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The Editors Mailbox

How to Handle Small Parts Without Losing any Fingers

comments (13) July 29th, 2010 in blogs, videos

GEide GEide, Contributor
thumbs up 58 users recommend

Video Length: 6:48
Produced by: Gina Eide, Gary Junken

Sizing small parts can be very dangerous with power tools. Ripping or cutting up a box side on the tablesaw could get your fingers uncomfortably close to the blade. It's also hard to keep a firm hold on small workpieces.

That's why Matt Kenney likes to use a combination of jigs and hand tools. He's found that the safest, fastest, and most precise way to make and fit small parts is using a backsaw, hand plane, planing stop, saw hook, and shooting board.

Matt wrote about this technique in an article in the latest issue of Fine Woodworking. He also demonstrated his methods in a box-making video workshop that we published in March. Watch an excerpt from the series in the video above where Matt shows how to make and fit small trays for a box.

For more, you can watch the complete box-making series. It's free to everyone for this weekend only. After August 1, it becomes a member-only feature.

Now that you've seen and read about Matt's technique, what do you think? How do you like to handle small parts in the shop?

posted in: blogs, videos, hand tools, boxes

Comments (13)

Artsil Artsil writes:

The text for the shooting board calls for a 1/2" strip
of hardwood, but the drawing shows a 3/4" strip of hardwood.
I believe it should be 3/4", but what say you?

Art Silva
Posted: 12:36 pm on December 28th

rudder rudder writes: Will the shooting board work with a jointer plane or fore bench plane?

Posted: 10:47 pm on October 11th

rudder rudder writes: Can't wait for the grooving plane article, I'd love to build some. The online extras and in conjunction with the article in the magazine have been a great asset to box making information I'm putting together.

Thanks Matt
keep up the good work!
Posted: 10:37 pm on October 11th

upforcarving upforcarving writes: I enjoyed the article and video and started to build the jigs. I am new to using hand tools but do enjoy the quiet in the workshop for a change. I am wondering what you used for the fences on your jigs? I have some hardwood some harder than others (I have some left over hickory from another project) The hickory it very hard and I just wondered what you would use if you had a choice?

Thanks for your feedback
Posted: 9:25 pm on September 27th

AZOR AZOR writes: Matt,

After reading your article another time I noticed you mentioned using a low angle jack plane. I don't have one of those at present, but who knows what the future will bring. Thanks for your article and I have 2 of the 3 jigs made at this point.

Posted: 1:50 am on August 30th

AZOR AZOR writes: Matt,

I am looking forward to constructing the shooting boards. A lingering question is what plane to you like for shooting board work? An iron miter plane comes to mind, but it is real pricey. Thanks for a great article. I've focused on small parts for awhile and your article will help me get the results I am looking for.


Posted: 1:31 pm on August 22nd

ershopsmith ershopsmith writes: When I make ukuleles and other projects with small parts that require close thickness tolerances and accurate bevels, I use jigs and double side tape the small part to the jig. The Ridged ocsillating belt sander with a mitre gauge works perfect and keeps my fingers away from the tool. I then use a shoothing board to obtain accuracies within .003". Small grooves can be made with a table mounted Dremel tool. I love hand tools, but its hard to beat the accuracy of well set up power tools.
Posted: 11:18 am on August 19th

pathdoc60 pathdoc60 writes: Excellent video, Matt. Perfect length and details.Thanks to Gina too.
Mike O'Brien, Valley Head,AL
Posted: 11:32 am on August 17th

John39 John39 writes: Thanks for the article and videos, Matt. I made all three of the jigs and am finally using my iron miter plane as it was intended on the shooting board.

I'm looking forward to the article on the grooving planes.

One wrinkle I added to the taping of the sides of a tray was to clamp a 2' steel rule to the side of my bench and slide the tops (or bottoms) of the sides against the rule, outside face up, while taping, so the outer ends will come together properly when the four sides are folded together.
Posted: 6:01 pm on August 12th

MKenney MKenney writes: Thanks for the complements guys. It's nice to hear good feedback.


I made those planes and there will be an article about them sometime soon. I've written it and we have already shot the photos, but I can't say with certainty when it will be out.

Posted: 11:40 am on August 11th

JeffS JeffS writes: Great video Matt,
Can you tell us about those grooving planes? Are they currently being made or are they vintage?
Posted: 11:40 am on August 10th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Nice job, Matt.
Posted: 5:05 pm on August 2nd

mrfixitnow mrfixitnow writes: As always, Matt does a great job in his videos!!!
Posted: 3:39 pm on August 2nd

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