Magnetic Clamp Pads

Whenever I use pipe clamps, I like to place a block of wood between the clamp and my workpiece. This clamping pad helps prevent damaging the surface of the wood. The problem is trying to hold the block in place as you tighten the clamp.

To solve this, I made some magnetic clamp pads. Each pad is just a block of wood with a shallow hole drilled in the center. Then I epoxied a small magnet into the hole, as you can see in the drawing. The magnet holds the pad in place, leaving me with both hands free to align and tighten the clamp on the workpiece.

Shop-Made Clamp

There are times when you just don’t have enough clamps. But don’t worry – you don’t have to blow your budget on new ones. Here’s an easy-to-build clamp that will work great for most projects.

What’s unique about these clamps is how the pressure is applied. Instead of tightening a threaded screw, a wood wedge is tapped between the clamp and the workpiece.

The clamps are easy to make. As you can see in the drawing at right, each one consists of a long, wood rail with two clamp heads.

A fixed clamp head is screwed to one end of the rail. And to accommodate different size objects, an adjustable clamp head is positioned along the length of the rail.

To make this work, you’ll need to drill a series of holes in the rail. These holes accept a pin that’s mounted into a hole in the adjustable clamp head. (I used a dowel for the pin.)

In use, this pin allows the adjustable clamp head to pivot as you tap in the wedge, as shown in the detail. The farther you tap in the wedge, the more pressure it applies against the workpiece.

Strip Cutting Gauge

Thin strips should be cut on a table saw with the wide board against the fence and the fence moved in for each cut, however it is difficult to accurately adjust the fence for each strip to be the same thickness. This gauge allows you to simply slide the fence over until the stock hits the guide. Because there are so many different types of table saws I have not given any measurements for the lengths of the parts, this should be obvious when the strip is in the miter slot.

Cut a stip that fits snugly in the miter slot of the table, with a 5/8″ spade bit drill a pocket for the bolt head about 1/8″ deep, then drill 1/4″ hole for bolt. Cut a slot in a piece 1″ wide hardwood that is long enough to extend to line up with the saw blade, round the outer end. Fasten the two pieces together with a 1/4″ carriage bolt, washer and thumb screw.

Mark the width of the strip to be cut on the material, set fence, then place gauge in miter slot and adjust guide to touch material. Remove gauge, make the cut, insert gauge, with material against fence, slide fence over until material touches gauge, remove gauge, cut, continue in this manner.

Depth Gauge

Setting bit height is either a hit-or-miss proposition based on eyeballing or a simple measuring task featuring a depth gauge jig. The latter approach is faster and more accurate. Plus, it saves aging knees by eliminating that awkward hunkering-down motion to reach bit level. With a depth gauge, you simply set the desired bit height and then raise the bit until it hits the bottom of the slide bar. With a piloted bit, make sure the slide clears the bearing and touches the cutter.

Built from multi-ply for strength and stability, this depth-gauge jig requires a short length of self-stick measuring tape with large numbers, a thumbscrew and a little piece of clear acrylic.

Lay out the depth-gauge body on some plywood. Drill the hole for the nickel 1/16-in. deeper than the T-slot using a 7/8-in. Forstner bit. Plow the T-slot with a T-slot router bit before shaping the body. The slide is a simple T-molding made by cutting two rabbets on the edge of a board and then ripping the molding free. Apply the self-stick tape rule at the bottom. Secure the acrylic plate with a couple of screws.

Zero the gauge by setting it on a flat surface, for example, your tablesaw. Let the slide drop to the table and lock. Score a line on the face of the acrylic over the 0-in. mark on the tape. Drill the holes slightly oversize in the acrylic plate to allow some minute adjustment, if necessary.

Table Saw Insert with Splitter

Using a splitter is a good idea any time you need to rip a board on the table saw, see photo. The splitter helps prevent the kerf from closing on the back of the blade as you rip long workpieces. Many saws now come with manufactured splitters (or they’re available as an accessory).

