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Top Ten Featherboard Techniques for Table Saws, Jointers and Routers
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Featherboard sawing Woodworking expert Chris Marshall has developed several techniques for getting the most out of the featherboards in his shop.

Some safety devices, like shop glasses and hearing protection, are “no brainers.” Noise and flying debris give you good reason to have your head gear in place. But the value of other safety widgets, like featherboards, bears repeating now and again. That’s because at times, it might just seem faster or easier to use your hands to steady a quick cut instead of setting up a featherboard or two. Why bother? Well, deep down we all know the answer: those quick “don’t need to over think this” operations are exactly where accidents and machining errors happen. Why take chances? That’s the better question, but occasionally we still roll the dice.

Maybe you don’t use featherboards for other reasons. Sometimes the typical featherboard thickness gets in the way of the operation you’re trying to make. Or, you can’t quite figure out how to mount a featherboard to a machine table surface unless there’s a miter- or T-slot close by. I’ve experienced these setup limitations many times. When the design of the featherboard limits its function, we may be inclined to let it sit in the drawer instead of using it for better protection and workpiece control.

Whatever the case, featherboards should be part of machine use. Improved designs can address all of our excuses for not using them, keep us safer and improve accuracy. They aren’t just for table saws either. Here are 10 operations made safer with featherboards.

Preventing Table Saw Kickback During Rip Cuts
Making Table Saw Rip Cuts for Narrow Profiles
Sawing Oversized Stock Panels on a Machine Table
Control Hardboard and Plastic Laminate Flutter
Hold-in and Hold-Down Rabbet and Dado Cutting Support
Router Table Cutting Edge Profiles in Molding
Cutting Sliding Dovetails on the Router Table
Router Table Panel Cutting with Double Featherboards
Face Jointing with Narrow Featherboards
Wide Board Jointing with Magnetic Featherboards

So you may ask, do we need all of these featherboard products? Not really, but knowing your options can lead you to particular solutions that will make your machining tasks safer, more accurate and even more enjoyable.

posted on October 1, 2010 by Matt Hocking
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