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Crosscuts techniques from our shop

Woodsmith

Zero-clearance insert -backs up cut

Zero-clearance insert -backs up cut

Completing the Cut Once past the blade, slide the workpiece away and then return the miter gauge.

"Mask" the Cut. A piece of masking tape can reinforce wood fibers for a chip-free crosscut.

Height of blade raised above workpiece

Downward force holds workpiece flat

Workpiece

Workpiece

It also provides a means to clamp the workpiece or attach a stop block. {A strip of adhesive sandpaper stuck to the fence creates a non-skid surface.)

The auxiliary fence I use extends past the blade. This means the cut is backed up and the workpiece is fully supported on both sides of the blade. A bonus is that the kerf in the fence gives you a ready reference for lining up the cut.

NEXT, THE CROSSCUT

With this setup in place, you've started down the right track. Now, it's simply a matter of using good technique to make the cuts. There are just a few fine points to this that the drawings at right illustrate.

BLADE HEIGHT. Before making the cut, you'll need to adjust the height of the blade. I've found that when the blade is about above the top surface of the workpiece, I get the smoothest cut. At this height the cutting action of the teeth is directed downward, and fewer teeth are in the cut at one time. The work-piece will be easier to hold down, the sawdust will clear more quickly, and there will be less friction.

GOOD FACE UP. There's one more thing to think about before turning the saw on, Workpieces often have a "show" face and a back face, and 1 always mark which one is which. When making the cuts, you want the good face up, if possible. This will limit any chipout to the unseen face of the workpiece.

FLIP THE SWITCH. Now you're ready to make the crosscut. At this point, the key to a smooth cut is in how you feed the workpiece. First, you want to have a firm grip, holding the workpiece tightly against the miter gauge. The auxiliary fence and its sandpaper facing help with this, but you have to do the rest.

You'll find that the cutting force often makes the workpiece "wander" into or away from the blade during the cut, resulting in a rough, inaccurate crosscut. So if 1 have trouble controlling a workpiece (wider pieces can be a challenge), I enlist the help of a clamp. You can clamp the workpiece directly to the fence or clamp a stop block to the fence to keep the workpiece in place.

A STEADY FEED. When you feed the workpiece through the blade, keep it moving steadily You have to let the saw, the thickness of the stock, and the hardness of the wood dictate how fastyou feed. Burning will tell you you're feeding too slow — too fast and you'll see rough saw marks and heavy chipout. I try to never stop during a cut. You'll usually get burning or visible saw marks at the stopping point. But I like to slow down just a bit as the blade starts to exit the cut. This can help avoid chipping along the back edge of the workpiece.

COMPLETING THE CUT, To preserve the clean edge, avoid the temptation to quickly pull the workpiece back along the edge of the saw blade after completing the cut. Instead, slide the workpiece away from the blade before returning. If the work-piece is clamped or a stop block is in place, I'll turn the saw off rather than risk mining the cut.

FINAL TIPS. That covers the basics. But I do have a few tips to offer that help me get better crosscuts.

First, whenever possible, I like to take a hill "cutoff" rather than just a "trim" cut. This way, the blade is cutting a full-width kerf, and it will run truer, giving you a cleaner, smoother cut. Sometimes, you can't avoid making a cut of less than a blade's width. And when this is the case, I try to make the final, finish cut as light as possible. You'll see fewer saw marks and less chipping.

For safety reasons (and to keep from ruining a workpiece), 1 don't let cutoffs pile up close to the blade. They can easily "vibrate" into the blade and be kicked back at you. This can result in quite a scare or an injury and may damage any work-piece you're crosscutting.

Finally, no matter how careful you are, some workpieces will chip. If a perfect cut is a must, there are a couple of tricks you can resort to. One is to use a sharp knife to score the line of the cut before running it through the saw. This will guarantee a clean edge. A second solution is to place masking tape firmly over

Blade Height. You'll get a cleaner, easier cut when the cutting action of the blade is downward

Completing the Cut Once past the blade, slide the workpiece away and then return the miter gauge.

masking tape firmly - on underside fand back edge

"Mask" the Cut. A piece of masking tape can reinforce wood fibers for a chip-free crosscut.

the line of the cut. The tape backs up the fibers at the edge of the cut to keep them from tearing loose.

1 won't deny that crosscutting workpieces on the table saw seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill task. But for me, that's the best reason to make it one that ends in perfect results every time. ES

Height of blade raised above workpiece

Downward force holds workpiece flat

Aiix-fence

Workpiece

Workpiece

A Full Cut A full cut, as in the left drawing, will be smoothest A very light finish cut is next best (right).

Remove full cutoff for cleanest cut

False Drawer Storage

The false-drawer front of the storage center drops down to reveal lots of storage for small items, while the double hooks underneath provide a good place to hang coats, scarves, and hats.

drop-front Storage Center

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

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