The following table shows the most popular types of kerf saw blades:
Kerfs are used for cutting thin strips of material such as plywood or MDF. They have a number of advantages over straightedge knives, including ease of use and speed. However, they do not cut through thick materials like hardwoods or veneers very well. There are two main types of kerf saw blades: kerfed and straightedge.
Kerfed blades are made from hardened steel and are designed to cut through thicker materials than straightedge blades. These include 1/8″ (3 mm) plywood, 3/16″ (7 mm) MDF, 1/2″ (13 mm) oak boards, etc.
Straightedge blades are made from stainless steel and are designed to cut through thinner materials than kerfed blades. These include ¼”, ½”, and full thickness (1¾” – 3″) oak boards, ¼” (6 mm) MDF, and other materials with similar grain patterns.
Most manufacturers offer both kerfed and straightedge blades. Some even make kerfed and straightedge blades in different sizes. For example, some makers produce a “small” blade for cutting small pieces of wood while others provide a “large” blade for cutting larger pieces of wood.
Miter saw blades can be divided into four main groups depending on their purpose:
Finish blades are used to make fine cuts in the final material you want. For example, you should use a finish blade when cutting hardwood flooring to complete its final dimensions.
Rip blades are used for cutting through hard materials such as softwoods and thicker plywoods. They also make quick work of melamine-covered particle board and other sheet good materials.
Dado blades are used to make grooves (also known as dadoes) into the material you want. These grooves can then be filled with moulding or other types of wood to give your project a more professional look.
Specialty blades include beading blades (cut beads) and slot cutting blades (for making long, thin cuts in materials such as aluminum).
There are two basic types of miter saw blades: non-reusable and reusable. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Non-reusable blades are precisely engineered and manufactured to give you a precise cut every single time. You simply install the blade in your saw, make your cut, and then dispose of the blade since it can’t be used again. These blades also tend to be cheaper than their reusable counterparts.
Reusable blades are more expensive than non-reusable blades but they have one major advantage: you can use them repeatedly to make multiple cuts. This means that you only need to replace your blade when it gets too dull to use. However, you do need to take extra steps to maintain the blade so that it continues to work efficiently every time.
While deciding on which miter saw blade you should get, also consider the type of material you’re going to be cutting. While most blades work with most materials, there are some exceptions. For example, you need to choose a specially designed blade for cutting non-ferrous metals such as aluminum and copper. You should also consider the type of cut you need to make.
For example, do you need to cut at an extreme angle (beyond 45 degrees) or do you just need to make straight cuts?
This also affects what type of blade you should use.
Miter saws are very dangerous tools if not used properly. Even if you’re experienced, accidents can happen if you don’t follow proper safety procedures. Before doing any type of woodwork, you should invest in a good pair of safety glasses. These should be made of some type of plastic and they should fully protect your eyes.
Avoid cheap sunglasses or anything that isn’t specifically designed to protect your eyes. You should also invest in a good, sturdy pair of earmuffs to protect your hearing. Many professional woodworkers suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) caused by failing to use proper hearing protection. Also, never wear any type of shirt containing any amount of metal (such as a steel chain) while using your miter saw. A stray piece of metal has no place near any type of saw blade! Finally, NEVER wear any clothing that could get caught in your saw. Avoid long sleeves or anything with a loose thread.
Make sure you read and understand the owner’s manual for your specific miter saw. All miter saws require that you set and maintain a specific degree of bevel angle before making a cut. The manual will outline the specific procedures for doing this. If you don’t set this angle properly, your cuts won’t come out right and can be unsafe as well.
Also, be sure to adjust your miter saw table so that the blade is set at exactly 90 degrees before each cut.
The most important safety practice (which should be second nature anyway) is making sure that your cutting surface is secure and locked in place. You should NEVER make a cut on a surface that has the potential of moving during the cut. This is why most professionals have their workbench anchored to the floor. If your work surface has the ability to move, such as a table saw, you need to secure it before making any cuts.
Using a Miter Saw
The actual operation of a miter saw is simple. As mentioned previously, the saw has a small, rotating saw blade that protrudes up through the center of the table. You then push the piece of wood (or other material) up against the back fence and secure it with clamps. Once it is firmly in place, you slowly lower the saw blade onto the material until it makes contact.
