Tag Archives: band saw

Bump-cut Band Saw Tenons

IMG_1439Because I had to make the columns on my tall clocks longer than needed so I could form the reeds with my scratch stock, each column needed to be cut to length. (The blue tape held together a fracture at the end of the column – I use this same technique when turning, if need be.) Once at length, each end of the columns needed to be reduced in diameter to fit into the brass capitals. Then ends of the individual reeds are then shaped further.

My first thought was to load a column at my lathe and turn the tenon before I cut the pieces to length. I want a snug fit through the capital, and there would be no way to check the fit while on the lathe – there was about 2″ to remove off each end of the columns, so I couldn’t simply slide on the capital. IMG_1440If I cut the lengths first, I lost the center markings and, for me, that makes loading the piece on the lathe too much of a hassle (I’ve not had success remarking the center whether using a center-marking gauge or not).

What I decided to do was to cut the columns to length, then use my band saw to form the tenons – it’s a similar operation as making a bump-cut tenon using a table saw. (You can see a short video of this technique here.) In the photo above right, you see the end of the columns after its been cut to length. (You can also see that there is more work to do on the reeds.) And below you can see my setup at the band saw.


I used a bench hook to guide the stock, and used a spacer (set between the hook and band saw table) to locate the hook fence just beyond the blade. This setup is somewhat critical. If you’re too far beyond the blade, you will remove too much material. (If you’re in front of the blade, your tenon would be too fat.) I say that setup is somewhat critical because you do have a little adjustment. IMG_1445That comes from moving the band saw blade forward or back using the guide bearings on the saw. A simple tweak can push the blade forward to allow you to dial in the best cut. I went for a tenon that was just too snug to fit my capital so I could lightly sand the tenon to fit. The photo shows a closer view of the setup. (Click on the photo to see it even larger.)

I positioned the column tight to the second block – that piece has a 1/2″ notch which is the tenon length, and I’ve clamped it tight against the bench hook to make sure the two are aligned. With the column set against the second block, I spun the stock to cut the tenon shoulder. I then nibbled away the waste in one area of the tenon – it takes a bit of wiggle and movement. Once that area is flat and clean, I began the bump-cut technique. IMG_1446Back and forth into the second block while rotating the column; it’s like rubbing your head as  you pat your stomach.

When a full rotation is finished the tenon is formed. Two clocks, four columns per clock and two ends per column left me with 16 tenons to form. Taking the time to set up this method saved me time in the long run. And I didn’t waste a column that needed to be replaced with another – that would have burnt at least an hour of shop time.

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Filed under Jigs, Power Tools, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

Re-saw Revamped

Over the past few weeks, I think I have changed more of my woodworking techniques than I had in the past several years. Last week I shared my newest technique to hog away dovetail waste. Today I am writing about re-sawing lumber using a band saw. As I ran into a need for thin lumber for a series of bottle dividers for a project I’m building, I decided to try a different technique.

In the past, I used my favorite woodworking jig for any re-saw work. (Read about it, here.) I would set the fence at the natural cutting angle of my band saw, then slice the lumber into the desired thickness – without setting the appropriate angle, my saw would seldom cut straight.

With this new jig, I no longer need to find any cutting angle. The jig is easy to build and set, but this technique does require the operator to keep the cut aligned.

The jig consists of a piece of wood that has an “almost point” on one edge – I cut a 30-degree angle from both faces, but left the smallest section (1/16″) square at the center – attached to a plywood platform that is easy to clamp in place. To set the jig, position the point away from your blade at whatever thickness you need, then clamp it in place. I use a small C-clamp. The height of your jig is arbitrary however, I find that a taller jig better allows me to keep my workpiece vertical to my blade throughout the cut.

To prepare your stock, use a marking gauge to set a scribeline along one edge of your board. (I reinforced the scribe with a pencil to account for poor eyesight.) In this scenario I was looking to simply rip the stock in half, but you could just as easily setup to cut multiple pieces.

The actual cut is dependent on you. That is, you not only need to feed the stock at an acceptable rate for your saw and blade, you also need to keep the scribed line at the blade as you cut. With a sharp blade this should be easy, but if your blade is dull or loosely tensioned you could be in for a constant swerving and a less-than-stellar cut.

