Woodsmith Tips

Creating good-looking project pieces, like this straight-grained table leg, from the lumber you have is one of the challenges of woodworking. Using your band saw to do this makes it a lot easier.

The key to cutting out straight-grained workpieces is in the layout. I laid out the parts to follow the grain. (I laid them out just a little oversized so I could mill them to final size later.)

The first cut on the board has to be done freehand. There’s no straight, parallel edge that matches my layout lines, so I couldn’t use a rip fence. Instead, cut close to the waste side of the line and concentrate on making a straight cut. This way, there will be less cleanup to do later.

After the first edge is ripped, the next step is to run it across a jointer. This removes the saw marks and leaves a straight, smooth reference edge. You could also do this with a few swipes of a sharp hand plane.

Now set up your rip fence for the next cut. As you feed the stock through the blade, keep the reference edge against the fence. Here, it pays to make sure you stay close to the layout line. The end result is a workpiece with straight grain on four faces. And that means better-looking projects.

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