I use a shop-made splitter that’s built into my throat opening insert. It also has the advantage of being a zero-clearance insert narrow pieces can’t fall down between the blade and the opening in the insert. Here’s how I made mine.

Safety note: I’m not showing a blade guard on the table saw so the operation can be shown more clearly. But please, use your guard whenever possible.

Start by using a blank that matches the thickness of the old insert. For my table saw, I use 1/2″ MDF. It’s a little thin, so I just shim it until it’s flush with the top of the saw table. (I like to use tape for a shim.)

Next, trace the outline of the original insert onto the blank and rough cut it, see the drawing at left. The easiest way I’ve found to trim the blank to the same shape as the original, is to carpet tape the blank to the insert. Then I mount a flush trim bit in my router table and trim the blank to shape, see the inset drawing left.

When I’m ready to rip the blade slot in the new insert, I carefully align the rip fence with the edge of the original insert, as shown in the drawing at right. Then I rip the slot, turning off the saw when I’m 3″ from the end.

Lastly, I make the splitter by ripping a piece to the exact thickness of the kerf. I like to sand the end closest to the blade to a point. This keeps the workpiece from getting “hung up” on the splitter. Then the splitter is simply glued into the kerf, as shown in the drawing at left.

Tablesaw Miter Jig

To build this jig, first place one miter-slot guide into each slot on your saw table. Align the 1/2″ plywood base on top of the guide, long edges perpendicular to the miter slots. With the plywood resting on the table saw surface, drill 5/32″ shank holes through the plywood and into the guides just far enough to mark their positions. Remove the plywood and guides and drill 7/64″ pilot holes through the guides. Reposition these pieces on the table saw, and attach the guides with countersunk #8×1″ brass wood screws. Drive the screws about halfway through the guides, and lift the assembly off the table. Drive the screws completely, and sand off their protruding tips. Again, place the jig onto the table saw surface, turn on the saw, and cut a kerf about halfway across the width of the plywood.

The key to this jig’s accuracy is installing the miter fences precisely at 90ý. The drawings below take you through the first two alignment steps. Use this process to temporarily attach each fence with two #8×1″ screws. Test the fences for accuracy by cutting four sample pieces, each about 1″ wide and 4″ long. Hold them together with a rubber band and check for any gaps at the miters. Adjust the position of the fences as necessary by tapping them with a hammer. Once you’re satisfied that the fences are in exactly the right positions, attach each of them with two #8×1″ screws. Finally, to help hold your workpieces steady against the fences during cuts, attach adhesive-backed 100-grit sandpaper to the fence aces where shown in the photo above.

Installing the Miter Fence

Plywood Ripping Support

I like to use my circular saw to rip down sheets of plywood. But if the cut-off piece is unsupported, it can sag — sometimes even breaking off and tearing the veneer before I finish the cut.

So to prevent this problem, I came up with the support shown in the photo. As you can see, it’s pretty simple — just a thin strip of 1/8″ hardboard with a couple 1/4″ dowels spaced 1″ apart.

After starting the cut, I slip the support into the saw kerf, and it keeps the cut-off piece of plywood from sagging ( Fig. 1).

Free Circular Saw Cross Cut Jig Plan

Check Out The Building Plans Below!

Build the circular saw crosscut jig shown on the right with just a few tools using scraps laying around your shop!

This circular saw cross cut jig is so easy to make and so easy and accurate to use, you will be kicking yourself for not thinking of doing this sooner! This is the jig you need to turn your circular saw into an accurate cross cut saw. If you are cross cutting wide boards such as 1 x 12’s, vinyl siding, or soffit pieces, this is the portable jig you want to have on site.

One, 3/4″ x 24″ x 48″ Plywood Panel used for the base.

Two, 2 x 2 x 48″ used for the material guide rails.

One, 1/4″ x 6″ x 24″ Plywood Panel used for the guide brace.

One, 1 x 2 x 24″ Pine or any hardwood used for the guide fence.

24, 1 5/8″ Wood Screws.

