How to make accurate repeatable cuts between sessions

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Forum topic by Joe Andrews posted 11-22-2013 09:48 PM 1515 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Joe Andrews

69 posts in 2240 days

11-22-2013 09:48 PM

I’m sure this question has been answered before but my search skills suck and I’m really not sure how to ask the question for the search to find it, so please forgive me for this.

I am planning on producing an RC model kit and will be cutting a lot of sticks in various widths on the table saw from sheet stock. I plan to make a run of about 10 kits at a time, so I figure I will cut all the sticks of a certain width first, then move the fence to the next size and so on. My question is, it may be a few months before I make another run and will need to go through the process agan. I would like to have a way to set the saw at the exact same widths as the previous series of cuts. Doing it by eye can get me pretty close, but I was wondering if there was an easy way to quickly set up for each wiidth without doing a lot of measuring. Is just placing a previously cut stick between the fence and blade good enough? It’s sometimes hard to do because the set in the teeth throws me off.



12 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1744 posts in 3050 days

#1 posted 11-22-2013 10:25 PM

What fence do u have?

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2726 days

#2 posted 11-22-2013 10:28 PM

Joe, I have an idea that could work. Make a stair-step-shaped jig that fits in your table saw’s miter slot. The different steps of the jig will always be a fixed distance from the blade of your table saw. Push your piece along the fence, and the cutoff will always be the right size. No more guessing, and no measuring each time you want to crank out a batch.

Behold the unparalleled glory of MS Paint. It should illustrate the idea, though.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to label everything. Not only the measurements of various widths, either. I’m not nearly as active as some of the folks on here. But I’ve already had more than one occasion when I’ve built a jig and forgotten what it was originally for.

-- Brian Timmons -

View fuigb's profile


542 posts in 3199 days

#3 posted 11-22-2013 10:30 PM

If I’m following the question accurately then it sounds as though you need a sled dedicated (temporarily) to this cut: one sled with a block clamped to the right position from which you cut your pieces for today as well as additional pieces in the future. Accurate one-runner sleds are easy to make and so I keep a small stable of them for these sorts of situations .

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2756 days

#4 posted 11-22-2013 10:31 PM

If you keep one complete set of cuts, when you go back to recut you can set your fence by putting any given pre cut board between the teeth and the fence. One test cut will show how many thousandths of an inch you might be off, if any. I do this quite often with repeatable projects. I don’t trust my fence indicator over time.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View fuigb's profile


542 posts in 3199 days

#5 posted 11-22-2013 10:32 PM

Btimmons’ idea is a good one.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Picklehead's profile


1053 posts in 2170 days

#6 posted 11-22-2013 10:49 PM

What Tennessee said.

-- Quote from ebay tool listing: " Has nicks and dings wear and tear dust and dirt rust and pitting but in good working condition"

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3472 days

#7 posted 11-22-2013 10:56 PM

@Joe – when you say cut the sticks to a certain width, then adjust the fence and cut some or are you meaning to say that you are ripping the pieces from wider stock. Or are you going to be cutting the pieces to the correct length with cross cuts?

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Joe Andrews's profile

Joe Andrews

69 posts in 2240 days

#8 posted 11-22-2013 11:08 PM

Great ideas, guys. Thanks. I like miter slot jig BTimmons posted. t maybe just few setup blocks to place between the blade and fence would be just as good?

I’m using a Biesemeyer fence. And to clarify, I will be ripping sticks from wider sheets. FYI, these will be mostly balsa sticks with a few basswood or spruce pieces thrown in. When you buy balsa you can get it already cut into sticks, but buying a sheet and cutting your own saves over 60% of the costs. Over time, that adds up quickly! The sticks will mainly be from 3/8” thick stock and vary from 3/8” to 3/4” wide. I ended up buying a Grripper just for this purpose. Make cutting those thinner strips LOT safer!

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3890 days

#9 posted 11-22-2013 11:16 PM

Joe – when you say RC in my mind I see many narrow/thin sticks. Cutting thin sticks between the fence and the blade is a pretty hazardous operation and should be avoided at all costs.

For cutting narrow/thin strips and maintaining consistent dimensions (today and tomorrow) I would suggest looking into a “thin rip” jig. This jig (either store bought or shop made) will keep the thin/narrow piece on the outside of the blade making this cut more safe and also allow you to keep consistent dimensions on the thickness of the parts cut

good luck and stay safe.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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Joe Andrews

69 posts in 2240 days

#10 posted 11-22-2013 11:19 PM

The thin sticks always scared me until I got the Grripper. It’s easy to hold both the stick and the sheet in place and it keeps your fingers away from the blade. Plus, I don’t have to move the fence after every cut like you do with a thin-rip jig. I got the 1/8” attachment so it is possible to cut strips as narrow as 1/8” safely.

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 1969 days

#11 posted 11-22-2013 11:56 PM

I would just use my fence.
It’s easy, put the fence where you want it, make a test cut, measure it, make any corrections if necessary, cut your pcs. You don’t need any fancy jigs.

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 3084 days

#12 posted 11-23-2013 01:10 AM

Look into an Incra LS fence for your saw. -Jack

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