Long Stock, Short Fence

Popular Woodworking - - Connect -

Rout­ing long, stiff pieces such as handrails, presents a cou­ple of prob­lems. First, it’s very hard to get (or make) stock that’s ex­tremely straight and 12' to 14' long. Sec­ond, a piece that thick won’t flex, so a feath­er­board isn’t go­ing to keep it tight against your fence.

The so­lu­tion? Use two short fences, each about 5" long. If your work­piece is slightly curved, the bend won’t af­fect the shape of the pro­file very much.

I also use short fences on my ta­ble­saw in some sit­u­a­tions. When rip­ping a board, in­ter­nal forces may cause it to spread apart as it is cut. The right-hand side of the board then binds against the fence and the blade. Di­men­sional soft­wood lum- ber is much more prone to this prob­lem than kiln-dried hard- wood, but you never know.

You should al­ways use a split­ter or riv­ing knife on your saw to pre­vent kick­back from this kind of bind­ing, but you’ll prob­a­bly get burn marks on the board’s edges. The bind­ing may get so bad that you can’t push the board the rest of the way through the cut.

A short fence solves both prob­lems. If I’m rip­ping cedar for an out­door pro­ject, for ex­am­ple, I clamp a short sub-fence to the saw that stops right at the point where the work­piece clears the blade. If the board starts to warp, it has noth­ing to push against. — Cliff Thorn­ton

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