How to Use Miter Saw for Woodworking


One of the best ways to pick up tool tips is to watch the pros. Guys who use their tools all day every day are constantly improvising, inventing and finding ways to make their tools do more. So here are a few tricks we’ve recently spotted on job sites.


When you want to cut a board into equal widths, you can do some tricky math–or do a simple trick. Let’s say you want four strips: Pick a number that’s easy to divide by four (12, for example) and measure that distance diagonally across the board. Then mark the board at 3-in. increments (3,6 and 9 in.) and your marks will divide the board into equal widths.


If your miter saw can’t quite cut the full width of a board, lay the board on a stack of scraps. That will give you an extra inch or so of crosscut capacity. If that’s not enough, try this: Cut the board as far as possible, then flip it over to complete the cut. But don’t expect a perfect cut. Aligning the two cuts precisely is surprisingly difficult.


When a reciprocating saw blade bends, the obvious fix is to straighten it with pliers or your hammer claw. But that’s not the best way; it kinks the blade and never gets it quite straight. Better to think like a blacksmith and hammer it flat. Lay the blade on any nearby wood scrap with the hump facing up. Then pound until it flattens out.


After a few centuries of evolution, you’d think the standard pry bar design couldn’t get any better. You’d be wrong. Crescent’s Code Red pry bar has adjustable jaws that allow it to do things other pry bars can’t. Those jaws can grab lumber, so you can remove studs with a good, hard twist. Or you can twist a stubborn stud or joist into position (without putting your hands in the path of stray nails).

Adjustable jaws also let you yank out long nails in one pull: no need to pull halfway, then slip a block under the bar and pull some more. The nailgrabbing claw even does the job of a cat’s-paw. Aside from all that, this tool is a sturdy, all-around home wrecker that pries, pounds and rips as well as any bar. The 16-in. version costs about $30: the 24-in., about $35. It’s available online or at home centers. To learn more, go to


Most compressor manufacturers recommend draining the tank after every use. And most compressor owners ignore that advice without serious consequences. Still, draining the tank is important, and the more often you do it, the better. As a compressor runs, water condenses inside the tank. That means rust. In extreme cases, you can even lose tank capacity. We’ve heard stories of tanks that held only half as much air because they were half full of water.

The twist-open drains on most compressors are pretty lousy. They’re hard to turn and easily plug up with rusty gunk until they can’t open or close properly. But for about $10, you can install a drain that’s fast, easy and reliable. Go to the compressor aisle at a home center and look for a ball-valve drain kit. If you don’t find one, go to the plumbing aisle to pick up a 1/4-in, ball valve, plus any 1/4-in, nipples and elbows you’ll need.


If you’re cutting or drilling drywall. you’ll have to drag out the vacuum sooner or tater anyway. So do it now and suck up the dust before it spreads. If your plans include tots of drywall dust, consider buying a NEPA filter ($20 to $50), which wilt catch even the smallest particles. Standard paper filters trap only the larger particles while your vacuum blasts the rest throughout your house.


We’ve been using a new Lufkin “Control Series” 25-ft. tape measure in our projects for a while now, and it looks like a winner. The all-important hook is excellent: a little wider than traditional ones. which means you can hook sideways and twist the tape without the hook coming off. At the same time, the hook isn’t so enormous that it’s hard to get the tape in a pouch. It’s also riveted on Like there’s no tomorrow, so we expect it to hold up for a long time.

We also like the blaze orange so the tape is harder to lose, and the rubber grip on the outside, which makes it both slip-proof and more drop-resistant. The “control” in the name refers to a little window in the bottom, which allows you to control the rate of retraction with your finger. Some of us like that feature, some of us just shrug, but the tape overall seems like a tough and handy tool. Buy one for about 20 bucks, either online or at Home Depot. Read miter saw reviews to get best saw.

Useful tips for purchasing compound miter saw


Compound miter saw is that type of miter saw that helps to cut the wood into different angles and planes. You must have some information related to compound miter saw that will help you to purchase right thing. Here we will discuss about buying compound miter saw and its advantages.

Following things are included in compound miter saw


Blade is the first thing that you need to keep in mind when purchasing any compound miter saw for your work. Blades are made up of several sizes and can be used easily. Different sizes of blades include that are 8, 10 and 12 inches.  If you want to make big cuts for your work so you compound miter saw with more size of the diameter.


The main difference between miter saw and compound miter saw is the capability to get tilted. There are few compound miter saw that can be rotated in single direction. If you need a design that has more than one rotating capability, so select accordingly. The angle for tilting of compound miter saw is 45 degree. This is helpful for cutting two angles and both together.


When purchasing miter saw of compound type you should try to get the stops that are positive. This will help to lock the saw and will allow making different angles accurately. Mainly the designs seen are 0, 15, 30 and 45 degrees and try getting these stops for all the directions. For more details you can also check miter saw reviews that can guide you further difference between miter saw and compound miter saw.


