5 Things You Can Do Today To Change Your Woodworking Forever


The image shows the phrase TIME FOR CHANGE spelled out with scrabble letters on corkboard. Large image.

Change your woodworking forever? How can this be done?

Often, you don’t realize how much a small change can benefit you. After the change, you will wonder: How did I ever do things before?

Actually, there are many things that can help with woodworking and improve the situation you face. I have listed a few of them below:

1. Light For Workshop

One area to improve is workshop lighting. This one thing can have a substantial effect on your work:

  • Adequate Light– It is important for the work area to be well lit, and to avoid having some areas in a shadow. You need to be able to see everything clearly and easily. This is often difficult if the work area is L-shaped and has sections around the corner from light. In cases like this, an overhead light (or lights) can be of help.
  • Need To See – You need to see what you’re working on. For example, when you mark pieces for cutting, the lines must be precise and exact. You can not be in a shadow when doing this.  By adding more lights, you can really improve the quality of your work.
  • Cutting Is Safer – With proper lighting, you can see what you’re doing. Clearly, this is of extreme importance when using power tools (or any tools, for that matter). Also, it is easier to position wood pieces properly so that cuts can be more accurate and precise.
  • Replacement For Daylight – With lighting, you’ll be able to continue your work even after the sun goes down. This is of importance when you’ve spent a considerable amount of time positioning the pieces, setting up clamps, jigs, accessories, etc. If the work area is so dark that you can’t see markings or operate the equipment safely, you’ll need to postpone your work. By having good lighting, you can avoid a situation where you have to take things apart, and then set things back up again tomorrow when there’s enough natural light.
  • Work Environment  More Pleasing – With proper lighting, the work area is less cold and uninviting. So, you’ll feel like doing more and find that it’s easier to get more accomplished. With an overhead lighting system, there are fewer extension cords to trip over.  Also, more outlets will be available for electric tools or other equipment.

Lighting systems are not too expensive, and can include overhead lights, handheld lights, fluorescent lights, and also incandescent ones. These lights can really improve your woodworking environment.

2. Get Large Table Saw

While hand tools can be used to cut pieces of wood, the cuts are not that accurate. Also, the process can be tiring and use up valuable time. Power tools such as the portable jigsaw are an improvement, and make it easy to cut wood. However, the cuts are rough and often require extra sanding.

However, cuts are a breeze with a table saw. These have very powerful motors, and slice through wood without difficulty.

It is often good to obtain a saw with a large table surface. This helps to support large pieces of wood, such as plywood or paneling sheets. If the pieces are not supported adequately, there is an increased danger of kickback or blade binding.

With the proper guide, crosscuts (cuts across the grain of the wood) can be made. As above, a large table surface can help with this and make the process safer. In addition, Rip cuts (cuts along the grain of the wood) can be made with this saw. Even large sheets of plywood or paneling can be cut. If there’s not enough room to do this on the table saw, you can consider using a portable circular saw. This might also be preferred if you’re working outside or need to use a portable power tool.

When you use a fine-toothed blade, the table saw makes clean and precise cuts. You can even use it to make specialized cuts, such as dados.  Dados can be used as supporting slots for bookcase shelves and other items.

It’s hard to imagine doing your work without this tool. With a table saw, you can do more in less time. Also, your work is much more accurate. In addition, it’s easier to reproduce the same cuts over and over again. This allows you to make many copies of the same item.

3. Add Vacuum Cleaning System

By this, I’m referring to either a shop vacuum or a sawdust collection system. There are really many advantages:

Speeds Clean Up – Clean up can include: sweeping of sawdust, picking up wood residue, the collection of scrap wood pieces, and putting tools away for storage. The time to do this must be added to the time spent on the actual project work. Naturally, you’ll want to spend much more time on woodworking than on cleaning up! A shop vacuum can remove sawdust with ease, and even pick up small wooden items. So, less sweeping and time is required.

Makes Work Environment Safer – Sawdust can build up on the workshop floor. You certainly don’t want to lose your balance because you slipped on the sawdust. This can be a safety issue if you’re operating a power tool at the time.

Health and Breathing Issues – If you do not collect the sawdust, it will fill the air and you’ll breathe it in. This can cause many health problems. For example:

  • Pine – Can cause irritation, runny nose, and asthma.
  • Oak – Can cause irritation and asthma. Also, it can cause allergic reactions in many people exposed to it.
  • Redwood – Can cause irritation and asthma. Also, many people can have allergic reactions to it. It can even lead to certain forms of cancer!

Source for wood toxicity information

Face masks can help with sawdust. However, you also want to remove it from the air with a filtered vacuum.

4. Use Wood Storage Area

You’ll probably be storing wood in your shop area for some period of time. It’s a good idea to set aside an area and use it only for wood storage. It should be easy to remove the wood and bring it into the work area.

Unless you dedicate an area to wood storage, you’ll need to remove items, tools, etc. from the top of the wood and find other places for them, wasting time. When you’re done, you’ll have to find them again and pile them on top of the wood. This often results in aggravation and frustration.

When you store items on top of the wood, you’ll probably get dirt, rocks, or sand on the surface. These things can leave marks on the wood and scratch it up.

5. Use A Large Ruler

What? A large ruler? What’s that doing on the list? Well, it’s actually very important. First, I’m talking about one that is very long, over 6-feet or so. Here are some uses:

Mark Wood – The large ruler will make it easy to mark wood, even when the boards are long. With the ruler, you can even draw lines over large pieces of plywood or paneling. This cuts down on the number of individual measurements you need to take and speeds up the production of your project.

Edge Gluing Boards – You glue board edges together to make a large surface, such as a tabletop. To do this, the boards should have totally square edges. They may need to go through a jointer-planer or similar tool so that the width is constant as you travel across the board. You can test this with a large ruler: Hold it against the board edge and see if there is a gap at any point. If you detect one, you may need to pass the board through the jointer-planer again and make the width constant.

Hanging Pictures – A large ruler can also help when you’re hanging pictures, mirrors, or similar items. First, use a stud sensor to locate the wood studs. The stud sensor will detect density differences as it is passed along a wall and thereby locate the studs. Then, you can use the large ruler with something like a bubble level on top of it so that you can draw a horizontal line. The pictures can be hung along the line at points where studs cross. Then, the pictures will all be at the same height.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed several things to do in order to change your wood projects for all time. It may not seem as if these suggestions are that important. However, these things are truly transformational. Soon, you will be wondering how you went about your work without trying them.

These things are not too expensive. However, they have the potential to improve your woodworking projects and make your work much more enjoyable.

Well, now it’s your turn. Are there other things that can really help your woodworking projects? Feel free to put your comments or additions below.

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