The Four Steps

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Now you're ready for the four dimensioning cuts that you see illustrated in the drawings at right.

TWO PARALLEL SIDES. The first step is to rip the workpiece close to its final width (Step One). I never try to hit the final dimension right on the money. The purpose is just to make sure that both long edges are straight and parallel. An extra V32" or Vis" in width is plenty. This leaves enough material to allow you to come back later and clean up this face — eliminating saw marks, burn marks, or tearout from crosscutting. And with straight, parallel edges to work from, youTl have a much easier time getting square ends when you crosscut to length.

ONE SQUARE END. Once you have two straight edges, begin cutting the workpiece to length by making a clean, square crosscut on one end. But don't get carried away here, this is usually just a light trim cut. Be sure to leave yourself enough length for the final cut.

The ends of the workpieces are often where the joinery takes place, so it pays to get this step right. And the key to accurate crosscuts is control of the workpiece. For this I rely on a miter gauge with a long auxiliary fence as shown in Step Two. This gives you a solid backing for the workpiece that allows a controlled feed and limits tearout. A smooth, steady feed produces the best crosscuts. Too slow arid the wood burns — too fast and you'll end up with a ragged or inaccurate cut.

If I've got a stack of parts to cut to length, I'll square one end of all the pieces before cutting any to final length. It's just more efficient. A mark on the squared end will help keep things straight (see main photo).

CUT TO LENGTH. Now you can make the final crosscut to length. And more often than not, you're going to want to cut several pieces to identical lengths. Door rails and stiles, and face frame parts are a good example.

So rather than measure and cut each piece and hope for the best, I set up to cut "multiples." This involves measuring and marking one piece and then using this piece to set up the saw for cutting the remaining identical pieces to length. A stop block on the miter gauge can be adjusted as you sneak up on the length of the measured piece, as shown in Step Three. The length of the pieces that follow will be exactly the same.

THE FINAL EDGE. At this point your workpiece is cut to length and has one clean, square edge. But if s still a little overwidth. A light rip cut removes the extra width and cleans the final edge (Step Four and main photo).

That's all there is to it. At this point, the workpieces are square and true to size. But the best thing is that you can move on with one less thing to worry about. OS

4 Steps for Perfect Pieces

Rip Close to Final Width. With the straight, square edge against the fence, rip the workpiece dose to its final width. The extra width allows you to clean up this face with the final cut

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