New blade = no scratches
A razor blade removes paint overspray and gunk. Keep the glass wet and use a new blade each time. Microscopic rust particles on the blade can scratch the glass.
Handy Razor Blade Storage
It's convenient to keep extra utility and straight box cutter blades near your workbench, in the kitchen and in the garage. But the question is how to store them when they're not in use. A good solution is to glue a magnetic business card (a refrigerator magnet) to the inside of a cupboard door and to your workbench with the magnetic side out. The magnet is strong enough to hold the blades in place even if you slam the cupboard door.
Scrape Paint Without Damaging the Finish
The masking tape holds the blade slightly off the surface so you can knock off paint spatters without the blade even touching the wood. Hold the blade perpendicular to the surface. The tape also keeps you from accidentally gouging the wood with the sharp corner of the blade. The curved blade allows you to adjust the depth of the scraper. If you tilt the blade a little, the curved center section will come closer to the surface to allow for removing really thin layers of paint for your refinishing furniture project.
Replace Missing Wood: Apply Epoxy
If you discover missing veneer, chipped wood or a damaged molding, you can fix it easily with epoxy putty. Kevin showed us the process he uses (watch a video of him patching a piece of chipped veneer with Quickwood), and the resulting repair is so realistic that it's hard to spot. When it's hardened, the epoxy is light colored and about the density of wood. You can shape, sand and stain it like wood too, so it blends right in. Quickwood and KwikWood are two brands of this Tootsie Roll?shaped epoxy. You'll find it at home centers and specialty woodworking stores for about $9 a tube.
To use this type of epoxy, you slice off a piece with a razor blade or utility knife and knead it in your gloved hand. When the two parts are completely blended to a consistent color and the epoxy putty starts to get sticky, it's ready to use. You'll have about five or 10 minutes to apply the epoxy to the repair before it starts to harden. That's why you should only slice off as much as you can use quickly.
See photo for how to replace missing veneer. Here are a few things you can do before the putty starts to harden to reduce the amount of sanding and shaping later. First, smooth and shape the epoxy with your finger. Wet it with water first to prevent the epoxy from sticking. Then use the edge of a straightedge razor to scrape the surface almost level with the surrounding veneer. If you're repairing wood with an open grain, like oak, add grain details by making little slices with a razor while the epoxy is soft.
Better Board Gluing
Tired of scraping dried glue from your workbench and clamps? This no-mess technique also ensures a flat finished surface when you're edge-gluing boards. Give it a try!
First, cover the clamps with newspaper. Then smooth glue on the board edges and lay them into the clamps without tightening. Fold the newspaper over both ends of the panel and lightly clamp 3/4-in.x 1-1/2-in.-wide hardwood batten boards above and below each end with C-clamps. Now alternately tighten all the clamps (all the bar clamps first, then the C-clamps). The batten boards keep the boards from sliding up and down as you tighten the larger clamps, so the boards remain in the same alignment as the glue dries.
After 20 minutes, peel off the partially hardened glue on top of the panel with a razor blade or paint scraper. The newspaper under the tabletop prevents the metal clamps from staining the wood where they touch glue, and it catches squeezed-out glue so the workbench stays clean.
Deburr PVC Conduit with a Utility Knife
If you do end up with a rough edg when you cut PVC conduit, don't forget to deburr the inside of the cut edge. Burrs can damage the insulation on the wires. There are a lot of fancy deburring tools available, but it's just as easy to spin a utility knife on the inside of the conduit to smooth it out.
Let Paint Dry, Then Cut the Tape Loose for a Perfect Edge
Once paint is dry, you can't just pull the tape off the trim. Paint forms a film between the wall and the tape, and removing the tape tears pieces of dried paint off the wall. So before pulling off the tape, cut it loose.
Wait for the paint to completely dry at least 24 hours, then use a sharp utility knife or box cutter knife to slice through the film. Start in an inconspicuous area to make sure the paint is hard enough to slice cleanly. If you cut the paint while it's still gummy, you'll make a mess. As you cut the paint, pull up the tape at a 45-degree angle. Get more secrets of professional painters.
A Good Thing In a Small Package
Companies send us all sorts of tools and gadgets to review; my office is full of them (no, I'm not complaining). When the Screwpop Company sent me its key chain utility knife, I was intrigued but not excited. I stuck it to my metal desk intending to give it more consideration at a later date. Since then, I've used it almost daily to open letters, dog treat packages for Roxy (she comes to work with me every day) and, ironically, packages containing other products for review.
The genius is in its size and simplicity; it's not much bigger than a standard utility blade. I'm going to buy a few more to keep with my bicycle, ATV, tackle box and camping bin. The Screwpop Utility Knife 2.0 is available for about $8 at screwpoptool.com and other online retailers.
Mark Petersen, Associate Editor