Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to clean a tablesaw blade or circular saw blade

If you have a dirty and grimy circular saw or tablesaw blade, the gunk on the blade can hinder its performance. It is best to keep your blades and lubricated for the cleanest cuts, and the best blade life. In these steps, I will show you an effective alternative to cleaning your blades without using the pricey blade cleaners at your home improvement store.

First, unplug your tablesaw!

Remove your circular blade from your saw, table saw, or cross-cut saw. WoodCraft or Rockler offer a great tool for removing Table Saw blades called the Saw Jaw that I recommend you use if you change blades often.

Get out a shallow cooking pan and fill it with enough water to cover your blade. The foil pans work great, because if you use these instead of a nice metal pan, you will not scratch up your good pans, and you can reuse them for all of your blades. If they get ripped up, just throw them away.

Take about a tsp of laundry detergent, and mix it into the water in the shallow pan. Stir it up with your finger to get it all mixed in and nice and soapy.

Place your circular blade into the water and detergent mix.

Let the blade soak in the solution for about 15 minutes or so.

Take your nylon or soft bristly scrub brush and scrub all of the gunk off of the blade. The best way to do this is to hold the blade down against the bottom of the pan with one hand, and scrub the blades with the brush.

Flip the blade over and repeat the scrubbing process described above.

Take the blade out of the water and towel dry it thoroughly with a 100% lint-free cotton towel or rag. Be careful not to snag the blade teeth in the towel or to cut yourself.

Once the blade is completely dry, spray WD-40 on the blade to help prevent against rust. Take a shop rag and wipe the WD-40 all over the surface area of the blade and the teeth.

Install the blade back on your saw.


Do one blade at a time

Wash your blades minimally to avoid getting them rusty, only do this when they are extremely gummed up with wood tar, and dust.

Handle the blades delicately and do not cut yourself

How to Ebonize Wood

When working with wood projects or doing intarsia wood projects, it is necessary to use an ebony piece of wood to help differentiate a design, pattern, or accent. However, ebony wood is very expensive and often hard to find - so I have a trick you can use to get an ebony look from your oak wood stock. The process is called "ebonising" and it is an actual chemical reaction of white vinegar to tannic acid in the wood. Here is how you do it!

Get a clean glass jar with a lid, such as a small jam jar, or a small salsa jar.

Get some white vinegar, the kind used for cooking, and fill the glass jar half way with the vinegar.

Take a full piece of 00 steel wool (very fine), and stuff it into the solution. Use authentic steel wool, and not synthetic steel wool.

Let the solution sit for three day to a week. The longer it sits, the darker the solution will get.

To ebonize the wood, all you have to do is brush the solution onto the wood, or soak the wood piece in the solution. When the color gets dark enough, just brush on some ammonia to neutralise the reaction and stop the darkening.

How to Tune a Bandsaw

Bandsaws are great tools to use in any woodworking shop. They make clean, hard cuts and very versatile. However, if you bandsaw is not tuned correctly, it can break blades, wonder off-track, mess up your project, or cause serious bodily harm and injury. Here is how to tune up yoru bandsaw and keep it working perfectly.

UNPLUG YOUR SAW: This is the first and most important step. Unplug your saw first. Open the doors, and install the new blade or access the old blade currently on the saw. Raise up your guide all the way to the top of the mouth as well.

TENSIONING THE BLADE: The first thing to do is to put tension on your bandsaw blade when you install it. This tension is key for holding the blade tight against the wheels. Do not rely on the tension gauge on your bandsaw, as they are always inaccurate. The best way to make sure your blade is tightened correctly is to pluck it like a guitar string and listen for a clear tone. If it makes a dull thud, then you have to tighten it some more.

CHECK THE DEFLECTION OF THE BLADE: Next we need to check the deflection of our blade. The tone alone is not all we us to make sure the blade is as tight as it needs to be. We want to push sideways on the blade right under the guide to test for movement. Raise your guide to the top of the mouth opening, and then push sideways on both sides of the blade. We do not want it to deflect more that 1/4 of an inch. If the blade defects more that 1/4 of an inch, then it needs to be tightened, if it deflects less than 1/4 of an inch, it needs to be loosened.

