Monday, February 15, 2010

Back to the Basics

Norma's comment made  me think about some of you who have NO room for a workshop. Your "workshop" is a desk in the corner of your bedroom or it's the kitchen table. As I tried to say in my response to Norma in my previous blog, it is possible to make some very intricate and beautiful pieces of furniture even if you don't have space for a table saw, lathe or other large tools. If you want to do some great stuff, and want (or have) to keep your workshop tools to a minimum, here is my list of tools I'd put into that box:

 Try Square - Illustrated at the left is a miniature Try Square. I use it a lot. I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to buy a full-size, foot-long try square from the hardware store. The first three tools I purchased for doing any sort of woodworking were a hammer, a saw and a try square. I constantly use my try square for projects large and small. It's great for helping you to square up walls in a dollhouse or room box or for setting and marking an exact depth. (You can see the square on the left is set for about a 3/8" depth on the left side of the square.) The full-size try-square also has a built-in 45 degree angle on it, which also comes in handy .

 Before I bought my miter saw, I used the methodology illustrated at left to cut some of my wood. I would place a 1 x 4 board on my kitchen counter top. Then I would lay my thinner cherry or bass wood on top of that. I next set the the try square on top of both pieces of wood, and pushed the square up against the flat side of both boards so that they were completely flush with the handle of the try square. That way, I had a perfect 90 degree angle set on the board. I then would take a C clamp and clamp the ruler part down onto the wood so that nothing moved. Next, I set my X-acto saw against the ruler blade and cut ever so carefully. I built my Victorian bookcase using this method; so I know it works, and it makes an extremely accurate 90 degree cut. Also, I use this method of cutting where I need both sides of my board to be cut smoothly. Table saws can sometimes break the wood on the downward side of the piece of wood you cut, leaving a somewhat jagged edge. With a fine-tooth X-acto saw blade, and this cutting method, I guarantee you will NOT have a jagged edge!

If budget (and space) allow, I would recommend getting a miter saw like the one on the left. MicroMark lists it at $29.95. It's worth the price. As you can see from the marks in its base, I've cut many pieces of wood and many different angles! FYI... this little saw is hard to hold still and cut. To eliminate that problem, I put it on a board and then put cleats in front, behind, and on the sides to hold it in place. I then C-clamp the board to my work counter (or kitchen counter) so that it doesn't wiggle around as I saw. This is another very valuable tool that I have used a lot.

The other cutting device that I fervently believe in using is my jeweler's saw. I have yet to see a jigsaw that I feel gives me as delicate and accurate a cut as what I can do with a hand-held jeweler's saw. The piece of wood shown in the photo at right is what they call a "bird beak." I clamp this down onto my counter top, and I set the wood I plan to cut near the center of the V notch. The bird beak provides support to both sides of the wood as I cut. Depending on the delicateness of your cut, you may need to make the V even narrow. This tool is available from for $19.97. They also list a cheaper one for $6.97. I wouldn't buy the cheaper one. Depth of cut is too shallow.

Tomorrow I'll talk about drills and files. 


Norma said...

Thank you George :) It's very useful advice indeed. Looking forward to Part 2!

Linda Carswell said...

It is all just basic tools like these that I used to make the 'petite maison'....and I am very pleased with what I can achieved using them.

Regards, Linda

Patti said...

Great help. I used your tips this week. Really appreciate the info.

jose said...

fantastic blogs and I like love your work

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