Using the Straightedge

The routing straightedge is easy to use. almost deceptively so.You adjust the tail block roughly for the width of the workpiece. set the jig in place, then tighten the pressure block.

But you do have to measure and lav out its position vis-à-vis the location of the intended cut. The straightedge is not a T-square. It won't set itself square to the edge of the workpiece.

Moreover, the width of the cut and the size of the router base enter into the setup, just as they do with a T-squarc or other router guide. Here are my two suggestions:

A. Set up front the center line of the cut. This is easy to do if the base diameter of your router is a nice round number—like 6 inchcs or 7 inches. You mark the cut's center line, then offset 3 inches or 3'/> indies or whatever to mark the straightedge location. Regardless of the widih of the cut, the offset from the center line is always the same.

B. Make offset gauges. An offset gauge is a piccc of hard-board or the like. Its width is the amount the straightedge must be offset from the edge of the cut. You lay one edge of the gauge right on the layout line for the cut, then bring the straightedge up to die other edge of the gauge. Gauges are easy to make: see "Offset Gauge" on page 74.

Setting the straightedge with an offset gauge eliminates the need to calculate and measure the offset from the cut. But you still must lay out the cut across the workpiece. Use the gauge at both ends of the straightedge before tightening the clamp.

Laying out the fence position requires you to measure and lay out the cut first. Because the straightedge won't square itself, you need to extend the lines across the workpiece. Then you need to offset from the cut and mark the fence position. When clamping the straightedge be sure to align both its ends with the layout marks.

Setting the straightedge with an offset gauge eliminates the need to calculate and measure the offset from the cut. But you still must lay out the cut across the workpiece. Use the gauge at both ends of the straightedge before tightening the clamp.

Fractio Basepl

This scrap of plastic will add new dimensions to your straight bits.

This scrap of plastic will add new dimensions to your straight bits.

II sure looks square, but this baseplate is a trickster. The measurement from the axis of the bit to each of the four baseplate edges is different. With this baseplate, you expand the cutting width of any straight bit in your collection, and you give yourself the ability to produce a greater incremental range of cuts.

This clever baseplate was developed by Nick Engler, a prolific writer of woodworking books.

Here's how it works: Use a straight bit and make a pass with the baseplate's "zero" side against the fence.Then turn the (outer so the "+,/x" side is against the fence, and make a second pass.Thc additional % inch between the bit and the fence adds '/«inch to the width of the cut. Other sides of the baseplate add {Ao inch and bA(> inch to the zero cut.

Thus, a '/¿-inch bit could produce "'¿-inch-wide dadoes, Vinch-widc dadoes, Vinch-wide dadoes, and "/ifrinch-wide dadoes. It's as simple as turning the router to reference a different edge against the guide fence.

Using a H-inch bit with this base gives you dado widths of \ inch, ' /i6 inch, % inch, and 'fo inch. A '/»-inch bit yields widths of'/■»inch, Vu. inch, vU inch, and /it. inch.

If you are really clever, you'll see that Nick's idea is an inexpensive solution to undersized plywood. One of the shortcomings of plywood, especially hardwood stuff, is that it's typically a 64 th or a 32nd undersized. For instance, inch plywood is more likely inch or inch. It rattles in the dado you cut for it with your - i inch straight. Maddening.

One solution is to buy special dadoing bits that are 2!i/u inch. But a less costly solution is to make a version of this fractionating baseplate that'll allow you to make those off-sized dadoes in two passes with a v&inch or %nnch bit.

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A Course In Wood Turning

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