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Importing Power Tools from the US

Before I start I must mention that I am not a qualified electrician so therefore we can’t take any responsibility – the information below is just purely my experience of importing a power tool from the US!….

I’m quite fortunate that my sister has a US postal address and the other week when my mum was going to visit her seemed to be a good time to order a few bits from over the pond. I had a rough idea what I wanted and visited the WoodCraft, Rockler and Amazon websites to see what I could find.

I ended up ordering a Porter Cable 690LRVS router. Okay, I do admit I have a slight router problem, whereas certain people have a plane for every day of the week I seem to collect routers instead! Saying that, I only have two routers which I permanently use for hand held jobs, a T5 and an old and slightly knackered Bosch 500A which I often feel are under powered for most jobs – and I find my self having to take my 7529 out of the table which isn’t a job I enjoy. Also I’ve always wanted to...

Checking for square

A little gadget for checking a square corner

Small Step Stool

Cutting List

Job Title: Small Step Stool (all dimensions in mm)








340 230 15




200 200 20




260 130 20

When I was reviewing the Miller Dowel system, I needed a simple project to try it on. I got the idea to make this step stool from the Miller Dowel leaflet itself and you can’t get a project any simpler to make than this. It can be made in less than a weekend and only requires a basic tool kit.

I chose pine as that’s what I had in the workshop and I used the walnut dowels as I feel the contrasting timbers give a great effect. To read the Miller Dowel review and to find out where to buy it click here…

I started by preparing all the parts for the stool by planing then glueing and clamping up the pieces. All I used was glue – no biscuits.

When the glue cured I cut the pieces to their final dimensions.

I drew the centre lines on the two end pieces...

Houndstooth Dovetails

In my opinion, the most important considerations (in order) are:
Accurate stock preparation – no planer marks and very square ends
Marking out
Accurately cutting to the line

I used some maple that a friend gave me as an offcut and some mahogany I got from the old lab benches in my lab at work.

First off, I needed to resaw the wood. After resawing, I thicknessed all pieces before hand planing to final dimensions.

The hand planing is very important on faces and edges as we need to remove all marks from the machining operations to ensure an accurate joint. Rob Cosman says that this is essential and who am I to argue with him?

When planed, look at the boards and choose and mark the outside faces with a pencil.

The ends need to be absolutely square and a shooting board is the best method to achieve this. My board is designed to clamp in the bench vice and to clamp the workpiece and thus allows me to plane using both hands which I find more accurate and much easier


Introduction to Shellac

While I am certainly no expert at furniture finishing, I thought I would share with you my favorite method of finishing wood. I find the finish part of wood working to be the most relaxing and rewarding part of my hobby .I do not like to stain wood if I can help it, nor do I like the look and feel of polyurethane type finishes. I do admit though that they have their place, as there are times one needs a waterproof and heat resistant finish. I prefer to add color to wood, if need be, via shellac.
What is shellac? Shellac is made from the resin of the Lac Beetle larvae, most of which comes from India. It gets it's different color due to the time of the year it is harvested and the amount of refining that the lac went though. Some Shellac is dewaxed. This shellac has the wax that is found in shellac reduced to a low level.

Shellac is an excellent choice for a quick drying, non waterproof, finish for wood .It gives wood a wonderful warm natural look that enhances the natural beauty of...

Tenon Jig for the Router Table

The router table is one of my most favourite tools in the workshop. A lot of people don’t realise what a great job the router table does cutting tenons. Before I made this jig I used to use the standard mitre gauge to cut tenons then I saw this simple jig featured by Pat Warner in FineWoodworking magazine.

As you can see from the photo it can’t be any simpler. All it is, is two small boards of plywood and pair of toggle clamps.

It works great! Setting up a ‘stop block’ stops you from going to far and cutting into the jig and using a scrap of wood as a ‘back up’ piece helps prevent any tear out and again stops you from cutting into the jig.

I really need to replace the toggle clamps with bigger/stronger clamps as the ones I currently have are a tad to small. They cope fine with the work piece in the picture (45mm wide) but anything bigger and they don’t hold down as well.

It’s a very easy jig to build. Taking your time it will take less then half an hour to make. Just make...

