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10 Circular Saw Secrets You Should Know Before You Cut

Most novice do-it-yourselfers feel perfectly comfortable using an electric drill or jigsaw, but nearly all of them are hesitant to pick up a portable circular saw. And that's not surprising when you consider that drills and jigsaws are relatively safe, quiet and easy to control. A portable circular saw, on the other hand, is a powerful, noisy, sawdust-spewing brute that can inflict serious injury if it's used improperly. Here are 10 tips for doing it right.

1. Inspect the Saw

Before each use, run a quick safety check on the saw. Be sure the lower blade guard retracts smoothly and snaps back when released. Check the blade for chipped or broken teeth; replace the blade if you find any damage. On corded saws, inspect the power cord for cracks. If using a cordless saw, make sure the battery is fully charged. Remember to unplug the cord or remove the battery before loosening, tightening, or changing the blade.


2. Check the Blade

The speed and quality of the cut depends on the condition of the saw blade. Never cut with a dull, rusty, or damaged blade. I recommend using a thin-kerf carbide-tipped combination blade, which can be used for crosscuts and rip cuts in solid wood and plywood. With the saw unplugged or the battery removed, adjust the saw's depth of cut so the blade extends no more than 1/4 in. past the board's edge.

Circular saws aren't just woodcutting tools. When fitted with the proper blade, the saw can also saw through various types of metal, and through masonry such as brick, stone and concrete.

3. Find the Proper Saw Position

There's no hard-and-fast rule regarding which direction to make the cut, but whenever possible position the saw with its motor facing toward the larger section of board that isn't falling away when cut. That way, the saw's base plate, or shoe, will be fully supported throughout the cut and you won't have to hold up the weight of the saw as the severed piece drops away.

4. Make Easy, Accurate Crosscuts

Making perfectly square crosscuts with a circular saw is easy, if you guide the saw with a layout square (a framing square or Speed Square will work). Hold the saw in place with its blade right on the cut line. Then slide the square against the saw's base plate, and press it tightly against the edge of the board. Check to be sure the blade isn't contacting the board, then squeeze the trigger and allow the saw to reach full speed. Now simply guide the saw along the square to produce a clean, square cut.

5. Prevent Binding

When cutting sheets of plywood or paneling, it's important to provide the proper support to eliminate dangerous kickback, which can occur if the blade gets pinched in the cut. Place four long 2 x 4s underneath the sheet you're cutting, spacing one 2 x 4 close to each side of the cut line. Then, when you make the cut, both halves of the plywood will be fully supported by two 2 x 4s throughout the cut. When cutting lumber on sawhorses, plan the cut outside the sawhorse pair (not between them). Allow the shorter piece to fall away, while the longer piece stays supported on the horses. Cutting between the horses causes lumber to pinch the blade as it falls through.


6. Make Precise Rips

A rip cut is simply a cut that runs parallel with the grain of the wood, as opposed to a crosscut, which goes across the wood grain. Most circular saws come with a metal rip guide that attaches to the saw's base plate. This type of guide works, but it's limited to rips of only about 6 in. wide. A better option is to clamp an 8-ft-long board in place for use as a straightedge guide. You could make the guide from a perfectly straight 1 x 8 or 1 x 10, but I prefer a 10- to 12-in.-wide wide rip of 1/2-in. birch plywood. The factory edge of the plywood is always smooth and perfectly straight, making it an ideal saw guide. Mark the cut line on the piece you're ripping, then measure the distance from the saw blade to the edge of the saw's base plate, which, let's say, is 3-1/2 in. Now measure over from the cut line 3-1/2 in. and clamp or screw the straightedge guide in place. As you make the cut, keep the saw's base plate pressed against the straightedge guide. 

