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Archive for August, 2008

Three Easy Steps to Clamping Mitered Frames

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Gluing up the mitered corners of a frame can be tricky, especially if you’re working alone. It’s difficult to keep the miter joints aligned while trying to tighten the clamps.

To make it easier, I use two pairs of pipe clamps and a three-step process.

Start with Two — Begin by clamping two opposite sides of the frame (see Fig. 1 right). Light pressure is all that’s needed here. You don’t want to damage the fragile tips of the miters. In fact, it’s a good idea to attach rubber pads to the jaws of the clamps to prevent any damage.

To get ready for the next step, set the clamps so they’re the same distance apart as the length of the two unclamped pieces. Use one of those two pieces to check the spacing. Don’t worry here about being too exact, though. You can reposition the assembly later if you need to.

Add the Rest — The second step of the process is to apply glue to the mitered ends of the remaining two pieces and slip them into place to complete the frame. They should fit right into position between the two pieces that are already clamped (Fig. 2).

Add Clamps — To finish up, position two more clamps across the frame (Fig. 3). Tighten the clamps, gradually adjusting one at a time, until all four miter joints are perfectly aligned and drawn tightly together.

Have a nice weekend,
Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine



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Handsaw Crosscut Guide

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

If you ever need to cut small pieces to length, a table saw or miter saw can be overkill. Here’s an easy way to do it with a handsaw using a basic guide.

The guide is just a 2×4 block with a groove that holds the workpiece in place while you make the cut. To use it, slide the workpiece, so it extends past the end of the guide the desired amount (1?8″, in this case).

To get a square cut, hold the saw so the side of the blade is against the end of the guide. Drag the saw teeth across the workpiece to define the cutline. Now complete the cut, keeping the blade against the guide.

Have a nice weekend,
Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

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Upgrade Your Framing Square with Stair Gauges

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Stair gauges (the little brass clips attached to the framing square in the Photo at right) are essential for laying out stair stringers. But the usefulness of these gauges extends beyond that, however.

Try Square — The stair gauges have a lip that hangs under the edge of the square. So they can butt against the edge of a piece to be used like a try square (right).

Marking Gauge — With a third stair gauge in this setup, you have a place to rest a pencil for marking a line (below left).

Angle Transfer — Finally, adjust the gauges on the two legs to mark an angled line across a piece (below right).

Have a nice weekend,
Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

Mount both stair gauges to one leg of a framing square to create a super-size try square for marking wide panels.

Add a third stair gauge to the framing square, and you have a handy marking gauge for scribing a straight line on the face of a wide workpiece. Just hold the pencil, and slide the square.

By attaching the gauges to both legs of the square and then placing the square so the legs extend out over a workpiece, you can mark an angled line across the piece.

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Simple Steps to Removing Wood Stains

Friday, August 8th, 2008

A stain in wood can be difficult to remove. Quite often, it won’t sand out. In many cases, however, you can bleach the stain out. Common household bleach isn’t strong enough, so you’ll need a wood bleach like oxalic acid powder.

Oxalic acid powder is available at most hardware and paint stores. Mix about 16 oz. of the powder with 1 gallon of hot water. Then pour a small amount of the solution directly onto the stain, and work it in with a scrub brush (Fig. 1).  Leave the solution on overnight, and check the stain again the next morning. You may need to treat it several times to bleach the stain completely.

Once the stain is removed, the next step is to neutralize the oxalic acid. This is important because any residual acid can react with the finish and change its color.

To clean off the oxalic acid, mix 4 oz. of borax (available at hardware stores) with 1 gallon of hot water, and use a sponge to rinse the area where you applied the bleach (Fig. 2).

Once the wood dries, check that the area is clean and completely free of oxalic acid residue. To do that, brush a small amount of finish onto the wood with a foam brush (Fig. 3). If it goes on clear and smooth, you know you’re ready to apply finish without having to worry about an adverse reaction from the oxalic acid. If it changes color (typically purple), sand the area down to bare wood, and then test the area again.

Have a nice weekend,
Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine




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Choosing & Applying Cedar Deck Stain

Friday, August 1st, 2008

You have two choices for staining cedar decking: clear stain or semi-transparent stain. To protect cedar, the stain should be oil-based, contain mildewcides and fungicides, penetrate wood, and prevent UV damage. You’ll find these properties in both clear and semi-transparent stains.

In fact, the only major difference is that clear stains filter UV rays, while semi-transparent stains block them. This difference means that semi-transparent stains will last longer: three to four years between applications. Clear stains need to be applied every one to two years but are easier to apply.
Whichever you choose, steer clear of solid-color stains or paints. These will peel and flake off if exposed to sun and moisture.

Applying stain to a surface as large as a deck can be challenging. Here are some tips that will ensure success.

Roll It On — Use a paint roller, so you can apply stain quickly. Attach the roller to a long-handled extension rod to give your back a break.

Don’t Get Lapped — If you want to add a bit of color, a semi-transparent stain works great. But if you let stain dry in one area and roll over it, you’ll end up with lap marks.

To prevent this, a good approach is to break the deck into sections. Stain just three boards at a time, working from end to end (Photo, right). Once you have completed those three boards, brush stain onto the edges with a foam brush (Inset Photo), and then move on to the next three deck boards.

A Clear Option — A clear stain won’t leave lap marks, so you can just work your way from one side of the deck to the other. Just be sure to stop occasionally and brush between the boards as you work across the deck.

Have a nice weekend,
Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

Semi transparent stains are available in a wide variety of colors to suit your tastes.

Clear stains (left) have trans-oxides that filter the sun’s UV rays. Semi-transparent stains (right) use pigments to block the rays.

When using semi-transparent stain, roll it on three boards at a time. Then brush in the cracks.

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