Making a Baseplate

A good long look at your router, its baseplate, and the mounting screws is the starting point. That informs you about the extent of the job: Are you only making a baseplate, or are you also doing some work on the router base? Then you select tiie material and really get down to making din.

1. Evaluate the baseplate-mounting screws. You may well need to replace them. Check the screws on the router, and determine whether or not they will suffice for the new baseplate:

• Are they long enough to use with a thicker baseplate?

• Are they sturdy enough?

If your router already has long, sturdy, flathcad screws, you are set. If not, consider your options:

• Order a set of longer screws for your router from a mailorder vendor, like Woodhaven (800-344-6657) or Eagle America (800-872-2511).

• Take your router to the local hardware store and find flathcad screws that fit.

• Upgrade your router by drilling out and tapping the base to accept larger-diameter screws.

The first two options are easy. If you exercise the third option, here are a couple of tips. First, when you redrill the screw holes, bore all the way through the base flange.That way you won't discover that the screws bottom out before their heads seat. Second, you may want to get a set of pan-head screws of the larger size so you can continue to use the factory baseplate.

The section "CuttingThreads" in the appendix will give you information on drilling and tapping holes.

2. Select the baseplate material. Router bases can be made from a variety of materials, all of which have advantages and disadvantages. Among the most popular arc acrylic and polycarbonate, two common plastics, both of which are available in clear, foot-square pieces from mail-

Upgrade your router's baseplate-mounting screws. I replaced this router's tiny screws (the black ones) with !4-inchers. To do it, I drilled new holes through the router base, close beside the original mounting-screw holes. Then I cut threads in the new holes using the proper tap.

PANHEAD SCREW VS. FLATHEAD SCREW

Flathead screw

BASEPLATE PRECISELY ALIGNED

Panhead screw

Factory baseplate with —S counterbore for screw head

Factory baseplate with —S counterbore for screw head

Hole in baseplate is slightly larger than screw shank.

SCREW STARTED

SCREW HALFWAY

SCREW SEATED

The baseplate is STILL off-center.

The baseplate is off-center.

The baseplate is still off-center.

The baseplate is STILL off-center.

Flathead screw

Hole in baseplate is slightly larger than screw shank.

The baseplate is off-center.

The baseplate is still off-center.

Custom baseplate with tapered countersink for screw head

The screw shank touches the baseplate on the left, leaving a gap on the right. The baseplate is off-center.

The underside of the screw head touches the baseplate on the left,but there's a gap on the right. The baseplate is still off-center.

Custom baseplate with tapered countersink for screw head

•7

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As the screw is driven further, the baseplate is pulled left, closing the gap on the right. The baseplate has been pulled into alignment.

The screw shank touches the baseplate on the left, leaving a gap on the right. The baseplate is off-center.

The underside of the screw head touches the baseplate on the left,but there's a gap on the right. The baseplate is still off-center.

As the screw is driven further, the baseplate is pulled left, closing the gap on the right. The baseplate has been pulled into alignment.

onlcr woodworking tool outlets. More information about these and other appropriate materials can be found in the appendix.

Since we are making a generic baseplate here, let's at least make it clear, so it's an improvement over the factory baseplate.

3. Cut the blank. Almost any rigid plastic, from a laminate to an acrylic to a phenolic, can be cut on your table saw with a carbide-lipped combination or crosscut blade (one with a lot of teeth). The band saw cuts plastics well, especially if fitted with a metal-culling blade. And don't forget the router. Even to eul the basic blank, you can use a router and straight bit. guided by a T-square or other straightedge.

Acrylics and polycarbonates arc thermoplastics, which means they are sensitive to heat. Generate too much heat in working them, and they'll gum up that work. I have never had a problem in this regard on the tabic saw. On the band saw, the length of the blade keeps it cool. (In addition, the band saw blade clears chips well, producing a very smooth cut.)

4. Drill the mounting holes. The trickiest part of this task is getting the holes in the correct spots.The most reliable approach is to bond the factory baseplate to the blank temporarily with carpet tape (which is sticky on both sides).Then you can use the mounting holes in it as guides.

Before you do anything else, select the bit. I've found that common brad-point bits work just fine for drilling in plastic. Use the factory baseplate to choose the correct bit size.