TRACKING THE BLADE: When your saw is tracking correctly, the blade runs on the middle of the wheels. To adjust the tracking of your bandsaw, you need to tilt the top wheel in relation to the bottom wheel. A knob behind the upper wheel housing controls this adjustment. Make sure your blade is tight then spin the saw by hand and adjust the tracking control until the blade is running in the middle of the wheel. Once it sits in place after a few spins by hand, close your door covers, plug in your saw, and gently step the motor by flipping the power switch off and on so that the wheels gently spin and track the blade. The blade should maintain its position. Repeat this several times before running the saw at full speed. If the saw blade continues to slip off, then you will have to align the plane of the two wheels. Do this by taking a yard strick and a level, and placing it against both wheels. Adjust the top wheel it is level with the bottom wheel. Your level should be flush with your yardstick for accuracy.

SQUARE THE BLADE AND THE TABLE: Loosen the knobs that lock the table in place, and then hold a small square on the table with its blade against the saw blade. Square the table to the blade and lock it in place with the bolt or nut under the table.

SET THE GUIDES: Most bandsaws have two sets of guides - one on top of the tbale, and on below the table, aligned with the blade. The guides can be either a rear guide bearing and two guide blocks, or a rear bearing and also two side bearings. On either version, the rear bearing resists the force that you apply as you push the board past the blade and the guide blocks or bearings on the sides prevent the blade from twisting out of position. To adjust these, we want to move the guide up about halfway between the table and the top of the mouth opening. Set the rear bearings first so that they almost touch the blade. Leave about 1/32” gap between the blade and the bearing. Slide a piece of paper or a dollar bill in between them for accuracy. Then set the guide blocks or the side bearings to the same distance from the blade using the same piece of paper or dollar bill. Lock them down.

DO SOME TEST CUTS: Get a scrap piece of wood, and make a few test cuts in the wood to see how far the blade defects, to see if it is tracking correctly, and to see if it is rubbing up against your guide bearings on the rear or on the sides. If the saw is still cutting off, be sure to readjust the plane of the top and bottom wheel, as this is the most common issue.


Clean your bandsaw blade tires to keep the bandsaw working properly. If you do nto have a brush on your bandsaw to clean your tires already, install an old toothbrush as a brush. Cut the handle short enough to fit in the bandsaw box above the bottom tire, heat and bend the handle below the head of the brush into a 90 degree angle, and then bolt the brush in place.

Round the rear edges of your band saw blades with a medium-grit oils stone by holding the stone flat on the saw table and gently touching it to the back of the blade as the it is running. This makes it easier to cut tight corners and radii.

You will also have to find the new center cut with your bandsaw after you make your adjustments. Draw a straight line down a 2 foot piece of scrap wood, and free-hand cut along that line as closely as you can. When you get halfway into the wood along the straight line, mark a pencil line along the board and onto your table. This is your new center-line. Adjust your fence against this angle for straight and accurate cuts.

Do not put too much tension on the blades. It can cause the bearings to fail prematurely, it can cause the blade to snap under use, and it can cause flat spots on the tires.

How to make your own wood stain

Sometimes you just can not find the wood stain color that you need. This is common when you are trying to match the color to an existing piece for repairs or if you are creating a piece from another era. There are just too many colors and combinations. Here is a write up for making your own pigmented oil stain.

Measure out a quart of mineral spirits into your 2 or 4 quart measuring container. The mineral spirits is going to be what is known as the "vehicle" of the oil stain. The "vehicle" is what makes it possibly to apply the stain to the wood and carry the oil pigment. You can also use pure gum turpentine or white vinegar, but I prefer the results of mineral spirits to both solutions. You can pick this up at your local home improvement center, paint center, or Meijer.

