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Board cutting help needed

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Knot Competent

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I recently went to visit the guy who supplies our glass. He also makes cages out of contiboard, and gets his board cut to size for him by a local joinery works. I didn't say anything to him, but I was GREEN with envy! The stack of boards was (forgetting the material) superb in how square and straight the edges and corners were.

I'd dearly love to be able to cut board with dead-square edges and corners, and would appreciate any suggestions or tips you can offer. I currently use a 20" T-square to attempt square corners, but often seem to get some degree of variance, which is distressing because I don't know where I'm going wrong.

I have a very old radial arm saw, a cheap table saw with a lousy fence, and an old DeWalt planer/thicknesser.

Any help would be appreciated.
Regards, John
 

Chris Knight

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On sheet material where the cut is a longish one, I layout a 345 triangle and use my Festool circular saw to cut to the line. I find any T-square has a tendency to go out of whack - I make a new one if I am planning to do a lot of cuts that can use it and then bin it when I am done.
 

UKTony

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This is one of the reasons i opted for a Triton Workcentre, ive actually never used a Circular saw freehand it scares the living daylights out of me, i can cut an 8 x4 sheet accurate to the mm with the extension in place with no help from a third party. I have got a Trend guide clamp which is about 5 or 6 ft long which i use for freehand routing etc , there not cheap but are perfect for the type of job you mention
 

Midnight

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John.. I donno if this is what you're looking for but......

Working with large sheets is never easy in my tiny shop, but it's not impossible..
First job once the sheet's on the bench (raised on strips of scrap) is to cut it into more manageable sizes. A good straight edge guide and circular are essential for this, although I've seen me cutting with a hand saw before now; not something I'd recommend. I always try to cut slightly over final size, with an aim to use the table saw to cut to final size.

With the sheet cut to rough width, I'll use either a cross cutting sled or a large panel cutting jig to cross cut the sheet to length; either jig is set to run in the table saw mitre slots, and ensures that the material is always square relative to the saw blade. If need be, I'll cross cut in stages, to rough width initially to make the piece more manageable, then again to final size.

Irrespective of whether it's a rip or a cross cut, the edges should turn out square to the board.
A quick check with the tape measure to check length, width then across the diagonals for square (equal measurements mean the panel has to be square) should be enough to let me move on to the next piece. If not, and the board needs a slight adjustment, I'll use a shooting board and plane.

The trick, if there is any.... is to be real careful when measuring / setting up your straight edge guides. Any error with the first cuts (roughly to size) needn't be catastrophic, but they need to be addressed before moving on.

On a side note...
Working with laminated boards looks a damn site easier than it is; tear out is an ever present danger, and an absolute bear to control. If this is your preferred media, I'd suggest you upgrade your table saw to one with an integral pre-scoring blade. As the name suggests, this cuts the laminate ahead of the main blade (remembering to work "good side down") preventing any tear out on the finished face. Alternatively, you can score the board with a good sharp knife before sawing, although this would demand a good strong blade, straight edge firmly clamped in place, and nerves of steel; it's not something I'd want to try.
 

johnelliott

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Knot
I assume that by 'board' you are referring to board materials, such as 8x4 sheets. If this is true then the best answer for a small workshop doing varied work is the Festool sytem that Chris refers to.
The Festool equipment is so much better that all the alternatives that I can definitely say that it is the answer, and the only question is whether or not you can afford it.
I cut boards all day as part of how I make my living. Since I started using the Festool stuff I don't really need my EB PKF255 sliding table saw (which is designed with board cutting in mind).
I have an 8x4 table with sacraficial mdf top, on this I make my initial rip and crosscuts with 2.7 and 1.4 guides. As long as you can mark accurately then your cuts will be accurate. (And your first cut will be the finish cut)
I also have the Festool multi function table which incorporates a fence for right (or any other) angle cuts and a stop for repetition work. This unit is more versatile and gives a better finish and more accurate cut than any other cross cutting device that I am aware of
Don't take my word for it, have a look at the Festool info on
www.woodshopdemos.com
John
 
A

Anonymous

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Never had a problem with my 1.8m Trend-type guide and B&Q performance power pro circular saw

As Chris says, 3,4,5 triangle. I have cut a couple of pieces of wood with width that is the exact distance from the guide to the blade edge and hold them againt the layout whilst I clamp the guide at the correct distance from the line.

Spot-on every time :wink:
 
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