Choosing and Using Hand Tools

Hammers Hammers are not a big item in furniture restoration, since few if any joints require nailing. Three types come in handy.

Standard claw hammers The best quality claw hammers are drop forged and have hickory handles. Look at the claw before you buy. It should have fine inside edges that will slide under the head of a nail easily, and the curve of the claw

Three hammers will serve you in furniture work-a rubber mallet, a magnetic tack hammer, and a small (7% oz ) claw hammer.

should be sufficient to provide good leverage. Claw hammers come in a variety of weights, starting at 7 ounces. The best all-around sizes are 13 or 16 ounces.

Rubber mallet The rubber mallet is one of the handiest tools to have because it enables you to pound on furniture parts without denting or marring them. It is ideal for use in knocking furniture apart before regluing and for tapping newly glued joints firmly together.

Wooden mallet A wooden mallet is not a real necessity but is handy when you chisel wood. Tapping the chisel with the wooden head saves wear and tear on the chisel handle.

Magnetic tack hammer The other hammer you might need is the magnetic tack hammer. This is a thin-nosed light hammer with a magnetic head, good for reupholstery work. The magnetic head holds the tack upright as you drive if, so that you can tack with one hand. Because of the narrow construction of the head, ihis hammer is good for getting into tight places where other hammers can't go, so you'll find other uses for it beyond upholstering. The head will retain its magnetism for a long period i f you keep a metal washer on the face when the hammer isn't in use.

Screwdrivers You'll find mostly large screws used in furniture, notably in corners blocks and braces on chairs and tables, so you should have a good collection of large-bladed screwdrivers.

The secret in using a screwdriver is to match the width of the blade to the slot on the screw. A blade that is smaller than the slot won't provide the leverage you need to turn the screw in or out easily. A blade that is only half the size of the slot may bend under the pressure you apply or may damage the slot in the screw. Your best buy is a matched set of good-quality steel screwdrivers, with handles large enough to allow a comfortable grip. There are a good many cheap screwdrivers available, but it is best to avoid these "bargains." Good ones w ill last longer and give much better service.

You won't need screwdrivers with Phillips heads for wooden furniture, but to work with metal units, you will need several sizes.

Nailsets In those rare instances .when you use nails in furniture restoration, you want to hide alt traces of them. This is done by countersinking the nailhead and then filling the hole with wood putty. To countersink a nail, use a nailset to tap the nail a sixteenth of an inch or so below the wood surface. Nailsets are more frequently used to drive out the metal pins used in some furniture in order to reinforce dowel joints.

Handsaws Most sawing in restoration is small work and requires a smooth cut. The best handsaw for the purpose is a small backsaw, a square-ended saw with fine teeth. A backsaw also Can be used with a small miter box to make angular cuts.

On occasion, there are uses for a coping saw. If you need to cut a new chair splat to replace one that was broken, the coping or scroll saw would do the job. A splat, incidentally, is the wide centerpiece in the back of a wooden chair, frequently made with eye-pleasing curves. To cut a new splat, trace the design on a hardwood board of the proper thickness, then cut along the pencil line with the coping saw .

It is difficult to make a continuous smooth cut with a handheld coping saw. The job goes faster and better with an electric scroll saw or with a sabre saw. But you can use the handsaw if a motorized unit isn't available, it will take a considerable amount of sanding, however, to finish the splat edge smoothly after cutting with a handheld coping saw.

For furniture work, mount the blade iri the coping saw with the teeth pointing toward the handle, so that the cutting is done on the pull stroke. This produces smoother cuts.

Wood Chisels Good, sharp wood chisels are used in a number of ways in furniture work. You'll cut recesses for the installation of hinges and other hardware, or make dovetail or mortise-and-tenon joints with them. Have several chisels in your kit, the best widths being %-, and >4-inch. Resist any temptation to use the chisels for anything but cutting wood, or you may ruin the fine cutting edges.

