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Cutting a groove wider than the bit can create feed-direction surprises.

Most router table operations— including plowing a groove the lull width of the cutter—feed from right to left across the cutter. Widening an existing groove is where you have to thinh. Here's an example:

Needing a Winch-wide groove in 1 ^-inch-square oak edge banding, 1 decided to use a '/2-inch straight and to set the fence to center the groove across the oak's width. The first pass went fine. 1 turned the strip around and started the second pass. The cutter snatched the strip right out of my hand and shot it a good 10 feet across the shop. What gives here!!?

Fred explained what gives. Here, in brief, is what you need to take from it:

• If the bit is widening the groove by cutting on your side (away from the fence), feed righr to left.

• If the bit is cutting on the fence side of a groove, you must feed from left to right.

The latter situation is tricky, even when you are feeding the stock in the correct direction. This is because the rotation of the cut-

Here's a literal climb cut. In making a second pass to widen the groove, I fed this stock in the wrong direction. The cutter snatched the strip from me. shot it across the shop, and in the process, butchered the end of the cut.

ter will be trying to pull the stock away from the fence as you feed. If you must do the cut this way for some reason, set up featherboards to hold the stock against the fence, both before it contacts the cutter and after. (See "Problem Solver" on page 89 for information on making featherboards.) But the best approach is to set up the cut in the first place so that the bit will be widening the groove by cutting on your side of the groove. See "Feed Direction" on page 151 for a fuller explanation.

trick is starting a stopped cut with a fixed-base router.

One option is to tip in or drag in the bit. If it is a bit designed for plunging, meaning that its cutting edges extend across its bottom, you can tip it in. Align the cutter with the Stan mark. Rear the router back SO its baseplate, though not llat on the work, nevertheless is in contact with both the fence and the work.

Turn on the router and carefully, slowly, lower the spinning bit into the work. Practice. You want the axis of the bit aligned with the dado so you don't create a bulb where the bit enters the work.

If the bit is not a plunging type, you can get it into the work by moving the router along the fence as you lower it into the work. The bit will cut a ramp from the surface down to

Tipping in the hit to begin a stopped dado isn't difficult. Just have one spot on the baseplate in contact with the work, and another against the fence. With the bit clear of the work, switch on the router and carefully lower the spinning bit into the work.

Marks on masking tape help you begin and end a stopped groove in the right spots. With the cutting edges parallel to the fence, mark tangents on the tape, as shown. To start the cut (top), align the mark on the workpiecc with the tape marking that will place the bit inside the groove. Then feed the work until the end mark on it aligns with the other tape mark. Tip the work up off the bit (bottom).

Tipping in the hit to begin a stopped dado isn't difficult. Just have one spot on the baseplate in contact with the work, and another against the fence. With the bit clear of the work, switch on the router and carefully lower the spinning bit into the work.

to remove.) With the body of a uy square flat against the fence, buu the blade gingerly against the cutting edge of the bit. Scribc along the blade onto the tape. Then switch the try square to the other side of the bit and repeat.

The correct feed direction for this son of cut is right to left. So line up the mark for the beginning of the groove with the mark on the fence that's to the left of the bit. Now drop full depth, and once the bit's in the work, you can carefully feed the router back along the fence to rout this ramp out to full depth.

Remember, while neither method is foolproof, cither can be done. Practice! Just practice.

You may find that a double-fence guide, where the base is firmly captured between two fences, helps you keep the cut straight.

A second, more foolproof, approach is to drill a staning hole for the bit. Obviously, the hole has to match the diameter of the bit. It should be the same depth as the intended depth of the dado. Set the bit in the hole, turn on the router, and cut.

Marks on masking tape help you begin and end a stopped groove in the right spots. With the cutting edges parallel to the fence, mark tangents on the tape, as shown. To start the cut (top), align the mark on the workpiecc with the tape marking that will place the bit inside the groove. Then feed the work until the end mark on it aligns with the other tape mark. Tip the work up off the bit (bottom).

Using a Forstner bit of the same diameter as the router bit, bore beginning and end holes for each stopped cut. With the router bit in the starting hole, switch on the router and advance it to the end hole. A router with a trigger switch makes this easy to control.

The Router-Table Approach

Stopped grooves arc easily cut on the router table. Easily cut. that is. if the workpiecc is of a manageable size. To make such cuts, you must lower the work onto the spinning bit. move it to make the cut. then lift it free of the bit. Obviously, if the workpiece is too big or unwieldy, you are going to have trouble maneuvering it.

To know where to begin and end a stopped cut. mark the outer edges of the bit on a piece of tape stuck on the fence or rhe mounting plate. (Use art tape rather than masking tape; you'll find it easier

the s tock on to t h e bi i, begin n i ng t he cut, and feed the work to the left. As the end-of-cut mark on the stock comes up to the mark on the fence to the right of the bit, carefully lift the end of the workpiece off the bit. Shut off the router.

Using Stop Blocks

How about stops, you ask.

Stop blocks are good when precisely set. They're real time-savers in doing repetitive cuts, where they supplant layout markings. But a lot of times, especially for one-of-a-kind cuts, stop blocks are just extra setup work. Fred. 1 know, is inclined to eyeball the cut. mark to mark.

Nevertheless, here are a few stop block tips.

Tip One. The easiest way to set stop blocks, I've learned from Fred, is to make an initial cut mark-to-mark. without stop blocks. With the cut done, use it to set blocks for the subsequent cuts. Position the router (or the work, with a router table setup) at the beginning of the cut and attach a stop to the fence. Move the machine (or the work) to the end. and set the second block. This way, you can skip the math and the niler work, the test cuts, and the resetting.

Tip Two. Small hand screws make good stops to use on the router table. You can use any son of clamp to secure little scraps to the fence, but hand screws are pretty direct. The clamp is the block. When you tighten them on the fence, set them just a little above the tabletop so rout-dust can blow under them. Then it won't collect against the stop, throwing off the accuracy of it.

Tip Three. You can make rudimentary (but reusable) stops by lam inating two scraps of plywood to form an end lap. Set the stops against a router T-square, and drive brads or screws through the stop into the square. It may not be pretty, but it works.

Tip Four. If you prefer pretty, make more finished stops. Laminate two pieces of birch plywood, forming an end lap as in Tip Three. Cut them to a handsome profile. Drill a hole for a mounting screw through the part of the stop that'll overlap the fence. Slot the T-square (or other) fence for stop-mounting machine screws. Countersink the underside so the screw heads will be recessed.

Tip Five. "Try This" on page 87 shows stop blocks you can make to use with a router table fence.

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