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Use Full-Scale Layout to Solve Woodworking Project Problems

By Steve Shanesy 1 month ago 98 Views No comments

When building woodworking projects. problems can arise when component parts stray from the usual square and parallel cuts. When projects or parts of projects veer into the world of angles and curves a carefully drawn full-scale layout will help navigate the project to an easy, successful, conclusion.

Tools you need for making full-sized drawings include both small and large, reliable carpenters squares, a straight edge, an angle gauge, and various length woodworking rulers. For curved or round parts a compass and beam compass will be needed.

When making a full-scale layout the first and most important rule is generating a precise drawing that accurately represents the elements of the part or parts and their relationship to each other. That means angles, lengths, widths, finished heights, curves, etc., must be drawn precisely. That’s because you will rely on the drawing to determine information about a part that’s not known.

Here’s an easy example. Say you want to determine the length of table legs that are splayed 7°. You know the leg is 1¾” square, the finished table height is 30½” and the angle is 7°. To determine the leg length, draw a horizontal line representing a floor, draw a parallel line 30½” representing the finished table height, draw another parallel line 1” down from the top to indicate the thickness of the tabletop. Now you can find the accurate length of the leg. Reference the floor line (or the line of the underside of the top) then draw a precise, 7° angle line connecting the two. The top and bottom of the leg will automatically have the 7° angle. Now it’s easy to measure the leg length.

Likewise, you can use you’re layout to determine the length of the tables aprons and stretchers. To determine these dimensions, layout the planned setback of the legs from the table ends. Now add a line representing the width of the apron that extends just long enough to strike a 90° angle between bottom apron line and the intersection top of the leg and top of the apron where they meet at the tabletop bottom line. Now you can quickly calculate the apron length by adding the leg setback and leg thickness and multiplying that number by two. This accounts for both ends of the table. Next carefully measure the distance between the 90° line at the apron bottom and where meets the table legs and double it to account for both apron ends. Now some quick math will tell you actual length of the aprons.

The beauty of working with a full-scale layout goes beyond the ability to calculate part sizes. With the part drawn full-size, you can compare the actual part you make to the drawing. Just lay it on the drawing to check it. Further, you can position mating parts on your drawing to make sure the relationship conforms to the drawing.


When working with parts that are curved, full-scale layouts can be used to make a pattern from which actual parts will be shaped. Take, for example, a pair of Danish Modern folding chairs I recently made. The full-scale patterns were provided as part of a project article that appeared in Popular Woodworking Magazine. I took the layouts to an office supply store and had them enlarged to their exact full size. From these enlargements I was able to make an exact pattern of the parts outside shape. It could then be used to make the parts using my patterns along with straight router bit equipped with a top mounted bearing. All I had to do trace the pattern on my parts, rough cut the parts close to the pattern line then lightly nail the pattern to part for final shaping on the router table.

These full-scale drawings also provided precise locations for routing mortises while the parts were captured in a fixture based on patterns.

Full-scale layouts can resolve many problems building woodworking projects. They are a must when working with complex angles or curves. But often, even a quick layout will save you time and provide positive answers to relatively simple questions. One common example is placement of metal drawer slides inside a cabinet and on the drawer side. By simply drawing the cabinet interior height, you can place the cabinet member position then determine where the drawer side member goes and make sure of the entire drawer box is properly placed inside the cabinet.

About the Author: Steve Shanesy was editor and publisher of Popular Woodworking magazine for 19 years. Prior to that he spent 15 years working in and managing high-end furniture and cabinet shops in Los Angeles and Cincinnati.

Please see Woodpecker squares, straight edge rule, angle gauges and wood working rulers for projects similar to the one discussed above. Thanks for reading!

Ultra Shear Woodturning Square Tool Techniques

2 months ago 155 Views No comments

Curiously enough here at Woodpeckers, we pride ourselves on the marketing we do for our tools, but every once in a while we miss, and the Ultra-Shear Square Insert Turning Tools are a good example.

These excellent woodturning tools have been on the market for over a year now, and we haven’t shown their full potential. The video below shows the versatility of our tools — the only ones on the market with the Ultra Shear capability. Jeff Farris, the developer of the Ultra-Shear line of woodturning tools, shows the Square tools ability to rough, make tenons for scroll chuck turning and turning the outside of the curve, even in very detailed work.


