Introduction: Woodworking Featherboards
Featherboards are like extra sets of hands in the wood shop.
They are generally used to hold smaller work pieces safely in place while feeding the work piece to the blade, typically for applications on router tables and table saws.
I needed to route the edges of some 1/4" strips of ash, so I made myself two pairs of featherboards specifically to use with my router table.
One pair are adjustable with lock-down knobs to fasten them to the T-track on the face of my router table, and the other pair are simpler and just get clamped in place to the table fence.
If you're interested in making your own homemade DIY featherboards, here's how I made mine. Thanks for taking a look!
Step 1: Plan
For my featherboards I used pieces of 18mm birch plywood. The measurements noted in the photo.
Featherboards can be made in all kinds of sizes, but these dimensions seemed most logical for my needs.
Real wood will work just fine as well; just make sure the grain runs directionally along the length of the board when you lay everything out (the grain needs to run in-line with the fingers to give them strength).
A framing square was used to mark 30-degree angles on the ends, as well as to mark the individual fingers which were spaced 5mm apart. (It's a lot easier to mark the fingers now while the board ends are square, rather than after you make those 30-degree cuts.)
To make these featherboards I used a table saw, drill press, scroll saw, and band saw. The same results could be achieved with a variety of tools - this is just what I used.
Step 2: Bolt Slots
Slots for the 1/4" bolts that hold the lock-down knobs were made first.
These were marked and end-holes drilled using a drill press and 5/16" bit. The material between the holes was cut out using a scroll saw.
Step 3: Trim Ends & Cut Finger Tabs
The ends of the feather boards were trimmed using a miter gauge on a table saw.
After the angled cuts, the individual finger tabs were cut using a band saw.
For basic, simple featherboards - that's it; they're done!
Step 4: Knobs
For the lock-down knobs, these were also made with 18mm plywood.
For each knob setup I used a 2" long, 1/4" carriage bolt, along with a 1/4" toothed T-nut.
Step 5: Hole Sawing Clean Discs
The knobs were made by cutting discs out of plywood using a drill press and hole saw.
To get the holes lined up and discs drilled cleanly (without blow-out), I used a multi-step process outlined below.
I wanted the T-nuts to sit slightly below the surface, so a counterbore was made for these as well. This is what I did:
- drill initial pilot holes with 1/16" bit
- use a 3/4" forstner bit to bore out about 1/16" for the T-nuts
- use 1/4" bit to drill halfway from topside following pilot hole*
- complete 1/4" hole from bottomside to complete hole with no blowout*
- use 2" hole saw to cut discs - cut halfway from topside of board and finish cut from reverse side
*I've found that I get less hole saw wandering if I make the full 1/4" hole first. This keeps the hole saw inline from the top and bottom resulting in a perfect(ish) disc. The initial 1/16" pilot hole gives me my starting points from top and bottom for the 1/4" bit so there's no bottomside blow-out.
Step 6: Add T-nuts
When the knobs were cut out, I drilled out the center hole to 5/16" to fit the T-nuts.
I added a little epoxy to the counterbore and tapped the T-nuts into place with a hammer.
Step 7: Prepare Bolts
The carriage bolts had to have two sides of the head ground flat so they would fit into the T track in my router table.
This was done using a stationary disc sander machine, but a grinder or even a handheld rotary tool could be used if you hold the bolt securely in a vise.
Step 8: Finishing
I spray painted the knobs and gave the featherboards a light sanding to knock off any sharp edges.
Step 9: Route Some Wood
With the featherboards in place on my router table, I was able to quickly and safely route the edges of these thin wooden strips. Thanks for reading!
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