Use a mallet or light hammer to drive chisels when cutting, and always make a scries of light, thin cuts rather than fewer hut deeper cuts. The light cuts are much easier to control. Begin by making vertical cut.5 across the area to provide a straight finished edge. Then shave out the wood between the vertical cuts to the needed depth. Make all cuts with the grain of the wood. Have the beveled side of the chisel face up for shallow cuts, and beveled side down for making deeper cuts.

Practice using the chisel if you have never cut with one before. Clamp an old board to your workbench and try different cuts. Practice controlling the work, making just the cut you need. Keep at it until you feel secure in your ability to cut the right amount at the right depth. Then you can go to your project confident of your ability to do the job. One thing about chiseling; once you have made a cut that is too deep, repair work is difficult. It is better to make a number of thin cuts, even though it takes time, than to repair a badly chewed, deep cut.

Clamps No tools are more important to the furniture restorer than clamps. Make it a basic rule from the beginning to clamp every glue job. no matter how big or how small. Then you will make neat, successful glue joints every time.

There are four basic types of clamps at your hardware store, and you'll need all of them in a variety of sizes if you do much restoring.

Hand screws These are the traditional wooden-jawed clamps furniture makers have been using for centuries. They con-

The backsaw in action being used 10 cut the sides of a new dovetail joint. Cut in the waste of [he wood, along the guideline

Mosi sawing n furniture work can be done with a backsaw, which makes a smooth, fine cul Hold the work securely in a vise.

You'll regularly lind uses for V4-.V2-, and ::>i-in wood chisels Buy ones with shanks that extend up through the handle

The wood chisel at work. II you plan to do much furniture work, practice with the chisel to learn how to control your cuts.

Mosi sawing n furniture work can be done with a backsaw, which makes a smooth, fine cul Hold the work securely in a vise.

You'll regularly lind uses for V4-.V2-, and ::>i-in wood chisels Buy ones with shanks that extend up through the handle

The backsaw in action being used 10 cut the sides of a new dovetail joint. Cut in the waste of [he wood, along the guideline

The wood chisel at work. II you plan to do much furniture work, practice with the chisel to learn how to control your cuts.

This is a bar clarnp. so called because the two clamping units (it over a metal bar You should have bar or pipe clamps that span 4 ft. or more

Now available everywhere, these small bar clamps have proved very handy, replacing C-clamps in much of our work.

The web or strap clamp consists of a long belt and a clamping head. To tighten the web turn an adjusting screw

A bar clamp is at the back of this piece and a pipe clamp at the front. In order to make a pipe clamp of any size, buy standard pipe In any length you need

Wooden furniture clamps, called Jorgensens, are old standbys. Easy to adjust and (It, they don't bite into the wood.

These Jorgensens won't mar the wood ol this dresser but will hold the base plate (Irmly until the glue dries.

sist of two blocks of shaped hardwood, with two steel, wood-handled clamping screws running through them. To tighten the clamp, you turn the screws. Because the clamping screws are mounted in pivots, the jaws can be set at any desired angle. These come in all sizes, from miniature for modeling work, to the big ones with jaws which open to 14 inches. A good basic starter group might include a 3-or 4-inch and an 8- to 10-inch model.

Bar and pipe clamps These are called furniture clamps in some tool catalogs. They consist of two movable metal jaws, one of which has a built-in clamping screw, fitted over either a long steel bar or a long pipe. They are used to span big work such as table tops, the seat of a chair, or the side of a cabinet. You can buy them in lengths from 12 to 48 inches. We have found the longer lengths most practical, because even the 48-inch clamp can be fitted to work of 12 inches — though sometimes fitting larger clamps to smaller work is clumsy. For big gluing jobs, you may need as many as three or four at a time; two is a minimum for most shops.

Strap and web clamps Some furniture workers think these are the handiest tools in the shop. They are inexpensive and often can be made to do the work of the more costly hand screws and bar clamps. Literally, strap and web clamps are just tourniquets applied to furniture.

The clamps you buy consist of a fabric strap fitted with a metal clamp body. Put the strap around the work to be clamped, then tighten it by pulling the strap through, not unlike the way you tighten an airplane seat belt. Most clamp bodies are made so you can do the final tightening by turning a nut on the side of the body with a small wrench. Most straps are 12 to 15 feet long, so they can go around big work.