Next we need to measure out 7 ounces of boiled linseed oil with your measuring cup. Pour the 7 ounces of boiled linseed oil into the quart of mineral spirits you measured out in Step 1. The boiled linseed oil is going to be what is known as the "binder" in the oil stain. The binder will help to keep the oil pigment locked into the pores of the wood and help it to saturate the wood. You can pick this up at your local home improvement center, paint center, or Meijer.

Now it is time to add pigment and color. This is where this gets tricky and technical, but still not too hard. The important thing to remember here is to use linseed oil based paints that already contain japan drier in them. There are a lot of paints out there that are both linseed oil based and walnut oil based. I would recommend the use of Japan colors if they are available, but Grumbacher or Winsor & Newton oil paints will also work. When you are at your local art supply store, ask them about a paint line that is linseed oil based and which already contains japan drier in it. That will be your best bet. If you can not find any paint with japan drier in it, then you will have to purchases some Japan drier to add to the mixture. Add 4 ounces of your color to the boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits mixture you created in steps 1 and 2. You can mix colors to achieve the tone and color you want, however ONLY USE 4 ounces of color total. Premix the colors before adding to the boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits mixture if you have to.

OPTIONAL STEP: If you notice that your stain is not drying properly or quickly enough, this is where you will have to add the Japan drier or cobalt drier to your oil stain. The key here is to remember that you only need a very very very small amount of Japan Drier. Do not mix in more than 1/2 an ounce to your overall solution.

Now mix the solution thoroughly with a paint stick.

Stain your project and enjoy your handi-work and how clever you are for making your own wood oil stain!

The formula provided should give you about 1 quart of oil stain.

Use boiled linseed oil. It contains a dryer element. If you use raw linseed oil, it will not dry.

Only Use a total of 4 ounces of color. Premix colors before adding to the solution.

If you have to use cobalt drier or Japan drier, please use gloves, goggles, and a face mask, as this stuff is toxic.

How to finish wood with Danish Oil

Danish oil is a great product to use as a penetrating oil finish. Some wood projects call for Danish Oil as the finish. This finish has multiple steps and requires a few days of drying time and application, but the final finish is worth it. Here is how you do it!

Lay the piece of wood you are going to finish out on a table, or in your prepping center. Gently sand the wood surface with 180 or 220 grit sandpaper to prep the wood for the finish.

Wipe down with a tack cloth to remove all dust particles
Wipe the entire piece down with a tack cloth to remove any sawdust, particles, or grease.

Brush on liberal amount of Danish Oil
Danish oil is a great product to use both as a stain and a final finish. Danish oil comes in a variety of colors to help suit your finished product as well as a natural oil color. If you chose to use a colored version of the Danish oil, you will need to also pick up the natural color. When applying Danish oil to your finished product, it is important that you apply the natural color first to the end grain areas of your project using a natural bristle brush. This will seal the grain and help to keep the end grain from looking darker than the rest of the finished project when you apply your colored Danish oil. End grain always gets darker and sucks up stain. Let this dry for about 30 minutes.

Now you can apply the colored Danish oil or the natural Danish oil to the rest of your project. You want to apply Danish oil very liberally to all of the surfaces of the wood. Lay down a first wet coat of Danish oil using a natural-haired brush. You want the Danish oil to penetrate into the wood.

Let the Danish Oil sit on the surface of the wood for about 30 minutes to fully penetrate the wood. You want to keep the surface wet for about 15 minutes of the entire 30 minute cycle, so watch the surface of the wood for areas that are starting to dry up and apply more Danish oil to those areas.

Wipe off the Excess Danish Oil
After 30 minutes, the Danish Oil should start to get a sticky or tacky feel to it. Quickly press your finger into the Danish Oil and see if it will hold your fingerprint on the wood. If it does, then it is ready to be wiped off. Take a clean, dry, lint-free shop cloth and wipe the Danish oil off the wood. I recommend you use a lint-free white cotton cloth. Yes, that's right, I said to wipe it all off now.

