The first thing you need to decide is whether your project requires a full length or an auxiliary fence. An auxiliary fence will allow you to make the cut without having to remove the blade from the workpiece. You can then easily reattach it later when cutting another piece of wood. On the other hand, if your project requires only one side of the board to be removed, then a full length fence would suffice and you could just leave it attached at all times.
An auxiliary fence is not necessary for most projects because they are usually small enough that you don’t have to worry about removing the blade. If your project involves larger pieces of lumber, however, then an auxiliary fence may be required. For example, if you plan on making a shelf out of plywood or MDF and want to keep the ends flush with each other so they won’t touch during assembly, then an auxiliary fence might be needed.
There are two basic types of auxiliary fences available. One type is made up of a series of parallel bars running along the width of the fence. These bar sets provide extra strength and rigidity while still allowing you to run the blade through them easily. The second type uses a single long bar set at an angle to the rest of the fence which provides additional support and helps prevent warping due to bending over backwards when cutting.
When deciding which type of fence to buy, there are several factors to consider. First, you must determine what kind of fence you will be using. Second, you should look at the size of the piece of lumber that needs to be cut and how much material it will take up. Finally, you need to factor in the cost and time involved in purchasing a specific type of fence.
A lot of times, you can save time and money by using scrap wood. Using scraps also opens up your options for what kind of fence you can use. This is helpful for people who might not have access to a lot of wood or who live in urban areas where large pieces just aren’t readily available.
In my case, I had access to a fairly large amount of scrap plywood and also had some thin strips of hardwood that I had ripped from pallets. I decided to make a heavy duty auxiliary fence out of these materials. I had one major requirement, though, and that was that the thin strips of pallet wood needed to be fairly straight so I could later use them to make a jig for cutting multiple pieces of the same length. The rest of my materials were just going to come from my scrap pile.
First I cut the small strips I had into squares that were slightly less than an inch thick and roughly 3/4 of an inch on each side. I also cut a bunch of 1 1/2 inch square blocks in similar fashion. These smaller blocks would form the basis for later jigs that I could use to guide my circular saw along rip cuts.
The larger strips were going to be used to make the actual fence itself and I cut them into 5 inch wide strips. I used glue and brad nails to hold the strips together into a basic frame for the fence. Using these strips, I made two frames that were connected by cross pieces of scrap plywood that had been cut into 1/2 inch strips. These strips were glued and nailed in place, clamping them until the glue set.
When the frames were finished, I laid them out on my work table and glued and nailed the thin strips into place. The rip fence itself was now finished and ready to use. Since I planned on making a few jigs later on, I had cut some of the thin strips into 1 1/2 inch lengths as well. These strips would be perfect for making sliding joints in my jigs so that they could be adjusted to different distances easily.
Glue ups for the auxiliary fence
My next step was to make a few more jigs so I could start ripping apart some of the larger sheets of plywood that I had into usable pieces. Again, most of these jigs could be adjusted to different lengths by cutting the thin strip into different lengths. My main concern here was to get the ends cut at a perfect ninety degrees so that they would fit flush against the side of the plywood.
The first jig was probably the simplest. It was just a straight guide that I clamped onto a piece of wood to use as a straight edge for guiding the circular saw along. The second jig was a combination square and guide that could be clamped onto the wood and then used to run the circular saw along a perfect ninety degree angle.
This second jig was pretty cool since I had recently acquired it at a garage sale for less than two dollars. In fact, I had seen the same jig on sale at a popular hardware store for over twenty dollars. Since I had the materials on hand, the only extra expense was for the screws and that was less than fifty cents.
The third jig was one that I made because I am lazy. Instead of setting up the second jig every time I needed to rip a piece of wood, I just set the first jig closer to the saw and clamped a piece of scrap one inch wide to the side of the plywood that I would be ripping. This extra strip kept the jig from riding up against the blade and also served as a guide for a perfect ninety degree cut.
This set up worked extremely well and I decided to make one more jig before moving on. For this one, I needed the thin strips that I had cut in one and one half inch lengths earlier. I cut a few of these to different lengths so that I could make a sliding square to adjust the jig to different sizes. This jig was clamped to the side of the plywood and then a thin strip of wood was used to guide it as it moved past the saw. This jig made it extremely easy to cut strips of wood at different widths without ever changing the main cutting guide.
When I was finished, I had enough guides and jigs to cut and re-cut the plywood into enough pieces that I could build several bookshelves. It took some time to set everything up, but once it was all clamped down, it only took a few minutes to cut everything to size.
After the cutting was finished, I began to remove all of the clamps and guides. This was always a little tricky since if I wasn’t careful, I could easily cut one of my hands off. Since I was using a saw that flung wood chips around as it cut, I had to wear safety goggles to protect my eyes. Unfortunately, this also limited my vision so I couldn’t see the clamps or jigs as clearly as I would have liked. I had to move them by feel, which meant that I sometimes brushed against the edge of a jig or one of the clamps would get knocked askew and hit my hand as I was moving it out of the way.
I began to remove the clamps and guides beginning at the far end and working towards me. This was always a little dangerous because it meant that I had to reach over, under and around everything without seeing exactly what I was doing. If I wasn’t careful, I could easily hit one of the many clamps with my hand and get myself stabbed.
The first couple went well, but then I had one of those days that everyone has from time to time. I was carefully moving a clamp out of the way when, somehow or other, I managed to knock the clamp with my left hand and the guide with my right at the same time. This caused the edge of the clamp to dig into my right hand and while it wasn’t a deep cut, it was enough to make me drop everything.
The clamps and guides fell to the ground and a couple of them landed on my foot. At first I thought that I had just twisted my ankle since it certainly felt like I had. Then, as I was pulling the clamp off of my right foot, I saw a lot of blood.
