In Shop Blog, Techniques

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File this one under: Tricks that everyone knows but me.

Whenever I work against a fence on my drill press, I constantly huff and sweep the table clear of shavings. Why? If even one errant shaving gets between the fence and your work, you can spoil your hole.

I’ve had enough spoiled holes in my lifetime.

A few years ago, Kelly Mehler showed me the following dirt-simple trick and I was reminded of it when I taught a workbench class at his school a week or so ago.

Kelly clamps two fences to his drill press table: One fence is thin and sits near the back of the table. The other fence guides the work. The little space under the fence prevents the shavings from getting between your work and the fence.

It works brilliantly, even when boring out massive amounts of wood, such as when we were making mortises in the legs.

I like tricks like these – no micrometers or gerbil-powered feed rollers.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 2 comments
  • Dez

    I showed this to an older cabinet maker I worked with for a while. The only difference in what I do is to use narrow strips about an 1 1/2″ wide right under the clamps running them front to back leaving even more places for the chips to get out from under.

  • Paul Moldo

    I was taught a similar trick (simialr principle)when working with a radial arm saw together with a stop block for repeated cuts. You don’t contact the stop block against the fence. Instead you bring it slightly towards you, thus leaving a gap between the fence and stop block. This allows the sawdust space to escape. Any sawdust that collects between the stop block and the workpiece will result in an inaccurate cut.

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