7. Avoid Wood Splintering

A spinning circular saw blade enters the bottom of the board and exits through the top, and as a result, splintering often occurs on the top surface. Now that's not a concern when cutting wall studs or floor joists, but it is when sawing expensive hardwoods or hardwood-veneer plywood. Here's the solution: Place the board or panel with its best surface facing down. That way, any splintering will occur on the top or back side. When trimming doors down to size, you want to eliminate splintering from both sides. Here's how: Again place the best side face down, meaning the side of the door that will be most visible once it's hung. Then score along the edge of the cut line with a sharp utility knife. Now when you make the cut, the wood fibers will break off cleanly at the scored line, leaving a smooth, splinter-free cut. 

8. Stack, Clamp and Cut

When you need to cut more than one piece of plywood to the same size, try a technique know as gang cutting. Stack four or five sheets on top of each other, making sure the edges are perfectly aligned. Clamp the pieces, then adjust the saw blade to its maximum depth of cut, and saw through all the sheets at the same time.

9. Safe Bevel Cutting

All circular saws can be adjusted to make angled bevel cuts up to at least 45 degrees. However, when the base plate is tilted all the way over, the lower blade guard has a tendency to catch on the edge of the board. If this happens, don't force the saw. Instead, release the trigger, raise the blade guard by hand, and then make the cut. Once the blade has cut an inch or so into the wood, you can release the guard.

10. Gravity-Fed Sawing

At some point, you may need to make a long, straight, vertical cut into a wall, and the circular saw is right the tool to use. Just remember to start the saw at the top of the wall and cut down. That way, gravity will be working in your favor; simply allow the weight of the saw to advance the blade through the cut.

How to create dramatic inlays with epoxy



Chris Pouncy who originally comes from Somerset in the South West of England started
woodturning as a hobby, 28 years ago. 10 years later, eighteen years ago, he
joined Robert Sorby as the regional sales manager and has grown in leaps and bounds since. Chris is now
the UK and Southern Hemisphere Sales Manager for Robert Sorby
Ltd, and spends a fair amount of time traveling within the UK where
inter alia, he demonstrates the range of Sorby tools in-store at
clubs and national shows. He has also demonstrated across
Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and North America on numerous occasions.

2018 sees Chris returning to South Africa for his fourth visit where
once again, South African woodturners around the country will benefit from seeing Chris
demonstrating his skills and creativity. 

He will be demonstrating Decorating using Spiralling and Texturing, Basket Illusion, the Proedge and pyrography at his upcoming South Africa tour.



TUES 11 - PTA - 6pm - POWERDEK



FRI 14 - DURBAN - 6pm - WAD CLUB









To prepare for this project, cover your workspace completely to avoid getting the epoxy on everything.  I used sheets of wax paper.  Also make sure to work in a well-ventilated area, and use proper safety precautions like gloves and eye protection.

Mix 4-6 ounces of Resin by adding equal amounts of the resin and the hardener.  I made 6 ounces so I mixed 3 oz of resin with 3oz of hardener.  Follow the instructions included in the product exactly.  Mix the two parts together for 2 minutes, and then pour into a new cup and mix again for 1 more minute to ensure the two parts are combined well.



After the epoxy has been mixed according to the package instructions, divide it into several smaller cups for dying.  I divided my resin into 7 parts using 6 smaller cups and the mixing cup.

Add 1 drop of pigment to each cup of resin.  You can mix colors, so I added a small drop of white and a small drop of color to some cups, or just 1 color in others.



Be sure not to add too much pigment, it may affect how your resin will cure.    You can also add some fun elements to your colors if you wish.  I added blue glitter to the pearl pigment.  Stir the pigment into the resin until it is incorporated completely.



Next, place your wood coasters on old or disposable cups to lift them off the work surface (I used old plastic cups I wouldn’t mind throwing away) and pour each resin color over the coasters.



The colors will run together and drip off the edge of your coasters.  Keep adding until you’ve used all of your colors.



Pick up each coaster and tip it back and forth slightly to help the colors run together and blend to achieve that marbled look.  You can help them run together more by dragging a stir stick through the colors from one side to the other.



Use a small kitchen torch, lighter or blow on them lightly with your warm breath to remove any bubbles that rise to the surface.   After about 20 minutes,  scrape off any drips that have formed on the bottom side of the coasters with a stir stick.



