Home > Woodworking > While waiting for shop 220V … Featherboards

While waiting for shop 220V … Featherboards

I like to keep a to-do list of woodworking projects because I find that if I don’t write them down, I either forgot that great idea or I don’t have the problem materials on hand. Having project ideas means that I have some choices of things to do when a bit of shop time opens up. Prior to assembling my table saw I was reading the manual from cover to cover and I came across one such project, featherboards!

Featherboards Plans

This was  project within my skill level and one with which I could try out my new bandsaw.  So over the July 4th Holiday I knocked a couple of these out. Complete plans for these may be found on pages 46 and 47 of the Model G0715P table saw owner’s manual.

I made mine out of poplar which I had on hand. I made my kerfs in the pattern “B” above and used an 1/8″ gauge to space the fingers.

1/8" Kreg Gauge

I wasn’t perfect in my work but I did find that by the second board, I was becoming much more consistent in my marking and cutting. It was good practice and a chance to bond with my new bandsaw.

Cutting the Featherboard Fingers

I noticed that I would tend to line up the blade to the mark but when I locked the fence it would “square it up” and tend to move my alignment. After a while I figured out that I could get it close, lock the fence (so that it squared) then gently tap the fence left or right to finalize the alignment. This worked and save a fair amount of time and frustration of “chasing the mark”. I was thinking of this as a poor man’s micro-adjuster. This technique worked for me and all the while I was having fun with my new toy.

Aweful with the Router

Next came a session with my nemesis, the router table. I have to add here that many tools and skills have come along and are working pretty well in my shop, the router table is not one of them. I am going to have to improve or quit using it altogether. Because I opted to add miter bars to these featherboards I needed to route a 1/4″ or 3/8″ slot in them. I opted for 3/8″ on the first one and began by drilling a series of 3/8″ holes along the center line of the work. My reasoning was that I could then clean up the slot using a 3/8″ router straight bit, no problem right? Well there were several problems that I encountered including having to plunge the piece onto the bit and getting the fence adjusted properly. I also pulled the rookie mistake of trying to cut too deeply (I was fooled into thinking that it would be OK because I had pre-drilled the work). Any way I eventually got things cleaned up with the router bit but the slot was much wider than I would have liked. On the second piece I opted to start with a 1/4″ slot. I also pre-drilled this on the drill press but this time I thought I’d try out a mortising bit instead of a twist drill bit. The mortising bit was OK, but there nothing amazing about the slot I made with it. So I took it over to the router table and this time I was going to make a very shallow cut having learned from my first attempt. I adjusted the fence, set a stop block, turned on the router, plunged down and my fence walked on me effectively “ruining” my piece. I hadn’t properly tightened  it. Of course this is a shop appliance so it really wasn’t “ruined” as I’m using it anyway. But had this been one of my handcrafted instruments that I someday hope to make I would have been crushed. Oh well, practice, learn and improve.

Finished Featherboards with Miter Bars

Anyway, several shop activities did go well and a few are still giving me trouble. The band saw was great. I’m paying more attention to grain direction and have found it much easier to clean-up and true an edge. Ripping and adjusting the miter bars was far easier than I would have supposed. My low angle spokeshave has come out of adjustment and I’m having real trouble getting it adjusted again. Even with some minor setbacks it was a really good day at Turtlecove Woodworks.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

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