Routers have revolutionized woodworking over the past forty years. They have helped bring professional furniture-making capabilities to millions of people at an affordable cost. In the bargain, routers have spawned an industry devoted to improvements and accessories that make woodworking even more safe, convenient and accurate.
One of the most useful of these accessories is the router table, which turns the portable router into a precision stationary machine. When combined with today's sophisticated bits and cutters, the router table begins to assume the functions of a small shaper, further expanding the capacity of this remarkable tool.
Our latest version of the "ultimate" router table, which we showcase on page 30 of this issue, takes things even further. We made it a point to include all the features we couldn't find in any other single router table—storage, dust collection, noise abatement, portability, remote switching, and a handwhcel-con-trolled bit raising mechanism—to make this the finest, most flexible router table we've seen. Many thanks to the AW staff—especially Fred Matlack and assistant editor Andy Rae—for their efforts in designing and building the table.
Now that the router table is a reality though, I can't help thinking how the router and other power tools can never entirely take the place of hand tools and manual skills, at least for me. While I'm a firm believer that power tools arc essential for efficiency in the shop, I've always been a little bit bored by the mechanical precision of operations that I've jigged up to the point of mind-Icssncss. Sure, you get predictable results, but there's something missing.
The missing ingredient is the human touch—that subtle, almost intangible ingredient that distinguishes the finest workmanship. I crave those slight surface imperfections that tell me a hand plane has been there. I look for those little chiseled corners where a router bit couldn't possibly have been. I delight in chamfers that taper gracefully, with a life and spirit you am't get from a carbide cutter. When I'm building something myself, I need to be more personally involved with the process—to use my eyes and hands to create my own vision of beauty—to add the nuances that make the piece distinctly mine.
Even in my professional woodworking business, where time is money, I do as much hand work as possible where it really makes a difference. For instance, I've found that hand-planing a board doesn't take a whole lot longer than stroke-sanding it, but the differences in clarity and character arc profound. I believe that once you get beyond the mere mechanics of constructing something, you're just beginning to enter the realm of personal expression. For me, this is where the real joy of woodworking begins.
Ellis Walentine Executive editor
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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.