Bowl Making With Router

Before getting to the specifics of router-turning a dowel, let ox- mention the jig's capacities.

The jig shown in the plans will accommodate a blank that is 4 inches square. Under the best conditions, this will yield a 4-inch-diameter dowel. If you trim a blank to an oc;agon before mounting it in the jig. you can produce a dowel around 5,/a inches in diameter, max. (Of course, you can enlarge the jig if you need an even larger round.)

To turn a smaller-diameter dowel, you should raise the turning axis. The bit can't be extended very far below the baseplate; so the closer to the jig's top edges the bLink is, the better. A reasonable rule of thumb is half the diagonal of the square blank, and drop the head and tail spindle holes that distance from the top edge of the ends.

The longest blank the jig will accommodate is 32 inches. By extending the sides (and, if necessary, the bottom), you can mount a longer blank, of course. To handle a shorter blank (why turn more than you need?), move the tail end closer to the crank end. All you have to do is pull six screws to free the end piece, remember.

Bear in mind that you can't rout the entire length. If you gel too close to the blank's ends, you risk gouging the jig's end pieces. So you will have a bit of waste to trim from the completed dowel.

1. Set up the jig. The diameter and length of the dowel you want must be considered at the outset. Calculate the girth and length of the blank needed. Determine the best position for the spindle holes in the jig's end pieces.

Clamp the jig to the workbench.The jig was designed with an extra-long base specifically for clamping. Make sure the clamp at the crank end doesn't interfere with the crank.

If necessary, remove the end pieces and drill '/¡«-inch-diameter spindle holes. Sandwich the ends and drill the holes in both at one time.

Reinstall the ends. If the blank will be shorter dian 32 indies, shift the tail end closer to die crank end as appropriate


1 mm

Router Dowel Jig

Adjust the jig to accommodate the blank. To rout a small-diameter dowel or spindle, as at left, the blank must b« positioned high in the jig. A fairly large-diameter blank will be suspended from the middle of the end pieces. For a short blank, the tail end can simply be moved closer to the crank end, as at right.

2. Cut and mount the blank. Cut the blank(s) to size. You can save some turning time by ripping the blank to an octagon. Hut frankly, you'll just be trading time on one machine for time on another; suit yourself. The best reason for doing this is to fit a 5'/2-inch square to the jig.

Scribe diagonals on the blank's ends, and drill vi&-inch-diameter pilots into the ends for the mounting spindles. The more accurately you can align these holes, the better.

I use washers to offset the blank from the jig's ends. Slide the crank spindle through the hole in the jig's end.

hang a washer on the spindle tip, then fit the blank in p« tion.TUrn the crank and drive the spindle into the pilot the blank. Drive the lag screw through the jig's tail end into the tail end of the blank.

3. Set up the router. Remove the factory basej and attach the jig's baseplate.

Choose your bit, and chuck it in the router's collet.

What bit should you use? My choice is the dish (also called a bowl bit). It is designed for cutting a sur

Router Turning Jig

1. Turn the crank (whichever direction you prefer) to spin the blank.

2. Slide the router slowly from one end of the jig to the other.

3. The bit will cut the square blank, transforming it to a round.

A good first pass will clean off the corners of the blank, as you can see. It won't necessarily produce a nice, even round.

perpendicular to the bit axis (as opposed to one parallel to the bit axis). But the cutting edges are radiused at their extremities so the horizontal surface of the cut blends into the vertical, rather than making a sharp, right-angle change. In use, this bit seems to leave a smoother, more even surface.

Core-box or roundnosc bits, straight bits, bottom-deaning hits, and mortising bits can all be used. I recommend that you try* whichever of these bits you have. If you have diem all. try them all. Then use the one that produces the best surface.

With the bit in the router, set the router on the jig and adjust the bit extension. To start, turn the blank so a flat surface is up. Set the router in position and extend the bit 'til it bottoms on the blank. At this setting, your first pass will hog away the corners of the blank.

