AuthorKimo Tee


Bora Guide Plate Review

I’d seen the Bora Guide Plate in Woodcraft some time ago, but wondered how a piece of plastic would actually manage to hold a heavy saw. I really wasn’t able to find anything else that I was willing to try, and, so since it is no longer in Woodcraft, I ordered it on Amazon.

I’m pleased to be able to report that the use of the Bora Saw Plate Guide with my tracks went off with no major issues.

Review of the Bora Saw Plate Guide Workshop Addict

Review of the Bora clamp-edge guide on Concord Carpenter

I didn’t expect much for $29. But, it did what needed doing without allowing the saw to tear-out or wander. Decent cuts with a 60 tooth Freud blade. It’s useful to remember which side of you blade gives you the tear-outs, and I was able to make use of that memory for a few of the cross cuts.  Rips would be no problem.

It isn’t going to replace a high-end track saw anytime soon, but with some finicky setup jiggling to get the saw squared up on the plate, it works well enough for infrequent use in breaking down plywood.  Key is to keep the plywood well supported.

I did not find the saw track guide pointer (little bitty piece of plastic with “pointers”) to be of any use. I could not get my Sawcat to offset the base enough to allow positioning of the pointer in any of the three alternate screw holes.

The key also is to remember your track-to-cut-line offset. It’s gonna be some weird number based on the size of your saw plate and the way it gets fastened to the Bora Guide.  I wound up using 1 11/32″.  My setup rule has a 1/32″ scale, so I was good each time, but really wanted to land on 1 3/8″ or 1 1/2″ for the offset. Your results may vary.

I have the Bora 100″ guide track.  I also have another manufacturer’s heavy duty 50″ guide track, and that is what I used for the cross-cuts using the Bora Saw Plate Guide. It worked fine, just as advertised! The Bora edge guides are excellent quality, and worth trying to find for your next time breaking down sheets of plywood.  At this point, having built “cabinets” for the master bedroom closet, the shoe shelf, and now the lanai, it has been more than useful to have the clamp-on edge guides that work well. Bora has introduced other companion tool plates to use with their WRX tracks that would be worth investigating.

Of course, you could buy a True Track track saw system for $169.

Removing Pencil Marks

 Well, you could sand away pencil marks, and hope you don’t gouge the wood or go through the thin veneer of expensive plywood. But, there is a better way! – Alcohol!  No, not that kind  – this kind – denatured alcohol.

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

the good stuff (for pencil marks)

Building cabinets, I try to minimize layout marks since the surface will be either clear-coated or stained, and marks can easily show through. Nonetheless, some marks are needed, such as these to layout a course of shelf pins.

Pencil Mark

Pencil Mark – Before

Soak a small rag in the denatured alcohol, and give the marks a good rub until they fade and disappear. It doesn’t take too much.


Allow the alcohol to dry


Pencil Mark – After

Take a good look – marks are gone!  There may still be some faint marks left, but they can easily be lightly hand sanded and they will be history. The denatured alcohol method works well also to remove most yard markings and small smudges from the surface of the wood, or fade them well enough to facilitate a light sanding.

Credit to Wood Magazine

Deck Stair Connections and Anchors

I subscribe to the notion that less wood in contact with anything close to the ground, the better.  This includes anchors for deck stairs.
The pressure treated wood kicker often used to anchor deck stairs invites trouble unless you live in a particularly arid environment, like Arizona or New Mexico.  In most places, water, leaves, and debris make nice homes for creepy critters, store moisture, and undermine the integrity of wood.  For deck stair construction, it makes sense to apply flashing in some appropriate areas, establish stand-offs between wood and wet, and anchor using threaded rod and angle irons for the stringers.
It’s tempting to simply flash the bottom of the stair stringer, but flashing often allows some moisture behind it.  Instead, put it on and then screw in the #14 screws to give you a standoff.  In tropical locations, for rods and angles, stainless steel is the only way to go, but in a lot of places, galvanized is fine.  Also flash the top of the stringer where you install the tread.
The top of the stringer should be solidly anchored to the rim joist using a joist hander and lagged, like this:
Deck Stringer Connection-Rim Joist

Deck Stringer Connection-Rim Joist

Deck Stringer Connection

Bolt-Through on the Joist

Here is the completed stringer connection. Note that the stringers have stiffeners fastened with screws.
Completed Stringer w/Stiffeners

Completed Stringer w/Stiffeners

Where the stringers make contact with the footing, make sure you separate wood and wet by using two products – peel and stick flashing at the bottom (not shown), and then install 4-5 #14 stainless screws ( short screws 1 – 1 1/2″) to provide a standoff for the stringer, like this:
Standoff with base screws

Standoff with base screws


The foot of the stringer needs to be attached to the footing. Interior stairs typically have a kicker installed, but exterior needs to have thought put into how to avoid rot, so I prefer an all metal solution with steel angles and rod bolts like this.