Clear Wax Finish on Oak

Wax is one of my favorite methods of finishing, especially on oak. It’s
easy to apply, gives a great finish and you can see the results near enough

I start by filling any nail holes or marks there might be on the work
piece. In this case there was a nice big dent on the front where it was
knocked off the workbench. I’m using ‘Natural Oak’ Brummer stopping which
you can get from many places including Axminster.

Sand the piece thoroughly
and always sand with the grain.

An electric sander isn’t essential but it sure does take the effort out
of sanding. I normally start with a 80grit disc then switch to a 180grit
and finally finish with 320grit. I’m wearing a dust mask and I’ve got
the ROS sander connected to my shop vac to take away the dust.

I’m also using a ‘router mat’ (the blue mat) to keep the work piece from
moving about while I’m sanding. You can buy them from Axminster but I
got mine from Wilko’s in town.

Using a tack or damp cloth wipe the work
piece to...

Garden Planters

Nearly two years ago now I drew some plans to build these garden planters and do a guide for UKW – but they never got made – until yesterday, with the help of Tom. I’m glad we’ve finally made them! They look good, are very strong, easy to build (as long as you have a router) and the woodwork can be done in a day.

I’ve done a plan which includes a cutting list and you can download it by clicking here.

Start by cutting the 45x45mm posts and rails to length. We’ve used the powered mitre saw and set up stop blocks to make the process go quicker and to make sure all the pieces are the same length. Cut the four posts to 450mm long the eight rails to 350mm.

Take one of the four posts and on one face make a mark 30mm down from the...

Tormek – Sharpening a Bevel Edge Chisel

In this guide I’ll be using the Tormek 2005 with the straight edge jig, to sharpen a bevel edge chisel.

Start by sliding the chisel into the jig with the bevel facing down. Making sure the right hand side of the chisel is against the two stops on the jig (where the two arrows are pointing in the picture)

The chisel should protrude from the jig about 2" (50mm)…

Tighten the two knobs on the jig to clamp the chisel in place, making sure it’s applying even pressure on the chisel and that the chisel is still resting against the two stops.

Grab the Pro AngleMaster and set the to the angle you require. I’m setting it at 25°…

With the universal support placed in the vertical sleeves, slide the jig & chisel onto the support.

Resting the back end of the Pro AngleMaster on the stone and the other end on the back of the chisel, set the angle by lifting or lowering the universal support. When the AngleMaster is resting flat on the back of the chisel, the chisel is set to the correct...

Router Bit Box

Now that I am collecting new router bits, the drawer which I used to keep them in ran out of room, so I thought I’d build one. Remember that your router bits need to be stored safely as they cost a lot of money and you don’t want to damage them. If you haven’t got any storage for them then this project is ideal for you…

If you have got Acrobat Reader then you can download the plans for this project here…

You start off this project by cutting all the pieces. The cutting list is included in the plans so you can get all the measurements from that.

Once all the pieces are cut to size….

Set your pencil gauge to 100mm and mark the outside faces on all the long 400mm base & top sides, at both ends.

Then with a ruler or tape measure mark 200mm in at each side and each end of the 400mm base sides. Mark 17mm in at each side and each end of the 400mm top sides.

Set your drill press up with a 10mm drill bit. Set the depth to about half the thickness of the sides. If you haven’t...

Using a Biscuit Jointer

In this guide, I will be using the T20 biscuit jointer.

The review for the T20 biscuit jointer can be found here.

First you have to decide which biscuit size to use (0,10 or 20). I’m going to use no. 20 biscuits.

You now need to draw witness lines across both of the boards to be joined. These witness lines are where the biscuits will be. It helps when marking the witness lines if you take a biscuit and roughly mark a center line on it. (Just to help you layout the witness lines.)

Make sure you set the biscuit jointer to the correct depth. In my case I’m setting it to 20, for No. 20 Biscuits.

The blue arrow is pointing to a small lever; turn this anti-clockwise to loosen the fence. Set the fence height to about half the thickness of wood you are joining, so the biscuit slot will be in the center of the wood. Tighten up the fence by turning the lever clockwise.

When setting the height of the fence, make sure it’s level. The red arrows are pointing to two scales, If they read...

BeadLOCK Setup Guide

In this guide I am using beadLOCK with the 3/8" guide bar.

