Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

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A few weeks ago I talked about the built shop cross team which helps me get quality right angle cuts on solid timber. This week I will show how I am using some inexpensive jigs that help me when dealing with sheet metal products.

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

The platform

My technique is based on a simple foundation that allows me to conveniently attach MDF, plywood and other sheets for cross cutting and tearing. My pallet-like platform is rudimentary and consists of a few long rails (you can use 2 × 4 to build it) that are linked together with two or potentially three links.

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

I use the Tear zones (between the slats) for long rip cuts and the wide field in the center of the platform for rip and short cuts (Crosscut and Rip Zone, in the drawing).

The space between the long rails allows me to slip in a clamp or two, and the sleepers are tall enough to allow the clamp head some clearance from the tabletop that supports the platform. While this platform can be placed on trestles or on a table, it can also be used on the ground (and because it’s made from solid wood it can also be left outside).

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

The platform is made up of thick elements that can tolerate the surface saw cuts that will cross the Crosscut and Rip Zone rails during the long life of this jig. There are only two areas I don’t recommend cutting. These are where the platform fasteners connect the rails to the tie rods. I call them in the drawings Fixing line. But of course, if you use dowels or dominoes to build the platform, the entire platform area is kosher for cutting.

The guide to the saw

For speed, conviction and accuracy I have built a saw guide that acts as an effective guide that allows me to guide the saw along the longitudinal cuts and through the wide transverse cuts.

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

The saw guide consists of two pieces of plywood. A ~ ¼ “wide strip at the bottom and a” stripe that serves as a straight edge at the top. After connecting the two, run the saw across the base of the jig to tear off the excess. After that, and as long as you continue to use the same saw that started the jig (with the same thickness as the blade) you can count on the edge of the jig. ¼ “guide to indicate the position of the saw cut.

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

Veritas square fence

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

I found that Veritas square fence it is very useful for marking the cross cut line and for aligning the saw guide on it. The Veritas Square Fence acts as a ledge above a carpenter’s square that allows it to register at 90 degrees to the edge of the piece. After deciding the location of the cut I place the saw guide over the sheet well, align the carpenter’s square, then lock the guide to the platform and start the cut.

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

With these inexpensive items (the cutting platform, a saw guide, two clamps and the Veritas square fence) I am able to cut full-size panels with precision and ease. If you don’t have access to a large table saw and sturdy support system for cross cutting and tearing of sheet products, you may want to try this system.

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

Rip and Crosscut Sheet Goods on the Cheap

Willow inspects the cut layout before giving me the green light to start the cut.


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