Watch your FACE!

If you are a woodworker you know what this means, but if you are just starting out in fine carpentry, then you want to listen.

Perhaps you have heard about the term tearout.   This is what happens when you saw wood particularly plywood and the blade tears the wood fibers from the rest of the board.  Sometimes the wood fibers are torn completely off from the board.   Other times, the wood pieces are left dangling from the board.  Like hanging chads.  Remember that?   In either case, you are left with a jagged less than pretty edge. 

Saw how do you combat this problem?

The best solution is to use a splinter guard if your tool is so equipped.  A splinter guard is a component that hugs your saw blade as close as possible to put pressure on the board so that the wood fibers don’t have a chance to be torn off.

Unfortunately, many tools don’t come equipped with this feature.   In that case, put a “sacrificial” board on the exit side of the board to apply pressure to the board therefore creating a no clearance situation with the blade just like the splinter guard situation.  This is not easy to implement as this sacrificial board will not have the cut markings on it.  So this is not a great solution but can work in some cases.   Then there is the fact that you will have greater costs because this board will be sacrificed and not likely reusable aside from scrap.

Lastly, you can make sure that the face of your board is cut so that the splintered side is on the back side of the board.  

Each tool needs the face to be on a particular side:

Table Saw:   Face side UP

Portable Circular Saw:  Face side DOWN

Jig Saw:  Face side DOWN

In this case make sure that you put your cut markings on the reverse side the tool you are using needs the face side down.   I ruined a perfectly good bullnose trim for some stairs because I forgot about this very detail.  That was $30 down the drain not to mention the extra time it set me back to go back to the store to get the piece.



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