Beginners Woodworking Videos

Circular Saws: Using and Safety

The Circular Saw was invented way back in the early 1920s by a company that later changed it name to Skil. The tool was SO POPULAR that for decades people referred to every circular saw as as "skil saw", which is the same kind of thing that happened with Hoover. The company name became synonymous with what it did. Even today I hear people sometimes calling circular saws "Skil Saws" and if you tell someone you need to do some "hoovering" they know you really mean vacuum cleaning. Funny how that goes ... but I digress. The circular saw is arguably one of the most popular power tools on the planet. The only thing that might  bump it would be the power drill.

Sadly, circular saws have created a TONS of injuries over the years and thanks to a number of people who have looked at these injuries and come up with good ways to help prevent them in the future, we now have a pretty good guidelines on circular saw safety. I am happy to report that these guidelines and best practices are being taught to our carpenter and woodworking students in trade schools and colleges and we know what they are learning is working because we can monitor the positive results.

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 Many, many years ago the first blades I ever used on circular saws were old hardened steel blades and they didn't stay sharp very long. You had lots of choices back then too, you get a blade with 20 or 24 teeth depending on what manufacturer you wanted to purchase from. The good news was that you got pretty good a sharpening your own blades with rusty old file ...

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Knowing and Using Chisels

I don't know if anyone really knows when the first chisel was invented but it has it's roots in simple stone-age tools. A chisel is really just a modified knife designed for a variety of both light and heavy duty jobs. The largest chisels are those used in timber framing and log house construction and can have very wide blades. Woodworking chisel blades generally vary between 1" and 1/4" wide blades, but their are wider and narrower for specialized jobs.

There are many different kinds of wood chisels but they basically fall into 2 main groups, bevel sided chisels and flat sided chisels. Currently the bevel sided chisels are easily the most popular because of their ability to get into areas that most flat sided chisel just cannot reach. Because of the design of beveled chisels, some people suggest they are easier to bend when prying that will flat sided chisels. This may be the case, but often bend chisel blades are created because the chisel is being used for something other than what it was designed for.

Many flat sided wood chisels are also called mortise chisels as that is what they were designed to do. These chisels come in a variety of widths and shapes, and by themselves, a woodworker can cut out a quality mortise in a few minutes, using no other tools than the mortise chisel and a mallet. With today's wealth of power tools there are many other different ways of making moritises, but in the days before power tools, the mortise chisel was the main tool for this.

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Using a Electric Hand Planer

electric hand planeHand planers come in a couple of varieties, electric and hand and they really serve 2 different functions. Hand planes have been around in one form or another for a centuries and are used in many areas of woodworking. Electric hand planes are a somewhat recent addition having been around for the past 30 or so years.
The electric version, which is what we are dealing with here are more associated with building  type construction and carpentry and even home renovation, than they are to fine woodworking. That's not to say that many of us don't have them, just that they get used less frequently by woodworkers than a carpenter might or renovator might. For example, I do a LOT of woodworking and I'm not sure I use mine more that a couple times a year, but when I do, it works great for what I need.

One of the issues with electrical hand planers is their short length and the amount of wood they can plane down in very little time. The short length, like any plane, does not allow for a huge amount of control in terms of making a board straight and flat, and if the blade is set to a low depth, a person can sometimes do more damage than good when working with fine tolerances.


My plane gets most used when I have some rough lumber that I am planning to run through the jointer and later of the stationary planer. Sometimes this wood gets some nasty jags in it as it comes from the mill. Rather than run these boards dozens of times through the joint, sometimes it's quicker and easier to hand plane these down to a workable stage with the electric hand planer.

When using the electric hand planer that are a few things I have learned ...

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Tips and Info on Jigsaws

Jigsaws have been around for many years and have not changed significantly in that time. The principal of how they work is the same, the blades move up and down at a high rate of speed as the saw is pushed into the wood and thus a cut is made ... pretty easy eh? .... Well, not so fast. There are a few things that we can all learn about jigsaws that can make them far more useful.

First of all, there are 2 basic jigsaw blades available. The newest version is called a "T" connection, the older one is often called a "U" connection because at the very top of the blade there is a tiny "U" cutaway. As usual, the blades are not interchangeable. The quick way to tell (in most cases) if you jigsaw has some sort of a screw at the point where the blade enters the mounting slot in the saw, it is likely the older type, the "U" connection. If your jigsaw has some sort of twisting lever, it's likely a "T" connection type blade required.

The newer jigsaws now have variable speed motors, and locking switches so that if you are making a long cut, you can not only adjust the speed accordingly, you can also lock the motor on rather than trying to hold the on switch for the entire cut. What about blades you ask ... well ...

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