Angle and steel rod anchors

Angle and steel rod anchors

Again, consult your local building code and the Simpson Strong-Tie Connector literature/website for appropriate use of connectors and anchors.  Simpson has a useful deck center code guide that frequently receives updates.

Wainscot Installation

Following up on the previous posts from this week, I finished the installation of a Craftsman-style wainscot in a small bathroom.  

The top cap on the wainscot is a 3/4″ full bull-nose.  Fortunately, the 1/2″  filet that you will see in the door top trim is available in stock at our Home Depot,  I discovered that after I’d already made about 24 feet of it. It is part of a series of trims that are carried locally.  Most Craftsman trim is NOT bull-nosed. I like the look and have it running throughout.  Note-Colors don’t reproduce well on my camera.  The top half of the wall is a light green. It is the accent color throughout the house. The trim color is mannequin cream. The wall panel color is Kansas grain.

Backside of finished, unpainted wainscot

Backside of finished, unpainted wainscot for the kitchen

installed wainscot

Finished bathroom wainscot

Wainscot Frame Construction

This morning I rabbeted out the back of the wainscot frame to accept 1/4″ birch plywood. The frame is made from borax treated radiata pine, suitable for wet locations, and very resistant to Formosan termites.  

The inside of the frame corners needed to be cut square to fit the plywood (alternately you can round the corners of the panels), using either a chisel or an oscillating tool. Once the corners are cleaned up, the panels can be cut to size and fitted from the back.

Since contraction and expansion of plywood panels is not an issue, I glued the panels in with waterproof glue, and pin nailed them to hold until the glue is dry.


Wainscot Frame

Frames for wainscot – rabbetted and pocket hole screwed.

Panels - pinned and glued.

Panels – pinned and glued.

Pin Nailer

Pin Nailer

Closet, first cabinet carcass assembly

This is the carcass for the drawer base. Had to get it together since all else installs on top or around it. Kreg system worked well. Used a little glue during assembly. The wide board lying on the table is the front stretcher that gets installed under the top drawer slides.

Good thing I did this, ’cause I quickly found out that I’d made the shelf unit side panels that go on top too long – misread my own plans when I transferred from the plans to the cut sheet. A couple of quick cuts solved the problem – sure better than looking for the board stretcher!

Router Table Tweaks

Yesterday I changed out router bits in the table to setup for a 1/16″ roundover bit for all of the solid edging on the cabinets/shelves. The refinements at such a small dimension get critical, so it was also time to pull out the router mounting plate, draw a template, and drill a hole thru the plate for the topside fine height adjustment key.

This is the Bosch 1617 mounted in a Bosch router table specific base. It is similar to a fixed base without handles, but has the ability to use the top mounted height adjustment (note the knob on the right).

Here is the router and top in profile. Here you can see the feather boards added to the fence to hold down the cabinet panels for smooth flow past the cutter head. The feather boards fasten to the fence with t-bolts (toilet bolts with heads filed to fit the track, and cut to length).

…..and here is the fine adjustment – a t-hex wrench that fits into a female fitting in the router base adjustment knob.




Solid Wood Edge Banding Prep/Finish

For the closet organizer project, I’ve designed four cabinets that will integrate into a combined drawer base, shelf, and hanging rod system. I’ve chosen to use poplar solid wood edge banding applied to the exposed 3/4″ birch plywood edges. Poplar, and other stock hardwoods available locally come just slightly oversize of 3/4″, but less than 1″, and all of it wider than 3/4″ plywood, which is really 1/32″ less than 3/4″.

Once glued on, the edge banding stands proud of the plywood and must be brought level with the plywood surface to be finished. I attempt to glue one side close to the plywood surface, and run most of the excess to one side, but as a practical matter I find that there is some excess of edge band on either side, so both sides of the banding need to be leveled. You could use a belt sander to bring the edge banding into level with the plywood and risk sanding thru a veneer layer, but there is a better way, use a pattern bit on the router table. Here is how it is done:

The rough edge after glue up

Router table high fence is made up of 3/4″ birch ply, rabbeted on the bottom facing edge approximately 1/8 X 1 1/4, and secured to the router table fence using 3/4″ 10-24 bolts countersunk into the fence and Tee nuts that fit into the router table fence slots. Fence is about 12″ high since I’m making 16″ to 21″ wide component parts.

The router bit I’m using is a 3/4″ pattern bit with a bottom bearing. The bearing rides on the surface of the plywood stock, while the cutter blades trim the edge band down nice a smooth to very close to the plywood.

The result leaves a nice, clean surface to surface finish, ready for sanding with just a random orbit sander to ready the stock for sanding sealer prior to finishing.