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"What is it?" #78

3493 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  reible
This is a homemade one but you can buy them as well. They are so easy to build you should make a few just for the fun of it. I used a bandsaw to do this one maybe 10 years ago..... I know on the router work shop they have something they use that looks different but serves the same purpose.

This time to get the points I want you to first) tell us what this if for, and second explain how to make one with enough detail that others reading this could go out in the shop and make one.

I will send points to the first 3 people who post the correct answer and instructions, how about 150 points each.

Make sure you give details..... wood?, size?, other notches you might add?, under cuts you might make? You are the teacher so teach us.



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It's a featherboard. Used to keep work tight against a fence, usually with the table saw or router. To make one, use hardwood, cut in a rectangle shape about 4" x 10", cut one short end at an angle about 20 deg., cut "fingers" about every 5 mm. (1/4") by cutting from the angled end towards the other end about 8 cm (2.5 in.) or so long. (see Ed's photo) You could make a slot in it so that the featherboard could run in the table saw slot.
Also called a fingerboard. Besides keeping the work tight to a fence, they also provide effective anti-kickback devices (the thin "fingers" absorb the kick), primarily due to the angle of the "finger-tips".

I've got a few that are made out of birch plywood. They may not stand the test of time that Ed's has, but they came from left-overs, and work well. One of them has a handle on it that is comfortable to grip, and is used hand-held. Otherwise, a clamp can be used to fasten it to the table or fence.

Making one is relatively simple. For most operations, a piece of 3/4" mat'l is sufficiently thick (allthough some larger jobs may require thicker!) and 3 1/2" is adequately wide. The length of the fingerboard can be variable, depending on the specific application.... However I would suggest at least 10" (a large tablesaw would require a lot longer one!).

Miter one end of the board 30 degrees, and mark a parrallel line 5 inches away from the miter. Set your rip fence to make a cut 1/8" from the edge, and cut to the line, leaving your first finger (On the workpiece that is!.... not your bloody digit on the table!). Continue on, using 1/8" fingers and spacing (assuming that is the saw's kerf).

If you want a hand held model, this is the time to cut the handle (not before cutting the fingers).

Even clamped, featherboards can "walk" from their original location. To prevent this, a piece of emery cloth glued to the bottom of the board can help.

When using them, they are generalyy used on the infeed side of the cutter. Put the fingers flat against the stock to be milled, so that the angle between the featherboard and workpiece nearest the cutter is greater than 90 (actually 120degrees). Clamp it down and make the cut, without worrying that the stock will wander away from the fence.
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...And they can also be clamped to a fence, keeping the work from lifting off the table.
Still time for one more person to get some points and tell us how you make yours.... Yes you can be the "master craftsperson" for the day!

A couple of good answers but I know at least a few of you know some more secrets to making these so "spill the beans" come on out with it!

Ed, they can be made on a table saw using a fixture like a box joint jig. I'm no teacher, so you can explain it better than I. :p
Ok, so far I noted holding work against the fence and down to the table on the infeed side of the tablesaw or router. When routing or sawing long pieces a 2nd finger or feather board clamped to the outfeed side of the fence gives added stability.
I cheated and bought the hold down kit from Rockler when it was marked way down. I felt the plastic fingers would be less likely to mar since they are softer than most woods.
I'm still hoping for one more master craftsperson to post his or her details on building one of these....... I'll end this sometime on the 9th so get you posts in before it is to late.

Julie said:
wow, you're picky, Ed! ;)

You know it is hard to give away points, you and presumed_druid have done your parts but I still have another 150 points for someone.

" I will send points to the first 3 people who post the correct answer and instructions, how about 150 points each."

Come on some ONE finish this "What is it?", PLEASE.

Choose a decent piece of hardwood, 12 x 3 or so, and cut end at 45 deg angle. cut 1/4 in wide fingers about 4 inches long in board. Make sure fingers are 'long grain' so they flex, but do not snap.

I have learned a cheat from some cheap plastic featherboards, to cut the first finger about 1/4 inch shorter than the rest. This lets you set the proper 'spring' easily.

The real cheap ones from harbor freight actually work real well, but take the cheap plastic anchors off and put T nuts.
Alright! Three people have told us how to make one of these and did a good job of it!
You are the winners!

Thank you all for additional comments and contributions!

I still have the orginal one I did a looooong time ago.... It was one of the first addons I did when I got my own first table saw. As you can see by the others instructions you have a lot of options for building these. Hardwood, plywood, the one pictured is out of pine, they all work. The angle is not something you even need to measure, 20-30-45 degs and most anything between. You can cut with a table saw, band saw, hand saw, jig saw.... I might skip the router for this job by that might even work. I personal like to take off a little material from both sides of the wood where the fingers are so you can be sure they will not "catch" on the table or fence when bending/flexing. Also look for knot free wood...... I guess that's most of it. And I have to admit I own maybe a half dozen store bought ones too......


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