Mar 012016
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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.

Sometimes you need to draw a line all the way around an irregular shape.  In this case, I wanted to make a little cup out of this old plastic bottle.  I’m recycling slivers of bar soap into new bars and trying this out for a mold.

This is my first foray into soap making. Or, should I call it soap re-making? Either way, this little trick worked quite well.

This is my first foray into soap making. Or, should I call it soap re-making? Either way, this little trick worked quite well.

One easy way to do that is to put the bottle against a miter gauge on your band saw and push it through.  Sometimes, though, the size or shape precludes that approach.

A tip I picked up from Tom Silva on This Old House is to take a flexible strip, it can be a laminate for a big circumference or a strip of cloth for a smaller dimension, and wrap it around the object.  Tom was cutting a porch column to its proper length.  Once the strip is pulled tight and the mating surfaces meet with perfect edge alignment, the line around the object will be straight and it’s just a matter of tracing against the strip with a pencil.

In this case, I didn’t need a lot of accuracy, and the height didn’t have to be exact.  I laid a Sharpie on top of a bottle and held it steady with my right hand.  With my left hand I rotated the bottle against the Sharpie.  Voila!  I think the bathtub is full.  Now, where did I leave my rubber ducky?

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

  One Response to “Tips from Sticks in the Mud – March Tip #1- The Straight Line Trick”

  1. I tired to “melt” my soap chips into a new bar back when I was in college using a sauce pan on very low heat on the stove. My roommates didn’t like the smell and my experiment failed, so I’d be interested in what you are doing with your soap pieces and this mold.

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