What is a dado and how do I make one.

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And yet another hi-tech lo-tech hybrid!  Behold the awesome power of a buck fifty dry board. And who says education has to cost millions or billions.  Anyway a dado is basically a notch cut in a board.  If the notch is on the corner it gets another name rabbet.  Not to be confused with rabbit that eats carrots.  For a simple dado done with a table saw and without a dado blade that can cut the whole notch in one pass you can do it like the wonderful illustration above. Set the blade only deep enough to cut out what you want and make a cut for the near side and the far side of the dado then remove the middle with several passes moving the fence each time.  It can be time consuming but if that is a problem the answer is more tools.  Oh twist my arm 😉  For faster, look for dado blades, wobble blades or a router.  I have a wobble blade that I’ve never been able to use as it is incomparable with any of the table saws I’ve had.  Routers, on the other hand, I have used and they can make a cleaner dado  but the bits may not be available in exactly the width you happen to need.  So the table saw wins for versatility.  Of course saying that is very dependent on the situation.  As usual the situation determines many things.

Wooden box with sliding lid

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There are a number of techniques involved in making this box but the short version is this is mainly a table saw project though of course you could use a multitude of tools.  This needs a prop.

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Behold the mighty napkin sketch, use it’s vagueness to create your own particulars.
-Anyway I’ll start with B, it’s a dado slightly wider than the thickness of the lid and slightly deeper than half way through the board. 
-A is the height of the inside of the finished box.
-C is about 1/2″ or so to keep the lid or bottom from falling off. 
-You will need to create strips A+B+B+C+C wide, enough to make 2 E’s (ends) and 2 F’s (sides). —Then create the dadoes for the lid and the bottom in all 4 pieces. 
-Cut the 2 E’s to length (the desired inside width of the box).
-Cut one of the E’s at posistion D.  This will allow the sliding lid to work.
-Cut the 2 F’s to length (desired length of inside of box+twice thickness of sides). 
-For the lid and the bottom it gets easy.  Because the dadoes are just slightly deeper than halfway through the side boards the width of the top becomes the length of E plus one side board thickness.  So to set up the cut on a table saw put an E next to the blade and put another piece on edge next to the rip fence. Bump them together and you’re there.  Cut enough strips to make the top and bottom.
-For the bottom cut one piece to length of F – 1 side thickness.
– assemble, glue and nail three sides together.
– slide bottom into its dado.
– put last side on and nail and glue away.
– slide strip for top into its dado and mark where it stops, cut to length.
– add handle.  I used  a little strip of plywood that matches the top of the rest of the box.
It may seem complicated but translating a process into words makes it look complicated.  Try writing instructions to drink a glass of water the detail can become infinite. I probably need to do this one as a video later.

Cheap metal stud finder

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Necessity is the mother of invention is very true.  So I needed a stud finder for metal studs but it is not something I do every day so rather than stop working and spend money to buy a stud finder I just assembled this little gizmo. Two magnets and a strip of something like paper or tape.  This time I used a strip off of a paper towel, other times I’ve used paper tape or masking tape.  You could use string but then the magnets tend to spin around and it takes longer to stabilize. 
  It’s easy to use, just hold the paper so that the magnet dangles next to a wall and slide it to the side until the magnet sticks to a stud or screw.  This could be used to find a wooden stud using the screws or nails however it would take more time as you would have to scan vertically and horizontaly.

Tool butler

The tool butler is the roll being played when there is only guy able to work on something and the only thing someone else can do to help is hand tools and materials to the guy working.

Fixing a tounge and grove floor

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Here is a small bathroom that had a water leak which made the wooden floor buckle pop off the concrete.  In retrospect I wish I had a before picture this thing was sticking up a good 2 inches. Anyway some of the boards were salvageable and some had to be replaced.  The problem was that it was a discontinued variety of flooring and the only material available anywhere was half a box of the original material.  Worse yet this wasn’t the only damaged spot, so you couldn’t just tear out the floor in one direction and replace AND the space to place the new boards had shrunk in the middle but not on either end.  The difference between the middle area and the end was just under 1/8″. 