We make three square insert woodturning tools. The Full and Mid-Size use the same inserts, and the Pen Size uses smaller inserts. If you’re turning bowls and furniture components, the Full-Size is your best choice. The Mid-Size is a great choice if you turn pizza cutters, duck calls, shaving brushes, and other palm-sized projects. The Pen Size tools are the right choice for pens, lace bobbins, finials, and other fine, delicate work.

Sadly, one of our competitors calls their square insert turning tool a “Rougher” and the name has stuck in the minds of turners everywhere. That name completely ignores the best applications for a square insert tool. Sure, of the basic insert tools the square is the best for roughing stock down to a cylinder, but there’s so much more it does well.

Any time you’re shaping an outside curve, the square tool is your best choice. Two examples of that would be beads in spindle turning and the outside of a traditional bowl form.

The square tool also is a great choice for forming a tenon to go in a chuck. It makes sure the shoulder is square. If you make the tenon just a bit wider than the middle of the insert (full- and mid-size, not pen), it will usually be just the right length to mount in most woodturning chucks.

All three tools come standard with a true square insert. In addition to the true square, we have inserts with a slight radius ground into them. The radius moves the corner away from your stock, making it a bit easier for some folks to use, particularly when smoothing outside curves. In the larger inserts, we offer true square, 4" radius and 2" radius. In the Pen Size inserts we have the true square and a 2" radius.

Carbide insert tools have been around for several years, and insert tools in general have been around since at least the mid-1980s. So, what makes Ultra-Shear different from all the rest? The list is long, but the three most important differences are the grade and grind of the inserts, the design of the tool shaft and the material and treatment used in making the shaft.

It All Starts at the Cutting Edge. Ultra-Shear’s development team started this project by interviewing dozens of carbide manufacturers, seeking out a partner that recognized the unique requirements of woodturning. For advanced performance at the lathe, you need a truly keen edge. That requires a carbide that doesn’t just last, but also is fine-grained enough not to crumble when formed to a really sharp angle. The result of months of testing and trials is a unique nano-grain carbide matrix, polished to a mirror-finish on the cutting surface and precision ground on the bevel. They are the sharpest, longest lasting inserts on the market.

Go Beyond Just Shaping your Project. Carbide insert turning tools are typically used with the tool on the centerline of the lathe, held horizontal to the ground. Ultra-Shear tools use this approach for roughing and shaping cuts. But, Ultra-Shear goes further. After initial shaping, roll the tool right or left and you will feel the tool land on another bearing plane, 45° from horizontal. With the tool at this angle, the wood fibers slice cleanly, leaving a surface that needs little or no sanding. It’s a technique called shear scraping , which usually involves trying to balance your tool on a round surface or a sharp corner. Ultra-Shear’s geometry makes shear scraping a simple approach even beginners can use, instead of something that takes years to master.

High Tech Steel; Higher Tech Manufacturing. A truly sharp cutting edge needs rock solid support to give you the best results. Ultra-Shear tools feature the same ChroMoly alloy steel used in NASCAR roll cages and crankshafts. The unique 5-sided shape of the tool shaft is machined on state-of-the-art CNC milling centers. Then the shafts go through a two-step hardening process that makes the shaft rigid and creates an ultra-smooth surface finish that glides easily across your tool rest and resists corrosion.

The full size tools have an 8" tool length (beyond handle) with a 15-3/4" handle, for a total length of 23-3/4". The mid size tools have a 4-1/2" tool length with an 11" handle for a total length of 15-1/2". The pen tools have a 3-1/4" tool length with a 9" handle for a total length of 12-1/4".

All Woodpeckers woodturning tools including are UltraShear Woodturning Tools are precisely machined and carefully inspected in our Strongsville, Ohio, factory, just south of Cleveland. Thank you for reading!

How to Prepare Lumber for Panel Glue-Ups

By Steve Shanesy 2 months ago 150 Views No comments

Follow These 9 Steps to Make Large Panels from Solid Lumber

Large wood panels used for tabletops, cabinet doors and tops, and countertops provide the perfect display for showing off the beauty hardwood lumber. Follow this guide to prepare stock for gluing up your lumber into magnificent, large panels.

