Multipurpose Kraft

Nope, not a misspelling.  One of the best purchases I’ve made has been a big roll of brown kraft paper.  It’s as wide as my workbench and several hundred feet long (It’s cheaper that way).  It just lives next to my toolbox until I need it.

And I use it all the time!  When I’m cleaning rust off of a sawplate, I staple a big sheet of it to my bench first.  All the gunk and rust and oil stay on the paper, and when I’m done, I just roll it all the scraps of sandpaper and paper towels and such up in it like a giant tortilla and bin the lot in one go.  Keeps my bench from getting filthy, and then transferring that greasy mess onto my workpiece.

One thing I will confess to not liking very much is gluing up panels.  Naturally, it works out that I do it a lot.  One of the things I used to hate is that the only way to get enough glue into the joint is to put too much in it.  If you aren’t squeezing glue out of the joint when you clamp it up, you didn’t use enough.  But that meant I had little drops of glue spattered all over my bench, creating a giant mess, especially when I thought I’d cleaned all those little blobs off, then (of course) put my coffee mug into one and glued it to the bench.  Total.  Bummer.  But now I just spread a sheet of that paper down before I glue up a panel.  All the drops stay on the paper, and I can either bin it (with PVA or epoxy) or compost it (with hide glue).  No muss, no fuss.

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And one of the things that a big sheet of paper lets you do is draw full-size plans pretty easily.  When I’m mocking something up, I find it’s a lot easier to stretch out a sheet and then scrawl all over it.  It lets you think more freely since you can more easily see how everything will fit together, especially complex internal subassemblies that have to be just so.  As an example, here I’m working on a tinned food magazine.  If I’d been working with a notepad, it would have been difficult to figure out how all of the angles and clearances would have worked out.  But here I could just take a can of beans and draw the path I would need to make it roll through the ramps.

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So if you’re looking for a good shop aid, try a big roll of paper.  It might surprise you how often you use it.

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