Tedswoodworking Plans

Ted's Woodworking Plans

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What are you going to do with your router?

It's a versatile machine and can be used in a vast assortment of woodworking operations.

Easiest to tackle first are edge treatments, such as rounding, molding, chamfering, or beading. These depend upon the pilot on the bit to guide the cut. The only adjustment is to set the depth of cut. While most such treatments arc decorative, some are practical joinery cuts. The rabbet is cut with a piloted bit. And special bits are available to shape the edges of boards especially for cdgc-to-edge joinery.

A different range of operations produces grooves. The bits for these cuts have no pilots, so the router must be guided with an edge guide or along a fence. These operations prcducc dadoes and grooves, laps, sliding dovetails, and mortises and tenons.

Eventually, you'll try template work, which will allow you to produce dozens and dozens of exact duplicates. You make a template, clamp or temporarily bond it to the workpiccc, then guide the router along its edge, cutting the work. What bears against the template is a guide bushing, an accessory you install in the baseplate's bit opening. The bushing surrounds the bit with a projecting llange, which references the edge of the template. An alternative to the guide bushing is a pattern bit. which has a bearing on the shank. With a pattern bit. the bearing references the template.

You may try cutting curves and circles. Or surfacing wood. The possibilities arc endless.

But before you plunge into router woodworking, there are some basics you should know that will make your endeavors safer, easier, and altogether more satisfying.


To avoid problems, you should be as methodical as you can in setting up a cut. The more precise you cxpcct a cut to be, the more precise you have to be in setting up. You have a bit to chuck in the router. In every case, you have a vertical adjustment to make to the router. In some cases, you also have a horizontal adjustment to make. The workpiccc has to be secured. All of these preparations offer opportunities for something to go wrong. The trick in routing—as in all woodworking—is to get the setup right. If not the first time, at least before you actually cut wood.

Let's take each setup step in order, anticipate the problems, and find ways to avoid each of them.

Chucking the Bit

Read over the section on using bits in the chapter 'Bits." There you'll find detailed suggestions on checking over the bit and. if it has one. its pilot. You need to match the cutter to the cut as well as possible. You will get best results if the bit is sharp, the pilot bearing clean and free-spinning, and the shank clean and smooth—nc scoring, no rust.

If the bit is damaged, try to fix it before using it. Replace that sticking or frozen pilot bearing. Have it sharp ened if it is dull. Try to remove any scoring from the shank. Some experts advise really polishing bit shanks, so they arc shiny, not just clean. If rhe bit is really spoilpd goods— chipped carbide, shank scored beyond repair—chuck it. Meaning throw it away.

Look over the collet, too. Like the bit shank, it should be clean and smooth. No rust, no galls, no deformities. Inspect the collet socket and the collet nut, too.

How easy it is to actually "chuck" the bit into the router depends a lot upon the router design, as explained in the chapter "Routers." A lot of router users like to separate the motor from the base to change bits. Obviously, you can't do this with a plunge router, and even some fixed-base routers are impossible, as a practical matter, to separate. You often have to simply rest the router on its side and then work within the confines of the base.

Bits are easier to slip in and out of the eollet if their shanks arc clean and polished to a shine. Use an ordinary abrasive kitchen pad to shine up a bit shank after each use. Keeping after it is the best way to prevent rust and tarnish from forming.
With the motor removed from the base,you can use the workbench to heIpyou loosen a jammed collet nut. Brace the wrench on the spindle against the bench top, and put your w eight on the wrench on the collet n ut.Just don't get your fingers between the wrenches.

You shouldn't have to be an arm-wrestling champ to tighten the collet. Tight enough is the one-handed squeeze, with the wrenches fitted on their respective parts of the collet so that you can grasp both in one hand.

Loss of Depth Setting

Ever had this problem? You chuck a bit in the collet, very carefully tighten it. set the depth of cut, and go to work. When you're done, then you discover that the cut ended up being deeper than you planned. What a headache!

There arc a half-dozen things to check.

The first is the position of the bit in the collet. You can check for slippage by putting an alignment mark on both the bit and the collet with a marker. Make a test cut. It should be clear whether the bit has moved. Another sign of slippage is scarring on a previously smooth bit shank.

If the bit worked its way out of the collet, then you need to inspect the collet and the bit for obvious damage. Is the collet galled or deformed? Is the bit's shank scored or nicked? If the damage existed when you installed the bit for the cut, it could have prevented the collet from really holding the bit.

Did you use a reducer? This is a split bushing you slide on a '/«-inch shank to make it fit in a '/2-inch collet. It's not a good way to accommodate small-diamctcr shanks in large-diameter collets. Some router manulacturers provide such a reducer to avoid the expense of designing, making, and supplying two complete collets.

Think about how you tightened the collet. Was the bit bottomed? You need to back it out of the collet about !/ioinch before cinching down

This bit has obviously been "spun"a few times. For some reason—it's hard to determine exactly why—the hit wasn't held tightly enough by the collet. The throes of cutting caused enough resistance to slow its rotation speed below that of the router motor, and the collet spinning around the shank caused this scoring. The scoring can probably be remosed with some emery cloth, hut it just might make the shank too undersized to use.

the collet nut. Vibration might have caused the slippage if you didn't do this. Or the collet might have caught the transition fillet between the bit's body and its shank in the collet, preventing it from getting a full grip on the shank.

If it is clear the bit moved, but you can't pinpoint a reason, have the bit's shank measured with a micrometer. If it is undersized by more than 2 or 3 thousandths, or if it tapers, that is probably the problem. The only solution is to replace the bit (or, if it is an assembled bit, the arbor).

On the other hand, if the bit didn't move, if it is still just as you installed it. then the loss of depth setting probably lies in the router's base. In a fixed-base router, the base is the means for adjusting and holding a depth-of-cut setting.

The most obvious cause of a loss of depth setting is that you did not tighten the base clamp sufficiently. Though it may seem tight, rough handling and the motor's starting jerk may shift the motor slightly in the base. A poorly designed clamp

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