Many of you would know I’ve been busy lately making a mandolin. Today I encountered a slight obstacle. I was cutting some thin strips for the ribs out of Tasmanian blackwood and got partway through the first cut when there was a thud and suddenly the saw was working very hard. I hit the stop button and assessed the situation. It was a classic mistake. I hadn’t considered the width of the gap between the saw blade and the table – which is quite wide on the triton mark 3, and the thin strip dragged itself down between the blade and the tabletop.
I pondered this for a bit and remembered the solution – make a zero clearance sacrificial table. I had some 3mm MDF (medium density fibreboard) and found a piece about the right size – enough to cover about half the triton saw table. I set the blade to the height I wanted for the cut, then I removed the guard – note if you do that you need to be absolutely focused on your safety. I positioned the MDF above the blade, started the saw, and with one edge braced against the riving knife I lowered the MDF onto the blade, making sure that my hands were well clear of where the blade would cut. I then stopped the saw and there was the false tabletop with zero gap between the saw blade and the MDF. I clamped cut a slot for the fence bolts, then clamped the MDF in position and set the desired gap between the fence and the saw blade.
At that point I replaced the blade guard and made a trial cut in a pine offcut before going back to the precious Tasmanian blackwood, ready to make the thin strips that will eventually become the sides of the mandolin.