Once you have finished wiping down your wood project, you are going to want to immediately apply a second wet coat of Danish Oil. We want this coat to sit on the wood for about 15 minutes or until it starts to become sticky or tacky.

Just like in Step 5, wipe all oil off of the surface using a dry, lint free cloth.

The interesting thing about Danish Oil is that it will seep out of the wood grain and back onto the surface of your wood project. We want to avoid having this Danish Oil sit on the surface and harden up. After you have applied both your coats of Danish Oil to the wood and wiped them off, let your project site for 30 minutes. Go have dinner, a coke, or just relax for a bit.

After 30 minutes, check back up on your wood project to see if any of the Danish Oil has collected on the surface. If it has, wipe it off with your cotton cloth. If it has not, check back on your piece in another 30 minutes or so. You will want to check on the surface every 30 minutes for the next two hours or so or until you do not see any more Danish Oil pooling on the surface.

Let this sit and dry for a day. You can apply two or three more finishes to get the desired amount of protection you need for your project. If you decide to apply a few more coats, do it on alternating days to allow for drying time. You can use either colored or the natural version of the Danish Oil for your project at this point in the finishing. Put away the bristle brush and use the 400 Grit black wet-sandpaper to wet-sand the additional coats onto your project.

Wet Sand the Wood with Danish Oil
To wet sand your next few coats of Danish Oil onto your project, take your 400 grit black wet/dry sandpaper pour the Danish Oil over it. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the sandpaper with the Danish Oil. Now gently sand your wood piece with the Danish Oil soaked sandpaper. This will work the oil into the surface and give you a final smooth surface. You want to avoid applying too much Danish Oil to the surface at this point, and you also want to only go over your surface 2-3 times with the sandpaper rag.

After you are done applying the Danish Oil with the wet sandpaper, wipe all of the excess oil from the surface with a clean cotton rag before it becomes tacky. Do this each time you wet sand your finished wood project. Do this until you are happy with the finish - alternate days for applications.

After you have applied all of your final coats of oil and let them all thoroughly dry, you need to put on a final finish. To do this, get some Watco solvent wax and apply it to your wood project using the wet sanding method described above. As an alternative, you could use a colored paste wax wiped on with a rag and buffed out.

Applying this finish takes a long time so be prepared for at least 3-5 days for finishing.


Danish Oil gives the smoothest finish.

Danish Oil is very easy to repair and restore

Soft porous woods will bleed the Danish Oil more than hard non-porous woods.

Apply a coat of Danish Oil and wax every two years to restore the sheen.

Danish Oil is not as durable as film finishes.

Danish Oil requires periodic maintenance to keep it sheen

Danish Oil has to be applied to bare wood and not over pigment or gel stains.

How to make Wood Putty or Wood Filler

There are many times in woodworking that it becomes necessary to fill in a hole, fix a scratch, or try to cover up a ding while working on a project. Often times wood filler you purchase from the store just does not match the color, tint, or grain of the wood you are working with. I will show you how to make your own home-made wood filler putty to match the species of wood you are working with and hide those flaws!

GATHER THE WOOD SAWDUST / SANDDUST: When you started your project, you probably used a handsaw or a tablesaw to cut your pieces of wood. During this cutting process, you may have noticed all of the sawdust collecting under your workstation. If you carefully sift through the sawdust you created, you will find that there are large chunks of wood, and a very fine powder of wood under your workstation. It is the very fine wood dust we want to use here. Remove the larger chunks of wood from the sawdust, and scoop a handful of fine sawdust onto the 4" x 4" piece of cardboard. If you happen to have sanding dust from the same piece of wood, use this instead of sawdust, as it is a cleaner, finer wood dust product that will work even better!

