In this article we will make a DIY featherboard, a great addon for use on a table saw.
Working on a table saw can be dangerous and keeping your fingers as far away from the blade as possible will minimize the risk of injury. This is especially the case of a mini table saw where you work with small workpieces. Using addons for a table saw will not only ensure greater work safety, but also contribute to a higher quality of work.
One of these woodworking safety jigs is a table saw featherboard, also known as the fingerboard. The main purpose of a featherboard is to keep the workpiece firmly against a table saw fence and flat to the table. Using a featherboard will help achieve accuracy when ripping, crosscutting or beveling a workpiece.
The featherboard I am building in this article is a little different. It has no “feathers” or “fingers”, yet it is a featherboard that serves the same purpose. Instead of fingers I am using a wheel (bearing) which guides the workpiece and keeps it firmly against the table saw fence.
The featherboard is specifically designed for a mini table saw (Proxxon table saw). The runner is designed to the size of the table slot as well as the other parts which are directly proportional to the size of the table saw. However, the building process would be the same as for a normal saw.
I built the featherboard in a weekend. The only material you will need are plywood boards, which are easily available in a store. If possible, go for birch plywood. Birch plywood is strong, durable, and has a nice grain texture.
If you are new to woodworking, I strongly recommend you to make your own set of featherboards. You will see how useful they are.
Adjustable DIY Featherboard Video
If you want to see how it is done, watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make an adjustable featherboard for a mini table saw.
Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- Should I buy or make a featherboard?
- How to make a Featherboard for a Mini Table Saw
- Step 1: Build the base
- Step 2: Cut Slots in the Base
- Step 3: Add the Guiding Rail
- Step 4: Build the Adjustable Slider
- Step 5: Add the Guiding Wheel
- Step 6: Build the T-track Runner
- How to Set Up and Use a Featherboard
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
What you'll need to make a Table Saw Featherboard
Plywood – 10cm x10cm x 0,65cm
Featherboard adjustable part
MDF – 10cm x 2cm x 0,5cm
Plywood – 11,5cm x 3cm x 1,2cm
Plywood – 14cm x 1,2cm x 0,6cm
M6 Bolts, M6 T-nut, Bearing
M6 Wing nut, Washers
6mm Router bit
Wood Glue, Epoxy
Proxxon Mini Table Saw
Makita Circular Saw
Dewalt Trim Router
Bosch Cord Drill
Should I buy or make a featherboard?
If you are a woodworking beginner with no experience with featherboards (fingerboards) I would recommend buying your few first featherboards for the workshop. Once you get used to them and you understand how they work, how to set them set up, and how to use them, consider making your own.
The featherboard I am building in this article is not a standard featherboard and has a few differences from the products offered in stores. For instance, it does not have feathers but a wheel that presses against the workpiece. Making a featherboard is not difficult and anyone with a little woodworking experience can do it but the important thing is to know how to set it up and how to use it.
Let's start building!
The featherboard consists of 2 parts – the adjustable body and the runner that fits the table saw t-track.
- For the body, I am using plywood and MDF. It offers 2 adjustments – long/rough distance set up and fine-tuning to ensure precise pressure on the workpiece. The body can be set within 90 degrees and is finished with a wheel that applies pressure on the workpiece and guides the workpiece during cutting.
- The runner is made of plywood and is designed for a Proxxon mini table saw with a t-track width of 8mm. However, the runner is not a fixed part of the body and can be replace with another one that fits the t-tracks of another table saw. Thus, the featherboard can be easily used with multiple different table saws.
The overall dimensions of the featherboard are 10cm x 12,5cm, and can be adjusted up to 7cm towards the workpiece.
NOTE: The featherboard I am building in this tutorial is primarily intended to be fastened to the tabletop. However, since the body and the t-track runner can be separated, the featherbaord can be also fastened to the fence.
