Detail Work

Had a small window to make some progress on the toy kitchen, so took that time to rout some 3D carving (with the 3D Router Carver friom Carb-i-tool) into the side panels before assembly.

These were much more popular before CNC machines were readily commercially available.  Strangely though, most workshops don’t have CNC available, so it is a bit surprising that sales of the 3D carver have so diminished.

I find these are pretty easy to do, and a typical pattern takes me about 10-15 minutes.

3D Carver template in place

3D Carver template in place

As the router bit is mounted with a large cone, as the width of the template opening increases, the depth of the router carving goes deeper.

Completed carving

Completed carving

This was the deer profile which I hadn’t used before, but worked very well.

I also had carved a puma, an eagle and a horse.

Puma

Puma

So the final result is each end will be different from one another.  I then glued up each rail & stile, with raised panel, clamped up with the Bessey clamps purchased earlier in the year (I could really do with more of those!)

Next step is to complete the carcasses, and put some flesh on the bones of the units.  Once that is done, it is a matter of adding the details that will set the project apart, and the more, the merrier.

Hopefully it will all come together pretty quickly – I am feeling a bit of time pressure, not only because of it now being December (?!), but the added burden of the house/shed relocation (and the inevitable preparation of the current place, which will be a lot of work, and also has to be done during all the free time I have between now and Christmas!)  Best I knock this project over very quickly!

 

Skirting the Edge of Boxmaking

I’ve been intending to get more into some of the classic projects, and time always seems to be against me, but finally got a window of opportunity to start a quick box for Xmas.

Still plenty of steps to go (did the glue-up this evening), so it is progressing at least.

Dovetailed Sides

Dovetailed Sides

The sides have all been (machine) dovetailed. (Ie, using the router table rather than cutting them by hand – leaving that for another day!)  The outside of the box is yet to be sanded, let alone have any finish applied.

The dovetails were cut with the Gifkins Dovetail Jig – a very quick, and successful method for firing out full dovetails. A slot was cut around both the top and bottom of the box.  The lower slot is for the base, with a rebated edge to fit neatly into the slot and sit flush with the table.  In this case, there is also an upper slot which is for a sliding lid.

Lid Assembly

Lid Assembly

The lid is made with a slot all round, both for the tongue and groove joint for the frame, as well as the floating raised panel.  The raised panel was made using a rounding panel bit on top, and a rebate cut on the bottom.

Not much to look at currently – will have some more photos during the finishing phase of the box.

Unorthodox Triton Router Table Mod Part 1

I’ve had a few queries about my unusual table top in my recent post about Router Tables. So to cause a bit of controversy, here is the article I wrote at the time about the modification. To clarify however, I still use an original, unmodified Triton Router Table quite successfully, so this is another one of those “I’ll always try to modify everything kind of thing!”

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I have been using the Triton Router Table for a few years now (with the Triton Router pretty much permanently mounted), and have found it to be an excellent way of performing most router operations. In fact, other than some totally unavoidable operations where I need to do freehand routing, I wouldn’t dream of not using a router table. As things have progressed, I have been expecting more and more from my equipment, in their capabilities, and accuracies, and have been reaching a point where I needed to use bigger and bigger router bits, and/or a very high degree of accuracy. As I have written in another article, (which I’ll post here soon) the micro-adjusters for the Triton Router Table are excellent for achieving precise fence movements.

When using some very large router bits (such as for raised panel joints), I found that the Router Template Guide plate got in the way, so I wasn’t able to lower the bit far enough to achieve the cut that I wanted. To get around this, I had three options. The first was really not an option at all (lowering the router). The second was raising the work, which although ok, made it difficult to achieve the same setup every time (you don’t want each door on a raised panel cabinet looking different!) The final solution was to make the Triton Router Table top thicker. This had an added benefit of allowing a 1-piece top, which meant that there was no chance for the front edge of a piece of work to catch the top of the table at all, or worse, experience any dip or rise as it progressed past the router bit.

Photo 1 – Original Triton Router Table

There were a few things that I demanded of the upgrade.
1. Retain the ability to use the fence, perform through-table bit changing, and still be able to use the various router table jigs (finger joiner, biscuit joiner, jigsaw table).

2. The modification must be fully reversible, which adds an extra dimension to the design.

3. The table must still be able to take a full range of bit sizes, from the 3mm Triton bit, through to panel making bits, without ending up with a huge cavity when using the smaller bits.

4. Safety must not be compromised.
My solution was to attach a new single piece of aluminium sheet over the entire tabletop, while still leaving the slot for the sliding portion uncovered, and therefore usable as originally intended. After much thought, I finally clicked to the best way to do this- attach the new top to the removable router holding plate, so that it gets removed at the same time as the router is.

Click here to read full article

Router bit of-the-month (January)

The router bit-of-the-month featured in Episode 19 is a raised panel bit from Carb-i-tool and has their typical quality features: low friction coating, high quality carbide, anti-kickback design and importantly, accurate dimensioning of the shaft. I have quite a few Carb-i-tool bits, as you may have gathered from other posts, and I always have a great deal of respect for the quality of the bits (and the subsequent quality in finish they produce), as well as the (for me) very important fact that it is a local manufacturer turning out such a good product.

