Traditional Featherboards...............How I make them. PICS

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Blog entry by Gord Graff posted 10-04-2007 02:30 AM 74461 reads 76 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello All,

Feather boards have been around in one form or another for a long time and for most woodworkers they are invaluable. It’s like having a second or third pair of hands that never get tired. Below are two methods that I’ve used to make feather boards over the years, one is a band saw method and the other is a table saw method.

The feather board below is typical of what you’ll find in your local woodworking store, it does the job but we can improve on it greatly.

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First, I start with a pair of “blanks” that will eventually be made into feather boards. The first blank is a piece of Maple, ¾”X 7 ½”X 28”, I’ll use this blank to cut a feather board on the band saw. The second blank is a piece of Beech 1 ½”X 5 ½”X 22” and I’ll use the table saw method to cut the fingers for this one.

I start by cutting the ends of the blanks at a 30 degree angle on the table saw or the miter saw.

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A square line is drawn across the blanks 1 ½” in from the shortest leg of the blank. This tells me where to stop the saw blade on either the band saw or the table saw. This line indicates the length of the “fingers” of the feather board. The next thing I need is a gauge stick, the one I’m using is a ¾”X 5/16”X 24” and can be made from any scrap lying around the shop. Using this thickness of gauge stick will create a 3/16” thick finger with the thin kerf saw blade that’s in the saw. When used on the band saw, this gauge stick will create a ¼” finger. Different thicknesses of this gauge stick will produce different thicknesses of fingers.

I place the Beech blank against the fence of the table saw and slide the fence over so that there is a ¼” between the fence and the blade. When this first cut is made, it will become the first or shortest finger of the feather board. The first finger is cut to the line and the saw is turned off while the stock is held in place.

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With the saw shut off, I now move the fence over enough to place the gauge stick in between the stock and the fence and lock the fence in this position. I remove the gauge stick, retract the stock from the blade and place the stock against the fence and cut the next finger. This is continued until the width of the feather board is cut. The next three photos should give you an idea of the process.

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Once the feather board’s fingers are cut I now draw a line across the width of the board 1” below the stop point of the cut fingers. This line represents the length of the saw’s cut on the underside of the blank.

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Even with the saw blade raised to its maximum height, it still cuts farther on the underside of the blank by 1”. The band saw method does not have this undercutting issue.

The Bandsaw Method….........................................................................................

The band saw method of cutting the fingers is almost the same as the table saw method except I prefer to start with the longest finger first. The rest is pretty much straight forward and the following photos show that.

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I now mark both the blanks with a straight line across the width, the Maple blank needs a line ¾” from the base of the fingers and the Beech blank requires a line ¾” past the line previously marked, indicating the undercut from the table saw blade. A ¼”X 4” groove is routed through both blanks, 2 ½” from the bottom edge for the Maple blank and 1 ¼” from the bottom edge for the Beech blank. This groove will allow the completed feather board to adjust on the saw by means of a ¼”X20 machine screw, more on that later.

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To secure the feather board in the miter slot of the table saw, a hardwood runner must be made. Here I’ve used Oak to produce the 12” hardwood runner that’s been milled to a thickness of 3/8” and a width of ¾”, a perfect fit for the table saw’s miter slot. The runner is drilled with a ¼” brad point bit in the center of the runner, marked with a line through the center 2” on either side of the center hole and counter sunk with an appropriate bit. A narrow jig saw blade is then used to cut the line through the runner to a length of 4”. The accompanying photos show the stages that the runner goes through, the top runner in the photo being the first step and followed by the next and so on.

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The following photo show what the completed hardwood runner should look like. When the large jig nut is tightened down on the feather board, the head of the ¼”X 20 machine screw is forced up into the runner spreading the runner against the sides of the miter slot, locking it in place.

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Looking at the completed feather board you can see that not only does it have the same adjustability as the store bought feather board but the shop made feather board has the ability to be clamped to the saw, something missing in the store bought one. Two points of fixation are a lot more desirable than the single point that the store bought feather board offers.

I’ve made dozens of feather boards over the years and I like these two the best.

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I hope that somewhere down the line this information will be of help to someone. I’m always on the hunt for ways of improving my feather board collection and I doubt that I’ll stop here, it’s an ongoing process.

All the best

-- Informing & Inspiring Today’s Woodworkers:

22 comments so far

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 5485 days

#1 posted 10-04-2007 02:34 AM

Great post. I have been needing to make a few of these myself. Now I know how I am going to do it.

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 5390 days

#2 posted 10-04-2007 02:44 AM

you should write a book

nicely done albeit you have more time then me

I just free hand it on the band saw, make em longer and screw or clamp them to the stationary tool but having said that, ................Ijst might take the time and do a few your way.

Question…......................what stops the feather board from sliding up the groove that is placed into the miter slot on the TS?.............not all TS’s come with a “T-slot” so you dont get the clamping action from that handle?


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Gord Graff's profile

Gord Graff

140 posts in 5391 days

#3 posted 10-04-2007 02:51 AM

Howdy Roman,

I’d never write a book, my spelling is not to goody on the bessy of days.

I concur, free handing on the band saw is an option too.

What stops the feather board from sliding up the groove…...................friction caused by the miter slot runner screwed into place. You don’t need a “T” slot for this application.

Perhaps one day I’ll drop off a few feather boards…............................large black no sugar?

All the best

-- Informing & Inspiring Today’s Woodworkers:

View David's profile


1969 posts in 5636 days

#4 posted 10-04-2007 02:54 AM

Gord -

Thanks again for another excellent instruction!


View Gord Graff's profile

Gord Graff

140 posts in 5391 days

#5 posted 10-04-2007 03:09 AM

Hi David,

You’re most welcome.

I did a bunch of these tutorials a while back when things were slow.
When things slow down again, I’ll do a bunch more.

All the best

-- Informing & Inspiring Today’s Woodworkers:

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5533 days

#6 posted 10-04-2007 03:44 AM

Hey Gord, great tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5459 days

#7 posted 10-04-2007 04:29 AM

Thanks Gord, Excellent as usual.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Karson's profile


35301 posts in 5897 days

#8 posted 10-04-2007 06:00 AM

Great Gord. I like the ease of making them. I tried once freehand and didn’t like it so I stopped. A great job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View shaun's profile


360 posts in 5402 days

#9 posted 10-04-2007 11:16 AM

man… buying Bench Dogs makes me feel kinda a cheap now.

-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

View cajunpen's profile


14577 posts in 5563 days

#10 posted 10-04-2007 12:04 PM

Thanks for the show ‘n tell Gord. I think I’ll head to the shop later today and make a couple of them. Like clamps, you can never have too many.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Andy's profile


1726 posts in 5405 days

#11 posted 10-04-2007 01:06 PM

Thanks for the well written info Gord.Will post this in the shop.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5743 days

#12 posted 10-07-2007 08:46 PM

thanks Gord, great tutorial. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5594 days

#13 posted 10-08-2007 05:13 AM

These are really nice. Will add to my when I get time list.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14193 posts in 5480 days

#14 posted 10-08-2007 05:24 AM

Very thoughtful post. I’ve made a few feather boards in the past, but never of this quality. Need to remeber to get a couple knobs. will certainly look at this blog when I make my next feather boards.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View AbenakiMan's profile


11 posts in 5006 days

#15 posted 11-11-2008 08:01 PM

I went looking for a method for creating my own feather boards and I’l use yours. Thanks for your dedication and taking the time and care to orchestrate the instructions just so. This will make my adventure into feather boards much easier.

-- AbenakiMan

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