Rockin’ the Router Table

It’s never the big parts of a job that take the time, it is all the fiddly bits at the end! Same applies to finishing off the router table, but when you are not in a rush, that time is not wasted or regretted.

With “The Wire” playing on the Shed’s TV, I kept plodding through the various outstanding tasks.  It also happened that a collection of three tools that arrived late last week played an integral role in the activities.  And exemplified themselves as useful additions to the shed beautifully, from cutting openings, drilling holes, driving screws, the collection of Lithium-Ion power tools from Rockwell proved to be as fun to use, as they were effective.

First job was creating access to the router, and I wanted it to be a door that would hold shut when a vacuum was created by the dust extraction that allowed easy access when needing to switch the router off for bit changes, and use the macro-height adjustment of the Triton router.

Cutting the access way

The desired opening was marked out, and where this would often be cut with a jigsaw, the oscillating saw does a great job.  The added convenience of the cordless version was excellent.

Plunging corners

Firstly, I plunged the cutter into each corner, defining sharp corners, then ran the saw from one corner to the next to break out the panel.

Access opening

The oscillating cutter (the Sonicrafter in Rockwell/Worx speak) was then used for sanding – breaking the sharp edges of the MDF.  One benefit of the oscillating cutter is it can work right into the corner, where more classic sanders would bounce themselves out of a restricted area.

A door was then fabricated, with cabinet hinges. Support for the hinges inside the cabinet was made, with pocketholes creating a solid foundation for the door support.

Sealed Hinge Door

I created a seal over the hinge-side of the door – normally disguised by typical cabinet designs.  There are other hinges I could have used, but these were ones I had already.  A handle from another discontinued project worked well here (think it came from the drill press drawer thinking about it).

Triton Router in place

I made sure there was plenty of space below the router – makes for better shape to the air flow for dust collection.  One thing I have yet to determine, is whether extra air-inlet holes are required – I am expecting they would be, except there are large gaps under the cast iron top, so plenty of air can flow through those gaps and flow down past the router to the collection port. I may even need to reduce the gaps to increase the suction through the hole in the router table top – only testing will determine how optimal the dust collection design is.

Starter

The starter was attached to the side of the table – given sometimes the router is accessed from the front, and other times from the right side, this corner is accessible for either operation.  A hole was drilled behind the switch to feed the flex into the cabinet to connect to the router.

The upper opening you can see to the right of the switch is where I am hoping to install some thin drawers to house the Incra templates for the LS Positioner, and the template book.  The lower opening will probably store some other routers. (Yes, I have one or two!)

Wixey Digital Height Gauge

I also found a location to mount the Digital readout from the height gauge that is affixed to the side of my router.  It does jut out from there over the fence, but for the majority of operations it won’t get in the way where it is.  I have attached it using bolts with the same hex heads as the rest of the Positioner (and the supplied hex drive), and butterfly nuts on the other side, so it can be very easily removed whenever it is necessary (routing tall object for example).

Ready to Rock

Speaking of rocking, these are the complement of tools I used, almost exclusively, and I was pretty stoked how they performed.

Rockwell Cordless Collection

If they look a bit dusty, that is because they were being used, not just admired.  I was expecting them to come in a single kit, so was surprised to discover they were each in a separate package.  Although that means you’ve gotten extra chargers, I’m not objecting – just means I can have one at either end of the workshop ready to go!

Quick charger

And the collection of interchangeable batteries won’t go astray either, even though the chargers are quick (15 minutes to 75%, 30 minutes to 100% charge).

Sonicrafter - Oscillating Cutter

The oscillating cutter was used with both blades and sanding attachments, stripping paint off the cast iron edges, cutting the opening, then sanding the cuts and rounding the edges.

10mm Drill

The drill is quite lightweight, but still has a good feel, and worked well with the holecutter, as well as the Kreg Pockethole jig.

Impact Driver

Finally, the rather impressive impact driver.  Never had one before, or even used one, so this was a bit of a first.  Feels solid, and works!  Initially drives smoothly, but when it gets to a particular torque level, the high-frequency impacting kicks in driving the screw (or whatever) home.

The combination of the three proved very effective in covering a whole variety of jobs that I had on, and the ability to interchange the rapidly charging batteries is a definite bonus.

SSYTC009 Rockwell JawHorse

Update – a clarification required:

The Rockwell JawHorse seen in the following video will be sold as the Worx Pro, and most Worx Pro tools will be green in colour.  The current Rockwell JawHorse in Australia (let’s call it the Junior JawHorse) is also sold as an orange Worx model (not Worx Professional).  Really, there isn’t any real confusion here, other than the fact that because my site goes out worldwide so I have to clarify the similarities and differences between different offerings.  If this was an Australian dedicated website, or a US one or whatever, it would be a lot more striaghtforward!!

