Woodworking Tools

Dovetailing Made Easy

Every woodworker would love to make dovetail joints when they are making drawers, boxes and other similar joints.Dovetail joints look great, are solid and are a sign that a woodworker has dedicated some special skills to their woodworking project. Unfortunately, despite the fact that we see some sort of article every month in one of the woodworking magazines, dovetails are STILL seldom used. WHY IS THAT? The woodworking magazines have described in detail every possible jig for making dovetails on the router, on the tablesaw, hand cut dovetails and even dovetails cut with the CNC router. SO WHY ARE DOVETAILS SELDOM USED? 

 

Well I'll tell you why, because its either
   A) To expensive to purchase a decent jig to cut dovetails with
   B) To time consuming to practice and practice until you are good at hand cutting them
   C) Don't want to spend the time making the jig for the tablesaw
   D) Don't own a CNC machine

Well folks FINALLY .... there is hope. I knew this would happen eventually (woodworkers are such innovative people) Yes, someone has finally invented a dovetail jig for use with a router (using a table or without using a router table) AN AFFORDABLE jig, and one that is not complicated and difficult to understand.

The E-Z Pro Dovetail jig is just as the title says, easy to use and very non-complicated. You can choose to use or narrow boards to make your dovetails on, and this little jig will still accommodate them.

 

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Rockler Shark Pro vs Carvewright/Compucarve CNC Router Wood Carving Machine

The Rockler Shark Pro and the Carvewright/Compucarve CNC Router Wood Carving machines are the two machines targeted at the mass market entry-level woodworking users, so it's only fair to see how the two rack up against each other with regards to carving area, work piece size, cutting system, machinable materials and software.

Rockler Shark Pro Carvewright

Rockler Shark Pro CNC Router

Carvewright CNC Router

Carving Area

Carving area comes first because size is king but remember that there is a difference between maximum work piece size and maximum carving area. The Shark's gantry is a much wider than both the worktable and the carving area so in effect, you will not be able to carve the full width of the work piece if that is essential to you.

For the Carvewright on the other hand, focus is placed on the work piece size which includes being able to carve up to the edge of the work piece itself, so you've got a carving area of about 14" x 11" which, from the carving area perspective at least, has the Carvewright taking the lead from Rockler.

All About Radial Arm Saws

 All About Radial Arm SawsRadial Arm Saws tend to be one of the most under-appreciated of woodworking machines which is disheartening, considering how versatile they are in the range of operations and tasks they are able to perform.

Why opt for a radial arm saw

While they may be on the pricier end of the scale, and they do tend to be both heavy and not typically fit to carry around easily. As a result, they are used mostly in professional shops where portability isn’t a priority.

That said, the variety of operations that a radial arm saw can perform from ripping to cutting bevels or miters, dadoes and rabbets, forming mouldings and in some instances, serving as router guides; is nothing short of amazing. However, like any tool there are trade-offs which come hand in hand with its versatility: difficulty in setting up cuts (as opposed to a compound miter) taking a longer time to rip stock (table saws rip faster). That said, the radial-arm saw is able to perform both these tasks, albeit a little slower than other tools, but again, it is a small price to pay.

Using a Radial-Arm Saw
Always, always follow the original manufacturer’s instructional guide before using or setting up your power tool, which applies to the radial-arm saw as well, since using it to the existing specs is usually a step in the right direction.

When using the saw for the first time during cross cutting, you might end up cutting grooves onto the table top. To avoid that, set the blade depth to just below the surface of the table once the saw’s motor is up to speed. Also ensure that the stock is held securely against the fence and remember that when you pull the saw through the stock and towards you, it can cause the saw to lurch forwards damaging either the stock or yourself. As a result, always grasp the handle firmly not allowing it to determine the speed of the cut. While this may take time and consistent practice, you will get it soon enough.



Working on Dadoes & Rabbets
Radial-arm saws are made for cross cutting dadoes and rabbets especially for producing slots for shelves. Before starting work, set your stacked dado’s thickness as desired and ensure the blade is raised away from the table. When setting the dado stack, ensure that it is installed in the correct direction with respect to the blades’ rotation. Once it has been installed and the (blade) guard reattached, find the appropriate depth of cut for your dado using a scrap piece of wood as a guide. The same dado set can also be used when cutting tenons.

Miters and Bevels

While the saw can cut normally up to sixty degrees in either direction in miters and up to 90 degrees in bevels, the trade off is that it is only in one direction. And though the radial-arm saw is able to cut more non traditional angles than compound miter saws, it is a lot more difficult to get the angles of the cut just right. So before commencing, always ensure that clamping levers are locked into place.

