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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What tricks and methods do woodworkers use to prevent damage to their projects as they work?

I have several ongoing projects where I must do something to the back - clamping, glueing, sanding, finishing, etc. but don't want the front to get scratched by small particles on the table or dinged by chips.

I am careful with clamping - I use fabric or scrapwood "pads" to prevent indentations and marring. I use cheap wax paper to protect my clamps from glue.

I have been using old bath towels and other rags on surfaces, but they grab sawdust and chips, and there can be issues with finishing. Drips, sticking, etc. They aren't easy to wash - a lot of residual chips cling to the fabric, especially "microfiber."

How do woodworkers protect their projects from dents, dings, scratches, and other damage as they work? What tricks am I missing?
 

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Termite
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I don't do anything special except build it.

Do you work on a bench?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't do anything special except build it.

Do you work on a bench?
Don't you worry about grit, chips, and other debris leaving dents and dings and scratches in your work as you go? Sawdust blowing and landing on your finishes? Something scratching your finish as it cures when you are finishing the "other side"?

I do not have a true workbench. I use a variety of flat surfaces, including the table saw covered with hardboard, two B&D Workmates, and a pool table in the house that we cover for projects. Sometimes we use the dining room table or kitchen counters. Whatever surfaces are available.

Clamping work to a table for hand tools is a particular challenge. Someday when we can make sufficient space in the garage, I will have a true woodworking workbench that meets my needs. In the meantime, I move stuff around a lot and spend too much time taking things out, putting them away, uncovering the saw, covering the saw, etc.

(My spouse has one of those Harbor Freight woodworking workbenches. She loves it. I never touch it or use it, not even to set something down temporarily - BTDT. For those who are thinking about buying one, I can't say anything good about it other than the low price. I do not recommend it.)
 

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No ... it's normal to get scuffs on your work as its being tossed and slid around. We don't purposely try and damage it, but it will get a nice sanding at the end...

Before I finish anything the shop is seeped clean and then the finish process starts...

At the furniture company I had 2 benches 4×8 that were mine alone to use. I keep cardboard on each and taking the blow gun and making sure nothing was on the table.
 

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always an issue - a little prevention is worth a lot of sanding . . . .

I use the waffle style shelf liner - comes in 36" widths.
easy to cut/shape/adapt
easy to shake out

also a super non-skid surface.....
 

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Nothing special - just make sure there are no chips on the bench. I use the grip type shelf liners sometimes, sometimes a bath towel.

If you can't finish in a closed in area, you can either fashion one out of plastic, or work with finishes that dry very fast, like shellac and water based poly's.
 

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I cut up some scrap cardboard and make a 3 sided box with a top. Nothing fancy. Just folding or tape to shape.
Not enough dust gets past it to worry about.

I safe cardboard boxes, mainly the heavier shipping boxes. I fold and cut them flat and use them for lots of other different purposes. Including to sit on the cold dirty concrete floor. Also lay a piece on the assembly table to cut stuff with a razor knife without damaging to top.
If you cut the boxes flat they don't take up much room hiding behind the Radial Arm Saw. When I run out of cardboard, Lowes will let me have some. Just have to get there right at opening before the night shift finishes flattening them out and packs it up before they go home.
 

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I get my moving blankets at Harbor Freight. When on sale they are very cheap. I keep them in my truck.
Never worked out for me keeping them in the shop. Dust and saw chips all over the place when I am working and with 2 floor fans blowing, it becomes impossible to keep clean. My shop is small.
 

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I get my moving blankets at Harbor Freight. When on sale they are very cheap. I keep them in my truck.
Never worked out for me keeping them in the shop. Dust and saw chips all over the place when I am working and with 2 floor fans blowing, it becomes impossible to keep clean. My shop is small.
That's my problem with them. After awhile it becomes hard to verify there isn't something in there that can scratch tge wood.. I bet I've got 20
 

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I always finish and sand and smooth plane the bottoms first, then when I prep the show surfaces, the bottom is the thing touching the workbench getting any debris or dings.

I also like to smooth plane or sand as the last operation before assembly. This way I'm not marrying a surface while cutting joinery, etc.

Other than that, just be careful, and be mindful of "getting it done" in a timely manner. I don't like to have multiple projects all incomplete in my shop at the same time. That's more opportunities to mess one up.
 

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Have never been concerned or worried about this "problem." Actually had never even thought about it.

Do not remember having such a problem. Just take normal procedures to protect.

George
 

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I use several methods. Old bed sheet(s), moving blankets, card board to cover a hard surface. I've stapled fabric & vinyl to 1/2"X2"X4" wood blocks for padded clamping - these are often a must for already upholstered and/or finished furniture, also.

Not only for covering hard surfaces, but for finish work, as well, I often use the semi water proof blue drapes, salvaged from surgery. These drapes are used to wrap sterilized trays and other sterilized items in the hospital setting. Prepping for surgery, nurses unwrap the trays and discard the blue drapes. They are double ply, so you can separate the plies and make a larger single ply spread, but double ply "feels" more protective. They are fairly strong, don't rip apart easily (actually hard to tear), easy to clean of debris after use. For me, they last about 2 years before discarding. I collect/have 15-20 on hand and resupply every year or so.... I give some away, now and then. Though I'm not in the hospitals anymore, I have friends, there, who will collect them for me when need be.

Being semi water proof and durable, they are handy when potting plants and other household uses, also. They are made of specialized paper, so when they start to degrade, discarding them doesn't damage the environment.

If you know someone in the hospital setting, you might ask them to contact their surgery dept and get a few drapes to try out. Pictured is a 3'X3' double ply drape, but most are 4'X4' in size.

Sonny
https://flic.kr/p/2mAp2J1 https://flic.kr/p/2mAkcmx
 

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Since I do a lot of project phases (sanding, glue ups, sometimes fixing tools, on the out feed table of my table saw, It gets pretty rough so I like to do most work on indoor/outdoor carpet from the orange store. Not the green stuff but the looped grey stuff that sold in precut rolls. maybe 8 x 10. Same as moving blankets but moves around less.
 

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The shelf liner mentioned above by TomCT2 is great. It allows dust to fall through and I can roll it up and store in a drawer. Plus, it doesn't cost much at all. I also have some 1/4" underlayment sheets that are gentle though don't last that long. For clamping, I just use scrap pieces of wood to distribute the pressure. I make sure my work pieces are clean and dust free. When cutting things, I make sure there are no dust/chips between the workpiece and the fence/miter gauge/tool surface/whatever - that minimizes error.

I used to be of the "don't worry about it" school but when I started using the shelf liner, the end quality of my work took a real jump up. In general, the cleaner the work piece and work area, the better my projects come out. Small amount of effort nets big payback.
 
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