Learn How to Clamp
Improve your woodworking skills and glue joints with these 18 tips to show you how to clamp like a veteran woodworker. Our pro shows you shortcuts that eliminate the need for a stack of expensive or special clamps.
Meet the pro
In 30 years as a professional woodworker, Dave Munkittrick has tried just about every clamping technique imaginable. Some of them are his own inventions; some are borrowed from other woodworkers. As for the rest, he’s been doing them for so long that he can’t remember where they came from.
Dave says, ‘Over the decades, I have amassed a huge collection of clamps—every size and type. But the arsenal of clamps in my shop is no more valuable than the arsenal of clamping tricks I carry around in my head. So even if you’re a beginning woodworker with a modest clamp collection, these tips are for you. I’ll show you how to clamp to get the most from the clamps you have and even a few ways to clamp without clamps.’
Cauls Keep Glue-Ups Flat and Flush
My favorite cauls are made from 2x4s. I carefully select ones that have a slight bend or ‘crown’ along the 1-1/2-in. edge, but no twist or warp. The crown is an advantage because it creates extra pressure in the middle of the caul. I label all my cauls with an arrow marking the direction of the crown and the length of the caul.
What’s a caul?
If it’s designed to spread clamping pressure over a wide area, you can call it a caul.
19 Cleaning Tips Every Dog or Cat Owner Should Know
Remove Pet Hair with Duct Tape
Wrap duct tape around a paint roller cover, sticky side out. Roll the paint cover over furniture or carpet to pick up the pet hair. Add more tape as the surface gets full of hair.
Pet Food Scoop
I’ve read many hints that advise the reader to cut off the tops of gallon-size plastic jugs and use them for funnels. I’ve found that if you replace the cap after cutting the top off, you can use the top for a scoop for handling potting soil, fertilizer or pet food. The no-scratch plastic also makes the jug/scoop ideal for bailing water out of your boat. — Ray Dean
For this scoop, we used an empty half-gallon milk jug and angled the cut so that the side opposite the handle is slightly longer, more like a scoop than a funnel. However, as Ray notes above, this scoop can also be used as a funnel by simply removing the milk jug cap. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first, and then clean up any sharp or rough edges with the scissors after the initial cut.
Enzymes Eliminate Pet Stains and Odors
Enzyme products are easy to use on pet stains—just spray or blot them on the stain according to the directions. The products contain harmless bacteria that ‘eat’ the organic matter that causes the odor. When the organic matter is gone, the bacteria run out of food and die. The whole process will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some manufacturers recommend covering the area with plastic or a wet cloth to keep the bacteria moist and healthy. Get rid of other bad smells in the house.
Quick Cleanup Cat Litter
Cut your litter cleanup time in half with this nifty trick. Line your litter pan with a plastic kitchen garbage bag before adding the litter. Get the best household cleaning supplies and products here.
Chew-Free Electrical Cords
Some dogs love to gnaw on electrical cords around the house. This is not only dangerous but also really irritating when they destroy your computer cables. Solve the problem by wrapping the cords with a split flexible plastic conduit that you get at home centers and automotive stores. Just cut the length you need and push the cords into the pre-split slot. Your dog will soon lose interest in the cords (so you have time to fix them). Now if you could just get him to stop chewing up your slippers!
Pet Repellent for Furniture
To train your pets to stay off furniture, place plastic carpet protectors—prickly side up—on their favorite perch. Available in office supply stores and the carpet/flooring department of home centers, the protectors can be cut to the size you need with a scissors or a utility knife. The plastic teeth will train your pet to associate the couch with ‘uncomfortable.’ Soon they will seek cozier spots to relax on and leave the easy chair to you. Just remember to remove the protector before you sit down.
A Fast Way to Remove Pet Hair
The manufacturer claims that Americans spend more than 200 million hours cleaning up more than 25,000 tons of pet hair each year. If that’s true, then StickySheets can save a lot of time.
Easier Bath Time
For a calmer and easier bath time, make a dog washing station in your shower. Cover the drain with a hair catcher to prevent fur from clogging it. Cut a hole in a bath mat so it fits over the drain and lay it in the shower to prevent your dog from slipping around. Using a handheld sprayer gives you more control and lets you avoid spraying water into your pet’s ears. Everyone involved will find bath day a whole lot more pleasant. Here’s how to make your own dog washing station.
