Featherboards are not used nearly as often as they could be for a few reasons, they are time consuming to make, they often don't work as well as they could and sometimes they are difficult to mount on your machinery. In this video I am taking one of the elements away, which is making, good quality featherboards that will give you consistent and repeatable results with little setup (depending on your equipment).
The biggest problem I have always had is making featherboards with consistently thin fingers that will give me the kind of pressure I need for use on my router table or table saw. This jig solves that problem and speeds up the process too.
Watch this and other similar videos on YouTube - https://youtu.be/UAPWB368sG0
I first tried to use my "Lynn Sabin" box joint jig (kindly provided free, by Leeway Workshop), but the design of it simply doesn't not work well for featherboards. You can see more on the box joint jig I made right on this website here. I decided to try to re-design it using the same principal of using a threaded bar a the indexing component and went about making a prototype featherboard jig. I seldom need to make prototypes but I do find them useful at times when I don't have a clear vision for the end product. The prototype I made worked OK, but not nearly as well as I hoped, but what I learned making it was what I could do to improve it and so here is what I did ...
No remember, the jig I made is for my little 12 inch Delta bandsaw. The jig you may need might need to be slighly larger if you are using it on a 14 or 16 inch bandsaw. You will need to determine that yourself based on your own equipment.
Here is the list of components and dimensions that I used to make mine
Base - 16" x 16" x 1/2" good quality plywood like Baltic Birch or Apply Ply
Sides - qty 2 - 16" x 1.5" x 3/4" Oak (Oak is best to help withstand the turning of the ready-rod that will wear away the hole)
Center Platen - 6" x 13" x 1" (this could be any wood you have)
Support Wood - 14" x 5" x 1" (again this can be any wood)
Ready Rod (threaded rod) 18" - 3/8" - 16 threads per inch (I used 1/4" ready rod and it is a bit thin for this application)
2 - T-nuts 3/8-16 thread
4 - small cap screws to fasten down the T-nuts
6 - 3/8"-16 nuts that will be used to fasten the ready-rod onto the jig
2 - flat washers and 2 lock-washers
2 - 2" bolts, with matching wing-nuts for use through the center platen to hold down the material as you are cutting it.
1- 1/2" x 6" X 10" plywood, (anything will do) that will be used as a template for drilling holes in your featherboard blanks
1 - 16' - 3/4" mitre slot material, plastic is best but you can make your own from wood
1 - crank, make this yourself with what you have on hand, suitable to fit on the end of the ready-rod
The only real prep you need to do is to drill a matching hole through both sides of the jig, then through through the center platen. I had to cut my platen in half because my drill bits weren't long enough, then glue them back together. It worked well but cost a bit of time waiting for glue to dry.
The main point in drilling the holes is the that the hole should go a closely through the middle edge of the center platen as possible to give the T-nuts something to grab on to. The easiest way would be to drill the side pieces first, then use them as a guide to drill the center platen hole.
Location of Holes
The holes I drilled in the sides of my jig were 4 inches from the back. The hole I drilled through the center platten was 5.5" from the back of the platten. These holes are arbitrary but worked. You may need to make your holes in different spots depending on your equipment.
After the holes are drilled and your center platten is ready go, you will need to fasten the two T-nuts in place. They will both need to be fastened down with the small cap screws and one of the T-nuts will need the "tangs" filed off. Insert the tanged T-nut first, then make sure it is secured with the cap screws.
Thread on the second one until stops, now twist the ready-rod, it should twist easy, if it doesn't back off the non-tanged T-nut until the ready-rod spins quite easily. That is the point where you will need to fasten the T-nut with the cap screws. You will probably need to do a bit of finessing to get the ready-rod to twist fairly easily. The more time you spend making this correct the easier the jig will be to use, so take your time on this.
Next you will need to make 2 suitable holes through the template material, then through the center platen. The bolts I used for this required countersinking with a fostner bit. I first measured where the bolts needed to be, then used a 1/16" drill bit to drill a pilot hole through the center platen. I then used the forstner bit to drill the countersink holes on either side using the pilot holes as a guide, then finally drilled the holes that the bolts will go through in both the center platen and teh template.
This takes a bit of time to do because the center platen needs to be threaded at the same time. In my jig I used self locking nuts, but these turned out to be more work that they were worth, I would just use standard nuts for all these components.
First of all, lock your crank to the ready-rod with a nut and lock washer on each side, then thread on 2 - ready-rod nuts, then a flat washer.
Now poke the ready-rod through one side of the jig (usually the right side) now insert another washer and 2 more nuts with a lock washer in between them.
Next thread the ready-rod through the center platen and finally through the left side of the jig.
THe jig needs to spin freely on both sides of the jig, but the right side needs to be used to make sure the ready-rod stays in place, so lock together the first 2 nuts you pout on that are on the outside of the jig and butted up against the crank. Now snug up one of the inside nuts on the other side so the the ready-rod spins freely but does not move back and forth in the jig. Now tighten up the other washer and the lock washer you put between them will ensure it locks tight and permanently for you.
Finally, install the mitre slot material and the support wood below the platten.
Using the Jig
I made the jig so that it will take about a maximum 6 inch wide blank to make a featherboard. I am finding the 4 inches seems to be a good, convenient size.
Remember too, featherboards seem to work work best with a 45 degree angle, so cut this first before you start cutting the fingers of the featherboard.
Also, when it comes to featherboards, longer is better. You will come to see that it is easier to cut the end off a featherboard that may be a bit long, than to make one that is to short. Short featherboards and short fingers just do not work as well.
I found that the table on my bandsaw was a bit short to accommodate the jig but making an extension was pretty simple, you bandsaw will likely either have a fence or holes to attach a fence and these can be used attach a cross piece that will support a top, and you may need to support it from underneath as well, depending on your equipment.
This was an easy jig to make and something that will get used over the years many times as I refresh my featherboards that get bend and chewed up by wood, bits and blades ..