How to Use Bar Clamps to Steady Woodworking Projects

How to Use Bar Clamps to Steady Woodworking Projects

Bar clamps can act as a helping hand when you’re working solo on a wood project.

It’s not always possible to have a helper for every project. And for woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers, only having two hands to join two pieces of wood together can be frustrating.

If there’s nobody around to help you join two pieces of wood, there are a few alternative solutions to try. You could try holding both pieces with one hand and screwing them together with your free hand. However, this isn’t ideal.

Not only can you slip and injure your hand, but the awkward positioning can lead to a mistake, which in turn results in wasted materials, increased job time and even more frustration.

You also could use a shelf bracket, but not everyone has one of those to spare, especially if you aren’t building shelves.

This can be easily avoided with tools that you might already have lying around. To free up your hands and keep your project secure, use bar clamps!


Two bar clamps on top of a piece of wood
Bar clamps secure a board to a surface or another piece of wood. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

What Are Bar Clamps?

Bar clamps, also known as F-clamps, are common tools in the woodworking field. They’re mainly used to hold pieces of wood in place as wood glue dries. They also have practical uses in welding.

Bar clamps are composed of a long metal or plastic rod and two parallel bars attached to it, forming the shape of the letter “F”.

Using a bar clamp is simple. All you have to do is unfasten the screw or whatever device is used to move the parallel bars. Then, adjust the bars to the width you need to fit the piece of wood you’re working with, and fasten the clamp back down.


The long bar acts as a kickstand to hold up a piece of wood. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

How to Use Bar Clamps for a Helping Hand

This part is easy! Or, should I say, simple — like all my other Simple Solutions. All you need is two short bar clamps to use as outriggers to keep your piece of wood in place. Here’s how:

1. Fasten each clamp to the bottom of the piece of wood that you want to stand still, making sure that each bar is facing the opposite way.

2. Now, the piece of wood should be standing straight up on its own, balancing between the two clamps.

3. Line up the piece of wood you want to attach to your now free-standing board.

4. Use a drill and screw to attach the two pieces of wood together.


Further Reading

Eliminate Paint Drip With This Lid Hack

Eliminate Paint Drip With This Lid Hack

Over the years, I’ve shared more than 500 Simple Solutions — many of them have to do with painting specifically painting neatly

And over time, many Today’s Homeowner fans have shared their own solutions on how to make painting easier.

This tip from John from Clancy, Montana, will help you paint neatly from a can using a paintbrush. 

The challenge when dipping a paintbrush in a can is how to keep the paint from dripping around the rim. Not only do you waste paint, but you also make a mess on the outside of the paint can and the surface underneath it. 

To prevent any paint from dripping down the side of the can, create a built-in paint scraper in the center of the can. Here’s how to do it:

Snippers cutting a paint can lid in half
A sharp pair of snips will easily cut through a paint can lid. (3 Echoes Content Studio)
  • Cut the lid in half using a pair of snips. 
Paint can with lid cut in half to prevent paint drip from a brush.
The half lid acts as a scraper, so the paint stays inside the can instead of dripping down the side. (3 Echoes Content Studio)
  • Tap the half lid onto the paint can to secure it. 

When you dip your paintbrush in there, you can take that excess paint and just strike it off against the edge of the half lid.

Now, you can very neatly apply the paint without any drips, runs or errors.

If you don’t use the whole can, you can preserve the leftover with a separate paint bucket and save the half lid for future painting projects.  

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Further Reading

How to Easily Cut Baseboard Trim Using an Oscillating Tool

How to Easily Cut Baseboard Trim Using an Oscillating Tool

If you want to add a wider casing around a door, you’ll need to remove a portion of your baseboard trim to accommodate it.

Your first thought might be that you need to pry off the whole baseboard and cut it to size with a circular saw in your shop.

However, you don’t have to go through the extra effort of removing the whole thing. Use an oscillating multi-tool to get a precise cut while it’s still on the wall. 

An oscillating tool is a compact, portable power tool that accepts a wide range of interchangeable blades. It can sand, cut, scrape, grind and polish depending on the blade.