How to make a Featherboard for a Mini Table Saw
Step 1: Build the base
First, measure and cut the plywood piece for the featherboard base (10cm x10cm x 0,65cm).
I am using a circular saw track. Of course, you can use the table saw to make the cuts, but make sure have the right equipment since you are working with small wood pieces. (a crosscut sled, a miter gauge, or a push stick).
TIP: Use double-sided tape to attach the baseboard to the tabletop. Thus, it won’t move when routing the slots. To make the cuts you can also use a jigsaw and sand the edges afterwards.
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Step 3: Add the Guiding Rail
Cut an MDF strip (10cm x 2cm x 0,5cm) and glue it on the center of the base. Then drill 2 6mm holes in the center of the guiding rail.
Cut a hexagon around the hole from the bottom of the base to sink the bolt’s head.
Step 4: Build the Adjustable Slider
The adjustable slider moves over the guide rail and is secured to the featherboard with screws and wingnuts. A wheel is attached to the tip of the slider, which presses on the workpiece.
Cut a 6mm slot in the center of the slider. Drill a 6mm hole 1cm from the tip and cut a slot along the slider whose width and depth are equal to the dimensions of the fixed guide rail.
NOTE: You can grind the bolt’s head to make it thinner. The cut hexagon does not have to be that deep.
Step 5: Add the Guiding Wheel
First, grind off the tips of the T-nut. Insert an M6 nut in the hole, add washers, mount the bearing and secure it with the t-nut. After tightening, the bearing will rotate freely.
NOTE: I am using an M6 bolt, a bearing with an inner diameter of 8mm and a T-nut for an M6 bolt. When assembled together the t-nut nicely fits in the bearing hole.
Now you have the main part of the featherboard. This is how the featherboard looks after assembly.
Step 6: Build the T-track Runner
Cut a plywood strip (14cm x 1,2cm x 0,6cm) and trim the edges so it fits nicely in the tabletop slot. Drill 2 6mm holes in center 7cm apart. Cut a hexagon around the holes and glue a bolt in using epoxy (you might need to sand the bolt’s head).
Below is a picture of a finished featherboard for a mini table saw. I find this jig especially useful when making prototypes, models and maquettes on a table saw while working with small wood pieces and wood strips.
How to Set Up and Use a Featherboard
Building a featherboard is quite simple, but what is more important is knowing how to set it up and how to use it.
It may take some time to set up a featherboard properly. You need to find the right place and adjust the featherboard so that it exerts just the right amount of pressure on the workpiece. Once you get used to it, setting up a featherboard will take no more than 2 minutes. However, these two minutes will not only ensure that the resulting cut will be accurate, but will also contribute to your protection and safety.
The steps below describe how to set up a and use a featherboard properly.
- Turn off the table saw and make sure it is unplugged.
- Place the featherboard on the tabletop and slide the runner in the t-track. Keep the bolts loose before finding the right spot for the featherboard.
- In case of a standard cut, place the featherboard a little in front of the blade. It might take a few tweaks until you find the right spot. (Don’t place the featherboard next to the blade (over the blade). The offcut will be pressed into the blade, which might cause jams.)
- Position the workpiece against the table saw fence and adjust the featherboard so that it touches the side of the workpiece. The featherboard needs to press gently against the workpiece while still allowing the workpiece to move smoothly.
- Tighten the bolts and fix the featherboard in position.
- Place the workpiece against the table saw fence and make a cut.
- Don’t forget the necessary safety equipment, such as the push block or push bar.
I highly recommend getting or building a featherboard for the workshop. It is one of the must-have devices for a table saw. It will hold the workpiece firmly against a table saw fence making sure the resulting cuts are clean and straight. A featherboard will not only help you make accurate and precise cuts but also will ensure greater work safety and decreases the chances of kickback.
When ripping, making dados or making beveled cuts use a featherboard.
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I hope the information shared in this blog post inspired and now you are adding this table saw jig to your next builds. 😉