One surface to protect them all

One surface to resist glue, One surface to deny it
One surface to protect the rest and save your machines besides
In the Land of the Shed, where the glue resides

The Wood River Silicone Bench Mat from Professional Woodworkers Supplies is the solution to a problem you forgot you had.  I know – seems strange, why solve a problem you didn’t remember?

The fact is, there are a number of activities in the shed that would cause problems if not dealt with, and we normally resort to a variety of make-shift solutions, that this simple 18″x24″ silicone bench mat solves.

First one – glue-ups.  You have a workbench that is used for a myriad of activities, including glueups, but the one thing you don’t want to do is drip glue all over it.  And more importantly, you don’t want to inadvertently glue your project to it!

In steps the silicone bench mat.  Problem solved.

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Glue will not stick to the surface.  Any glue that dries on the surface peels straight off.  Cleanup is simple, and the project will not become a permanent fixture either.  You can still use your good workbench (or your tablesaw!) for glueups, without risking the glue wrecking things, or sticking objects to one another that were not meant to be joined.

The silicone mat is also good as a non-slip surface, waterproof and oilproof, and with a couple of mm thickness, makes it a good surface to sand or plane on, or sharpen on as a couple of examples.

If you want to protect a larger area, a couple of overlapping mats works well, as the overlapping area doesn’t slip (easily).

Back to gluing for a second (and it doesn’t just have to be gluing).  Do you use a machine for some operations where glue, or a finish is easily dripped or flung off?  For example, using CA glue on the lathe (such as when pen turning), or applying oil to a moving surface.  The silicone mat can be used to protect the surface of the machine (or floor).

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Here the mat is protecting the bed of the lathe, as a CA glueup is completed.  It is also very useful when doing the polishing step, as the micro mesh acrylic sanders drip a lot of water onto the cast iron lathe bed – not a good idea.

I think Wood River could take the whole concept further, developing a small range of products from the material, including a shop apron particularly suited to very messy operations.

It is not only messy operations where the mat excels. As a soft, forgiving surface it is ideal for machine maintenance, such as changing blades.  Items put on the mat tend not to roll around or slip off, and the amount of give in the surface protects tools dropped on it.  Here, a blade change is operation is enhanced – the table top is protected from scratches, while the tungsten carbide teeth are protected from being chipped and damaged on the hard CI surface.

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I’m seriously starting to think that just one of these mats is not enough.  2, even 3 would not go astray in a workshop for all the different roles they can perform.

I don’t think the mats are listed on PWS’ website yet – contact Grahame for their availability – sure it won’t take long, especially if there is a bit of interest shown!

Pins and Tails

If you think about a joint, the intersection point of two materials, there are a number of ways they can be held together.

If the material is metal, you can weld, braze, solder, glue, bolt, screw, rivet, glue, tape, just to name a few methods!

If it is wood, obviously some of these still apply, but not all. Joints can use the strength of the glue to hold a joint together, or mechanical strength (where because of friction/fibre compression and mechanical interlock, the joint holds together), or both.

A basic mitre joint requires the strength of glue to hold it together. One with dowels, biscuits, spline or dominos start getting some mechanical benefit, along with the increased glue area. A mitre lock bit pushes up the amount of glue area. A box joint even more so.

One joint that really makes use of mechanical strength and glue area is the dovetail.

Now some people have a real passion about handcutting dovetails, and hey, more power to them.
One day I’d love to have the technique down pat to be able to do that myself, but in the meantime I’ll stick with dovetail jigs.

The are a number of jigs out there, but by far and away the easiest I have found to quickly and easily create a basic dovetail joint is the Gifkins dovetail jig. No need to reference back to a manual, relearn the steps, remember how to use it, it is that intuitive.

I’ve referenced it on a number of occasions, and hope to do a bit of a feature on it shortly.

Until then, here is the current version of the standard sized Gifkins, with the latest stops fitted.

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There is a jumbo version, able to produce dovetail joints up to 480mm, and 22mm thick, which would be pretty cool too.

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For more info, check out the Gifkins website.

Gluin’ in the Dark

I head out to the shed, and nothin’s gettin in my way
I’ve got a job on, and I’m gettin’ it done I must say
I’ve got to glue some panels and I want a finish that doesn’t yelp
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

You can’t glue a panel, you can’t glue a panel without a clamp
This finish will work, even if we’re just gluing in the dark

The problem is glue squeezing out and smearing round the place
When you then apply a finish it’s like a slap in the face
Man I ain’t getting nowhere just starin’ at marks like this
There’s a chemist stirring, there’s a solution I know there is

You can’t glue a panel, you can’t glue a panel without a clamp
This finish will be brilliant, even if we’re just gluing in the dark

After the glueup, switch off the lights and have a look
Under a blacklight, the smears can be read like a book!
Pick up a sander and they vanish out of sight
Any finish will then glide, and everything will be alright
I’m dying to try this – a glue that stops finishes being crap
When the project’s finished, you don’t want it feeling like a smack

You can’t glue a panel, you can’t glue a panel without a clamp
This glue fluoresces, which is why we’re gluing in the dark.

Thanks to Cool Tools for bringing this product to the air – hope it can make its way down under!

Sadly, even titebond.com.au doesn’t list it as a product for Australia (WHY NOT???!!?!?!)

Oh, and yes, I completely bastardised “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen 🙂

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