Tuesday, November 21, 2006

AV - Cutting Stringers

In a related thread (Cutting aluminum etc) 'Jim in NC' reminded us of the need for an auxiliary shoe when cutting thin stock on a table saw.

This also applies to cutting stringer stock.

Although you may order spruce stringers cut to size, if you buy a spruce 'kit' the stringer stock will usually arrive as a number of six-inch planks finished to the required thickness. You are expected to set up your table saw to the second dimension and rip the planks.

The standard shoe (ie, the removable panel through which the saw blade extends) allows too much clearance for the cutting of 1/4" and 5/16" stringer stock on a production basis. You must either make up a new shoe or use an auxiliary shoe in the manner described by Jim. I think the use of an auxiliary shoe is the more common procedure since the cutting of stringer stock also dictates the need for finger-boards and the like. (Using an auxiliary shoe allows them to be fastened to the shoe.)

As with the sawing of aluminum, ripping stringer stock is a procedure common to the business of building airplanes. Unfortunately, the success of many such tasks depends on a host of details largely unknown to the novice yet seldom mentioned in the literature. Experienced builders tend to forget that a novice must be told everything, such as the need to dress for the occasion when sawing aluminum... or that a jig is needed when cutting a scarf joint, a zero-clearance shoe when cutting stringers and so on.

Jim's message caused me to recall a comment by a local builder about having to buy finished stringer stock because he was unable to accurately rip a quarter-inch plank into quarter-inch square sticks for his ribs. The builder was an experienced wood worker but looking back on it, I suspect he didn't realize he'd need an auxiliary shoe for cutting such small stock.


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