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6 Woodworking Tips and Tricks

Throughout my career at Klockit, I have learned many tips and tricks from customers that have greatly assisted with the success of many projects. While I am extremely fortunate to learn something new on any given day, I also believe it is important to pay it forward. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to offer some of the best tips and suggestions that have been passed along to me.

As a final note, I am always looking for additional tips and tricks in all aspects of woodworking. Feel free to post a reply comment if you have a tip or trick you would like to share.

1. Use stronger miter joinery glue-up

45-degree angles are typically cut on the ends of a board and result in the glue-up of porous end grain of wood pieces. End grain acts like a straw by absorbing the glue into the wood, which minimizes glue and compromises the strength of mitered joinery. In some cases, additional assembly aids can be used to re-enforce the miter joinery (cross-splines, etc). For smaller/thinner frame assemblies, however, this may not be an option. In these instances, consider re-enforcing mitered joinery with glue.

Begin by applying a thin layer of glue to the mitered end of all frame pieces and allow the glue to dry. This initial layer of glue will help to seal the porous end grain. Once the first coating of glue has dried, apply a second, thin layer of glue to each mitered end and allow that layer to become slightly tacky. Join the frames together, apply clamping, and check for square. Make certain to remove any excess glue and allow proper glue drying time.

2. Rub candle wax on screw threads

Ever have a screw that does not want to drive into a wood piece, even though your pilot hole is the correct size? Did it ever loudly “creak” or “squeak” as you tried to drive it in?

Before you break that screw, back it slowly out. Rub the threads on a candle. The candle wax will gather in between and onto the threads and work as a lubricant of sorts, which will also help to prevent any possibility of screw breakage. This is especially helpful with dense woods such as oak.

3. The least expensive drill stop

Drilling a screw pilot hole to a required depth is the perfect task for a drill press. But what if you don’t have a drill press? You could purchase special drill stops and what not, or you could make your own drill stop using masking tape from around the house.

Measure the required pilot hole depth on the drill bit by measuring up from the tip. Wrap masking tape around the drill bit at the required depth. Typically, the masking tape should wrap around several times so that the wrap is larger in diameter than the drill bit itself. Now you can drill.

Once the edge of the masking tape touches the wood surface you are drilling into, you’ll know you’ve hit the target depth. Just remember to remove masking tape periodically to prevent adhesive residue build-up on the drill bit.

4. My Wood Surface Needs A Shave

When removing glue with a water-dampened cloth, many woods will react by absorbing the moisture left behind. As the wood grain absorbs the moisture, it swells. This can produce a rough surface, almost as if the wood had the stubble of a 5 o’clock shadow. This is referred to as “grain raise”, and it needs to be removed before stains/finishes can be applied.

The fix is to allow the wood surface to dry completely. Once dry, sand the rough area lightly with 220-grit sandpaper until it is again smooth. Grain raise can be a big problem when working with water-based stains and/or finishes as well.

For water-based stains/finishes, consider wetting the wood preliminarily with a dampened cloth. Do not soak or drench the wood, but apply enough moisture to force the grain to swell. A dampened cloth will typically only allow the top layer of grain to swell, which will be the layer the water-based product will “stick” to. Once dry, gently sand with 220-grit to smooth the surface once again. Be careful not to over-sand. If you sand through the layer of grain, you will expose wood grain, which did not raise and you may see a re-occurrence of grain raise once you apply your water-based product.

5. Dowels aren’t just for assembly

Wood dowel stock comes in a variety of diameters and can be found at many hardware/lumber store. While dowel stock can normally be used to help support joinery, create straight spindles, etc., dowels can also be quite useful for sanding some end grain profiles (coves, for example).

One should always sand with the grain of the wood, but this can be complicated for the profiled ends of a wood piece. The problem is that sanding against the grain on profiled ends can create cross-grain surface scratches that become highly visible once finish is applied.

The solution? Select a wood dowel diameter that will fit the profile. Wrap sandpaper around a wood dowel and tape it taut in place. Simply spin the sandpaper-wrapped dowel to ensure you sand in the direction of the wood grain and prevent cross-grain scratching.

6. Don’t vacuum your wood piece

I cringe when people tell me they have tried vacuuming sanding dust from their wood surfaces. I can only imagine the surface scratches left behind, or the possibility of attachment bristles that may have broken off and lodged in the wood surface.

Removing sanding dust prior to staining and finishing is a MUST, but the most efficient and effective way to remove sanding residue is to use a clean, lint-free cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Since the cloth is damp, it will pick-up and remove sanding residue from the surface like a magnet, plus quickly evaporate and leave behind a clean, dry wood surface that is ready for stains and finishes.

Best yet, mineral spirits will not cause grain-raise, surfaces scratches, or result in over-looked attachment bristles that could become highly visible once finish was applied.

Written By: Chris Akright

Chris is responsible for the kit, plan, and finishing technical support, which he has provided to Klockit customers for over 14 years. Chris also contributes new product designs, composes written/illustrated assembly manuals, and works to develop new kit and plan products for the Klockit catalog. Chris’s experience is the culmination of years of training under his mentor, and Klockit Designer, John Cooper.

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One comment on “6 Woodworking Tips and Tricks

  1. Jade Brunet
    September 19, 2016

    I appreciate this article about woodworking tips and tricks. It is good to know that candle wax can be rubbed on screw threads to help drive it through the wood. I love the idea of woodworking because no two products will be the same. Wood is very unique and each piece has a story of its own.

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2014 by in Design, DIY, How To and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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