Woodworking Problem Solving Tips and Tricks

Ideas for Solving Problems with Woodworking Projects

Woodworking sander
Hero Images / Getty Images

In spite of what some people may believe, wood is not a static, perfect building material. Sure, some types of wood are more stable than others, but every type of wood has characteristics that can cause woodworking problems if the woodworker doesn't prepare for them. There are literally countless numbers of woodworking tips and tricks that could be listed, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • 01 of 10
    A mitered corner
    A mitered corner. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Even the most meticulously-cut halves of a mitered corner don't always line up perfectly. Because wood is a material that is constantly adjusting to fluctuations in the humidity in the air or imperfections in the angle of the grain of the wood, the mitered corners of the two boards may not align exactly. Learn a woodworking technique for aligning and closing such an uneven, open mitered corner.

  • 02 of 10
    Panel of Boards Glued Together
    Panel of Boards Glued Together. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Applying too much glue to a joint can result in glue run-out. This can be a problem on projects that will receive a stained finish, because the pores of the exposed areas of wood onto which the glue runs out can become clogged, preventing the stain from seeping into the plugged pores. This can leave an uneven, splotchy look. along the joint. Fortunately, here is a simple technique you can use to prevent glue run-out on wood joinery (such as mortise and tenon joints).

  • 03 of 10
    Dovetailed Drawer
    Dovetailed Drawer. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    If you've ever experienced sticky drawers on furniture in the winter, you're aware that seasonal moisture changes can cause the wood in even an old piece of furniture to swell or shrink. If you have furniture that has wooden drawer slides, try this handy trick to keep the drawers sliding in and out, even during the driest winters or wettest of summers.

  • 04 of 10
    Driving a Screw
    Driving a Screw. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    If you have a piece of wooden furniture with a stripped screw hole, where the mounting screws simply won't hold in the wood anymore, you know that this can be a trying problem.  However, there are a number of ways to fix a stripped screw hole. Learn some of these techniques and solve this difficult problem easily and inexpensively.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Finishing a Woodworking Project
    Finishing a Woodworking Project. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Because wood has similar characteristics to a sponge, wood can easily absorb odors from other objects, such as pungent items stored in a drawer. In extreme cases, the wood can become so saturated with the odor that one might be tempted to throw out the piece of furniture because of the smell. Instead, try some of these ideas for removing the offending odors from the wood.

  • 06 of 10
    Saw Blade Burns on Oak
    Saw Blade Burn on Oak. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    When working with fine hardwoods, a table saw blade burn on the cut edge of the wood can be an unsightly problem. Of course, you might be tempted to try and scrape or sand off the burn, but it is better to try and prevent the burns from the outset. With a few tweaks to your table saw, you can eliminate most saw blade burns, but if you do get a burn on your wood, here are some ideas for removing the burns quickly and effectively.

  • 07 of 10
    Squaring Stock on a Table Saw
    Squaring Stock on a Table Saw. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Unless a piece of wood in a project calls for a specific bevel, miter or curve, most woodworking cuts have square edges (meaning a right-angle cut on the edge). However, if your wood isn't square, what is the best tool (and method) for squaring the stock? Here are a number of methods for squaring stock, plus some thoughts on which method(s) are best for specific applications.

  • 08 of 10
    Routing Oak on a Router Table
    Routing Oak on a Router Table. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Run a router bit along an edge of some woods (such as oak), and you may find the wood tends to splinter, or come off in chunks instead of the nicely-formed contour of the router bit. There are a number of reasons why wood might splinter when routing.  How can you prevent such an unsightly problem?  Try some of these tips.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Utility Shelves
    Utility Shelves. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    If you've ever built a bookshelf for some heavy items, and looked at the shelf months or years later and found a sag in the middle, you know the frustration of building a shelf that will accommodate a lot of weight. For instance, a single layer of 3/4-inch plywood with edge banding may look great and feel stout, but will it stay flat after many months of holding hundreds of pounds of books?  Not likely. However, with some adjustments, you can build attractive, super-strong shelves that are...MORE as attractive as they are stout. Learn how in this woodworking article.

  • 10 of 10
    Drilling with a Spade Bit
    Drilling with a Spade Bit. (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    One of the major problems in using a spade bit or a hole saw for a fine woodworking project is that the bit tends to grab and "blow out" the wood around the hole on the back side of the cut. This can be an unsightly problem to fix, but by adjusting your drilling or cutting technique, you can eliminate the problem altogether when drilling large-diameter holes. Learn how in this woodworking tip.