Mar 262015

“Set In Place” is the second “S” in 5S implementation. It encompasses the arrangement of tools and supplies in logical ways. But woodworkers who have taken a class with me and are utilizing the principles of 5S to make their shop time more efficient and fun know that we don’t just “Set In Place,” but we also learn to “Set Back In Place Clean & Ready To Go.” Putting a tool away when we are finished using it keeps our workspaces clear and uncluttered and allows us to work safely and concentrate more fully. Taking a few seconds to clean the tool before storing it keeps our storage areas clean and we save time because the tool is ready to use the next time we need it.

Thus when someone asks how my shop stays so neat and clean I repeat my 5S mantra, “Put tools and supplies away when you are through using them!” But there is allowance for one occasional exception to this rule.

When making cope and stick cabinet doors, I always start with the coping cut. Fiddling around with shaped backer boards to curb the blowout on a cope cut always seemed like a waste of time, so for me “rails/copes first” makes sense. When all the rails are made (and a few just‐in‐case extras) I change over to the sticking bit and make all the long grain cuts in rails and stiles at one time.

A shortage of clamps (who really has enough?) means I have to glue‐up doors in batches. Recently I was gluing up the fourth large batch of a large door order and came to one where I had failed to rout the sticking cut on the stiles. How did that happen? Trust me, I checked everything twice (or thought I did) before I unplugged my router table, disconnected the dust collection, and rolled it out of the way. Fortunately, though, I had left the sticking bit in the router, all set up and ready to go. Whew!

If a project includes a complicated or “finicky” setup, it is okay to leave the setup in place until you are sure… very sure… you have all the parts you need. This should be relatively rare though, and 99% of the time, putting things back where they belong when you are through using them is a good “5S” work habit.

Want to learn more about 5S and how you can gain more space, have more time, and enjoy your workshop even more? Check out my 5S class at Popular Woodworking University.


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Mar 192015

Magswitch has come up with new saw guides, feather boards and hold down jigs.  I picked up a set at Highland and gave them a try.

The system is designed in a series of pieces beginning with a Universal Base.  The Base holds two very strong magnets which can be switched on and off by twisting a toggle on top of the magnet.  The magnets are rated at either 95 pounds or 150 pounds breakaway force and they are really strong.  You can attach various pieces to the Base and have either a Featherboard, a Roller Guide, a Resaw Guide, or a Thin Stock Jig and Rip Guide.

The Magswitch Products

The Magswitch Products

The system works by dropping the magnets into the base and attaching one of the elements.  By flipping the magnet switches and setting the Base on a metal surface,  the Base becomes essentially unmovable.

When I first saw the elements, I thought the various pieces were quickly and easily transferred to and from the Base.  That is not the case— they are attached with Phillips head screws and some are not easy to reach.  It turns out one way to make the system much easier to use is to have several Bases with elements attached and then swap the magnets from piece to piece.  As an alternative, one could buy several magnets and leave them permanently attached to different bases.

In use, the Featherboard works like a champ.  Once attached to the Base, and magnets transferred into place, it is a very simple matter to place and adjust the board.  If the Base needs to be moved, a quick twist of the knob on top of the magnet releases or sets the Base and you are on your way.

There are two Roller Guides available — one straight with two sets of bearings for the table saw and another made for resawing on the bandsaw, having one set of bearings in the center and the sides sloped away.  Both can be adjusted so the fence is vertical.

Band Saw Roller Guide

Band Saw Roller Guide

Funny thing, I cussed the Roller Guides pretty good because the magnets would not fit into the holes provided.  Took me longer than it should have to see the removable plastic bushings to adapt to the bigger/stronger magnets.

The Thin Stock Jig and Rip Guide is one of the odder pieces.  It is designed to hold down thin stock on the table saw using the same Base and magnets as in all of the other pieces.  The trick with this one is it has to be set at an angle so the edge is parallel to the fence.  There are several different thicknesses for ripping depending on which edge you face toward the fence.

IMG_1580If there is an issue with the Magswitch system, it is how best to configure the combination of Bases and magnets to fit your needs.  It is probably best to buy a Starter Kit, and then decide which unit is most important for you and how much trouble you are willing to stand to switch the magnets around.  Bases are about $19, but magnets are either $25 or $35 each and you need two for each Base.  Once you get set up, they work very well indeed.

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Mar 172015
The March 2015 issue of The Highland Woodturner

If you’ve just started woodturning or you’ve been turning for most of your life, our March 2015 issue of The Highland Woodturner has a variety of projects, tips, and stories to motivate your craft. This month’s issue includes: My Favorite Tools and Accessories: Curtis Turner has been contributing to The Highland Woodturner for several years [...]

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Mar 062015
A New Issue of Wood News Online- March 2015

Our March 2015 issue of Wood News Online is now available for reading and it is chock full of some great woodworking project ideas, safety tips, and advice. This month’s articles include: My Tell Tale Pyrography- Professor Nsir Malik discusses his passion for pyrography – the art of decorating wood with burn marks. He discusses [...]

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Feb 252015
Tips from Sticks in the Mud – March Tip #2- Wood Storage Solutions

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift.  Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip.  It’s OK if you call me “cheap.” Search the Web for “wood storage” and you will be inundated with more articles and videos than you can digest in [...]

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Feb 242015
Tips from Sticks in the Mud – March Tip #1- Enlarging a Drill Hole

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist, not a professional, someone who loves woodworking, just like you do. I have found some better ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop and look forward to sharing those with you each month, as well as hearing your problem-solving ideas. I can’t take credit for [...]

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