Why does wood shrink?

Wood shrinks in width. This is because it looses moisture (water) as it dries.Moisture content in lumber for framing houses is usually 19%, and furniture grade lumber is dried to 6–8% moisture content.

To detect the moisture in wood, you need one of these meters:
Enjoy your woodworking projects!!
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Can I sand off one layer of varnish on a floor with a hand sander?

Alan Chenkin, Lifelong Carpenter/Cabinetmaker, owned an AWI certified shop for 10 years.

With fine sandpaper you can even-out the finish, without going all the way down to the bare wood.  You can also apply a layer of finish over the sanded area I would test an inconspicuous place (inside a closet, as an example) with 120 or 150 grit sandpaper, using an orbital sander. Use a 1/2 sheet sander like this
Belt sanders are very aggressive, and these orbital sanders are more forgiving.  This is especially true when sanding wood with a very noticeable grain.  If the existing finish is not worn out, you can use fine grit #220 sandpaper to scuff it so it will take a new finish well.  If you have to take more of the finish off, start with the coarser #100 or  #120 grit sandpaper to remove any heavy scratches.
I once sanded an entire 8×10 room with two of these, a lot of fresh sandpaper, some serious dust masks, and lots of patience. Not always the best way, but it worked – even though my hands vibrated on their own for almost 2 days afterwards!
If the test worked out, consider renting a large pad sander. Please wear dust protection, exhaust the dust with a window fan, and keep a shop vac handy to pick up the dust. Be careful when you clean the gaps, as floors do move – and will compress and expand any filler you apply.
Best of luck with your project! – Alan

How can I screw into a particle board after I have removed the screw?

Alan Chenkin, Lifelong Carpenter/Cabinetmaker, owned an AWI certified shop for 10 years.

Image result for wood cabinet loose screws

This issue with IKEA products and most inexpensive RTA (Ready To Assemble) cabinets almost universal.  Screws do not hold well in particle board, and cabinets can get loose, or come apart.  My solution is simple and can be done by almost any person with a little knowledge and desire to fix their cabinets.

Here is one of my solutions, which is often the quickest and most practical (IMHO), and can solve the reassembly problem without waiting for glue to dry.  In many cases, a squirt of Titebond glue and a toothpick broken off in the screw hole will make the screw form new threads in the wood when you put it back in.
Image result for damaged screw hole
This is an ANGLE BRACKET, also known as an “ELL” bracket. It is even stronger when combined with the toothpick and glue fix, and can give an Ikea cabinet a new lease on life.
This will keep an Ikea cabinet box together. I usually use 2 or three on each corner. One caveat – use these screws instead of any that come with the bracket:
Most of the boards are about 5/8″ thick, so 1/2″ screws don’t break out the other side.
You can get these parts at any hardware or big-box store. Most of the time they do the trick.
There are lots of different types of angle brackets. Here is a typical flange type (it’s wider):
Here is a typical application:
Angle brackets can be used on any kind of casework, like drawers, kitchen cabinets, and furniture.  Angle brackets come in many sizes, I like the smaller ones for fixing most Ikea products. I like the ones that have 2 screws on each side, because more screws equal more holding power.  They are not overly large, and are easy to install with a power screw gun, without pre-drilling.
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How do you paint varnished MDF?

Alan Chenkin,  Handyman and fixer of things.
I would definitely sand with 220 grit sandpaper first, and use a good primer. Why? Because MDF (even if it has a light coat of varnish) reacts to a finish like end grain wood, and will soak up the primer. Even if the varnish has good coverage on the wood, primer prevents any reaction between the varnish and the finish paint. once the primer is absorbed into the wood it should seal it, making the finish smooth enough to lightly sand again and apply a topcoat. (Some MDF may require 2 coats of a primer, like Kilz, or a white shellac). Sanding sealer will also work.
Once the MDF is sealed and sanded, lay down a light topcoat of glossy enamel with a good bristle brush (not a cheap brush). Here is a set of Purdy brushes.
If you have to roll a large area of shelving, the same rule applies. I would recommend a roller:
Work clean, the varnish may not come off completely, sanding it smooth and priming. Vacuum up the dust with a damp cloth or shop vacuum, and wear a mask!
You can get paints at a local hardware, paint, or “big-box” store. read all the instructions and drying times!
Best of luck with your project!
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What are some cheap options for soundproofing a wall (can’t be permanent as it’s in a rental) that can also be styled to blend in with decor?