I had cut my foot so badly that I could see bone. The bottom of my foot looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to it. It was bloody and raw looking and hurt quite a bit.
As you might expect, I didn’t work on the bookshelf that day. I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my foot and then sat down to figure out what I was going to do. I soon realized that this was going to complicate things quite a bit.
For one thing, it would be very painful to lean over and work on the bookshelf for any length of time. I would probably have to take a bunch of Vicodin just to make it bearable. Vicodin is great for killing pain, but it makes you really drowsy. This could be detrimental since in order to build the bookshelf, I would have to be alert to make sure that I assembled it properly.
If I took a Tylenol, it probably wouldn’t do much for the pain, but it wouldn’t make me sleepy either. The problem was, I had just cut through a bunch of nerves and veins in my foot and you’re not supposed to take anything stronger than an aspirin for a few days because it can prevent the body from healing itself.
I wasn’t too worried about this since it wasn’t a deep cut or anything, but it was enough of a cut that I should probably watch it for infection. Taking pain killers could hinder the body’s natural healing abilities and cause a greater risk of infection.
I decided to take a walk over to the campus medical center to see if I could get something for the pain and get some advice on how I should be handling this. I put my sneaker on my foot (which made me cringe) and wrapped a towel around it before putting my sock and shoe back on.
It was about a fifteen minute walk over to the medical center and by the time I got there it had already been almost an hour since I cut my foot. The emergency room was full of people and I had to wait almost two hours before I even got called back.
By the time I had gotten in to see the doctor, my foot had been throbbing for so long that all the nerves seemed to have fired at the same time and I couldn’t feel anything anymore. It was at this point that I told her what had happened and she applied a couple of stitches to the gash in my foot. She said to keep it elevated and put some band-aids on it and to take Tylenol for the pain.
She was kind enough to give me a prescription of Vicodin, which I hadn’t asked for since I didn’t want to get into the habit of taking it.
Over the next couple of days, I took the Vicodin when the pain got too bad, but soon realized that I was building up a resistance to them. I went back to the medical center where they took me off Vicodin and told me that I was supposed to alternate Tylenol and Ibuprofen for the pain. (Ibuprofen is a mild NSAID, which is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)
They gave me a bunch of samples of Ibuprofen and sent me on my way. The problem was, these drugs didn’t do diddly for the pain. Not only that, but I had developed a cough from the deep tissue bruising of my foot and took a decongestant for that as well.
The cough turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I developed quite an appetite from the deep, uncontrollable hack that was causing it. Needless to say, I started eating more than usual and put on about ten pounds in the next month.
I was supposed to start class in a week, but the painkillers, antibiotics and cough medicine were clouding my judgment and I didn’t feel up to it yet. I stayed around the house and kept myself busy and focused on getting better.
It was a month and a half before I felt physically ready to go back to class. Shortly after I started class, I got a call from the school nurse.
The first of my fears had come true, I was officially being accused of cheating on my biology final. My first instinct was to plead insanity.
My Dad showed up to meet me after I got out of class and he handled the police when they started interrogating me. He made me explain exactly what had happened during that final and then told them that it was impossible for me to have cheated. He then explained exactly what had happened to my foot and how the deep bone bruising, nerve damage and scarring on my foot made it physically impossible for me to have written anything inside that locker.
I never did get that grade for that class.
When all was said and done, I was cleared of any wrong doing because of my physical condition at the time and I managed to graduate with my class. The only thing I had left to show for my four years of high school was the diploma.
I never did learn who wrote that note in the first place and there was nothing I could do about it.
In an odd way, I felt liberated. As lame as it sounds, I felt that someone was out there watching over me. Protecting me from making a mistake by cheating.
Whatever you believe, if you believe in a higher power, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too. But sometimes, when you least expect it, there are little reminders that there is a greater plan at work and we are all just characters in the story. It’s been said that life comes at you fast. For me, I couldn’t imagine anything further from the truth.
Life comes at you slow. Incredibly slow. Take it from me, the kid with the foot locker.
Remember when I told you that I gained ten pounds shortly after I started taking the cough medicine?
I later found out that it wasn’t because of the cough medicine at all. It was because I had a bad case of mono, which I probably caught when I was at the library catching up on my school work. I didn’t find that out until years later, though.
~The Stories of Origin~
I have always been a writer of some sort since I was little. That’s probably why I enjoy these so much. Now, I’m just giving back to the community.
If you want to read more, the entire text of this story can be found in the reddit post that I will also include below.
Special thanks to /u/Cryptic_Quasar for the art used for this post!
Thanks for reading!
Sources & references used in this article:
- Table saw (W Brown, G Gerhardt, H Szommer, GJ Chen… – US Patent App. 12 …, 2009 – Google Patents)
- Table saw (J Parks, RS Gehret, S Livingston, ML O’banion… – US Patent …, 2003 – Google Patents)
- Auxiliary support device for a power tool (RT Charlton – US Patent 5,379,816, 1995 – Google Patents)
- Woodworking machinery jig and fixture system (MA Duginske – US Patent 5,337,641, 1994 – Google Patents)
- Extension table for power saws (LD Kreitz – US Patent 4,068,551, 1978 – Google Patents)
- Woodworking machinery jig and fixture system (MA Duginske – US Patent 5,617,909, 1997 – Google Patents)
- Woodworking machinery jig and fixture system (MA Duginske – US Patent 5,768,966, 1998 – Google Patents)
- Dual sliding rail and locking mechanism for use with a table saw (MS Talesky – US Patent 6,293,176, 2001 – Google Patents)
- Table saw (J Parks, RS Gehret, S Livingston, ML O’banion… – US Patent …, 2004 – Google Patents)