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Through thick and thin

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One of the most important keys to successful woodworking is measuring. But sometimes we get so used to doing something that we misplace the keys.

For everyday work I typically use a regular-kerf blade in my table saw because, well, I just like the way it feels. Seriously, that’s the whole reason I prefer a regular blade, and I can’t explain this preference any better than that. Yes, I fully understand and accept the benefits of thin-kerf blades, and completely get why some folks prefer them.

In full honesty, though, I do like thin-kerf blades for a specific task: general milling and rough resizing of a large quantity of lumber, typically after I’ve just brought home a lot of stock. For that, the thin-kerf blades excel with easier, faster cutting to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Before heading off to visit my daughter and grandson recently I figured it’d be a good time to get my regular blades sharpened. I sent them out and slapped in a thin-kerf blade into my saw to use in the meantime. And, I think, you’ve already guessed what I did wrong.

For all crosscutting there were no issues; since I was using cutlines and stops on my miter gauge, every cut was perfect every time. But when I ripped stock against the fence, everything was coming out just a hair too large – I had forgotten to take into account that the blade kerf is thinner and didn’t reset the scale pointer on the rip fence to accommodate the blade.

Easy mistake to make and, fortunately, easy to correct with a single pass over the jointer to shave off that extra wood.

Still, it’s a perfect example of how we can take something so simple for granted.



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