I am amazed at how many different woodworking tips, tricks, and ideas can morph themselves into different areas and grow to be used in other uses with other tools and techniques. So many of these ideas are transferrable to different uses.
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I don't frequent the dollar stores very often but when I do, I always take some time to see what's new or what has changed and there are invariably new things to see and to ponder to see what kinds of uses they could be in the woodwork shop ...
... like craft sticks, those little sticks we used to call Popsicle Sticks because they were first to use and "handles" for an ice cream treat but then people started to collect them and use them for other things, and next thing we had a whole new industry around small wooden sticks.
I always keep these on hand for mixing 2 part epoxy glues, it saves me from running around my shop trying to find the right size stick that doesn't have a bunch of fuzzy sides to it, and I can use both ends, sometimes I even break them in half ...
... but because of their consistent thickness, they can also be used as shims or fillers for many projects or even machine adapters, like when you are cutting a series of angles with a chop saw, then you come across one angle that is a bit more, so rather than re-set the saw for one cut, then have to re-set it back, sometimes it's as easy to use a shim to adjust for a more acute angle cut.
Another tool that finds use in another area is the little shop-made chisel sharpener I made. I find that if you don't want to gouge the wood when you are trying to take dried glue off a glue-up, this little shop-made sharpener works great as a guide for chisels to keep them at the same angle as you remove dried glue off.
And speaking of glue-ups, I recently discovered even though I am very careful, I still manage to get glue on some of my bar clamps from time to time, which of course makes them hard or impossible to use. The quick fix for that was to use a softer version of a wire wheel on my cordless drill to gently remove the glue without disrupting the etchings along the side of the bars that are used for gripping. A quick easy way to clean up bar clamps.
Reading the grain of the wood seems to be a full-time job of mine and in some woods, the grain is harder to see. The quick easy way to check this is to dampen the wood with water. It DOES NOT need to get wetted, only dampen enough so that the softer grain will absorb a bit more moisture and therefore increase the contrast of the wood which makes the grain easier to see.
Here's a new twist on a push stick for the bandsaw. A recent conversation with someone cutting a lot thinner strips of wood, and new to woodworking, was looking for a push stick to make many cuts and keep their fingers away from the blade. This easy-to-make bandsaw push stick does just that.
There are many things we do that can be adapted for other uses ... do you have things that fit into that category? If you do, I would love to hear about them, send me an email with your ideas and adaptations ...
Copyright Colin Knecht