Breaking Edges

One of the problems with having to rush to finish the Christmas present for my daughter (the toy kitchen), is that I had to skip some steps to get done in time.

As I was designing as I built, I wasn’t sure which edges would end up being the outer areas of the finished product, and thus needing to be rounded over.

Rounding edges over have a couple of benefits – the obvious one is removing sharp edges and corners, making them more child-friendly, and overall nicer to the whole tactile experience.  The other benefit is it reduces the chance of splintering of the edges.

I normally like a 1/16″ roundover – the object retains the overall concept of the square edges, but with a good rounding.  I normally use a plane to achieve this – the Fastcap Artisan Radius Plane (from Professional Woodworkers Supplies).


Fastcap Artisan Radius Plane

It is a great little plane, and works really effectively.  When I first got it, no edge was safe!  Unfortunately for this project, as I had already assembled it, this plane is no good for getting into corners and therefore wasn’t a real option.

Onto plan B.

I thought a Dremel may do the trick, even found some Dremel roundover bits in Masters.  Unfortunately I didn’t read the packet, and it turned out that the bits were specifically for the Dremel Trio.

The idea of using the Dremel high speed rotary should have worked, but I have not been able to find any round-over bit that fits.

So then I decided to look at the Dremel Trio – it isn’t too expensive, and seeing as I had the roundover bits, that might have been a reasonable outcome.  However, once I looked at it closely, I was disappointed in the build quality, especially of the base.


Dremel Trio


Trio Foot

It was really the mechanism for adjusting the base that was really cheap – not the quality that I associate with Dremel, and it really put me off buying it.  With the cost of the Trio, and the set of router bits I needed to get the desired roundover, that started becoming a reasonable portion of much better tools.

It was about now that I was kicking myself for selling the Triton Spin Saw.  Not that I have needed it until now, and holding a tool for years to finally find an actual purpose is obviously not worthwhile.  But it would have fitted the Dremel Router bits, and performed as a large version of the high speed rotary.

I have an old GMC Laminate Trimmer, but found that both for the size of the base, and the extension of the bearing section of the router bit, I couldn’t get into the areas I needed to.

So next, I had a look at the Bosch Blue laminate trimmer, or what the actually call (and more appropriately), the Palm Router.  This has the benefit of taking 1/4″ router bits, and is the machine of choice for the CNC Shark & Shark Pro. A pretty good endorsement on its own!


Bosch Blue Palm Router

It is a very nice-looking tool, and doesn’t try to “bling-out” to create a sale.  My only experience of Bosch is a corded drill I bought about 14 years ago, and despite my best efforts I haven’t managed to kill it yet.  Says something about the brand.  Not sure about the height adjustment on this either – seemed a bit difficult, but they may have been inexperience with the tool.


Festool Laminate Trimmer

Finally, I considered the Festool OFK 500 Q.  There are larger trimmers from Festool, but getting into tight areas is key.  The base looks promising, and the cut-off area from one side allows it to get into pretty tight areas.  There is one ‘interesting’ feature of this tool – it takes proprietary router bits.  However, it does come with what Festool calls an Ogee router bit, which everyone else calls a roundover bit, so that is a bonus.

So those are the choices I am considering.  The Festool is the most expensive, but as I was already willing to get the Dremel (plus the router bits) which came to $200, that is a reasonable amount off the price of the Festool, so it is more justifying the difference.

Got some thinkin’ to do.



Trimming to Perfection

During the Breaking Edges article where I spoke about using the FastCap Fast Break XL to take the final sharp edge off where an edge banding has been applied and trimmed to size.  During that article, I briefly showed how I used a sharp blade to trim the laminate to size. It isn’t the best technique (especially given the occasional time that I perform the task) that unless you have a particularly well trained hand, you can end up with a less-than-perfect edge. (Not bad, not perfect).

Not surprisingly, there is a better way, and FastCap (via Professional Woodworkers Supplies) has that solution.

The problem again, is once a board (melamine, or other veneered board) is cut, the core is exposed and that needs to be covered.  It is typically done with a roll of like material, with a heat-activated glue back.  This roll is wider than the width of the board, and therefore needs to be trimmed accurately.

Overlapping Attached Edging (upside down)

Step one is removing the overhanging end, and that is done with the FastCap Flush Cut pliers.

FastCap Flush Cut Pliers

No point explaining what they do.  I think you can figure that out already!  Another lame parody of a movie title “Flush-Trim is, as Flush-Trim Does” (ok, too lame.  Think Forrest Gump)

Trimmed end

Step two is to trim the sides.  There are different techniques used to achieve that. There is “The Blade” which I have utilised in the past. Flush trim bits, mounted in a trim router is a very commonly utilised method by professional shops. And then there are edge trimmers.  These typically have two blades mounted in a spring-loaded handgrip to be run down the entire length of the board.

But again, there is a better (or in this case, a refined) way.