Blade guards are also available in some of the compound miter saw that must be used. Guards on blade also perform function of retraction. This helps to check the cutting line properly. Guard can lower the blades if you push the miter saw up.


In the last brakes are also needed for compound miter saw which you should check for your miter saw when purchasing. Keep in mind that you compound miter saw must have electric brakes. It helps to reverse the electricity flow then the power of compound miter saw is closed. This helps in stopping the blade easily. This process is done within 2 to 3 seconds. Rotation can be effected if your compound miter saw is without electric brakes. It can take up to 10 seconds if electric brakes are not present.

These were the helpful tips related to compound miter saw. Electric brakes are preferable so that cutting can be done quickly and produces accurate result. Keep all these points in mind to get proper result. You should check all these tips in your compound miter saw before purchasing it.

With some of the interesting features like patented axial glide system and 90 degree, quick release Square Lock fence system; we can easily predict that best among all is Bosch GCM12SD 120-Volt 12-Inch DB Glide Miter Saw. Many people are satisfied with its result. It consists of different capacities for cutting that are mentioned below:

  • 14 inch horizontal
  • 6 1/2 inch vertical
  • 6 1/2 inch crown

This is especially designed for using whole day and is very much comfortable. It is easy to read the bevel and all the scales of stainless miter ones. It consists of high motor that is of 15 amps. Blade use is also very much wide that is of 12 inches and helps in the cutting purpose.

If we talk about features of compound miter saw, so here are these:

  • 15 Amp Motor – 3,800 RPM
  • System that is Axial Glide
  • several Locking Bevel Detents At 0, 33.9, and 45 degrees W/Override
  • 90 degree Quick Release Square Lock Fences
  • Etched Stainless Steel Miter Scale
  • Ergonomic knob
  • Dust Chute And Vacuum Adapter
  • Total weight that is 65 Lbs
  • Material Clamp and Blade Wrench is also added
  • Warranty is for a year.

Advantages of compound miter saw:

  • It is very useful for light and cramped areas and can complete models easily
  • Resistance seen is almost zero
  • Blade is with the path that helps in cutting
  • Sawdusts are not present in this type of miter saw
  • It produces accurate result and smoother product
  • It has dust collection system that is very useful


  • It does not have any laser sight
  • When used for transportation, it has noted that it is heavy and not so simple for travelling.



After planning properly for your woodworking if you like many of the homeowners it means that you have given a lot time for planning about how the woodworking should actually take place. It is recommended to make appropriate plan before starting woodworking work.  I myself completed many successful woodworking projects by making accurate plan and getting desired product after setting proper plan for it. Your plans will definitely reflect your style for making your work successful.

Many people perform their task of woodworking without having proper plan for themselves but it Is not beneficial to do so. Without planning it can lead to take a lot time and is not convenient as well. It will be very difficult to manage and cost effectively too. Purchasing woodworking plan can also help you often when it comes to start woodworking. But it is not always that you get best results from the woodworking plans that you purchase.

It is not always that what you think is right when practicing it properly. The plan often can also cost more than you expect if the required plan is not made by you, or you can say if it is the purchased plan or performing without any plan. You should know important things that you should keep in your mind when making plans for your woodworking. This will help you to save your time and will take lesser time to produce accurate result.

What attributes should you prefer to get good quality plan when it comes for your wood working?

  • Is the plan I decided is right for my level to start with?
  • Can I finish the work at right time with proper tools?
  • Why am I doing this woodworking? As a source of earning or gaining experience? Or just as a hobby? For all the items you need to use, gather the names and right away purchase them at your near store.
  • Which store is appropriate to receive all the tools that I need to use? From where can I get cheap tools but that are of good quality?
  • Is making larger better option to make?
  • The result at the end will be functional or aesthetically pleasing? Like what should I make in case of simple desk or a whole file cabinet?
  • Is my plan helpful in getting proper information step wise that I will be performing?
  • Is there shopping list in my plan?
  • Is there detailed drawing for my plan?
  • Are there any list of cutting and all the materials that are used for materials? You can also search for miter saw reviews that helps to know that which miter saw should be used for cutting purpose.
  • Can you see all the exploded views and dimensions of your plan?
  • Can you get the draftsmanship from the woodworking plan you made? Is it easy for you to understand?
  • Is the price proper that your woodworking plan actually should get?
  • Check for the price of the woodworking plans that either they are proper or not.

After finalizing all the related questions check for the list again that which questions need to be edited and which can be helpful for you more. The above points can be very much helpful in saving your time and getting accurate result for your woodwork. Just keep in mind to have a perfect plan for your woodwork that will help to get desired project properly and accurately.

