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Slop-Free Miter Gauge


Slop-Free Miter Gauge

Q. My miter gauge is so loose in its slot that I can't get the precise cuts I want from my saw. Is there a fix?

A. A $15 kit called the True-Fit Miter Bar System is a fine solution. It's an easy-to-adjust system similar to those used in premium miter gauges costing $100 or more. The kit uses phenolic plugs, or Cool Blocks, inserted into holes drilled through your miter gauge bar. The plugs are backed by a threaded insert. Turning an Allen screw in the insert adjusts the plug in and out for a perfect fit in your miter slot (see photo, above). The phenolic plugs are self-lubricating and will last many years. To install them, you only need a drill press and a center punch. Here are a few installation tips to ensure good results.
1. Mark the hole locations with a center punch. The dimple prevents the bit from skating around when it starts the cut.
2. Firmly clamp the miter bar to a fence when drilling to ensure uniform holes (Photo 1).
3. Only use a quality, brand-name American-made
3/16-in.-dia. drill bit. Cheap bits tend to drill oversized holes.
4. Press-fit the threaded inserts with a small C-clamp (Photo 2).
You can skip the installation work altogether by sending your bar to Prairie River Woodworking, the makers of the True-Fit System.  For $5 plus shipping, the company's technicians will install the inserts for you. That's a heck of a deal. Of course, you'll have to make do without a miter gauge for a week or two.

Clamp the miter gauge bar firmly to a fence for precisely sized holes. Drill four holes through the bar to accept the threaded inserts and rods.


Press the tapered side of the threaded insert into the hole with a small C clamp.  The insert holds a tiny Allen screw that bears against the phenolic rod. Turning the screw adjusts the phenolic rod in or out for a

Prairie River Woodworking LLC, (888) 536-1870,, True-Fit Miter Bar System, $15. Factory installation is available, for an additional $5 plus shipping. Hardware store, Hanson, Blu-Mol or Irwin, 3/16-in. twist bit, $3 to $4.

What's Board Foot? What's a Board Foot?
Q. I'm confused by the term board foot and the fractions, 4/4, 5/4, etc. Do I need to multiply the number of board feet by the thickness to get the right amount of wood for a project?

A. There's no need to multiply board feet by the thickness of the wood, because the thickness is already factored in. Here's how it works. A board foot (bd. ft.) is a volume measurement equal to a piece of wood that is 1 inch thick by 12 inches wide by 1 foot long. Mathematically, the formula is Thickness (in inches) x Width (in inches) x Length (in feet) divided by 12 equals the number of board feet in a board. The thickness of roughsawn wood is expressed to the nearest quarter inch as a nonsimplified fraction. In other words, a 1-inch-thick board is four quarters (4/4), while a 1-1/2-in.-thick board is six quarters (6/4), and so on. Thus, a
4/4 board that's 12 in. long and 12 in. wide equals a board foot (1 bd. ft.). A 6/4 board of the same length and width would equal 1-1/2 bd. ft. and an 8/4 would be twice the size at 2 bd. ft.




Recycling Cordless Tool Batteries

Q. How do I properly dispose of my worn-out cordless tool batteries?

A.  We wrote about this question a few years back but it is such an important topic, and with the flood of cordless tools on the market, we feel it's well worth revisiting. Recycling worn-out batteries is hassle-free, thanks to the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. (RBRC). Just go to the Web site,, click on “Find a Drop- Off Site Near You,” enter your zip code and a list of nearby sites will appear. I tried it and I was amazed; even though I live in a small town, there were three sites a few blocks from my home. Another way to find a drop-off site is to call (800) 822-8837 (1-800-8-BATTERY). These centers will take all your rechargeable batteries, including nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), lithium-ion (Li-ion) and small sealed lead (Pb) batteries weighing up to 2 lbs. (1kg). In an effort to increase public awareness, most manufacturers affix RBRC's updated recycle seal onto their battery packs. The new seal gives the RBRC toll-free number. In addition to battery recycling, the retail drop-off sites will soon accept discarded cellphones. Now I know what to do with my old cellphone collection, too.

Best Plastic for Shop-Made Guards


Q. I want to make a transparent guard for my tablesaw crosscut sled. My hardware store carries acrylic and polycarbonate plastic.  Which should I buy?

A. Polycarbonate plastic is your best choice for shop-made guards. Polycarbonate is more shatter-resistant than acrylic. In fact, it's the stuff most safety glasses are made from. Because it's softer and more flexible than acrylic plastic, polycarbonate is also easier to cut and drill. We recommend using a bandsaw to cut it. Tablesaw blades generate enough heat to melt the plastic and gum up the blade. Be sure to use a hold-down when drilling, because the plastic has a tendency to climb up the bit. Acrylic has uses in a shop as well. It's a very stiff plastic better suited for things that hold weight, like a router table insert.

Industrial Plastic Supply Inc. (866) 832-9315,, Polycarbonate sheet, 0.236-in.-thick
(0.236-in. is considered 1/4-in.), $7 for a 12-in. x 12-in. piece.