Special precautions should be taken when working with very small pieces on a table saw. Here are two set-ups we use to keep fingers protected, yet still make accurate cuts.
Whenever we have to cut a whole bunch of small pieces to the same length, we use the set-up shown in Fig. 1. There is a rule when using a table saw that you should never use the miter gauge and rip fence at the same time.
If they were used together, the cut-off piece would be trapped between the blade and the rip fence. Very quickly the blade would catch the piece and throw it back at you — not good.
In order to solve this problem we clamp a piece of 2x4 scrap to the rip fence. The front edge of this block is placed in line with the front edge of the blade. Then the cut-off length is measured from the blade to the block. The workpiece is pushed against the block and guided through the blade.
With this set-up, the cut-off pieces have enough space between the blade and the rip fence so they won't get trapped and thrown back.
The rule mentioned above is intended for through (or cutoff) sawing. In the case of cutting a rabbet at the end of a piece, both the miter gauge and rip fence can be used in conjunction.
The set-up shown in Fig. 2 shows this operation. However, since we were cutting a rabbet on the end of very small pieces, we added an extension fence to the miter gauge to support the piece all the way to the blade.
Also, we clamped a strip of Vi" plywood to the rip fence to hold down the end of the work-piece. Since the plywood is positioned directly over the blade, it serves as a blade guard as well.
Before cutting any pieces to length, I went ahead and ripped the W plywood for the drawer bottoms and sides, and cut the shelves and back to size. The Cutting Diagram doesn't allow much waste. The layout allows Vh" for kerfs, but there's almost no room for error.
Once all of the strips have been cut, you must cut off all the pieces to length. (Some special set-ups for cutting small pieces are described in the article above.)
To assemble the drawers I found it much easier to use the nailing fixture described on page 3. Though it takes time to make this fixture, it sure makes nailing these little drawers a whole lot easier.
After nailing the drawers together. I sanded down the sides on a disk sander mounted on the table saw. This little bit of sanding not only smoothes out the sides of the drawer, but also creates the minimum clearance necessary between the drawers. (The dimensions of the drawers and the surround allow no clearance, hence the sanding takes care of this.)
One final suggestion. I use 'peel and stick' address labels to mark the contents of the drawer. These labels should be available at almost any stationery store.
EXTENSION ^ FENCE
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Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.