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How to safely make mortise plugs using your tablesaw
Here’s a simple and safe way to form small plugs for the square mortises. This method keeps your fingers out of harm’s way and prevents having to push a small workpiece between the blade and fence.
To make a 3⁄8″-square blank 8″ long for the mortise plugs (G), for example, cut a piece of 3⁄4″ stock to 2 1⁄2x 16″. Position the fence 3⁄8″ from the inside of the blade. Place a piece of masking tape about 5″ long on the saw table 4″ in front of the blade and perpendicular to the fence for a visual stop, as shown top left. Raise the blade to 7⁄16″. With the stock on edge and tightly against the fence, rip the piece, stopping when the back end reaches the tape. Raise the blade 1⁄16″ (1⁄2″ total height). Flip the stock onto its face, and rip it again to form a 3⁄8″-square blank. Now, crosscut the piece to free the blank.
To safely and accurately crosscut the 7⁄16″-long plugs from the blank, attach an L-shaped extension/sled made from 3⁄4″ scrap to your miter gauge, as shown bottom left. Raise the blade to about 1 1⁄2″, and make a cut through the extension/sled. Draw a line on the sled 7⁄16″ from the kerf. Align the end of the blank with the mark to crosscut the plugs.
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