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HOME REPAIR : Workshop Tips for Emulating Old Pros

November 03, 1990|From Do It Yourself

Follow an old pro around the workshop and discover lots of time-saving, hassle-reducing tips.

Here are three techniques to simplify drilling holes for shelf pegs, staining lath and cutting dadoes for set-in shelves.

There are lots of ways to install shelves in a bookcase. If using purchased pin clips to hold the shelves in place, here's a tip to simplify the job. Use a piece of perforated hardboard--the type with 1/4-inch-diameter holes--to ensure accurate spacing without a lot of measuring.

To begin, determine the placement of the pin clips on the bookcase sides. Measure the desired distance of the pin clips from the edges of the bookcase; position the holes about one inch in from the front and back edges of the bookcase sides. Trim the perforated hardboard to the width of the bookcase with a hole lining up the pin-clip location. (To avoid mix-ups, mark the top of the guide.)

Wrap electrical tape around the drill bit; this allows the holes to be drilled at uniform depth because the tape stops the penetration of the bit.

When finished boring holes in one side, move the template to the other side, making sure the template lines up with the first side.

Lots of outdoor projects call for lattice. When constructing lattice from strips of lath, take care to preserve the lath. Lath is very thin, and even lath made from rot-resistant woods will deteriorate over time if not protected.

If you choose to stain the lath, be aware that some inexpensive stains are nothing more than pigmented paint thinner. These will offer no protection for the wood. In fact, they can even dry it out, shortening its life.

Staining or painting the lath is much easier before the latticework is assembled. The quickest way to do this is by dipping it. A length of galvanized gutter stopped at both ends makes an ideal dipping tank. Cut the gutter long enough to handle the longest pieces of lath. Hang the lath to dry over several layers of newspaper to catch any drips.

Here's a simple trick to ensure that dado joints cut in the sides of the bookcase line up horizontally.

Cut the sides of the bookshelf to size and suspend them over a pair of sawhorses; clamp the pieces together side by side using bar clamps.

Measure and mark the location of the bottom shelf; clamp a straightedge the appropriate distance from one end. Draw two parallel lines that define the borders of the dado. (The dado should be slightly wider than the shelf edge.)

Keep in mind that the saw kerf (the void created by a saw blade as it cuts) should run along the inside edges of the dado. With the saw unplugged, adjust the blade to the desired dado depth (one-third the thickness of the material).

Plug in the saw and cut along the straightedge.

Next, move the straightedge and make cuts along the other cutting line. Plow out remaining material by making additional passes with the saw. Pare down rough spots with a chisel.

Repeat this process for each shelf location. Measure carefully to ensure the correct shelf placement.

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