This is one of the questions we get asked about the most. There is absolute no issue of legality when it comes to the use of these tools. The Health and Safety Commission are an organisation that makes safety recommendations to trade and private users of tools they are not a legal body in the sense that they make law. Dado heads or groovers were always used and available in the UK until recent years. They themselves were not deemed dangerous but improved safety precautions including adequate safety guards and a brake on the spindle of the saw were introduced to protect operators of the machinery. There is lots more information on Dado Head cutters in the Health and Safety section in the Tools menu.

Q2. What is the finish David uses on the outdoor projects that protects wood from the effects of UV light?


The finish is called Alfresco Protec. It is available from good outdoor garden furniture stores or direct from the manufacturer and it is a dark liquid that has UV inhibiters held in solution. You only need to apply 2 coats of this finish no more and it should be applied in the shade not in direct sunlight.

Because it's a water based finish and can be applied with a brush, cleanup is easy and safe. It isn't the cheapest of finishes but we have had good results with this product and it seems to last 1 to 2 years before you need to put on another coat.

For more information send an email to ‘wilson@oldchapelhouse.freeserve.co.uk’ or visit their website at www.alfrescoprotec.com

Q3. Why is a finish with UV inhibiters important?


All wood reacts to sunlight. It will fade and loose its rich colour and in some cases turn a silver grey. This grey colour is only on the surface. If you were to scrape away the grey you will find the rich original colour underneath.

Some people like the silver grey finish on their outdoor furniture, this is personal preference but if you wish to retain the new look you have to protect the wood.

Q4.What's the best way to clean my outdoor furniture to restore it to its former natural colour?


Depending on how badly the surface has deteriorated you may be able to use a high pressure washer to remove the surface coating. If this doesn't work we have always used Oxalic Acid. This is what boat owners’ use on their decks to clean the surface of the teak decks. It is not available everywhere and is dangerous because it's an acid so care must be taken.

It comes in a powder form and has to be mixed with water. You apply it to the surface and leave it for 10-20 mins then hose off or use a high pressure sprayer to remove the treatment. This will bring the wood back to life. It can be ordered from a decorator’s suppliers or try a boat yard.

Q5.What make of table saw does David use in the show and can I buy one here in the UK?


The Table Saw used on the show is a Delta Unisaw and David has owned this saw for years. He actually imported it when he moved to the UK many years ago. This saw is not available here and yes it does have the facility to use dado blades. For information on the use of dado blades in the UK check under the Tools / Health and Safety section.

Q6.How do I make raised panels?


These can be made using a panel raising bit installed in your router table. There are different types of panel raising bits, horizontal and vertical depending on whether you want to hold the work against the fence or laying flat on the surface of the table. Best to use a 1/2" router in your table if you can afford it as the more power you have the better. The one we use is the Trend T9. Take a few millimetres in each pass so you don't overload the cutter and risk breakage or damage to the work.

Q7. Which is best an Orbital Sander or Belt sander?


Belt sanders have a benefit over orbital sanders in that they are designed for rapid removal of material. If you are trying to flatten a wide board because it wont fit through the thickness planner for instance, then a belt sander can come in handy. But if you want to prepare a piece of wood for finishing then the Random Orbit sander is the best tool for this job. There is only one tool on the market that we know of that bridges the gap between the belt and orbit sander and this is the Metabo SXE 450 Duo. It has an adjustable orbit so you can remove a lot of material quickly and then change it to a small orbit for a fine finish.

Q8. Should I buy a cordless drill or 240V power drill?


This is an interesting question. A few years ago cordless drills couldn't compete with a 240V version but today I think the choice is really down to how much freedom you want with the tool. The battery power on the good quality cordless tools is fantastic. They last for a long time under heavy loads and have plenty of power to even drill into concrete.

Just decide what application you want your drill for, if it's the odd job around the house, drilling into softwood and screwdriver operations, then a 9.6V battery version will probably be enough. If you think you want a tool that will meet every possibility and last a lifetime then go for an 18V model, but which ever do choose make sure it's a quality brand. You only get what you pay for has never been a truer statement when it comes to tools.

Q9. Is it necessary to have a separate finishing shop like David has?


No it's not absolutely necessary to have this but it really is preferable if at all possible. Even a garage is a better place to finish your projects than to do them outside. You want to be able to control the environment when you are applying any finish. Wind, dust, temperature, moisture can all affect the finished article. If you must finish your projects outside pick a calm warm day with no chance of rain. A cheap garden gazebo can make an effective finishing area in your garden and when you’re finished you can put it away.

Q10. I am an amateur woodworker and as such have found the need to predrill for screws. Unfortunately I have never been sure of the size of drill to use for each gauge of screw. Could you help.


The rule of thumb is make your pilot hole the same diameter as the main body of the screw. The main body is the threaded part minus the thread so in other words you are removing material equal to the main body of the screw. When you rotate the screw only the thread engages the wood and there is space for the main body of the screw as it penetrates the material. This is important mainly in Hardwoods because the fibres in the wood are so dense it's very hard to screw into, plus you have the added risk of splitting the wood.

Q11. What drill bit is best to drill 3-400 holes without sharpening? It's mainly softwood but some hard. A bench drill set up is used. The drill needs to cut a clean exit hole for precise alignment of centre to centre holes. To achieve this the bench has an adjustable dowel of the required Dia. to save marking up holes. The first hole is pushed on to the dowel and the next hole drilled etc. Current hole Dia. is 22mm! Any thoughts, please?


You really only have one option for this.

1. If you must have a clean exit hole there is only one way to ensure it. Make sure you have a backing board under the piece you are drilling and make sure the two pieces are in firm contact with each other.

2. As far as the bit is concerned you could certainly use a Forstner Bit at 22mm 400 holes is nothing to a good quality steel bit, the other alternative is a brad point bit but I don't think you will get one 22mm dia.