Step 1 – Select 3/4″ x 24″ x 48″ Base Panel; Select the two, 2″ x 2″ x 48″ rails; attach the rails to the panel with the screws; ensure the rails are straight, parallel, and equal distance along each edge.

Step 2 – Select the 1/4″ x 6″ x 24″ Plywood; select the 1 x 2 x 24″ hardwood, straight board fence; attach the fence to the plywood to form the saw guide fence assembly; ensure it is applied straight and square; use a speed square or carpenter’s square to ensure accurate placement.

Step 3 – Select the Fence assembly and attach it about mid-point to the 2 x 2’s of the base; use your squares to ensure the guide is perpendicular and equal distance to the 2 x 2 rails.

Step 4 – Select your circular saw; place it on the guide, against the fence; set the depth to cut about 1/8″ into the base panel. Make a pass, a groove through the 2 x 2 rails into the plywood base; this groove becomes the measuring point for cross cutting all future accurate, straight cuts.

Recommendation: When cutting multiple pieces to a similar length, clamp a stopping block at a given point as shown above; make your cut and remove the measured piece; advance the material to the block and make another cut; another identical measured piece. This procedure is ideal for cutting soffit pieces (be sure to use a metal cutting blade and/or reverse an all-purpose blade).

This crosscut jig is great for cutting vinyl siding. Another recommendation when cutting vinyl siding, reverse your blade or use a special vinyl cutting blade.


Recommended operating speeds (RPM)
Accessory Softwood Hardwood Acrylic Brass Aluminum Steel Shop Notes
(Pine) (Hard Maple)
Twist drill bits*
1/16″ – 3/16″ 3000 3000 2500 3000 3000 3000

Lubricate drill with oil when cutting steel 1/8″ or thicker. Use center punch on all holes to prevent drill from wandering.

1/4″ – 3/8″ 3000 1500 2000 1200 2500 1000
7/16″ – 5/8″ 1500 750 1500 750 1500 600
11/16″ – 1″ 750 500 NR 400 1000 350
Black & Decker Bullet pilot-point bits*
1/8″ – 3/16″ 3000 3000 3000 2000 1500 3000

Good all-around bit.
These cut more quickly than brad points
and twist drills.

1/4″ – 3/8″ 3000 3000 2400 1500 1000 2000
1/2″ 3000 1500 1600 1500 750 1200
Brad-point bit
1/8″ 1800 1200 1500 NR NR NR

Raise 1/4″ and smaller bits often to clear
shavings and prevent heat build-up.

1/4″ 1800 1000 1500 NR NR NR
3/8″ 1800 750 1500 NR NR NR
1/2″ 1800 750 1000 NR NR NR
5/8″ 1800 500 750 NR NR NR
3/4″ 1400 250 750 NR NR NR
3/8″ 1200 250 500 NR NR NR
1″ 1000 250 250 NR NR NR
Forstner bits
1/4″ – 3/8″ 2400 700 NR NR NR NR

Raise 1/4-3/8″ bits often to clear shavings
and prevent heat build-up.
Make several shallow passes with larger
bits; allow bit to cool between passes.

1/2″ – 5/8″ 2400 500 250 NR NR NR
3/4″ – 1″ 1500 500 250 NR NR NR
11/8″ – 11/4″ 1000 250 250 NR NR NR
13/8″ – 2″ 500 250 NR NR NR NR
Glass-and-tile bits (Listed speeds are for glass and tile—not softwood.)
1/8″ 50 N N N N N

Wear safety goggles. Use drill press
only. Do not apply excessive pressure.
Lubricate with water while drilling.
Reduce quill pressure when bit tip
emerges from back side.

3/16″ 600 R R R R R
1/4″ 500 NR NR NR NR NR
5/16″ 400 NR NR NR NR NR
3/8″ 350 NR NR NR NR NR
1/2″ 200 NR NR NR NR NR
Hole saws*
1″ – 11/2″ 500 350 NR 250 250 NR

Do not use with brass or aluminum
thicker than 1/16″.
Avoid dense hardwoods such as hard

15/8″ – 2″ 500 250 NR 150 250 NR
21/8″ – 21/2″ 250-500 NR NR 150 250 NR
Multi spur bits*
21/8″ – 4″ 250 250 NR NR NR NR

Smaller sizes also available; use Forstner speeds.