It’s called an oscillating tool because the blade oscillates back and forth. 

You can use it for cutting drywall openings and plumbing pipes, trimming baseboard molding and more.

While this tool cuts great and is very versatile, it’s a little hard to control. The vibrations make it easy for you to slip and knick a chunk of material that you don’t want to cut.

To make a perfectly straight cut, you’ll need a little assistance from a speed square.

A speed square lined up along baseboard trim
Line up a speed square to where you want to cut baseboard trim. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Mark where you want to cut your baseboard trim with a wood pencil. Then, place the speed square just outside of the line where you want to cut. 

Using a speed square to line up an oscillating tool for a cut on baseboard trim
Push the oscillating tool into the baseboard trim and against the speed square to cut. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Next, guide the blade right along the square. The speed square blocks the blade on the oscillating tool from moving past the cut line.

Crowbar prying out a piece of baseboard trim
Use a crowbar to remove the cut portion of baseboard trim. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

After you’ve made your cut, use a crowbar to pry out the cut portion of the baseboard trim.

Now, you have a nice clean cut on your baseboard trim that’s ready for the new door casing.


Further Reading

Creating a Stop Block For Longer Wood Cuts

Creating a Stop Block For Longer Wood Cuts

A stop block makes cutting multiple pieces of wood on a miter saw faster and easy. 

A stop block is a simple reusable jig used in woodworking to mark an edge so multiple pieces of wood can be cut quickly and uniformly.

It can get tiresome to stop and measure each piece before you cut it, so built-in stop blocks keep you working at a steady and fast pace.

The hold-down clamps that come with most power miter saws are useful for securing a stop block when making repetitive cuts. But they’re only useful for cutting short pieces because it limits the length of board you can cut.

For bigger projects like decks and railing, long cuts of wood typically won’t fit within a standard stop block. Cutting these pieces shouldn’t take up the majority of your time. This time is better spent on getting these pieces together and your project complete. 

However, you can make an extended stop block using a framing square. This technique works well for making repetitive cuts between about 16 inches and 23 inches long. 

Here’s how you do it:

A framing square clamped to a miter saw as a stop block.

First, use two spring clamps or short bar clamps to secure the framing square to the saw’s fence. Extend it out to the length you need the board to be.

Check to confirm the distance from the blade to the vertical tongue of the framing square equals the desired length of the pieces you’re cutting. 

A lumber board on a miter saw being pushed toward a framing square stop block.

Then, carefully slide the board up against the edge of the square’s tongue and make the cut.

Repeat to make repetitive cuts to produce pieces of all the same exact length. 

Watch the video above for the demonstration!


Further Reading

How to Make a Stop Block For Longer Wood Cuts

How to Make a Stop Block For Longer Wood Cuts

A stop block makes cutting multiple pieces of wood on a miter saw faster and easy. 

A stop block is a simple reusable jig used in woodworking to mark an edge so multiple pieces of wood can be cut quickly and uniformly.

It can get tiresome to stop and measure each piece before you cut it, so built-in stop blocks keep you working at a steady and fast pace.

The hold-down clamps that come with most power miter saws are useful for securing a stop block when making repetitive cuts. But they’re only useful for cutting short pieces because it limits the length of board you can cut.

For bigger projects like decks and railing, long cuts of wood typically won’t fit within a standard stop block. Cutting these pieces shouldn’t take up the majority of your time. This time is better spent on getting these pieces together and your project complete. 

However, you can make an extended stop block using a framing square. This technique works well for making repetitive cuts between about 16 inches and 23 inches long. 

Here’s how you do it:

A framing square clamped to a miter saw as a stop block.

First, use two spring clamps or short bar clamps to secure the framing square to the saw’s fence. Extend it out to the length you need the board to be.

Check to confirm the distance from the blade to the vertical tongue of the framing square equals the desired length of the pieces you’re cutting. 

A lumber board on a miter saw being pushed toward a framing square stop block.

Then, carefully slide the board up against the edge of the square’s tongue and make the cut.

Repeat to make repetitive cuts to produce pieces of all the same exact length. 

Watch the video above for the demonstration!


Further Reading