Conejo Valley Woodworkers Association
Guide to Jigs and Fixtures
October 2004 Supplement to the Bladerunner

Jig: Adjustable Featherboard Reference: #004
Presenter: Tim Albers Used with: Tablesaw
Full resolution images are available by clicking on the embedded images.

Like most of us, it's typically difficult for me to securely mount a feather board to the tablesaw. The webbing under the saw table and long reach from the table edge to the blade, make clamping a less than ideal solution. There are aftermarket jigs, which can be attached to the miter slot, but these are often small and lack a full range of adjustment. The adjustable featherboard fixture shown here is an attempt to address both of these shortcomings and also provides some additional useful features. This fixture was adapted from a more basic version originally presented in FWW magazine.

The fixture is comprised of three main parts, the main beam, the locking head and the featherboards. The head assembly and main beam attaches to the fence tube just like the Biesemeyer Saw Fence system - a three point locking system, comprised on two fixed surfaces and a pivoting locking arm in the front. In the case of this fixture the two fixed surfaces are simply a layer of UHMW plastic that has been slight hollowed in the center. UHMW is very slippery, but virtually any hardwood would work as well. The locking arm is a De-Sta-Co vertical hold-down clamp. Other clamp mechanisms could be used, but this assembly works very similar to the locking mechanism on any T–Square type fence. The main beam and locking assembly should be made to fit your individual saw, the head assembly shown here is about 8" long and the beam is 20". The only critical dimension is the thickness of the spacer block between the main fence beam and the aluminum angle, which allows the main beam to slide freely on the table surface and the locking assembly to securely lock on the fence tube.

The main beam is screwed and glued to the head assembly to form an L. The L assembly allows the whole fixture to be clamped closer to the actual saw fence. There are no specific rules here either, I used a small brace to provide extra support, but a plywood gusset could be used as well. The important thing is that the beam is solid and sturdy when clamped to the fence tube.

The featherboards run in angled dados plowed in the underside of the main beam. The angle can be anything from about 25 to 40 degrees. Most softwood feather boards work well at 25 to 30 degrees. There's a single mounting bolt which secures the featherboards to the beam, along with a small plastic knob. The featherboards shown here are about 12" long and cut at 30 degrees, which is a good dimension for this system. Cut the feather boards on the table saw using an extra tall fence mounted to you miter gauge. Tilt the blade to 30 degrees and raise it to the full height. Glue a safety block to the back of the miter gauge fence to fully encase the blade as it exits the back of the fence. I make marks on the fence ½" apart, which yields feathers that are flexible but still strong enough to apply pressure. Some paste wax on the featherboards allow them slide easily.