WoodWorkers Guild of America http://www.wwgoa.com Fri, 22 May 2015 19:09:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Smokin’ Hot Grill Caddy http://www.wwgoa.com/article/a-smokin-hot-grill-caddy/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/a-smokin-hot-grill-caddy/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 15:32:28 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=576260 Like to BBQ? Then you’ll want to build this BBQ caddy that organizes all of the utensils and supplies you’ll want at your side when you are doing your magic on the grill.

The post A Smokin’ Hot Grill Caddy appeared first on WoodWorkers Guild of America.

Photos and illustrations by author

grill caddy hero

There’s not much that I enjoy more than standing on my deck with a cool beverage, basking in the aromas of meat that’s slow-cooking on my grill. The only part that I don’t like is when I can’t find my spatula, tongs or one of the other important items that I need when I am producing a BBQ masterpiece. That dilemma led to the development of this woodworking project, which is a toolbox of sorts, purpose-built for outdoor cooking supplies. I gathered requirements from many “grill masters” in developing this project, so I believe it should address the needs of most BBQ chefs; pros and weekend warriors alike. You should also note that I designed the proportions of this grill caddy to meet the dimensions of my grill utensils, so you should measure your own and make any adjustments necessary so that it works well for you.

Click here to download a free PDF of this plan

Click here to download a PDF template of the end panels

Design aspects

The grill caddy is designed to accommodate everything you need for outdoor cooking. There’s room in the top storage area for beverages, spices and a small spray bottle, as well as utensils such as spatula, grill scraper, tongs, etc. There’s a drawer that is sized to house a roll of foil, and it is concealed from the elements to provide storage for matches, pellets, or other items that need to remain dry. I’ve chosen western red cedar for the project because it holds up well for outdoor use and is lightweight for carrying purposes. To crank up the aesthetics of this simple project I have incorporated a few copper elements, including copper pipe for a handle, copper rod stock used as joinery pins and section dividers, and I’ve even lined the bottom with copper flashing for ease of cleaning. Copper is expensive, so you can use a wooden dowels for a handle and joinery pins if you want to save a few bucks, and you might choose to use aluminum as an alternative copper flashing if you prefer (it is normally found right next to the copper flashing in home centers).

The tools that you will need include the following:

  • Table saw
  • Sander
  • Drill
  • Clamps
  • Bandsaw, jigsaw or scroll saw
  • Router
  • Brad nailer or hammer
grill caddy with drawer with foil and paper towel -exploded
measurement table

Getting Started

raw parts

Cut pieces to size. Reference the cutlist and cut all pieces to their appropriate dimensions.

cutting biscuit slots

Biscuit joinery. Cut biscuit slots in all locations marked in the diagram. If you don’t own a biscuit joiner, or are just looking for a faster method, you could simply use glue and 18 gauge brad nails.

grill caddy side panel biscuit placement
grill caddy end panel templates - 2

Use pattern to drill and cut end panels. Print the PDF template provided for the end panels, and use spray adhesive to temporarily attach to your stock, or trace onto the pieces.

cutting curves on end panels

Cut to shape. Drill 1-1/8” holes first using a paddle or forstner bit. Then use a bandsaw or handheld jigsaw to cut the curved pattern. Confirm the hole diameter against your handle.

grill bottom template

Round corners on bottom panel. Cut a 2” radius curve on the corners of the bottom that will be near the paper towel holder. Check the biscuit location to ensure that you don’t cut on the wrong end.

spreading glue on copper flashing

Attach copper flashing to false bottom. Spread an even layer of contact cement across both surfaces, let dry for 15 minutes, and press the flashing into place allowing the copper to overhang slightly on all edges.

smoothing copper

Remove any gaps: Using a J-roller or rounded edge of a board, firmly press the copper into place, going over it repeatedly for a couple minutes until the copper flashing is fully seated against the board.

filing copper

Trim and flush copper. Cut the copper flush with the wood’s edge by making 3-4 passes with a sharp utility blade. Using a file, remove any sharp edges from the copper flashing by stroking downward toward the wood. Filing in the other direction could pry the copper away from the wood.

protect copper during finishing

Protect copper for glue-up and finishing. To avoid the hassle of removing stubborn glue and finish later, put a protective layer of painter’s masking tape on the copper prior to assembly.

clamping and gluing

Assemble. Apply glue and biscuits, assembling all components of main carcase except for upper rails. Those can be installed after glue cures.

Drill for pins. Hold upper rails into position. Drill 3/32” holes in locations marked on diagram, going all the way through the side rails and ½” into the mating piece. After drilling the first hole into the upper rail, insert a copper rod to hold it in position while drilling the next hole. This will ensure perfect alignment. Then remove rod before applying glue.

cutting copper down on sides

Glue and pin. Using an adhesive that bonds copper and wood, such as Nexabond or epoxy, coat the mating surfaces as well as the holes. Leaving the pins long, tap them into the holes. Cut the pins proud of the surface and sand them flush later. After installing all pins, use clamps to secure the assembly until the glue cures.

thermometer storage

Install upper rails and drill hole for thermometer storage. Prior to installing the upper rails, hold one upper rail in position, and rest it on the lower rail. Ensure proper alignment at each end, then drill a 1/4” hole through the upper rail, and into the lower rail as shown. Then use a spacer to raise the upper rail 1” above the lower rail. Using the same approach as previously to install the pins, attach the upper rails to each end panel.

nail drawer

Build drawer. Attach drawer front to drawer bottom using a biscuit. Then attach drawer sides and back using a brad nailer or by tapping in brads (if you use this method, predrill to avoid splitting).

exploded drawer pull

Make drawer pull. Using three sections of copper pipe ½” dia x 1-1/4” long and two 90-degree elbows, form a drawer pull.

install drawer pull

Install drawer pull. Mark the locations on the drawer front and use a ½” forstner bit to drill recesses ½” deep. Using Nexabond or epoxy, press the drawer pull into position.

install copper dowels

Install section cross dividers. Measure and cut 5/8” x 1-1/2” cedar to length. Drill a 3/8” hole through the center of the piece. Set the cedar piece into position and temporarily pin with 3/12” copper rod stock. Use a section of 3/8” copper rod to mark the location on the end panel where the rod will be inserted. Drill a 3/8” hole ½” deep into the location on the end panel. Disassemble, apply glue and reassemble. After glue cures cut copper rods flush and sand with a coarse to medium grit such as 80.

cutting circle

Install paper towel base. Using a scroll saw or bandsaw, cut a 5” circle. Then drill a 1-1/8” hole through the center of it, and roundover the top edges using a router or sander. Glue and clamp into position.


