In this article, I will walk you through how to make a DIY featherboard – an amazing add-on for a table saw.
Even small table saws can be surprisingly powerful, so never underestimate them based on size alone. When you’re working with these tools, safety should always come first. Using tools like push blocks and push sticks is essential, especially when handling smaller pieces to keep your fingers at a safe distance from the blade.
Another key safety tool is the table saw featherboard. The main purpose of a feather board is to keep the workpiece firmly against a table saw fence and flat to the table. A featherboard will help you achieve accuracy when ripping, crosscutting, or beveling a workpiece.
The feather board 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) that 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 over the weekend. The only material you will need is 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.
Making featherboards is pretty straightforward, and I’d really suggest you give it a shot and craft your own. You will not spend a lot of money on it and you will soon realize how handy they can be.
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 DIY 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
- Woodworking jigs used
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with a table saw. Safety comes first!
What you'll need to make a Table Saw Featherboard
Feather board base
Plywood – 100 mm x 100 mm x 6,5 mm
Feather board adjustable part
MDF – 10 mm x 2 mm x 5 mm
Plywood – 115 mm x 30 mm x 12 mm
Feather board runners
Plywood – 10 mm x 12 mm x 6 mm
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 feather boards (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.
Featherboard vs Fingerboard: Is there a difference?
When it comes to woodworking, “featherboard” and “fingerboard” often get used interchangeably, but they’re essentially the same tool.
Both are designed to keep your workpiece steady and tight against a tool’s fence, ensuring accurate cuts while keeping your fingers safely away from blades or bits. They play a crucial role in achieving clean cuts and maintaining workshop safety. So, whether you call it a featherboard or a fingerboard, its purpose remains the same: to keep your work secure and your fingers safe.
Let's start building!
The feather board 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 setup 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 replaced 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 feather board are 100 mm x 125 mm and can be adjusted up to 7 mm 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 (100 mm x 10 mm x 6,5 mm).
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, a push block or a push stick).
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Step 3: Add the Guiding Rail
Cut an MDF strip (100 mm x 20 mm x 5 mm) 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 feather board 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 10 mm 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
Instead of making and using feathers I am using a bearing that guides the workpiece.
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 body (main part) of the featherboard. This is how the featherboard looks after assembly.
Step 6: Build the T-track Runner
Cut a plywood strip (140 mm x 12 mm x 6 mm) and trim the edges so it fits nicely in the tabletop slot. Drill 2 6mm holes in the center 70 mm 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 and use a feather board properly.
- Turn off the table saw and make sure it is unplugged.
- Place the featherboard on the tabletop and slide the runner into 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.
- 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.
TIP: Don’t place the featherboard next to the blade (over the blade). The offcut will be pressed into the blade, which might cause jams.
Best Location For a Featherboard on a Table Saw?
When it comes to placing a featherboard on a table saw, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
- First, you’ll want to position the featherboard in front of the saw blade, and parallel to the direction of the cut. This will help ensure that the board applies pressure against the workpiece as it moves past the blade, holding it firmly in place and preventing it from shifting or vibrating during the cut.
- Additionally, it’s important to adjust the featherboard’s pressure and position to match the size and shape of the workpiece. If the board is too loose, it won’t provide enough support and the cut may be less accurate. On the other hand, if the board is too tight, it can cause the workpiece to bind against the blade, potentially causing kickback or other safety issues.
By taking the time to carefully position and adjust your featherboard, you can help ensure that your cuts are precise, accurate, and safe.
My Take - How to Make a Featherboard
I highly recommend getting or building a feather board for the workshop. It is one of the must-have jigs 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 feather board will not only help you make accurate and precise cuts but also will ensure greater work safety and decrease the chances of kickback.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to use a feather board when you’re engaging in activities such as ripping, making dados, or making beveled cuts. A feather board can help ensure that your workpiece stays in place and doesn’t move around too much, which can help you achieve more precise cuts and better results overall.
Whether you’re an experienced woodworker or just getting started, incorporating a featherboard into your workflow can be a helpful way to take your woodworking to the next level. So next time you’re working on a project that involves these types of cuts, make sure to use a featherboard to get the best possible results.