As you begin to cut, nudge the stock to your jig. Your workpiece is held straight and the cut is positioned at your layout. Slowly push your board along the cut making slight adjustments to keep saw blade at the cut line. As you near the end of  the cut, make sure you do not locate a finger, hand or other body part directly in line with the blade. I like to reach beyond the blade to grasp the workpiece and pull it through the last couple inches of the cut.

I found this technique easier to set up at the desired thickness and way faster overall because you do not need to find any particular cutting angle before making your cut. That’s “plug and play.”

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Filed under Jigs, Power Tools, Shop Tips

Dovetail Evolution

If you have ever attended one of my woodworking classes or a seminar on joinery, you probably have been bored to tears by my dovetail story. Or you laughed out loud. Just as my mind has, my dovetail work has evolved. As I began building furniture, I knew that I would have to dovetail if I had any hope of selling my work.

My first dovetail chapter included an old Sears template guide that produced perfectly sized, perfectly shaped dovetails with identically sized pins and tails – the kind used on kitchen cabinets. Ugh! Phase two brought about a better dovetail jig. With it, I decided that half-blind pins and tails were too difficult to set up, so I built drawer fronts from 1/2″-thick  stock then applied a 1/4″-thick shaped drawer front (kitchen cabinet construction was still in my blood). That process worked until a customer noticed the half-ass technique and verbally chastised me during the delivery. After a bit more trouble with fingers moving, I gave up jigs and succumbed to hand-cut pins and tails. I defined each pin and tail with a dovetail saw cut, then chop out waste with a chisel.

After some considerable hand-cut experience, I remembered that I was in business to make a profit. Hand-cut dovetails are period correct, but the process is slow when every minute has to earn dollars. As I discovered a way to cut the pins using my band saw and an angled platform as shown the photo above, my dovetails evolved again. I could power-cut the pins, but continued to chop away waste using my chisels. My tail boards were produced using the same techniques, but without an angled platform.

This method of dovetails produced perfect angled cuts that detracted, at least to my eye, from the hand-cut look I wanted. It was time for another evolution. This time I decided to hand-cut the pins and tails, but use a power tool to hog away the waste as depicted in the opening photo. This provides a hand-cut look – I am sawing the actual pins and tails – as the angles and the width of pins and tails different. It also provides a time savings due to the quick removal of waste when creating pins – waste between the tails is either nibbled away while at my band saw, or it is chopped out using chisels and a mallet.

If you’re not quite clear on this technique, below is a short video. You tell me, is this still a hand-cut dovetail joint, or is this a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Leave a comment below.

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Filed under Joinery, Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips

My Favorite Woodworking Jig

I have only a handful of jigs in my shop and not one of which has a sliding T-track attached to it. I find “tricked out” jigs a waste of time and more often than not they are useless. The best jigs are those that are simple to make and easy to use.

A short list of plywood jigs found in my shop consists of a square platform jig used to create short sliding dovetails to join drawer blades to case sides (written about in the November 2008 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine), a simple fence extension that rides my Unisaw fence to keep my hands above cuts and out of harms way and a large tenon jig used to hold pieces vertical as I cut tenons. (This jig is explained in detail here.)

There is one other jig that I have to call my favorite – it’s a right-angle assembly that has many duties. In the opening photo, I’m using the jig to hold a case side as I transfer my dovetail pin layout. As used here, you get a handle on how it’s made and about size. Face pieces are 5 1/2″ wide and the overall length is 20″. There is enough width to keep panels balanced, and the length allows you to easily grab piece using spring clamps.

To hold the two pieces at a right angle I installed a couple simple braces with two screws piercing each face. When using the jig to hold panels, those braces are perfect to store  your clamps to keep them from getting too far away.

Panel work, however, was not why this jig was originally built. I have always been frustrated with fences provided with most band saws. I find the drift of my band saw blade before I attempt to rip or re-saw lumber. I can count on one hand the number of times that my drift was exactly 90 degrees to the band saw table and most fences do not have the ability to lock at small angles. To correct that problem, I use this jig along with a couple clamps to lock my fence at the needed angle to get the job done.

This week I discovered another use for my right-angle jig. As I worked at my router I had mounds of router shavings being cast over my table saw – my router, at the present time, is mounted in my out-feed table. (That’s turning out to be less than ideal.) To stop the spread of feather-like shavings, I sat this jig just behind the router bit to acts as a backstop.

A good jig has many uses. And it doesn’t take a Harvard degree to understand how it’s used.

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Filed under Jigs, Routers