Woodworking for the handy, and not so handy
The Shop Made V-Rustic Siding
Occasionally I am confronted by the inconsistencies of the past. A remodeler is working on the siding of an older home that has been clad in the V-Rustic style siding. This is a lap jointed affair with chamfered edges that meet at the seams to form a “V” as illustrated here:
For reasons myriad and arcane, the dimensions of these planks, the size of the chamfers, etc. were not subject to strict standardization until more modern eras, so a standard V-Rustic pattern at times will not match up very well and require custom milling. If you are limited to a table saw and maybe a block plane, this can be accomplished, but it takes some doing.
My illustrations lack the Steff Powerfeed I use at every opportunity. These wonders of safety and accuracy are expensive, but well worth the money if you can foot the bill. Drawing them in would obscure the point I am illustrating and this can certainly be done without one. Featherboards for both side and down pressure can make this milling exercise’s accuracy well within acceptable results.
First, rip the planks to the finished width based on (hopefully) the provided sample. If the siding will be painted, most lumber yards, like Economy Lumber Company, sell pre-primed, finger-jointed planks ideal for this use.
Next cut the chamfers. These are made on the table saw with the blade tilted to 45°. I always use some sacrificial lengths of the ripped material to test my settings. The finished lengths of this siding are usually 16', maybe more or less depending on the job, and miscues can ruin expensive material. Accuracy is very important and any deviation will be obvious in the finished product. The ‘lap’ edge is first and relatively simple. This illustration shows the fence location and a ‘right-tilt’ table saw. Just reverse things for a saw that tilts to the left.
Keep in mind that there is a small shoulder milled at the bottom of both chamfers that meet when the planks are installed. The chamfers must be a scant 1/8" above the centerline of the planks to accomplish this.
The ‘tongue’ edge is trickier. The dado blades will make the aforementioned shoulder in a later step, but the depth of the blade’s penetration is critical as it should not touch what will be the tongue. This illustration shows the correct depth:
Notice that the fence has moved to the left side of the blade. A ‘handed saw’ makes machines with fences that do not move to the left of the blade location (like mine!). Some do, like Biesemeyers, but may not slide far enough to accommodate a wide plank. In this case I improvise a fence by clamping a straight edge thick and sturdy enough to remain fixed under pressure. The location is critical for accurate placement of the chamfer.
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