We often improvise our own strap clamps, using ordinary clothesline rope and a long screwdriver. The result is not an elegant tool, but it works, Just wrap the clothesline several times around the work to be clamped. Tie the loose ends together. Then insert the screwdriver between strands of the rope and twist to tighten, (like a tourniquet). When the rope is tight enough, tuck the handle of the screwdriver under the nearest part of the work so that the rope is held at the right tension. One word of caution: don't twist the rope too tight or it may break. Just make it tight enough to hold the glued parts together.

Wooden furniture clamps, called Jorgensens, are old standbys. Easy to adjust and (It, they don't bite into the wood.

This is a bar clarnp. so called because the two clamping units (it over a metal bar You should have bar or pipe clamps that span 4 ft. or more

These Jorgensens won't mar the wood ol this dresser but will hold the base plate (Irmly until the glue dries.

Now available everywhere, these small bar clamps have proved very handy, replacing C-clamps in much of our work.

The web or strap clamp consists of a long belt and a clamping head. To tighten the web turn an adjusting screw

A bar clamp is at the back of this piece and a pipe clamp at the front. In order to make a pipe clamp of any size, buy standard pipe In any length you need

To use a wedge clamp, tap on the wedges, one after the other The increasing width gradually drives the pieces together

Here is one of the handiest devices you can have—the doweling jig Use ii to place opposing dowel holes perfectly

Someone took the spring clothespin and developed it into big spring clamps They come in many sizes and are applied easily

This drawer stop is being clamped in place with a spring clamp

C-clamps are the workhorses of the business Note the clamp in the center, designed for clamping edge pieces as they dry.

Here, a C-clamp clamps a small leg Note the small wooden pads used to protect the surface of the furniture

Always insert pieces of scrap wood between the work and the metal pads of C-clamps before tightening. Otherwise the pads will make ugly dents in the surface of the furniture.

Other clamping devices Anything that can hold two pieces together while they are being glued can be called a clamp. We have used spring-type clothespins for small work and have found times when a rubber band was as good as anything else. You can buy metal spring clamps, which work the same as the spring-type clothespins but have jaw-openings in sizes ranging from an inch to 3 inches. It is good to have a few of these around.

Wedge clamps Wedge clamps are used to clamp two flat pieces, such as the two halves of a cracked dresser top together while the glue dries. Although the proper tool for the job would be two bar clamps, a homemade wedge will work.

To construct the wedge, take an 18- to 24-inch length of 1x4 board, an inch or more thick, and cut it diagonally to make two long triangles. Place the work to be glued against a solid wall, such as the back rail of the workbench. Apply glue to both surfaces and fit them together. Fit the triangles you have cut together again and place them next to the work opposite the wall. Drive nails through the outer triangle to hold it in place. Then tap the wide end of the unanchored triangle with a hammer. It will slide inward, between the anchored triangle and the work, to force the glued pieces into firm contacfwith each other. You can see how it works in the accompanying photograph.

Dowel Jig Many pieces of furniture have parts joined by dowels — wooden pegs that fit into holes drilled in each of the joined pieces. Dowel joints are strong, neat and long-lasting, and eliminate the need for screws. To do dowel joining, you need a dowel jig. Basically each type positions the drill in the proper place on the pieces to be joined, so that the holes are perfectly aligned after drilling. It is nearly impossible to make a precise dowel joint without the jig, which is a worthwhile investment if you plan to do much furniture work. Each brand is slightly different, so follow the instructions that come with the one you buy.

Buy ready-made hardwood dowels that come grooved to take glue. After drilling the holes, coat the dowels with glue. Tap

To use a wedge clamp, tap on the wedges, one after the other The increasing width gradually drives the pieces together

Here is one of the handiest devices you can have—the doweling jig Use ii to place opposing dowel holes perfectly

C-clamps The C-clamp is shaped like the letter C, with the open mouth of the letter used for clamping. The clamping surfaces are small metal pads, adjusted by turning a screw handle, which moves the lower pad. C-clamps are available with jaw openings from one to eight inches or more. It is best to buy the sizes you need for each job as required instead of trying to purchase a whole collection immediately.