Allow the coasters to cure for at least 24 hours before use.

The amount of detail on the finished marbled coasters is so beautiful!  Some of the dyes are more transparent than others so you can still see the wood grains under parts of the marbling, and it truly looks 3D.



It’s a gorgeous marbled effect you just can’t duplicate with paint.  The high gloss finish is beautiful as well, and there is no need to seal it.


marbled resin wood coasters


12 Ways To Add Texture With Tools You Already Have

12 Ways To Add Texture With Tools You Already Have 

A big part of adding texture to your work with tools you already have, is looking beyond their typical use. Sure, your nail set was made to set nails, but it can also be used to create small dimples in wood. A chisel was made to pare small surfaces and remove small chips of wood, but it can also be used to create slightly faceted, uneven surfaces. I’m not encouraging you to abuse tools, or use them in a dangerous or careless way. Just keep your eyes open to what a tool can do for you in terms of adding texture to a surface.

This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s just a starting point to introduce woodworkers to what can be done if you cross the tools you likely already have in your workshop with a little outside-the-box thinking. I didn’t even mention how spokeshaves, handplanes, carving knives, blow torches and other tools can also be used to add gorgeous texture to wood.
Nail Set 


Best Use: Works well in most woods. Can be time consuming if texturing large areas. Great for creating small to medium sized areas of focus.
What to do: If your nail set is old or has been abused, you will have to smooth its sides and end in order to create a cleaner, rounder hole. A belt sander is great for this simple task. Use either a light tap with a mallet or hammer for a shallow dimple, or a heavier hit for a deeper, more pronounced effect. If you’re finding you are getting lots of chipping and splintering space the dimples slightly further apart. Different diameters of set will give varied looks.
Effect: Great for creating an even, light texture to fill in smaller areas. Can be spaced evenly or randomly.
Carving Gouge


Best Use: As long as the gouge is sharpened correctly, it will work nicely in most woods. Heavily figured or very hard woods may pose a challenge, especially if the gouge isn’t extremely sharp. Very soft woods will also crush with a less-than-razor-sharp gouge. Works quick enough to cover large surfaces in a reasonable time, especially with larger gouges.
What to do: Though passes generally work best crossgrain, working parallel to the grain is possible with care. If an extra-deep groove is needed, multiple passes may be required. With firm footing, use both hands to control the gouge. Practice will give a good feel for how to produce the size and depth of groove you’re looking for.
Effect: Shallow grooves can feel quite delicate, while deep grooves are a very dramatic addition to a project.



Best Use: Works well in most woods. Can be time-consuming if texturing large areas. Great for creating small sized areas of focus where only light texturing is needed.
What to do: With awl in one hand and mallet or hammer in the other, slowly add tiny dimples to the wood. Very similar to using a nail set to add texture.
Effect: Great for creating an even, very light texture to fill in smaller areas.
Cold Chisel 


Best Use: Works great in most woods to create a textured border, or can be used to texture larger surfaces.
What to do: Used similarly to the nail set and awl, except the grooves work best when oriented parallel with the grain of the wood. Cross-grain grooves have a tendency to split the grain and cause splintering. Sharpening the tool may improve crossgrain work. Strike lightly for almost imperceptible results, or heavily for deeper, more pronounced grooves.
Effect: Narrow but long triangular grooves are left in the woods surface.
Screw or Lag Bolt


Best Use: Works best on softer woods, but can be used on medium density species as well. Works great near an edge of a workpiece to produce a border as the head of the screw or bolt will not permit it to be being used anywhere but the edge. Removing the head is also an option.
What to do: Hold the screw or lag bolt in one hand and a hammer in the other. Be sure to keep your fingers out of the way of the hammer, as you will likely be holding the screw or bolt fairly close to where the blows occur. With one finger referencing off the edge of the workpiece, slowly move the screw or bolt along, using quick hammer blows to press the threads into the wood. You will likely notice small flats on the threads, where the hammer is hitting the threads. Keep those flats up or the textured marks will vary slightly.
Effect: Small marks add slight texture to a surface. You can change the effect by holding the screw or bolt at an angle to the edge, as well as striking the screw or bolt near the center or one end.