Now there are two ways you can go about positioning the factory baseplate on the blank. With the generic clear baseplate we're making, you can simply plunk the the factory part anywhere on the blank. Eventually, you'll trim the custom bxseplate to duplicate the factory one. and the bit opening will end up centered in the plate.

Aligning the baseplate on a spot: Suppose there's a sound reason why you have to center the factor}' baseplate over a particular point on the blank. The factory plate has a bit opening that suddenly seems huge, and it has no lines to help you align it on a point. Now what?

Try this.

With the factory plate on the router, and a very small diameter bit in the collet, stretch masking tape over the bit opening. Turn 011 the router and bore a hole in the tape. (This is easy with a plunge router, more problematic with a fixed-base router. In the latter situation, clamp the router motor in a vise, and loosen the depth-of-cut adjuster. Now turn on the router and move the depth adjuster to make the hole.) The trick, of course, is to bore a clean hole without tearing the tape. You may need to apply several layers of tape. Or use duct tape.

Remove the plate from the router. Sight through the hole in the tape, and center the hole on the blank's center-point. You may say this is imprecise, and 10 some degree ii is. But I ihink if you try it, you'll find it works well.

Here's a positioning tip: With some custom baseplates, you want to orient the router handles a particular way. The orientation of the handles is not always evident when you look at just the factory' baseplate. In those situations, chcck back and forth between the router, factory baseplate, and blank so that when you are all done, the router handles will be oriented the way you want them.

THE PLUNK METHOD

A. Use baseplate to select the proper drill bit for the mounting-screw holes.

Drill bit -

Drill bit -

Factory baseplate

B. Stick carpet tape to the baseplate and plunk it face down on the plastic blank.

Plastic blank for new baseplate

Factory baseplate

Plastic blank for new baseplate

Factory baseplate stuck face down to blank

C. Using the baseplate as a guide, drill the mounting-screw holes in the blank.

Drill bit

Factory baseplate stuck face down to blank

Drill bit

Plastic blank for new baseplate

Plastic blank for new baseplate n c

st ft

D. With a saber saw, trim the blank to within of the factory baseplate.

Factory baseplate stuck face down to blank-----

Factory baseplate stuck face down to blank-----

Plastic blank for new baseplate

E. Trim the new baseplate flush with the factory plate with a flush-trimming bit.

Plastic blank for new baseplate

Flush-trimming bit

Flush-trimming bit

E. Trim the new baseplate flush with the factory plate with a flush-trimming bit.

L Factory baseplate

New custom baseplate

L Factory baseplate

ft a qj

Align hole in tape over centermark by eye.

C. Apply patches of carpet tape to the baseplate, and remove it from the router. Align the hole in the tape over the centermark by eye. Then press the baseplate firmly to the blank.

What if / have no baseplate':' If you have no pattern that you are comfortable using, go to Plan B. It's extra work, maybe, but it is precise and it does have appeal.'You need an expendable set of mounting screws, as well as a centering pin to chuck in the router collet. (You can buy a centering pin from CMT Tools (800-531-5559). Eagle America (800-872-2511), and other bit and router accessory vendors The pin does have other uses; you won't be wasting 55 or S10 on a tool good for only one procedure.)

Cut the heads off the screws, and file or grind a point where the head was. Thread the screws into the appropriate holes in the router's base, with all the points protruding an equal amount. Chuck the centering pin in the collet.

Align hole in tape over centermark by eye.

THE HOLE-IN-TAPE METHOD

A. Apply 2 or 3 layers of masking tape across the bit opening on the factory baseplate. Plunge-bore a hole in the tape with a small-diameter bit.

File points on headless screws on the drill press. After cutting the heads from long-shanked screws of the same size as the baseplate-mounting screws, chuck one in the drill press, as shown. With the drill press running at a low speed, hold a flat file against the tip. A centered point will quickly develop Do the rest of the screws, in turn, in the same way.

B. Cut the custom baseplate blank to rough size. With a pencil and straightedge, draw diagonals to mark the center of the desired bit opening.

Diagonals drawn on blank for custom baseplate

Hole bored

'/Vbit tape

Masking tape (2 or 3 layers)

Set the router on the custom baseplate blank. Press down on the router to mark the blank.

