Table Saw Pattern cutting

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Forum topic by Bob_B posted 12-07-2007 05:43 AM 2696 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 4280 days

12-07-2007 05:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw pattern cutting jigs cutting plywood angled cuts jig trick

This is a technique I read about somewhere a few years ago. I definitely did NOT come up with this myself.

I was making a pair of down and dirty dressers for a client today when it hit me how useful and fast this is. I thought it was worth taking the time to snap a few photos and share with anyone who might not be familiar. I use this technique all the time!

You can use this technique for cutting a straight line on any material even if it is not parallel or perpendicular to any other referenced edge.

It all starts with a auxiliary fence – Shop made from 3/4 ply. There are only 2 important features. 1. the face of the fence is held above the saw table by at least the thickness of the material to be cut. 2. You build it in such a way that the fall off has a place to “Fall”. Here’s a photo. Notice the space to the right of the blade. There are about 3 inches between the blade and the real fence. Plenty of room for fall off.
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The second part is setting the fence. The idea is to set the auxiliary fence so it’s lined up EXACTLY with the edge of the saw blade (in essence, absolute zero) Here’s another photo.
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Now to the stock – Once you figure out where you need to cut, the idea is to fasten a straight edge exactly to that line. (any piece of straight wood – 3/4 anything is fine as long as it’s straight). I keep a piece of plywood 3/4X4X48” handy for this specific task. You can either nail it to your workpiece or use double sided tape. both work fine, but I tend to use brad nails (don’t sink them all the way so you can easily pull them out). The holes are easy to fill if you need to.
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Finally to the cutting – All you need to do now is turn on your saw and run the workpiece through the saw with the straight edge up against the auxiliary fence.
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If you set the fence exactly even with the blade, you’ll have a perfect cut.
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Once you have your aux fence made, keep it close by. You’ll use it a lot! The whole process is VERY fast and VERY accurate. I mostly use this method for cross cutting plywood that is longer than 24” (my TS rip capacity) and wider than my cross cut sled can handle (20”). But I also use it for cutting any non-square cut. Think about how your bevel guage could be used in tandem with the straight edge and you open up a whole slew of possibilities.

Thanks for reading – I wish I could give credit to the person who wrote the article I read so long ago. It’s really helped me a lot!

Bob Bronner
RI Woodworking.

-- Bob B - Warwick, Rhode Island

5 replies so far

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4129 days

#1 posted 12-07-2007 04:09 PM

Bob – this is interesting.

When you say your blade is at absolute zero—- the picture looks like it is outside your auxilliary fence yet I see the kerf where it has cut the fence. So is absolute zero inside the fence or snug up against it?

Also, the width of your cutoff fence would have to be wide enough to accomodate the width of material being removed? So if you were going to use this method to make an uneven edge even you may only need a fence with an inch or so of fall off area. So is your fence with a three inch fall off area what you’ve settled on over the time you’ve used it as the most likely maximum space you need – or do you make a fence for other size cutoffs? (Not sure if I’ve asked this right – hopefully you can read my mind and figure it out!)

I can see where this idea would be useful for cutting odd shaped angles as well.

Thanks for sharing.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Bob_B's profile


29 posts in 4280 days

#2 posted 12-07-2007 05:13 PM


With regard to the blade being at “absolute zero”, look at the second photo down (sorry it’s a little smaller than I wanted). The square is resting on the left side of the tooth of the blade and the aux fence is also snugged up to the square. So “Zero” is the left side of the blade. That’s why the aux fence is hovering above the blade, so it doesn’t make contact.

I’ve used this specific fence for a while so the blade gets raised and lowered depending on the thickness of the material to be cut. (the blade is actually a little high in this photo for cutting 3/4 ply – nice catch). To avoid building multiple fences, I just buried the blade in this fence for a thicker piece. The space between the table and the fence is about 1 1/4” (allowing for a board slightly thinner than that)

A three inch fall off area is not a critical dimension. It’s what I guessed at while building this the first time and it has worked so far. I just make sure that I rough cut the workpiece less than 3” oversize. I only use this one fence.

I’d recommend taking a half hour and putting a fence together to test it out. You’ll see that this is super fast and easy.

-- Bob B - Warwick, Rhode Island

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4108 days

#3 posted 12-07-2007 07:12 PM

Great method. Thanks for showing us.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4129 days

#4 posted 12-07-2007 08:04 PM

Now I get it. Thanks Bob – I think I was not looking at the picture properly. This sounds like a good idea. I’ll probably try it out.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View steph33's profile


8 posts in 3054 days

#5 posted 01-18-2012 04:27 PM

If you are cutting an irregular shape with straight sides use a band saw, jig or circular saw to get roughly close to your final dimension then use the fence with the edge guide stick nailed or double-side taped on your cut line or adhere an exact mdf pattern for perfect final cuts. Also good for trimming angles as in table legs without needing to build an angle cutting jig. Not recommended for thin legs because your fingers would get too close to the blade. I’ve seen videos of this under table saw pattern cutting.

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