Mask Pet Claw Scratches
Clean Upholstery with Baking Soda
Use this handy hint if there’s a funky pet smell lurking in your couch or upholstered chair: Sprinkle a generous amount of regular baking soda onto the fabric and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The baking soda will help to release odors and break up some light stains in the fabric.
After about 20 minutes, remove the baking soda—and the funky smell—with a handheld vacuum or a hose attachment for your large vacuum.
Don’t Brush the Dog ? Use a Vacuum Instead!
Instead of brushing your pet and then cleaning up the fur with a vacuum, use the vacuum with an upholstery attachment to brush the dog. The vacuum sucks up all the loose fur so you don’t spend any extra time cleaning.
No-Mess Litter Box
It’s not fancy, but it’s a cheap way to keep litter in the litter box where it belongs. Trace an opening on one end of a plastic storage container, then push a sharp razor knife into the plastic and cut out the opening. Pour in the litter and your cat will figure out the rest.
Neat and Tidy Pet Food Dispenser
Slide open the ‘blast gate’ and food falls into the dish. A hinged top allows easy refilling. Get the instructions to make your own pet food dispenser.
Protect Your Doors from Scratches
Protect your doors from your dog’s claws with a sheet of plastic. Buy 1/8-in. or thinner Plexiglas or plastic at any home center. Cut the Plexiglas so it fits just inside the door jambs and is 1 ft. higher than the reach of your dog. Most home centers will cut the Plexiglas for you, but you can also cut it with a utility knife and a straightedge. (If you have a large dog and need plastic above the doorknob, use a 3-in. hole saw to make a cutout for the knob.) Mount the Plexiglas to the door with 3/4-in. roundhead wood screws.
Aluminum Foil Couch Saver
Keep your cats off the couch with aluminum foil. Tear off a piece of foil long enough to cover the top of your couch, and set it on the cushions. The feel and sound of the foil drives cats nuts and they’ll immediately jump off.
Fur Filter for Dog Bathing
If you wash your dog in the bathtub or shower, you’re begging for a clogged drain. Keep fur out of the drain with a mesh-type scrubbing pad. In a shower, clip the pad to the drain plate with a bobby pin. In a bathtub, wedge two pads under the stopper from two sides. The pads catch fur but let water flow through.
Tip-Proof Watering Dish
Some dogs can’t grasp the idea that you don’t have to climb into the water dish to take a drink. So rather than refilling their dishes 10 times a day, make a tip-proof watering dish out of an old Bundt cake pan.
Drive a stake through the hole in the middle of the pan. Now your dog will have to find some other source of amusement.
Ant-Proof Pet Food Dishes
In the summertime, a favorite destination for ants is often a pet’s food bowl. Here’s a simple way to keep them out of your dog or cat’s food: Set the dish in a pan of water.
Not only does it keep the ants out of the pet food, but your pet can take a gulp of water from the pan whenever he or she needs a drink. Keep the rest of your home clear of ants, too.
Eliminate Pet Smells
Every once in awhile pets get into something they shouldn’t and lumber inside bringing a nasty smell indoors. One way to get rid of those bad smells is AtmosKlear. It can be spritzed directly on the pet!
AtmosKlear has no smell of its own. It doesn’t leave your room (or pet) smelling like flowers, cinnamon or incense. What the odorless formula does is eliminate, not cover up, smells. The formula is an oxidizer. It must the odor source in order to work. From pets to tobacco to general household odors to smelly carpet in your car, this stuff works great. It’s biodegradable, nontoxic and, according to the manufacturer, creates no problems for people sensitive to chemical air fresheners.
Bonus tip: Spritz AtmosKlear onto your furnace filter and turn on the furnace fan. You’ll freshen the whole house.
Apply pressure with water
Shift clamps to square your work
Use one caul instead of many clamps
Iron out veneer-clamping problems
Hold it square
Long-jaw hand screw
Magnetic clamp pads
A dry run is a must-do
Put the pinch on miter joints
Essential Clamps for Beginning Woodworkers (and Everyone Else)
Pipe clamps: Pipe clamps are the everyday, high-pressure workhorses of woodworking. Because you can quickly screw the clamps onto different lengths of pipe, one set of pipe clamps does the same work as several lengths of bar clamps. Buy pipes in 2-, 3- and 4-ft. lengths and you’re ready for most situations.
Bar clamps: Quicker and easier to use than pipe clamps, light-duty bar clamps are perfect when you need a long reach and moderate pressure.
Spring clamps: These are the fastest helpers for holding your work in place or doing light-pressure clamping.