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I'm getting ready to make a few featherboards and
am wondering what material I should use. I presume
plywood is a bad idea. Maple and other hardwoods seem
common, but maple is $5.00 a board foot where I live.
I have some, but I'd like to save it for the drawer fronts
I'll be making (using the featherboards to help cut grooves
for tongue and groove glueups).

Can you get away with using a select pine, or cheaper,
hardwood such as poplar or is that too soft?
 

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After using shop made feather boards for years I got tired of the hassle involved with finding a clamping point on my machines. I was at harbor freight buying some wheels for a compressor and saw that they carry feather boards, the plastic ones with a compression hold down for the miter slots on machines. Since they were only 5.00 I picked one up, that was a month ago. Today I went back and bought another for the out feed side of my saw. Needless to say they work and work well. In my opinion they are better than shop made feather boards and I'd recommend them to anyone who is looking at using them.
 

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I might be wrong here, but since the feather board is used to keep pressure on the workpiece, the hardness of the wood shouldn't play a big factor in its selection. I just used MDF I had around the shop to make my feather boards, and they work fine and have been in service for a couple of years.
 

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I used pine for years. My 15-year-old Ridgid saw manual had instructions for making them. I have some plastic ones now - name brand, not HF, but I don't like them much because they tend to slide in the miter slot. I have to rig a clamp on them anyway. Actually, I clamp a piece of wood to the saw table, the other end of which holds the feather board in place.

-Paul
 
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