Magnetic bit rack.
While you're ordering, buy a few extra magnetic tool holders and use 'em elsewhere in your shop to hold chisels, squares, router bits, metal rulers, wrenches and all those easy-to-misplace woodworking accessories. Thanks to faithful reader Ray Bricault for this tip.
Burn an inch
The angled clip on the end of a tape measure is designed to move slightly, depending on whether you're making an "inside" or "outside" measurement. Over time, the holes where the clip is riveted will widen, and an oft-used tape can render measurements longer than the actual dimension.
For a precise measurement, don't use the clip at all. Instead, slide the tape to the 1-in. line to eliminate the possibly incorrect first inch--then subtract an inch from the dimension you're marking or reading. Our photo shows marking a 7-in. length--by holding on the 1-in. mark and marking against the 8-in. hash mark to register the 7-in. length. P.S. For pinpoint accuracy, make a "V" instead of a little dot when you mark your measurement. Use the tip of the "V" to center the square when you trace the cutting line.
Easy-pour lid for poly or paint
So you need a third coat of poly to finish off the latest project? Here's an easier, neater way to pour out exactly the amount you need, courtesy of ingenious reader Jay Patterson. Pry the lid off a 1-gallon can of poly, wipe it clean and clamp it face down to a piece of scrap plywood. With a sharp 2-3/4 in. hole saw, gently cut a hole near the edge of the can. Next, using a flathead screwdriver, pry the spout off an empty plastic laundry detergent bottle. Insert the spout in the hole in the paint can lid and seal it in place on both sides with silicone or hot-melt glue.
Tap the easy-pour spouted lid back on the can of poly and pour just the amount you need into another container. When you finish pouring, replace the plastic lid for an airtight seal. Any excess poly in the rim of the spout will drain back into the can. Save your customized lid and use it every time you get a new can of poly.
Tend to misplace your earplugs-on-a-string? Take a tip from reader Paul Penegar. Cut the string in the middle, then thread each end through vent holes in a baseball cap.
Make sure they hang a couple of inches lower than your ears, then knot them on the inside of the cap or tie them to a small button so they can't slide out the vent when you plug them in.
P.S. Next time your kids hit you up for tickets to a rock concert, say yes--but only if they'll agree to wear an earplug hat.
Teach your safety glasses to read
Don't futz around trying to fit protective eyewear over your regular reading glasses. Outfit your safety glasses with flexible magnifier lenses ($20 at drugstores). They're quick and easy to install--just put a drop of water on each lens, press down to seal it on the inside of the safety glass lens (we found that using tweezers works well for placement), and wipe dry. The magnifier lenses are easy to reposition, and you can even cut them smaller with a scissors.
Many thanks to visionary woodworker David Radtke for this peerless tip.
If you've ever accidentally thrown away project dimensions or a shopping list, try writing your info on a whiteboard instead. Screw a piece of 3/4-in. Melamine (or a store-bought whiteboard) to a shop wall, and write on it with dry-erase markers. Drill a couple of angled holes in the Melamine to hold the markers--being sure they're low enough for your kids to reach! The board's also great for sketching, making shopping lists and doing shop math. And it's a snap to clean with a soft, dry cloth or storebought whiteboard eraser.
If you have a shop tip you'd tike to share, send it to Workshop Tips, The Family Handyman, 2915 Commers Drive, Suite 700, Eagan, MN 55121. We pay $100 for tips we print. Original contributions become our property upon acceptance and payment. We're sorry, but tips can't be returned.