There are many reviews online that guide people for their new woodworking projects and are often very much helpful especially for those who are the beginners. These plans guide properly and with this you can start your new woodworking project.


All things You Need to Know about Scroll Saws

This past spring, my teenage daughter brought home a wooden piggy bank that she made in “production class” (known to most of us baby boomers as “wood shop”). The look of pride on her face as she explained how she cut the various pieces on the scroll saw was something I’ll never forget.

It made me think of my first encounter with a scroll saw–a fish-shaped cutting board that I made in eighth-grade wood shop. I, too, can still remember the great feeling I had when I handed the cutting board to my mother and she could actually tell that it was a fish!

Woodworker or not, you’ll find that a scroll saw is a fun tool to use. You can make everything from wooden toys and puzzles to gingerbread trim using just a scroll saw and ordinary DIY tools.


There has been a revolution in scroll saws during the last 10 to 12 years. Piston-type saws, in which the blade just goes up and down, have been replaced by constant-tension, fixed-arm saws. They’re dramatically easier to control and give you much better cuts. You can cut wood that’s up to 2 in. thick, plastics and light metals.

Scroll saws use very thin blades that let you cut sharp curves and make detailed cuts. You can also cut inside openings (called “piercing”), for example, the inside circles of the number “8” shown in the opening photo. The scroll saw is a pretty safe power tool to operate. If your finger does touch the blade, it’s likely to get just a nick since the blade teeth are small. You should wear eye protection and a dust mask because these saws generate a fair amount of sawdust.


Here are some features to look for:

  • Quiet operation. Run the saw before you buy. Some are a lot quieter than others.
  • Vibration. Look at the blade when the saw is running. If it looks blurred, there’s more vibration than there should be.
  • Easy to-change blades and blade clamps. Try them to see if they’re easy for you to operate.
  • Good hold-down leg. It should be easy to move out of the way, without having to remove the blade.
  • Easy blade-tensioning. Check the operation. Some are lever-action, others use a knob. Either design is fine.
  • Multi-speed motor. Look for a variable- or two-speed saw. Different speed settings give you better control.
  • Maximum capacity. Most saws can cut to the center of a 30-in. circle, which indicates that they have a 15-in. throat capacity.

You can expect to spend between $150 and $300 for a bench-top scroll saw. Any saw under $100 isn’t worth buying. Bench-top saws can either be mounted on a stand (sold separately, usually for $40 to 550) or directly to your workbench. But the saw must be mounted securely or the vibrations will make it unusable.


Scroll saw blades come in two types: pin-end (Photo 2) or plain (straight). Most saws have blade clamp attachments that allow you to use both types. The most common blade length is 5 in.

Both types are available in the following styles (Photo 3):

  • Scroll: A coarse-cutting blade used for straight cuts through thick or hard materials. Scroll blades have regular-style saw teeth.
  • Fret: A much narrower blade than the scroll type. They’re used for fine and intricate cuts and are the preferred blades of most scroll saw users. Fret blades have a skip-tooth design–the design is tooth, space, tooth, space and so on. The space carries more sawdust out of the cut and the blade cuts cooler because there’s less friction.
  • Spiral: These are simply fret blades that are twisted so the teeth point out in different directions. They’re used mostly for making sharp and zero-radius cuts. Spiral blades aren’t recommended for beginners because they cut wider and require skill in maneuvering the workpiece, something you can only gain with experience.
  1.  BEFORE making any cuts, use a combination square to make sure the blade Is square to the table. Correct any difference by loosening the table’s tilt knob and adjusting the table to-blade angle.
  2. BLADES have either a pin end (shown) or a plain end. The pin-end blades usually hook into a recessed retaining area. Plain-end blades slide into a clamp, which you attach to the retaining area.
  3. SCROLL saw blades come in three styles: scroll-for cutting thick or hard materials; fret-for making fine or intricate cuts; and spiral-for making sharp-turn cuts.
  4. START all straight cuts at a corner of the pattern. When cutting on a line, cut slightly to the waste side of the line. Feed the workpiece slowly for the smoothest and most accurate cut.
  5. CURVED cuts or sharp corners can be cut cleanly by making a loop pattern. Follow the pattern line and then cut a return loop in the excess side of the workpiece. The larger the loop, the easier it is to cut.
  6. ONLY scroll can handle inside cuts or “piercing.” Drill a hole in the area to be cut out, slip the blade through the hole and begin cutting. Sand the bottom of the drilled hole to make sure the workpiece lies flat on the table. If it’s not flat, the cut will be angled or beveled.
  7. GET more than one use of your patterns. Draw them on tracing paper and spray-mount them to the wood. The traced pattern is much easier to see too.


Straight and easy the new pneumatic nailers swap

And lighter tools are better on the body. “Lighter tools reduce back injuries and tendinitis,” says Kurtz, “common injuries among pneumatic tool users.”

