Featherboards are one of the most common items that you can find in a woodworking shop. They are just so useful and simple to use that you will see both beginners and longtime professionals using it almost daily. But what is it exactly?
Featherboards are a standard item that most woodworkers use for the purpose of pushing objects through the machinery. In this process, the featherboard helps you with any potential kickback or risk of getting your fingers cut.
If you own any kind of a table saw, router table or just any power tool that is stationary, having a featherboard is one of the most beneficial things that help you cut items with it. But how do you exactly use it? In the following sections, we are going to explain how to use a featherboard in great detail, as well as some common tips and tricks that can help you.
The first thing that you should do when using a featherboard for the first time is to check out the distance between the featherboard itself and the saw bench blade’s natural barrier. This is relatively easy to do, as you only need to turn off the saw bench completely and place the stock wood. This piece of stock wood which should be very narrow is then going to be cut with the help of the saw’s blade.
After you have properly placed the stock wood that you’re about to cut up, you have to just place the featherboard up against it. Now you have to take care of how you have placed it, just keep in mind that you should align it so that the wood can be pushed through with comfort and easiness.For a quick summary, do the following:
Notice how the featherboard is cut in an angle, this is completely intentional as it allows you to completely control the movement of the wood while it is pushed. Apart from the added control, you also get a wide surface area which helps with the mobility.
Also notice how there is a smaller part of the featherboard. This part should always face towards the person who works with it since he will use that as a handle to push it away.
The most noticeable feature in the design of a featherboard, whether it is made out of wood or plastic, is the end of it that has a finger-like structure. These so-called fingers are useful because they can be used as a buffer that allows the piece of stock wood to pass through the blade in a safe manner.
But in order for this mechanism and process to work at all, it is entirely recommended to first clamp it into place. This must be done in a way so that the clamps don’t interfere with the blade of the machine.
Once you have clamped it into place, you should try doing a test run by getting a random piece of wood and then cutting it with the help of the featherboard. After you have completed this task, you will notice how easier it is to control the piece of wood.
A dangerous thing that could happen is that the wood swivels back, this happens when only one clamp is used. So, for maximum safety possible, get two pieces of clamps. After you have secured it properly, do the following:
After you’re done, you will see that the finger like part or comb of the featherboard will help you avoid any strange movements or backlashes as it will make the wood move in one direction.
Since you’re going to probably use the featherboard multiple times, it is recommended to mark the spot where you have placed the featherboard last time. This can be done by multiple items:
Apart from marking the featherboard, you can also mark the spots where the clamps have been placed. This will give you even a better idea on how to properly set up everything when using these items in the future.
Now that you know how to exactly use it, you will have to learn what to do before and afterwards the cutting process is done. The following section will contain some of the most useful tips when it comes to safety.
We cannot stress enough how important this step is, but most woodworkers who worked for years will know for sure how vital safety actually is. We may have already mentioned this in the previous steps, but you will have to again inspect how well you’ve placed both the featherboard and the clamps.
This is extremely important as the proper placement will prevent dangerous events that can occur when cutting stock wood. The worst thing that you could possibly experience is that, upon the actually cutting process, the piece of wood hits the blade and flicks back at you.
When this happens, the small stock will almost certainly damage your eyes and face. But in the heat of the moment, you may also decide to defend yourself with your hands, blocking your hands instead.
This part, just like the one before, isn’t really a step, but it is just an advice that helps you take the much-needed safety precautions. Push sticks are an additional accessory that helps you with moving the wood itself.
It acts like a portable hand that can be used to push the stock wood; this will improve your safety as you will not be forced to use your hands. In the cutting process, the stock wood will at some point approach the blade of the saw table, at this point using the push sticks can help you by not getting your hand or fingers cut off.
Congratulations, now you have finally learned how to use a featherboard. It is one of the most useful safety tools in a woodworking shop. Hopefully, you have memorized most of the small details that can help you with a more proper usage of the featherboard.
But as far as the actual set-up and cutting process goes, we also hope that you have taken into consideration all the safety precautions. This is a very serious thing to keep in mind since the improper use will result in a painful injury.