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Cutting Panels on a Tablesaw

What is the bcsi way to set up my tablesaw for catting 4x8 plywood panels and other large-size sheet goods?

Bijan Mobasscri King of Prussia, PA

OWith the right setup, a tablesaw can make cutting panels easier and more prccise. Without it, you're in for a dangerous and difficult job. Start with an extension table on the outfeed side of the saw that's large enough to support at least half a 4x8 panel after you push it through the blade. (See drawing.) If you want to make wide cuts, you'll also need an extension table to the left or right of the blade. For a "roving* support, buy or make a portable, height-adjustable roller stand. Sometimes you'll use this as a side extension; other times you'll want it on the outfeed side. It depends on the panel size and where you're making the cut.

Since heavy panels can easily knock a light-duty rip fence out of alignment, it's best to equip your tablesaw with a high-quality rip fence if you plan on cutting panels regularly. Aftermarket rip fences are readily adaptable to side table extensions, and most of these fences are longer than standard models. This means you'll have more of a guid-ing edge to work against.

Even if you have extension tables and a premium rip fence, it's still a good idea to precut a full-size panel with a circular saw—especially if you're working solo. Cut your "good" piece oversize by */8 in. or so, and you'll have a lot less weight and size to pass through the blade.

When you're guiding a panel against the rip fence to make a cut, remember to direct your feed pressure diagonally, as shown in the drawing above. Don't just push the panel straight ahead. Instead, "aim* your pressure at a point on the rip fence that's just an inch or so ahead of the spot where the saw blade enters the wood.

Tim Snyder AW managing editor

Designing a Tool Chest

I'm planning to build a tool chest to hold my chisels, planes and other small tools, and I need some good design ideas. I want to make sure Til have enough space in the chest for any tools that I buy in the future. What do you suggest?

Keith Mealy Cincinnati, OH

OHand tools and layout tools really belong in a tool chest, to protect them and retain their sharpness and precision while leaving them accessible. We encourage students to build chests that can fit on the workbench or under it. You want a chest that can hold a lot, but it shouldn't be too big to move around.

If you stick to hand tools and tools for layout, it's not difficult to design a tool

chest that can accommodate future acquisitions. Talk to other woodworkers, and compare their list of commonly used tools to your own. Figure out where the gaps are, and allow for the right amount of space in your design.

Consider making a chest with drawers. Drawers protect tools from each other, and they can be redivided to accommodate newly acquired tools. Make a bunch of thin wooden divider strips to fit in your drawers. Tap brads into the ends of the strips, then nip the brads off, leaving short spurs. When you spring the strips into place, the spurs lock them in, but you can change the spacing whenever you want.

WOODWORKING QUESTIONS? Send them to: "Q&A," American Woodworker, 33 E. Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098. Or e-mail them to: [email protected]

Basic but beautiful. Designed and built by Claire Fruitman, this cherry and maple tool chest fits under a workbench. A pull-out door locks in front of the drawers, keeping them in place when the chest is moved.

side extension table portable

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