ADD GLUE: Now, we will use the 4" x 4" piece of cardboard as our mixing backing. The idea here is to mix about 3 parts glue to 1 part dust roughly. There are two types of glue I recommend using for your wood putty filler. If you are going to keep the wood's natural finish and apply a clear coat, use a PVA Yellow Glue, such as "Titebond Glue". If you try to use this glue and stain your piece, you will get ugly blotchy spots because this glue DOES NOT STAIN. If you want to stain your piece and give it a clean finish, then I recommend using a Hide Glue such as "Titebond Liquid Hide Glue". Hide glue accepts stain and wood dyes, which really helps when you're finishing a project. Once you have selected your glue, slowly mix it into your dust with your popsicle stick, or small dowel. You can also use you fingers, but this makes the job messy, and clean up longer.

KNEAD THE PUTTY: Now that you have mixed your glue into your sawdust, we want to work the mixture into a workable putty-like material that you can roll between your fingers, with a tacky feel. It is important to note that at this point, the putty should not be runny - or too wet, and it also should not be clumpy - or too dry. It should just be tacky to the touch.

FIX YOUR PROBLEM: With your finger or a putty knife, push the wood putty into the scratch, ding, gouge, crack, or hole that you want to repair. The wood putty should stick to the glue without aid. If the putty is a little dry, drip a little glue onto the putty, and spread this into the putty and the wood. If the putty is a little wet, sprinkle a little more dust onto it.

REMOVE EXCESS: Take a putty knife and even out the surface of the repair so that it is smooth and even with the surface of your piece. Remove as much excess material as possible so that you do not have to do a lot of sanding later. After the putty has dried, gently and lightly sand with a finishing grit paper of your choice. Now you can finish the piece with stain, paint, or clear-coat.
Step6CLEAN UP: Throw away the extra putty on the cardboard. It is not worth keeping, and you can easily mix up new putty as needed. Now, go wash your hands and admire your work!

It is best to use sanding dust as it is finer. If this is not available, use the finest dust that your saw or tablesaw created.

Use Yellow Glue if you are going to paint your project or apply a clear-coat

Use Hide Glue if you are going to stain this finished project

This putty works best for small holes and gouges and should not be used to span large gaps.

How to finish wood with stain and a polyurethane finish

Finishing wood can be a tricky and complicated process that stresses out even the best woodworker. Stains and polyurethane finishes often look great and can protect your wood project for a long time. If you take this process slow, pay attention to every detail, and follow these steps exactly, you will soon forget what all the fuss was about when it comes to finishing up our wood projects.

The first procedure of a good finish starts with surface preparation. Plane the surface until the surface is free of defects and uniform if you are working with a rough-sawn piece of wood. Your local lumber store can do this for you. take care to remove all glue marks and scratches, as common stains will highlight these defects.

Use Medium Grit Sandpaper
Now we are going to take a medium-grit (120-150 grit) sandpaper, and lightly sand the surface of the entire wood project. When sanding, you want to be sure to sand in the direction of the woodgrain. Always use a fresh piece of sandpaper, and avoid using old pieces of paper. Make about two or three passes with the medium grit sandpaper.

Use 220 Grit Sandpaper
Once the project has completely sanded using the medium grit sandpaper, it is a good idea to go over the entire project again with a finer grit (180-220) sandpaper. Make two or three passes over the entire project.

Brush your work
Use a soft nylon dusting brush to wipe off the entire surface area of your wood project. You do not want to leave any dust on the surface of your project.

Use a Tack Cloth
Now take out your tack cloth and wipe down the surface of the entire project to avoid any small dust particles sticking to the surface.

Stain A Testing Board
Great job so far. I know that you are eager to crack out your stain, sealer, or poly and start applying coats to your wood project, but you need to restrain yourself and create a testing board to see how the stain and finish is going to look on your project. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT STEP THAT YOU SHOULD NOT SKIP - AS IT HELPS TO SHOW YOU WHAT YOUR FINISHED PRODUCT WILL LOOK LIKE. Get out a 2 foot board or so of scrap wood from the project you created. Divide it up into four or five square sections to test coats of your stain, poly, or sanding techniques. The picture I found on Google gives a good idea how to divide the boar, but you can experiment and do this however you want. I recommend that you divide the wood into a "raw wood section", a "sanded wood section", a "stained wood section", and a "finished" section with your final sealer. With this sample piece you can test different stains and finishes to see how the project will appear when complete. It is also used to test any finishing technique deviations before applying them to the project.

