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Best way to make half lap joints?

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  • #16
    Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

    Originally posted by wathman View Post
    I'll definitely put the circular saw guide on my project list also, this current project I'm working on is really teaching me the importance of "perfectly sized." I've been measuring each cut probably 4 times, yet still end up trimming down some edges.
    For a lot of this, it doesn't matter if you've got the correct measurement. What matters is if you've got the same measurement. However you do it, if you can make a way for you to get a repeatable cut (e.g., TS or a jig), it will pay off.

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    • #17
      Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

      I bought the Craftsman professional 3base router on sale for $100. Even at the $200 price point I think it is a pretty good router for the money.

      The features I like are the fixed/plunge, it does have above the table adjustments (I don't have a table yet), and it comes with both 1/4" and 1/2" collets.

      As an aside, I think Sears does a much better job with accessories etc. than HD.

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      • #18
        Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

        Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
        Tell us which miter saw you bought and we can be of more help. In addition check your local weekly shopper newspaper or even place an ad in the Wanted to Buy section. A $4 ad might save your hundreds. Someone out there may be drooling over the 4511 and wanting to sell their TS-3650 which would be WAY better than any model Hatachi saw.
        Wow, lots of helpful posts last night. I was working on my project most of the evening and away from the computer. The joints I'm making now are close, though not as snug as I would have liked. Still not bad for my current skill and tools I have to work with.

        As for the miter saw I have... I bought it at HD and it was priced at $199. It's capable of compound miter cuts, but not a slider. There was a ryobi slider close to that price, but the ridgid I bought didn't feel cheap like the ryobi. I'm trying to find a model number on it, but homedepot.com isn't listing any ridgid miter saws for some reason.

        I've started poking around craigslist for tools. I was avoiding craigslist initially because I'm first and foremost a computer nerd, and used computer sales on there are way overpriced, and I thought the same would apply to power tools. In reality power tools can't be compared to computers. Computers advance in technology every 4-6 months, seems like power tools evolve more slowly, especially the high quality ones.

        About the Sears routers if I end up going with a new tool... the Craftsman ones look pretty good. Seems the Porter Cable ones are pretty popular too. Any thoughts on the Milwaukee one they have at Sears? I went with Milwaukee tools for my 18v portables and I like how they handle. Looking at the router price though, it gets expensive when you factor in all the accessories that come with the Craftsman.

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        • #19
          Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

          Originally posted by wathman View Post
          I've started poking around craigslist for tools. I was avoiding craigslist initially because I'm first and foremost a computer nerd, and used computer sales on there are way overpriced, and I thought the same would apply to power tools. In reality power tools can't be compared to computers. Computers advance in technology every 4-6 months, seems like power tools evolve more slowly, especially the high quality ones.
          There is lots of overpriced stuff on Craigslist. A reasonable rule of thumb used tool in *good* condition is worth about half of the same thing new. On the Westchester/Hudson Valley craigslists I've seen a couple of good deals. For example, there was a gray RIDGID jointer that looked nicely cared for for $100 late last year. But there are far more 20-40 year old Crafstman jointers that are all rusty for the same price. I also see lots of tools that you can buy at HD for the same price as HD.

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          • #20
            Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

            My first purchase when I got into woodworking after retirement was a P-C router. With it and a circular saw I knocked together a router table which I still use. I used a spiral bit on the router table to substitute for a table saw until I felt I could afford one. I then sprang for a Ridgid 3650 and along the way a few other goodies. The only thing I regret is not buying the table saw before the router.

            With regard to making the half lap cuts, based on my sad experience I would suggest that you sneak up on the depth with your saw (make more than one cut) and practise on a scrap piece first. You have already discovered the axiom "Measure twice and cut once" - no truer words were ever uttered. A trim bit on your router will help clean up joints that aren't exactly bang on. I have an edge guide for my circular saw and another for my router but find that a straight edge works better. You'll need to rig up a jig to keep your circular saw flat against the workpiece but that's not a big deal.

            Hope this helps.

