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Repeatable Thin Cuts on the Table Saw

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Thin Cuts on the Table Saw

Here’s a quick and safe way to cut a large number of identical thin strips.

It’s simple to make repeat rip cuts on the table saw: Isn’t it just as simple as putting up a fence and making as many cuts as you want? No matter how many you make, they’ll all be the same. The problem is that it’s not a practical method for extremely thin workpieces because all those same cuts take place between the fence and the blade.

Sometimes the space between the blade and the fence is too small to safely handle the workpiece or even fit a push stick through. Of course, you can cut those thin strips on the blade’s outside, but you’ll have to move the fence with every cut, and it’s impossible to get it perfect every time — those thin pieces will always be slightly off. You can easily set the correct distance with a single measurement and then easily reset the fence to the workpiece for each subsequent cut if you give your main workpiece something to register against. To accomplish this, we’ll use a magnetic stop.

STEP ONE:

Let’s get started by preparing the first cut. I’ve agreed to cut a series of identical 1/4″ strips from the 1″ thick main workpiece for this example. Align the workpiece 1/4″ from the blade’s an outside edge, making sure the ruler is registered from one of the teeth. Once the workpiece is perfectly in place, bring the fence up to the opposite edge and lock it down. Make any necessary adjustments to your measurements to ensure you didn’t nudge the workpiece out of place while adjusting and setting the fence.

STEP 2: 

Place a stop against the outside edge of the workpiece, halfway between the blade and the front of the best table saw under 1000, once the workpiece is set and ready for the first cut. I’m using the back corner of a magnetic feather board as a stop, and the “switchable” magnets keep it firmly against the cast-iron table. It’s worth noting that I’m only registering one of the corners against the workpiece. All you need is that the single point of contact ensures that the workpiece feeds smoothly without binding between the stop and the fence.

Step 3: 

Now all you have to do is start the saw and feed the workpiece through to make your first cut.

STEP 4: 

Continue cutting until the workpiece clears the stop, then feed it through the blade smoothly until the first strip is free. Turn the saw off and allow time for the blade to stop spinning.

STEP 5: 

Return the main workpiece to the front of the saw so that the outside edge registers against the magnetic stop once more. Loosen the split fence and slide it up against the workpiece’s opposite edge. Lock it down once you’ve got it in place with the workpiece against both the stop and the fence. The workpiece should be slightly firm on both sides — the stop on one side and the fence on the other — but not so tight that sliding it is difficult. Similarly, there should be no room for error. Adjust the rip fence as needed until it’s perfect.

STEP 6:

That is all there is to it. From here, it’s simply a matter of repeating the process until you’ve made all of the strips you require.

Step 7:

Now, if you require a lot of strips, you’ll most likely go through your original main workpiece quickly. If that’s the case, toss the remaining workpiece into the scrap bucket after you’ve made so many cuts that you’ve moved the fence too close to the blade for safe handling, and start over with a new piece. The charm of this strategy is that you don’t have to measure anything else. Simply retract the rip fence, register the new workpiece against the stop as before, raise the fence, lock it in place, and begin cutting.

The Rockler Thin Rip Table Saw Jig lets you rip thin strips on the left side of the blade, avoiding the risk of narrow strips getting caught between the saw and the fence. There is also lesser risk of binding and kickback because the strip is not trapped between the blade and the fence. It’s easy to use; a single knob locks the jig into the miter track while also locking your setting.

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