Best Use: Works with all woods, and in many different situations. Can add very dramatic texture over a small or large surface.
What to do: Chuck a bit into your router and make multiple passes over the workpiece. There are many ways to proceed, but carefully controlling the path of the router somehow is usually the best approach.
Effect: If a circle-cutting jig is used circular grooves can be added in a geometric pattern. A template guide and bandsawn template can be used to cause the router to follow certain paths, creating various effects. Adjusting the type of bit, depth of cut or number/density of passes can create heavy or light texture. There are lots of texturing possibilities with a router.


Best Use: Because a chisel is flat, it’s easiest to use on outside surfaces. It’s possible to work flat or inside surfaces if you’re determined. Any density of wood is appropriate.
What to do: Create faceted surfaces with a sharp chisel, working ‘downhill’ to reduce tear-out. Sometimes it’s easiest to create the general shape you want with other tools/methods, and then add texture to the surface with a chisel.
Effect: Texture from a chisel is less obvious, and can play a more subtle role in a piece of furniture.
Rotary Tool 


Best Use: To create a subtle, even texture on flat or round surfaces. Texturing large areas will be time consuming. Though results depend on bit selection, this technique works well on most species.
What to do: Systematically move the bit over the workpiece, creating small cuts directly beside one another.
Effect: Bit selection will determine the type of texture left, but a tight, simple texture will likely be the result.
Round Nail Head 


Best Use: Best for small areas of light texture on softer woods.
What to do: Used similar to the nail set and awl. First chuck the nail in a drill, pull the trigger and smooth the nail head with some 120 then 220 grit sandpaper to remove any inconsistencies. Light hammer taps are all that’s needed to create the textured dimple in softer wood.
Effect: Smooth, concave dimples in the wood that can be spaced evenly or randomly.
Pyrography Pen


Best Use: Deeper texture can be added on softer woods. Great for texturing smaller areas.
What to do: Adjust the temperature to produce the type of effect you’re looking for, then touch the pen tip to the wood’s surface to add texture. A random or even pattern can be created.
Effect: The effect depends partially on the tip used, but generally speaking a small round or linear mark is burnt into the wood, creating a small recess in the wood. The texture effect is fairly light, and comes with a visual effect of the darker burnt area.
Round File 


Best Use: On corners of most woods. Non-porous woods generally splinter less, but if care is taken porous woods can be worked. Not great for high-use edges, as the wood remaining on the edge can be susceptible to damage.
What to do: With the file in both hands, guide it into the corner of the wood at a 45º angle. Don’t push too hard or you will likely chip the area. I find it’s best to ease the edge before adding texture to it, as it will be less likely to splinter. Try to space the notches as evenly as possible.
Effect: A row of notches is created on the edge of a workpiece.
Angle Grinder 


Best Use: Works well in most woods. Much less subtle than many other forms of texture. Best for medium to large areas, but can be used on small areas in experiences hands.
What to do: Practice on some scrap as an angle grinder works very fast. Move the tool across the workpiece in a sweeping motion. Experiment with different speeds, angles, etc. to produce a variety of effects. Make sure you’re familiar with power carving before starting.
Effect: A heavily textured, wavy surface is left. Slightly different surfaces can be produced using different cutting attachments, or manipulating the grinder certain ways.

DIY wooden texture stamps for kids

What you’ll need to make the wooden texture stamps:

  1. Using a saw, cut a thick branch into sections 12 cm apart.
  2. Use the sand paper to smooth the top, bottom and edges of the branch sections.
  3. Grab one of your tools and a hammer. Let’s use the nut for this example. Place the nut on the top, flat side of the wood and then give it one strong hit with a hammer or mallet. The deeper the indent in the wood, the better the stamping effect later on. Space the nut indents out to make a pattern on the wooden top.4
  4. Do this for all the stamps, except for the screw.  Place the screw on its side and hammer the side of the screw into the wood.
  5. You can turn your branch stump over and create another texture on the other side or you can use them like I have, as singular stamps.
  6. Give the top another slight sand paper when you’re finished.
  7. Time to paint and play!


