rail symetry

Hey Guys. Can anybody offer me some advice on the best way to shape perfectly symetrical rails. Basically I’m looking for instructions so that the left side rail is identical to the right side. At the moment I’m going purely by eye using sanding screen, Thanks Brian

A simple form gauge you can get at the hardware store will help you immeasurably.

Read Rijk’s instructions under “diagrams” in the resource section (#216) and make something like one of these.

Hey Some funny stuff posted above. If you ever plan on shaping some decent boards, you have to have/develop a feel for symetry, and an eye for smooth curves. You need to be able to feel symetry with your hands, and doing so requires multiple boards and some experience (make more boards). Gauges and calipers are better than nothing, for sure, but purely CRUTCHES for people with no shaping ability. Hit me if you want, but you know this is true!

how do you avoid indentations or damage ever time you use that thing on your nice clean rails…looks kind of narly to me…

maybe use masking tape first (to protect the foam), then push that beast up against your rail?

Consider yourself hit. Check out last issue of TSJ…I guess Pat Curren is a talentless hack…

I agree. The contour gauge is a crutch. Same with a tape measure, thickness calipers or even a template I suppose. Even with all the crutches I use, my boards are far from perfect.

Hey Brian: I think the tool discussion kind of sidetracked your question. The tool may help you see where you’ve missed symetry, but it doesn’t show you how to make them even to begin with. I started out using the dragon skin method for my rails too. It works great (as far as mowing foam), but has no consistency. I’ve recently started experimenting with using a planer, because I wanted to learn to make tucked under edge. I found it extremely easy, consistent, and far less likely to overshape. I also found that I could do multiple passes, additional passes on the edge that the prior created (like making rail bands) and end up with a rough 50/50 rail that could be quickly smoothed out with a screen (which smooths, not shapes) – behold, symmetrical 50/50’s I know the Sages here have mentioned this method many times, but I was always hesitant to take my planer to the rails… no big deal.

…definately as Rook says - USE A PLANER! If not you’ll be seeing bumps forever. I just finished an 8’5" and every 3’ or so I saw small bumps or dips - both sides. I did my rail bands by hand (surform, screen) because it was my first attempt @ 50/50 rails. All 11 other boards had down rails. Yes, I made long passes, but still the same thing. Just when I thought I cleaned up the problem, I shut off my lights and opened my shaping room door. I looked back, sighting down the rails and Damn, still had a few low spots. Definately check out your rails in different light (I even jack up various parts of the blank on the stand with soft foam blocks to get different views). Next time - I’m using a planer, I could’ve shaped this board in less than half the time AND the rails would’ve been symetrical. … hope this helps …

thanks for the advice guys. Will post a pic in the resources soon (about 1 month from now) Brian