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Making the right size shims for a job can be quick, easy and precise if you put in about 10 minutes worth of preparation.
Making a Template
To begin, gather some shim stock and glue it together.
A proper shim has the grain running its entire length — no end grain allowed.
To make the shims, I trim 2x4 scrap wood to make blocks 3 1/2 inches long and then glue the blocks edge to edge, as shown in the accompanying drawing. The length of your bar clamps will determine how many blocks you glue and hold together.
Once glued, I always label the pieces “Shim Material” so that I don’t mistakenly use the wood for something else.
Next, I affix a piece of masking tape to the miter-saw fence and draw index marks on it that are exactly 3 inches to the left of the blade. These marks represent both sides of the saw cut.
Cutting a Shim
As an example:
To cut a shim 13/32 of an inch thick, I would mark a reference line on the shim material at 3 13/32 inches from the right end, as shown in the illustration.
Then I would align the mark on the wood with the right index mark on the miter saw and cut the shim.
With everything properly aligned, the shim is exactly 13/32 of an inch thick.
It’s also easy to cut wedged shims the same way.
A useful rule of thumb for cutting wedged shims is that for every mitered degree you cut through a 3 1/2-inch-wide piece of material, the wedge becomes 1/16-inch thicker on one end than it is on the other.
— Nils Omholt, Sterling Heights, Mich.
Tips & Techniques provided by Fine Homebuilding.
©2010 The Taunton Press
To contact Fine Homebuilding, e-mail Christina Glennon.
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