For today's lesson in Homeownering 101, we're going to concentrate on the workshop.

Pull up a stool.

Let it roar

When you switch on the table saw or joiner, let it get up to full speed before you start feeding in the wood. Cuts will be smoother, and it's much less likely to jam.

Actually, this is a good rule to follow when you're using all motorized tools: band saws, routers, surface planers, lawn mowers, edgers, even electric razors.

Smooth as glass

A freshly sharpened blade always makes quick work of anything pushed through a table saw. It slides so smoothly, it's almost joyous.

But, face it, your blade hasn't been that sharp in ages.

You could, and maybe should, swap out the blade for a sharp one, but you can get almost the same cutting result with a little table tuneup.

Apply paste wax to the iron top and polish it down, exactly as you do with your car.

An added benefit is that the wax will help ward off the rust that grows during humid weather, exactly as it does with your car.

Straight up

It's tough to tell whether you're actually perpendicular to whatever you need to bore into, but here's a trick so simple I wish I had a patent:

Before chucking a spade bit (sorry, it won't work on twist drills) into the drill, slip a large fender washer onto the shaft. When you drill down, if the bit is perfectly perpendicular, the washer will neither climb nor walk down the shaft.

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Speaking of drilling holes, to enlarge an existing hole (say you're replacing a lock or deadbolt, and the new one needs a little more space), jam a chunk of lumber into the existing hole to give your bit something to grip.

Make sure the filler is slightly recessed into the opening; about 1/16 inch will do.

Slip a hole saw the same size as the existing hole into the opening and use its point to mark the center of the scrap. Then use that mark to start drilling the larger hole.

Clamping a scrap of plywood over the opposite side will keep the filler from pushing through.

Turn up the heat

Penetrating oil is great for removing a rusty bolt or screw from things made of metal, but sometimes you need to get one loose from wood. Oil can stain and ruin a wooden surface.

Heat is often the answer.

But instead of using a torch, which might be fine for that bolt frozen in metal but not in wood, plug in your soldering gun.

Just hold the hot tip against the screw for a minute or two (be careful not to char the wood!), and it should become loose enough to remove.

Forever sharp

Assuming you want them to remain sharp, a tool box is a terrible place to keep handsaws and chisels, but you can protect those delicate teeth and carefully honed edges with ordinary garden hose.

For saws, measure the proper length of hose and split it lengthwise with a utility knife, then simply slip it over the teeth.

For chisels and gouges, cut pieces of hose an inch or so long and force them over the tips. If the rubber or nylon refuses to cooperate, warm for it a few moments with a heat gun or hair dryer. Once in place, it usually will hold its shape.

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