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The Rockwell JawHorse has been designed by the same engineers who came up with the original Triton SuperJaws – a tool that I have found indispensable in my workshop for many years for a whole raft of roles. The JawHorse can be considered the latest iteration in the development path, being larger and stronger than any previous model, and with some really nice refinements that long time users would appreciate, including spring-powered leg retaining tongues for the front legs, even larger, stronger jaws, and some really interesting accessories to boot.

I regularly use the JawHorse as a clamp – be that for boxes, or panels, or pretty anything else that needs gripping/ constricting, as a press for bearings, as a bike stand for bike maintenance, as a press for assembling the most delicate of wooden pens, for holding logs while chainsawing, for holding metal components while welding, as an anvil, as a tool stand (either in the shop or on location) and as a vice, just to name a few.

To me, it is an integral part of my workshop tools (and in fact I have 3 of them (2 being the old SuperJaws) – I had 5 at one stage!!)

My simple answer to anyone contemplating getting one, is simply do it, and thank me later!  There are not many tools that I’d say that about without assessing the specific needs of that person – this tool is so versatile I can’t think of anyone it wouldn’t suit.  That’s about the strongest endorsement I’ve given any tool, ever.

If you are in the US/Canada (or normally buy from Rockler), you can get the JawHorse and its accessories from here.  Yes, I do get a commission if you buy via that link, but my whole hearted endorsement has NOTHING to do with any potential sales.  I’d say exactly the same irrespective.  I don’t mind getting a commission for any sales though 🙂 If you are in Australia, you can get the smaller brother of this tool at Mitre 10 (also called the Rockwell JawHorse which has very similar capabilites to the Chinese made Superjaws). If you are particularly interested in the model shown here, it will be available in Oz later this year under the brand Worx Pro.  Sadly, I don’t get any commissions from those sales!!

Watch the video, see what you think, and by all means ask any questions, or raise any concerns you may have.

Sonicrafter

While on the subject of adverts, this is the current one on the Rockwell Sonicrafter

A Burl Clock for the Shed

To start the process, I’ve been preparing the burl slab itself, and the first part of that was the recent YouTube Chronicles video, running the burl through the drum sander.

Next, I took the random orbital sander to the surface, starting with the unusually coarse (for me) 80 grit paper (the burl is very hard), and continued through the grits to 400. For previous clocks I would normally oil the surface (with a burnishing oil), but in this case I didn’t think it would be needed to get the grain to show up, and I didn’t know how the Liquid Glass would respond to it.

I’ve then flipped the board over to mill out a cavity for the clock mechanism.

Creating the Template

Creating the Template

I needed a template to route out the opening, so started down the tradition path – marking out the opening, drilling holes, cutting with a jigsaw, filing off the jigsaw marks, and all the while I was thinking to myself – there has to be a better way. Then I remembered the Sonicrafter that I previewed for the manufacturers – one of the high vibrating speed cutting tools (takes different blades etc, the well known version is the Fein). This one is Worx brand (the bigger brother of the Rockwell that has recently hit the Aussie market) It will be in the marketplace soon fwiw. I gave it a try, and it worked like a dream – the perfect tool for the job. In future it will be the first tool I turn to for jig creation! I made the template out of MDF, and before you ask why I didn’t just cut the actual opening this way: burl is really hard, and I think any of these cutters would probably struggle, and secondly, and more importantly, I needed the opening in the burl to be a partial depth only.

A big reason for me using this tool, is I can cut a square opening, with straight sides a lot easier than my older methods!

The opening in the template is larger than the actual clock mechanism, as it needs to take into account the distance between the outside of the template and the router bit. I set the router bit depth, taking into account the thickness of the burl, the length of shaft of the clock, and the various components that are attached.

Router Bit Depth Set

Router Bit Depth Set

I used the Wixey Digital Height Gauge to set the height accurately. So once I had the template, this was clamped to the burl, and the opening created with the router.

Mechanism Opening

Mechanism Cavity

A perfect opening

A perfect opening (centre still to be removed)

The above-image has the outside routed to full depth, but as you can see the middle area needs another pass.

Back of Burl Clock

Back of Burl Clock

So this is the back complete.  I tend to leave it raw so I can see the difference in the finished front and the raw back when I want to.  I know this is not best practice, if for no other reason than it can encourage warping when the stock is thin.  Still, it’s a choice I make (in some circumstances).

Oh, and for the doubters, yes I do use my JawHorse, all the time, and for almost every project!

Next post will be about finishing the front.

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