D. The points on the screw shanks and the centering pin will dimple the blank. The marks are the centerpoints of the mounting screw holes and the bit opening.

Custom baseplate blank

D. The points on the screw shanks and the centering pin will dimple the blank. The marks are the centerpoints of the mounting screw holes and the bit opening.

Bit opening centerpoint

Custom baseplate blank

Mounting screw locations

THE POKE METHOD

A. Cut the heads from extra baseplate-mounting screws. File or grind points on the shanks. Use I" or longer screw.

File the cut end to a point. Center the point on the shank.

Set the router on the custom baseplate blank. Press down on the router to mark the blank.

B. Turn the pointed screw shanks into the router base. Chuck a centering pin in the router's collet,

Centering pin -J Pointed screw • (I t shank

Line up the centering pin on the designated spot on the blank, and set the router gently on the blank. Then push down hard on the router to dimple the blank with all the points—the centering pin's point as well as every one of the screws. (A side benefit of this approach is that you can orient the router just the way you want it on the new baseplate.)

Bore the mounting-screw boles. Back up the work-piece with a clean board, and if you clamp it, protect it from the clamp jaws with another wood scrap. Set the drill's speed to between 500 and 1,000 rpm. Feed the bit into the work slowly and steadily. When working with a thermoplastic, back the bit out often to clear the chips. Don't stop the bit in the hole; it may get stuck there. As the tip nears the breakthrough point, slow the bit even more.

After boring the holes, countersink them just enough that the mounting screw will be below the surface. A standard countersink works just fine in plastic.

5. Trim the blank to size. How you do this depends to some extent upon the final shape. If the baseplate you're making is indeed generic, it probably will duplicate the shape of the factory plate. If that's the case, leave the factor)1 plate stuck to the new plate. Put a pattern bit or a flush-trimming bit in your router. Orient the two-plate sandwich so the pilot bearing rides on the factory plate, and trim the new plate.

If die new plate will be some shape other than that of the factor)' baseplate, or if you aren't using the factory plate as a pattern, then trim the new baseplate on the table saw or band saw or with a saber saw or router. See the appendix for more specific tips on cutting the material you are using.

6. lx>cate the bit opening. Fit a V-grooving bit in the router's collet. Mount the new baseplate—still without a bit opening—on the router. Don't even plug the router In.This is a hand-powered operation. Bring the tip of the

Plunge-boring the bit opening with a fixed-base router is not too difficult. But use care. Here the router has been set on scrap stock, and the base clamped to the worktable. The motor clamp is loose, so the motor can be raised and lowered. Take it slow; don't just auger straight in.

bit in contact with the baseplate, and turn the bit a couple of revolutions with your hand.

7. Bore the bit opening. Three options for doing this come to mind.

1. Use the V-gnx>ving bit that's already in the router. Just plunge-bore with it.

2. Chuck a different bit in the router, and plunge-bore a zero-clearance hole for that particular bit.

5. Remove the plate from the router and drill a bit opening.

Aligning the blank under the drill perfectly is (/)

essential. With a centering pin in the chuck, lower and lock the quill just a hair shy of the workpiece. Shift the workpiece until your centermark is directly under the pin's point, as here. Clamp the workpiece to the drill press table. Then unlock the quill, change to the appropriate bit, and drill the hole.

A Zero-Clearance Opening for a Piloted Bit

Bore the hole in two steps. First bore a clearance hole for the pilot bearing with a 5§-inch bit. Then switch to the piloted bit. The bearing passes through the first hole, as shown, and the bit's cutting edges expand the opening just enough to pass through. It's a zero-clearance opening.

a jj cL

By exercising either of the first two options, you will ensure that the bit opening is centered perfectly. If you use the V-grooving bit. it will give you a fairly large-diameter opening.

When the router is a plunge model, boring the opening is straightforward. Just set die router on an expendable scrap of wood, and rout. Of course, you don't want the bit to "weld" itself into the baseplate, so bore the opening in increments. Plunge and feed sharply for a double-instant, then retract the bit and allow the work to cool momentarily. Then plunge again. Eventually you'll break through.

When the router is a fixed-base model, the work is a little more complicated, if only because the machine isn't designed for any plunge cuts. You have to clamp the router

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Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

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