May 4, 2009

Quick Release Feather Board, Jig

Quick release feather board

This article explains how to build and use this versatile feather board customized for your table saw. This was a project I read about a long time ago, and finally found a use for it. I took pictures along the way to demonstrate the construction, and ease of use. The feather board is adjustable from left to right and once set, hold tension on the board we are cutting, keeping our fingers away from the blade.

Firstly, find some scrap materials around the shop. You’ll need some ¾” plywood, and some solid oak or maple somewhere around 2” x 2”. The project will take about 2 – 3 hours to build, but last through the years to come. Take dimensions of your table saw from front to back. This will be your base measurement and what you’ll be working off of. My home saw was 24” square, and that is where we will begin.

Start by making a “T-square” shape with your pieces. This will be the end that goes opposite of where you’d be standing when in use. I made ours 8" long so it can square up fairly easy. If you make it too short the jig will rock and possibly create a dangerous situation. You really never have to stop to wait for glue dry time. I used pins and screws so I can keep moving.

Next you want to create your slot where the handle will pivot. I did this by laying out my slot in conjunction with the depth of my saw (24”). You’ll want to leave at least ½” between the slot end, and the table itself. This will enable the mechanical aspect to make its revolution and apply friction.

Next you’ll want to glue, nail, and screw on your solid oak. These pieces were about 2” x 2” x 4” I used these because they were lying around. Any hardwood that will hold up to the wear and tear of a lever would work just fine. I lay out the pieces and mark them with pencil. I figure out where my pivot is and drill a ¼” hole through both pieces. This is where my axle will go.( a ¼” x 5”carriage bolt). Once drilled, I glue, clamp, nail, and then screw. (It’s a jig, and I don’t want it to fail because of weak integrity). Be careful to keep the handle close by and use it to align the oak supports and tabs all together. Making sure the mechanism is still functional.

Once attached, you’ll be able to place it on the saw and start figuring out the radius on the handle needed to lock the jig in place. I start out with a ½” radius and work from there. Always start big and work you way down. How I did this was use a pine scrap, much easier to manipulate and sand. Once the desired radius is reached I copy the pattern to an oak piece. This can take abuse much better than pine. Sand a smooth radius and handle corners and edges for a smooth feeling grip.

Once the handle is installed, you can do this with a carriage bolt, lock washer, and a ¼-20 nut. The jig should be able to grip the saw when the handle is in the down position. The handle should not exceed 90°, as the pressure will start decreasing, and soon you’ll have a stripped lever form regular wear. Using 40-60 grit sand paper where the jig contacts the table will improve the grip allowing for increased pressure from the actual feather board.

Now that the jig can attach to the table saw securely you can cut and build the actual feather board. This part was actually the hardest of the whole jig. The way I did it was first cut the angle, then the feathers. Once complete I re-saw the piece halfway through on the band saw with a fence. I then cut the remainder with a chop saw. To match the angle I used a flush cut saw to accommodate the angle when it pivots towards the fence. Once complete I sand the parts that will come in contact with the jig, ensuring a smooth sliding pivot point. Secure this to the jig with a strong screw, allowing the feather board to swivel towards the fence.

No spring installed yet but you can see where it goes.

Now that everything is in order and working, install two pan head screws to the jig, one on the feather board, one near you handle, to allow spring pressure to pull the feather board tight. You may also use a few rubber bands to do the same. Depends on how much pressure is needed.

Congratulations on building a quick release feather board that will last you for years to come. Making your feather board something that is actually user friendly, economic, and something to brag about. There are many ways to improve this design such as doubling the plywood that spans the table. In some instances this piece bowed and challenged the integrity of the jig. Another way to improve, make more surface area at the handle end where it comes in contact with the table of your saw. Our design uses one point about ¾” thick. You may also add another feather board after the blade if you need that kind of support. Just duplicate the first one. The jig functions perfectly under most conditions and is a very useful tool. Eliminating the need for deep throat clamps in awkward positions on the saw creating a sometimes dangerous situation, making this a great addition to any small shop.

A rough drawing I did for my own reference:

Thank you for taking the time to read this how-to. If you have any suggestion or ideas for future articles please submit them to Frankie’s e-mail.

Don’t forget for light to medium, bulk wood shop supplies,
Screws, locks, drawer slides and more visit:

Frankie Talarico Jr.

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