Spade bits*
1/4″ – 1/2″ 2000 1500 NR NR NR NR

Clamp work to table to improve quality
of hole.

5/8″ – 1″ 1750 1500 NR NR NR NR
11/8″ – 11/2″ 1500 1000 NR NR NR NR
Spade bits with spurs
3/8″ – 1″ 2000 1800 500 NR NR NR

Best bit for acrylic. Clamp work securely.

Stanley Powerbore bits*
3/8″ – 1/2″ 1800 500 NR NR NR NR

Ideal for deep holes and end-grain drilling.

3/4″ – 1″ 1800 750 NR NR NR NR
Circle cutters*
11/2 – 3″ 500 250 250 NR NR NR

Drill one side, flip material over, place
center bit in its hole, and resume cut.

31/4″ – 6″ 250 250 250 NR NR NR
Shear-cutting countersinks
1/4″ – 3/8″ 1000 1000 700 700-1000 700-1000 NR

Cuts cleaner than traditional countersinks.

1/4″ – 3/8″ 750 700 700 250-700 250-700 NR
2-flute 1400 1400 NR NR NR NR

Raise and lower frequently for quicker

5-flute 1000 750 750 250 250 250
Countersink screw pilot bits
All sizes 1500 1000 500 500 NR NR

Clear twist drill often.

Taper drill bits with countersinks
All sizes 500 250 250 NR NR NR

Clear bit often to prevent heat build-up.

Plug cutters
All sizes 1000 500 NR NR NR NR

Cut to full depth so bit chamfers plug.

Drum sanders
Hard rubber 750 1500 750 NR NR NR

Avoid load-up and overheating.
Decrease air pressure for fine contours.

Soft sleeveless 500 750 750 NR NR NR
3″ pneumatic 1750 1750 1750 NR NR NR
5″ flex discs 750 500 500 500 NR NR

Adhesive-backed discs work best.

Polishing wheels 1500 1500 1500 1500 2000 NR

Use light pressure.

Flap sanders 2000 2000 2000 2000 2000 2400

Hold work firmly.

Grinding wheels NR NR NR NR NR 3000

Use 6″ or smaller wheel.

NR – Not recommended * Back material to prevent chip-out. Always wear a face shield for optimum protection.
– Recommendations are based on visual and tactile tests under shop conditions.
Drilling faster than recommended can cause overheating. Speeds slower than those recommended may cause poorquality holes.
– All testing done on face grain. Reduce speed when drilling into end grain.
– Speeds based on new bits from the factory.


Whenever you are carrying out DIY, your working practices don’t only affect you – they could also affect the safety of anyone else nearby.

If a job is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing safely.

Safety should always be a top priority for anyone who is involved in DIY. Many of the hundreds of accidents that happen each day in the home or garden could be easily avoided with a little thought. However experienced you are, it always pays to take time to plan your work, and to think about any safety issues before you start.

Ultimately, the success of any DIY project can be affected by the attitude you have to safety. Let safety be the first thing you think of before starting a job, and the last thing you think of when finishing it – so that it becomes an integral part of everything you do. This leaflet contains a wealth of suggestions that will help you to think about safety, and to practice it.

2 – Be prepared
Preparation and planning are key elements of good safety practice. They not only help to keep you safe – they can also save both time and money.

Before starting a job, be realistic about how long it will take.
Have regular breaks to avoid tiredness or loss of concentration. If it takes longer than you expected, don’t start cutting corners or speeding up – take your time and make sure the job is done properly.

Avoid loose clothing, tie back long hair (or tuck it under a hat), and remove any loose jewellery, including earrings, necklaces, bracelets and watches.