Alan Chenkin, Carpenter and “how to do it” guy. Making dreams happen with tools….
Here is a relatively inexpensive suggestion:
Make frames out of 1×2 pine, cover them with a simple fabric, like burlap and then glue/fasten foam sheets (even from the packing that items are delivered in, they can trap sound). Then you can either hang or lean them on the wall, and that should reduce some of the sound.
If you need even more soundproofing, consider Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges 1″ X 12″ X 12″ Which can be stapled or fastened to the frames with 3M Foam & Fabric Spray Adhesive.  These foam panels are used in recording studios to cut background noise, and trap noise effectively.
You could also try these Amazon.com: soundproof wall panels , and fasten them with an adhesive that can be moved (Note: this can leave marks on the wall, but may be cleanable. use your judgement) Available on Amazon.com: spray adhesive repositionable.
Hоw to Sоundрrооf Anything You Can Think Of! Get Rid Of Noise And Enjoy The Silence
Best of luck with your noise control project!

Can you use wood from a tree that has fell naturally to make furniture from, I.e. not fresh cut, it could have been rotting for a while? Would I just have to cut away any rotten wood? If so how do you treat the wood for putting in your house?

By Alan Chenkin, Owned a cabinet shop for 10 years, is an avid woodworker.
One of the “Greenest” things you can do is recycle fallen wood for furniture

I would like to make a few points – First, fallen timber may not cut down to optimal sizes when you cut off insect damage and rot. This may mean additional glue joints and laying up small pieces to make larger panels. You also have to anticipate that the boards may have insect damage and spot damage that may need to be cut out or otherwise “worked around”.

If you mill the wood yourself, you need a chainsaw and a mill, like this:

 Portable Sawmill Aluminum Steel Chainsaw Mill for Builders and Woodworkers (14″ to 36″) Husqvarna 445E 18″ 45.7cc 967651004 Gas-Powered Chain Saw

Elm burl, a diseased wood, found in swampy areas, is also highly prized for its figure, and is excellent for furniture and veneer work.
The wood may not require any special treatment, except for conventional staining and finishing. I would suggest you make sure you don’t disturb any bees living in or around the log (surprises like that make for good stories, but be careful)!
Cabinet grade lumber is usually dried to a 6% moisture content.  To ensure that is is dry enough to finish, you will need to use a moisture meter:
4 Pin Digital Gardening Wood Moisture Tester Meter Damp Detector Tester
dead standing vs live wood – Woodworking Talk Discussion Thread
Tips for drying harvested woods: Dead trees, Storms, etc. – Lumberjocks Discussion Thread (Note: This is the link for the Cedarcide insect treatment mentioned in the Lumberjocks discussion for insect treating fallen timber. It’s available by the gallon from Amazon).
Always check the local laws to make sure you can legally harvest any dead fall lumber without risking a fine (if you found it in a state of local park, as an example). Some parks have restrictions on what timbers can be taken.
I hope I have added some good insight and you have the opportunity to build some great furniture!

How do you start to learn about carpentry?

Carpentry is a great skill to learn. Observe carpenters at work, and read “how to do it” websites. This will show you the basics.
Accumulate some hand tools, and a good tool bag or apron. Always remember, “safety first”.
I found this book indispensable, and keep a copy around so the ideas are fresh, especially on layout and project planning:
Consider going to a school, or joining an apprenticeship program.
This is one run by a community college in the US: Registered Apprenticeships
This is a good guide to keep in your toolbox:


Keep in mind that carpentry is a craft that takes years of work and practice to master, learn all you can, and you will do famously well!

What national or international standard specifies the 32 mm European frameless cabinet system (System 32, LR32, True32, etc.), where sizes are all multiples of 32 mm?

