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For joinery cuts, use a saw blade that leaves as smooth a surface as possible. You have several good choices. Hollow-ground planer blades (top) make an extremely smooth cut. However, they require more "projection than other blades — the teeth must completely clear the work as you cut, or the blade will burn the wood For this reason, they don't work well on radial arm saws. Carbide-tipped combination blades (bottom) with 40 teeth or more are smooth-cutting, require minimal projection, and can be used on both table saws and radial arm saws. Finally, thin-kerf blades (middle) also leave smooth cuts and are as versatile as carbide-tipped blades. They also cut faster with less friction; however, because the blades are so thin, thin-kerf blades are more prone to vibration. You may want to use large, specially made washers called blade stabilizers, available from most mailorder woodworking suppliers.

in its slot, there has to be a little play or it won't move. As you push the gauge forward, put a little sideways pressure to the right or left to eliminate the play. Remember how hard and in which direction you pressed, then do the same on all remaining cuts.

This is an important technique! It ensures that duplicate cuts are precise duplicates, and it preserves the accuracy of your woodworking. Because there will always be a little play in your setups and you usually make more than one cut with each setup, you'll need to use this technique — or some variation of it — over and over again.

Cut-Off Jig

Miter gauges offer little support when crosscutting large boards on a table saw. The face of the miter gauge is too small to keep the board properly aligned. You can attach an extension to the face of your miter gauge to gain extra support — some woodworkers fasten an extension between two miter gauges — but this is not a perfect solution, either. You must still contend with the friction of the wood as it slides across the workable.

A cut-off jig solves both problems — it provides adequate support for large boards and relieves the friction. The sliding table of this particular cut-off jig is a large slab of medium-density fiberboard (MDF). (I used MDF because it remains very flat.) Two acrylic plastic runners ride in the miter gauge slots, guiding the jigs table back and forth across the table saw. A fence backs up the boards as you cut them.

This particular cut-off jig has several special fea tures. If you want to make duplicate cuts, the fence is grooved so you can mount a stop anywhere along its length. The grooved portion of the fence — the fence extension slide — can be extended to position the stop up to 36 inches away from the blade. If you want to hold the board down while you cut it, you can mount a clamp on the fence. (The straight-line toggle clamp shown is available from most mail-order woodworking suppliers.) And an acrylic plastic guard protects you from the saw blade.

The construction of t he cut -off jig is straightforward. Glue up stock to make the thick piece needed for the stop and the deblock. Cut the sliding table from MDF; the stop, fence extension slide, fence top, middle, and bottom from solid hardwood; the runners and guard parts from acrylic plastic; and the remaining parts from plywood. Note: Make the fence extension slide and

Align the fence so it's perpendicular to the blade in the same way you'd align a miter gauge. Raise the blade as high as possible and loosen the bolts that hold the fence to the sliding table. Use a drafting triangle to adjust the fence square to the blade, then tighten the bolts. Note: Make sure that the drafting triangle rests against the blade, but not the teeth.

Before you can align the fence or use the cut-off jig, cut a slot in the sliding table. Lower the blade beneath the table. Place the jig on the saw, fitting the runners in the miter gauge slots. The sliding table and the fence should straddle the saw blade. Turn the saw on, raise the blade, and push the jig forward, cutting a slot. The fence and the tieblock will keep the table together.

Align the fence so it's perpendicular to the blade in the same way you'd align a miter gauge. Raise the blade as high as possible and loosen the bolts that hold the fence to the sliding table. Use a drafting triangle to adjust the fence square to the blade, then tighten the bolts. Note: Make sure that the drafting triangle rests against the blade, but not the teeth.

Before you can align the fence or use the cut-off jig, cut a slot in the sliding table. Lower the blade beneath the table. Place the jig on the saw, fitting the runners in the miter gauge slots. The sliding table and the fence should straddle the saw blade. Turn the saw on, raise the blade, and push the jig forward, cutting a slot. The fence and the tieblock will keep the table together.

fence middle in one long strip, then cut into two parts after routing the joinery.

Rout the grooves and rabbets in the fence parts, as s&own in the Fence Extension Slide Detail Cut the fence extension slide/fence middle into two parts, as shown in the Top View. Drill the bolt holes in the fence base a little larger than the bolts. This gives you the play necessary to align the fence precisely square to the blade.

Cut and drill five of the seven fence braces as shown in the Fence Brace Layout, and install threaded inserts and roundhead stove bolts in the holes. The fingers on these braces hold the fence extension slide in place. As you turn the bolts clockwise, they press the fingers forward and lock the extension in place. Turn them counterclockwise and the fingers spring back so you can easily move the extension. Assemble the fence with glue and flathead wood screws. Be careful not to glue the fence extension slide in place.

Cut and drill the stop as shown in the Stop drawings. Pay careful attention to the wood grain direction — it should be parallel to the stops fingers. One face of the stop is pointed (as shown in the Stop/Top View) to keep sawdust from becoming trapped between the stop and the stock when making duplicate cuts.

