Millwork & Machining Woodworking Tips


Here you will find a list of 38 insightful millwork and machining tips for woodworking projects.

Millwork - Building mater8aossuch as trim, moldings, doors, windows, cabinets, etc. that has been manufactured by a plant or mill.
Machine Equipment - A piece of equipment with moving parts that uses power to do a particular type of work, such as a planer, jointer, circular saw, etc.

  1. When planning wood species that have a tendency to chip, such as hickory or white oak, feed the wood into the planer at a slight angle.

  2. When using a table saw to cut plywood and other manufactured boards, the best side should face up to prevent splintering.

  3. When using a skill saw to cut plywood and other manufactured boards, the best side should face down to prevent splintering.

  4. When cutting plywood or veneer on a table saw, use a carbide finishing saw blade to prevent chipping.  Use a 60 to 80 tooth blade for best results.

  5. To help reduce chipping and splintering when sawing lumber, first place masking tape on the cut line before sawing.

  6. When routing lumber always route the end grain first, and then the side grain to minimize splintering.

  7. When using a router or a shaper, taking shallow cuts can prevent burning the wood.

  8. When working with most hardwoods, it is best to feed the wood slowly to prevent burn marks as well as dulling the blades.

  9. When sawing most hardwoods, one should use carbide tipped blades, because the hardwood will quickly dull regular steel blades.

  10. Carbide tipped blades will cut through wood, reduce burn marks, and eliminates chipping much better than regular steel blades.

  11. When routing hardwoods, use router bits with ball bearing pilots to avoid burn marks. 

  12. White oak has a greater tendency to chip and splinter compared to red oak.  When removing stock with a jointer or planer, more shallow passes will help prevent this problem.

  13. When making mortise and tenon joint, first cut the mortise and then cut the tenon to fit the mortise.  The tenon and the mortise should fit tight in order to achieve a strong joint.

  14. To help eliminate end grain burns when using a router or a shaper, take two or three shallower cuts rather than cutting the shape with one cut.

  15. When ripping long pieces of lumber or sawing large manufactured boards with a table saw, have another person support the wood until the sawing is complete. 

  16. When working alone using a table saw, use an out feed support roller to support long pieces of lumber. 

  17. To avoid drilling through the edge of the board when drilling dowel holes, place a line at the center of the dowel pin.  Place the dowel pin center mark at the join line and draw the drill line with a pencil.  Measure from the tip of the drill bit 1/8” longer than one half the length of the dowel pin, and attach a piece of electricians tape to use as a stop point before drilling the dowel holes.

  18. Use a plug cutter in a drill press to make plugs to hide recessed screws.  Be sure to cut the plugs from the same wood species, and align the grain pattern to match the project.

  19. To provide a decorative appearance, cut plugs from a species of a contrasting color to fill predrilled holes in the wood project.

  20. When holes must be drilled consistently to a specific depth, use a drill press instead of a portable hand drill to assure accuracy.

  21. When large diameter holes are required, use Forstner or spade bits with a drill press to perform the operation.

  22. When drilling holes in cylindrical stock, such as dowels, table legs, etc. use a Vshaped jig to hold the stock secure.

  23. If a spindle sander is not available, irregular shapes can be sanded by using a sanding drum with a drill press.

  24. When holes need to be drilled in the same spot in a number of pieces of stock, use a drill press with a stop block clamped to the table.

  25. If a mortise machine is not available, mortises can be made using a drill press with a mortising attachment.

  26. Prior to using a drill press to drill holes, first lock a twist drill in the chuck and use a try square to determine if the table is square with the drill bit. 

  27. When cutting off cylindrical shapes on band saw, clamp the cylinder with a hand screw clamp to insure safety.

  28. When routing an outside edge with a hand held router, always move the router in a counter clockwise direction.

  29. When routing an inside edge with a hand held router, always move the router in clockwise direction.

  30. When the router is installed in a table and a fence is used, the stock should be feed in a right to left direction.  In this operation the router bit is facing in the up position, and a push stick should be used for safety.

  31. If the wood chips are blown ahead of the router bit, the feed rate is too fast.  If the bit burns the feed rate is too slow.  Other factors, such as a bit filled with resin or a dull bit can cause burning also.

  32. When a radial arm saw is used to cut a number of pieces of stock to the same length, use a stop block for better accuracy.

  33. When it is necessary to cut a number of pieces of the same length of stock, and a radial arm saw is not available, mark the first piece and make the cut.  Check the measurement of the cut piece for accuracy, and then use that piece to measure the remaining pieces.  Never use the last piece cut to measure the next piece.  This method will tend to multiply any errors made.

  34. Always joint one face of the lumber prior to planning it to the desired thickness.  The jointer will remove any cupping or irregularities in the surface. 

  35. Always place the jointed side face down in the planer.  This will provide a flat base for the stock to be planned.

  36. Always joint one edge of the lumber prior to ripping it with a table saw.

  37. To ensure better accuracy, always cut to the outside of the measured line.

  38. In order to eliminate confusion, always mark a light wavy line on the waste side of the cut line before making the cut.