Before you start any plumbing work, check the location and condition of items such as stopcocks and gate valves. Ensure that they can be quickly opened or shut in the event of an emergency.

It may seem obvious, but  always read through any instruction leaflets  beforehand – especially if you  are using an unfamiliar piece  of equipment. Don’t assume  you know how it works –  check it out first. Make sure  you have a First Aid kit (with  contents that are not past  their ‘sell by’ date) and keep it somewhere handy (1).



Switch off at the mains when working with electricity. Tape over any broken or unusable switches, and make sure that any broken items are replaced as soon as possible.

Make up a simple electricity repair kit for basic emergencies. This should contain a torch (with working batteries), rubber gloves, insulated pliers and screwdrivers, insulating tape, spare bulbs, fuses and fuse wire.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. If in doubt at any time, don’t take risks – contact a professional.

3 – The tools of the trade
Always use the right tools for the project – don’t be tempted to improvise! Don’t use tools which have loose heads or handles. If you need to buy new tools, check the labels and opt for ones which are made to a British or European standard or which have an approved quality and safety mark.

Always read the instructions before use. Maintain all tools in a good, clean condition – especially electrical appliances.

Keep the cover guards on sharp tools when they are not being used. Use a toolbox with a tidy, so that everything is instantly at hand.

Don’t forget to wear the  correct protective clothing at  all times – including strong  shoes, gloves, eye and ear  protection, safety helmet and  dust masks etc (2).





4 – The ladder of success
Many DIY accidents are caused by the careless use of ladders or scaffolding. Always inform someone of what you are doing.

Use sensible shoes when working on ladders – not sandals or bare feet.

The bottom of the ladder (which should preferably have non-slip feet) should rest on a hard, level surface. Similarly, the top should rest against a solid surface. Don’t prop it against glass, window sills or gutters – where necessary use a pre-fitted stand-off.

Many accidents are caused by slipping ladders, so secure both the bottom and top parts to something firm and strong with ropes or straps.

When you need to move the ladder, ask someone to help wherever possible. Always move or extend a ladder rather than risk overreaching.

Make sure your ladder is at a safe angle – the distance of the feet from the wall or vertical surface should be a quarter of the ladder’s height. A 6m (20ft) ladder should therefore be 1.5m (5ft) away from the wall at the bottom (3).

If you need to work on  scaffolding, always ensure  that it is erected on firm,  level ground. Scaffolding with  a 1.3m (4ft) square base  should be tied to a building  once the height exceeds  3.25m (11ft). Provide kick  boards around the platform.

Always wear a helmet when  working on scaffolding.  Gloves are also  recommended, although you  may find them restrictive.



5 – Power to the people
Electricity is a potential killer, and should be handled with care – if in doubt, call in an expert.

Water and electricity don’t mix. Even if you’re carrying out seemingly harmless tasks such as washing down walls, turn off the electricity first. Never use any electrical plugs, sockets or equipment which have been wet, unless you are sure that they have thoroughly dried out.

Extension cables often need to be uncoiled before use, or they could overheat – check the instructions. Make sure that it is safe to use the extension cable with an appliance before you start.

If you can’t avoid working with electrical appliances in damp conditions, you should use a Residual Current Device or power breaker. This automatically cuts off the power supply in the case of an accident (such as a cut cable) or a malfunction.

Take care not to use too many plugs or adapters with  an electrical socket – it could  overload (4). Where feasible,  check that the connections  inside each plug are tight,  and that the cord grip is tight  around the cable (rather than  just the wires inside the  cable).

All plugs should contain the correct fuse. If a fuse blows, switch off the power and unplug the appliance before trying to find the fault. If in doubt, ask an expert. The same principles apply to a mains fuse – use the correct thickness of fuse wire and switch off at the mains before checking a blown fuse.

Find the correct fuse rating by checking the manufacturer’s recommendations, or from the recommended ratings that are often published on fuse packets or in good DIY books. Copy them onto a list, and keep it with your fuses.

Beware of damaged, kinked or frayed cables and flexes.

