Making jigs safer and easier to use means they will probably get used more often, although with this table saw jig L-Fence or Duplicating Jig, It seems to be my new "go-to" jig for many custom cuts, so adding a new CLEAR top to it will make it even easier to see what is going on under the fence.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/H6py4ujOvLs
I started off with a cut-off sheet of Lexan or bulletproof plastic from a local supplier. They even had it on a half off because they have so many cut-off pieces to get rid of they have discounted down, which is good because I can use a few different pieces ...
The horizontal fence on the L-Fence jig is what guides the cut, so I decided to make it with a bit thicker plastic and finally settled on 1/2" (half an inch) thickness. I have never worked with this Lexan, bulletproof plastic before but I did ask the nice folks at my supplier what it is like to cut, and they all said it was easy to cut. What I didn't know at the time is that this type of plastic is much more flexible than other plastics I have used which means it is probably softer, and they were correct it cuts and drills like a dream ... easy on the tools and leaves a nice clean cut.
I started off by cutting my plastic at 4 inches by 28 inches, that way if I have a 2-foot piece of wood to cut, it will easily fit the horizontal fence.
My next challenge was how do you attach a plastic fence to a wooden jig or carcass? You can't glue plastic to wood (at least reliably) so I decided mechanical fasteners, in this case, wood screws were the only other easy choice.
After my plastic was cut it was over to the drill press to cut a series of countersunk holes for the screws ... which reminded me of the
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The holes drilled remarkably well and when all were done, I had pre-cut a nice straight piece of wood to act as the joiner piece between the plastic and the wood and so the plastic was fastened to the strip of wood with #6 screws. The wood was then attached to the plywood upright with wood glue, tacked with 23 gauge pins to hold it while the glue dried and that was pretty much the who build.
I should have also mentioned that after I cut the plastic with may 60 tooth crosscut blade on the table saw, I also sanded the edge of the plastic where the wood guide piece will ride with first of all 380 grit sandpaper the finally with 600 grit sandpaper to make sure the wood will slide easily along the plastic ... which it does.
Setting up the jig is no different, I usually lay the piece of wood I want to cut on the table saw deck, lay my push stick on that wood, then drop the horizontal fence from my L-Fence onto the push stick and lock it in place and now my height is set. Next, I adjust the blade height to be just about half a tooth above the wood I am cutting and lower than the horizontal fence. Then I position the jig which is attached to the table saw fence so that the table saw blade is just barely under the L-Fence horizontal fence edge.
To make the cut, you can measure if you want super accuracy, but normally I just set it by eye, lay done a thicker piece of anti-skid material on the wood I am cutting ... then on top of that, I lay down my straight edge wood, which by the way is a triple laminate piece of wood so it NEVER bends or warps and is always true and straight. That straightedge piece is laid down where I want the blade to cut then with some deliberate force I hold the straightedge down on the wood to be cut, the anti-skid material grabs the wood that needs cutting and I push it through the saw.
I love now that I can see the offcut coming off the wood I am cutting and watch it flop onto the table saw deck at the end of the cut. So now I know when the wood is cut and that it isn't going to fly out the back of the saw from some sort of kickback. All in all, a much safer way to work.
I normally only take thinner strips each time and have had no issues with safety, in fact, the jig is safer now than it ever was, but ALWAYS work safely on the table saw and never take any risks. There is always a safer way to work if you are not comfortable with one way, find another you are comfortable with.
I have quite a bit of bulletproof plastic leftover ... I'm looking forward to seeing where I can use it more in the future, I love the results and it's surprisingly easy to work with.
Copyright Colin Knecht