Attach the tiebiock to the sliding table with glue and flathead wood screws. Bolt the runners, fence assembly, and clamp assembly to the sliding table, but do not glue them in place.

Cut and drill the parts of the guard as shown in the Guard drawings. Note that one of the mounting holes is slightly larger than the other. This makes it possible to shift the fence slightly when you align it with the blade. Assemble the plastic parts with acrylic glue. Install a dowel in the fence and another in the tieblock to hold the guard in place.

^J Use the cut-off jig as you would a miter gauge. Rest a board against the fence, then slide the jig forward, past the blade. If you want to make duplicate cuts, secure the stop block to the fence by turning the wing nut. The block mounts in a groove in the fence.

If you need to make duplicate cuts longer than the fence, pull the fence extension slide sideways and lock it in place. The stop block groove in the middle portion enables you to mount the stop block out past the table.

If you need to make duplicate cuts longer than the fence, pull the fence extension slide sideways and lock it in place. The stop block groove in the middle portion enables you to mount the stop block out past the table.

(continued) t>

Cut-Off Jig — continued

Guarp Top

Guard Back Side

Straight-Line Toggle Clamp

Guard

Back

Guard Back Side

Guard

Back

Push Pull Toggle Clamp With Block

Guarp Top

Fence Bottom

Fence

&races

Fence Bottom

Fence

&races

Exploded View

W x Carriage Bolt, Waî>hek § Hex. Nut in %• pinhole(4req'd)

Top View

Guarp

V* Pia x Dp Finger Hole in Fence Extension Slide removable p Clamp Blpck

Acrylic Plaôtic Runnerô

-I-Variable to

Front View

(continued) t>

Exploded View

Cut-Off Jig — continued

Clamp Position

Washer, 4 Wing Nut

Clamp Block Layout top view

Va" wpx

Slot Thru

34" x 2/z" FH.Stove Bolt: Washer, £ Wing Nut

PiaThru with C6\hk side view front view

Removable Clamp Block

R H. Stove Bolt in 1/4"- 20 "Threaded Insert

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Guard

Side View

Brace Fence

HoleThrü

end view

Fence Brace Layout

Fence Extension Slide Detail

3/kî>"Thk Acrylic "Throughout

Pia HoleThru

7/ig" dia Hole "Thru

end view side view

Guard making miter cuts

There is little difference between making a butt cut and making a miter cut. If you're making the cut on a table saw, set the miter gauge to the proper angle. If you're using a radial arm saw, set the arm. To make a cut of 30, 45, or 60 degrees, use a drafting triangle to set the miter gauge or the arm. To make a cut at some other angle, use a protractor and a sliding T-bevel.

The procedure is similar if you're cutting a bevel, but you must set the blade at the proper angle. Measure the angle between the blade and the table with a triangle or protractor — the degree markings on the saw are notoriously inaccurate.

Always cut a few test pieces with this setup before you cut good stock. Make at least two miter cuts, hold the parts together, and measure the angle between them. (See Figure 3-3.) Some woodworkers prefer to make a miniature frame from test stock. Cut the required number of frame members to precisely the same length and miter the ends. Fit the pieces together. If there are no gaps in any of the miters, then the setup is adjusted to the proper angle.

In addition to cutting simple miters and bevels, you can also make compound miters, mitering and beveling a board at the same time. Compound miters are used to assemble moldings and sloping frames, in which the faces of the frame members rest at angles instead of presenting a flat face or edge. The angle or slope of the frame members determines the miter and bevel angles. Consult "Compound Miter Angles" on the facing page for the proper settings for both the miter gauge (or saw arm) and the saw blade. (See Figures 3-4 and 3-5.)

3-3 To test a miter setup, cut two test pieces and hold the mitered ends together. Measure the angle between the pieces with a square or sliding T-bevel. If the angle is smaller than you hoped for and the square or protractor wont fit between the test pieces, increase the angle of the miter gauge. If the angle is larger, and there's a gap between the test pieces and the measuring device, then decrease the miter gauge angle.

3-4 To cut a compound miter, set the miter gauge at an angle and tilt the saw blade. The gauge angle and the blade angle are determined by both the number of sides in the frame you want to make and the slope of its members.

Miter Saw Measuring Devise

3-5 To check the setup, cut a test frame and assemble the members with masking tape. Measure the slope with a sliding T-bevel and a protractor. If the slope is steeper than you want, decrease the angle of the miter gauge. If it's shallower, increase the angle. Also inspect the joints. If they open on the outside, increase the tilt of the blade. If they open on the inside, decrease the tilt. Make these adjustments slowly, changing the miter gauge angle and the blade tilt no more than V2 degree at a lime. You may have to cut several test frames before the setup is adjusted properly.

Compound Miter Angles

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Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

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