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Small Painter's Cabinet #4: Cutting the sides to proper dimension

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Blog entry by Stephen Fields posted 06-20-2008 01:48 AM 776 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Starting on the Sides Part 4 of Small Painter's Cabinet series no next part

Like I said earlier, I accidentally set up the table saw with a dado blade before I realized that I had neglected to cut the sides to length. Since the template I am using is based on the dadoes being the correct length, I had to remove the dado stack and put in the normal blade.

When I perform cross cuts, I use a sled. This is particularly important when I need to cut many pieces to the same length. Here is a picture of the first side sitting on my cross cut sled. (Note: This is version 2. There are already plans to build a new third version using the Kreg Precision Measuring System. This will be a topic for a new series.)

Small Cabinet

I have already squared off one edge of the side and am getting ready to cut them all to the same 28 1/2 inch length. I have devised a simple and effective, but time-consuming, method to ensure the cuts are the same. First, I place a thin 1/8 inch piece of plywood on the piece to cut. I then lay a thin piece of 3/4 inch plywood on top of that and clamp the 3/4 inch piece to the cross cut sled. Here is a picture of the pieces in place:

Small Cabinet

I can then remove the 1/8 inch piece and the attached piece becomes a relatively stable arm that I can then use for a stop block:

Small Cabinet

Using a square, I attach a stop block at the predetermined length:

Small Cabinet

History has shown that I tend to rap the wood pieces against the stop block so I have started adding a fourth clamp to the end to make sure that large pieces do not move the stop block when they are set up against it:

Small Cabinet

Finally, I’m at where I left off the previous blog entry! I use this template to make sure that I cut the dadoes in the same place for each cabinet.

Small Cabinet

I learned, the hard way, that even a small discrepancy here can lead to big problems. I While this might not be the best method, I cut all of the 4” offset dadoes first, then flip the sides around and cut the 5 1/2” dadoes from the bottom, and lastly flip the sides a third time and cut the miiddle dado. Here is a crappy picture of a finished side:

Small Cabinet

As an aside – Here are two pictures of how I place my hands when cutting these dadoes. Any suggestions on a safer method? I’m always looking for better ways to do things.

Small Cabinet

Small Cabinet

I then cut the sides to the correct width. I waited to this stage to eliminate any blowout while cutting the dadoes. I had none, but better safe then sorry.

Small Cabinet

Next time I will be cutting out the legs…

-- "Measure Twice, Cut Once" --- If only I could remember this!



4 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile

teenagewoodworker

2727 posts in 3236 days


#1 posted 06-20-2008 03:42 AM

cool. can’t wait to see the finished project, thanks for the post!

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3380 days


#2 posted 06-20-2008 04:14 PM

Stephen,

Please take this as constructive criticism. Regarding the way you are cutting the dado’s, I would not recommend doing things that way. I NEVER (even with a non-through-cut) have the short end of the piece guided by the fence. I would do this with the miter gage pushing the stock through the cut, rather than free-hand. If you do use the miter gage, do not also use the fence. If you need the fence for locating the dado’s then attach a block to the fence to register from but place it so that the stock is free from it before it enters the blade.

Even though you may always be keeping the piece square to the fence, one slip could result in a kickback – even with a non-through-cut. A sled would also work but it would need to be devoted to the dado blade because of the wide kerf.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at http://thecraftsmanspath.com

View Stephen Fields's profile

Stephen Fields

15 posts in 3110 days


#3 posted 06-20-2008 04:57 PM

Marc, that is exactly the kinds of comments that I am looking for. I am a new woodworker and am self-taught to this point. I had thought of the miter gauge but was uncomfortable having 16” or around 60% of the length of the board hanging off the side, and being unsupported.

I did not think of the sled though. How important is the width of the opening? If I cut a slot using my widest dado stack and then cut smaller width dadoes, that should not be a problem, right? I’m thinking that because the dado is not a through cut a the zero clearance concept does not apply.

-- "Measure Twice, Cut Once" --- If only I could remember this!

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3380 days


#4 posted 06-20-2008 06:01 PM

Stephen,

You could build a sled and then cut the kerf with your widest dado. However, there are two things to consider:

First, the sled with a exact sized kerf to the dado provides you with zero-clearance to avoid tear out in the cut. Second the zero-clearance kerf also gives you the exact alignment for where the dado will be cut when using the sled. So, it becomes easy to cut them where you want them. You could create a sled that has a replaceable insert (maybe from masonite or thin plywood) that you could create different sized kerfs for use when needed. If the tea rout is not an issue, you could use the wider dado approach.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at http://thecraftsmanspath.com

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