A Light Fitting

I was asked to produce a couple of wood ‘rings’ so a couple of large diameter brass light fitting could remain horizontal even though the location was a sloping beam.  I had a brass fitting, and a piece of cardboard onto which was drawn the roof angle.

Thinking about the best way to do this had a few options, including lathe, bandsaw and drum sander.  But what I decided on was to cut a couple of circles on the router table, glue them together then machine the required angle.

Router Table Circle Jig

This is my router table circle jig – a very simple design for cutting accurate circles.  I use the freehand router table guide (with dust extraction), MagSwitched down onto the cast iron table.

With a piece of pine attached to the nail pivot point, a light groove is routed into the board. The board is then removed, and the excess cut away on the bandsaw.  The board is then returned to the router table to complete the cut.

This is done for all four boards (I’ll get to that in a sec, but yes – all four).

Next, the inside disk is cut away.

Cutting a circular opening

I’m sure there other ways – but this seemed as good as any at the time (and not a jigsaw in sight).

Two of the disks are then glued together (with the grain direction set 90 degrees to the previous to maximise overall strength).  I did this for all four rings, then glued together to create two thick rings.

Glueup was done with all four glued and clamped at once.

Clamping up

I then created a jig to stabilise the ring, at the exact angle required for the fitting.

Angle Jig

It may look quite sophisticated, but all it is, is offcuts from the original ring cuts.  This way I could drop ring after ring into place and they could all be sanded to the same angle.

In this case, I only needed two!

I originally fed this whole unit into the drum sander a few times, but it was taking forever (too fine a grit sandpaper, or something wasn’t just working right), so I moved the jig across to the Torque Workcentre.

Same concept, but this time bringing the tool to the workpiece, not the other way around.

Torque Sanding

This didn’t take long.  Once sanding occurred over the entire ring, the job was finished.  After a quick trip back to the router table with a round-over bit to break the edges, the job was complete.

The Ghost of Weekends Past

Not really sure what happened to the weekend – vanished in a puff of ethereal smoke (or was that just a cloud of MDF dust that got so dense it momentarily became self-aware?).  The workshop is covered in the stuff, despite 20 cubic metres/hr of air filtration, and the 2HP TruPro dusty.  Some of the tools are insufficiently (dust) guarded, particularly the router table, which, being under significant rework has lost connection to the standard collection system.  If all the MDF dust got wet, it’d probably papier mache together into to a mold that I could cast copies of Stu’s Shed from.

Come the end of the current project, there will have to be a major cleanup/dust-off out there, and a vow (which I typically can never stick to) of not starting any more projects until the proper systems are fully in place and working.

I was out there last last night (hope the neighbours are still talking with me!) fighting to get the kitchens close to completion.

Aaron from Torque Workcentres came for a visit yesterday morning (we started the day at 6:30am to get the maximum possible done), and we got my Torque Workcentre running like an impressively well oiled machine (or not, as the case may be – inside joke).  It is working exceedingly well – the main arm that supports the tool (router typically) now glides along the X axis with the lightest touch of a finger.  There are more adjustments for the machine than I was aware of – there has been a lot of thought put into the engineering, and it really makes a difference all the subtle tweaks that can be done.  I’ll document those in future articles.

I was going to have the MDF top flush with the cast iron router table, but late last night got sick of trying to get it all sorted, so decided instead to stick with how it was originally designed, and mounted the MDF directly to the workcentre.  I still maintained the cast iron router table at one end, and just accepted I’ve lost some working range.  It isn’t a huge amount, and it may not have any real impact on me anyway – time will tell.  I was using the router table, and the Torque Workcentre happily last night, so both router positions are well justified.  If you don’t have/need a cast iron router table, then cutting an opening for the router mounting plate at the right end of the table, directly into the MDF is a good solution.

I didn’t photograph it, but I set the pin routing guide into the table – this is a metal pin with a small diameter end (7mm) that engages into a template channel so the overhead router cuts identical items.  In this case, my “channel” was a single hole, and the router was offset to one side, resulting in probably the easiest circle I have ever cut or routed.  Ever!

In this case, I was only routing a partial depth pattern – a circle cut with a cove bit, repeated in 4 locations and with 2 different diameters to produce the stove ‘elements’

Kitchen Detail

I was quickly switching from tablesaw, bandsaw, disk sander, linisher, router table, torque workcentre, drill press and Domino, turning out component after component.  When a workshop is set up properly, it is amazing how easy and quickly tasks become.

Cut an opening for a sink? Done.  Duplicate the opening on the router table? Done.  Stack-cut a handle for the oven, then round the edges? Done.  Join it accurately and strongly to the project? Done. Elements cut, wheels made. Fun stuff.

Cutting Toy Wheels

Using the Carb-i-tool wheel cutter, scrap MDF was utilised to produce stacks of wheels.  Here the Lidwig Claw can be seen being used to good effect, holding the 4″ dust collection hose right at the point of shaving and dust creation.

So a profitable weekend – just don’t know where it went so fast. There is still a few small tasks to do to finish the cabinets off, then they can head out to their new homes for painting, and playing.

Upgraded Bandsaw Circle Cutter Jig

Way way back in the history of this blog (around Episode 6 if anyone cares) I did a video on a basic circle cutting jig for the bandsaw.  That jig was decommissioned and abandoned after a few years of service as part of the cleanup during the shed expansion, but it has taken from then until now for me to do something about replacing it.  I’ve had plans in my head for a new version for a long time, and finally I have realised those into a new jig (which is still a bit of a work-in-progress).

So let’s jump into what I have been working on.

I started by raiding the jig drawer, and found some useful components that looked like they would work with my mental image of the new jig.  My main thing I wanted to be able to do with the new one, was adjust the diameter of the circle without having to use the agricultural method of hammering in a nail and clipping off it’s head to form a point to mount the work on.  So a rail was needed.

The other ‘problem’ I wanted to solve was angled circle cuts, which have a different bandsaw blade path, and over time would end up with the jig rather chewed up.  Will still be working on this as the jig develops.

Jig Components

Jig Components

What we have here is some Incra Rule Track, the Incra Mitre Slot runner (not sure it’s real name), a mitre slot lock nut and some scale rule.

I wanted to use the mitre slot lock as the pivot point – setting its position along the track and it then locks down with a hex key. I needed to put a pivot point into it, and what I came up with was a threaded bolt through the track lock, which is then sharpened to a point to mount the workpiece.  As much as my shed is a woodworking shop, there is still a number of invaluable metal-working tools in there and one that is invaluable for jig building is a thread cutting set.

Metal Thread Cutting

Metal Thread Cutting

It doesn’t have a large range, but there is enough in there for the sorts of small-scale jigs etc that I need to make.  Jigs are, after all, one of the most useful things in a workshop, so making a jig is an artform in itself. (Not that I’m particularly good at it, but I do recognise their value!)

Measuring Thread Size

Measuring Thread Size

First step was choosing a suitable bolt that I wanted to use, and then determining what thread size it was to cut the matching threaded hole in the Mitre Lock. There is a tool in the kit to determine the thread on a bolt, and in this case I was able to work out that it was M5 0.8 pitch.

Drilling the hole to be tapped

Drilling the hole to be tapped

Next, using the pro drill press table’s advantages with the clamps etc, I was able to hold down (with the aid of some Vice-Grips) the small Mitre Lock to drill the hole to be tapped.  I used a 4mm bit for this, as it will be tapped out to 5mm by the thread cutter.

Cutting the thread

Cutting the thread

Using the correct thread cutters, I then tapped the hole, first with the least aggressive 5mm 0.8 cutter, and progressing through to the final cutter which produces the sharp crisp thread required.  Using one is pretty easy, and it is just a matter of taking it slow, backing the tool off every 1/4 turn to break off the swarf that is forming, then continuing deeper and deeper.  This is repeated for the next two thread taps until the thread is fully formed.

Formed Thread

Formed Thread

Here is the final hole produced, and all tapped ready for use.  You can also see in this photo the grub screw (hex drive) that is used to lock the Mitre Lock into the track

Inserting the Bolt

Inserting the Bolt

The bolt is then threaded through, and with the aid of the Vice-Grips again, the head of the bolt was sanded right down on the linisher. Then, with a combination of metal files, the Triton Rotary Tool and the linisher, the bolt was shortened, and sharpened to a point.

Ripping the Jig

Ripping the Jig

The body of the jig has been made out of this heavy ply I have held onto for years, waiting for a good use to put it to.  It happens to be the ply that is used around electrical cabinets etc, and is quite weather (and electrically) resistant.  It has a shiny, smooth side, perfect for jigs.  This is probably one of the first photos on here of me actually using my tablesaw, so have included it for that reason (I normally don’t remember to take a photo while ripping a board!)

Routing the Dado for the Track

Routing the Dado for the Track

I wanted a stopped dado for the track (in other words a slot that doesn’t extend the entire width of the board, so as much as I was hoping to use the dado blades on the tablesaw for a legitimate job, I still needed the router table for the task.  The Incra fence again came into its own, allowing me to accurately position the fence so the track was an exact fit. I did use the micro positioner to do a couple of final fitting runs, taking off about 3/1000″ each pass to get the fit perfect.

The end of the stopped dado has rounded corners as a legacy of being cut with a router bit, so I needed to either square those corners up, or round the track over to match.  I have a small tool I bought from Carb-i-tool years ago, perfect (and designed) for this task.

Corner Squaring Chisel

Corner Squaring Chisel

A few quick raps with my home-made redgum mallet, and the corner is cut square.  It is a cool design, and the tool has a rebate on two sides so it fits perfectly in the corner over the top of the round section that needs removing.

After testing with the track, I decided I wanted to set it a bit deeper, and rather than making more passes on the router table, I had the perfect tool for that job too…..

HNT Gordon Shoulder Plane

HNT Gordon Shoulder Plane

…..my HNT Gordon ebony shoulder plane.  Sometimes a hand tool is the perfect tool (and yes, I am sure there are many other there that would argue that a hand tool is ALWAYS the perfect tool, but I don’t mind murdering a few electrons on the way).  It can be set so fine to take of just a fine shaving, delicately thin.  You can’t beat the feeling of working with a fine tool.

Track in Position

Track in Position

The track and Mitre Stop is now in position, and the track is significantly longer than the jig so I can cut rather large circles if required.  The size of the base board was chosen to roughly correspond to the width of the bandsaw table (including the area between the blade and the riser (the throat)), so the workpiece has plenty of support.

Marking up slider position

Marking up slider position

Another tool getting actually used in a real job was the Woodpecker T Square, used here to find the track that the bandsaw blade will follow, and therefore where the slider needs to be located.  I’ve used the Incra slider here because it can be fine-tuned to fit in the mitre slot of the bandsaw table for a good, sliding fit which can be adjusted and finetuned while the jig is fitted to the table with a simple hex key.   It also means I can reposition the slider easily, if I want to use this same jig on another bandsaw.  In my case this is important, as I am designing this primarily for my Jet 14″, but will also want the jig for cutting circles on the Triton 12″ bandsaw when I run my toy-making courses at Holmesglen.

The first cut

The first cut

Finally, we are ready for the very first cut, the one that the blade will follow for horizontal circle cuts.  This is done with the slider in position, but no table stop is yet fitted, as I have not determined its position.

circle-cutter-15I’ve then fitted a stop to the underside, which catches the edge of the table so the jig can’t pass through too far.  In this case I’ve used a bit of Incra rail which is a bit of a waste, but it was the perfect size, so sacrificed to “the cause”

All ready

All ready

The track is in position, the stop is in place, the initial cut is made, the jig is ready to go.

Initial cut

Initial cut

A board is located onto the pin set to the desired radius, then (with the bandsaw running obviously), the jig is slid forward until the stop on the underside connects with the table.

Cutting the Circle

Cutting the Circle

The board is then rotated through the blade as it pivots on the pin until the circle is complete, and as seen here, breaks free of the outside stock.

Backing out of the cut

Backing out of the cut

You then back the blade through the initial slot cut until the entire jig is free of the blade, and remove the cut circle.

Circle Cutting on the Bandsaw

Circle Cutting on the Bandsaw

Circle cutting on the bandsaw – a simple task that takes a lot less time than it took to write this article!

Circle Cutting with the Router

There are a number of different methods for cutting a circle, and depending on what diameter is required will often dictate which method is used.

For very large diameters (and we are talking in the order of 1m or larger) the router is a very useful tool.

Get Woodworking in Williamstown (2/ 239 Kororoit Creek Rd Williamstown VIC 3016, ph (03) 9399 1963) have come up with the Rout-A-circle ($27.50), which attaches to the fence of your router to make cutting very large circles easy.

The Rout-A-circle has instructions for attaching to the fence of Hitashi, Makita and Triton routers.  Not being in a position to try it on the other two, I did give the Triton a go, and it was a breeze to attach, and cut the circle.

The largest circle it can manage is approximately 2600mm diameter, which isn’t too shabby. Given how easily it fitted to the Triton fence, you would almost swear it was made with the Triton in mind.

Original Fence

Original Fence

The original Triton fence (which attaches via the quick-release coach bolts) has a circle cutting capability, although it is very limited to about 300mm diameter. Pictured here is the triple-fluted Carb-i-tool spiral router bit which is excellent for this sort of operation.

Preparing for Upgrade

Preparing for Upgrade

One of the times it is very handy having more than one router – also means I have more than one fence, so I am able to upgrade one with the Rout-A-circle, and leave the other in its original configuration.  Not that changing back and forth takes more than a few seconds.

The first step is to remove the non-required componentry. The bolt, washer and butterfly nut are reused to hold the Rout-A-circle in place.

Rout-A-Circle attached

Rout-A-Circle attached

The Rout-A-circle attaches very easily using that existing bolt and nut, and it fits neatly in the slot in the bottom of the router plate.

Upgraded Fence

Upgraded Fence

Maximum Circle Radius

Maximum Circle Radius

Here you can get a better idea of just how large a circle this jig allows. You can’t see it particularly well in this photo, but at the other end of the jig, there is a raised portion.  It is this end that is used when attaching to the Makita or Hitashi routers.

Along the length of the jig, there are holes to take the supplied screw, which is screwed into the workpiece at the radius required.  The Triton fence then allows this radius to be fine tuned if a hole isn’t perfectly located for the job.

First Pass Cut

First Pass Cut

This is the first pass – I took a number of passes mainly because I didn’t bother trimming away the excess material with a jigsaw or similar before starting the routing.  If I was working in a more substantial material, trimming away the excess is definitely recommended.

Circle Cut Completed

Circle Cut Completed

This final shot shows the piece cut away.  The block of wood underneath is there to allow the router bit to fully penetrate without cutting into the table.  Given the table in this case is cast iron, that is rather advisable!

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