Right Said Fred

It’s crunch time. With the router table that is.

I spent some time yesterday getting the table together properly, drilling the final holes to join each wing together (some holes were missing – fell out in transit).  It didn’t go well.  The machined plate (the one I had with the insert hole cut out) had serious warps – stress relieving both the original stresses once the webbing had been cut, and the results of heat from the machining process.  The warping was both longitudinally, and laterally, and even after all the care in bolting the sections together trying to take out as much as possible, it was still excessive to the point that I finally thought that the only solution will be abandoning the project.

This morning I went through my options – more machining (where?), alternate plates (wrong shaped cavity), abandoning the drop-in plate (undesirable, but one real option), abandoning the cast iron top altogether and going with a Pro Router Top from Professional Woodworkers Supplies (most likely final solution), and a bit of a stab-in-the-dark – firing up the belt sander.

This may not have occurred to me, except for the recent Hall Table course at Ideal Tools, and Terry’s enthusiastic use of the belt sander in production woodworking.  I don’t have a 7kg Festool, only a cheap’n’nasty GMC with a small contact area.  Oh well, you work with what you have.

Nipped off to the hardware store for some new belts for it – 40, 80 and 120.  I fired up the 80 grit initially, but it wasn’t achieving much, and when I got too close to the newly machined edge of the cavity, the belt caught and ripped itself off the sander.  Bugger – ok, change to a 40 grit (significantly aggressive looking thing) and go again.  I blew one of the 40 grit belts as well, and was going to throw them in the bin until I remembered the Blowfly – I can use the cloth-backed paper in the blowfly and at least get some more use out of it.

I treated the top in the same way as you would flatten a wooden tabletop – just a lot harder.  Sanding, sanding, checking, sanding – hmm – seems to be working.  Using a straight-edge to check progress, and testing the insert in place (sanding was only done with the plate removed).

Sanding the top flat

Sanding the top flat

The 40 grit did cut significant tracks into the top, and they will take some removing, but that will happen over time (hitting it with 80 grit ROS each time I condition the top until it is scratch-free).  But actual progress was being made. The top was finally becoming flat.

Sanding Sanding Sanding

Sanding Sanding Sanding

I then hit it with the ROS, first with 40 grit, then 60, then 80 (although I needed to do more with the 40 grit realistically).  Would have gone longer, but the ROS shredded its mounting pad.  So that was enough to call the sanding evolution quit for the day.  I then gave it a quick polish, so it was a bit protected.  Used a paraffin wax block, then instead of the normal kitchen green scourer, I decided the Spider should put in an appearance.  Boy did that save some elbow grease!

Spider for Top Regeneration

Spider for Top Regeneration

So that is where I got to – there is a lot to do with the table, but the top seems to be a go.  The base is still a long way from an optimum solution.  In the meantime, I used the router in the forward position for a different job.

Table in Use

Table in Use

Sure is nice having a functional router table again!

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