On your testing board, use a lint-free cotton cloth and wipe a generous amount of stain onto the wood in the "stained wood section" and let this dry. If it looks the way that you envisioned, then let it dry and apply your poly finish to make sure that everything looks good. If you like the results, move on to the next step. If you want it darker, add more stain, lighter, get a lighter shade of stain and retest.

Apply Stain with a lint-free cloth
When you are happy with the results of the stain, use your lint-free cotton rag and apply a base coat of your stain onto you sanded wood project. Work the entire surface of your project with the stain.

Once the entire project is coated in your stain, take a clean lint-free rag and wipe off any excess. Let this coat dry thoroughly- it might take about 2 hours or so to dry, so check back often on the finish. You know when it is dry because you will be able to touch the surface and feel a smooth clean surface, instead of a tacky, sticky surface. If you touch your stain and it leaves your fingerprint, then it is too wet. Do not worry if you leave a print, because we are going to sand this coat in the next step.

Take your 220 grit sandpaper and very lightly, dry sand over your entire finish. The purpose of sanding between coats is to remove any large irregularities and to make the finish level. Look for bubbles, smudges, glue marks, finger prints, or dark blotchy areas in the stain. As the finish is built up, the grit number of the abrasives used between coats is increased, or it gets finer.

Wipe your entire project clean again with your brush and your tack cloth to remove any dust particles. Add more coats of stain until you reach the color and depth that you want. As each coat dries, gently sand in between coats like you did in Step 10.

In this next step, you can skip it if you want, but if you want an extremely smooth finish, I recommend that you use synthetic steel wool ( not real steel wool as it very abrasive) and gently wipe down the entire surface of your project to get a more uniform surface without any scratches made by the sandpaper. This step will also help to provide a better surface for the following finish layer.

Now that you have finished staining and sanding your project, you will want to apply your water-based polyurethane. Take a wide foam brush and apply a thin coat of the polyurethane in the direction of the grain of the wood. Cover your entire project with one thin coat.

Let the polyurethane coat dry for two to three hours and then sand it lightly with the 220-grit sandpaper. You want to be careful to very lightly sand this coat, as you do not want to go through it to the stained coat underneath - you just want to smooth out an imperfections in this coat.

Again, wipe your entire project down with the tack cloth and your dust brush to remove any particles of dust.

Repeat the process of applying a thin coat of polyurethane. This will be coat two. Let this dry for two to three hours, and lightly sand it again with 220 Grit sandpaper.

Apply a third and final thin coat of the polyurethane, and let it dry. No sanding this time - YOU ARE DONE!

It is not a necessity that you use the same finish technique or product on the entire project. For example, assume you chose Danish oil as the primary finish for a chest of drawers. You may use polyurethane or acrylic for the drawer boxes, interior parts, or the applied back. This would save a great deal of time and effort.

If you are working with a film type finish and you want a satin sheen, apply the gloss version of the product as a base, then apply the satin sheen as your last coat. Do this for as many layers as you need, but always apply the satin finish last. The reason for this is that a satin finish defracts light, and you do not want to build up layer after layer of satin coats - it makes your final finish look muddy.

When working with water-based polyurethane and a large area that needs to be finished, use a paint pad to apply the pol urethane. The reason for this is that water-based polyurethane dries quickly and applying it with a brush will not allow you to cover the area adequately.

Do not apply any stains or finishes in direct sunlight.

If the finish has not dried thoroughly it will ball up on the sandpaper when you go to sand it. If this is the case, allow the finish to dry for a few more hours. Once dry, sand out the irregularities and continue to follow the staining and sanding process.