10 Ways Masking Tape Can Help a Woodworker from Lee Valley

I just had to post this as these tips are just brilliant. Many of you will know some of these tips but I bet you don’t know all of them.

#10 – Mark Your Pieces

Before I disassemble an antique piece for repairs, I do what most professional furniture restorers do: label the mating parts with tape. This way, I’ll never mix up any parts when I put everything back together.
Using tape to identify mating parts.

Using tape identifies the mating parts and ensures they are put together correctly.

#9 – Refresh Your Memory

After dry-fitting a complex project, I use tape to record the sequence of the assembly steps. In the actual glue-up, the joints will be assembled in the tested order without confusion – or panic.
Labelling the assembly order of each project piece.

After dry-fitting, the author labels the assembly order on each piece using tape.

#8 – Get Help with Hand-Cutting Fine Dovetails

When sawing dovetails, some woodworkers apply a strip of tape on the endgrain and use the peeled off areas to guide the sawing. Try it if you tend to struggle with seeing the knife lines.
Using tape to help cut dovetails.

Slice the tape and peel it off to reveal the cutlines for the saw.

#7 – See Things in High Contrast

On some surfaces, such as darker wood, pencil marks or lines are hard to see. I lay a piece of tape on the object as a writing surface, such as for marking a centerpoint.
Using tape to mark surfaces.

Use tape on surfaces where marks are not easily seen.

#6 – Gain a Third Hand

While we use tape as clamps for small joints, I also use it like a third hand to hold clamping strips or pads in position to cushion the clamps’ jaws.
Left: Using tape for a small clamping task. Right: Using tape to hold pads in position.

Left: Tape with greater strength and stretchiness is ideal for small clamping tasks.

Right: Tape holds the pads in position, which allows the author to handle the clamps with both hands.

#5 – Keep Projectiles under Control

When I chop small, thin pieces from a larger piece, I tape the cut-off portion to the bench to keep it from flying across the room. Similarly, when making plugs, you can lay a strip of tape on the plug face and bandsaw them off so they do not roll onto the floor.
Using tape to hold small pieces from flying away.

Tape holds the small piece to the bench as it is chopped off.

#4 – Get Tear-Free Cuts

If you have no zero-clearance inserts around for your table saw, save the day by putting a strip of tape straddling the cutline on the underside of a plywood sheet to make a clean edge.

Using tape to help produce a tear-free edge.

Run a piece of tape on the underside of the board covering the cutline to produce a tear-free edge.

#3 – Avoid Cross-Sanding Marks

When sanding frame panels, I do the stiles first. To avoid scratching, I cover them with tape before I sand the rails.

Using tape to prevent sanding scratches.

Covering the stile with tape helps prevent cross-member sanding scratches.

#2 – Avoid Glue Squeeze-Out

Before you apply glue, put a strip of tape over the joint to keep the adhesive off of the surface. If you choose to pre-finish a project, taping off the glue areas will keep unglued joints free of oil or stain.

Using tape to prevent glue squeeze-out on joint surfaces.

Tape keeps glue squeeze-out from marring the joint surfaces.

#1 – Prevent Your Saw from Marring the Surface

Tape and saws work well together. To prevent a saw from marring the surface when flush trimming, some woodworkers lay a strip of tape on the blade just above the teeth. Sometimes, I also put a piece of tape on a saw blade to mark the depth of cut.

Using tape to mark depth of cut.

Use tape on the saw blade to set the depth of cut. Slow down when the tape gets close to the work.

Masking tape is truly your best friend – that is, of course, until your favorite pet roams into the shop!

Text and photos by Charles Mak

Charles Mak, now in retirement, is an enthusiastic hobby woodworker, teacher, writer and tipster. He formerly worked part-time at his local Lee Valley Tools store.

5 thoughts on “10 Ways Masking Tape Can Help a Woodworker from Lee Valley

    1. He used hot hide glue so he could have avoided the tapes altogether and just rubbed jointed them and leant them up against a wall. This is what they used to do and what advisable with thin boards. No buckling. But having said that I have never been game enough except on a test piece to rely on the glue alone to pull the joints in together


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