Bowled Over

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Routing a bowl, using the Amana Tool bowl bits from Toolstoday.com

Including rounding over the edge with about the smallest 1/4″ roundover bit there is (and the smallest bearing I think I’ve ever seen too!)

Check out the next edition of The Shed magazine for a full description and step by step for making this project.

3D Rounding

There are router bits, and router bits.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny and cute, to the massive and scary.  And I have router bits at both ends of that spectrum, and a fair few in between.

The router bit is the real tool after all.  The router is just a motor to spin that bit quickly.  And having the right tool for the job is the name of the game.

Having coped with the idea that some router bits can be cute, and knowing full well some are large and mean looking, I am not sure if I have ever described a router bit as “fun”.

 

Ok, yes, they are not a toy, and they can draw claret with the best of the tools in the workshop, but it is fun when a tool works so superbly, that you honestly cannot think of a way they can be improved.  Perhaps fun is not quite the right word.  Enjoyable?  A pleasure to use.

They are the descriptions I am giving to a bit that I used the first time the other day, while making the wooden toy vehicles.  It is the Amana 3D rounding over bit from Toolstoday.com, and it works brilliantly.  A normal rounding over bit can work in two dimensions – the table (or router base) runs along the side of your workpiece, and a bearing controls the depth of cut so it rounds over your square corner nicely.

But what if you have a compound curve (and quite common in wooden toys, particularly bandsawn components)?  You come across a concave section, and there is no way you can get the router bit to that section.  Out comes the sandpaper, and you try to match the curves and radius.

This is where the 3D router bit comes into its own.  Instead of having just a bearing on the end, this router bit also comes with a sleeve (that can also spin) that restricts vertical movement as well.  The benefit of this is that you can use the router bit above the table, without the need to rest the workpiece on a flat surface.  This sleeve performs that function instead.

And with an overall length of over 95mm, there is plenty of clearance to reach inside concave curves and still effect a roundover.

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You still have to keep fingers away (I don’t need my fingers rounded over!), but I found the router bit very easy to use, even when climb cutting, without any risk of a catch.  The bit is still only taking off a small amount of timber, and the double guides (sleeve and bearing) prevent any real opportunity to get a dig in, or take off more than intended.

6207_2_There is both a 1/8″ and a 1/4″ version.  I have the 1/8″ version, as I tend to like having a subtle rounding over – enough to prevent splinters, or sharp edges for the young and inquisitive, but still retain some of the crispness of a tight corner.  Having one of each would be ideal, to keep the options open.

Available from Toolstoday.com as I mentioned, this is thinking outside of the box, and is both really clever, and well executed (quality).  And yes, I’ll stick to calling them fun to use!

Topping it off

The top of the Torque Workcentre is sacrificial and occasionally requires replacement.  In the first instance, the most economic solution is to simply flip the top over to get twice as much use out of the sheet.  However, Torque Workcentres have come up with an upgrade that means it was worth me creating a new top to incorporate the additional functionality.

Starting with a full sheet of 16mm MDF, the TWC is also the ideal tool to begin breaking the sheet down.  The new design needed narrow strips of MDF, which is also a good thing when it comes time to replacing the top again, as only the sections damaged will need replacement.  Even if the amount of travel of your particular TWC isn’t long enough to cut the entire sheet in a single cut, it is easy to complete most of the cut with the saw passing through the sheet, then locking the arm position and finish by pushing the remainder of the sheet past the saw.

Even if you are only using the TWC to roughly break down a board, it still has it all over doing it by hand where the cut can end up quite wavy/offline.  Given I have the benefit of having a tablesaw, breaking the sheet down to near the final size, then running it through the tablesaw gave me the best of both.  I find a full sheet too unwieldy to easily run it through the tablesaw, so prefer to do an initia rough breakdown, then finish cutting accurately on the tablesaw.

Completing the cut before transfer to the tablesaw.

Given the length of the boards, I set up outfeed support – using the Triton Multistand.

For additional safety, again especially given the length of board, I set up a featherboard to help control the board as it was fed through the saw.  In this case, I’m using the latest from MagSwitch – a reversable featherboard that attaches to the universal base.  Something that we have been waiting for, for years.

To fit the channel (which is the new addition from Torque Workcentres), a slot cutting bit is used.  Now although I have a dedicated router table, I also have allowed myself the provision to transfer the router and base to the side of the tablesaw, so I can use the tablesaw fence.  To allow the bit to be enbedded in the fence, I use a section of aluminium to be an auxiliary fence.  It is attached to the main fence with a couple of wooden clamps.

The benefit of using the router as part of the tablesaw, is the fence – the tablesaw is designed to handle long lengths, so where that is the job, moving the router from one table to the other is a few seconds work.

It is a very easy job – with a slot cutting router bit, run a slot down either side of each section of the top.  Takes no time to set up and complete.

The slots then engage on the wings of the aluminium extruded channel.  In this case, I am attaching the new top directly onto the old.  It will mean the base is thicker, and means the top of the workcentre is now above the channel at the back, so if I run the circular saw (in crosscut) right through, it won’t cut up the rear channel.

The front edge got the usual treatment, using the mini roundover plane from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  It doesn’t wreck the line of the top, yet softens the edge, removing the sharp MDF edge that can go as far as inflicting a cut, so rounding the edge is an excellent solution on a number of levels.  This mini plane makes it so easy, and does an excellent job.

The channels are screwed down, holding most of the top in place without additional fixing.  For the outside lengths, a few screws up from underneath takes care of them.  I’ve left an extra amount of width for the front board to ensure the front track is well covered.  The tracks allow hold downs to be used where that is the most appropriate securing method.

I’m certainly not abandoning the Walko low profile, horizontal clamps at all – I just haven’t had time to redrill the required holes yet!

So once again, another small improvement to continue the development of the Torque Workcentre.

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