Cabinet making, which is also known as joinery, involves constructing, designing, finishing and repairing cabinets as well as furniture and other storage items made of wood or wood substitutes. It requires strong mathematical skills and precision measuring and cutting abilities. The woodcutting involved in cabinet making can require the use of a number of different cutting machines. These include circular saws, vertical panel saws, table saws, shapers and routers.
The circular saw is a standard, portable, motorized saw that is essential for every cabinetmaker's tool kit. It can be fitted with a "rip" guide for accurate wood ripping, which refers to cutting along the wood's grain. Circular saw blades are interchangeable, and are composed of tensioned, tempered steel. Some blades are taper or hollow-ground, which are designed to cut without having the teeth set, while others are flat ground, which have alternating teeth for making cuts wider than the blade. The most popular sizes for circular saw blades are five-and-one-half and seven-and-one-fourth inches in diameter.
Table saws are stationary power saws. To operate them, cabinetmakers must manually slide panels of wood across the rotating blade. Table saws come in a number of varieties, including portable bench-top table saws, and contractor's table saws, which are the most popular. Contractor's saws have larger work surfaces and are more powerful than their bench-top counterparts. The professional cabinetmaker may spend the extra money for a cabinet saw, which has a heavy base and is the most powerful and accurate type of table saw.
Vertical Panel Saw
Vertical panel saws are expensive tools, especially for the amateur cabinetmaker. However, they can make jobs that are difficult for the circular and table saws much simpler, and have a higher level of accuracy. With vertical panel saws, the panel of wood being cut remains stationary, while the saw is guided through the material. Unlike table saws, vertical panels saws do not require cabinetmakers to manually keep the wood panel aligned while making the cut. Vertical panel saws are also much safer as fingers are not exposed to a rotating blade.
Shapers are versatile motorized woodcutting machines ideal for performing both intricate and heavy cuts. They are essential for professionals, who want to produce flawless finished products, but the amateur cabinetmaker could get by with doing the same work on a router. However, shapers do have their advantages. The cutters used in shapers can be changed more quickly and more easily than router bits, and also last longer.
Like table saws, routers are stationary cutting machines. However, instead of using a rotating blade, routers have spinning bits that perform the cutting. Routers are more powerful than shapers, and can produce cleaner cuts. And while shapers may be easier and faster to adjust, many routers include high-resolution mechanisms that can make adjustments more precise, resulting in higher quality work.