Router Bit Kick

On a bit of a kick at the moment, each router bit is like a new tool because they work so differently one from another – some do edging, some shaping, some copying, rebating etc etc.  And there are so many interesting ones out there 🙂

Some that have recently caught my attention, and will be covered individually shortly are some Flai bits, to see how they perform compared to the brands I am currently useful.

Computer Depiction of a Flai Router Bit

I haven’t tried the Flai bits yet – I have a couple, and will be interested to see if they, and particularly their edges perform as well as their saw blades.

Double Rebate

This bit is one of the new ones in the Carbatec range – a double rebating bit.  It is used for picture framing, as it cuts a rebate for the glass (either 3mm or 6mm depending on which of the 2 you choose), and a second, wider rebate for the backing board.

One very useful addition for bearing guided bits is a set of bearings of different sizes.  This allows fine-tuning of how the bits work, increasing their versatility even further.

You can buy a set of bearings – there is a set in CMTs range for example

791-703-00 Bearing Set

But for the price, there is a better way: a rebate bit that includes a set of bearings.  The CMT bearing set is $77, for $22 more you get the full rebate set.

835-001-11 Rebate Set

However, what really caught my eye (when I was shown it by a friend) is

The Grand Rabbet Set

835-503-11 Grand Rabbet Set

Now it may not look as impressive in the photo here, but that is in part because you don’t have a scale reference.  The rebate (or rabbet in American) bit itself is 2″ in diameter.  What’s more, those are not bearings in the box – they are a kind of sleeve.  And the concept is significantly cool.  Instead of having a whole set of actual bearings in the range of sizes seen here (which would be very expensive), these are solid, machined sleeves that fit a bearing top and bottom so they run exceptionally well. The bearings themselves are replaceable (if it ever is needed) at a comparatively low cost.

With the cutter at 50.8mm (2″), there is also a sleeve that is the same diameter, turning the rabbeting bit into the largest flush-trim bit/pattern copying bit that I have ever come across.

Looking forward to getting to try the kit out – bring on the rabbet stew!

Item Duplication on the Torque

There are a number of different ways of duplicating a pattern or item in woodworking.  A common method is to screw a pattern to the timber, use a jigsaw, scrollsaw or bandsaw to rough it out, then revert to a pattern copying bit on the router table.  This technique works well, but does have its difficulties, including keeping the template attached to the workpiece (or separating it afterwards, depending on just how strong the carpet tape is!)

The Torque Workcentre offers a couple of unique techniques and solutions to the problem.  The one addressed here is using a pre-cut track to follow a captive pin.  It has consistent results, and is difficult to get wrong.

Step one is to produce the desired track.  You could cut it freehand (and in some cases that would work), but here we want an exact replica of an existing component – in the case a racing kangaroo.

Mount the item to be copied to the underside of the (blank) pattern

Take the object you want to duplicate and fix it to a board.  This may be an existing item, or one you have made up for the task out of MDF for example.  Add a couple of equally thick boards on either side so the pattern has no tendency to rock.  Flip the board over so the original is to the bottom.

Mounting the router

Mount a router bit of equal diameter to the captive pin diameter (which can be seen in the first photo, already mounted in the table)

It is worth noting here the ease for removing and replacing the router, including in this case a Triton 2400W.  The mount is different to that for Makita and Hitashi, but the actual attachment method is the same.  The router plunge base is removed (which is very easy), and the router mounts directly onto the Torque by using the plunge mount shafts.  It was one of the first things that made me sit up and pay attention to the whole Torque Workcentre – using the plunge mount, and especially using the plunge lock to secure the router onto the Torque was such a simple and clever solution that I was suitably impressed (not always an easy thing), and wondered what other clever ingenious things went into the TWC.  I’m a sucker for good engineering.

The router is mounted back into the Torque, and set so the router bit is directly above the copy pin in the table, and its position fixed (there is a lock for both the X and Y axis).

Creating the track

Plunge the router lightly into the surface of the blank pattern, and by holding the original (underneath) directly up against the pin carefully create a channel all the way around.  When you have gotten around first time it gets a lot easier, as you then know where the pattern is as you rout deeper.  Repeat until you have a track that is deeper than the length of the copy pin.  This is the captive track that will allow copy after copy of the part.

Depth Setting

Once you are ready to start creating copies, attach the blank on the top side of the pattern (you can screw it down, or use clamps (I use the Walko clamps on the jig))  With the router mounted directly above the copy pin and a router bit that matches the pin diameter (and the width of the track), plunge the router (turned off) so it goes deep enough to pass all the way through the blank and just into the top of the pattern.  Set the plunge lock to this depth.

First pass

Mount the pattern onto the pin, turn on the router and lightly plunge into the blank.  Run the pattern all the way around (you can see here that I’ve take the photo before completing the kangaroo tail).  This gives you a track to be able to follow visually when you plunge the router deeper for subsequent passes.  Plunge the router deeper and run around the pattern again.  Rinse and repeat until you are almost all the way through.

Completed part copy

With the final pass, the new part can be lifted free – a perfect copy of the original.  Repeat the steps to create part after identical part.  The track can be kept so the part can be made any time in the future.  This technique can be used for all sorts of things, including furniture, inlays, and definitely toys!  You could easily set up a little production run in your workshop to create toy after toy (wooden toys are some of the best presents – how many times have you seen an antique plastic toy?! (yeah, I know I’m being a bit facetious, but you know what I mean – plastic toys just don’t last, wooden toys get handed down from generation to generation)).  Fighting back against the plastic toy generation(s)!!

Bearing up

I was having another look at the Torque Workcentre tonight, and particularly the copy attachment.  I was using a rough template – one cut on the bandsaw and not sanded or finished, and found (obviously) the roughness was transferring.  Of course sanding would help hugely, but I also had another thought: bearings.

Specifically, fitting bearings of various sizes to the bottom of the copying pin.  With a very similar result, and fixing method as is used on bearinged router bits.  Not only then would the copying pin glide over the patterns (particularly when they are not as smooth as perhaps they should be), but also you could change bearing size to get a subtle change in how the pattern is duplicated, both scale and smoothing out (or exaggerating) curves, corners and details.

Such an easy modification as well 🙂  There is another aspect that would work well – not just having the edge to follow with the copy pin, but actually having a track- a slot for the pin to sit in (not unlike the track-following pin used for the table-mounted pin/guide)  Having the copy pin captive makes for a much more controlled situation – if the router bit encounters a knot or sim which would normally result in a kick (or dig-in), the captive guide would help mitigate that, and potentially result in a successful cut, rather than a destroyed piece.

Just wish I had more time to experiment!

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