How to - Cutting thin Strips

There is often a need to cut relatively thin strips of wood, perhaps a quarter of an inch wide or even less. Thin strips are mainly used for decorative purposes such as for borders, inlays, cock beading and so on.

A sharp saw, preferably a Japanese one or a Gents Saw, is the preferable means for cutting off a thin strip from a larger well clamped piece.

Once several pieces of the approximate size have been cut, the problem lies in getting all the strips to be of equal width, thickness or both. To my knowledge very few woodworkers, except the most proficient, are capable of cutting perfectly matching strips of wood.

Therefore some sort of thicknessing method is required. The best one in my opinion is the one demonstrated by master craftsman Paul Sellers in his video on the subject (available at his website https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com). Another very effective thicknessing jig is demonstrated in this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O32Jfg0YpAM.

Paul Sellers' Thicknessing Jig

The Paul Sellers' jig is easy to make and basically consists of just three pieces of wood screwed together to form a channel for a hand plane. Two long strips of wood of the precise thickness to which one wishes to plane strips down to are laid at the bottom of the channel against a small stop. The hand plane then quite easily and very precisely can shave any strip down to the desired thickness.

This is an ingenious device and the only challenge in making it is to precisely thickness the two strips of wood that will act as guides at the bottom of the channel. This would either have to be done carefully and painstakingly by a hand plane or at the table saw.

Two strips at the bottom of the channel act as guides on which the hand plane rides and thereby planes the strip in the middle.

This jig came in handy for planing down three strips of Wenge I had sawn for adding a decorative inlay along the top of one of my dovetail boxes.


Wenge strips for box inlay


I used a router and rebate bit to cut a matching rebate all around the top of the box and then glued on the strips.

Wenge strips glued to rebate on dovetail box

The Wenge inlays are a decorative element but in my experience it is the little touches that greatly enhance even the stodgiest of designs.

Regardless of whether my experiments with Wenge prove successful, I would have acquired the much required skill to confidently cut and use thin strips of wood in my projects.

Postscript:

Our little garden is teeming with yellow and green tailor birds, babblers and squirrels. They make quite a joyous sound especially in the mornings. The other day, however, I was saddened to see a tiny pink hairless creature no larger than an insect breathing its last among the compost at the bottom of one of the trees. On closer inspection I realised it was a baby tailor bird that had slipped out of the flimsy nests its parents construct. There is no way these baby birds can be saved.

The solution, I thought lies in building bird houses. So I built one, a pretty crude one for sure, but a strong and leak proof one. It was made with pieces of hard twisted Pine destined for the firewood pile. I cut rebates and sawed the pieces to ensure the four sides came together well, then glued and screwed them.

The bird house is not symmetric; it is crude but it is extremely strong. I plugged all the gaps with a mixture of epoxy and sawdust and gave the whole thing a coat of water based polyurethane.

We tied it up onto a Ficus tree with the opening facing away from our kitchen window so as to provide its new occupants with a modicum of privacy. Let us hope our tiny friends take to it.


Our bird house


Indranil Banerjie
19 July 2015




Comments

  1. Sir, I am beginning my woodworking journey and your site in invaluable to me. I have a few beginner questions and would appreciate if you could take out some time to guide me.

    1. Can i make dados and grooves in plywood for 90 degree joints? Given that plywood is just thin layers put together, would making a dado weaken the wood/joint in any way if it is at the edge?

    2. Are pocket hole screws/straight vertical screws better or can I use dowels with plywood? Is there a higher chance of the wood splitting if i try using dowels?

    3. Lastly, where can I buy wooden dowels/biscuits in Delhi? I can't seem to find them anywhere and all the timber shops I have visited don't seem to know what I am talking about.

    Thank you for reading and I would be very grateful if you replied.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mahesh I am glad that you find this blog useful. I will try to answer your questions best as I can but in the end you will have to experiment and decide for yourself what suits your requirements best.
      1. Yes, you can make dados and grooves in plywood. If you cut a rebate or groove at the evry edge of a plywood sheet you obviously will be weakening it to some extent. However, if the rebate/groove is relatively shallow, say 1/8th inch in 3/4 inch plywood, then it shouldn't be a problem. Of course if your plywood is of poor quality nothing will help.
      2. Pocket hole screws are stronger. Dowels too are perfectly acceptable.
      3. Try Paharganj, Chuna Mandi. You will have to look around a bit but I remember buying dowels from a furniture fittings shop in that area a few years ago. I cannot remember the exact place but I remember it was off DB Gupta Road.
      good luck

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  2. hi Indranil, Have you tried using the kerfing plane and bow plane? Tom Fidgen has videos of using these and cutting thin sheets of wood.
    I found grooving saw and stair saw very close to the kerfing plane. There is company by Emmerich in Germany, they sell these saws.
    I'm too wishing for someone to come. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have seen plans for a kerfing saw which could be made at home using an old saw blade if it could be cut to size. There are some good plans for it available free on the Internet.
      I have not seen Tom Fidgen using these tools to cut thin strips. That would be intereesting. I haven't seen a grooving saw either. The stair saw is practically the same as the kerfing saw. I will check out the Emmerich site.
      Thanks a lot for the tip - always appreciated.

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    2. Praveen, I saw the Fedgen video where he uses a kerf saw to cut out thin strips. This is just the thing; thanks very much pointing it out. Once the sqare strips have been cut out by this method they can then be planed to exact size in Paul Seller's jig. By the way, the link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xvxsezAOg8

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  3. hi Indranil, Yes it is one of the video where he uses it. He also has videos where he makes the kerfing plane and frame saw (not bow, my bad). If you plan on making them on your own, Gramercy tools sell the required hardware. :)

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  4. Emmerich is Ulmia.de and Gramercy is toolsforwoodworking.com, Also here is the link to the test drive of frame saw. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_E2iitIHgw

    ReplyDelete

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