How to carve rocks using a dremel

First you’re going to need to gather your rocks and a Dremel with a diamond carving tip and several different sizes of a grinding tip.  All of these tips were included with my Dremel so check your drill bits before you purchase any. You’ll also need a cup of water and a towel. 

Start with the diamond carving tip set on a slower speed. The slower speeds will give you a lot more control.  Outline the shape of your design using light strokes. If you press down hard you will wear out your bit and it the carving will be more uneven. 

I found that the smoothest carvings were from using the dremel tool at a 45 degree angle rather than using the tip straight up and down. 

You want to make a rough outline of your shape and any shading you want done with this tip. It cuts deeper and better than just using a grinding tip.

Once you have your rough outline done, switch your drill bit to a grinding tip.  You want to use the grinding tip to even out all the carvings. Simply go over the carving with the grinding tip a few times until you’re happy with how it looks. 

A lot of tutorials online suggest pouring water over the rock while you’re using the Dremel to keep the bit cool and help it last longer. 

I tried this and honestly it made the carving really hard to see. I found that taking a break every minute or so to dunk the rock in water and then dry it with a towel worked the best. It gives your eyes a break from doing small work and helped give the tip and the rock a time to briefly cool down. 

How to write on the rocks – All of the lettering was done using the diamond drill bit. Honestly it’s easy to make mistakes. I recommend going very slow when writing and only make one pass. If you want to go over it again you can but I found that most of the mistakes were done when I tried to go over the writing several times. You can also use the diamond bit to drill a hole straight through any of the flat rocks.  Just be warned! It’s a messy job.

To drill a hole in a rock you do have to keep it very wet and use constant pressure on the Dremel.  It will be messy and dust from the rock will go everywhere.  


Reclaimed Wood Cow Art

I've been searching for the perfect piece art to display above our living room fireplace since we moved in a year ago. After spending the past year staring at the blank wall, I finally decided to try and create my own art. 

I decided to use some the wood from our wood pile in the back yard. The wood came with the property when we bought it (I believe it used to be an old shed that was torn down) so it didn't cost a dime! I found a few nice pieces and cut them into 4 foot lengths. 

Since this wood was going to be inside our home I wanted to make sure it was really clean. I sprayed it using the jet setting on our hose then used soapy water and a scrub brush to remove any remaining dirt. After rinsing off the soapy water, I gave them a second scrubbing with bleach water then left them in a sunny spot to dry. 

After sanding the boards, I attached two boards across the back to hold everything together.

I found this adorable image on Free Stock Photos and did a little photoshoping to remove the tag that was in his ear in the original photo. Then I used the program that came with my printer to enlarge the image and printed it onto regular paper to make sure it was the correct size. This ended up being a pain in the butt and used up a lot of ink!! Since the image printed out on multiple pages I had to tape them together to get a visual of the size. The first image was way to small. The second image was still a little too small. I finally got it right on the third image. 

Once I was happy with the size I reprinted the image onto wax paper. To do this, I cut a piece of wax paper and taped it to a piece of regular paper. I then placed it in my printer so that the image would be printed onto the side with the wax paper. 

The ink does not stick to the wax paper like it does with normal paper so I had to be very careful not to touch the image or it will smear. I placed the image upside down on the wood and used a thick piece of plastic (a credit card would work too) to rub the back of the image and transfer it to the wood. 
Sorry I don't have more pictures but once the image was printed, the ink started drying and was harder to transfer so I didn't have a lot of time to stop and take photos. Basically I started by printing the ear of the cow and transferred it to the wood. Then I printed the next page, lined it up with the image that was already transferred, pressed it down transferring that image to the wood, and so on, and so on, until I had the entire cow image transferred to the wood.

And here is the final project! Don't you just love that sweet little face! I'm a sucker for calves and seeing this guy every time I walk into the room just makes me smile.