C-clamps are the workhorses of the business Note the clamp in the center, designed for clamping edge pieces as they dry.

Here, a C-clamp clamps a small leg Note the small wooden pads used to protect the surface of the furniture

Someone took the spring clothespin and developed it into big spring clamps They come in many sizes and are applied easily

This drawer stop is being clamped in place with a spring clamp them into the holes in one piece. Then join the pieces by fitting the second piccc over the dowels. Tap the pieces together and clamp until the glue dries.

Dowel centers As an alternative, you can use little metal pieces called dowel ccnters. These look like little bullets. To use them, drill the hole in one of the pieces to be joined; then insert a dowel ccnter in the hole. Tap the other piece to be joined against the first one. A sharp point on the dowel center marks the spot where the second hole must be drilled. This is the inexpensive way to line up dowel holes, and it works if you are very careful. However, dowel centers are not nearly as satisfactory as the dowe! jig, so we don't recommend them.

Bench vises It takes two hands to do most woodworking jobs — chiseling, for example. Unless you have a third arm, there is no way to hold the wood while you work on it. This means you should have a bcnch vise of some type, into which you can damp the work. A bench vise is not only a convenience but also a safety device, since a lot of woodworking accidents occur when people attempt to work on loose picces and a tap of the hammer causes one of the undamped pieces to fly.

If you already have a good workbench, it probably is fitted with a bench vise. If you don't have a workbench and perhaps have no place to put one, then buy a clamp-on vise, which clamps to the edge of any sturdy table. Just be sure to put little wooden pads between the damping areas on the vise and the tabletop to prevent marring.

Some vises have heads that swivel, allowing you to change the angle of the work by adjusting the angle of the clamp. These are the most useful for general work.

Woodworking vises are a special variety of bench vise mounted on the side of the workbench, with jaws flush with the top of the table. They arc lined with wood to protect anything damped in them, and are the most practical for furniture work. Clamp-on models are available, but swivel models are not. If you are buying your first vise and intend to work a lot with wood, the woodworking vise is best. However, you can use a bench vise to hold most wood work by padding the jaws with thin wooden boards to protect the work.

Pocket Knife A pocket knife is used dozens of times a day for scraping, mak ing small cuts, roughing up wooden surfaces before gluing, carving, cutting the string on packages, digging reluctant stains out of corners — the list could be endless. A small, thin-bladed knife works best. Buy a honing stone, if you don't already have one, and strop the blade on it regularly to keep it sharp.

Pliers You probably already own the standard pliers, called slip joint pliers. In addition, two other types come in handy from time to time. One is long-nosed pliers, for working in tight places. The other is end-cutting pliers, which you use to pull nails or cut off the heads of nails. Don't buy either of these immediately, because you will use them infrequently. But keep them in mind, because there are rare moments when no other tool will do.

Rules A rule, of course, is a device for measuring, and you need one constantly to measure the work. Three types arc helpful in doing good furniture work: the folding rule; the steel tape rule; and the try-square, commonly known as the T-square.

The folding rule is most convenient for general measurements, especially of outside dimensions. The steel rule is handy for making inside measurements, such as the inside of a drawer or cabinet. The T-squarc is held against the outside of a cabinet, drawer or other square construction to show whether or not the corners are truly square.

Carpenter's Level Another measuring tool which you might use from time to time is the carpenter's level, it is used

These units will handle most measuring jobs, the carpenter's square, a good steel tape, a folding rule and a contour guide.

to determine whether cabinet sides are plumb and tops arc level.

Planes Once in a while you may find uses for a plane when making furniture parts, but we have found that need infrequent, so we don't recommend that you buy one.

Drills We feel the right tool for drilling holes is the electric drill — a good investment because you can perform a number of tasks in addition to drilling with ii.

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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