Tips Techniques


During the process of making reproductions of tura-of-the-century fretworks, I discovered I needed several V*" white oak dowels for spindles. After trying several methods to make my own 'custom made' dowels (without much success), I finally came up with the following set-up using my router and electric drill.

As shown in the diagram, the basic setup consists of three blocks attached to a fence, which in turn is bolted to the base of a portable router. Before gluing the blocks to the fence, I drilled a Vie hole in one block, and W holes in the other two.

The infeed block (with the 7/i«" hole) is glued XVz from the end of the fence. The outfeed block (W hole) is glued V2" from the first block. These two blocks support the square blanks as they pass by the W straight router bit. The third block (also with a W hole) supports the end of the dowel to prevent whipping.

To attach the fence to the base of the router. I drilled one hole in the fence the exact size of a No. 10-32, 1W pan head bolt. The other hole was drilled twice, forming a slot to allow for fine adjustments.

To make the dowels, I cut a "blank" ^i*" square. The end of the blank is pointed to help guide it into the outfeed hole. The blank is then chucked in a portable drill and slowly advanced past the router bit.

I usually make the dowels a little oversized and sand them to their finish size.

Lloyd R. Dickinson Glendale, California

At first, I teas a little skeptical about Mr. Dickinson's dowel-making jig, but we decided to build it and try it out in the shop. After trying the jig, I was amazed how well it works.

We found that the tighter the dowel fits into the outfeed holes of the last two blocks, the better finish you'll get. Any sloppiness here will cause an uneven dowel (a sort of spiral effect). The size of the fin ished dowel can be adjusted by moving the fence. An easy way to come close to an exact fit is to sight through the infeed (Vie") hole in the first block and adjust the fence so the bit lines up with the edge of the hole in the outfeed (second) block.

One problem we had was trying to insert the Vie" square blank into the Vie" round hole of the first block. It doesn't fit. Then we tried inserting the blank into the Vie" hole as the drill was running. Although there was some resistance, it worked. The four corners were worn down as the blank was pushed into the hole. We also used Hard Maple for the jig to help eliminate wear on the block. — S.K.


In our cabinet shop, we use a counterweight on our drill press to take the strain off raising and lowering the table. An old window weight (a cylindrical chunk of lead) acts as a counter-weight to support the table when we adjust the height. And it doesn't cost $75 like some models do.

We attach a wire to an old window weight and slip it down the hollow support shaft of the drill press. The wire is then run through a window weight pulley and connected to the table. The pulley is mounted to a small piece of wood which rests on the top of the hollow column and is positioned so the weight hangs free in the column. The wire runs down the front of the support column and is bolted to the table near the column.

Different size weights are available so you can size them to the weight of the table. With the proper amount of weight, the height of the table can be adjusted with a touch of the fingers.

Ray Stuart Ray's Cabinet Shop Ankeny, Iowa


I solved the problem of cutting a circular table top out of a square blank of glued-up lumber by using a router and a trammel point attachment.

I purchased two 36" long steel rods from a local hardware store to replace the rods that came with the trammel point attachment kit. They're inserted between the trammel point and the router.

Then I drilled a hole in the center of the bottom of the table top for the trammel point to pivot. Next I adjusted the distance betw een the trammel point and the router bit so that it would cut a 36" diameter circle. The table top is then cut by lowering the bit in '/«" increments for each pass.

Frank J. Romeo Mahapac, New York


When I cut an ellipse, I use a steel square to determine how to draw the ellipse to fit the finish dimensions I need.

The width of the ellipse I need, marked AB, is laid out on one leg of a steel square, bc bc


' 1 ■ 1 ; • 11 :1 111 1 M 11 ■ l. l ■ h I. I i 1 ■ I ■ I 11111

and the length of the ellipse (BC) is then laid out as shown.

The distance between the two focal points is found by measuring the distance between points A and C. To find the length of the string, add the distance between AC and BC.

0. C. Carlson Scottsdale, Arizona


We invite you to share your woodworking tips and techniques with other readers of Wood-smith. We will pay a minimum of $5 for a tip, and $10 or more for a special technique. All material submitted becomes the property of Woodsmith Publishing Co. Upon payment, you give Wood-smith the right to use the material in any manner for as long as we wish.

If your idea involves a drawing or photo to explain it, do your best and, if necessary, we'll make a new drawing, or build the project or jig and photograph it. (Any drawings or photos submitted cannot be returned.)

Send your ideas to: Woodsmith, Tips & Techniques, 2200 Grand Ave., Des Moines. Iowa 50312.


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