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1. Setup for ripping strips & the ideal plank of cedar

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If you decide to cut your own wood strips, the jigs on these pages will make the milling cheap, accurate and fast. When I mill strips for my kayaks, I often do large batches (~ 4-5000 ft or so) at a time. With the machines already set up, in one afternoon you can make enough finished strips for 2 kayaks! I am not kidding.
The finger board principles in routing apply for ripping as well. Pressure on the plank is ideally applied just in front of the blade.

The photo shows a 71/4" thin-kerf rip blade. A combination blade is OK. Only four teeth need to project above the stock to minimize friction.
Note the long fence extension (a scrap piece of 1" MDF fiberboard). It assures even parallel cuts so that you can get the most out of a plank. Ripping strips of consistent thickness from a 15ft plank is very tough with a short fence.
The table extension is an 8ft long piece of MDO plywood (better quality plywood with paper facing) mounted just below the level of the saw table. It is essential for ripping and routing long stock.

The most labor saving feature is the long finger board, 'friction-hinged' with by a clamp. It can be easily adjusted by hand yet it is held down with sufficient force to produce consistent pressure against the plank and fence. It is pulled tighter or looser by hand every 2 or 3 passes to maintain pressure. No need to readjust the clamp here!

Strips milled ~0.5mm or so over 1/4" will have thicker and stronger cove edges. No splintering will make life much easier during glue application.
When you run the glue bottle on a strip with thin cove edges, they often splinter and contaminate the glue. Achieving tight joints between the strips becomes more tedious as a result.

View from the other direction. Note the chair supporting this
5/8" X 8" X 15' plank of western red cedar. The chair rail is about 2 inches higher than the tablesaw.

By the time the end of the plank leaves the chair, about one third of the plank is supported by the tablesaw and a small vertical fingerboard clamped to the fence.

Use a well milled strip to set the fence distance to the blade. It is easier and more accurate to do, than measuring it with a tape.
Use calipers or plain measuring tape to check the thickness of the strips once in a while (5-10 strips) to make sure that the strips are still the right thickness. It really sucks to discover that 3/4 of the plank was wasted because vibration readjusted your setting!

The ideal board of cedar for making strips.

These 'Plain sawed' boards often yield strips with the tightest grain pattern.
Click on the image to see the details of the edge grain.
The small picture in the top right is what the side of the plank looks like. This will be the face of the strip and the 'look' of the kayak.

Often I find planks (quarter sawed) that have this pattern reversed so that the grain you want is on the face of the plank.
The wood is often so uniform and beautiful that it is irresistible! Making strips to get the nice 'plank face grain' involves more cutting but it is certainly worth it.
First you need to rip the plank into 5/8"(recommended!) or 3/4" segments (that will be your width of the strip). Then, turn the segments 90 degrees and cut 1/4" strips from that. The nice tight grain is now on the face of the strips!

How to calculate the footage of strips for your project.

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Vaclav Stejskal
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Acton, MA 01720
Tel:  781-481-9261


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Last page update: 9 May 2024