Dust Circles

It is a little known fact that although crop circles have all but been proven as hoaxes by the scientific community, dust circles also exist. Unlike the crop circles in wheat and other agricultural produce, dust circles are created, not in the dust as the name implies, but in solid wood, which in turn creates a lot of dust. (Perhaps better called dust-creation circles).

Some still suspect the hand of man is involved in these creations, but overwhelmingly, the dust circles have been subsequently used in furniture making and period details, disguising their true origins.  They then go by another name, one you may be more familiar with: rosettes, as they also are representative of flowers and this second term is the French diminutive of rose.

In modern times, companies have provided woodworkers with the tools to make their own rosettes that they can use to add period details to their creations, and it is one of these tools that we are looking at today.

Today being the operative word, as this rosette cutter comes from Toolstoday.com

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Unlike many other rosette cutters I have seen in the past, the one from Toolstoday.com has some unique features that are particularly interesting.

For one, the cutter has replaceable/exchangeable carbide edged knives.  Rather than spending money on the shaft and body of the cutter each time, you can buy the much more affordable cutters of different profiles and insert the style you want for a particular job.

Being carbide edged, these are sharp with an enduring edge. There are 15 different rosette profiles to choose from, as well as blank knives that you can have made to a specific custom design.

The cutter may look like a router bit, but it is far from it (and would be incredibly dangerous if mounted in a high speed router).  The shaft has flats on it, which is an excellent feature as these allow the teeth of a drill chuck to grip it firmly and prevent slippage.

They are designed to be used in a drill press, lathe, mill or similar, running around 800 RPM or so.  However, as I found as well, the drill press has to be heavy duty.  My floor pedestal drill may be ok for basic drilling operations, but it was not up to the task of a rosette cutting operation.  Too much runout in the shaft, too much slack in the components, and the rosette cutter had a tendency to whirl offcentre, and the subsequent vibration was not able to be resisted by clamps, table or drill head, and the chuck kept falling out.

However, I may not have the best drill press (yet – as in that one will get sold once I have a replacement lined up at some stage (hopefully the Teknatool DVR drill press won’t take forever to come to market)), but my lathe is well up for the challenge.

With the chuck (and MT2) secured in the tailstock (with the rosette cutter), and the workpiece held in the lathe chuck, the workpiece was spun up to 1000 RPM, and the non-rotating tailstock wound in.  The net result is the same effect, and the whole system a lot more stable than my drill press.

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In this case I was looking more for a test, so grabbed a scrap of timber that the jaws could grip easily.  It was prone to tearout, so the rosette wasn’t as pristine as is possible, but still it confirmed the proof-of-concept.

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(For those playing at home, that happens to be the Titan chuck with Powerjaws – that puppy wasn’t going ANYWHERE!)

Back to the rosette cutter, and just to reiterate those points – tungsten carbide blade edges, interchangeable knives, and solid body – it is a serious rosette cutter.  I was thinking that it would make for an interesting wheel cutter if the particular knives were made, and being interchangeable, you could have a much wide range of sizes, and wheel types without the cost of a full wheel cutter each time.

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You can get this particular rosette cutter here, knives here, and start making your own dust circles!

Linbide Flush Trim Panel Bit

The Router bit-of-the-Month is the Linbide Flush Trim Panel Bit, with twin flutes and interchangeable cutters.

The bit is 1/2″ shank, 19mm diameter and 63mm cutter length.

Linbide Flush Trim Panel Bit

Linbide Flush Trim Panel Bit

This bit is certainly a significant step up from previous flush-trim bits I have used in the past.  It has a twin bearing at the top, which gives a large contact area which is an asset when using a material like MDF as a pattern to follow.  MDF is a great pattern-making material, but it can be compressed slightly if overloaded, causing the bearing to imprint into the surface, resulting in a (very slight) change in size between the template and the resulting object.  Normally not an issue, but sometimes you want it to be exact, and having two bearings to spread the load is an advantage.

There is also an additional, thin bearing at the bottom of the bit, so this is unusual in having one at either end, and makes the bit a lot more versatile for different trimming situations.  It does mean the bit cannot do a plunge into material for internal pattern-following, but it is easy to predrill a starting hole when required.  The bit is not designed to scoop material out of an area where it is not going the full material depth (such as box making), but that is a job for a different router bit – horses for courses.

The other, very noticeable aspect of this router bit is the interchangeable (and reversable) cutters.

Linbide Flush Trim Panel Bit

Linbide Flush Trim Panel Bit

With a concept very similar (if not identical) to many planer blades, when the cutters become blunt / worn / chipped, they can be removed and reversed, exposing a new cutting edge.  Once the second edge is gone, new (tungsten carbide) cutters can be purchased surprisingly cheaply, so there is no need to go down the path of resharpening (and the resulting reduction in cutter diameter).  For a business situation these are ideal to have the machine staying in production for the maximum amount of time.

These bits are often using in a production workshop setting permanently mounted on a router table off to one side so they are ready to go at any time to do a quick trimming job etc.

I’m also seriously considering how I can incorporate the same concept into my workshop, with a second router mounted beneath a router wing on the tablesaw, so it would be ready to go at a moment’s notice, rather than even having to change router bits etc on the main router table.  It doesn’t even need to have a fence, as pattern following only needs a starting pin to rest the work on before engaging the cutter.

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