Finish. Use a penetrating finish such as deck sealer to preserve the wood.

Install handle, paper towel holder and bottle opener. Slip 1” copper pipe through holes in the end panels, and cap each end. No need to use adhesive or solder to fix the caps to the pipe; a friction fit should suffice. If yours are loose, then use cyanoacrylate glue, epoxy, or solder to permanently mount the caps. Install and cap the paper towel bar with no adhesive, and use screws to fasten the bottle opener into position.

grill caddy hanger

Optional hanging bracket. If you want to preserve table space near your grill, you can build the optional handing bracket and install it on a deck railing or side of your house. Simply cut a cedar 2×4 to the specified length, and use a 1-1/8” forstener or spade bit to drill holes 1-1/4” deep at the identified locations. Holes should be drilled at a 5-degree angle so that the pipes will tip slightly upward. Stain the 2×4 to match your deck, and install 9” sections of 1” copper pipe into the holes. Add a cap to the end of each pipe. Do not permanently attach the copper pipe, as this will allow you to remove the pipes when not in use. Store them in your grill caddy!

I hope you have fun building and using this project. Let us know in the comments section if you have ideas for customizing and improving the grill caddy.

Click here to download a free PDF of this plan

Click here to download a PDF template of the end panels


3/32” Copper rod stock is available at Amazon.com; $4/ft.

3/8” Copper rod stock is available at Amazon.com; $10/ft

Copper bottle opener is available at Amazon.com; $14.

1” copper pipe, end caps, and 6”copper flashing are available at most home centers

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New Tool Review: Mirka DEROS 550X Random Orbital Sander http://www.wwgoa.com/article/new-tool-review-mirka-deros-550x-random-orbital-sander/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/new-tool-review-mirka-deros-550x-random-orbital-sander/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 20:15:05 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=569110 Always on the lookout for innovations that make sanders perform more quickly, quietly, and with better dust collection, Paul Mayer found that Mirka scored big in each of these categories with its new DEROS random orbital sander.

The post New Tool Review: Mirka DEROS 550X Random Orbital Sander appeared first on WoodWorkers Guild of America.

Photos by author

sander hero

It costs $595. I wanted to get that out of the way up front, so it’s not a “buzz kill” when you get to the end of this article, because nearly everything else that I will say about this sanding system will make some design engineers at Mirka blush. For many WWGOA readers this sander might not be a contender for budgetary reasons, but for those shops who demand extreme performance from their tools, or those who have the discretionary income to go “top shelf” on tool purchases, you will want to take a look at this sander. It provides outstanding power with minimal heft, along with low vibration that allows for fatigue-free extended use. Add to that dust collection that is so effective that I might be tempted to use it without a mask, and you have a tool that promises to change the rules in the world of random orbital sanders.

dust extractor

Full system. The sander can be purchased separately, but it is designed as part of a system that includes a dust extractor as well as special abrasives that are designed for greater longevity and dust extraction. I brought in a complete setup for the purposes of these tests.

Why is this such a big deal?

The Mirka DEROS (stands for Direct Electric Random Orbital Sander) is the first random orbital sander with a brushless DC motor that has the power supply efficiently incorporated into the sander body. The motor delivers far more power than any typical electric random orbital sander that I have ever used, and I’ve tried most of them. The DEROS actually rivals the power found in pneumatic sanders, which are generally far superior in performance to their electric counterparts.

At only 3-1/2” tall, and 2.2 pounds, its petite profile makes the tool manageable in any sized hand, much like a pneumatic sander. I found its light, compact form to be particularly beneficial when sanding vertically, which can be tiring using typical electric random orbital sanders.

The soft-start feature delivers a gentle ramp-up to peak performance which, coupled with silky smooth ongoing operation (even with aggressive grits), makes sanding a more pleasant experience. Variable speed control built into the trigger mechanism provides smooth, single-handed speed changes which gives the operator exceptional finesse in moving across intricate areas of a project.

Extreme power!

sanding rough panel

I had a lot of fun putting the sander through some extreme tests to see where the power advantage would reveal itself. I took a gnarly rough-sawn walnut plank, 6” wide x 6’ long, and sanded it until all tool marks were gone using an 80 grit disk. I was actually somewhat surprised when this task was complete in only a few minutes. I did this several more times on smaller planks of various species and continued to be impressed with the rate of stock removal. As a point of comparison I tried this same test with a few other electric random orbitals, and it generally took them 20-50% longer to complete the task. Then, in the spirit of aggressive test cases, I jumped directly from 80 grit to 400 on the DEROS, and within another couple minutes of going at it, the board looked and felt like a piece of highly polished glass. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that this is good woodworking practice, but the power of this sander allows it to deliver great performance, even with finer abrasives. The surface quality that this machine produces is simply astonishing.

sanding end grain

Another task in which the power stands out is in sanding end grain. Even with a good quality AC electric sander this task can be slow and arduous. The muscle of this sander makes the process go much more quickly, while the light weight and ergonomic handling make it much easier and less “jerky”.

The DEROS also runs quietly, especially for a sander with so much power. I compared it to a few other random orbital sanders that I have in my shop and found that the DEROS ran 3-5 decibels quieter, even with the dust extraction running. If I take that a step further and assume that I will be running my dust collector with the other sanders (which is normally the case) and I won’t need this with the Mirka, then the Mirka runs about 8-10 decibels quieter, which is a substantial difference.

