Who doesn't love new tools?? I often think that is at least half the fun of woodworking, all the neat tools we get to use, purchase, and figure out. I guess it's the "mechanics" of woodworking, and for me, even re-purchasing newer versions of a tool I may already have can also be exciting because often, there are new tool features.

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And such was the case with the "MINI" clamping squares I picked up at Lee Valley recently. I already have a larger set for furniture and cabinet making, and I love how much easier and more accurate they are to work with .. but how about something for BOX Making ...

These little clamping squares are perfect for box-making and probably even smaller picture frames. 
I make a lot of boxes for all sorts of different reasons, and sometimes I just make boxes for the fun of it. Assembling the boxes can be a bit awkward, I often wish I had another hand, but these mini clamping squares are the next best thing. The ones I purchased are 2 x 3 inches ... perfect for smaller projects and I was anxious to give them a try. I cut up a small off-cut of some plywood I had laying around and made 2 sets of equal-sized sides and one bottom. 

As I began the assembly and using the clamping squares, I quickly realized that the clamps I owned were not great for these smaller projects. The spring clamps I had were just a wee bit too small and the larger ones were all cumbersome to use. Still... I managed to assemble the box, glued and pinned it in a little over 4 minutes. I'm sure not any kind of a record, but for the first time while I tried to figure out the best clamps to use, I ended up with a perfectly square box, or in this case really a "tray" for holding things. 
I really liked these little clamping squares but I need to pick up some better clamps, I think some medium spring clamps might do the trick ... and we all know what that means, another trip to the tool store  ....... 

Courner clamping squares for woodworking

While I was at Lee Valley, I also noticed a brand new item they have just started carrying, yes I'm talking about a plain old paint brush for things like Polyurethanes, Varnishes, and even some waterborne finishes that I use from time to time. I noticed that my "special" paint brush which is even labeled "Varnish Only", ended up being used for some painting chore by another family member, and did not get cleaned properly now it works well as a hammer and very poorly as a paintbrush.

What caught my eye on the brush is not only the bevel cut, which is hard to find in paint brushes, but also the thickness of the brush, which means it "loads" (varnish) quicker, and the load stays further down the bristles, making it easier (and more thorough) to clean. I tried this brush with some waterborne vanish and loved how the thin bristles lay the varnish out, smooth and even, and for the final sweeps, a very nice even layering. 
If you use Polys and Varnishes, you NEED a good quality paint brush and if you are using foam brushes, you are likely getting bubbles in your finished work ... quit using them because most people try to use them like a paintbrush which ends up getting tons of bubbles on the surface and making a mess of your finish. Get yourself a GOOD, fine bristle, paintbrush and watch how easily a good finish can be applied.

Varnish Paint Brush

Lastly to purchase a new Butane Torch. This was a re-purchase for me because I had one of these torches up until about 6 months ago when it quit. I fiddled around and tried to fix it but there are sealed parts and I finally gave up trying to repair it. This unit happened to be on sale for around $12 and for that price was easily worth the money. I don't use these torches a lot, but they sure come in handy when I need some instant heat on some project. The filling is easy, you hole the nozzle of the Butane tank over the receiving nozzle on the bottom of the torch (holding the torch upside down) and in 6 seconds the torch is full and ready to use. Open the Butane valve on the torch, hit the striker switch a time or two and now you have an adjustable blue flame for all sorts of chores like ...
smaller soldering, even copper water pipes can be repaired in a pinch ... 

Butane torch for woodworking

prevent fraying with plastic/nylon rope

Butane torch

 burning wood on things like picture frames, small boxes, and other similar items ...

Burnig wood for woodworking

 I often use this torch on VERY LOW power for warming pricing labels on wood for easy removal ... who is it that puts pricing labels on the best part of the board? certainly not anyone who works with wood!!!!   I even use mine camping, it's great for quickly lighting the campfire ... 
Lots of tools and many, many uses ...

Copyright Colin Knecht

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