Cutting Tapers and other long cuts

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Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:24 pm
Location: Charlotte NC burbs

Cutting Tapers and other long cuts

Post by SPADXIII »

Some months ago, I first encountered a boat builder in Massachusetts using a "track saw" for making long, straight cuts. I'd never heard of a track saw prior in my lifetime of being a wood guy (since 1962-ish). I use a lot of rough lumber routinely, and the somewhat imperfect means I'd previously used for getting a great straight edge seemed always a bit lacking/intimidating. The track saw seemed to promise the correct solution with minimal fuss and effort.

Over the next few months, I ran across other users online and did some research on this fairly Johnny-come-lately innovation, finally settling on investing in the Bosch product; a runner-up to the seemingly more popular Festool brand. It seemed the Bosch straightedge was better engineered, vis-a-vis the means of adjoining two tracks together with greater rigidity. Hindsight caught me by the much longer warranty which Festool offered, but I still think the Bosch system was a good choice for me.

I've been recently mentoring a 14yr boy on building and engineering and thought I'd help him to build his first challenging project to mirror my own effort: a Falco horizontal tail structure!

As of today, while he's with his family in Costa Rica for a long week, I've plowed ahead with my three tail spars and feel pretty adequately experienced to teach him on building his once he returns and finishes the remainder of his ribs.

I was not perfectly pleased with the results of using the track saw for cutting the dual tapers on the main spar, especially the thickness cuts (the width tapers were easier) but wanted to toss this tool option out there to any future builders. The Falco builder's manual was, I believe, last updated prior to this tool being invented, otherwise it might surely be mentioned as an alternate method for making these somewhat diabolical series of cuts.

I must say that one limitation on using a track saw is in cutting straight cuts on more narrow pieces, case in point, the skinny tail spars. But with some engineering and shade tree innovation, I feel like the craftsman can come up with an acceptable methodology for solving this dilemma as I did, albeit not as perfectly as I would have wanted for a true, airworthy craft. (Ours will be only for static display, mine as something of an homage to the Falco Dad and I were building which was totally destroyed in Mom and Dad's house fire)

The Bosch track saw (even considering its somewhat costly investment) is one of those wood shop tools I am now happy to often wonder..."how the heck have I gotten by for so long without this in my bag of tricks?"

Happy building!
David Wilburn
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