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Tips On Using Featherboards For Your Table Saw

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe effectiveness of a feather board is determined by the amount of flexibility; the more flexible the fingers, the less effective they will be in controlling your stock. It is important to keep this in mind when you are choosing your feather board. If you need a piece of stock to stay in contact with a fence throughout a cut on your router table or table saw, you won’t want the fingers flexing when the stock starts to move away from the fence.

The pressure you apply when you bend the very flexible fingers of a feather board is so strong that they do actually provide sufficient control will create substantial friction; and this is just drag. There are, of course, some situations when it is not possible to apply any pressure at all. For example, during a second pass of raised panels that are shaped by the pressure from above –  this would result in the panel being pushed down onto the bit. In these cases, flexible feather boards will be of no help at all.

Preventing Kickback

Kickback is the result of losing control over your work; it is therefore essential to establish positive control as a preventative measure. Simply hoping that the flexible polished wooden fingers will lock against a work piece and arrest it after the kickback has already begun is asking for trouble.

Considering all of this, I highly recommend that you purchase or make your feather boards fairly stiff, with fingers that have very little flexibility so that you will be able to apply controllable pressure to the stock. The idea is to achieve performance that is as dependable as it would be from a solid piece of wood. This means that simply putting the fingers in contact with a work piece will ensure positive control.

The average size of the feather boards is 2″ in width with a 20° end. The fingers that are cut on the band saw are around 1/8″ wide by 2″ long on average. In order to keep friction to an unobtrusive minimum the ends of the fingers are waxed; and smooth stock entry is facilitate by the radius of the infeed edge.

So keep these points in mind and make sure to use a feather board in order to prevent kickback and other issues.


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featherboard image at the top from wikipedia.com at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Featherboard

Updated: January 5, 2015 — 3:32 am
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