Weight was an important factor in Porter-Cable’s development of its new line of pneumatic nailers, too. “We held focus groups with end-users to find out what they wanted in pneumatic nailers,” says Dennis Huntsman, product development manager for the Tennessee company. “Each group said the weight of the tool was important in their purchasing decision.”

One of Porter-Cable’s lightweight brad nailers weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces and fires 18-gauge brad nails ranging from 5/8 inches to 1 1/4 inches. “Woodworkers and finish trim carpenters will appreciate how light this tool is,” says Huntsman. “It allows them to be more productive in the field.”


Users not only want the nailers to be light, they want them to be efficient, too. So a critical feature for pneumatic nailers is their ability to drive nails straight. Most manufacturers – like Paslode, Stanley-Bostich, and Campbell Hausfeld – offer some mechanism that guides nails exiting the nosepiece at a straight angle.

“When I’m laying shingles,” says Cincinnati roofer Leo Burnet, “I need a reliable tool that’s going to drive nails in straight. I don’t have time to pound down crooked nails.”

Earlier this year, Senco Products introduced a roofing coil nailer that features a straight-drive jaw configuration to guide nails into position. The straight-drive jaw acts as a funnel, keeping nails from tumbling as they leave the tool, according to the Cincinnati-based company.

Says product manager Dave Boyles, “Operators look at their pneumatic nailers as an extension of their arms. They want their nails to go in straight without having to hammer them in.”

Users also like an oil-less design. “Our never-lube designs reduce maintenance and repair,” says Boyles. “Now roofers don’t have to climb down a ladder to oil their tool.”

Another tool maker known for its oil-less Pneumatic nailers is Atro, based in Butler, Pa. Marketing manager John Sarano says, “Removing the O-rings from the tools means fewer technical problems. It simplifies the tool for the user.” Some of the advantages of oil-less tools, the company claims, is that they are better for the environment, have a longer life, and save energy.


If users aren’t careful, nail guns can be especially dangerous. Most manufacturers’ materials stress the importance of proper gun handling.

One of the first pneumatic tool manufacturers to address the safety issue was Duo-Fast. The Franklin Park, Ill., company started offering a standard sequential cycle safety trigger called First Place on all its nailers in January 1995.

“Duo-Fast recognized that the number of injuries with framing nailers was increasing,” says product manager Wayne Thompson. “So we made safety triggers standard on all our nailers.”

To use Duo-Fast’s nailers, operators must first push the tool nose down against the work surface and then squeeze the trigger. “Some operators thought this feature would slow them down,” says Thompson. “But they soon realized that it doesn’t affect the speed at all.”

Tony Patti agrees. The Elk Grove, Ill., carpet installer says the safety trigger doesn’t mean sacrificing speed: “I’m still able to install carpet in the same amount of time, but without the added worry of accidentally injuring myself or a co-worker.”

“The construction industry has always had a high number of injuries,” says Kurtz. “And now more tool manufacturers are improving their lines to address that concern.” Most manufacturers now offer a safety trigger on their nailers in either sequential-trip or bounce-nail modes.

With the popularity of pneumatic nailers increasing, look for top manufacturers such as Atro, Senco, Hitachi, Stanley-Bostich, Paslode, Campbell Hausfeld, Duo-Fast, and Porter-Cable to keep updating their models for the pro market.


Calcium in a Can : Slim cans of sardines occupy a modest spot on supermarket shelves Part 2

Preheat the oven to 400 [inverted exclamation mark] F and grease a 9 x 1-inch quiche dish. Cut the butter and shortening or lard into small pieces. In a large bowl, mix them with the flour, rubbing them in until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Make a well in the center and add a tablespoon of water. With your fingers pull the dough together into a ball. If it is too dry, add more water a few drops at a time. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Flour a work surface and a rolling pin, and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit it into the quiche dish and trim the edges. Place a sheet of foil on the pastry and add a layer of rice or dried beans. Bake for 10–12 minutes and then discard the foil, saving the rice or beans to use another time when you are making a pie shell. Bake the shell for another 3 minutes, or until the bottom looks completely dry.

While the pie shell is baking, prepare the filling. Slice the peppers into 1 1/2 x 1/2-inch pieces. Drain the sardines. Whisk the eggs with the milk or half-and-half and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the quiche, scatter the pepper slices over the pie shell and sprinkle with parsley and dill. Pour in the egg mixture, and carefully place the sardines in a spoke pattern. Bake for 5 minutes at 400[inverted exclamation mark]F. Reduce the heat to 375[inverted exclamation mark]F, and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the surface looks puffed and a blade inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Sicilian spaghetti with sardines

In Sicily, fresh sardines are an alternative to canned ones in this recipe.

