Whether you're a serious home craftsman with the skill to create ornate finished furniture, or just someone who enjoys puttering around in the shop working on simple projects, here are some clever shop techniques that can make a job go easier and faster, and even help you out in a pinch:

- When trying to use a jointer plane to make a sharp, square edge on a board, a wooden guide attached to the bottom of your plane helps you keep it from tipping to one side or the other. Choose a square-edge piece of three-quarter-inch stock 3 or 4 inches wide and cut it about 3 inches longer than the plane. Cut a notch 1/8-inch deep by 1/2-inch wide in the guide's top edge to clear the protruding plane iron (blade) so the guide will sit flat against the plane's base. Bore two three-sixteenth-inch diameter mounting holes through the plane's base 3/8 of an inch from the edge. Attach the guide to the plane with two 11/4-inch No. 8 sheet-metal screws.To use, simply keep the guide flat against the face of the workpiece while planning. The guide will keep the edge square and prevent the plane from tipping.

- Sawdust that collects along the fence of a radial arm screw can cause inaccurate cutting. The sawdust forms small mounds that keep the workpiece from fitting tightly against the fence. Spacer blocks made from 1/8-by-3/4-by-1 inch softwood spaced 6 inches apart along the fence leaves a slot that allows the sawdust to escape. Attach the spacers to the outside surface of the fence flush with the bottom edge with small nails. Position the fence on the saw so the spacer blocks face forward below the worktable's surface. Don't put a block directly under the saw-blade path. Tighten the fence lock knobs to hold the fence securely in place.

- You can make small-diameter decorative finials and knobs without a wood lathe by mounting a dowel in the chuck of a drill press or an electric drill mounted in a drill stand. Working with files, rasps, abrasive tapes and cords, you can easily contour the dowel to the desired shape. For best results, run the drill at its highest speed and use the fine-grit abrasives for the finishing touches.