Dust extraction

One of the key benefits of the overall DEROS system resides in its ability to extract nearly all perceptible dust directly at the source during normal sanding operations. This does not just include sanding a horizontal flat surface; I also found the extraction to be effective on vertical and inverted surfaces, as well as edges and end grain. The dust collection effectiveness is the result of three aspects of the system:

• The DEROS sander itself incorporates good airflow with an enlarged central dust port that delivers strong suction all the way through the pad.

auto-start dust extraction

• The powerful, quiet extraction system delivers great air flow to the tool, with an auto-start feature that turns the extractor on and off as the sander’s switch is engaged. The extractor also features a neat mechanism to clean the filter without opening the housing, which is convenient and really helps to maintain strong air flow. With conventional shop vacuums this process is messy, by frequently opening the vacuum to clean the filter a ton of dust can be launched into the air, much of the benefit of using a vacuum is lost.

quick disconnect

I also like the quick disconnect feature that is located a short distance away from the tool. Many sanders locate this right at the tool itself, and by moving it away from the work surface, Mirka has made the work area less cumbersome.

innovative abrasives

• The Mirka Abranet abrasives also play an important role in delivering optimal dust collection. Constructed of a mesh material similar to abrasives used by drywall tapers, these abrasive sheets allow dust to flow more freely through to the collection system. They also proved to be quite durable, maintaining their abrasive quality for a noticeably longer period than typical sanding disks that I have used (Mirka claims that these disks last from 2-5 times longer than standard abrasive disks depending on the application). I also tested the DEROS with some standard abrasives and found that the system performed well, but left a bit more dust behind than the Abranet disks. This system also comes with a thin foam pad that is installed between the sander’s sanding pad and the Abranet disk, called a “pad protector”. I believe that this device should always be used with the Abranet disks because the mesh quality of the disk allows more wear to occur on the pad’s hook and loop system. I will expect to swap the pad protector on a periodic basis, but this is as quick and simple as replacing a sanding disk, and costs less than $10.

Surely there has to be a downside…


Plastic trigger.

Call me old fashioned, but for a sander in this price range, I want a metal trigger. It works fine, and I have no reason to doubt Mirka’s claim that they have never heard of one breaking, but it feels like an Achilles’ heel in an otherwise bullet-proof sander.

Requires dust extraction system.

I’m uber impressed with the dust extraction capabilities that this sanding system provides. But, it’s that or nothing. There are occasions when I want to use a sander without the full dust extraction setup, and for those situations I’d like to have a bag or similar built-in dust capture system.


This sander is the bomb! Its combination of power, ergonomics, and world-class dust collection put it into its own league relative to the field of electric random orbital sanders. This sander commands a high price tag, but I believe it is well worth it for woodworkers who demand extreme quality and performance.


  • Mirka Abrasives, Inc.
  • 7950 Bavaria Road
  • Twinsburg, Ohio 44087
  • Tel. 330-963-6421
  • mirka-usa.com
  • mirkaderos.com (specific microsite for DEROS sander)

  • Sander can be purchased separately:
  • Mirka DEROS MID55020CAUS, 5” Mirka DEROS Electric Sander, $595

  • Or available as part of a kit:
  • Mirka MID550-912-5 – 5″ DEROS Dust-Free System Kit with 5.5m (18′) Hose, $1,347

  • Abranet Abrasives
  • Mirka 9A-232-120 5-Inch 120 Grit Mesh Abrasive Dust Free Sanding Discs, Box of 50 Disks, $35 (other grits available as well)

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]]> http://www.wwgoa.com/article/new-tool-review-mirka-deros-550x-random-orbital-sander/feed/ 10 WWGOA Live Recap for March 19, 2015 http://www.wwgoa.com/article/wwgoa-live-recap-for-march-19-2015/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/wwgoa-live-recap-for-march-19-2015/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 17:30:51 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7304 We ran our first WWGOA Live session, in which folks could ask questions that I answered live. Did you miss it? No problem. We've archived the entire hour, and you can watch it at your leisure.

The post WWGOA Live Recap for March 19, 2015 appeared first on WoodWorkers Guild of America.

I love teaching woodworking, and wish I could come into each of your shops to help you out. I recently did, sort of. We ran our first WWGOA Live session, in which folks could ask questions that I answered live. Did you miss it? No problem. We’ve archived the entire hour, and you can watch it at your leisure.

Watch for our next session in the near future. I can’t wait for another chance to help you out in your shop.

Also, as a gift of appreciation for the great turnout for our first show, use code WWGOALIVE to receive 50% off a Premium subscription to our site. Just go to wwgoa.com/join to sign up.

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Table Saw Safety: Guards & Splitters http://www.wwgoa.com/article/table-saw-safety-guards-splitters/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/table-saw-safety-guards-splitters/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 17:07:47 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7031 Table saw safety is critical for every woodworker. Bruce Kieffer's table saw safety article explores options for aftermarket and shop-made table saw guards and splitters. Be safe and saw often!

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Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

We’ve all heard the horror stories about someone who’s gotten maimed using a table saw. The story always goes the same way, first is what happened, and then, unfortunately, what the operator did wrong. I’m convinced that all of these accidents were preventable. I implore you to use caution and do everything you can to protect yourself in your shop.

Table saws are inherently dangerous and you should give them ample respect. I understand that accidents happen, but you can do a lot to minimize the chances of being the victim of a table saw accident by using a guard and splitter, and common sense. You should know that OSHA defines what I call a guard as a blade cover. I choose to continue calling these guards since they block or impede a person’s hands from contact with the rotating saw blade.

Most new table saws today come with good guards and good splitters with anti-kickback pawls. Pawls are spring loaded backward pointing “fingers” that stop a board from being shot forward during a kickback. Riving knives are fairly common on new saws, but that wasn’t the case just a few years ago. A “true” riving knife is a splitter that is articulated to move up and down as the saw blade is raised or lowered. It maintains close proximity to the blade at all times. This offers more protection by stopping a saw kerf from closing sooner than with a traditional splitter. Here’s a great video that explains riving knives:

George Vondriska Explains Riving Knives

Please realize this is not a review of different factory or aftermarket table saw guards and splitters, rather it’s intended to explore options, give you ideas, and encourage you to find a solution that works for you and gives you proper protection. First I’ll show you my guard and splitter solution, then I’ll show you some of what I found when I searched the Internet for aftermarket saw guards and splitters.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

My Shop-Made Guard And Splitter Story

Basically this is my story of how I got from there to where I am today with my saw safety thinking. My table saw is a 1980’s vintage Delta Unisaw that I bought new. I added Delta’s Uniguard overarm guard that wrapped around the left rear of the saw. That configuration is not typical, most wrap around from the right. It’s design presented sawing limitations to the left of the blade. Making those cuts required I drop the Uniguard out of the way, and that made me very nervous, and rightfully so.

