Upgrading the Mounting Screws

Some router manufacturers seem to cut comers on baseplate attachment. For example, they'll use slender little screws. They'll only use three. They'll use roundhead or panhead screws, and mold coun-terbores in the baseplate so the screw-heads will be recessed, and thus kept from marring the work.

If your router is like this, try to find flathead screws of the same thread to replace the factory-supplied screws. And look into using screws of slightly greater length, too.

Here's the rationale.

Those factory-supplied screws arc okay for attaching the factoiy-supplied baseplate. And they do allow some side-to-side adjustment of the baseplate. But when you switch to a baseplate with greater surface area or to one that will support the weight of the router, you're putting more stress on the fastening points. Counter-boring weakens your baseplate right where it needs its maximum strength. Countersinking doesn't.

In addition, if you switch to a baseplate thicker than the one supplied by the factory, the stock screws may come up short. You need to be sure several of the scrcw's threads will engage those in the router base, especially if the router's going to hang from the baseplate, as in a router table. Go to a longer screw if necessary.

Finally, if the screws seem too frail, get out the drill and the tap. Bore out the holes in the base for larger-diameter screws, then thread the holes with the appropriate tap.

Here's one of the perils ofmakingyour own baseplates. I made a wide baseplate for our Porter-Cable plunger. Using the stock panhead/roundhead screws prompted me to counterbore the plywood too deeply, and the screws pulled through the plywood.

My old Black & Decker router is a swell little machine, but the screws used to attach the factory-supplied baseplate were too short to use with any baseplate thicker than Vu inch. Worse yet, the holes for the screws in the router base were unbelievably shallow;1 couldn't just use longer screws, Itecause they'd hit bottom before they'd cinch down the baseplate. With a little goading from Fred, I drilled the holes through the base, then retapped them. Now one set of screws can be used both for the relatively thin factory basejdate and for custom jobs as thick as Vi inch.

but you may have to apply several coats of scaler to prevent the edges from getting fuzzy. There are several grades of hardboard available, and for this purpose, the harder the better. Quarter-inch hardboard is suitable for many custom baseplates, though it may be a bit limber for some applications.

Some of the better grades of composites—chipboards. flakcboards— will work well for bases, particularly if you happen to have a bit of the fine-textured, applied-surface stuff known as signboard or medium-density fibcrboard (MDF). The hitch with these latter materials is that you probably won't be able to find any less than Vi inch thick.

Plastic laminate is a great material to use in making custom baseplates because it wears well, slides easily on wood, and is easily machinable. By itself, of course, it can't be a baseplate; you have to back it up with plywood or some other material to make it structural. For a low-cost, durable baseplate that you'll be using again and again, it's worth the bother to cement plastic laminate to a '/»-inch plywood base element. If you know anyone who does any counter or cabinet work, you can easily obtain router base-sized scraps of the material.

Acrylic and polycarbonate, two common plastics, arc very popular for custom baseplates.

Acrylic may be more familiar to you as Plexiglas, the brand manufactured by Rohm and Haas, or as Lucite, the brand made by DuPont. There arc odicr brands, as well as generics. This name game is true also of polycarbonate: You may have heard of General F.lectric's Lexan, or Rohm and Haas's Tuffak, without knowing both were brands of poly-

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