The 32mm system is designed to build cabinets quickly based on a metric standard that was born out of WWII ingenuity – as the machinery to build cabinets and cabinet hardware uses 32mm centers, and that was all they had in parts of Europe; tooling based on 32mm gears, bearings, etc.
While Americans (mostly) were comfortable with existing SAE (inch) standards, Europeans had a country to rebuild, and metric system + 32mm centers = fast rebuild. The hardware manufacturers drove a lot of the “de facto” standards, so that cabinet makers could use almost any hinge, drawer slide, or shelf pin.
Hardware manufacturers like Blum “wrote the book” on their version of the system Blum’s Process 32 Manual (PDF) (This is their downloadable manual).
The Architectural Woodwork Institute’s guide for casework references “European” Hinges.[1] The AWI is the Architect’s guide for cabinet construction.[2]
Here are some articles from the Web:
The “Kiss System” for 32mm cabinet construction. –
A Curriculum for Teaching 32mm Cabinet Construction – By Philip Lundgren, Kip Christensen, and Ronald Gonzales
Modern Cabinetmaking 5th Edition – by William D. Umstattd (Author), Charles W. Davis (Author), Patrick A Molzahn (Author) From Amazon Books
Modern Cabinetry: European Design & Construction Techniques – From Amazon Books (from 1995, but still relevant)
Bob Lang’s The Complete Kitchen Cabinetmaker, Revised Edition: Shop Drawings and Professional Methods for Designing and Constructing Every Kind of Kitchen and Built-In Cabinet – From Amazon Books
Many of the panel saws, Boring machines, and edge-banding machines are made in Europe, and are metric-based. If I was to set up a shop, it would be using 32mm methods because tooling, production equipment, training, and maintenance are all expedited for faster construction. In European cabinets, you can finish the components laid flat, as opposed to finishing a completed cabinet; You can also ship it flat – like IKEA casework; almost all of which uses 32mm construction. In Canada, as an example, cabinet lumber and the plants that mill it into 32mm casework are next to the forests – and they can ship finished RTA (“Ready to Assemble”) furniture anywhere in the world, flat-packed and in boxes.  32mm fittings are available here.
Keep in mind that 32mm construction lends itself to large production runs; Short runs require fast change, quick setups, and skilled labor to deal with design variations and custom sizes; most production 32mm shops have a separate section with conventional tooling for “specials” and “one-offs”.
I hope I have added some insight to this topic – I opened my woodworking shop in 1980, all 32mm by 1983, and closed it in 1990 when IKEA and Home Depot came to town, changing the economics of the cabinet business (for me).

What’s the difference between an ordinary drill and a Dremel-style rotary tool?

Alan Chenkin, Trained as a Machinist/Mechanic in the NYC schools, Life long Mr. Fixit

The Dremel is better suited to craft or fine work, and is adaptable (with a multitude of bits and adapters) to hobbies, craft work, engraving, and more.  Power drills are typically larger, more powerful, and turn at a slower RPM with more torque than a Dremel rotary tool.
When I am on the job, I carry several drills, and keep my Dremel (and all its bits, polishing wheels, and cutters) at the shop. That is because I am usually working on larger projects that are not suited for a small Dremel tool.
Here is a huge set of Dremel accessories:
I don’t use my dremel a lot, but it is a unique and useful tool for polishing, work on small metal parts, drilling tiny holes, making jewelry, and fixing keepsake boxes and the like.  They key to a Dremel’s usefulness is the sheer number of bits and accessories you can get.  Look at the selection on EBay.
Have fun, and Dremel on!

What glue is really strong and dries instantly?

By Alan Chenkin, Uses glue all the time, for fun and woodworking projects

For light duty, regular super glue / Crazy glue will suffice.
Be careful not to get it on your hands, it can glue your fingers together!  (Hint – use nail polish remover to break it down or remove it.  Nail Polish remover is made with a solvent called Acetone).
If you need something stronger, use a 2-part Epoxy
Epoxies may take 5-10 minutes to set, but they are strong and durable when fully cured.  Use Epoxy with care, and make sure the surfaces to be glued are clean as possible.
Contact Cement – For bonding material with a larger surface area, like laminates:
Dap 00271 Weldwood Original Contact Cement, 1-Pint
Contact cement is applied to BOTH surfaces to be bonded, allowed to dry until tacky, then the surfaces are pressed together (you only get one shot – Contact cement is a “Glue to Glue bond”, and sticks fast and holds tight).  

Contact cement is applied with brush or roller, sticks to everything, like your fingers, so you have to be really accurate.  

Contact cement also requires a clean environment, you have to keep any dust or dirt from being caught under the material!  You also have to have good ventilation, and solvent to clean up.
Make sure the adhesive you use is compatible with the items you are gluing!
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