Adding an aftermarket sliding crosscut table to my table saw forced me to eliminate the Uniguard due to interference with the sliding table. My saw is affixed to my floor and it doesn’t move; so a permanently mounted ceiling overhead guard made a lot of sense. Using the Uniguard blade cover parts together with black plumbing pipe and fittings, rectangular and round metal tubing, and miscellaneous hardware I crafted the ceiling mounted guard you see here.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

I tried a few different ways to connect the guard support pipe to my ceiling before I arrived at this final solution. The problem was that a long section of pipe with a small footprint connection to the ceiling was too flexible. So I made this 2-ft long extension box, which shortened the pipe length and increased the ceiling connection surface area. It works well.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

I split the pipe into two sections and joined those sections with a pipe union. That allows me to easily remove the lower section that holds the guard so there’s clearance for the rare times I need to cut extra long or wide work pieces oriented vertically.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

Here are a few of my guard’s construction details: The upper pivot arm lets me pivot the entire guard up and out of the way so I can make cuts on tall pieces up to about 24″ without needing to separate the guard at the pipe union. The lower pivot arm allows me to pivot the blade cover out of the way for blade changes or when I need to retract the independent splitter.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

The upper pivot arm tube fits nicely inside a black pipe tee fitting. A hole is drilled in the tee, a nut is brazed over the hole, and then a threaded knob is screwed into the nut. The tube and guard can be shifted left or right for flexibility when sawing narrow work-pieces, or when using my sliding table attachment. I filed a flat spot on the tube for greater locking force, and as a locking reference point. The shaft collars are added to restrict the side-to-side movement of the blade cover so it never accidentally touches the saw blade.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

The guard’s blade cover arms, side shields, and shaft collars were the only parts salvaged from the original Uniguard. These are essential components that could be purchased today as replacements parts. The arms and shields are “hinged” so the bottoms of the shields always rest flat on the workpieces being sawn. The interlocking support arm rectangular tubing is length adjustable. That, and all the other adjustable features of the guard allow it to be fine-tuned as needed when conditions change over time.

Aftermarket Overarm & Overhead Guards

My opinion is that overarm guards (covers), or overhead guards are the best. I’m referring to guards that are mounted separately from the saw’s splitter. They offer the most flexibility and the most coverage so most saw cuts can be made with the blade guard in place. Combined with a good splitter, and a keen awareness of your saw, your environment, and the materials you are cutting, and you should be well protected.

The guards shown here range in price from $200 to $500. I consider that cheap insurance, and peanuts compared to a trip to the hand surgeon.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

This is the modern version of the Uniguard overarm guard that I purchased for my Unisaw way back in the day. It’s right mounted and includes a splitter with anti-kickback pawls. The overarm assembly can, most likely, be adapted to a variety of saws, but the splitter will probably only work with Delta saws.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

This overarm guard is made by Exaktor. Its large diameter telescoping tube doubles as a dust collector pipe. Most guards of this style do not include a splitter. See the splitter options shown below.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

Here’s a similar design made by Excalibur.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

This highly popular blade cover and splitter combination is hand made by Lee Styron of Leeway Workshop, LLC. Although I prefer a two-piece setup, this is a great option for anyone who cannot live with the bulk of an overarm guard, or has a mobile saw where a ceiling mount setup won’t work. It’s also great for anyone who has a limited need for cutting dados and grooves. Lee is very backlogged because he personally manufactures these products; keep that in mind if you want to order any of his products.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

Leeway Workshop also offers the Shark Guard blade cover with an overhead bracket so it can be combined with any ceiling mount system.

My Saw’s Splitter

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

This is the splitter that came with my Unisaw. It’s served me well for all these years. I love that it’s independent from the blade guard cover. The combination of the two offers great flexibility and provides the safety and protection I want and need. It easily retracts to be hidden under the saw’s throat plate when it must be out of the way for dado and groove cuts.

Aftermarket Splitters

There’s not a lot to choose from as far as aftermarket table saw splitters. Probably because most saws today come with them included, and more and more saws today come with a riving knife. The aftermarket splitters shown here are either universal or custom fit to a particular saw. Check the manufacture’s site for saw compatibility information.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

The above two photos show a removable splitter with pawls is made by Leeway Workshop, LLC.

Table Saw Safety – Guards & Splitters

This Micro Jig Splitter™ SteelPRO System is relatively inexpensive and very simple. It mounts directly to a saw’s factory or aftermarket throat plate.


Delta Machinery
UNIGUARD® Blade Guard, 34-976

General International
Excalibur Overarm Blade Cover System, 50-EXBC

Exaktor Tools Limited
Overarm Blade Cover/Dust Collector, EX0A-2

Leeway Workshop, LLC.
Saw guards and splitters

Table saw guards and Micro Jig splitters
(800) 279-4441

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Shop Accident Statistics & Woodworking Safety http://www.wwgoa.com/article/shop-accident-statistics-woodworking-safety/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/shop-accident-statistics-woodworking-safety/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:06:05 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7017 Every year, hospitals see injuries caused by woodworking tools in the emergency room. This includes professionals and hobbyists, students and homeowners. The types of injuries vary, as there are more ways to make mistakes in a woodshop than there are ways to plan ahead for them – precisely why they’re called accidents! In 2011, the... Read more »

The post Shop Accident Statistics & Woodworking Safety appeared first on WoodWorkers Guild of America.

Shop Accident Statistics & Woodworking Safety

Every year, hospitals see injuries caused by woodworking tools in the emergency room. This includes professionals and hobbyists, students and homeowners. The types of injuries vary, as there are more ways to make mistakes in a woodshop than there are ways to plan ahead for them – precisely why they’re called accidents!

In 2011, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database published statistics concerning injuries related to woodshop machinery. The information was submitted by a number of local hospitals and projected to determine a likely overall average of injuries across the country. Therefore, the numbers may be a little low with the consideration of how many people don’t go to the emergency room for a wound that isn’t life threatening. The numbers certainly don’t include the “near miss” accidents that nearly every woodworker has seen. They do include injuries not related to use of machinery, such as a hurt back from trying to move a piece.

Table Saw: estimated 39,750 annual injuries

In most modern woodshops, the table saw is the centerpiece of the room and the most used tool. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the table saw causes more injuries than other woodshop equipment. The NEISS study shows a total of 855 table saw injuries in their sample count, which equates to a prediction of 78,980 total table saw accidents across the country.

Jointers, Planers, and Other Machinery: estimated 10,930 annual injuries

Jointers and planers, along with shapers and sanders, were classified as “other” for the sake of the NEISS study. They accounted for 195 injuries, or a projected 21,859 total injuries.

