01 of 06
What is a Featherboard?
A featherboard is a very useful tool when cutting thin stock on a table saw or router table and is quite easy to make. Every woodworker should make and keep a few on hand.
TIP: Featherboards are invaluable when cutting a bead or other intricate detail on a router table. One momentary slip of the stock away from the fence or table can ruin the bead. A pair of properly positioned featherboards will guarantee a consistent, clean bead detail.
This takes about 15-30 minutes to complete, and here's... what you'll need:
Continue to 2 of 6 below.
- 1x6 12-18 inches long (preferably non-SPF)
02 of 06
Cut the Stock to a Proper Size
To begin making a featherboard, cut a clean piece of 3/4" stock (I prefer to use a scrap of 1x6, preferably from stock with less sap than pine) anywhere between 12-18" in length by 5-6" in width. In this example, we'll cut the stock down to 12" x 5" dimensions.
NOTE: Keep in mind that you can cut the stock to the length that is appropriate to your needs. In other words, if the clamping point on your saw, router table or jointer is more than twelve inches from the cutting head, you'll need... make your featherboards longer. The dimensions mentioned above are merely a guideline for consistency throughout these plans on which you can base your needs and adjustments.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Make a 30-Degree Cut on One End of the Stock
Using a miter saw, make a 30-degree mitered crosscut on one end of the board. This 30-degree angle will be the portion of the featherboard that will be against the wood stock as it is run through the power tool.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
Mark a 30-Degree Stop Line
Using a bevel set to 30-degrees, mark a line three inches in from the mitered end of the board, parallel to the 30-degree mitered cut. This will serve as the stop line while cutting the fingers of the featherboard with the table saw.
NOTE: If you do not have a bevel, you can merely measure over three inches from each edge of the 30-degree miter cut you made in the previous step and make a pencil mark. Then, mark a straight line between these two pencil marks using a straight edge as a guide. This... will produce the same offset, parallel line three inches from the edge.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Cut the Fingers of the Featherboard
Set the fence of the table saw 1/4" from the blade. Place the long side of the board firmly against the fence (and flat on the table) and run the board through the saw from the mitered edge until you reach the stop line. Then, carefully retract the board until it safely clears the blade.
Turn the saw's motor off. With the stock and your hands clear of the blade, move the fence an additional 3/8" away from the blade and make another cut, parallel to the first and again up to the stop line.... To be safe, the saw should always be turned off while adjusting the fence.
Repeat the previous step until the entire width of the board is cut into fingers, about 1/4 inch wide. The finished featherboard should look like the example in the image on this page.
NOTE: If the last cut yields a very thin finger, you may wish to remove that finger altogether. If the last finger is greater than 1/4 inch in width, make one more cut. You don't want any fingers to be more than 1/4 inch in width, as that may cause the finger to be a bit inflexible and can bind the wood when the featherboard is in use.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
How to Use a Featherboard
With the table saw turned off, place the stock to be cut firmly against the fence near the blade. Position the featherboard flat on the table with the fingers firmly against the stock, positioned between you and the saw blade so as to avoid kickback. It's important to note that the short side of the featherboard should be facing you. If the long side of the featherboard faces the operator, the stock may bind and will not slide smoothly through the saw.
Once the featherboard is positioned... properly, clamp it in place using one or two small clamps. Another featherboard can be clamped in a similar fashion on the fence to hold the stock down to the table. In either case, the featherboard should hold the stock firmly but allow for smooth flow of the stock forward through the saw.
You have now completed the installation of your featherboard(s), and may proceed with running the stock through the saw or router safely and smoothly. Use a push stick when necessary.