FastCap have come up with a Quad Trimmer.  This isn’t a Gillette solution (adding more and more blades to a razor, supposedly making it better and better), but instead it has a blade that cuts in either direction, and can be flipped over providing another two blades.

These blades are replaceable, and the Quad Trimmer comes in either in a carbon steel (blue) variety, or a tungsten carbide (red) one (called the Quad Pro).

FastCap Quad Trimmer (Pro)

I am particularly impressed with the simplicity of design.  Both sides of this unit are identical (and identical between the blue and red varieties), which makes the manufacturing much cheaper.  Furthermore, other than the fact that the sides squeeze together, there are no moving parts.  No springs.  Instead there are two pistons, with o-rings at the end (and some lubricant – presumably petroleum or silicon based – to aid with the seal)

Separated sides

The internals look a bit complicated, but it makes more sense in 3D.  There are two narrow tracks, which allows the overhanging edgebanding to pass through before hitting the blade.  There are a couple of full-length shoulders which supports the tool as it runs along the edge.

Performing a Trim

To use the tool, simply grip it, and run it along the edge, in either direction.  Openings in the side allows the waste to peel away freely.  An interesting fact about the blades is the carbon steel blade lasts 5 times longer than regular steel blades. The tungsten carbide blades last 5 times longer than the carbon steel (and therefore 25 times longer than regular steel).  That may help in the decision whether to get the Quad, or the Quad Pro.  However, as is true with other tungsten carbide tipped tools, TCT is not chosen because it can produce the sharpest edge, just one that is significantly more durable.  A steel blade (carbon or otherwise) is in fact sharper than tungsten carbide, and I noticed this when trying out both varieties.  The Pro certainly did the job as neatly as the standard model (and will continue doing so for a lot longer than the blue version can hope to achieve), however there was a noticeable difference (say roughly 10%) in how easy the blade cut the material.  Decisions, decision.

The Quad Trimmer (either variety) can trim boards from 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ thickness.  Neither have any springs, or even (as can be seen above) require a fiddly method to fit the blades.  Both cut in either direction, and with 4 cutters means they last a lot longer between sharpenings, and blade replacements

Precision Trimming

Combining these tools with the Fast Break XL, I guess the next laminate job I do will have an even better finish, and even less occasional damage I get when using the blade I have in the past.

Available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

Limiting your range of plans?

As much as I do enjoy coming up with my own designs and projects, building them in my mind, working through the specifics of design, I also look at a LOT of woodworking plans.

I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t necessarily care whether the plan is in imperial or metric, but I do know a lot of people who are only comfortable working with plans that use the same measurement scale that is ‘native’ to their country, and as such pass up on the opportunity to use some incredible designs just because they are drawn up in inches and not millimetres (or the reverse).

At times, it really does become necessary to work in one, or the other, or worse, mix the two in the same project.  In Australia for example, being metric and mm being our forte, we run into a constant problem that often not only are the plans in imperial, but so are the tools!  Router bits are imperial, that is just a fact.  Often the same with other cutters, such as dado blades etc.  So what do we do?  Abandon projects that require a conversion?  Constantly get out a calculator and divide the fraction then multiply by 25.4? Or just use a better calculator.

The FastCap Converter Pro, from Professional Woodworkers Supplies allows calculations in digital imperial, fraction, and metric all in the same calculation and then have the answer in metric or a fraction (and flick between the two).


Converter Pro

So if you wanted to add 2.52″ + 2 5/32 +37.5mm you can.  Easily.

(The answer is 6 1/8″ or 156.28mm fwiw (and yes, I’d just round it to 156!)

Or subtract the kerf of your blade, measured using a digital caliper.  Or whatever.

The point is, you don’t have to ignore projects, plans, tools that use a measuring system you are not confident with. And that is the advantage that having the Converter Pro in your pocket gives you.

Missing your shed?

Sitting at your desk job, feeling stressed because you can’t make sawdust?  Here is the perfect little gift for a woodworker – a Zen-like desk plane from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.


Stress Relief for Desk-Bound Woodworkers

These are so new that they are not on their website yet (update – they are now), but my guess is they will be very popular for Christmas (or any other excuse!), so if you are looking to get one, I would be ringing and placing your order so as not to miss out on the first shipment.  I have a box in my office where I’ve been emptying the shavings (in addition to the catch tray under the mount) – it is that addictive!  Oh, and I even bought my fine diamond hones in to work today, just to give the blade a touch-up.

It comes with a couple of initial planing blocks, although it would be very easy to make replacement ones once you’ve planed the first two in a flurry of stress relieving shavings.

It complements the Radius Plane as well, so at the moment both are sitting on my desk, surrounded by the evidence of their use.

Radius Plane

Radius Plane

(Oh, and if you were wondering about the different viewpoint and computer between the photo and the video – yeah, I have more than one computer in my office – 10 at last count, from the very ancient to the very modern, and from the very small to the….not quite so small).

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