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 anchovies, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 4 1/4-oz. cans sardines in oil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 12 oz. spaghetti

Put the fennel in a saucepan, cover plentifully with water and a lid, and bring it to a boil. Cook for 8–10 minutes or until tender. Drain the water into a large pasta pan. Chop the fennel and reserve. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a 300[inverted exclamation mark]F oven for 6–7 minutes or until golden.

Mix the tomato paste with 2 cups of the fennel liquid and reserve. In a small bowl, soak the saffron with 1/3 cup warm water. In another small bowl, cover the currants with cold water. Set these bowls and the toasted nuts aside.

Add 3 quarts of water and a tablespoon of salt to any fennel liquid in the pan. Bring to a boil for the pasta. To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan and stir in the anchovies, pressing so they disintegrate. Add the onion and cook gently for 4–5 minutes. Stir in the fennel, the saffron and its liquid, and the tomato mixture. Drain 1 can of sardines and stir them in, breaking them up as you go. Drain and add the currants and a tablespoon of parsley.

Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, checking and adding water if it seems dry. Drain and add the second can of sardines, breaking them as little as possible, and continue cooking gently.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions in the boiling water until just tender. Drain and put it on a serving platter. Top with the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and the pine nuts.

This recipe illustrates the adaptability of sardines.

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalape-o pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 cans brisling sardines packed in oil (like King Oscar), water, or Mediterranean sauce
  • 4–6 Tbsp. sour cream

Mix the avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and jalape-o. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 250[inverted exclamation mark]F and toast the tortillas for 5 minutes. Place each on a plate. Spread with the avocado mixture, then layers of lettuce and shredded cheese. Top with sardines and a dollop of sour cream.

Claire Hopley lives in Massachusetts and is the author of the newly published New England Cooking: Seasons and Celebrations (Berkshire House), featuring recipes from four centuries of the region’s cuisine.

Calcium in a Can : Slim cans of sardines occupy a modest spot on supermarket shelves Part 1

Surprisingly, when you buy sardines, you may not actually get Sardina pilchardus, the true sardine. American and Canadian “sardines” are really little herring (Clupeus harengus), while sardines from Norway are sprats (Sprattus sprattus balticus), identified as “brisling sardines” because brisling is their Norwegian name. Such variety has not gone without legal challenge. Nonetheless, over twenty species of small fish may be legally packed as sardines according to the regulations of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Today, manufacturers make a cook’s life easier by packing sardines in water and tomato or mustard sauces as well as oil. In addition to these choices, each company has specialties. King Oscar offers Norwegian sardines in fish oil, in pesto, in salsa, or with peppers and olives. Rodel, a French company, packs sardines in whiskey. White wine is another French option. Portuguese Bela-Olhio sardines come in lemon sauce or hot sauce, while Maine sardines are available in Cajun sauce as well as other popular ways.

This variety reflects canners’ desire to attract new buyers–efforts buttressed by the good nutritional news about sardines. “Time and again sardines are top of the list with dieticians and nutritionists because of the tremendous level of omega-3s and calcium,” notes Scherz. Omega-3 oils protect against heart disease, and calcium is vital for bone health. Add to these the significant amounts of potassium and iron found in canned sardines, and you can appreciate why he says, “Eating a can of sardines is like eating a power pill.”n

If you have eggcups, use them to serve these sardine-filled limes as a first course or light lunch. Alternately, level the base of the limes by cutting off a thin slice and serve them on a plate.


  • 4 juicy limes, about the size of an large egg
  • 1 4 1/ 2-oz. can sardines packed in oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter at room temperature
  • 1/ 8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • black pepper to taste
  • toast for serving

Choose limes with shiny skins and, if possible, a point at one end. Cut a thick slice from the pointed ends and set them aside. Cut the flesh from inside the limes and set it aside. Reserve the hollowed limes. Drain the sardines. Mash them with the butter and season with cayenne and black pepper.

Chop the flesh from one of the limes, removing coarse fibers and pith as you go. Add the flesh and juice to the sardine mixture. Now taste. For a sharper mixture, add more lime; for a spicier taste, add more pepper. When the mixture is satisfactory, pile it into the hollowed limes, mounding it above the top. Set each one in an eggcup and cap with the reserved lime slices. Serve toast alongside

  • Portuguese potato and sardine salad
  • 4–5 medium-large potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 4 1/2-oz. can sardines in olive oil or lemon
  • 3 slices of red onion
  • 2–3 ripe tomatoes sliced in wedges
  • dozen black olives

Boil the potato slices in salted water for 18 minutes or until tender and drain. Cut 2 slices from the center of the lemon and reserve. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice from the remaining lemon and mix it with 2 tablespoons of oil from the can (or other olive oil). Pour onto the warm potatoes and toss gently. Transfer to a serving dish. Separate the onion slices into rings. Add the onion rings, tomato wedges, and olives. Arrange the sardines on top. Garnish with lemon slices.

