Thursday, November 21, 2019
19 February 2019

19 Feb 2019 Best Woodworker

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1) Your tools must be accurate and precise. Invest in a good quality square and metal measuring stick and use the same measuring device for every part of the project. You don’t have to invest in an $80 Starrett Combination Square to have an accurate square. You can purchase a set of Machinist Squares from Amazon for about $30 and they are spot-on. https://www.amazon.com/Woodstock-D4089-Machinist-Square-4-Piece/dp/B005W16YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540913125&sr=8-1&keywords=engineering+square+set

2) Flat, Straight and Square. The wood you use for your project must be flat, straight and square before you start. A board that’s not square or flat can have an exponential effect on the overall project. After you rough cut your boards to width and length, take it to the jointer and get a flat face. With that flat face against the fence square one edge. Now you can go to the planer to mill the correct thickness using the flat face as the reference. Finally, cut the two edges parallel at the table saw using the square edge as the reference edge. This one step alone goes a long way in making a better project.

3) Cut the same measurements all at once. Rip to width all the pieces of the same width at the same time. Because it is difficult to reset the rip fence to the exact same spot this will eliminate any errors in width. Remember it is often less about the exact measurement and more about consistency. If the piece is off by 1/16”, it’s not a big deal if all the pieces are off by an equal amount.

4) Stop Block on the Miter Gauge Fence. Just like above, use a miter gauge with your table saw to crosscut boards to their length. In this case, use a stop block and cut all the boards of the same length with the stop block in place. It will provide consistent lengths.

5) Backer board. While at the miter gauge, use a squared-up board as a backer board attached to your miter gauge. It will back-up the cut to prevent chip-out. The backer board supports the fibers of the wood until the saw blade can make a complete cut preventing the fibers from breaking off. Also, keep a sharp blade in your saw.

6) Label. There are a number of ways to label parts and mark direction and alignment. I did an early blog on that topic, “Triangle Marking”. The way you do it really doesn’t matter much as long as it makes sense to you. When you’ve gone to all the trouble to find good grain matches and cut parts from the same boards, then don’t get them mixed up and waste all that hard work. Label pieces so you know exactly where they go.

7) Dimple Holes. One area I struggled with was the placement of the drill bit. I made two changes to correct that. I bought a good set of Brad-point drill bits, and I started using an awl to mark the location of the center of the hole. This allows you to align the point of the bit in the center of the hole.

8) Marking Knife. Finally, I suggest using a marking knife instead of a pencil for precise layout lines. A marking knife is very narrow and marks the exact location and it cuts the fibers which will help with tear out especially when using hand tools.

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