There are a number of profiles available for the raised panel, it is a matter of choosing which one you feel suits the product you are making (and one that complements the rail and stile profile). This cutter is a horizontal style cutter, as opposed to a vertical raised panel bit. In other words, the panel you are routing is presented to the cutter horizontally, ie resting on the router table. I tend to prefer this type of bit, as it means the workpiece is fully supported by the router table, and I don’t have to balance the panel against the router fence. This is particularly important for large panels. So that is the positive aspect, and I feel this is the preferred orientation. However, it does mean the router bit itself has to be huge (and the raised panel bit is often the largest router bit you’d ever own). It is a huge chunk of steel and carbide that the router needs to spin, and as such, you need a strong, heavy duty router to cope with it, and essentially, one that is variable speed. (Check a post I made recently about matching router bit speed to the size of the bit).

If your router cannot cope with such a large bit, then the vertical raised panel bit is the way to go, as it is nowhere near as large a diameter bit, and the router can cope with it much easier. You do need a good, high fence to support the panel then, so that is the compromise.

I tend to use an unbearinged raised panel bit, as it leaves my options open for exactly where I position the fence, and I can centre the fence on the bit, or have it as far forward as I’d like. If the bit had a bearing, I would be limited to just how much of the profile I could expose with the fence. In any respect, I am always going to use a fence with this bit (and a router table). It is way too large to ever consider handholding the router.

Also, given the amount of material this bit can remove, it is highly advisable to take multiple passes to remove all the material. You can achieve this in 2 ways. Either by moving the fence, starting with only a little of the cutter exposed, then expose more for the second pass, then set the fence close to the final position for a third pass and finally set it for the full depth pass so that one is a very light pass (ie removing very little material) which really improves the quality.

The other method is to set the fence in the final position to start, then raise the router bit each time instead, until it is at the correct depth for the final pass. For some reason this is my preferred method, but either is perfectly valid. Both have the problem that if you want to produce another panel later, you need to reposition the fence and the bit depth exactly, so obviously, ideally, you’d have all the panels ready to go, and do the same pass on all the panels one after another before changing bit depth (or fence position), so each panel is at the same stage when you set up for the final pass. It is worthwhile also running a bit of scrap wood through the process at the same time, so that you can set it aside, and use it to help reset up the fence and bit depth if you ever do need to produce another matching panel at a future date.

Episode 19 Router Bit Review Raised Panel Bit

Raised Panel Bit. To complement the rail and stile bit featured last month, the raised panel bit is used to produce the panel that fits into the frame created by the rail and stile. The result is a very traditionally styled raised panel, used for cupboard doors, drawer fronts, and even the sides of some types of furniture.

Progress!

(Finally) was out at the shed a couple of days ago, getting some new footage for the next video, which I may even have finished by tomorrow (hopefully). It is a look at the raised panel router bit, and was my first chance to try out the new Incra Wonderfence that I have just fitted.

I don’t think that I can claim that there was any real difference (for this operation) between the old fence and the new, although I was able to fine-tune the outfeed fence very precisely, and it is that degree of control that you are really paying for with that fence system.

I always say that you can never really claim to own something until you have at least taken it apart and reassembled it, and ideally made some modifications, and even here I did a minor tweak of the fence. I was getting a tiny catch as the material was running onto the outfeed fence (despite being as inline as I could get it), so I have taken a bastard file and just put a slight radius on the leading edge of the outfeed fence. That helped dramatically, and solved one of my pet hates (and the very dangerous situation) of having your work get a hangup (ie getting stuck) partway through a cut.

When I have a little more time, I will make up some zero-clearance panels to use with the Wonderfence, and that will improve the situation even further.

The Router Fence Upgraded!

It has been a while coming…

When I first purchased the LS Positioner, I gave a lot of thought to whether I could justify getting the Incra fence, or whether I could construct one as functional, and a lot cheaper. I decided to try, and the fence I came up with I am pretty happy with.

pict5778.jpg

It has UHMD plastic on its face, which can either be positioned to close near to the bit, or with a small central piece to act as a zero-clearance fence (ie, the opening in the fence has no gap around the bit, virtually eliminating any possibility of the workpiece getting hung up (ie catching) on the outfeed fence). There is a track on the front for a right-angle fixture, or a featherboard, and another on top for a stop. There are 2 rails of positioning track, one metric, the other imperial, and a movable rule.

However, there have been a few issues with it. Firstly, I never finished it- like the base of the table, it got put aside as more pressing things cropped up, and I haven’t returned to it. There wasn’t much else to do – dust extraction, feather board, and the stops themselves. I haven’t been completely happy with the zero-clearance design, and have since thought of better ways of doing it. The other issue, and more difficult to add, is the ability to offset the infeed and outfeed fences. This is critical for planing type operations (such as using the compression bit covered mid last year). It was a feature that I had on the Triton Router Table, but have missed being able to do it easily. I don’t use it all the time which is why I’ve been able to get around not having it. Finally, I never perfected a right-angle fixture. I did get a home-made one from a friend (Steve Bisson, who sadly passed away mid last year), after he upgraded his system to the full Incra one (and was the final inspiration that convinced me the Incra system was unique in its accuracy, and therefore versatility).

I have always regretted not biting the bullet in the first place, and getting the whole system, including the Incra Wonder Fence, so finally, the deed is done.

Here is the fence as it is tonight.

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It sure looks the part now! The fence halves are actually mounted on a length of Incra sawtable fence that I had, and I’ve included the high-riser (the black bit on top), which helps stabilise tall boards passing over the bit (such as a vertical panel-raising bit). I also (finally!) have the proper right-angle fixture which will make the various joints (dovetails in particular) much easier to complete.

pict5780.jpg

One thing that the Wonder fence does give, is very precise control over the offset between the infeed and outfeed fences. You can’t see it very clearly in the photo, but it means the offset is very easy to produce.

All the Incra gear seen here was sourced from Professional Woodworker Supplies.

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