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Spot-on tablesaw crosscuts

6 ways to get the results you’re after with minimal hassle

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  • Spot-on tablesaw crosscuts

    We all strive for clean and accurate tablesaw cuts. In chasing perfection, though, we often spend much more time setting up a cut than actually making it. Here's how to safely get great crosscuts in less time.

  • Extend your miter gauge

    A bare-bones, standard-issue miter gauge benefits from the addition of an extension, a straight scrap of plywood or MDF screwed to the gauge so it extends past the blade. This provides a couple of advantages: A saw kerf cut into the extension, as shown, shows precisely where the blade will cut, and the wood around the kerf provides zero-clearance protection against tear-out.

  • Measure from the kerf for fast, precise cuts

    Clamp on a simple self-squaring stopblock for cutting multiple parts to precisely the same length. Using a steel rule for its hyper-accurate precision, position the stopblock quickly by measuring from the edge of the kerf. Leave a 14 " gap beneath the stopblock to prevent dust buildup from affecting your cuts.

  • Lock in mitered parts

    For parts with mitered ends, such as picture-frame sides, use a stopblock with the complementary angle. This provides a more positive "lock" than a rectangular block. Apply 120-grit, self-adhesive sandpaper to the miter-gauge extension for better grip on your workpieces.

  • Add a stopblock to your rip fence

    Sometimes the dimensions of a workpiece prevent you from using a stopblock on a miter-gauge extension. For example, cutting multiple parts of equal length from a 6'-long board might be a problem. Or cutting short pieces would place your hands too close to the blade.

    The solution: Use your rip fence as a gauge. To prevent workpiece binding and kickback, always position the stopblock several inches in front of the blade. That way the cutoff falls away freely instead of becoming trapped between the blade and stopblock. And to make setups easier, make your stopblock's width a whole number, such as 2", and then use your fence scale to set the cutoff length--plus the 2".

  • Do the dado two-step

    To cut dadoes without switching to a stacked dado set, make a two-step gauge block with its two steps offset by the desired dado width. Clamp it to your fence as shown. Then, using your crosscut or general-purpose blade, make a cut using each step. Finally, nibble away the middle with repeated passes over the blade.

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