Please help me refine my routine for cutting square panels

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  • Please help me refine my routine for cutting square panels

    Hi,

    I've mostly only built boxes on my BT3100, speaker cabinets, and such, usually to be veneered, so accurate cutting is important. I'm always working with 3/4" MDF for these, and wanted some outside input on my methods, which I'm not convinced are very efficient.

    I start by ripping a 4'x4' sheet of MDF to slightly wider than I need, let's say I need a 20"x20" panel, I'll cut to 21". If I get a clean run on the fence, then I'll flip the piece and cut to 20", so now I have parallel sides at 20".

    Next I'll put the miter table in and crosscut the end off the piece to get a square end, then flip the piece and put it back on the fence and cut to 20" again.

    So basically I'm cutting a piece parallel, then using the mitre table to get a square end, then using that square end on the fence to complete the piece.

    My question is that I end up either taking the entire mitre table on and off the saw a lot, or taking the mitre table fence on and off the saw a lot, and I'm sure this adds to more setup time and accuracy problems.

    Any suggestions for improvement?

    Also, my absolute worst thing is cutting large panels of MDF down to size and keeping them level on the table and tight to the fence. Any links to easily built jigs, etc., that can help with this? I've built a lot of projets, but consider my skills still very basic.

    Thanks!

    Wes Nance
    Rochester, NY
    BT3100 with 2 belts that broke last night. . .

  • #2
    Wes,

    Here is something I posted a while back about squaring up panels:

    Another option is to make a cross-cut sled -- plenty of posts here to search for that, too.

    Then, decide if either of these is any less fiddly than what you're doing now....

    Regards,
    Tom (who's not dead, just resting)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tom Miller View Post
      Wes,

      Here is something I posted a while back about squaring up panels:

      Tom
      Nice pictorial, and right at the beginning is a great tip : " First, you have to clip off the ears of the sliding block so the clamp can ride against the TS fence".

      I have been using that technique with only partial success, all because of them those 'ears', and never thought of cutting them off ! Thanks.
      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
      - Aristotle

      Comment


      • #4
        Google sawboard and panel cutting table.

        I use an EZ Smart system and prefer it to homebuilt, but not everyone needs it (or would prefer it, there are others).

        The Basic premise is old tech. It is a sawboard, and use a piece of hardboard, carpet taped to the circular saw (not completely, the guard should freely swing), to stabilize next to the sawboard. Have a good support system (panel cutting table, EZ Smart Table, etc), so the cutoffs don't fall away (and break/splinter/chip, etc the material).

        With the sawboard, the piece under it is protected from chipping. The hardboard on the saw, on the other side of the blade, protects the other side of the cut. Keeping the panel flat at all times, on the cutting platform, prevents the material making the cut non 90 degrees from falling away.
        She couldn't tell the difference between the escape pod, and the bathroom. We had to go back for her.........................Twice.

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        • #5
          Even easier than a true crosscut sled, I use a simple "panel cutting sled" like norm uses here...

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZFOX9kUKm4
          Sam Conder
          BT3Central's First Member

          "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -Thomas A. Edison

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sam Conder View Post
            Even easier than a true crosscut sled, I use a simple "panel cutting sled" like norm uses here...

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZFOX9kUKm4
            Sam (and everybody so far) thanks for the input. I really like Norm's sled, nice and simple. Is there a way to use it and still have the accuracy of the table saw fence for how wide the cut is? I don't trust my repeatability measuring with a tape, marking it and putting the mark against the edge of the sled like Norm does. . .

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Wesley Nance View Post
              Is there a way to use it and still have the accuracy of the table saw fence for how wide the cut is?
              Sure, but it doesn't involve the TS fence. Just clamp a stop block to the fence on the sled.

              I use a combination of LR's and Sam's method: break down the full sheets to rough size with a circular saw, and then trim to final size using either a panel-cutting sled or the rip fence.
              Larry

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              • #8
                right. . . see, I figured a quick post to you guys would be an instant revelation. I just don't think quickly enough in these areas. Stop bock, of course. . .

                Thanks-

                Wes

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wesley Nance View Post
                  Sam (and everybody so far) thanks for the input. I really like Norm's sled, nice and simple. Is there a way to use it and still have the accuracy of the table saw fence for how wide the cut is? I don't trust my repeatability measuring with a tape, marking it and putting the mark against the edge of the sled like Norm does. . .
                  I can think of at least two ways to increase your accuracy without using the fence.

                  1. If you cut a lot of panels the same size make a story stick the same width as your panels and use that to set up each time.

                  2. Get some of the measuring tape that hasvadhesive on the back and place it on the rear of the sled and even add a movable stop block. This would be my preferred choice. I have that on a miter gauge and get repeatable cuts every time.


                  Norm's sled is simple and easy to make if you have a miter slot.
                  RAGS
                  Raggy and Me in San Felipe
                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    Sizing large sheets prior to your final cuts could be helpful. First check your sheet for square (measure corner to diagonal corner). Set up an infeed and outfeed table so the sheet is supported. You don't want to be fighting it to keep it tight to the fence. The more times you handle the sheet, the more possibility of an improper cut. You should be able to make your cuts just one time without turning for a parallel cut. Eliminating handling repetition will be less of a hassle.
                    .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you make a sled of some sort, you can use flip-style stops to set the various dimensions you need... the stop flips up/back and out of the way for the first cuts that square up oversize panels, then it flips down and becomes a positive, repeatable stop for the final cuts that dimension the panels. These could be permanently attached to your sled if you make lots of similar boxes. There's no law that says you can't have multiple flip-stops on one sled either: one for the length, one for the width of the box parts.

                      Otherwise, a moveable stop that clamps securely to the sled, yet can flip out of the way when not needed, lets you make a few cuts of repeatable size (since you just flip it up or down as needed - not moving it) within a project. The resulting box will be square... but it might not be exactly the same size as last week's box.

                      mpc

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                      • #12
                        I was thinking a sled that is square that runs against your fence would work. put some t track in for hold down clamps, and line an edge up with the fron and the cut will be square.

                        and yes, constantly re installing the miter fence can cause some error, I've got a slight problem on mine where I have to be careful squaring it because the little tab can go back if I hit it with the fence too hard.
                        Alex

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                        • #13
                          I know exactly what you mean. I got tired of all the SMT on and off stuff as well as the limit for panel cuts and a variable lack of accuracy for dead-on angles.

                          I therefore started with a simple panel sled and then moved on to a cross-cut sled. I finally completed the set with a miter sled. you can see more in the following threads.

                          If you just started with the panel sled this would help you square up panels really quickly. Starting with the known good factory edge one rip and two trims (at most) with the panel sled and you are done!!


                          http://www.bt3central.com/showthread.php?t=38787

                          http://www.bt3central.com/showthread.php?t=41689

                          http://www.bt3central.com/showthread.php?t=41819
                          Jon

                          Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
                          ________________________________

                          We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
                          techzibits.com

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                          • #14
                            ...pssst, Jon, this thread is a year old....
                            It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
                            - Aristotle

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                            • #15
                              OMG - I just LMAO. I was searching around for something and this thread came up and all I saw the date was Jan 3rd 2008 and thought thats only last Saturday I must have missed it so replied forgetting that we are now in 2009 - duh

                              I guess thats better than the usual mistake of writing a check and putting the wrong date on it
                              Jon

                              Phoenix AZ - It's a dry heat
                              ________________________________

                              We all make mistakes and I should know I've made enough of them
                              techzibits.com

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