Forget that miter gauge and its nuisance slot! Use one of these sleds instead.
When you build (or buy) a router table, the tendency is to think you'll use your table saw's miter gauge on it. "Whenever I have to make a cut across the end grain." you think,"I can set the work in the miter gauge and guide the cut with that. Besides, I already have it."
The miter gauge is a table saw accessory. Leave it on the table saw. It isn't suited for router table work.
What you do need is a sled or two. What a sled does that a miter gauge doesn't is back up the work, preventing tear-out as the cutter exits the workpiecc.A sled doesn't require a slot in the tabletop to guide it. Some sleds ride along the fence; others have a shoe that rides along the edge of the tabletop.
Following are plans for several different pushers or sleds that belong with your router table.
Pusher the scrap bin looking for juussst the right stick. The other two are spent at the band saw. But I wanted this pusher to do a little more than a push stick docs.
And clearly, this is a more elaborate pusher.
• I lsing the notch in the toe. you can feed stock into the saw or router bit.
• Using the heel to hook the work puts the sole of the pusher flat on the workpiece. That way you can apply some downward force at the same time you arc feeding it forward.This is a definite plus on the router table.
• Using the V-groove in the sole allows you to hold the work down, but also force it against the fence as you feed it. To do this, you tilt the pusher and catch the edge of the work in the groove. The heel hooks the end of the work. This is the most useful aspect of the pusher on the router tabic, especially when shaping the edges of relatively narrow sticks.
Looks like a handsaw handle, doesn't it? It should, since I traced around the most comfortable saw handle 1 could find to start the pattern for this pusher. In making it. I wanted something a little different from the usual scrap-wood push slick.
The typical table-saw push stick takes about five minutes to make, three of which arc spent rummaging through
Given the versatility of the pusher. I wanted it to fed good in the hand, to feel natural to a woodworker. I wanted it to be used, alter all. So the saw-handle grip is perfect. Make the thing from some pretty wood—you'll need more than a small scrap, I'm afraid—and it'll look just right in your shop.
Making the Pusher
1 wanted to make this a router project (rather than a hand saw project). I also wanted to make it easy to make duplicates. So I first made a template, then knocked out several pushers from the template.
1. Make the template. Enlarge the pattern shown in Pusher Layout. Or trace a saw handle and extend lines from the handle to connect it to the body layout taken from the plan.
Lay out the pattern on a piece of hardhoard or '/«-inch plywood. Cut it on the hand saw or with a saber saw. To cut the handle opening, drill holes to form the radii at each end. then cut out the waste between them with the saber saw. Sand and/or file the edges smooth and fair.
Note: What I found, after making a prototype pusher, is that pushing on the router table is a slightly different action than sawing. If you merely duplicate the handle position from the saw.it won't be right. Instead, rotate the handle up about 20 degrees.
2. Rout out the pusher. First off, select a nice piece of hardwood for this tool. Stick the template to the stock with carpet tape. Set this workpicce on an expendable piece of plywood or hardboard (to protect your workbench), and clamp it to the workbench. I located the clamps on the body and routed the handle, then shifted the clamps so I could rout out the rest of the pusher.
Use a plunge router; a '/4-inch spiral upcut bit if you
PUSHER Cutting List
Part Qty. Dimensions Material
Pusher I I"x8"xl6" Hardwood
73 O c have a spiral upcut. a regular '/»-inch bit if you don't; and a ^ 5/t<.-inch-O.D. guide bushing. Rout around and around the —j template, cutting incrementally deeper on each circuit. You , can keep the bit cutting cooler if you stop and vacuum the jy* chips from the cut after every circuit or two.
3. Rout the V-groove. Do this on the router table j using a V-grooving bit. and guide the cut with the fence.
The groove is stopped. Measure 11 inches from the bit, and put a piece of masking tape on the tabletop. Rout until the toe of the pusher reaches the tape, then lift the workpicce up off the bit.
4. Glue on the heel and notch the toe. The heel is a Vi X 1-inch bit of the working stock. Glue it in place.
Then notch the toe, as showrn in the drawing, using a back saw or on the band saw.
5. Round-over the edges. The final touches are to radius all the edges. I used a Vifrinch roundover bit in a table-mounted router for this.Thcn sand the edges and faces.
Using the Pusher
This is not complcx. If you've used a push stick, you can use this pusher.