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So how to make the above picture happen?  First, of the 3 rows that popped up 2 could be replaced easily just cut and glue. Second, cut to length and use the table saw to cut off the bottom side of the grove side of the board and make the grove deeper.  That makes it possible to get the tounge side of the piece in place and the groove side partially in.  If you press on the corner of the board enough to bend it slightly the end could go but the middle is too wide and the spot where it first starts to not fit is where to start using a sander to make it narrower. Then it becomes a process, check the fit, mark the starting location with tape, sand and repeat.  Eventually the piece will fit and it’s glue time. 
Time consuming and tricky but it saved replacing a whole wood floor running through most of a house.

Big pile of tools.

A general observation that has held fairly true is that it takes a big pile of tools to get things done but once the pile gets large enough you can do anything. Some times a project is small enough that you only need a few tools but usually it starts with OK I need to cut this board to length and so out comes the compound miter saw but the piece needs a corner notched out so mabey the table table or a skill saw or jig saw.  Then it needs a little sanding so sanding stuff comes out then nailgun and compressor or some form of glue then let’s say that the board gets stuck and needs a prybar but then the pry bar won’t fit that spot so out comes a different prybar and on and on.  When the project is done the tool pile is huge.  The problem occurs when you don’t have a tool to do a particular process and you get stuck.  Can you build a house with a pocket knife?  Only with heroic effort, infinite time and endless dedication. In Some tools cab be substituted and techniques can be adapted.  I will do what I can in this blog to explain some of the possibilities and inspire the rest. 

Router setup for cabinet door

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Another router picture and with it another several techniques. First is the dust collection system.  Simple, direct and it works with the airflow created by the spinning bit.  Before the vaccuume hose was placed there it made a nice fountain of dust coming out the top.  Also I added a bit of duct tape as an attempt to funnel more of the dust into the tube.  It was marginally effective.
  The setup this time was to rabbet some boards to make a cabinet door.  The bit is a slot cutter, but I’m only using part of the cutting surface to make a 3/8″ by 3/8″ rabbet. The hard part with this setup is doing the end grain without blowing out the back side of the cut.

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This is showing the back side of what will be the cabinet door.  It’s made to have glass added later. The router depth has to be set to exactly half way through the cabinet door stiles so that everything can be done with only one router setting. To create the rabbets on the other side of the stiles the boards are just flipped.  End grain is always a problem to use a router on so in retrospect I may have to try using a tablesaw to cut the deepest part of the rabbet and. Let the router clean out whatever remains.  I’ll have to try that later and see if it works.

Router setup for cabinet door.

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Another router picture and with it another several techniques. First is the dust collection system.  Simple, direct and it works with the airflow created by the spinning bit.  Before the vaccuume hose was placed there it made a nice fountain of dust coming out the top.  Also I added a bit of duct tape as an attempt to funnel more of the dust into the tube.  It was marginally effective.
  The setup this time was to rabbet some boards to make a cabinet door.  The bit is a slot cutter, but I’m only using part of the cutting surface to make a 3/8″ by 3/8″ rabbet. The hard part with this setup is doing the end grain without blowing out the back side of the cut.

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This is showing the back side of what will be the cabinet door.  It’s made to have glass added later. The router depth has to be set to exactly half way through the cabinet door stiles so that everything can be done with only one router setting. To create the rabbets on the other side of the stiles the boards are just flipped.  End grain is always a problem to use a router on so in retrospect I may have to try using a tablesaw to cut the deepest part of the rabbet and. Let the router clean out whatever remains.  I’ll have to try that later and see if it works.

Observe and interact

A thought for tuesday, probably the best advice I could give on learning to do anything is observe and interact.  With all the different tools and all the different features they each behave a little different and projects always change so the techniques must be flexible and adapt. 

Adjustable shelf drill guide

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It’s Monday again and after too much pumpkin pie I finally have my adjustable shelf drill guide picture up.  So the way this one works is you put a 3/16″ bit as deep as it will go in the drill and create a spacer block to control the drill depth just like a couple of posts ago.  The trick is to keep the same side of the jig facing out while drilling all the holes.  This jig is for these metal shelf pegs.

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The problem with these is if you have a cabinet with shelves on either side of a 3/4″ divider and the holes are drilled all the way through the pegs bump into each other in the middle. That’s why the spacing on the left and right of the jig are different.  The 1 1/4″ size was determined by the width of the drill I was using. Any closer to the back of the cabinet and it could not be drilled strait. Then the 1 5/8″ side moves the opposite hole over 3/8″.   I usually end up making new drill guides whenever they are needed as they are usually too specific to reuse much.