Miter Saw: estimated 6,800 annual injuries

The miter saw, in today’s shop, has for the most part replaced the radial arm saw. With 127 total accidents, the miter saw proves it may not be as safe as it appears. Accidents can occur if it isn’t set up securely on a table or bench. Further, it is designed only to make one specific type of through crosscut with a full sized board. When people try to cut too small of a piece, they place their fingers too close to the blade, or occasionally people try to make a short rip cut which is seemingly simple but the saw does not properly support the board and even with a steady hand it can move slightly, causing a kickback.

Band Saw: estimated 3,550 annual injuries

The sample study only shows a total of eleven band saw injuries, which is not enough statistically to formulate a reasonable prediction as to the number of overall injuries there have been with the band saw. However, the direct data indicates it to be about one per cent of the number of table saw accidents. A few factors could play into these numbers. First, not many hobby woodshops use a band saw, and the ones that do don’t use it as often as the table saw, generally speaking.

Radial Arm Saw: estimated 350 annual injuries

The radial arm saw was at one time the primary tool of the average woodshop, as it is a versatile tool capable of a lot of different tasks. Unfortunately, it has limits in how wide of a board it can handle and can be difficult to set up for rip cuts, so its popularity has given way to the table saw as a primary shop machine. The NEISS figures show only 4 total radial arm saw accidents, a low number, probably because radial arm saws aren’t widely used today.

The Take Away

The numbers show that accidents happen. WWGOA’s goal for you is that you’re never included in these statistics.

Related Topics:

Miter Saw Safety Tips
Band Saw Safety Tips
Table Saw Safety Tips
Table Saw Safety for Beginner Woodworking
Table Saw Safety
Band Saw, Router Table and Table Saw Safety
12 Tips for Using a Router Safely


Survey of Injuries Involving Stationary Saws (PDF)

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A Super Simple Table http://www.wwgoa.com/article/a-super-simple-table/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/a-super-simple-table/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:40:21 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7060 If you’re looking for a cool last minute gift, or just a great project, this table is for you. Incredibly, it can be made it about one hour!

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Joints on the corners make this table surprisingly strong.

This table is a marvel of engineering and efficiency. The legs are placed on the corners, providing remarkable lateral and torsional strength, and the two horizontal planes serve as both shelf and stretchers. I have given this particular version an Arts & Crafts flair, employing quarter-sawn white oak and a geometric ‘dog ear’ on the legs. Legs are attached to the shelf and top with screws and plugged, however, dowel or pocket screw joinery would work too.


Less than four board feet make the table!

I had a spare piece of quartersawn white oak, only 10” x 48” gathering dust in my shop, and turned it into a gift. I reserved approximately two inches of width for each leg to create a leg blank, then trimmed off the excess and glued it to the top section to attain a wider plank for the top and shelf. Any lumber will work for this design, and I can imagine a contemporary version in walnut, or a Shaker version in maple. Final dimensions for the piece are 24” tall x 12” square.


Cut all the joints at once

Install a 3/8” wide dado blade in the table saw to crosscut dadoes in the 9” x 24” leg blank. This process requires multiple passes over the blade, but by taking thin passes after the initial cut, I can size the dado perfectly to match the thickness of the horizontal pieces. Clamp a stop block to the fence, and use it to cut a dado 2” from each end of the leg blank. Then move the rip fence to the right in small increments to sneak up on the final size of the dado.

It would be simple to add another shelf to the table, or to change the locations of the top and bottom, if you wanted to modify the design.


Rip the legs from the leg blank

Rip the 2” wide legs from the leg blank after the dadoes have been cut. I love projects that look complicated but are as simple and straightforward as this one. Each leg will be exactly the same, interchangeable with the other legs.


Trim the corners from the top and shelf

Cut a 45-degree miter on each corner of the shelves to receive the legs. The length of the diagonal is 2”, matching the width of the leg. I set a wide stop block and clamped it to the bed of the miter-saw. The top and shelf will be exactly the same size, and have identical miters. Select the best piece for the top, and use the other for the shelf.


Peg the screw holes

On a last minute gift like this time is of the essence, so I use screws to hold the table together instead of fancy joinery. To fasten the legs to the top and shelf, I bored 1/2” countersink holes, and then pre-drilled into the top and shelf. After driving the screw, I filled the holes with plugs I cut from excess white oak stock. When the glue dries, trim the plugs with a Japanese saw and sand them flush.

Final finishing steps

Sand the table with a random orbital sander, using 120-grit sandpaper. to clean up the plugs. I skip up to 220 grit sandpaper and sand the rest of the table, and soften all of the edges with hand sanding. For a beautiful and protective finish, I start with Dark Walnut stain from Minwax, which is the perfect balance of dark brown and red tones characteristic of antique Arts and Crafts furniture. After the stain dries overnight, I spray three thin coats of Satin Minwax Polyurethane as a protective, waterproof layer. The polyurethane has a hint of yellow, which adds to the character of the table, and is remarkably easy to apply. While waterborne finishes cure somewhat faster than oil based finishes, they don’t have that ‘yellow’ which is so perfect for this table. Now get out to the shop and start cutting! There’s no time to waste.

Photos and Byline by: Seth Keller

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]]> http://www.wwgoa.com/article/a-super-simple-table/feed/ 5 Premium Sanding Blocks Make Short Work Of Surface Prep http://www.wwgoa.com/article/premium-sanding-blocks-make-short-work-of-surface-prep/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/premium-sanding-blocks-make-short-work-of-surface-prep/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:29:23 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7035 This article explores two products that improve both the quality and performance of hand sanding: The Preppin’ Weapon by Time Saver Tools and the SandDevil by SandDevil USA. Do they take the drudgery out of hand sanding?

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sanding-blocks-glamour-shot-1024x678 When it comes to sanding I have two simple goals. I want to spend as little time as possible on the task, and I want the best possible results because I’ve put a lot of effort into the project up to that point and I don’t want to take any shortcuts that could compromise the appearance of my project. For most projects I use a random orbital sander and palm sander up through 120 or 150 grit, then I hand sand to 220. I’ve invested in good quality power sanders that do a great job, but the hand sanding phase is critical because it produces the final surface that will receive the finish. I’ve used a lot of approaches to hand sanding, including folding an abrasive sheet in my hand which leaves an inconsistent (wavy) surface, homemade wooden sanding blocks upon which it is a pain to secure sandpaper, and low cost commercial rubber versions that leave the sandpaper too loose and waste too much of it by only using a small portion of the sanding surface.

