Sunday, March 13, 2016

Skil's entry-level wet tile saw gets the job done for DIYers

Skil 3540-2 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw

I once laid ceramic tile in a bathroom using only the “score and snap” technique to cut my tiles… never again! It’s something you only have to experience once, if you ask me. So when I took on a project remodeling the powder room, a project that entailed ripping up the existing sheet vinyl (thank you, Rockwell Sonicrafter!) and laying 8” x 8” tiles, I sprung for a wet tile saw. Amazon had bunches, most of which were out of reach – so I went for the least expensive model they had with a name I recognized.  That mean I chose a SKIL 3540-02 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw. Being a recognizable name, though, doesn’t mean the saw didn’t come from China…

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Handi-Clamps: Irwin's Gift to Woodworkers Who Never Learned to Juggle

Irwin Quickgrips 4-Inch Handi-Clamps

The walls in the shop look like they've sprouted bar clamps in all sizes and shapes: these are the "big guns" in my woodworking arsenal. Smaller clamps, in multiple shapes and sizes themselves, dwell in a drawer in my tool cabinet. There you’ll find C-Clamps, band clamps, spring clamps and corner clamps; along with some light-duty clamps combine the C-Clamp’s reach with a spring clamp’s convenience. By that, I mean some Irwin Quick-Grip Handi-Clamps, the 4-inch size (stock number 59400CD).

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Crown Molding was Never This Easy: Corner Blocks Rule!

House of Fara Corner Blocks

There are few interior details that effectively add some "class" to a room as a
course of crown molding up at ceiling level. It's tasteful, elegant, attractive... and a total pain in the butt to install. That’s probably why the skinny saw originally used to cut miters on the stuff is called a coping saw: because carpenters had to cope with the stuff too. But seriously: cutting a miter in crown molding truly tries one’s patience: does it go in the miter box/saw upside down? right-side up? Must you cope the joints for a better fit? How loud should you swear when you botch a cut? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cutting Large Circles or Arcs? No Problem!

Dasco Pro 1405 Giant-Circle Beam Compass

Woodworkers have plenty of ways to mark out circles. Little circles -- up to perhaps 3” diameter -- are easy to cut with a hole saw. Anything bigger means that bringing out a different sort of tool like a jig saw or a band saw, depending on the use. Assuming you have a saw and the stock to cut, the problem becomes one of "How do I mark a curve that large???" You could root ask your kids for their compass (what the geometry teacher calls "dividers"), but they’re good for a radius of about six inches at most. What if you need to mark a curve with a twenty- or thirty-inch radius? Or larger? Do you struggle with string, a nail, and a pencil? 

Nope: you pull out your Dasco Pro 1405 Giant-Circle Beam Compass and a half-inch dowel, and quick as a whistle you've marked a curve. It actually is that easy.