Look, Ma... no clamps!
SHOP OWNER: Jim Cummins
LOCATION: Woodstock, NY
This is a featherboard I made a few years ago that eventually appeared in American Woodworker magazine as one of their back-page Shop Solutions. Tightening a wing nut clamps the featherboard "arm" at the necessary angle and length in relation to the workpiece, and the same wing nut simultaneously expands a miter-slot runner that holds the featherboard assembly in position on the table. I made the featherboard clamp into the miter slot because I was having a hard time trying to figure ways to clamp plain featherboards to my Contractor's Saw -- the fence rails always seemed to be interfering.
All the parts are shown in the "exploded photo" at left. You'll want to size the wooden pieces to suit your own machinery and the work you intend to do. The featherboard arm has two subtleties that may not be immediately apparent: 1.) The spear-point on the end of the feather makes the arm bi-directional, so I can use it righthanded on my tablesaw (as shown in the photo) or lefthanded on my bandsaw, without disassembling the gadget and turning the arm over; and 2.) The slot for length adjustment is sawn clear through out the end of the arm, then closed with a dowel across the end -- this is easier than a stopped cut, plus the dowel strengthens the grain there, and also makes a handy hanger.
The metal parts are all from my local hardware store. Just find a wing nut in stock of a size that allows you to press in the 1/4-20 nut and solder it permanently into place. I used a low-temperature silver hobby solder from the same store, with a propane torch for heat.
I don't know about everybody else, but I can't bear to throw away exotic woods, no matter how small the scrap or how narrow the offcut. And it was such a surplus bit of rosewood that I used here for the runner. An ordinary countersink bit in my drill press made the recess for the screw head. (Tip: Countersink that recess and drill the hole for the screw before you bandsaw the expansion slot in the runner...)
My miter-slot featherboard hangs in the window behind my bandsaw, where I can grab it to use on either machine with hardly a step -- more to the point, maybe, it's right in plain sight to remind me to take it down and use it. ;)
... Jim Cummins
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