After doing a bit of research I found a couple nifty sanding blocks that promised better results. But, at roughly $20 apiece, would I actually receive enough value from a sanding block to justify such an indulgence? My curiosity got the better of me so I decided to buy one of each : The Preppin’ Weapon by Time Shaver Tools and the SandDevil by SandDevil USA.

Preppin’ Weapon

sanding-blocks-preppin-weapon-changing-paper-1024x808 This premium sanding block is made of high impact ABS and uses 2-3/4” x 9” sheet abrasives which conveniently, and cost effectively, are exactly one fourth of a standard 9” x 11” sheet of sandpaper.

Standout features.

The Preppin weapon is ergonomically designed. When you place it into your hand it feels like it belongs there. Installing sandpaper is quick, with solid cam action levers that lock the paper solidly into position underneath two high quality clamping brackets. Once properly locked, the sandpaper does not shift around like it does on cheaper sanding blocks that I have used, which can cause tearing and lead to sub-par sanding results. The cushy rubber pad underneath the sandpaper is great for gently easing sharp corners on a project.

sanding-blocks-preppin-weapon-action-shot-1024x648 The Preppin’ Weapon produced great results on flat surfaces and curves, as well as softening sharp corners. It’s great to be able to do all of that with a single tool using standard sanding sheets which are economical and versatile.


The SandDevil is a unique design that utilizes standard 3” x 21” sanding belts, and locks them into position using a locking cam mechanism that is similar to a belt sander. This product appealed to me because of the fact that it uses the same size belt as my belt sander so I know that I’ll always have abrasives on hand. Also, because you can rotate the belt, it allows you to use 100% of the abrasive. Unlike most sanding blocks that place some of the sandpaper underneath the locking clips.


Standout features:

I absolutely love the easy process of installing and changing belts. Flip…slide…slide…flip…and seconds later you are back in sanding business. Sanding surface wears out? Flip…rotate…flip…and off you go. Seconds later you’re sanding again. With a large (9-3/4” x 3”) hard plastic base, the SandDevil excels at perfecting a dead flat surface on large panel surfaces such as a desk or table top. Also, by keeping the huge surface (37% larger than the base of the Preppin’ Weapon) against the work piece at all times, sanding time is reduced dramatically over most hand-sanding techniques. The large size makes the SandDevil a bit cumbersome in my hand, so I’m not as inclined to use it on surfaces that are vertical, edges, or corners.


Decisions, Decisions

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you want to start with only one $20 sanding block, so here are a few thoughts to help you choose.

  • – I feel that the Preppin’ Weapon is a more versatile all around sanding block for flat, curves, edges and softening corners. The rubber backer pad, ergonomic design and use of economical sanding sheets makes this a good choice if you like to hand sand all aspects of your project.
  • – If you primarily reserve hand sanding for only the “show surface” (top of a table, desk, chest, etc.) then you might consider the Sanding Devil as its massive surface area and solid base provide a great means of perfecting a large flat surface, and the clever paper changing mechanism will keep you moving along through the sanding process.
  • – If you are like me and just can’t decide, then pick up one of each. Put 180 grit on the Preppin’ Weapon to hand sand the entire project, and install a finer abrasive on the Sanding Devil to perfect the show surface of your project.

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]]> http://www.wwgoa.com/article/premium-sanding-blocks-make-short-work-of-surface-prep/feed/ 1 Build A Cajon Drum Like A Pro http://www.wwgoa.com/article/build-a-cajon-drum-like-a-pro/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/build-a-cajon-drum-like-a-pro/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 15:46:17 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=6716 Cajon drums produce a professional percussion sound and are easy to build in a typical hobbyist woodworking shop. Joe Cruz is a professional Cajon builder and provides the basic information needed to build one including a scaled drawing.The Cajon (pronounced ka-hone’) is a wooden percussion instrument that is simple to make, can be played as... Read more »

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front-drum-small Cajon drums produce a professional percussion sound and are easy to build in a typical hobbyist woodworking shop. Joe Cruz is a professional Cajon builder and provides the basic information needed to build one including a scaled drawing.The Cajon (pronounced ka-hone’) is a wooden percussion instrument that is simple to make, can be played as a fair substitute for a full trap set, and is used by professional musicians to deliver a full, rich sound in studio or live performance venues. This style drum has been around for hundreds of years, and can be built by most woodworkers with basic tools and skills. To help us get up to speed on the nuances of producing high quality sound in a Cajon, I consulted with Joe Cruz, a veteran Cajon designer and builder from Minnesota who has built Cajons for many professional and amateur musicians. Joe has been refining his Cajon design for about a decade, and he was willing to share his secrets for those of us who want to take a crack at building our own. Joe even provided his personal scale drawing to simplify the building process if you want to take this on. If you are still not convinced, click here to see a video of Joe playing a Cajon that he built.

joe-playing-small Joe is a well known professional musician in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, skilled on stringed as well as percussion instruments. He is also an accomplished woodworker, with a stellar portfolio of furniture as well as turned pieces. When he started building Cajons, he found it to be a great way to mingle his music and woodworking passions into a single project. Since building that first Cajon, he has continued to hone the design to achieve a richer sound, experimenting with materials and even incorporating a snare into the design (this is cool!).Don’t be fooled by the modest appearance of these drums. These relatively simple boxes deliver professional sounding percussions, suitable for a variety of performance and studio environments. Cruz said; “when I work in small venues where it is not practical to bring in a full set of drums, the Cajon allows me to produce nearly any sound I need while requiring very little space. In fact, since it also serves as my chair, it doesn’t really require any additional space. It is also not as loud as a traditional trap set, so it serves as a way to scale back the volume for quieter venues. Mostly, I love the unique, rich sound, and the portability and versatility of the Cajon”.

Tips for making a Cajon.

The Cajon can be built to a size that makes it ideal for the person using it. Because you sit on it while playing, the dimensions should provide a comfortable sitting platform for the intended drummer. Joe finds that the dimensions provided in his drawing produce a comfortable Cajon for most people, but obviously the dimensions can be adjusted as you see fit. The larger you build it, the lower the frequencies it will produce.



