8 Woodworking Tips to Boost Your Efficiency

We’ve all heard the adage: work smarter, not harder. It makes good sense, so here are eight woodworking tips to make your shop work easier and more efficient:

Sanding made easier

Sanding woodwork by hand may seem like a chore, but with special tools and high-quality sandpaper, you’ll get excellent results that often outshine a power sander. Besides, it’s quieter, doesn’t produce clouds of dust, and may get into places power sanders can’t.

Use a sanding block for faster, more efficient results. It distributes sanding pressure more evenly and maintains a flatter surface than merely folding a piece of sandpaper. Also, change sandpaper often.

Sand with the grain of the wood, especially for the final grits. To remove deep scratches and stains, angle across the grain up to about 45º for the first sanding. Before moving to the next finer grit, sand with the grain to remove all cross-grain scratches.

For sanding painted surfaces, buy clog-resistant sandpaper. The paint will build up slower than on standard sandpaper.

Avoid drywall screws for woodworking

When screwing two pieces of wood together, use the traditional wood screw over the drywall screw for better results.

A drywall screw is threaded the full length. Since the top threads tend to grip the first board it enters, this can force two pieces of wood apart slightly because you have threads in both boards.

The top part of a wood screw, on the other hand, has a smooth shank that won’t grip the first board. This makes it easier to clamp two pieces of wood together.

There’s another reason to avoid drywall screws: The hardened, brittle steel shafts of drywall screws will often break during installation, especially when screwed into hardwoods. Removing them from a finished material is nearly impossible and getting them out damages the surface.

Wood screws are made of thicker, softer metal, so they’re break-resistant.

Wood screws do, however, require you drill:

  • A pilot hole for the threads
  • A wider counterbore hole the length of the non-threaded shaft
  • A countersink hole for setting the head

However, you can easily handle all three drilling chores by buying a set of three countersinking bits. They handle most common screw sizes.

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