Dont forget your local library for books on woodworking, power tools, etc. You should also check with the local high school or community college, etc. to see what they may have that can help you, like adult wood working classes. Maybe they also have photography or camera classes that could also get involved, where you help them and they help you, and all benefit. Sounds like a plan to me. I hope this helps you.
Wayne, I would advise you use the table saw for rough cutting only and use a router table for finer cuts. THe router table has so many options configurable for jigs to make joints, and for use as a shaper/jointer to true up wood prior to making fine precision cuts. In actual fact, I do not have a table saw and use a small 10" Delta bandsaw for my cutting of camera parts. I rely solely on the router for making the precision cuts. A router table is also easily made yourself from parts available at www.rockler.com or www.woodcraft.com or even cheaper if you make it from scratch.
The biggest investment for me was an INCRA fence system. That is where the precision comes in that allows repeatable finger joints to be made within really fine tolerances. Here is a work in progress on a small view camera I am making to utilize RB67 backs. The joints are pretty tight in that the friction fit is sufficient to hold them together without anything shifting. Then just a small amount of glue and I'm good to go. The bigger box is going to be two rear standards after it's cut into two, and you can see one front standard already completed. The rear has 1/4 inch box joints, and the front 1/8 inch finger joints. Easily done on the router table.
Hope this helps??
Invest in a decent block plane and learn how to sharpen it. It will true up blade chatter, burn and out-of-square edges from even the worst of table saws. A rabbet block plane is particularly helpful because the blade is the entire width of the plane body which make it great for truing up, well, rabbets (rebates). It is also big enough to shoot, square and surface the relatively small areas of camera parts.
I do almost all my joinery on a shop-made horizontal router table, and virtually none on a tablesaw. Much more precise.
"1.The guides would be fine for most cuts, but for repeating cuts like finger joints, there is too much play and I get uneven fingers."
If you have a router table they do make locking joint cutters for it. If you don't have a router table you can cut 45# joint and glue up the box. Once set up you can glue corner molding into the inner corners, it will hold fine.
You can make a V-block carrier for the box to ride against your fence and install an offset tab into the bottom. Cut the first joint and move it onto the offset pin and cut the next joint, repeat as needed. All of the faux finger joints will be identical. Now insert and glue wood tabs, trim and finish. Yes it is cheating but it does work well.
Good luck with it.
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You can get more accurate cuts with a cheap router & router table than with a cheap table saw. Check craigslist & pick up a lightly used router for $20-30. Not something used by a pro. Practice using it by building a router table & go to work on the camera bits.
Heavily sedated for your protection.
Thank you everyone for your help!
The first thing I will do is see if I can improve my table saw.
Looks like I will be keeping my eye out for a router.
Regarding hand tools: This is an interesting prospect as my daughter has been aching to do some woodworking, and this would give me an excuse to invest in some hand tools and get some father-daughter quality time.
Some of the suggestions I dont know what they are, but I am sure a quick google search will enlighten me.
"Sarcasm is wasted on the young." -DarinWC
Darin, have you looked around at box-joint jig plans online? You can make many joint-cutting sleds with your own custom-fit runners, so you'll be able to bypass some of the chintzier aspects of inexpensive table saws, and can really get some fantastic results. I've never had a decent saw, so have learned to make do over the years with jigs and fixtures. I can provide some info and pictures if you're unable to find anything searching.
Last edited by Colin Graham; 09-27-2008 at 11:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Japanese hand saws work on the pull stroke which I find gives me better control. They normally have smaller teeth and little kerf and are thin blades since you don't need to support a push cut. I often use my metal hack saws with the blade on the pull stroke for better control.
Since your daughter is interested it might be worth the investment in some good hand tools and taking the time to learn to use them. It also has the "olde world charm" of building something with your hands, allowing the amount of precision that you have learned to provide. It is also much more quiet than power tools and don't throw sawdust everywhere so clean up is easier.
In parallel with the discussion here, are plans available for the projects or are you guys building from scratch using another camera as a guide?
I have all the equipment, both power and Japanese hand tools, but no camera for a guide. Is there a website that has some plans/sketches?