            Blind Bill

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            • #21
              Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

              Originally posted by blind bill View Post

              With regard to making the half lap cuts, based on my sad experience I would suggest that you sneak up on the depth with your saw (make more than one cut) and practise on a scrap piece first. You have already discovered the axiom "Measure twice and cut once" - no truer words were ever uttered. A trim bit on your router will help clean up joints that aren't exactly bang on. I have an edge guide for my circular saw and another for my router but find that a straight edge works better. You'll need to rig up a jig to keep your circular saw flat against the workpiece but that's not a big deal.

              Hope this helps.

              Blind Bill
              I pretty much came to the same conclusion as your advice yesterday, I made a few test cuts in scrap wood (the depth gauge on my circular saw isn't the best, there's a wide bulge at the 3/4" mark which I assume is reinforcement for a bolt. 3/4" just happened to be the depth I needed). Once I had the depth, I locked it in nice and tight since all my pieces are the same thickness.

              the other trick I stumbled onto was to start the cross cuts with a nick from my miter saw. It helped me get the cuts going perpendicular, and reduced splintering.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                >> "I'm just getting into woodworking, and so far it's been a lot of fun and very rewarding. My current project I'm working on will hopefully become a set of speaker stands. The design I came up with would probably be easiest to join if I use my 1.5" x 1.5" slats in a half lap joint to form an "X". I have a circular saw to make the cross cuts, though what should I use to remove the wood between the cuts? I was thinking probably some type of chisel. What would be best?"

                I think that with limited tools, the absolute best way to make a half lap is... cheat!!

                Since you want 1.5" thickness, make your pieces by laminating 2 pieces of 3/4 stock together. You mentioned that you have a miter saw. Use it to cut one of the 3/4 sticks to the proper angle and length, so that you can assemble it to a second 3/4 stick and have the exact shape of the desired half lap. Then, spread woodworker's glue on the two sticks and clamp 'em together. After it's all dry, use a $3 scraper to get rid of the squeezeout and make everything flush - should take about 5 minutes per piece. If you think about the relationships and use the same board to make the matingparts of the lap, it will automatically provide a perfect depth half-lap with no worries about depth of cut and all that. End result? Cheap, easy, fast to make, perfect fit, and every bit as strong as making the thing out of 1 piece of wood - probably stronger.

                I've done something similar to make an absolutely perfect-fitting square tenon in a 4x4 piece of cherry... not because I didn't have the equipment (I have an embarrassing amount of stuff) but because I couldn't find big stock that was very nice. Works wonderfully.

                Machines are really fun toys, and sometimes they can speed up the process tremendously. But you don't need a lot of equipment to do nice woodworking.

                Good luck.

                Andy

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                  Originally posted by Andy_M View Post
                  >> "I'm just getting into woodworking, and so far it's been a lot of fun and very rewarding. My current project I'm working on will hopefully become a set of speaker stands. The design I came up with would probably be easiest to join if I use my 1.5" x 1.5" slats in a half lap joint to form an "X". I have a circular saw to make the cross cuts, though what should I use to remove the wood between the cuts? I was thinking probably some type of chisel. What would be best?"

                  I think that with limited tools, the absolute best way to make a half lap is... cheat!!

                  Since you want 1.5" thickness, make your pieces by laminating 2 pieces of 3/4 stock together. You mentioned that you have a miter saw. Use it to cut one of the 3/4 sticks to the proper angle and length, so that you can assemble it to a second 3/4 stick and have the exact shape of the desired half lap. Then, spread woodworker's glue on the two sticks and clamp 'em together. After it's all dry, use a $3 scraper to get rid of the squeezeout and make everything flush - should take about 5 minutes per piece. If you think about the relationships and use the same board to make the matingparts of the lap, it will automatically provide a perfect depth half-lap with no worries about depth of cut and all that. End result? Cheap, easy, fast to make, perfect fit, and every bit as strong as making the thing out of 1 piece of wood - probably stronger.

                  I've done something similar to make an absolutely perfect-fitting square tenon in a 4x4 piece of cherry... not because I didn't have the equipment (I have an embarrassing amount of stuff) but because I couldn't find big stock that was very nice. Works wonderfully.

                  Machines are really fun toys, and sometimes they can speed up the process tremendously. But you don't need a lot of equipment to do nice woodworking.

                  Good luck.

