Controlling The Workpiece

Freehand routing on the router table may occasionally be appropriate— though I can't think of a good example of such an occasion just now. In ever)' operation that may comc to mind, you use either a starting pin or a fence, even a sled, a template guide, or an overhead pin, to help you guide and control the workpiece.

Small as it may seem, a router bit does generate a lot of forcc. As die size of the bit increases, of course, the force gets greater. The "gotcha"

in routing lies in the multiplicity of bits in most collections. You probably use relatively small straights and round-over bits most, and you get accustomcd to how they act. Then you cinch a large-diameter bit—a lock-miter bit or a panel-raiser—in the collet, approach it the way you



would your typical cove bit. Gotcha!

This is where the chip-limiting design of some bits is of greatest value. It minimizes their grabby nature.

An absolute essential here is having internalized feed direction savvy. Sure. sure. For a lot of work, the direction in which you Iced the work doesn't come up until your fence is set. But feed direction saw)' can be important in positioning the fence so the work has adequate support throughout a cut, or so the fence isn't in your way. One of the biggest factors in controlling the workpiece during a cut is getting the bit's energy working in your favor. Equally important is knowing when that energy can't be harnessed and thus being able to take appropriate measures— setting hold-downs, for example.


Feed Direction

Stop and think before each operation you perform: Which way do 1 Iced the workpiece?

Almost invariably, you want to push the work against the rotation of the cutter. You want the bit to be pushing the work back, whether you are pushing it side to side or away from you. (If you are pulling the work, you want the bit to be pulling back.) An ancillary result of feeding against the bit rotation is that the force generated by the rotation helps drive the work against whatever guide you are using—the pilot bearing or the fence.

Feeding the work with the cutter's rotation gives it the opportunity to take control of the situation. It'll help you move that work. Spinning at 22.000 rpm, it's going to hurry things along, even if it has to pull

Though the feed direction along a fence is always the same—from the right side of the hit to the left—your perception of it may change, depending upon where you stand. If you stand in front of the table, the feed is right to left. If you stand on the right side of the table, it may appear that you push the stock away from you along the fence. And if you stand on the left side, it may appear that you pull the stock toward you. But it's all the same direction.

When working with a piloted bit and no fence, the pilot is the point of demarcation. The bit rotates counterclockwise around the pilot. The feed direction rotates clockwise around the pilot.

If you feed the work in the wrong direction, as shown here, the bit's rotational forces can shoot the work away from you. When it does, the cut goes away too, because the bit pushes it away from the fence.


work leaves the fence.; cut gets shallow awo choppy.

If you feed the work in the wrong direction, as shown here, the bit's rotational forces can shoot the work away from you. When it does, the cut goes away too, because the bit pushes it away from the fence.




work leaves the fence.; cut gets shallow awo choppy.



cutting ow fence side OF groove: feeding right to left is a climb cut.

,your push your push cutting ow fence side OF groove: feeding right to left is a climb cut.

your push

cutting OU fence side Of groove* feeding left to right ; not A climb cut, but bit pushes work away frovk fence.


" bit


-¡your "push cutting on side of groove away from fence: feed right to left ; not a climb cut. and bit pushes WORK AGAINST FENCE-

the work right out of your hands to doit. Believe me: You don't want this.

There's an ancillary result here, too. Feeding with the bit rotation allows the cutter's force to throw the work away from your guide. This isn't a real problem with an edge cut. but it's an unmitigated disaster if you're cutting a groove.

Look at the bit. Even if you can't remember that the router—hanging upside down in a router table—will turn the bit counterclockwise, looking at the bit should clarify which direction it's going to spin. That, coupled with the stipulation that you feed the work against the cutter's rotation, should tell you which way to feed the work, regardless of where you stand and regardless of whether you are pushing the stock away from you, pulling it into you, or shoving it from one side to the other.

But let me put it another way: Feed from right to left across the cutter in most router operations.

Piloted work feeds that way as long as you keep the stock between you and the cutter. If the cutter is between you and the work, the feed direction is left to right.

Fence-guided work feeds the same way ifyou're rou tingan edge— the edge against the fcncc. The work is between you and the cutter; you feed it from your right to your left. (Don't ever set the fence one board's width away from the bit. and then feed the board along t he fence, routing the exposed edge. This traps the work between the bit and the fence, something savvy router-table woodworkers NEVER do.)

The right-to-left feed applies where you are plowing a groove the full width of the cutter. It may not apply where you are using only pan of the bit's cutting width. Here's one of the exceptions:

You are cutting a groove in two passes—forming a y»-inch-wide groove with a '/2-inch straight bit. The first pass is made right to left. But if. in the second pass, the bit is cutting on the side of the groove away from you and toward the fence, you must feed from left to right. (See the drawing at left.) This cut is a bit tricky because the rotation of the cutter will be trying to pull the stock away from the fence as you feed, so set up fingerboards to hold the stock against the fence, both before it contacts the cutter and after.

In this situation, you are probably better off to make the first cut in the usual way. then back the fence away from the bit. Thus, on the second cut, the bit will be working the side of the cut closest to you (rather than to the fence). And you still feed right to left.

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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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