1. Crosscut rough lumber to the approximate length your finished panel requires by leaving at least a couple extra for final trimming after the panel is glued together.

2. Carefully inspect your pieces and set aside any that are genuinely flat. Pieces with cups or twists will need to be face jointed. Cut them to the width that matches the capacity of your jointer, usually 6” to 8” for most home woodworkers. The safest way to do this is using a bandsaw. While Woodpeckers does not carry band saws currently, we do feature some band saw accessories that can prove helpful for your woodworking projects.


3. Using your jointer, face joint one side. Its best to face joint with a cup side down. When that side is flat, check your jointer fence and set it absolutely square. Now edge joint one edge until it is perfectly straight. Do the same with any pieces you set aside that were flat. Mark the jointed faces and edges with a pencil.

4. Next use your thickness planer to begin smoothing and flattening the second face. This usually requires several passes removing about 1/16” on each pass. Repeat until you have reached your desired material thickness.

5. At the table saw, rip each piece to remove the remaining rough edge. This step will produce stock with two parallel edges, essential to the glue up process. Take as little material as needed. Contrary to some advice, wide boards are good!

6. Now go back to the jointer and edge joint the edges you just ripped on the table saw.

7. Next place all your pieces to be glued on a flat surface. Arrange the boards to present their most attractive appearance. This usually means putting straight grain edges next to similar edges and flat grain boards beside each other. Board color is another important consideration. Contrasting colors are not as attractive as colors that blend together.

8. With your boards arranged for best appearance and placed side by side, use a piece of chalk and mark a triangle across them so that every board has part of the triangle mark on it. This trick makes it easy put the arrangement back together as intended.

9. Now it’s time to carefully inspect the quality of joint between each mating board’s edge. If gaps are found, check to be certain there’s no debris between them that’s keeping them from closing up. Mating board edges that don’t close up completely need to be edge jointed until no gap remains. Another way to inspect mating edges is to set the two boards on edge, one atop the other. If light shows through anywhere along the length at least one board will need a second jointer run.

Bonus Edge Jointing Trick. Edge joints sometimes appear open because one or both of the edges are not square to their adjoining face. This is likely because your jointer fence was not set square. And some jointer fences have a slight twist in them making it nearly impossible to achieve a square edge. Here’s the workaround. Go back to step 8 with the boards arranged as they will be glued up. At all mating edges chalk or pencil mark an “I” (for inside) on one board and “O” for outside) on the other. At the jointer, run the edges again. Boards marked “I” are jointed with the face toward the fence and ones marked “O” away from the fence. This process with produce complimentary angles and compensate for slight out of square fence adjustment.

About the Author: Steve Shanesy was editor and publisher of Popular Woodworking magazine for 19 years. Prior to that he spent 15 years working in and managing high-end furniture and cabinet shops in Los Angeles and Cincinnati.

Once your panels are ready for glue-up, you’ll of course need strong, precision clamps to hold them in-place as they dry. We offer many woodworking clamps and clamping systems to complete your panel project! Thanks for reading.

Use Gauge Blocks for Fast, Accurate Woodworking Machine Setups

By Steve Shanesy 2 months ago 219 Views No comments

Woodworking machine setup is often most easily accomplished using gauge blocks. These precision-machined blocks are perfect for your table saw, router table, drill press, band saw and other shop equipment. Using gauge blocks (sometimes called setup blocks) can eliminate the often tedious process of getting a saw blade or router bit set precisely. Hands down, they beat more traditional measuring devises like rulers and tape measures.

There are a number of reasons setup blocks are superior. Say you want to set the depth of cut on a plunge router. Some woodworkers will make an approximate setting then try to measure it by bridging over the router base to the tip of the bit using a combination square. Then a series of bit adjustments are made (awkwardly, I should add) until they are ready to make a test cut. Often, further adjustment is necessary.

Guide to Pattern Routing

By Steve Shanesy 3 months ago 544 Views 1 comment

Learn How to Make Perfect Curved or Square Shapes Using a Router

Pattern routing skills can substantially improve your woodworking in both creative and technical areas while improving the quality of your work. In this article you’ll learn how to choose router bits, make templates for both curved and square cornered shapes; and then how to make the cuts. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy pattern routing is once you understand the fundamentals.