9 Top Stop Tips

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Stops can be used on nearly every tool in your shop to precisely position and control cuts, holes, and miters for greater speed and accuracy with less frustration. To demonstrate their versatility, we’ve assembled a collection of ways that stops can speed repetitious project steps.

These stops all have one thing in common: When temporarily attached to saws, router tables, or drill presses, they limit the movement of workpieces or fences so you get consistent results time after time. Although you can buy stops or use clamps, most stops can be made using scrapwood.

When assembling stops with more than one part, like the router-table double stop shown above, avoid using nails or screws that might accidentally come into contact with a saw blade or router bit. Check clamp positions to ensure they won’t touch your blade or bits.

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Router-table mortise maker

To center the mortise on the workpiece end, mount stopblocks on your router-table fence, as shown above. To figure the spacing between stops, add the workpiece width to the length of the mortise, and subtract the distance of the mortise from one edge.

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Give dust an escape route

When making your own stops from blocks of wood, like the one shown above, be sure to cut a “relief” chamfer or rabbet where indicated to prevent sawdust buildup from changing the position of the stop. Even with that precaution, remember to periodically brush or blow debris away from the stop.

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Add spacers to a single stop

If you’re boring a series of holes on a drill press, place the stopblock to make the first hole. Then use scrapwood spacers cut to lengths equal to the spacing between the holes to be drilled, in this case 4" and 6" from the stopblock. 

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Stretch your miter-gauge extension

Even long workpieces, such as table legs, consistently can be cut to length using stops. For parts longer than your miter-gauge extension, attach a stopblock to a long, rigid piece of scrap. Then, measure from the blade to the block, and clamp the stop to your extension.

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Angled stops keep miters looking sharp

When cutting miters, bevel your stopblocks to complement your workpieces. The angled stop gives you more solid contact, and you won’t blunt the tips of your mitered ends.

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Double up on saw-fence stops

Whether you buy or make a basic fence stop, tailor it to work around obstacles, such as motors. When that’s not possible, give yourself the versatility of being able to cut on either side of the blade or bit.

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Cut dead-on tenons

Clamp an L-shape stopblock to your bandsaw fence to cut tenon cheeks to length. To cut the tenon shoulders, leave the stopblock in place and adjust the fence. Make the blocks long enough that the clamp doesn't interfere with the upper roller guide.

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Clamps = fence stops

Sometimes, you need to move your tablesaw fence closer to the blade, and then return it to the same position—when switching between crosscut and dado blades, for example. A clamp attached to the fence rail serves as a stopblock for the fence's return trip.

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Rip strips to width

This stop’s width equals the distance from the edge of the blade nearest the stop to the far edge of the slot minus the width of strips to be cut. After each cut, slide the fence until the workpiece touches the edge of the stop; then cut the next strip.

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Poor-man’s centering rule

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