July 5, 2009

Feather Boards

No I am not talking about controlling people, I am talking about getting good quality cuts on a table saw. It does not matter if you are working on a big 10 inch table saw (shown in the photo) or on a miniature tablesaw because a tablesaw is a tablesaw and no matter the size they cut the same way.

There are three aides shown in this photo for achieving better control. One is a push stick that does not really look like a stick, it looks like a shoe. You don't have to go out and purchase fancy pushers, you can make them out of scrap wood. This one is about 9" long by 4" tall. You don't have to match those exact dimensions, it just needs to be tall enough to keep your fingers out of the blade and long enough to put some pressure over a greater distance than one tiny spot. There is a notch cut along the bottom edge leaving just a little tab at the tail end. The notch has to be less in height than the wood you are going to push. Easy to adjust by cutting the tab a little shorter if needed.

You will notice how the plywood on the pusher is chewed up along lower edge. That is because I often cut very thin strips on my full size table saw and the shoe shaped push stick lets me do that safely. It is OK if my table saw blade takes a little nip out of the pusher, in fact it covers up the sharp blade and protects my fingers. I have this same kind of pusher for my miniature sized table saws.

The second aid shown is a feather board. The end of the board with all the feathers cut in it is angled. You lock the feather board into position just in front of the saw blade putting just a little bit of pressure against the board you are going to run through the saw. What happens is the feathers will flex one direction and keep the board against the fence while resisting the board you are cutting being pushed back towards you. The angle cut on the end of the feather board creates that special one way control. Hey you don't have to work so hard with your hands trying to keep the board against the fence while you push and that is a good thing. Now you can concentrate on smooth and steady feeding of your piece of wood to get a nice smooth cut.

The third aid is a zero clearance throat plate. That is the red piece you see surrounding the saw blade. The one in the photo is only used for making 90 degree cuts, I have another for making 45 degree cuts and a couple more for other small ranges of angles. The idea is you always have good support of smaller sizes of materials right next to the saw blade. Only draw back is all the saw dust does not get sucked down into the saw and gets tossed around in you face. Oh well maybe someday I will get a bigger dust collector and have suction up on top too.

The 1:12 structure I am building is a birdhouse. I decided I wanted to make it a little taller so it is more visually pleasing to me so I am adding on a band of half timber detailing. There are going to be brackets built into this band that support the roof overhang. The bracket detail will give the piece additional visual interest as you look upwards to the birdhouse. It does not look so great at the moment but I can see it in my mind even if you can't.