  • Sardine and red pepper tart


For the pastry:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. cold butter
  • 3 Tbsp. cold shortening or lard
  • 2 Tbsp. chilled water

For the filling:

  • 2 large roasted red peppers, either homemade or from a jar
  • 1 4 1/2–oz. can brisling or other sardines packed in water (8 or more to a can)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

chicken – a classic dish

So, you think you know your chicken thighs from your chicken wings? If you think you know all about chicken, try these favorite fowl facts:

  • Ounce per ounce, of all the chicken parts–thigh, breast, wing, or leg–which has the least amount of fat? (breast)
  • Which is lower in fat: a 4 oz. chicken breast or a 4 oz. piece of salmon? (4 oz. chicken breast)
  •  Which has almost twice as much saturated fat as the other: ground round or ground chicken? (ground round)
  • True or false: All poultry in the United States has been inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)? (true)

But did you know not all chicken is the same? A culinary chameleon, chicken certainly has something to offer everyone: a choice of dark meat or white, unlimited possibilities of preparing and serving, low in cost, and low in fat, too. One can eat poultry every day of the year without repeating a single dish.

The Skinny on Chicken

Considering its credentials, no wonder chicken is fast becoming the most popular meat in America. No meat is more versatile or nutritious. Health, not to mention taste, is the primary reason Americans choose chicken over other meats. Chicken is not only high in protein, but low in calories and fat, especially if the skin is removed. In addition to being loaded with niacin and other B vitamins, and minerals such as zinc, iron, and manganese, chicken is low in cholesterol and sodium, which fits in well with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Some parts of the chicken contain less fat than their cousin turkey, to say nothing of beef, lamb, orpork. Contrary to popular belief, only about one-third of chicken fat is saturated; the rest is poly- or monounsaturated, which is better for you. Chicken fat is thus comparable to peanut oil in its fatty-acid composition. In any case, most of the fat is located in the skin and easily removed. Unlike beef and pork, chicken meat is not marbled. And chickens, in addition to their meat, give us vitamin and protein-rich eggs, which are as versatile as the bird itself.

Chicken can be steamed, roasted, baked, broiled, grilled, fried, sauteed, and barbecued.

  • Steaming: The chicken, along with seasonings and any liquid, is set on a rack over boiling water. This is an excellent low-fat cooking method.
  •  Roasting: Roasting, another low-fat method, uses hot, dry air to cook the chicken.
  • Grilling or Barbecuing: Whether over a charcoal or wood fire or the electric grill, this method is probably America’s most popular low-fat cooking method. A snappy, low-fat sauce or zesty marinade adds a special flavor without adding fat.
  • Frying: Deep-fat frying uses enough cooking fat to submerge the chicken. Just remember, frying can add double, sometimes triple, the amount of fat.
  • Sauteing: Although this method uses only a fraction of the cooking fat of frying, it still adds extra fat and calories to otherwise low-fat fare.

Chicken Know-how

Here are some tips on how to pick and prepare poultry:


  • Skin should be light-colored and moist; if wet, the chicken probably has been poorly frozen.
  • A golden color is not a guide to quality. Yellow skin does not always indicate a cornfed bird but simply the use of yellow foodstuffs.


* A clean fresh chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days. Chicken should be stored sealed in plastic or foil so it won’t contaminate other foods.


* When freezing a whole bird, remove and wrap any giblets separately. Never refreeze raw chicken, and do not freeze stuffed birds because the stuffing will not freeze sufficiently to prevent bacteria from developing.


* It is best to let a frozen chicken thaw completely in the refrigerator before cooking. Safety Note: A frozen bird should be cooked within 12 hours of thawing.

–Cleaning and Handling

* Do not rinse a whole chicken before cooking; just wipe out the cavity with a damp paper towel. If the chicken has been frozen, blot the skin with a dry paper towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling raw chicken. Chopping boards, knives, food processors, and any other equipment should be scalded with hot water and thoroughly washed before being used in preparation of other ingredients. These are preventive measures to destroy salmonella bacteria that could contaminate other foods.

Meals in the Fast Lane

What about eating out? It used to be impossible to find fast food that was low-fat or healthy. You’d have had better luck finding a Siberian tiger in your neighbor’s back yard. A wilted bowl of lettuce, a scoop of cottage cheese, or a ground beef patty were about the only alternatives–lean pickings at best. But today it’s possible to get a low-fat, tasty fast-food meal–if you know what to look for and choose properly.

Many restaurants provide menus with nutritional information to meet their health-conscious customers’ concerns. Check out the chart (at top) to help you make better choices if fast foods are your main fare. Just add some fresh fruit and non-fat milk to round out the meal.