6 – It’s a gas!
A wide variety of home appliances now run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders. Although these are generally very safe, certain precautions should be taken.

Fit new cylinders in the open air. Never smoke or work near a naked flame when changing a cylinder. Remember that even electrical tools can give off sparks.

LPG appliances should only be used in well-ventilated areas. The gas is heavy and highly flammable, and will not easily disperse in the event of a leak. LPG has a distinctive smell – if you smell it, turn off the gas and ask an expert to check the appliance.

To check for leaks, apply soapy water over all connections – any leaks will be shown by bubbles. Hoses should also be checked regularly and replaced if they are cracked (5).

Spare LPG cylinders should be stored in a secure and well ventilated area outside the house, but not below ground level.

ALL gas repairs must be carried out by a qualified and registered CORGI (Council Of Registered Gas Installers) engineer. To confirm whether a business is currently registered, ask your installer to show you a registration certificate.


7 – Out and about
A garden can be a surprisingly hazardous place in which to work. Electrical equipment such as mowers and hedge trimmers merit particular care. Always use a Residual Current Device or power breaker.

When using a mower or hedge trimmer, feed the cable over your shoulder, and always keep the appliance in front of the cable.

Never attempt to clean or adjust electrical tools whilst they are still plugged in. Switch off first, unplug, and clean by wiping with a cloth – do not wash the appliance!

When working in the garden, particularly with electrical equipment, always wear strong shoes or boots – never go barefoot.

Many injuries are caused by falls due to slippery or uneven paths, or broken concrete and crazy paving. Repair any damaged areas as soon as possible. Use rubber or plastic caps on bamboo canes, as the tops can cause eye injuries.

Wear the correct protective clothing – including eye protection – particularly if using a chainsaw or spraying chemicals.

If you are planning to use a chainsaw, make sure you know how to use it properly. Never climb a tree whilst holding one – and always work with a companion in case of accidents.

Ask an expert or your Local Authority if you need advice on handling potentially harmful materials such as asbestos or lead.

Ensure that barbecues are  located well away from  fences, low trees or shrubs  and sheds. Never use paraffin  or petrol for lighting a bonfire  – there are many suitable  firelighters or starter fluids  available (6). Keep children  at a safe distance, don’t wear  loose, flapping clothing and  tie long hair back.

Never spray a lighted barbecue with a flammable liquid, even a recommended starter fluid.


8 – Accidents can happen…
Even the most safety-conscious worker can sometimes have an accident. Here are some basic first aid tips.

If someone is injured, remove any continuing danger: for instance, turn off the electricity if appropriate. Then don’t panic, but assess the seriousness of the situation as calmly as possible. Don’t move the patient unless necessary. If in any doubt, call a doctor.

Small cuts and grazes should be cleaned up with soap and water – not antiseptic.

Don’t give an injured person any food or drink (in case any anesthetics need to be administered at a later stage). However, if you urgently need to dilute the effects of poisons or chemicals, give a drink of water, unless the patient’s mouth is burnt.

Call the emergency services (999) in cases of unconsciousness; drowsiness or sickness; poisoning; severe bleeding or bleeding from the ear; bad burns; or intense pain.

Don’t try to induce sickness – and never give the patient salty water.

Severe bleeding should be reduced by pressing a pad on the cut. A clean, folded handkerchief is ideal. If the cut still contains a large foreign body (such as a splintered stick or glass), press near the wound. Continue until the bleeding stops. If a limb is bleeding, raise it up, unless it’s broken (7). For deep, wide or dirty cuts, or wounds containing a foreign body, call a doctor.

Burns and scalds need hospital treatment unless they are very minor. Small burns should be held under running cold water for at least ten minutes. Because skin can swell, remove any belts or jewellery, but don’t attempt to move any clothing that is stuck to the burn. To minimize the risk of infection, burns can be covered with a clean cloth (such as a large handkerchief or pillowcase) or clingfilm. Never use butter or oil on a burn – leave it untreated.

Consider taking a simple first aid course so that you are better prepared for any accidents.