You essentially will be building a big six sided box with a hole in it. First use rabbet joints to attach the sides to the top and bottom. The back is then fastened into a rabbet that is milled in the back edge of the top, bottom and side panels, and the front is simply attached with screws placed into pre-drilled holes.


Square up the sides.

Joe cuts the playing surface (front) to the specific size in his plan (see plan here), and he uses a clamp to pull the sides into alignment with the front prior to attaching.


Attaching the front.

Joe attaches the front with wood screws. This panel is visible while you are playing so you might want to use stainless steel or brass screws.


Let the top corners “slap”.

Screws about every 3″, but at the top corners, leave about 4″-5″ with no screws. Leaving this gap creates a more powerful slapping sound when the drum face is struck.


Built in snare (optional).

Many of Joe’s drums go out as strictly a drum, but some customers request a built in snare. If you want to attach a snare, you will simply attach guitar strings on the back side of the front head, stretching them so they are tight against the back panel. If you want to get fancy and allow their tension to be adjusted, there are several ways to do this. Joe has used guitar tuners, Hammered Dulcimer tuners or simple spring mechanism.


Sound port.

4″- 5″ hole is milled in the back which will serve as a sound port. The hole is centered from left to right, and positioned 1/3 of the distance from the top to the floor. Some people prefer that this be milled into a side panel because that allows the back to be used as another playing surface, and because the back is made of a thinner material it produces a different sound.


Joe prefers Baltic birch plywood for all components. The top, bottom and panels should use 1/2″ thick material, while the back which can use 1/4″ thick material to keep it lighter, and the front head is 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood. Baltic birch is a great choice for musical instruments as it is high quality plywood with no gaps, and it produces a clean sound with no unwanted vibration.Finish. Finishing is an important step for Cajons, as it serves to protect the instrument from some of the normal wear, and it can also help preserve the sound. Joe uses a wipe on poly on his drums and says “finishing the drum helps preserve the sound quality, as seasonal changes can alter the pitch and sound of the drum.”

The other finishing step that Joe takes is to apply turquoise dye to the body of the drum. While this step is purely aesthetic, it is the signature look of a ‘Joe Cruz Cajon’, so if you want to take this project ‘all the way’ you can make yours turquoise too.

  • A Few Final Tips for Building a Cajon.

  • Joe provided some final suggestions for anyone who might be interested in building their own Cajon:

  • When selecting the wood for the box, be sure to use straight wood, not warped wood.
  • Joe likes to install rubber feet on the bottom of his Cajons because it saves the floor and drum from scratches.
  • Construct the box square, so the back and front fit well. Measure the diagonals carefully and be sure they are identical before the glue cures.
  • When attaching the front head, if the 1/8″ plywood has a slight bow, attach the crown to the front edge (crown facing in), so the upper corners stick out slightly. This will give the corners more slap.
  • After the front head is drilled and attached to the box, I trim it to the contour of the box using an edge trimming router bit.
  • To get the upper corners to slap more (this gives a more lively sound), I stick a wedge in the upper corners between the head and the box, for a few days, which creates a slight gap between the front head and the box.
  • Be aware of burning up hours playing your drum in your shop. It’s highly addictive, and now you have been given fair warning.
  • Special thanks to Joe Cruz for sharing his secrets to building a high quality Cajon. You can learn more about Joe through his web site www.joecruzmusic.com

Photos By Paul Mayer and Joe Cruz

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]]> http://www.wwgoa.com/article/build-a-cajon-drum-like-a-pro/feed/ 0 Too Many Finished Woodworking Projects? http://www.wwgoa.com/article/too-many-finished-woodworking-projects/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/too-many-finished-woodworking-projects/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 17:06:45 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7029 Drowning in finished woodworking projects and not sure what to do with them? Here are 5 easy ways to find them great homes!

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Did you over-produce woodworking projects for Christmas? People work with wood for a variety of reasons, but those who enjoy the process of creating are often left with an excess of product. It’s not a bad problem to have, but piles of finished items take up space and may even keep you from creating new things. If you are running out of space, but don’t want to stop creating, try these ideas for sharing your love of crafting with others — and for finding great homes for your finished woodworking projects.

Give the gift of handmade:

Folks spend millions every year at craft fairs and online buying handcrafted items. Help your family and friends skip the middleman by giving them your fine woodcrafts. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion, and most people are delighted to receive handcrafted pieces any time of year. Not sure who to give your woodworking projects to? Choose someone you like who also creates fine handcrafted items, they’ll recognize and appreciate the amount of work and care that went into your gift.

Sell your finished crafts:

One of the best ways to reduce your inventory of completed woodcrafts is to sell them to people who will appreciate them. By selling, you not only ensure your hard work finds a great home, you also earn some extra money for your hobby. Have an eye on some exotic hardwoods? You may be able to earn enough selling your finished woodworking projects once or twice a year to splurge on that tiger maple you’ve been eyeing. Look for craft fairs at local churches and community centers. Booth fees are typically minimal.


A single busy craft fair a year can help you pass on your finished items. Photo by: danbruell (own work) [CC BY-NC 2.0], via flickr

Donate finished items to a good cause: Every community has dozens of worthy causes that would love to receive your finished items. From donating your woodworking projects to an actual recipient, such as a toy drive for needy children, to donating to an organization, there are plenty of charities that would appreciate your help. Check with the organization first to see what their actual needs are and what they can accept. Recent changes to toy labeling laws mean some organizations can no longer accept toys for children under the age of 12. Consider the following situations, and keep an eye out for donation requests in your own neighborhood:

• Donate a finished piece to your local pet shelter for their annual silent auction

• Give to your local school; depending on what you make, items could be used in classrooms, common areas and to raise funds for trips and events

• Show your woodworking projects at the local library, then donate to a nursing home or elder care group

Barter with other crafters:

People who create handmade items generally love to buy handmade as well. Save some money and make a deal with another crafter and you’ll both come out ahead. Consider swapping your fine cutting boards with the cupcake decorator, your hand turned pens with the freelance writer or your display cases with the jewelry artisan and you’ll receive a variety of useful and beautiful items in return.

Recycle into something else:

Have a few completed woodworking projects that you began before your skills improved? Whether you’ve made changes to your style, learned some new skills or simply don’t care for a completed item, you can recycle it into something new. A coat of paint, newly turned legs or added decorative accents can make a piece that has been sitting in your workspace for ages seem new again. Consider giving your completed pieces a new look; you’ll get a fresh project challenge and you may find additional uses for the newly improved piece.