Quick-change Artist

Chicken adapts well to hundreds of low-fat, nutritious recipes, depending on how it’s cooked. Healthier choices include such dishes as stir-fry chicken prepared with a minimum of oil, chicken salad with a “lite” dressing, chicken kebabs, pasta paired with chicken, or chicken with steamed rice and vegetables. If an entree has a label, read the calories and fat grams; 0 to 10 grams of fat is an excellent choice; 11 to 20 is good.

Watch out for sauces. Some healthier-choice marinades or sauces include soy, ginger, herb, mustard, or one with a yogurt base. Try to steer clear of fat-laden sauces made with butter, oil, cream, or peanuts. For home-made sauces, nonstick cooking spray and a teaspoon or two of oil, preferably in a non-stick skillet, works well and keeps the fat content down.

The chicken’s ancestry goes back a long way–all the way to 2500 BC. It was during this time that the red jungle fowl of Southeast Asia, the ancestor of the modern chicken, was domesticated. Four and a half millennia have yielded us an abundance of chicken and a cornucopia of wonderful ways of serving our favorite fowl. No wonder we love this bird.

for more information

Consumer Pamphlets National Broiler Council Washington, DC 20005-2706 Pamphlets: “Chicken: Food for Fitness,” “Chicken Buying and Handling,” “Questions and Answers About…Chicken and Food Safety,” “Ethnic Chicken,” “Chicken-Great on the Grill,” “Chicken–Its Nutritive Value,” single copy of each free with self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope.

Publication Sales Department Food Marketing Institute 800 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20006 Brochure: “Nutri Facts: Consumer Chicken & Turkey,” single copy 50 [cts.] with self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope. Website at

For information on safe handling tips for poultry, call USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-800-535-4555

A look at the label will reveal some useful information. The United States has strict inspection procedures as well as voluntary grading systems. The grading and inspection program of the USDA employs three recognizable marks:

  1. Inspection Mark: Indicates that the bird has been processed under sanitary conditions and is wholesome food. Look for the USDA compliance stamp on the outside of the package.
  2. Grade Mark: Indicates the quality, class, and kind–there are three grades: A, B, and C. Grade A is the highest quality and the only grade you are likely to see in the store. Grades B and C may be sold at retail, but usually are used in further-processed products in which the poultry meat is cut up, chopped, or ground.
  3. Grade and Inspection Mark: Poultry bearing the combined grade and inspection marks is guaranteed to be of top quality.
Item                         Fat (grams)   Calories    Chicken, white meat,            4.1          153  skinless, roasted, 3.5 oz.    Chicken, dark meat,             8.8          178  skinless, roasted, 3.5 oz.    Fried, 1 breast:  "Extra Crispy"                 19.7          342  "Original" recipe              15.3          283    Chicken fillet, grilled        17.0          408  sandwich, 1 sandwich    Chicken fajita pita,            8.0          292  1 sandwich    Chicken salad with nonfat       2.2          105  dressing, 1 1/2 cups  

Hot Picks for the Home Office Part 2


IS THE TELEPHONE in your small or home office just about ready for the junk pile? If so, replace it with Nortel’s $330 PC-compatible Meridian 9617 USB, a standard two-line speakerphone that also connects to your PC by means of a Universal Serial Bus port. When you combine Caller ID (available as an option from your phone company) and the Meridian’s Personal Call Manager, information about your caller pops onto your PC’s screen after the first ring.

The Call Manager software, similar to Microsoft’s Outlook, can import ASCII-delimited text from your existing personal information manager. Because the speakerphone has two lines, you can seamlessly conference two callers using the PC’s software. While you’re out of the office, the Meridian can provide pager notification of incoming calls. A You also have the option of entering dialing restrictions to prevent 900-number calls from being placed. And the Meridian keeps working even when you turn off your PC. Never again will you find yourself asking, “Now who could t hat be?” * Meridian 9617 USB; $330 street: Northern Telecom; 800/667 8437;


YOU ALREADY KNOW what a valuable business research tool the Internet can be. But you can also get great advice from Usenet newsgroups. Examples: The newsgroup misc.taxes.moderated helps with tax issues; Symantec’s 90 moderated discussion groups offer product support; and has tons of employment listings. (And a tip from gave my tamale sauce a kick start.) The problem?

Even for experienced users, newsgroups are hard to access and manage. The easiest–and cheapest–way to get to the data is with Free Agent 1.11, a top-notch freeware newsreader. Free Agent takes you online to download message headers (or to sample available newsgroups), then carries you offline to browse the headers at your leisure and choose the most intriguing messages. Back online, the program retrieves the messages you’ve selected and then lets you log off to read and respond to them. * Free Agent 1.11; tree; Forte; 760/431-6460;


I WAS PEDALING the backroads of California’s wine country on a ten-speed bike when I spotted a pay phone and decided to check my e-mail. So I called a toll-free number, punched in my code–and a synthesized voice read me the e-mail headers. I chose specific messages, listened to them, forwarded one as a fax, replied to another, and deleted the rest. Mall Call’s handy service lets you do all this and more.