Ripping Stock
Radial-arm saws can also be used for ripping stock and are often no less harder to use than table saws, provided they have been set up properly. During the setup, ensure  you use the anti-kickback assembly making use of riving knives and pawls. Riving knives are used to prevent stock from binding onto the blade although should the blade jam, the pawls will grab the stock protecting it from a possible kickback. One important fact to remember: pawls might not grab the stock during ripping plastic laminated or melamine stock, should there be a kickback. In fact any non-coated stock might face this issue.

Safety Tips
When using your radial-arm saw, be aware of the blade guard—never turn on the saw without the guard in place and without ensuring the guard’s lower section has not been tampered with. Also ensure that the guard can be lifted easily during the saw’s operation and that it drops back into position on release.

It is usually safer to set up the unit with a slightly backward slope, preventing it from sliding towards you.

Other important tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t begin a cut without waiting for the blade to hit its maximum speed.
  • Always control the speed of the cut.
  • Ensure that the hand holding the stock piece is well away from the path of the blade.
  • Remember to use feather boards and push sticks as and when necessary.

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Of all the woodworking power tools in your shop, the radial arm saw is probably the most important tool to make sure you get the right blade for. It is VERY important to have to correct tooth angle and if possible, has anti-kickback features. These will help make the radial arm saw safer to use, give better cuts and make it easier for the woodworker to use.
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Best Option for blade selection ...

 

freud sliding mitre blade

 

All About Plate or Biscuit Joiners

Although plate or biscuit joiners have little to no use beyond the one task they’re built for, they complete the task so diligently, that they are a must for every woodworking environment. Referred to as a biscuit cutter, this miniature saw cuts thin slots into edges of wood boards which are then used to hold two pieces of stock together via a biscuit. Hence the name.

What is a biscuit?
Before getting into the nitty gritty of biscuit joiners, it’s helpful knowing what a biscuit is and does. Biscuits are thin, oval-shaped slices of wood and are usually made from compressed beechwood. They are glued to a slot on the edge of one board and in a corresponding slot on the other, and are especially useful when gluing together individual boards when making table tops, cabinet constructions, etc.

You MUST see this video for the most innovative accessory in Biscuit Joiners

Why Use Plate Joiners?
Plate joiners eliminate the common problems associated with using a slot-cutting router bit for cutting grooves in biscuits since it is generally impossible to continuously insert routs bits into the edge of boards at a perfect perpendicular angle.
Blades of plate joiners spin at speeds of up 10,000 RPM and is embedded within the guard of the saw, before being plunged into a stock piece. Additionally, its guide systems effectively guarantee perpendicular cuts to a stock’s edge, leading to a snug fit.

Plater Joiner Features
High quality plate joiners feature a fully adjustable depth scale, a bevel for cutting slots at a 45-degree angle, maximum; and a sawdust port for dust collection. Some plate joiners come with the feature for cutting grooves in the edges of stuck but we feel there are other (not to mention, better and safer) tools on the market, for cutting T&G joints.

How to Use a Plate Joiner:
There are a number of steps to follow in order to use a plate joiner in successfully connecting two boards’ edges.
Check the boards (both should be of the same thickness) to ensure they line up (ie full contact across their lengths)*.

  1. Place the two correctly aligned boards on your work table in their final positions.
  2. Pencil in evenly spaced out markings across the joint, where each biscuit on the board will fit in.
  3. Using the plate joiner, put the guide fence flat on top of one board’s surface, lining the cutting guide with the pencil. (Work on one board at a time)
  4. Turn on the saw, inserting the blade into board up to the stop line.
  5. Remove and repeat at each pencil mark.
  6. After completing all cuts, put glue on the slots of one board, inserting a biscuit into each and sliding the second board onto the biscuit.
  7. Use clamps to hold the joints together as the glue dries, also ensuring not to tighten the clamps too tight so as to squeeze out the glue trapped within.
  8. *If the two edges aren’t matching up, using a pass through jointer to machine-plane the two stock pieces ensures two straight edges.

    Plate Joiner Safety Measures
    Before using the plate joiner, it’s always useful to carefully follow all the safety rules listed in its instructions manual.
    Ensure you use only sharp blades in the biscuit cutter and NEVER use it without its blade guard.
    Be absolutely positive that its motor is running at full speed before inserting into a board and never (in)advertently apply any pressure to slow down a spinning blade.

 

lamello biscuit joining

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