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Probably the first step past the scrap-board fence every router woodworker makes is to the T-square. He (or she) glues and screws two straight-and-truc scraps together in a T-shapc. One piece, called the crossbar or the head, butts against the edge of the workpicce: the odicr. called the fence or the guide or the blade, extends at a right angle across the workpicce surface.

Router Square

T-squares are easy to make, so make yourself several different sizes. Use a little one for relatively small work, a big one for long cuts.



How Make Square





T-squares are easy to make, so make yourself several different sizes. Use a little one for relatively small work, a big one for long cuts.

The big advantage of die T-square is that it saves setup time. Instead of having to mark the full length of the dado, usually a single tick-mark is sufficient. So long as the fence is perpendicular to the crossbar, you can be assured that the dado will be square to the edge.

In addition, the crossbar acts as a brace, allowing you to secure the typical T-square with a single clamp. If you were to guide a router along an unadorned board fence secured with a single clamp, that damp would become a pivot. With the crossbar butted firmly against the workpicce edge, that pivoting can't happen.

The typical T-square has a fence between 30 and 36 inches long and a crossbar between 12 and 18 inches long. (See T-Squarv.) For narrow work, a smaller guide is more manageable. If you do a lot of cabinet work, make a really big T-square, and cut both case sides at one time.

A lot of woodworkers make their T-squares like capital T's, which is to say without extensions. My T-squares are like lower-case i's. I

make the fencc extend 4 to 6 inches beyond the crossbar to steady the router as it exits a cut. This is particularly useful with big routers and those with straight-edged or oversized baseplates.

You can make a T square from straight, defcct-frce hardwood scrap, but I alwa)^ use plywood for the fence, if not for the crossbar. Plywood is strong and stable. Half-inch material is satisfactory for the typical fence, in my experience, but by all means use ft-inch material if you are concerned about deflection. The crossbar should be Winch stock. When you cut the fence and the crossbar, be sure the edges are perfectly parallel.

Glue and clamp the pieces together, and check to be sure they are exactly square. An out-of-square T isn't a jig, it's scrap. When the glue dries, drill pilot holes and drive a few screws of the appropriate length to reinforce the glue joint.

Every T-square I've seen has notches routed in the crossbar. There seem to be two schools of thought here.

For those of the first school, the notches have the purpose of posi tioning the T-square. After assembling a T-square, you carefully rout a dado across the crossbar on each side of the fence, using the bit that will be used with the T-square. The jig can then be positioned simply by-aligning the crossbar dado with the layout marks on the work. This is a useful approach, especially if you do a /of of dadoes of one particular width. But for some ofus.it means havinga different T-square for every router-and-straight-bit combination possible in our shops.

I'm frankly of the other school. To those of my ilk, the notches aren't purposeful, they arc simply consequences of routing through dadoes. 1 use a different technique for lining up the guide, the so-called T-square Locating Jig.

T-Square Locating Jig. A scrap of thin plywood or hardboard or even plastic is all you need to make this jig. The idea is to trim a 6- to 12-inch-long strip of material to match the distance between a bit's cutting edge and the router's baseplate edge. With this jig, you can speedily and accurately position a T-square, using a mark for the dado's edge as a starting point.

Router Edge Guide Jig

To make the jig, clamp a fence near the edge of a workbench. Butt the jig stock to the fence and tack it down with a couple of brads. Guide the router along the fence, cutting through the jig stock. Pry up the jig and remove the brads. You now have a jig to position your T-square when using that routcr-and-bit combination.

Mark the jig indelibly with the bit and router used. 1 like to drill a ' hanging hole" in the jig. too.

To use the jig, measure and mark one edge of each dado. You don't have to square a line across the workpiece. You don't have to mark

Rather than drive nails into our maple bench top, I positioned an old painted shelf-board along the edge, then clamped it and the T-square to the bench. I tacked an odd-shaped scrap ofMason-ite in place, one edge right against the square, the other overhanging the shelf-board. Then I pulled the router along the square and trimmed off the excess Masonite.

both edges. Just a single tick-mark per dado is all you need.

Align one edge of the locating jig with the mark, and butt the T-square against the other edge. The T-square's crossbar will ensure that the fence is square to the edge. The locating jig ensures that the fence is the proper distance from the dado location.

Quick, simple, and direct.

If you feel like being picky, make sure you have a different jig for each dado-cutting bit in your collection. This doesn't mean simply one for each size of bit you have, but one for every individual straight. Your Vi-

inch-shank 34-inch straight may actually be slightly different in cutting diameter than your Winch-shank bit of the same size. And it should go without saying—but I'll say it anyway—that you can't use a jig cut with one router to set the T-square for use with a different router.

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