                  Andy
                  That's really great advice, and it would have a much cleaner look than my current project. Since I'm not supporting more than 2 lbs. plus the weight of the piece, strength of the joint isn't even an issue. It's certainly something I'll use in the future.

                  Only downside of it is that I wouldn't have taken the time and effort to practice making this half lap joint. The way I see it, the experience will really make me value and appreciate a table saw when I'm able to purchase one

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                    >> "Only downside of it is that I wouldn't have taken the time and effort to practice making this half lap joint. The way I see it, the experience will really make me value and appreciate a table saw when I'm able to purchase one"

                    Absolutely. Practicing techniques is good. And... if you mix good technique with cleverness and creativity.... you become a one man woodworking army!

                    You got a ton of great advice on how to execute the joint from others on this thread. For me, if I wasn't going to use my suggestion above, I would go to the radial arm before the table saw. The radial's a natural for crossed-X half laps. In fact, a radial is a great machine and extremely versatile. Scary in many cases, but a great machine. I started out in the 80's with a radial only! It really will do anything. When I set out to make a major project I generally still use both the table and radial saws. I seldom rip on the radial anymore though, and would never advise anyone to rip using a radial. Very dangerous, IMO. But your joint is esentially a crosscut using the fence with the arm angled, so it would work fine.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                      I happen to have gone through no less than 80 half lap joints last week (building a cherry laundry hamper) and I started with just the TS method. I wasn't satisfied. The surfaces weren't smooth enough so some mating pieces showed little gaps as the lap surfaces were not perfectly smooth. I had to plane the joints with a small block plane which alleviated that problem but then the thicknesses of the mating joints changed and thus the faces were not matched perfectly anymore. Nothing that can't be dealt with using a hand plane or a little sanding but with 80 joints it's a lot of work.

                      In the middle of the project I changed the method to the following process:

                      1. cut one pass on a TS using a good quality crosscut blade. This cut marked the length and depth of the lap
                      2. remove remainder of the lap's material on a router table ( I used a 7/8" straight bit). This part took a few test cuts to make sure that the depth of the material removed by the router bit was a perfect match with the depth cut in step 1.

                      I did not for step #2 directly as the router bit was giving me more tear out in the first pass than the TS blade.

                      My next project will be a tenon jig (similar to this one) which will speed things up and allow me to do everything on a TS.

                      Years ago I used a radial arm saw to do something similar (making cedar wine boxes). The quality was OK but not as good as with the router or tenon jig.
                      In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                        Just finished one of my speaker stands last night, it isn't perfect, but I'm still proud of it. The only disappointment I have is that the wood I used was slightly warped and some angles are slightly off because of it. I used the cheapest stuff I could find, 2x2x8 whiteboard furring strips at $2 each. If I used something a bit nicer like poplar I would have spent a lot more given how much of the whiteboard ended up as scrap.

                        I also got a bit lazy on the sanding, a couple spots look less finished than others. I ended up going with a flat black spray paint, and applied a semi-gloss polyurethane finish. Not quite the same "lacquer black piano finish" my little rear satellite speakers have, but close enough.

                        When I finish the matching stand this weekend, I'll post pictures. Thanks everyone for all the help.

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                        • #27
                          Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                          Here's the pictures from my speaker stand project.
                          Attached Files

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                            Why not just go Neanderthal, and do the half lap joints by hand. I Just last week I finished 28 small crosses(pic attached) to be used as centerpieces at my church. Made from 7/8" X 1 1/4" mahogany stock. Each vertical and horizontal piece had a half lap cut, so there were 56 cuts.

                            Each edge was cut with a dovetail saw and then the waste chopped out with a bench chisel. Once I got in the swing of it, I could turn out one piece in about a minute.
                            Attached Files

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                            • #29
                              Re: Best way to make half lap joints?

                              I ended up doing almost the same thing with my project, I wanted to make them as precise as possible since the two joints per stand were framed at each corner by 2x2's, as in the finished project picture I put up.

                              After a few practice attempts, I notched the area to be cut with my miter saw, and extracted the waste wood with a chisel. Wasn't too hard, but might have gotten slightly better results with a 1.5" chisel, largest I have is 1". Overall it came out pretty well, I may make another 2 stands later on the same way.

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