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alf laps have two great benefits: They're strong and quick. The joints are strong because there's a lot of face-to-face surface for a good glue joint. And half laps are quick because both workpieces can usually be cut with the same setup.

To cut a half lap, half the thickness of each piece is removed so the two overlap and their faces are flush. In most cases I use a table saw and a dado blade. But there are times when I prefer the router table, see page 15.

I should also point out that half laps are versatile. They can be cut on the ends of the pieces to create a frame, see next page. Or they can be cut in the middle to create a grid, see page 14. The concept is the same, but the procedures are a bit different.

EXACT THICKNESS. There are two keys to cutting a half lap successfully. First, you want to make sure all the blanks are exactly the same thickness. If they're not (or if your thickness planer "snipes" the ends of the pieces so they're slightly thinner), then it'll be impossible to cut the half laps so the mating pieces are flush on both faces.

CAREFUL BLADE SETUP. The other key to cutting accurate half laps is to set the blade to the proper height — the blade has to be raised exactly half the thickness of the stock.

To get the blade close to the right height quickly, I start with a test piece and set the blade just under half the

thickness. (Any test pieces must be the same thickness as the work-pieces.) Then I make two passes on the same end, flipping the test piece over between passes, see Fig. 1.

What you end up with is a tiny sliver of wood at the center of the piece. Now raise the blade half the height of the sliver and repeat this process until the sliver is just removed.

Now you're ready to test the setup with two test pieces, see Fig. 2. To do this, you need to cut the half laps just like you will on the good workpieces, refer to Figs. 4 and 5. If there's a small shoulder, you'll need to adjust the blade up or down depending on whether the lap is too deep or shallow.

Be patient here. If the half laps are a off now, they're sure to be off later. So take the time to get the setup perfect. And one more thing. It's important to be as consistent as possible when cutting the half laps (applying the same downward pressure on all pieces, for instance). Otherwise, you can end up with half laps that are slightly different.


Test piece must be same thickness as .A. workpieces ///


Test piece must be same thickness as .A. workpieces ///

side view d

Check blade height in two passes, flipping piece between passes

Check blade height in two passes, flipping piece between passes

Faces of pieces-^ should be flush _



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