Woodworking Tips with Tommy Mac Issue 43 (Glad you Asked)

Woodworking Tips with Tommy Mac


I noticed that you added an extra face to your tablesaw’s rip fence. Can you explain why you did this, and what it’s made of?
-David Ewing, Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Almost every tool in my shop has received some custom modifications. The MDF face of my fence wasn’t perfectly straight, so I added a strip of 1 1⁄4"-thick maple butcher block. Attaching the strip to the fence will vary from saw to saw, but 

in my case I popped the MDF face off the fence and screwed the MDF to the maple. Easy peasy.

Besides providing a straighter bearing surface, the maple face is taller than the original. I find the extra surface area helpful when ripping stock on edge, or when I want to clamp on featherboards or stops. Should it get damaged, the hardwood facing can be restored with a jointer and planer.

Spindle splint

Turners of all experience levels know how quickly and easily a skew chisel can dig into a bead, ruining the entire workpiece. For that reason, I’ll factor in a little “catch insurance” when doing complex turnings or making a set of legs. To do this, all you need is a blank that’s a little long. Before mounting it to your lathe, use a mitersaw to square an end, and then trim off a small slice, about 1" long.

When a catch happens (and sooner or later, it will), drill a hole though the center of the offcut; then break the piece in half along the grain line. Next, turn down the damaged section with a parting tool so that the offcut can wrap the spindle. Glue the patch to the spindle, and then turn the section when the patch has dried.

Since the offcut is from the same piece, the patch should be a perfect match.

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