Router Bit Storage Revisit

With the router table at one end of the shed, and the overhead router/TWC at the other end, I haven’t had the motivation to move the router bit storage, until now. Needing some additional wall space down the lathe-end (for the additional chisel store) meant moving the router bit storage became the ideal solution.

For those who haven’t been reading along (and in all fairness, this goes back a way, to when the Triton business and physical space came to the end), I have one of the original Triton router bit display units that were used in places like Bunnings, and I use it to store my router bit collection.

To fit everything in, I have doubled, even tripled up the storage on each segment, and still am very tight on for space. Not that the unit was ever designed to maximise storage – it was obviously designed to show off the router bits, and I don’t mind having my collection ‘on display’ either.

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They are not the most romantic of tools in the shed, but with a sizeable collection, they take a basic router, or simple router table and maximises its capabilities. After all, the router is just a motor that spins the real tool, real fast.

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I also have some boxed collections of Whiteside bits from Professional Woodworkers Supplies- a set for Incra Dovetails, and a set for making wooden hinges with the Incra fence. I still have to try making some wooden hinges- on my must do soon list.

Metric Wooden Hinges

Heard a rumour recently (actually more than a rumour – if it happens to be dropped into conversation by Professional Woodworkers Supplies, then it is a fait accompli), that along with the recent release by Incra of their top-line products with a metric version, the HingeCrafter is also going to have a metric version.

The only holdup now for it to make the market, is waiting for the metric Whiteside router bits to be developed.  So good news for those who want, or have a metric Incra LS Positioner, and want to be be able to use it in conjunction with the HingeCrafter to make a stylish wooden hinges for their project.

Class

The hinges can then be made in the same timber as the project (or contrasting as a feature), and really look to lift a project to another level.  Imagine getting a stylish dovetailed box with a hinged lid, and how it would look if the hinges were brass compared with wood.  The whole project goes from “wow”, to “WOW”.

Contrary to what you might expect, the HingeCrafter is not actually used to form the hinge knuckles.  That is achieved on the router table, with the Whiteside router bits and the LS Positioner.  The HingeCrafter is used to bore the hole for the hinge pin.  It is both important that the hinge pin is perfectly straight (so the hinge operates smoothly without binding), and that no breakout occurs as the hole is being drilled (let alone having too much side pressure causing weaker timbers to have knuckles break off altogether).

HingeCrafter

With the included drill bit (and assuming the metric will be the same as the imperial), hinges over 10″ long are possible (254mm in metric).

Manufacturing Steps

Hinges

Any sizes you want (length of bit depending – the hinge can be up to twice as long as the available bit), and 4 different diameter hinges.  Made in your timber of choice, either matching the project, contrasting with it, or both!  And no more of those brass screws who’s heads seen designed to shear and pop off at a moment’s notice.

Episode 57 Surfacing, Sanding, Cyclones and Workgear

Episode 57 Surfacing, Sanding, Cyclones and Workgear

Surfacing Bits

Had an interesting revelation tonight about surfacing bits.  While Ivan was visiting, having a look over the Torque Workcentre, the discussion turned to surfacing bits.  I was thinking the 3 interchangeable flute Carbitool bit had its carbide tips misaligned from use or something – they didn’t sit flat on the table.  But when I got out my Granite reference block and placed each of the bits on top, they all had the same issue – the bottom of the teeth were not flush with the table as I expected.

Surfacing Bits

Now for one (particularly with interchangeable tips) to be out I could understand, but not all three, both Carbitool and Whiteside, and particularly the (fixed) 6 flute.  That one if no other should be the perfect form for a surface cutter, so if it has the same angle on the bottom of each tooth, then that is the way it should obviously be.

So then I was left with working out why it is that way, now my belief that the bottoms where flat had been squashed!

What I am thinking now is the tip of each tooth is the part that does the cutting, the rest is actually superfluous and is primarily chip clearing, rather than cutting/flattening.  If the bottoms were flat, then the tips would scrape, rather than cut.

It is surprising how long I’ve had surfacing bits that I have never realised that!

Surfacing Bits

SSYTC28 Small Torque Surfacing w Vac Clamp

Bringing it all together – the Torque Workcentre, Triton Router, Whiteside Surfacing Bit, Vac Clamp

Tools for February

Each of these will be looked at in more detail shortly, and put through their paces.

For Tool of the Month, I’m going for the Vac Clamp – another Aussie product.  It uses a very simple method for achieving a vacuum – using the venturi effect to draw down a vacuum from between the clamp and the item being held, resulting in a clamp that is strong, and releases immediately that the air is switched off.

V-Clamps

Seen pictured here are both the single-sided clamp (is screwed to the workbench etc), and the double-sided, which uses a vacuum on one side to secure itself to the workbench (non-porous), and the other side for the workpiece.

