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Making Keys for Mitered Corners

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Forum topic by Freddo posted 06-20-2008 03:10 PM 4250 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Freddo

85 posts in 3780 days


06-20-2008 03:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: miter key

Hi All,

I’m a Doug Stowe fan and have a question on cutting harwood strips that will become miter keys. What are some of your best and of course safest methods? Mr. Stowe thicknesses stock between his table saw fence and a sanding disk or simply rips the strips. Typically my slots are about .125” to .130” (saw kerf width) wide.

I’ve seen a jig to help cut thin strips but have no experience and cannot remember where I saw the article.

Thanks in advance for your help and ideas!

-- God bless! Freddo (Northern - NJ) Our Creator designed us to create - so use WOOD!


11 replies so far

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3995 days


#1 posted 06-20-2008 03:56 PM

Freddo,

Doug is a great box-maker. I have done many boxes with hardwood keys for mitered corners. Usually I just grab a thin piece of scrap and plane it down with a block plane until I achieve a nice fit for the kerfs that I’ve created for the keys.

If you are looking for a thin ripping jig, it can be accomplished by ripping a wider board and using a moveable stop that can be secured in the left miter slot ro simply clamped to the table. If you adjust the stop to be a fixed distance from the left edge of the saw blade (i.e. the width of the keys) then you just adjust your fence until the board you are ripping contacts the stop, lock the fence and rip a piece. Readjust the fence for subsequent rips if needed.

Hope that this is clear. The jig does not have to be anything very fancy.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16276 posts in 4301 days


#2 posted 06-20-2008 04:28 PM

Mark, I think I understand your description of the jig, but why is it necessary? Why not just set the fence so that the offall will be the thickness you desire? It might take a test cut or two to get the precise thickness you are looking for, but the same could be true of using the jig.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3820 days


#3 posted 06-20-2008 04:31 PM

A bandsaw is much better and safer to rip thin pieces. It is very easy to make a small fence and zero clearance table that can be clamped to the bandsaw fence.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3995 days


#4 posted 06-20-2008 04:48 PM

Charlie,

It can definitely be done in between the blade and the fence however, because these keys are generally very thin, it is more difficult (without a sacrificial push block and removing the guard) to do this. Hence the jig to cut on the other side of the blade. In reality, with either method there is probably some fine tuning to do by planing or sanding after the table saw cut to get an exact fit in the kerf.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16276 posts in 4301 days


#5 posted 06-20-2008 05:00 PM

I didn’t mean using the piece between the fence and the blade for a key. I was talking about adjusting the fence so that the piece to the outside of the blade is the proper thickness.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3995 days


#6 posted 06-20-2008 05:55 PM

Charlie,

Sorry, I understand now.

If you are only adjusting to make a single rip that will work too. But, if you have multiple rips to do then the jig allows you to repeat the setting without measuring and/or testing the size each time.

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

View coloradoclimber's profile

coloradoclimber

548 posts in 4150 days


#7 posted 06-20-2008 06:26 PM

I find I have good luck cutting the key strip captured between the blade and the fence. I use a sacrificial push block with the guard and riving knife removed as mentioned by Mark. I usually use a couple different contrasting keys per box and once the fence is set to give a good thickness key I can rip off a bunch of different keys without fiddling with the fence at all.

The biggest safety issue for me when doing this is having a good BIG push block, something to keep my hand well away from the blade. I usually take a 16’ish inch long 2×4 on edge and cut a 1/2 inch ledge in it mostly the full length, leaving maybe the last inch and half as the full 3 1/2 inches tall. I then set the blade to cut maybe 1/8 inch out of the key stock. Feather board the key stock against the fence, use big 2×4 push block laid right down on the key stock and cut away. It cuts a groove full length in the push block , keeps your fingers well away from the blade, and pushes the thin strip all the way out and away from the blade.

There have been posted multiple thin stock ripping jigs right here on LJ. You can also find thin stock ripping jigs commercially, just do a google search.

Thin Strip Cutting Jig

Easy Thin Ripping Jig

Thin Stock Ripping Jig

Here one from Rockler

View coloradoclimber's profile

coloradoclimber

548 posts in 4150 days


#8 posted 06-20-2008 06:30 PM

I recommend against using a bandsaw, I find I get a VERY rough surface, compared to a table saw with a good sharp blade. Rough enough you can see the edge variations at the key / box edge.

As for the sanding and planing Stowe recommends in his video to cut as close as possible and then if the key slightly too thick then WHACK it with a hammer a couple times to compress the fibers.

Maybe if you have a good thickness sander could you use that for final thicknessing. I’ve found trying to plane or sand by hand to leaves far too much variation in the thickness across the key to work very well.

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1130 posts in 3984 days


#9 posted 06-20-2008 09:22 PM

I cut with the bandsaw and finish with my shop-made thicknessing sander. One sixth of a turn of the adjuster reduces the thickness by 0.008”, so I can sneak up slowly.
Click for details

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

View Freddo's profile

Freddo

85 posts in 3780 days


#10 posted 06-20-2008 11:07 PM

Well… THANKS “ALL” for the posts and I’ll start looking into trying these. Is there a plan available for the shop-made drum sander?

-- God bless! Freddo (Northern - NJ) Our Creator designed us to create - so use WOOD!

View YorkshireStewart's profile

YorkshireStewart

1130 posts in 3984 days


#11 posted 06-21-2008 12:46 AM

Here is my blog on the project Freddo. I found the first link on my list there (Dominic's Woodshop) really useful.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business. http://www.folksy.com/shops/TreeGems

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