Keep your workshop clean and orderly by finding new homes for your finished projects. Photo by: Chaz (own work) [CC BY-NC 2.0], via flickr

There are many benefits to finding new homes for your finished wood crafts, from the satisfaction of seeing
a woodworking project go to a loving home to the joy of helping others. One of the nicest hidden benefits of
clearing out your finished pieces? You’ll have lots of room for new tools, new lumber and new projects!

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Measuring Wood Glue Assembly Time http://www.wwgoa.com/article/measuring-wood-glue-assembly-time/ http://www.wwgoa.com/article/measuring-wood-glue-assembly-time/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:55:51 +0000 http://www.wwgoa.com/?p=7018 Woodworking adhesives are not created equal, and because of this I use several different glues, based upon manufacturer’s guidance as well as my own assumptions and experience about how each glue performs in certain circumstances. There are a number of criteria that help me decide which glue bottle to reach for in a given situation,... Read more »

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glue-assembly-time-test-opening-pic-Copy-1024x714 Woodworking adhesives are not created equal, and because of this I use several different glues, based upon manufacturer’s guidance as well as my own assumptions and experience about how each glue performs in certain circumstances. There are a number of criteria that help me decide which glue bottle to reach for in a given situation, but one of the key determining factors is how much time I need or want for a particular glue-up. The length of time between applying glue and the point at which work pieces should no longer be manipulated is known as “assembly time”. In some cases where assembly is simple and my goal is to get to the next step as quickly as possible, fast cure time becomes the key consideration. On the other end of the spectrum, when I have a particularly complex glue-up, I want as much working time as I can have.

I have generally felt that my assumptions about each of the adhesives that I use were accurate enough to guide my choice in each joinery situation, but being the geek that I am, I desired further quantification on this topic, so I set up a simple test to put some real metrics against my assumptions.

My goal was not to challenge the manufacturers’ claims about their advertised assembly times, but rather to use a consistent approach across all products in an actual shop environment to measure the relative assembly times across these adhesives. The key here is “relative”; there are many variables that go into determining actual assembly time in any given environment (temperature, humidity, wood species, grain pattern, glue coverage, clamping pressure, size of gluing area, etc.), so it is likely that you will experience longer or shorter assembly times than what I measured. I consulted a glue chemist for some guidance on framing the tests in a way that would isolate the necessary variables and produce reliable results.

Test methodology

setting-a-test-piece-Copy-1024x682 I prepared 1” x 1” x ¾” thick squares of hard maple from freshly planed board to use as my test pieces, and I installed a hook into each one so that I could apply direct lifting force. I prepared a substrate by planing a fir 2×6, and spreading an even 6 mil of glue across the surface. Then I placed 5 test pieces into the glue, pressing each into the glue and ensuring good contact across the entire piece.

force-gauge-in-action-Copy When the glue began to show signs of curing, I used a force gauge (a special scale designed to measure push/pull force on a concentrated area) to measure the amount of lift force necessary to remove the test piece from the substrate. When the required force reached 20 pounds, I considered glue to be cured to the point where further manipulation could not be performed to the test piece without affecting adhesion quality. This is a subjective measure based on observational data gathered during analysis that I performed prior to doing the actual tests, and this subjectivity is partially why the relative outcomes of these tests are more important than the absolute values.

I ran the test three separate times with each glue, and calculated the average assembly time value across the three tests. For the record, the temperature in my shop was 64 degrees, and the humidity was 33 – 35% during the two days that I performed the tests.


Because of the nature of the various glues that I tested, I anticipated a sizeable range of assembly times, but I expected the range to be in the order of 2-3X. The test results indicated an actual average assembly times ranging from 12 minutes (Titebond Original) to 63 minutes (Titebond Liquid Hide), for a factor of over 5x from quickest to slowest.

assembly-time-chart1 In addition to the broad range, a couple other things surprised me. First, I was amazed by the slow cure rate of hide glue. I knew of its reputation for extended open time, but never expected to see over an hour of workable time. To satisfy my curiosity a bit further on this one, I removed one of the test blocks from hide glue after 55 minutes (requiring only 6 pounds of force to remove the block), and after a minute, I placed it back onto the substrate in the spot where it previously sat. I let the piece sit overnight, and then tested it with the force gauge. It held solidly through the maximum 25 pounds that my force gauge can measure. Then I hit it with a hammer until it broke free, and I observed that it tore the wood fibers rather than breaking cleanly at the glue line. This indicated that that the glue was still able to form a bond that was stronger than the wood itself, even after being substantially manipulated 55 minutes into the glue-up.

The next surprise was the extensive assembly time of Elmers White Glue, coming in at an average of 37 minutes, and consistently exceeding 30 minutes in each of the three rounds of testing. I had heard that white glue offered longer open time, but I never realized that the difference was as significant as I found it to be.

Key takeaways:

– Titebond III has been my default glue for years because it is waterproof and approved by the FDA for food contact. Since my father and I make dozens of cutting boards each year, these attributes make it a winner in my shop. The 15 minutes of assembly time that it scored in my test puts it into the “just right” zone for most of my projects; enough time to assemble most joints at leisure, but not so long that it becomes a bottleneck in my work-flow. So for me, the test results do not suggest a change in my primary glue.

– Titebond Original will continue to be my “go-to” glue when quick setup is desirable, and the fact that this glue stood out as the fastest setting glue in this lineup did not surprise me.

– Based on an impressive open time of 37 minutes, Elmers Glue-All White Glue will become my new adhesive for complex glue-ups that require extended assembly times. Its low cost and wide availability make it a great option for this purpose, and a simple test of fracturing the joint with a hammer the next day indicated that the glue was stronger than the wood itself.

– Hide glue was the hands-down winner of the extended assembly time test. I will keep this in mind if an extreme situation comes about, but in most cases I don’t want to wait an hour for glue to set up, and the relative high cost and short shelf-life (6 months compared to 24 months for typical wood glues) make it a “niche glue” in my shop. However, I will pick up a bottle any time I need to repair an antique or apply a crackle finish.

When choosing glue for your projects keep in mind that there are many attributes to consider; ease of clean up, cure strength, sandability, water resistance, and durability to heat exposure. This article was designed to provide you with insight on assembly time only.

Photos by author

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