Before cutting any angles, the rails need to be cut to length. The diagram here shows the exact lengths
for each size of table (from the top of rail, square to square.)
Cutting the Rails to Length
You will want to cut these lengths with a 5-degree angle inward, from top to bottom (so the top of the rail
will be the exact width you need, and the bottom of the rail will be a touch shorter.) This will allow the
pockets to fit snugly against the top of the hardwood.
PAY ATTENTION to each cut! On some sides, you will you need to flip the board
over to get the correct angle. Always check that you are setup for the correct angle before each cut.
Choosing the Hole Angles
After you have cut each rail to length, you are ready for the pocket angles. Look at the angle chart here,
and decide which angle is right for you. The smaller the angle, the more difficult it is to make a shot. I
have two children around 9 years old (I know how old they are, I just don't know how old they will be when
you are reading this), so I decided to go with a happy medium. I chose a 16-degree angle for the side pockets,
and a 56 for the corners.
Cutting the Angles
The angle will start right where the hardwood meets the groove for the feather strip - the side of the rail
will be 0-degrees, and as you would rotate a square toward the rail, the angle will grow.
First, rotate the vertical tilt on your saw to 10-degrees -- Each of the cuts require a 10-degree inward slope, from
top to bottom -- So the top of the rail will be longer than the bottom.
IMPORTANT: You will have to flip your rails over to get some of the angles. Always triple check to make sure
this ten-degrees is being cut the correct way.
The side pockets are very simple. I rotated my blade to 16-degrees (the angle I chose) and made the first cut.
I then realized that I needed to know which board I was cutting before I "went to town." So, I laid out the
rails as they would eventually be sitting so I could tell which angle each would be cut to. While they are in place, make
a line that is similar to the cut. That will help you visualize the cut a little better when you get it up
to the saw. You will have to flip the rail
on its back to get the 10-degree angle correct on two of the cuts (take your time, and make practice
cuts on a scrap piece of wood, if you need.)
The corner pockets are a little more complicated. My saw extends to 60-degrees, but most only extend to 45.
If your saw accomodates 60-degrees, you can cut one side of the corner, for four rails, with the board on its
back. The other side of the corner
will have to be butted up against the rail by the end (again make practice cuts.) I set the
blade to a 34-degree angle for this cut (33-degrees if you chose a 57-degree angle, 35 for 55-degrees - 36-degrees for a 54, etc.)
The math works out. A good friend of mine, some call Jesus, figured this one out for me.)
Because it was hard to hold this board in place and make the cut at the same time, I had my wife chop as I held
the board firmly in place. (And no, that's not a picture of my wife's manly hand.)