an article from “Plans Now” I thought I found the solution, the in-feed table as not co planer with the outfeed.

After several attempts of using the advice from the article I maker a wide board much narrower, and now I had the opposite
of the bow. The board was rise away from the blades at the end of the cut. So now I had a bigger mess!

Placing a post on the forum I got these articles:
1) Original Post about this issue
2) Blade Alignment
3) Setting Outfeed Table

Mixing Bob’s method and Joe’s I found that my blades weren’t adjust as nicely as I original thought. Joe “use a stick” method
showed that my outfeed table was set low towards the fence and high towards the other edge. I grabbed the dial indicator and
found a 0.0015 difference... could this be from wear in such a short time, could this have lead to my problem?

The funny think is indication movement by the stick was 1/8” at the fence and about 3/8” on the other end. It clear to me that
the stick method is more sensitive and repeatable than the dial indicator.

Plus I think the stick method also helps reduce table surface variances if there is a small amount. Like in my case, my table
furthered from the fence appears to be about 0.001” lower the other edge and about 0.002” lower to head than the other end.

The answer appeared to be reset the blades using the dial indicator method and checking with the stick. My initial blade setting
without the stick was within +/- 0.0005” of the outfeed table. But the stick was still 1/8” and 3/8”....hmmm maybe the table variance?

The next day I took a closer look at the stick and saw that there was a slight bow, so I replaced it with a longer flatter one.
When I rechecked the blade setting I saw that they were nearly perfect.

After all this work I tried out the jointer, and after several test passes I was really pleased (once again).

It is so funny that blades can wear such a small amount in such a short time and cause so much trouble.....
So PM (preventive maintenance) is important!

He also has a video on setting planer knives, Bob Vaughan Planer Knive Video>

After about 3 hours of time and $60 my “get by” jointer now runs smooth and gives great cuts. I would have to say that
my comment of this not being an heirloom could have been a bit premature.
So for 1/2 the cost of equivalent jointer with a big name I am really happy with this one.

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Blade Cleaning (My Version)

Blade Cleaning is an import part of the everyday maintenance in a wood shop, which a dirty blade is
more a build up of resin.
This build is related to the type of wood and the dryness as some examples.
So pay attention to how each cut feels, smells and look for this is the only try indicator of a dirty blade.

A dirty blade can:
There are some expensive cleaners out there, and one of my favorite was CMT 2050, it was chemically
safe, but at $18 a bottle painful to use. After some research I cam across a comment about a cheap
alterative called “Awesome” that was readily available at the local Dollar store.
So what the heck, for buck I would give it a try. To my amassment this stuff acted, smelt and felt
a lot like my CMT cleaner. I don’t know if it the same or not, but for the cost savings I would say
I’m going to use it as long as it doesn’t attack the blades or mess up the wood.

All I do is spray the blade and let soak for a few minutes and the then using a brass bristle brush
I clean blade by brushing backwards on the teeth (opposite of the cut direction). It may take a few
soakings and brushing before all the resin build up is removed. Make sure to brush both sides of the
blade, and the top. After brushing just rinse the blade with HOT water. Using hot water helps reduce the
risk of rusting since the blade dries faster. If need I use a dry bath towel to completely dry the blade.

This cleaner also works well on router bits.

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Blade Storage

Blades are a expensive investment for a wood shop and it is not uncommon to spend $50 to $100 per blade.
My everyday basic cut all blade was $50, and a simple drop or hard bump could render a blade useless, more
like trash.
So it would make sense to protect these delicate tools.

Searching the internet and woodworking forums I came across this simple cabinet and some day would like to
add it to my shop….after the LONG list of other shop_notes.

Photos and Design by "meackerman" on

My version, simple, quick and cheap.
For the price of quarter sheet of 3/4" MDF, a half sheet of 1/4" hardboard and some scrap 1/8” hardboard.
This version has 10-drawers that hold 2 blades each, with exception of the dado-chippers.
They fit into one drawer along with the shims.

Sketchup model of the blade storage cabinet

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