This thing is supper heavy and we have not decided how we want to hang it yet. We'll probably end up using some sort of french cleat. But for now, I'm fine with it just sitting on top of the mantel.  

The Way Wood Works

Wood is a cantankerous substance; there’s no two ways about it. Its virtues, of course, are legendary. It’s attractive, abundant and easy to work. Pound for pound, it’s stronger than steel. If properly finished and cared for it will last indefinitely. But none of that makes up for the fact that it’s a complex and often perplexing building material.Unlike metals and plastics, whose properties are fairly consistent, wood is wholly inconsistent. It expands and contracts in all directions, but not at the same rate.It’s stronger in one direction than it is in another. Its appearance changes not only from species to species, but from log to log — sometimes board to board.That being so, how can you possibly use this stuff to make a fine piece of furniture? Or a fine birdhouse, for that matter? To work wood — and have it work for you — you must understand three of its unique properties:

• Wood has grain.
• Wood moves more across the grain than along it.
• Wood has more strength along the grain than across it.

Sounds trite, I know. These are “everyone-knows-that” garden-variety facts. But there is more grist here for your woodworking mill than might first appear.

Wood Has Grain

As a tree grows, most of the wood cells align themselves with the axis of the trunk, limb or root. These cells are composed of long thin bundles of fibers, about 100 times longer than they are wide. This is what gives wood its grain direction.Additionally, a tree grows in concentric layers, producing annual rings. You must pay close attention to these two characteristics — grain direction and annual rings — the way a sailor watches the wind. Ignore them, and they’ll bite you bigtime.Sawyers commonly use two methods to cut trees into boards, each revealing a different type of grain.

• Plain-sawn boards are cut tangent to the annual rings. The sawyer “cuts around”the log, turning it for each series of cuts so the faces of the boards will show mostly flat grain (also called tangential or plain grain).

• Quartersawn boards are cut through the radius of the growth rings. The sawyer cuts the logs into quarters or bolts, and then saw each bolt so the boards show quarter grain (or radial grain) on their faces.

Lumber doesn’t always show a single type of grain on its face. Plain-sawn boards in particular may show mixed grain — flat grain in one area and quarter grain in another. The grain between the two, where the surface is cut at a 30- to 60-degree angle to the annual rings, displays rift grain.Each type of grain has a distinct pattern, depending on the wood species.You can use these grain patterns to enhance the design of your furniture or your bird-houses. More importantly, if you know how to “read” the patterns, you can predict which way the wood will move and how much.

How to Create a Limed Wood Effect with Liberon Liming Wax

Step One
First you need to open the soft grain of the wood by brushing the piece of furniture with a Liberon Liming Bronze brush working with the grain.

Depending on the type of wood to be limed the obtained contrast between the opened soft grain and the hard grain will be quite different. It will be very visible on hard woods such as oak and mahogany, and less so on soft woods like pine. Always remove the surface dust with a Liberon Tack Cloth.

Step Two 
Colour the wood if you wish using Liberon Palette Wood Dyes. This stage is optional; you can also obtain a liming effect on the natural wood colour. A dark wood will render the limed effect more striking than a light wood.

Step Three
Apply Liberon Liming Wax with a pad of Liberon Ultra Fine Steel Wool (Grade 0000). You can also choose one of the coloured waxes such as the Liberon Special Effects Waxes as well. Apply the wax liberally in a circular motion until it fills the grain covering the whole piece of furniture. Allow to dry for five to 10 minutes. The result should be a contrast in colour between the wood and the wax.

Step Four
For a water resistant finish remove the excess Liming Wax using Liberon Finishing Oil applied with a cotton cloth and wipe off immediately. Leave to dry for at least five hours between coats. Several coats may be needed.

Where a water resistant finish is not required apply Liberon Black Bison Wax Polish (Neutral) with a clean cotton cloth to remove the surplus Liming Wax from the surface while still leaving it in the grain. Leave to dry for five minutes before buffing to a soft sheen with a clean cotton cloth or Liberon Furniture Brush.