At this point, continue lowering the blade until it reaches the pre-set degree of bevel (usually around 45 degrees). Now you can start the saw and make your cut. As you let the saw do the cutting, continually push the material through the saw to make your cut.
Some tips on proper miter saw operation:
– Always wear your safety glasses and earmuffs.
– Before beginning any cuts, make sure your miter saw is securely locked down to the work surface. This will minimize movement during the cut, which could cause a dangerous situation.
– Whenever possible, use a push stick (a long, narrow piece of wood) to help guide the material through the blade. Make sure you hold on to the other end of the push stick while the saw is in operation. Do not place your fingers near the cutting surface at any time.
– Turn off the saw and make sure the blade has come to a complete stop before removing any material that has been cut.
– When you are done using the saw, always wait for the blade to come to a complete stop before moving it in any way.
– Turn off the saw and unplug it before cleaning or performing any other maintenance.
– Once you have finished making all the cuts you need to make, turn off the saw, unplug it and let the blade come to a complete stop before removing any material that has already been cut.
If you are new to using a miter saw, be sure to practice on a few scraps until you feel comfortable with its operation. Also, keep in mind that a miter saw is capable of cutting much thicker pieces of stock than what is recommended in this guide. However, it is always safer to start out with thinner pieces and work your way up. Once you feel comfortable with the saw, you can move on to making more ambitious projects.
That just about covers everything you need to know about using a miter saw. The next tool on our list is a random orbital sander. This tool is probably less intimidating to most people than a miter saw, but it still has the potential to cause a great deal of harm if not used properly. So in the next section I will go over some of the safety guidelines that should be followed whenever you use a random orbital sander.
Random orbital sanders are used primarily for smoothing out pieces of wood or wood-like material. It has a disk with sands attached to it that spins at a very high speed. As the disk spins, the sanding disk moves in a random orbit, hence the name. This motion is less likely to remove a thick layer of material all at once, which is a common problem with other types of sanders.
Random orbital sanders are commonly used to get wood surface ready for paint, and they can also be used to put an edge on dull blades. We will be focusing on the former use, that of sanding.
Safety first: When using a random orbital sander there are several safety guidelines that you should always keep in mind. Even though this tool is less likely to take a big thick layer off a piece of wood (like a belt sander might), it can still do a lot of damage if care is not taken. The first rule of thumb is to wear safety goggles whenever you are operating this or any other power tool. Even if you are wearing the rest of your safety gear, it is unsafe to operate any power tool without goggles.
The second guideline is to always wear ear protection whenever you are working with a power tool that may produce a loud noise. Since most woodworking projects require the use of at least one power tool, ear protection should be worn whenever you are working on a project, even if you are not actively using a power tool at the moment.
The third guideline is to ensure that your work area is clear of any tripping hazards. Always clear out the area around your work station and make sure there is a clear path to any door you may need to get to quickly. Also, only plug in your power tools after you have cleared the area and are ready to use them. Unplug the tools when you are finished using them.
The fourth guideline is to never wear loose clothing when operating a power tool. Make sure any dangling sleeve is secured back. It is also a good idea to wear long pants, especially if you are working in an area with rough wooden splinters.
The fifth guideline is to avoid walking around while your power tools are running. Always secure the work piece and unplug your tool first.
The sixth guideline is to keep your power tools in good working condition. Regularly check for loose screws, worn parts, and any other damage. Have any of these problems fixed immediately and never use a power tool that is not in good working condition.
The seventh guideline is to avoid distractions. Always pay attention to what you are doing. Power tools create serious hazards if used inappropriately. Never operate a power tool when you are tired or distracted.
The final guideline is to respect the power tools. They are not the enemy; they are tools that can enable you to do a lot of good, but only if used properly.
Note: The guidelines listed above are a general overview of safety guidelines. It is impossible to list all the different safety guidelines for every power tool, so when in doubt, refer to the manual that came with your power tool.
What You Will Need
In order to sand wood, you will need several items. In addition to the wood, you will need sandpaper and a power tool to spin the sandpaper.
You will need to choose whether you want to use an electric sander or a vibrating “orbital” sander. Either one will work well for most applications, but they are not the same tool — it is good to try both out before fully committing to one over the other.