I was going to say that it doesn't take a lot of practice, but in a way it does. Using a pusher on a table saw is pretty much second nature for most woodworkers, but that's not so on tlie router table. One reason is that you don't channel
With a V-groove in its sole, this pusher is perfect for router table work. Tilt the pusher so the edge of the work nestles into the groove. The heel hooks the end and allows you to feed the work while simultane ously holding it down on the tabletop and in against the fence.
the work between the bit and the fence on a router table. If you just push the end of the stock, it tends to come away from the fence and thus away from the bit.
And that 's where this pusher proves its worth. With that V-groove, you can apply the forces needed to keep the work on the tabletop, against the fence and bit. and moving forward, all while keeping your fingers well clear of danger.
What the pusher will not do is provide backup for the work. It doesn't prevent tear-out. For that you need either the push-block sled or the miter sled.
A big. thick block fitted with a handgrip is first-rate for feeding work across a cutter in conjunction with the fence. It has mass, so it is stable.
PUSH-BLOCK SLED Cutting List
2 X 6" x 12"
1 r x 4%" x 5H"
2 roundhead wood screws, #10 x
It's a serious block of wood, but the hand grip turns it into a router table sled. Backing up an end-grain cut, it both feeds the work, keeping it square to the fence, and backs it up. preventing tear-out.
This push-block sled provides pood backup, so you won't get tear-out in the workpiecc. Because of the orientation of the handgrip, you actually have two edges you can use. For cuts where the work is on end. flat against the fcnce.I tend to use the short edge. When the work is flat on the tablctop and 1 want the sled to help keep it square to the fence. I use the long edge.
Because it is routinely nibbled by whatever cutters you use. this sled gets chewed up. When tear-out starts occurring in the work, it's time to freshen up the sled. Simply saw off die damaged area on the table saw, exposing a fresh, square surface. Over time, of course, this prunes the sled so small it's useless. When it does, make another!
Making the Push-Block Sled
Making the handgrip is the time-consuming part of this project. But that's the part that, over time, gets transferred from one base to another as the bases get chewed up in the course of your work. Spend some time on that grip so that it fits your hand comfortably.
1. Make the base. Cut two pieces of - »-inch plywood to the dimensions specified by the Push-Block Sled Cutting list. Glue diem together face to face.
After the clamps arc off the base, rip and crosscut it to true the edges and to make the corners perfectly square. If the comers aren't square, the workpicccs you guide with it will be out-of-squarc.
I radiuscd the right rear corner of the base, cutting it on the band saw. This is a cue to orienting the sled. Even without thinking. I know which corner is the working one.
2. Cut the handgrip. I modeled my handgrip on a bench plane's handgrip. I removed the part from one of my planes to use as a pattern. But because the original wasn't quite big enough for my hand. I stretched it a bit. I also clon-pted the foot to provide places to put a couple of mounting screws. (Because it is useful on all sorts of pushers. I made a hardboard template so I can reproduce thcoutsized grip whenever 1 want.)
You can do what I did. or you can scale up the handgrip pattern. lay out the grip on a block of l-inch-tliick hardwood. Note the grain direction.
Cut out the grip on the hand saw or with a saber saw. Sand the cut edges. A sanding drum chucked in the drill press can smooth the inside radii. With a ' .-inch or '«-inch roundover bit in a table-mounted router, machine the edges of the handgrip.
3. Mount the handgrip. Don't glue the handgrip to the base; you want to be able to move it to a new base someday. Use two «10 X 1 '/2-inch roundhead wood screws, located as shown in the drawing Pusb-Block Sled Plans.
I cocked the handgrip so that pushing on it would advance the sled but would also keep it against the fence.
Using the Push-Block Sled
This sled is always used with the fence, because the fence guides both it and the work. What the sled is doing is pushing the work, keeping it square to the fence, and backing it up so tear-out is prevented.
The angle of the handgrip makes it easy to keep the sled against the fence as it is advanced.
The miter sled combines the roles of miter gauge, push block, and chip breaker. Because it hooks over the table edge, it doesn't need to be used with the fence, nor docs it require a slot.
When the sled is serving as a chip breaker, the bit cuts through the work and into the sled's fence, so the fence is, in a strong sense, a consumable. It's easy to replace the fence or even to make an entirely new sled, so you can make special sleds for different cuts. The sled shown has been used exclusively for the cope cuts made in conjunction with © cope-and-stick work. It was made of scrap-bin materials.
When making a cope cut, always have the rail firmly clamped to the sled. Feed the sled past the bit, making the cut. When the cut is done, you can simply ease the sled away from the edge of the tabletop and thus ease the work away from the bit. You don't have to pull the work back across the cutter.
1 square =
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