First dry-fit your mating pieces together, as you have to draw a witness mark across both pieces. It helps later on if you draw the line as finely as possible.

The photo on your right shows me holding the tenon stock in the center of the wood. I judged this by ‘eye’ – and then you have to mark the witness line across both mating pieces, using the center of the tenon stock as your guide.

Carefully line up the witness mark to the edge of the ‘half moon’ on the jig.

Clamp the jig to the piece of wood using a bench vice or workmate. You could use a clamp, but this way both the jig and the work piece are secured.

Set the jig to the ‘A’ position by loosening the knobs and sliding the guide block to the left. (Three holes should be showing).

Make sure you tighten up the knobs before drilling.

Using a 3/8" or 9.5mm twist drill bit and masking tape to act as a depth stop, drill the three holes.

Undo the two knobs...

Lock Mitre Router Bit Setup Guide

I’m using the CMT baby lock mitre router bit, which can
handle a maximum 19mm and minimum 9.5mm thickness timber.

It’s for use in a router table and it produces strong mitre joints. It can be a pain to set up so
I’ve made a step-by-step guide.

As one of the
pieces to be joined has to be run through the router table vertical against the fence, I decided to add a new fence front. My normal one is too small to support
big pieces. I added a length of plywood about 200mm high..

As I said before, it can be tricky to set up. In the Axminster catalogue (CMT section) it says
to set the bit to the center of the timber. The first time I set the router bit up by following these instructions and ran a sample, the joint didn’t fit.

You have to be lucky or have a very good eye to set this bit up correctly the first time. So to set the bit up it’s a trial and error process. However, if you
follow the these steps you’ll be able to produce perfect joints and it only takes about 5 minutes to set...

Raised Panel Setup Guide

In this guide I’m using the CMT Raised Panel Set!

I’m making a single panel door 635mm x 485mm using 45mm x 20mm pine.

I want to cut the cope cuts on both ends of the rails first, so I installed the cope cutter (the one with the bearing in the middle).

You want to set the height of the bit so the top cutter is about 2mm above the wood.

You must make sure you turn your router speed to a low speed, CMT recommend 16,000 rpm for this bit.

With the height of the bit set, move the fence so it’s level with the bearing.

Although these bits are easy to set up, its still best to run a sample piece first.

Note that I have a scrap piece of wood behind the real piece, which helps prevent tearout.

Perfect… You can now run the real rail pieces through, face down.

Remove the cope cutter and insert the stile bit. This is the bit which cuts the groove and the ogee pattern on the inside of the rail and stiles.

This is where you have to be careful, when setting the height of this bit...

Corner Bridle Joint

The Corner Bridle Joint!!

The tools you will need are:-
1. Tenon Saw
2. Mortise Gauge
3. Try Square
4. Sharp Bevel Edge Chisel
5. Pencil
6. Drill and drill bit.
7. Ruler/Tape Measure
8. Bench Vice or Workmate
9. Bench Hook

For the bridle joint, one of the pieces to be joined needs a tenon and the mating piece needs a groove.

To make this simpler to explain ‘A’ will be the piece with the groove & ‘B’ will be the tenon piece!

Take piece ‘B’ and lay it flat on your workbench/workmate. Then take piece ‘A’ and lay it on piece ‘B’ as shown in the photo to your left – making sure the side of piece ‘A’ is flush with the end of piece ‘B’. (ie at right angles to each other)

With a pencil, mark the width of the timber onto piece ‘B’ using the mating piece ‘A’ as a guide.

Using a try square and pencil, follow the line all the way around.

Do this and the step above on the mating piece (‘A’).

Using a ruler, you now want to set the mortise gauge.

When doing mortise and tenon, the...

Mortise & Tenon Joint

The mortise and tenon is a very traditional joint and is popular due to its strength. A mortise is simply a hole in the piece wood and the tenon piece slots inside. There are many different forms of mortice and tenons and also uses – but they are mostly used in tables and doors.

The key to a strong mortise and tenon is a snugly fitting joint. If the joint is too tight there will be no room for glue, and there is a chance of the mortise piece splitting. If the joint is too loose and you need to ‘pack’ the tenon, the joint will be weak. For a strong joint you should be able to push the tenon into the mortice just with hand pressure.

