In Tricks of the Trade

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When crosscutting a series of short pieces from a longer board using the table saw’s miter gauge, it’s dangerous to use the rip fence as a stop. The freed pieces can get jammed between the blade and fence, causing kickback. To prevent this, the usual approach is to clamp a wide “standoff” block to the rip fence to serve as a stop-block. That way, there’s a recess between the blade and fence for the offcuts to go.

The problem with this approach is that even with a wide standoff block, the recess can fill up pretty quickly, forcing you to shut off the saw to clean away the accumulation of offcuts. To eliminate this problem, I use my dial indicator’s magnetic base as a stop-block. I initially position the base with it pressed against my rip fence, which squares it to the end of the workpiece. After magnetically locking the base to the table, I slide the fence away so there’s nothing restricting the offcuts.

One glitch I encountered was that the rough powder-coat paint job on my magnetic base caused balky forward movement of the workpiece. To fix that, I simply applied a short section of self-stick measuring tape left over from a jig project. — Amy Nielsen

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