October 2005

Get started on your holiday gift woodworking projects with these woodworking plans

free woodworking coffee mill plansGrind your own beans with a traditional cast iron coffee mill grinding mechanism! Download our Free Coffee Mill Plan to build your own base, or use our ready-to-assemble Coffee Mill Kit bases (sold separately). Choose from cast iron wheel mechanism (shown on left) or crank style mechanism (shown on right). Mechanisms and kits sold separately. See below for a PDF Format of the plan.

Cast Iron Coffee Mill Mechanisms and Coffee Mill Well Kits

free woodworking toy truck plansDesigned in the tradition of the original post office box, this solid brass door can be used in a variety of projects like this Mail Truck Bank. Get this Mail Truck Bank Downloadable Plan FREE! ( HTML or PDF)

Brass Mailbox Door and Mail Truck Bank Plan

free woodworking Hour Glass Timer plansBuild your own hour glass case with our FREE downloadable plan and this 60-minute hour glass. Precision timepiece is hand-blown in Europe and filled with the finest natural sand to ensure accuracy. 11” tall. FREE HTML Hour Glass plan. FREE PDF Hour Glass plan (1.75MB).

Hour Glass Timer

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Once you’ve made your bit selection and chucked the bit securely in the router’s collet, you’re ready to adjust the router bit’s depth of cut. Start with a shallow cut. That way you can avoid straining the router and your arms by making too deep a cut at the first go. Increase the depth of the router gradually (instead of cutting to final depth with your first pass). A lot of woodworkers opt to do a test cut in some scrap material first to give you an idea as to how deep your router bit is set to cut.
If you’re using a router table, adjust the fence position to “hide” or cover part of the bit, starting off with a light cut and then moving the fence back to reveal more of the bit. This approach works well with larger molding bits and vertical panel-raising bits, which shouldn’t cut the finished profile in one pass. For router table operations, you’ll also need to adjust the bit’s height above the table the equivalent of the usual depth-of-cut adjustment you make when the router is rightside up.

To adjust depth-of-cut on a fixed-base router, loosen the clamp in the router base and move the motor housing up or down until the bit extends just the right amount below the baseplate.

What about plunge routers?

Plunge routers work differently. They come equipped with a mechanism that limits the depth of plunge a depth stop. You set the depth stop for each job; you’ll need to consult your router’s manual for precise instructions.

When you have set the depth of cut and locked it in, make at least one test cut on a piece of scrap wood. This dress rehearsal can prevent the ruin of valuable lumber. It’s also a sound safety check to see if you’re trying to remove too much material in a single pass.

Added safety points when routing

  • Never start a router with the router bit in contact with the wood.
  • Always turn it on with the base set firmly on the work surface.
  • Use ear and eye protection.
  • If you are routing with an edge guide or a piloted bit, your workpiece needs to be clamped so that it won’t shift when you’re cutting it.
  • Check the slack in the power cord. You need to be able to go the full distance of the cut without stopping. A lot of woodworkers drape the cord over their shoulder.
  • If you’re using the router table, your test cuts will have told you whether you needed to set up featherboards and/or use hold-downs to provide valuable “third-hand” assistance.

Ready, steady, rout

  1. Handheld routing: Start the motor, then feed the bit into the wood, cutting from left to right.
  2. Plunge routing: Start the motor and lower the bit slowly into the work before you move the router. Rout deep slots or mortises in multiple passes, lowering the bit about 1/4 inch with each pass. When you’re finished, raise the bit clear of the work before you switch the router off. No matter what kind of router you have, always leave the base flat on the work until the bit stops spinning.
  3. Router table: Feed the workpiece from right to left, using a steady, even feed rate. Apply pressure against the table and against the fence as you feed the stock into the bit. Use plastic or wooden push blocks to keep your hands well clear of the bit.

(article adapted from CornerHardware – original article ‘Router Power! Tips on using the most versatile portable power tool’ By Sandor Nagyszalanczy )

If you are serious about woodworking, you’ll have a router (or 2) around in the workshop. The number of jobs a router can do for you is endless – you can create your own molding, you can make panelled doors, trim laminates, etch lovely dado grooves. There are generally 2 main types of routers – you either have a fixed-base router or a plunge model.

Router safety

Don’t get me wrong – every woodworking power tool (or handtools for that matter) can prove a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. Routers spin at an average of 20,000rpm so they aren’t a tool to be taken lightly.

  • Needless to say, when you first take your router out of the box, familiarize yourself with ALL the features and where everything sits on the router BEFORE you even plug it into the power point. For plunge routers, make sure you work out how to lower and raise the bit and how to work that all important plunge lock.
  • Always ensure the router is really off before you plug it in – routers can be left on in the locked position so it pays to make sure it’s off first before you plug it in.
  • Always unplug the router before you make any major adjustments to it eg whe you change bits, adjust the bit’s depth of cut or mount accessories. Don’t be lazy – you only have 10 fingers, don’t want to lose any.
  • Grip the handle of the router firmly when you turn it on – big routers have enough starting torque to jerk out of your hands if you’re not paying attention. Steel yourself for that starting jerk.
  • Always keep both hands on the router’s handles.
  • Don’t forget your safety gear – wear goggles and ear protection. The number of woodworkers who have developed hearing loss and lost vision from flying timber bits are astounding – don’t let your hobby cripple you!

Working with a router

There are 3 ways of working with a router. Each method uses different bits and requires different accessories.

  1. Routing with an edge guide
    An edge guide is a valuable accessory for any router – it helps by keeping the router going in a straight line. The edge guide has a straight face that can be adjusted at different distances from the bit. You adjust it so that it runs against a straight edge of the workpiece.
  2. Routing with a piloted bit or guide bushing
    A ball bearing guide, mounted on a router bit’s shaft, allows the bit to travel along the edge of a workpiece or template. Edge treatment bits all depend on pilot bearings for guidance.
  3. Using a router table
    Routers can be mounted upside down in a router table therefore becoming a stationary tool that works just like a wood shaper. Most router table operations are done using a fence to guide the workpiece. Note that larger bits, like panel-raising bits and multiform bits, are designed for router-table use only; they’re too big to use safely in hand-held mode.

(article adapted from CornerHardware – original article ‘Router Power! Tips on using the most versatile portable power tool’ By Sandor Nagyszalanczy )

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