Avoiding Splinters - Tips #1

I've been wanting to write a few posts about woodworking tips for a long time and I'm finally getting around to it.  What prompted me to do it today was a question on another blog Funky Junk Interiors where a follower asked  how to "keep away" splinters.

Splinters are known technically in the woodworking world as "tearout."   Tearout occurs when using a lot of different tools, today I will focus on tearout from a mitre saw.

The reason you get tearout is because the last part of the wood you are cutting is not backed by anything, it's headed into an open space. Woodworkers make them for their table saws and they are called a ZCI.  The technical short form term for a "zero clearance insert!"

On the mitre saw this might show you what I mean:

That far edge needs something behind it so that the wood fibres are supported.

What I do to avoid getting splinters like this, is put a backer board against the front of the mitre saw's fences.

If you are doing a lot of cuts then you can clamp a board there, if just one or two, you can place any narrow scrap piece of wood between the one you are cutting and the fence while you cut your piece. 

This is a piece of plywood clamped in place for multiple cuts:

I then make a cut in it with the saw:

As you can see, the space left is only the exact width of the blade.

(If you are doing angled cuts, you will need a backer piece that is angled the same as your cut.)

* These backer pieces stay in place while you cut your boards that you are trying to avoid splinters on*
Push your piece up tightly against the backer boards.  When you cut, what would be splinters has no where to go, and cuts cleanly. 

Here you can see the backer board, standing up, and the board you are cutting, laying down:

Here's the before and after cuts I made, on the same pieces of wood, completely unedited to show the difference without a backer board and with one:

I hope this helps you when making your wood creations.