Robotic Table Saw Automates Finger Joints

We’ve all seen finger joints or box joints, those interlocking puzzle pieces that make laser-cut plywood enclosures such a fixture for DIY projects. But laser cutters make finger joints look much easier to fabricate than they are with traditional woodworking tools, which often lead to disappointing results.

But this finger joint cutting robot is no traditional woodworking tool, and [timschefter] put a lot of work into building the rig. We have to admit that when we first saw the video below, the thought of having a table saw in our shop that could be turned on with a button on a phone gave us pause. But on closer analysis, it looks like safety was a major concern with this build. With a prominent e-stop and an interlock switch, the small table saw that forms the foundation of the robot should be safe enough. On the table top is a sled with a linear slide that moves the workpiece perpendicular to the blade, and the sled moves back and forth over the blade with pneumatic cylinders. The joint is set up with a custom app which calculates the pin width and spacing, which can be evenly distributed across the panel, or, for a bit of geeky fun, controlled to make a joint that encodes a message in Morse.

A lot of work went into this, and while it’s not the first robotic finger joint cutter we’ve seen, it’s pretty impressive. Now if it could only automate dovetails.

19 thoughts on “Robotic Table Saw Automates Finger Joints

  1. If you built a similar system with a router and a dovetail bit, you could automate the dovetails. They already make dovetail jigs for routers. I have managed to hidden dovetails in the past using a router, it takes a bit of work but its completely doable.

    1. Dovetails look nice, but with modern glue, straight finger joints are just as strong. When done right, the wood breaks and not the joint. Dovetail joints were preferred at the time when glue wasn’t very good.

  2. Gawd…that video doesn’t fit on my screen… I think it’s high time that:

    * New phones came with “square” CCDs… so they can crop the video image to being in landscape format
    * Existing phones refuse to take videos unless the phone is in a landscape orientation

    1. The resolution of the existing sensors is so high that you dont need a square ccd, there are enough pixels on phones to get even 4k in either landscape or portrait orientation of the sensor.

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