A featherboard acts as a safety device in wood working and is used while working with power saws and routers. It is mostly used to cut wood stock(board) for beading. Every woodworker should have a few featherboards on hand for safety, as it prevents fingers from slipping into the saw's cutter blade.
Numerous commercial types of featherboards are available in the market these days in multiple shapes and sizes. If you wish and have the time, you can make your own featherboards as well. Most commercial featherboards are made of plastic.
A featherboard is basically a board with angled edges that have fingers cut at the rear end. The fingers of a featherboard have a 30 degree angle to them. This angle allows you to clamp the featherboard against the stock to enable easy pass through of the wood stock. When the wood stock is forced between the fence and the featherboard the fingers move a little to allow for the wood stock to pass through. The tight grip of the featherboard helps in keeping the wood stock in place against the fence and ensures accuracy and precision in the cut being made.
To use a featherboard
- Place the stock/stocks you wish to cut against the fence near the blade.
- Position the featherboard flat and firm against the stock and clamp it to the table firmly using two clamps.
- Ensure that the short side of the featherboard is facing you.
- The featherboard should be firm enough to keep the wood stock against the fence, but you should also ensure that it is not very difficult to push the stock into the cutter.
- Make sure the featherboard is positioned between you and the blade.
- If you position the featherboard further out it may result in a kickback.
- Also ensure you use a push stick when you work close to the saw's cutter blades, as it may be dangerous to work very close to the blades.
If you use featherboards properly in woodworking they are wonderful aids, as they reduce kickback and injury.