Subject: cutting plywood article April/May 2007
I read, with interest, your article (pages 12-13) in the April/May issue concerning the problem of safely cutting a full sheet of plywood on at table saw alone. As a beginning woodworker a couple years ago I had the worst (to date, anyway) experience in my new hobby, i.e., walking up a full sheet of plywood from the rear of the side opposite the fence (just like the top picture on page 13 of your article). I managed to pull the rear of the sheet ever so slightly toward me and, in doing so, caused the sheet to be out of perpendicular to the blade.
As a result, the sheet jumped up on top of the blade, and was then thrown, with great speed and force, directly into my sternum. The corner I had been holding onto gouged an nice chunk of skin out of my chest, and the whole experience probably took 10 years off my life. For certain, it took the enjoyment out of my new hobby for awhile and any project needing me to cut sheet goods was out of the question. Obviously, like many home hobbyists, I don’t cut whole sheets very often, but all it takes is one time doing it the wrong way to make someone abandon this hobby for something less “exciting.”
In October 2006 I decided to take a couple classes on using a router and a bandsaw (two newer tool acquisitions for me) at the Woodcraft show that was taking place in Portland, Maine near where I live. While attending the show, I happened to stop into the booth occupied by the staff of my local Rockler store who I’ve come to know and depend on for advice. One of the sales associates, who had heard me tell the story of my plywood cutting nightmare, asked me if I had checked out the ezee-feed system that was being demonstrated elsewhere in the exposition building. When I told him I hadn’t, he told me if was a great system for handling plywood and thought it would be something I really ought to check out.
He was so convinced this was the answer to conquering my fear of dealing with sheet goods on my table saw that he actually had someone cover for him and walked me down to see the ezee-feed being demonstrated by Lee Jesberger, of Ezee-Feed Mfg. Co., its inventor. I spoke to Lee and told him my story. He told me he had experienced about any problem anyone could come up with when it came to cutting sheet goods by yourself on a table saw, being a professional woodworker unlike me. And he told he that his experience had driven him to invent the ezee-feed as a solution to the problem. He then demonstrated it for me, both cutting full sheets of plywood and, using a jig whose plans he provided with the ezee-feed, ripping straight edges on boards, narrower pieces of sheet goods, etc. He shaved 1/64″ strips off a sheet of 3/4 ” plywood as long as I was interested in watching him do it.
Since I don’t yet own a jointer, I could see using the jig and ezee-feed to do the kind of glue line rip cuts I need because I don’t have the jointer as an option. The most intriguing part of the whole setup was that, with 5 bolts that were already on my saw, I could mount a T track that would allow me to hook, and unhook, the ezee-feed as an infeed support with very little effort. When not in use, it folds up and hangs flat against the wall on a ceiling hook.
I was hooked, and ordered an ezee-feed to hook up on my Jet hybrid saw. It arrived with all the parts (though there aren’t many) and installing it was not a chore, requiring me to loosen and re-tighten (after slipping on the T track) the 5 bolts that hold the box tube that my Exacta fence rides on, and to drill a couple holes (in the T track, and not my saw cabinet) to mount the movable brackets that the ezee-feed rests on in the front of my saw. The movable brackets give me essentially unlimited options as to where to place the infeed depending on the size of the wood I am cutting. It allows me to stand with my left hip right against my saw and requires only the effort to keep the wood against the fence by pushing directly across the board, not from that awkward angle at the right rear. The board or sheet rests on multi-directional ball bearings and can easily be slid forward for cutting in a way that really is essentially effortless.
I was so pleased that I immediately arranged to obtain another ezee-feed to mount to the outfeed side of my table saw. Unfortunately, the first time I used the ezee-feed, I was so taken by how easy it made my task at the front of the saw that I neglected to see that the cut wood was pushing over my roller stands (as usual) on the outfeed side. Another lesson learned for an amateur woodworker. But this time I didn’t retreat from my new hobby for months out of fear for my safety and desire to maintain all my digits, getting an ezee-feed for the output side solved the same problem I had solved on my side of the saw.
I really think it would be a great service to your readers if you would do an article, perhaps a comparison review, of such feed systems as an option to the way you discussed in the most recent article. While I realize the helpfulness of your tips if you absolutely have no other choice but to cut that sheet alone without such a support/feed system, there clearly is a better and safer way. If there is a better solution, that is as flexible as to be adaptable to most any saw your readers would have without any permanent modifications to their saws, easy to install and uninstall for storage, and of quality of manufacture, I did not find it while I was trying to address the problem after my accident. I can’t rate highly enough my experience with the ezee-feed or the company that manufacturers it.
In closing, I just want to say that I have never written to any publication to speak about a product, and my doing so in this case is my fervent and sincere desire to share my experience in the hopes that another budding woodworker isn’t scared away from his new hobby (or worse) by repeating it. I am a trial lawyer by profession and an amateur woodworker with a capital “A.” I have no prior experience or relationship with this company or Mr. Jesberger and never heard of them until steered to their both by the Rockler associate five months ago. If you want to check out anything I have said or my willingness to have you share what I have written here in your magazine (which I hereby give you my wholehearted endorsement to do) you can reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx during the day at my law firm. Just ask the receptionist for me. You can also see my bio at my firm’s web site www.xxxxxxxxxx.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, sorry the story grew so lengthy but I am a lawyer so words are my life. Again, thank you for giving this any consideration you feel is warranted and I look forward to seeing some future review, overview, or just informational article on the best of the infeed/outfeed systems my fellow woodworkers would be well advised to check out.