The tools you need are:-

Tenon Saw, Mortise Gauge, Try Square,Mortise Chisel (you could use a normal bevel edge chisel), Bevel Edge Chisel, Mallet, Bench Hook (optional), Bench Vice or Workmate, Ruler, Pencil, Marking Knife or Stanley Knife, Masking or Electrical Tape

For this guide, piece ‘A’ is going to be the tenon and piece ‘B’ is going to have...

Reverse Glue Joint Setup Guide

To set this bit up I’ve taken two pieces of 20mm Pine and marked one ‘A’ and the other ‘B’

Next, on one of the pieces, I marked a centre line (right->).

You are trying to set the centre of the bit with the centre line on your board. This is hard to do, so just get as close as you can.

I’m setting the fence so that the bottom cutter is level with it.

You must make sure you turn your router speed to a low speed, CMT recommend 18,000 rpm for this bit.

Run ‘A’ through first (faceup).

And then run ‘B’ through (face down).

Here’s the first result. Its hard to see but ‘A’ is slightly higher than ‘B’. To get it right I have to higher the bit ever so slightly (This is where the fine height adjustment comes in handy on the router).

If ‘A’ was lower then ‘B’ you would lower the bit. It works out you higher or lower the bit about half the distance of the error.

Here’s the first result. Its hard to see but ‘A’ is slightly higher than ‘B’. To get it right I have to higher the bit...

Drawer Lock Bit Setup Guide

The drawer lock bit from CMT, is really easy to set up.

Start by taking two bits of scrap wood – the same thickness as the wood you are using for the drawers – and mark one A and the other B.

In this example I’m using 20mm thick pine. On one of the pieces of wood I’ve marked two lines – one 6mm up and the other 12mm up.

Install the router cutter into your router table, using the marks as a guide. I’m setting the top of the cutter to the top mark (12mm) and to make sure I’ve got it in the right place, the bottom mark should be lined up with the mid point of the cutter.

I had no idea on what depth to set the fence at, so I just guessed….

You must make sure you turn your router speed to a low speed, CMT recommend 18,000 rpm for this bit.

With the speed on my router turned down to 18,00rpm I’m running ‘A’ through first face-up.

Next, I’m running ‘B’ through face against the fence using two push blocks to aid me.

Well here you can see the result, it’s pretty much perfect...

Halflap Joint

The tools you need are:-

1. Tenon Saw
2. Try Square
3. Marking Gauge
4. Pencil

Take one of the pieces to be joined (A) and lay it down flat on your workbench, then take the mating piece(B) and lay it on top in the opposite direction, making sure the edge of piece (A) is flush with the end of piece (B) (as shown on the left <- ).

With a pencil, mark the width of the timber onto piece (A) using the mating piece (B) as a guide.

Remove the mating piece(B) and put it to one side.

With a try square follow the line you’ve just drawn, all the way round the piece of wood (A).

Repeat this with the mating piece (B).

Set your marking gauge to half the thickness of your wood.

Gouge a line on both edges from the line to the end of the wood. Also gouge a line on the top of the pieces (the end grain)

As I said before "A good tip so you don’t go passed the line is to put a small indentation just before the line using your marking gauge – so when you gouge the line, the pin on the...

Halving Joint

For a ‘halving joint’ the tools you will need are:-
1. Tenon Saw
2. Marking Gauge
3. Try Square
4. Sharp Bevel Edge Chisel
5. Pencil
6. Stanley Knife
7. Ruler/Tape Measure
8. Hammer/Wooden Mallet

This halving joint is very strong, stronger then tenons or dowels. The two pieces to be joined are the same thickness and width.

Step1:- Marking Out!

First, take your try square and pencil and mark the face and edges as shown in the picture to the right:-

The distance between the lines is the width of the mating piece.

Next you need to find out half the thickness of your timber by dividing the total thickness by 2. After you have this you need to set your marking gauge to it. (right ->)

You now need to use your marking gauge and gouge a ‘halfway’ line between the two lines on both edges. A good tip so you don’t go passed the line is to, put a small indentation just before the line using your marking gauge – so when you gouge the line, the pin on the marking gauge should fall...