Some workshop tips that I use are old, old, old ... I have been using them for many years without giving too much thought to them but to many others, they are new ideas, but even more, they are ideas with others that can trigger new ideas, that they then share with me and we end up learning from one another ... 

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Some workshop tricks when you look at them they look easy, then when you try them,  they don't work, and that's because some of them require a tiny bit tweaking that sometimes is left untold ... and such is the case with vice grip saw blade hack ...

The first time I used this was long before the Internet was popular (whew, that's dating myself) but I had broken another hacksaw blade and needed to cut some threaded rod. I remembered that I had seen somewhere ... someone using vice grips to grasp a broken saw blade to finish a job. When I tried this, of course, the blade slipped in the vice grips even when tightening hard. I soon realized that it would work but I needed to use the vice grip jaws to grip and leverage the broken blade, then it worked like a charm ... These days I still use this method but now I often use reciprocal saw blades, and I use this for trimming hinge insets. The teeth are fine, I can get a good grip, and I don't need a long stroke to take off small amounts of wood to get an excellent fit for a hinge.

Vice Grip Saw
Concrete or masonry nails are what is called "hardened", which makes them much, much stronger than ordinary nails that bend quite easily. Because of this hardening, they can also be adapted for use as punches, even on sheet metal and for an improvised nail set.

Woodworking Punch

Pulling nails is never fun so anything we can do to make this chore easier is a welcome addition. This little "Pry Block" idea has been around as long as I can remember and I still use it, especially if I have to pull spiral nails out of old pallet wood. Sometimes those spiral nails can be the hardest to get out and often the nail heads are the weak points in the nails and if you don't t get a good grip they shear off. I have also found that my pry bars do not have a sharp enough claw to get in tight to many of these spiral nails and I need to resort to one of my hammers as a pry bar and using this pry block under the hammer eases much of the tension on the hammer handle and most of the time, even the most stubborn spiral nails will come out. 

Pry Block

An experienced painter gave me this tip a long time ago, he said "don't let your wife throw out old nylons that have rips or runs in them, they are great for straining the lumps out of paint and varnish" and he was correct. The trick with straining varnish is to not let the varnish drip through the nylon material but to let the nylon material immerse in the varnish so it doesn't form so many bubbles, and that way you don't have to wait so long for them to float out, otherwise this is a great idea for getting nice clean finish material with no lumps. 

nylon strainer

I learned the hard way that when many finishing materials get too low in the can they for a skin, or if the lid is leaking, the varnish, paint etc, will often evaporate out or become t thick to use. To solve this I now put most of my materials that are in cans that are a quarter to half used ... into the glass container. This helps to preserve them much better and I also use plastic under the lids so they unscrew easier too. And don't forget to label what is in the jar, and a date if it's something like shellac, that is only good for a month or so after it has been mixed.  

Paint jar sealer

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Copyright Colin Knecht 

Workshop Hacks Part 8: Woodworking Tips and Tricks



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