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Cutting Guide for Small Parts

By: Woodsmith staff
Safe, accurate cuts are easy with this table saw helper.

The table saw works great for cutting accurate workpieces over a wide range of sizes. But when the parts get very small, a big table saw may seem like too much tool for the job. At this scale, maintaining safe control of the pieces while ensuring accuracy becomes a challenge. But I’ve found that the trick to successfully crosscutting small parts is to adapt the table saw setup and your technique to the task. And I also take advantage of a simple add-on.

My answer is a scaled-down cutoff sled attached to the miter gauge. The sled carries the nestled workpiece through the blade with a minimal effort on your part. And both the blank and the cutoff are always under control. When the pieces get very short — less than a couple of inches — I cut them to length on the right side of the blade. You can use the flip-stop to guarantee accurate, repeatable results.

You’ll discover that very thin, short pieces may crack as they’re cut or be caught by the blade once they’re loose. Making the cuts very slowly may help. Short, fragile cutoffs can also be kept intact by reinforcing them. Apply a wide piece of masking tape and then turn up the leading edge as shown here. The tape strengthens the piece during the cut and will also keep it in place afterward.

Published: April 11, 2013
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