There are no moving parts to achieve the vacuum. Nothing to wear out (the rubber seal itself will need replacement in time), nothing moving, wearing.  You do need a source of compressed air.  The compressor does not draw air from the clamp, unlike many other designs.  Air is blown into the unit, which ejects from the nozzle, creating the venturi which pulls additional out of the clamp void resulting in the vacuum.

Vacuum creating venturi effect nozzle

Air passes in through the fitting on the side, and blows through the brass nozzle you can see in the hole, which is then ejected out the side.

Closeup of Nozzle

The other item to mention is a new router bit received from Whiteside / Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

Whiteside 2 Flute Replaceable Surfacing Bit

This is a significant bit, with a larger diameter than either of the others I have tried – at 65mm diameter it is going to be fascinating when I get a chance to feed it.  Of course, the rule is never feed a router bit after midnight – not that it will turn into a gremlin, but your neighbours will!

Replaceable Tip

The carbide tips are replaceable, and also revolvable, meaning you get to use all 4 sides before needing to resharpen or replace the TCT.

Experiencing a Green Router

On the second day of the Alternate Wood Show, I had an opportunity to use the Festool OF1400 for the handheld routing I was doing – cutting inlays using the Whiteside Inlay Kit. After a brief familiarisation (thanks btw!), I started experiencing why owners of the OF1400 like it so much. It was loaned by Ideal Tools, and they were lucky to get it back at the end of the day!

Festool OF1400

Festool OF1400

From the trigger on the handle that doesn’t require you to reposition your hand after turning the router on (and it can be locked in the on position), to the front knob that also locks the plunge height, the micro-adjustable plunge stop, the ratchet mechanism on the collet, the low centre of gravity, dust extraction and so forth.  It was a very pleasant router to use, particularly hand-held.

The Festool collet concept is rather interesting.  I can only describe it to be like using a ratchet drive for a socket set.  You engage the spindle lock whichever direction you want to operate (tighten or loosen), then operate the collet with a spanner, ratcheting back and forth.  Unlike the Triton, you don’t need to be at full extension to engage the spindle lock, but that does then require it to be a 2 handed operation, reaching under the table to do so (if the router was table mounted that is).  The bit change itself can be done above the table.  Shame that Festool don’t take it just a little further, and allow you to remotely operate the spindle lock.  It would then become ideal for use in a router lift.

The micro-adjustable plunge stop made for easy repeat operations.  Once I determined the height I wanted to bit to operate at, I was firstly able to fine-tune that height without starting the whole process over, and importantly, I could dial in and out a known height difference, which was particularly useful for the inlays.  When inlaying, the cavity, or recess needs to be as close as possible to the thickness of the inlay, whereas when routing the inlay you want additional plunge depth to ensure you are cutting all the way through and into the backing board.  With the micro-adjuster, I was dialing that difference in and out in no time, and accurately every single time.

Festool may be well known for having a high price-point, but you sure do get to see where that money has been invested.

One Day Down, One to Go

Seemed a successful day, plenty of people, lots of deceased sausages.

Made some progress on a surround for a poker table (wasn’t rushing, leaving something to do tomorrow).  Adding a 95mm wide wooden edge, with an inlay in the centre of each (poker inlay using the Woodpecker template).

Poker Inlays

Poker Inlays

The inlays are MDF which have had a special coating – look quite spectacular.  Still, these inlays represent the 3rd, 4th and 5th times I’ve ever done an inlay.

There was also plenty of interest in the Walko workbench I took along, and in the dominos I was cutting with the Festool.

The Protool UniverS SSP 200 is there as well – that is one interesting looking saw! And one hell of a depth of cut.  Easier to tell in the flesh, but it is in essence a circular saw that has a chainsaw blade instead.  Other than the rather unusual blade, it would be able to be used in a similar fashion to a normal handheld circular saw.

Protool UniverS SSP 200

Protool UniverS SSP 200

The Torque Workcentre is there as well – the upgraded version of the router master (which means it now has movement on both the X and Y axis).

Torque Workcentre

Torque Workcentre

I haven’t taken any photos at the show as yet – will do so tomorrow.

The Staggertooth Tiger

The lesser-known cousin of the Sabretooth Tiger, the Staggertooth was a widely misunderstood animal until the advent of modern man-made materials, when its real purpose finally became obvious.

The staggertooth router bit is used for fast-routing particularly tough man-made abrasive materials such as MDF, plywood and particle board where speed is paramount and cut quality is secondary.

Whiteside Staggertooth Router Bits

Whiteside Staggertooth Router Bits

These Whiteside Staggertooth bits are sold by Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and come in a range of shaft and working diameters.