It will immediately read specific messages (say, from your boss) and skip others (maybe from your ex-spouse). You can reply with one of four canned messages–like “Please call me on the telephone as soon as you can”—or use the phone’s buttons to send your number. You can even record a 15-second message to accompany your reply. The cost? About $10 a month for 30 minutes of use (19 cents per minute thereafter); forwarding a fax sets you back 19 cents per page. Mail Call is ideal if you’re tired of schlepping a notebook computer when you leave the office–or when you want to travel light on your ten-speed. * Mall Call; $10 per month; Mail Call; 888/624-5011;


WHEN I FIRST hired employees, I faced a major hurdle: creating a policy manual. Even for a writer, this was an onerous task. I could have hired a consultant to do it-and paid a fortune. But luckily I have Policies Now, a nifty $119 program from KnowledgePoint. I supply important details about my company by answering step-by-step questions, choosing from more than 90 topics that fit my business

For example, I can add boilerplates dealing with child care benefits, safety issues, work schedules, and employee conduct. The program customizes and prints my official Bass International Employee Handbook, complete with a table of contents. And I’m covered legally because the policy is written to meet federal labor laws. Performance Now, also $119, provides a quicker way to write employee performance reviews. Test-drive either product by downloading a trial copy from Or create a performance review for $10 at KnowledgePoint’s Web site. Policies Now and Performance Now; each $119 list; knowledgePoint; 800/727-1133; www.knowledgepoint. com


Hot Picks for the Home Office Part 1


THROW AWAY your copier. Get rid of your fax machine. I have a better idea: the Visioneer PaperPort One Touch scanner. Connect it to your PC, and you’ll have almost everything you need to run your office. The $249 (list price) OneTouch looks like any other flatbed scanner, but with one important difference–five buttons adorn its front panel instead of none. Push a button to scan your document. Press another to scan and fax the document. Want to copy something to your printer, or optically recognize the text? All together now: Press a button.

This 36-bit, 600-by-1200-dots-per-inch color scanner is a snap to install: Just plug it into your PC’s parallel port. It’s compact (about 10 inches wide by 18.5 inches high), so it doesn’t hog your desk space. Black-and-white documents took seconds to scan–with sharp output. Color scans were minutes slower, and I had to tweak some images to make them look good, but that’s not unusual even with high-end scanners. The OneTouch comes with PaperPort–which has to be my favorite document management program–and Picture-Works PhotoEnhancer, a useful image manipulation tool. Isn’t it time you pressed a few buttons? * Visioneer PaperPort OneTouch; $249 list; Visioneer; 800/787-7007;


“WHAT, ANOTHER printer?” I exclaimed as I opened the box. But when I saw the first document slide out of the Alps MD-1300, 1 was stunned: The photo I printed on plain paper looked like–a real photo. When I printed it at 1200 by 600 dpi on Alps’s glossy Photo-Realistic stock, the output was photo-shop stunning. The secret: Unlike ink jet printers, the MD-1300 uses Micro Dry waterproof ink that affixes firmly to the page. The ink doesn’t smudge or soak into the paper and make the image look fuzzy. The MD-l300, which has a street price of $549, produces ordinary black-and-white documents at a rate of about 2 pages per minute; color documents take from 3 to almost 10 minutes per page, depending on the image size involved.


The unit is small (about 19 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 7 inches high), and it can hold up to 100 sheets in its automatic page feeder. Adobe’s high-grade PhotoDeluxe photo editing program is bundled with the printer. Plain color ink cartridges cost $7 each; photocolor cartridges (good for about 15 full-page photos) are $12. Special paper is priced at roughly $10.50 for 20 sheets. * Alps MD-1300; $549 street; Alps Electric; 800/825-2577;


YOU’VE TURNED on your PC, eager to finish a critically important project. The computer starts up, but something’s not right. The hard disk isn’t responding. Yep, the worst has happened: The drive’s dead, kaput, a goner. But hey, no problem–you have a recent backup, right? Listen, the worst can happen, and the best way to protect yourself is with a tape backup drive. I use the $200 Iomega Ditto Max because it’s fast, reliable, and has a comfortably large capacity. I can work with tape cartridges ranging from a trim 3GB compressed (about $20) to a whopping 7GB ($30).


The external Ditto Max backs up data at about 19MB per second, the internal at 36MB. (Actual speed depends on the type of files you’re backing up: On my system, a 1GB backup takes roughly 20 minutes.) The drive includes Ditto Tools 1-Step software for backing up and restoring data, and FullBack-a recovery program that provides essential protection in case of a system crash. * lomega Ditto Max; $200 list; lomega; 800/697-8833; Click Here to get more information