Ok – I’ve made the short fence and have used it tonight to make my slats for my adirondack chairs. I have mixed feelings about the jig. In one sense it feels safe to use it. However, I can see that it has some potential dangers of its own.
When I use my original fence and a push stick, I follow through with the cut all the way past the blade and I push the board off the table top and lift my hand straight up in one smooth motion after the cut is finished.
I found that with the short fence that I would push the board through the cut and then give it a little push to the side toward the original fence and into the open space created by the fence. The idea of the short fence is to have that space to allow any board that is going to warp space to move without contacting the blade. And it does provide that space.
However, whether it is just sloppy technique on my part or just a function of the fence I found myself doing something that is actually kind of disturbing. I would push through the cut, push the board a little to the right and bring my hand and push stick back toward me. As I would come back I would actually come toward the blade——that’s not a good thing!
I corrected this in short order by reminding myself to push straight through the cut and off the table top. However, that little bit of wiggle room the short fence gives makes it easy to go to the right as opposed to going straight. I could speed up the cut and probably be ok – but I’m pretty comfortable with my feed rates that I have for the general cutting that I do.
Long and short. I really think the short fence has it’s place with wood that you know will be wonky and move after its cut. But for woods that I feel safe with – I think I’ll be leaving the short fence on the shelf. Of course, you really never know what piece of lumber is going to warp out on you or not, so this is a judgment call.
This has been a good exercise for me. I think that taking an idea and trying it out was both fun and informative. I learned a few things about making jigs, a little about different hardware that can be used and I tried something that not many in the U.S. have been talking about. So all in all it was a good thing.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.
-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine