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Shop Talk

Finger Joints with a Table Saw

Woodie Finger JointI used to own a cabinet shop for about 27 years but finally sold it. Since then, I have worked only with hand tools and a small table saw. For the last 18 months I have been replacing all of the wood on my 1948 Oldsmobile woodie working just one day a week. Yes, you can make all of your finger joints with a table saw.

Cut all the pieces you need to the longest length of each end of the finger-jointed piece. Make the cut exactly the overall length and angle you want the piece to be. Don't forget they are going to overlap when you are done.

With a square, mark the depth of all your joints on each end to be jointed. They will all be the same depth.

With a sliding T bevel, mark the angle you want the finger joint on one of your pieces that you intend to use and also on a small sample piece that you will need for practice and for set up when you want to start cutting. Make sure you blank out all the pieces you want to finger-joint so that when you start cutting you can do them all.

Woody FingerjointLay out all your pieces the way they go together and mark them Left and Right. Each end is opposite. Using your sliding T bevel, set the angle of the table saw blade to the angle you used to lay out your sample and your first joint. I marked an X on all the material I was removing so I didn't make a mistake and cut out a finger. Set the height of the blade to the depth line you squared off and you are ready to go.

Cut your sample pieces first, making two of them, a Left and a Right. Line your saw up on your pencil lines and be as accurate as you can. Remember that they all have to be the same size.

Each pencil line is a new setup with the table saw fence. Cut each one, moving the fence each time, then turn the pieces around and cut the other angle from the other side. Don't change any settings except the saw fence.

After you have your samples made, check to make sure they fit together properly. When they do, start on the pieces for your car. If you have five pieces, cut your first cut on all five pieces then re-set and do the next, etc., etc.

Don't cut your pieces to size on the long sides. Leave plenty of extra wood so that you can cut them to size after they are glued. But do cut them exactly to length on each end. Wax the table and fence so that your pieces slide through easily. If they don't quite fit when you are all done, put them together and look to see where the misfit is. Trim the finger that is giving you the problem with the setup you have been working with. Before gluing your pieces together, glue on blocks of wood to attach your clamps to. I used large Jorgenson's and they worked quite well. After the glue on your joints has dried, cut off the blocks. Make sure you dry-run your clamping procedure before doing any gluing.

Good luck, Darryl Easter

woodie refinish

Woodie listThis information originally appeared on Yahoo! Groups Woodies Email Discussion List and is used by permission of the author, Darryl Easter. Power tool woodworking is inherently dangerous and these procedures should be undertaken only by an experienced woodworker using appropriate safety precautions.

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