4. Rout the blank. The first time you use the jig, experiment to develop a sense of the operation. Crank ihc blank clockwise and feed the router to the left. Then iced it to the right.Then crank the blank counterclockwise and feed the router from right to left and left to right. You'll pick upon when the router is self-feeding, which isn't desirable.

Van- the rate of your cranking. How docs the speed of rotation impact on the smoothness and evenness of the cut surface? My experience is that the faster you crank, the smoother the surface.

I work from the right toward the left, cranking the blank clockwisc.To begin, tip the router a little so the bit is dear of the work Switch it on, then set it back on the jig. Surt cranking the blank, and steadily move the router. You don't need to move the router slowly.

After you've cleaned the corners from the blank, roughing it to a round, adjust the bit extension to achieve

A good first pass will clean off the corners of the blank, as you can see. It won't necessarily produce a nice, even round.

the diameter of dowel you want. Remember that you are changing the radius of the dowel when you alter the bit extension. T he diameter is twice the radius. The diameter of the dowel will be reduced by twice the distance you move the bit.

To measure the diameter of the dowel while it is still in the jig. use calipers.

When you are done, remove the dowel from the jig.

The finished dowel's surface may not be perfect. For the best surface finish possible, make a very light cut on the final pass, moving the router quite slowly but cranking the blank furiously. A light sanding should clean off the minute ridges and imperfections. (Of course, the character of the wood you use will have a lot to do with the quality of the final surface.)

Sand the dowel. A turner sands his turned spindle while it's still mounted in the lathe, and I found that that's the easiest way to sand a dowel, too. Hold a sanding block against the dowel, and turn the crank. It works with a pad sander. though a belt sander is too crude and a random-orbit sander is too erratic.

Mounting a blank for tapering requires the tail spindle to be higher in its jig end than the crank spindle. The spindle holes in the blank are still located dead-center, however.

The process is the same, but the result is a little I different. Turn the crank and move the router. You get a taper. Note that the narrow end of the blank is rount here, while the fat end still has broad flats.

ROUTING TAPER section view

Spindle hole is drilled on angle taken from layout.

Router Bowl Making Jigs

Crank is mounted on small-diameter end of the workpiece. , trim the ends, and put it to use in your project.


Routing a tapered spindle is accomplished simply by tilting the axis of the blank in the jig. One end is high, the other low. The router moves back and forth in the same level plane; but because the blank is angled, the result is a tapered spindle.

This is a case where you need to customize the end pieces for the project. For the blank to be rotated without binding or jiggling, the pivot holes in the jig ends should be angled. So that the crank doesn't bind on the end piece, it is lxrst to have it on the high end of the blank, as shown in the drawing Tapering.

On paper or a scrap board, draw the taper full-sized.

Sketch in the jig and the spindle bolts. Determine the drop from the top edge of the jig ends to the pivot holes, and the angle of the spindles. As you work out these details, keep the size of the necessary' blank in mind. If you can taper tlx blank on the table saw or jointer before you mount it in tie jig, you'll save some router work. If you can't, you may ned to make two pairs of pivot holes. Otherwise you risk hav«| one end of the blank sticking up otit of the jig, while the other end is at the limits of the bit's reach. One set of pivot holes allows you to rough the blank to a taper, while the second set of holes repositions the workpiecc so it can he reduced to finished size.

In any case, lay out the holes on the ends, and drill thaa at the proper angle.Then install the ends in the jig.

ROUTING TAPER section view

Spindle hole is drilled on angle taken from layout.



Crank is mounted on small-diameter end of the workpiece. ,

Mount the blank in the jig, set up the router, and rout the spindle as you would in making a straight dowel.

Simple Turning

Once you've mastered the process of turning blanks into rounds and tapered rounds, you'll see that, with the right bits, you can produce some rudimentary embellishments, particularly rings and coves.

Rather than repeat a lot of information, let me refer you to the chapter on making and using the Router Lithe (page 269). That device is more involved to build and will do much more sophisticated turnings, but the bits and many of the techniques used can be carried over to this more simple jig.

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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