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    • CommentAuthordusty
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2009
    I know that a backer board can be used to reduce tear out when cutting box joints using a router. After using a backer board, can that same backer board be reused with expectations of the same level of tear out protection or does the backer board need to be uncut for each use. I am preparing to make a significant number of drawers. I don't want to lay in unnecessary stock for backer boards if it can be avoided.
    • CommentAuthorTooljunkie
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2009
    The backer board doesn't have to be uncut, but if it becomes too wallowed out you can just flip it end for end and you have a new board (four different corners). For backer boards all you need is scrap lumber anyway, so why worry about laying in unnecessary stock?

    • CommentAuthordusty
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2009
    Because I don't have a sufficient amount of scrap lumber left in the shop for this task and this is a free gratis job. Cost containment is important to me on this one.

    To answer my own question, I have made a couple small boxes with the same sort of materials as the drawers will be made from and I did them with and without backer boards. Some, cut without backers, are as good as others cut with tear out protection.

    I'm just trying to ascertain how really important these backers are and does the entire surface need to be backed.
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2009 edited
    You might consider switching tools, Dusty, and using a dado to cut the finger joints. With a dado, all the tearout is at the top (or bottom) of the gullet between the fingers. Although a back-up board is the preferred method for controlling this tearout, you can also control it by scribing a line on the board that marks the bottom of the gullets. This cuts the wood fibers at the line and keeps them from tearing out. The dado also produces less vibration than the router bit and the back-up board is less likely to wallow out.

    With all good wishes,
    • CommentAuthordusty
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2009
    Thank you for the comments. However, I chose to stick with the original plan of using the router mounted in my Shopsmith Router Table which is equipped with an Incra Fence. It worked great using a single backer board. I noticed that nearly all of the tearout on the original (test) pieces occurred on the outside cuts. I resolved that problem by making that first outside cut very shallow; just a scribing cut followed by two shallow cuts to finish the outside finger. This approach might not work with larger cuts but all I have on this project are 3/8" and a few 1/2" box joints.

    Actually, that is past tense. The finger joints have all been cut.

    I wasn't doing so well with sizing the sides. I just wasn't getting them all cut and jointed to the same width. Before ruining any of the lumber, I decided to build a sled and edge joint the sides in a bundle. The sled held 16 side or end pieces (eight drawers). Might have been able to make it a bit wider but was concerned about getting it hung up in the surface planer. By not making it so wide there was virtually no chance of it getting caught as it passed through the planer. Rebuilding and refining the sled shall be a project onto itself one day.

    BTW, I did not abandon my frugal ways. I found some old drawers (at a thrift store) that had sides made from 1/2" stock. I broke down those drawers, cut the sides to size and used those for backer boards. Total cost: $2.00
    • CommentAuthorAijca
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2012
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