3

I need to cut 450 pieces of fillet battens from 50x50 (2"x2") square rough-sawn stock. The local millwork wasn't able to provide them as they have in the past, so I need to cut them myself. I have setup feather boards on a small table saw to do this, but because the stock is rough-sawn, it often binds on the feather boards or rip fence requiring a large amount of force to get it to feed. The blade itself is sharp and is not the cause of the binding.

Does anybody have some tips on what to try? I have to finish this part of the job this week, but at my current production rate, it is going to take me 5 days to just cut the battens.

Because of the remote location (in rural New Zealand), ordering any special-purpose items will take 2 to 3 weeks to arrive. I do have access to a local DIY places (Bunnings, etc) if I drive an hour.

Here is the featherboard setup with a 50x50 piece of wood ready to feed through. The blade is at 45 degrees. I've angled the featherboards so that the teeth nearest the blade are the only ones contacting the wood to limit the friction when there are irregularities or slight changes in thickness which engage more of the featherboard teeth.

Featherboard Setup on Table Saw

Here are the two cuts made to the 50x50 stock to create the fillet battens. I held the upper piece on there just for the photo. The bottom piece is in the process of being cut before having to stop due to a power cut. Cuts made to 50x50 stock

Here is the final result. Lengths are typically 2.4m (8 feet).

Edit: Note that the upper 2 surfaces need to remain rough-sawn, the long side is the cut side and should be even, but otherwise texture isn't important.

Final fillet batten (2 per 50x50 piece)

I wonder if I can find slippery tape to put on the rip fence to reduce the friction or maybe find some rollers to install to further reduce friction.

Edit: Tools available

Cut requires cutting depth of 75mm (3").

  • Table saw with 254mm (10") blade
  • Router
  • Track saw (but cutting depth is limited to 55mm)
  • Circular saw with 185mm (7.25") blade - not enough cutting depth

Can purchase tools for this if I they are available and cost less than NZ$500.

Solution edit:

The Answer from @Caleb was the most useful as even though the blade wasn't binding, it was causing enough friction to make it very difficult to feed the stock. And I ended up using the paste wax suggested by @FreeMan, between them and the other suggestions, I was able to get the job done. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions!

8
  • I’m trying to wrap my head around the notion of a tall v-shaped cradle on top of the tablesaw. The blade would be upright; you’d have a little riving knife for the kerf. One would set the V like a zero clearance insert, clamping it down and rising the blade exactly where it needed to be. As a setup, it would be less sensitive to stock rocking off horizontal as you push it through. You’d need an excellent custom push block for cutting, as there’s lots of blade contact potential. *** This is very unconventional, and I’m more than willing to delete if even a couple of people think it’s unsafe *** Jan 2 at 14:56
  • Hi, welcome to Woodworking. "because the stock is rough-sawn" That's obviously the crux of your problem right there, and points directly to your solution — change this. It means tons more sawing if the TS is all you have available, but there you go. We need more details if we're to advise in formal Answers, basically what other tooling do you have available? Hand planing down to a smoother surface is viable if you don't have a jointer or planer; it might seem like an insurmountable amount of extra work but it'll so speed the step(s) that follow you might even see a net gain.
    – Graphus
    Jan 2 at 15:29
  • 1
    BTW, can you tilt the blade in the opposite direction?
    – Graphus
    Jan 2 at 15:36
  • @Graphus while most saws can only tilt the blade in one direction, it's easy to move the fence to the other side, gaining the benefit of the saw blade tilting away from the fence
    – Eli Iser
    Jan 2 at 17:41
  • 1
    @EliIser, well that's good, since having it leaning towards the fence sure felt sketchy to me (and I subsequently found numerous sources that suggest you don't want to do this, given the choice).
    – Graphus
    Jan 3 at 12:50

3 Answers 3

1

If the featherboards are really the source of the problem, you might need to back off the pressure a bit, either by moving the featherboards you have or perhaps making some with longer, springier fingers. But I’d guess that making full depth cuts on what looks to be a job site saw is at least part of the problem. Some things that would help are:

  • Clean the blade. It’s surprising how much difference that can make.
  • Try a blade lubricant like Bostik BladeCote to reduce friction and prevent resin buildup.
  • Make cuts in two (or more) passes. It’s worth trying just to see if it helps the binding issue, even if it’s not the solution you want.
  • Switch to a thin kerf blade so the saw doesn’t have to work so hard.
  • Use a band saw instead. 14” band saws can often be found used, so might fit your budget.
  • Use a saw with a more powerful motor. (Probably not in the budget.)
9
  • The blade itself isn't binding and the saw isn't struggling, it is just requiring a lot of force to push the wood through. Bostik BladeCote is a nice option - I often buy coated blades and the coating wears off long before the blade dulls, so that will be nice to have around.
    – Eric
    Jan 2 at 23:42
  • 1
    I’m surprised to hear about the aluminum table being the problem. UHMW tape might work better than packing tape. It’ll definitely be much more durable.
    – Caleb
    Jan 3 at 0:47
  • 1
    A good coat of paste wax on the table and fence may be just the ticket.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 3 at 18:53
  • 1
    @FreeMan - paste wax it is. Not nearly as good as the UHMW PE tape, but easy to get and cheap.
    – Eric
    Jan 4 at 0:44
  • 1
    @Caleb Installing a new blade with an anti-friction coating helped dramatically, so even though the blade wasn't binding, it was causing enough friction to make it very difficult to feed the stock. This combined with paste wax allowed me to cut most of the boards until weather moved in. Will finish up today.
    – Eric
    Jan 6 at 21:20
1

Are the final battens left rough sawn? Their rough finish is probably the reason they bind, both due to non-smooth texture (smaller contribution to binding) and due to small variations in thickness (larger contribution to binding).

Running the stock through a thickness planer will both leave a smooth surface and ensure accurate dimensions for the featherboard jig.

For the fence, it looks like you're using a wooden fence. Most commercial fences are either metal or smooth plastic, both much smoother than wood. If your fence is flat, applying any kind of smooth overlay should help reduce friction. Think things like packing tape in several layers or thin smooth plastic glued to the wood (perhaps from some binder folders).

How accurate do you need the cuts to be? Having the featherboards exert almost no pressure (or even no pressure at all) on the stock would help with binding but reduce their effectiveness in guiding the wood (but should still help with preventing kickback).

Also, it's not clear from your setup, but if you are cutting the wood in one pass consider doing several passes. This will reduce the load on the blade and will need less force to push the stock (unless your issue is purely the wood binding in the featherboard jig. You could verify that by lowering the blade completely and trying to push a piece of wood through the jig).

I would consider the tradeoffs between "good" and "good enough" for your particular job.

6
  • Good Answer..... IF Eric has a thickness planer. BTW a smooth wooden fence exhibits less friction than a metal fence, same way wooden planes glide more smoothly over the workpiece than metallic planes do.
    – Graphus
    Jan 2 at 15:37
  • I've never used wooden planes. Do people lubricate the sole? I'm thinking perhaps paste wax might help OP (it sure does makes the cast iron table of my saw smoother feeling).
    – Eli Iser
    Jan 2 at 15:53
  • @eli-iser Sorry, I should have explained that the two outer face of the wood must remain rough-sawn, so planing it smooth isn't an option. Packing tape is a great idea.
    – Eric
    Jan 2 at 20:08
  • @Graphus - interesting comment about friction on wood planes vs steel planes. I have noticed that as well, although the wood planes were always waxed or coated while the steel ones had a matte grind, so I think that is where the friction comes from.
    – Eric
    Jan 2 at 20:17
  • People do lubricate the soles of woodies too (commonly with wax now, but often with tallow or linseed oil historically). But the need is far less great than on metal planes. With the right wood no lubrication at all is required, q.v. the rosewood runners found attached to fences on vintage metal grooving or rebate planes if the user had access to it. Where rosewood or another resinous species isn't available any decent hardwood is considered an improvement, even lowly species like beech or ash (and if the surface is planed or sanded nicely the ride is very smooth, even without a little wax).
    – Graphus
    Jan 3 at 12:59
1

A good coating of paste wax, something that does not contain silicon (i.e. not car polish), should do wonders for getting your wood to slide along both the table top and against the fence. You could probably apply some polish to the edges of the feather boards, too, if you really needed to.

It will have the added benefit of helping to prevent rust from forming on your table and makes it look oh so pretty!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.