Electric sanders use standard household current to spin the sanding pad. These are a bit larger and heavier than the orbital sanders, but they tend to do a better job. They also can sand in certain directions (most can only go forward or reverse, but some can also move “side to side” as well), which can sometimes be useful. You will also need to stock up on sandpaper since these use a fair amount of it at one time.
Vibrating “orbital” sanders are a newer style of sanding tool. They use a vibrating mechanism to move the sanding pad around in small circles rather than just back and forth (like an electric sander). This means you can do more detailed sanding with less strokes. You can also get “graded” sanding pads, which have different levels of “coarseness” on one sanding pad.
These are great for starting with a coarse pad and then switching over to a fine sanding pad for the final details. You will need to keep up with the supply of sandpaper since these tools go through it quickly.
Whichever sander you decide on, get the best quality you can afford — it will make your job easier in the long run.
1. Place wood onto table saw and cut to the desired size (etching).
2. Use belt sander to sand wood texture into desired side of the board (etching).
3. Use a damp cloth to wipe the board.
4. Use a clamp or another board to secure the board while staining (etching).
5. Stain the board and allow to dry (etching).
6. Once board is dry, remove clamp or board from the top of the board (etching).
7. Use a damp cloth to wipe board after removing stain (etching).
8. Use sandpaper to smooth out any uneven spots on the board (etching).
9. Place a piece of wax paper over the board and use the orbital sander to sand the board (etching).
10. Wipe off any excess powder with a damp cloth (etching). 11. Place board under a UV lamp or in direct sunlight to cure the product (etching).
How to Stain Wood
Staining wood can add an interesting look to your project. There are many different types of stain from which to choose – oil based, water based, transparent, and even some that have a “faux” aged look. The type of stain you choose will affect how the wood looks when it has dried.
Oil-based stains dry slower and last longer, but can be more difficult to remove if you do not purchase a “sealer” for the project. Water-based stains dry faster and are easier to remove, but usually need to be reapplied more often. Either type can be used for most projects, but test the stain on a scrap of wood first to make sure you like the way it looks before using it on your main project.
1. Stain the desired side of the board (staining).
2. Use a damp cloth to wipe excess stain off of board after it dries (staining).
3. Use sandpaper to smooth out any uneven spots (staining).
4. Place a piece of wax paper over the board and use the orbital sander to sand the board (staining).
5. Wipe off any excess powder with a damp cloth (staining).
6. Place board under a UV lamp or in direct sunlight to cure the product (staining).
How to Glue Wood Together
There are many ways to glue wood together. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. The best gluing method choice usually depends on what is being glued and how the project will be used. Different glues dry differently, from instant drying to “harden over time” types.
Some glues create a stronger bond than others, and some are stronger under tension while others are stronger with shock loads.
The three major types of glue are:
Animal Glue – Also known as hide glue, this is made from rendered animal proteins (bones, skin, tissue) usually cattle. This type of glue is most often used in furniture and paneling because it produces the strongest bond for these types of items.
PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) Glue – Also called white glue, this is a common household glue used to make paper mache objects. It also is not very strong when dry.
Epoxy – Epoxy glues come in two separate parts and are mixed together in the container before use. They come in different “strengths” and curing times, so be sure the one you choose will work for your project.
Most of the glues you can buy are not waterproof, so if your project will be exposed to moisture you may want to waterproof it after it has been put together or coat with sealant.
1. Spread glue on one piece of wood (gluing).
2. Place another piece of wood on top (gluing).
3. Press pieces together and clamp (gluing).
4. Allow to dry according to instructions (gluing).
5. Sand or saw off any excess pieces of glued wood (gluing).
How to Glue Plastic, Metal, Bone, and Shells to Wood
Most plastics, metals, bones, and shells do not glue well to wood. You can usually find a pre-made stand at your local arts and crafts store that will work with the material if you are wanting it as a display piece.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Portable miter saws (F Fushiya, N Hakamata, H Abe, N Inoue – US Patent 4,638,700, 1987 – Google Patents)
- Support assembly for a slide compound miter saw (AL Itzov – US Patent 5,862,732, 1999 – Google Patents)
- Miter saw (EV Wilson – US Patent 4,078,309, 1978 – Google Patents)
- Guard for protecting the cutting edges of saw blades (WT Anderson – US Patent 2,954,118, 1960 – Google Patents)