Canoe building
Cutting Strips

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Cutting strips.

Helper clamps the part of the strip I've cut to prevent it from falling.

The saw on the jig, stopped in the middle of a cut.

Click for full sized diagram of strip cutting jig.

The last few strips from a board are cut while the board is supported by the next one.

We used a hand skill saw with a jig to cut strips, rather than a table saw, and it went very smoothly. I used a narrow kerf 24 tooth carbide blade, with the saw base screwed securely to a roughly 1 foot square of 3/4" plywood. After attachment, the blade was plunged through the plywood. A 2 foot long guide board was attached, measuring from the edge of the cut, to set the strip thickness. The key to clean strips is that a small brad was added as a spreader following the blade, just in line with the cut. The brad has its head nipped off to just under 3/4", and the end is ground to remove any sharp edges. I attached a flat surface to my strongback, held the 20' cedar boards with spring clamps to this surface, and ripped the strips. The weight of the saw is flat on the board, and the brad keeps the cut strip from moving into the blade. Care should be taken that the guide board remains pressed sideways against the edge of the board being cut, to make sure the thickness is constant. A spring clamp is enough to hold the board from slipping lengthwise as you cut, but firm support is needed along the side of the board. When the board is wide, it can be spring clamped to the table. As it gets narrower, the next board is clamped alongside to support the one you cut. When cutting the last board, I used a lot of scraps clamped to the table to support the board. A couple of spring clamps can also be used to hold the new strip near the board behind the cut, so it does not fall to the ground. You need only slightly more space than the length of the boards, and I was amazed how smooth the strips are, without marks from the cut. I got 30 strips from each 10" wide board, with about 1/2" left. There is less than 1/8" variation in thickness of the residual piece, after all 30 cuts. This was quite easy for an inexperienced woodworker to do, and took half as much space as a table saw would have required, since I had to move only the saw after cutting each strip. It took a few hours to cut enough strips for two canoes.