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How to Make Your Own Feather Boards

Q:

I want to make feather boards from scrapwood. Does grain direction matter? Should I use hardwood or softwood? Is plywood effective? What is a good feather length and board size?
—Russ Gastright, Highland Heights, Ky.

A:

Most hardwoods will work, with closed-grain woods such as maple, cherry, and walnut being especially good choices, Russ. That’s because these woods can be cut into thin sections and remain springy without breaking. But avoid sheet goods. Cross-plies and voids make thin plywood feathers unpredictable, and MDF feathers lack hardwood’s rigidity.

The width of the feather board-—usually 2" to 4"—and the length of the kerfs can be customized to suit how much pushing pressure you need to control workpieces on your tablesaw or router table. Start by bandsawing kerfs 2½" long in ¾" stock where the end has been cut at a 30° angle. For kerfs in hardwoods, always cut with the grain. If the feathers are too short to flex as workpieces slide past, lengthen the kerf to around 4". Be careful to not make feather boards or feathers so wide that they push your fence out of alignment. All you need is to duplicate the fingertip pressure your hands would provide. 

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