Some are straight-cutters, some are angled (creating a spiral-type cutting action – both upcut and downcut), and some have the cutters angled opposite each other, creating a compression type cutting action.  In these orientations, they are equivalent to a solid carbide spiral bit at a fraction of the price.

Hard to see from the photo, but they are 2 fluted, with the first flute starting at the tip of the bit (not seen in the photo), and the second flute starting near the base.  There is an overlapping region in the middle where the material being routed is exposed to both flutes.

Part of the benefit of the staggertooth is for the larger diameter cutters.  Typically, for fast-routing a single cutter router bit (single flute) is used, but when you start exceeding 3/8″ a single flute cutter experiences significant balance issues.  A twin flute cutter requires a slower feed speed.  This is where the staggertooth comes into play- because of the offset of the cutters, it acts as a single-flute cutter as far as cutting performance and feed speeds, but still has 2 flutes so it remains dynamically balanced at the high rotation speeds of a router.

Inlay Kit for the Router

I’ve always wanted to do inlays, be that detail for boxes, or adding that something extra to other projects, but it always did seem to large a mountain to climb to work out how to do it, and more precisely, to get the templates just right to make it work.

There is a secret (not a very well kept one mind!), and it actually comes down to the template guide moreso than anything else.

In a collaboration with Woodpeckers and Whiteside (and Professional Woodworkers Supplies who are bringing them into Australia), there is a kit available which makes doing an inlay a breeze.  And I mean really, really easy.  This is my very first attempt to ever do an inlay in a contrasting coloured timber.

Poker Template Inlay

Poker Template Inlay

Now before I get into the “How”, lets have a look at the “What”, as in “What are we actually looking at here?”

On the right side, we have an inlay of a contrasting timber (which in this case happened to be approx 3mm thick), which is completely flush with the pine. Pretty clever eh, even if I did do it myself!

On the left, you can see a cut out, and that is simply because I used this test piece as the backing for cutting out the contrasting heart.  There is a video btw, and it will be on Stu’s Shed in a couple of days.

So that is the “What”, now the “How”

There are a few bits n pieces to this puzzle. Firstly, and most obviously, we need a template. This can be shop made, or commercially purchased. The one I am using for this is the Poker Inlay Template from Woodpeckers, which is 1/4″ thick phenolic, which means it is strong, and dimensionally stable through a significant temperature range (well beyond shed temp ranges!)

Poker Inlay Template

Poker Inlay Template

As you can see there are 2 of each pattern, and to give a rough idea of sizes, the smaller ones are approx 3″ high, and the larger 4″.

You don’t use both of the sizes for the male and female parts of the pattern – the template guide takes care of the sizing requirements.  You just have to choose if you want the smaller or larger design. There are other templates available from Woodpeckers – a butterfly template which is for butterfly key joinery

butterfly-joint (which is both a mechanically strong, and decorative panel joinery method), and a circle template for ….. um….. circles! Particularly beneficial for both contrast inlays, as well as simply producing accurate, larger diameter holes.

Imagine, for example, making a computer desk, and using the circle template to not only cut the hole for the cables, but instead of using one of those commercial plastic caps,

H3864you could, with a little thought, produce your own in timber – so much nicer!

Hmm – getting a bit sidetracked.  We still want to know the answer to the big question “HOW?”

Tempted to make you wait for the video……. oh, all right – here’s the short version.

Whiteside Inlay Kit

Whiteside Inlay Kit

The kit comes with a 1/8″ diameter solid carbide spiral router bit (on the right) with a 1/4″ shank. Next to it is an alignment pin so you can accurately centre the template guide.

Finally, you have the template guide itself. It is a pretty standard size (unless you are using a Triton router for example, which uses the 50mm or so templates) so fits a number of routers.  If not, as was the case for me, it didn’t fit my router, until I added the Woodpeckers router base that is! Update – not exactly true – as revealed by Hugh, and further clarification in this post.

Woodpeckers Universal Adapter Plate

Woodpeckers Universal Adapter Plate

There might seem to be a LOT of holes in this phenolic plate, and in fact the one I have has even more! It is so the plate can fit almost any router, and definitely includes the Triton router.  I’ve added this to my 1400W router, and will probably leave it on permanently, so I can continue to use the different template guides. The centre hole is perfect for the brass guides.

Back to the template guide.  It is designed specifically to work with the 1/8″ router bit.  There is a brass disk in the earlier image.  When cutting out the cavity, this disk is fitted to the template guide. An O Ring inside the ring ensures it stays in place.

Next, this disk is removed, and the same template is used to cut out the contrasting timber.  That’s about it – a really simple evolution in the end, and a classy finish.

The Poker Inlay Template will be put to good use in an upcoming project, when I make a poker table. (If you couldn’t guess!!)

So as mentioned, there will be a video out in the next couple of days so keep an eye for that.

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