Woodworking Tools

The Basics of Routers and Router Tables

Is it any wonder routers and router tables have leaped in popularity in recent years? There are many reasons why routers are becoming more and more popular. 

  1. Even if this is the ONLY power tool you own, you can still make many, many projects with it.

  2. Routers and router tables take up less space than most other power tools

  3. The vast selection of bits and attachments makes them extremely versatile

  4.  They are easy to use and capable of excellent results.


If you ever talk to anyone who has a router, you will find they often have 2 or 3 routers or they have none at all. Unless you are Norm Abram from the New Yankee Workshop who admitted to having 25 routers during one episode of rebuild a work bench. You may ask, “why would anyone need more than one router?” but the answer is more complex. Most of of bought routers years ago, like an older Craftsman or even a Makita, but with the advances they have made in recent years we have also purchased new routers from makers like Dewalt, Porter Cable, Freud or Festool.

One of the advantages to having more than one router is that very often you need to do some sort of a routing project with a router that is not mounted in a table. This means we can do routing with one router mounted in the table and other router work like edging with another router.

Many of you have already leaped ahead at the mention of two routers and are now questioning what the real differences are between fixed base and plunge routers. Well, we need to step back for a moment for those who are not as familiar with routers to briefly explain that there are basically two types of routers. 1) Fixed base routers and 2) Plunge routers. Both routers allow the up and down movement of the bit, the difference is that a plunge router contains springs that allows the user to move the router up and down during the router procedure. A fixed base router must be turned off in order to adjust the bit height and then it is fixed in that position throughout the cut. More on these later.

One of the most important factors to keep in mind with any router is that if you are a woodworker (as opposed to working on house construction or renovation), your router use, using a router table, will likely be 80% of the time or more. Most woodworkers find that a router without a router table gets very little use, so if you are buying a router you should probably also be purchasing a router table with it. There are of course a few exceptions but generally woodworkers use routers mounted in router tables.

I'm often asked, what should I purchase a fixed base or a plunge router. My answer is always the same, a plunger router will do anything a fixed base router will do and more. Plunge routers are normally a bit more expensive but are more versatile in their use. If you are using ONLY a router table, a fixed base would work fine, the real problem is that once you begin to see what can be done with a router, you will want to use it both on and off the router table.

If you really want to expand your woodworking experiences and get into doing some innovative and creative work then get yourself a good router and explore what can be done.

Quality Routers and Accessories from Rockler :
 
Router Table Packages and Accessories
Router Table Packages and Accessories
Router Bits
Router Bits
Dovetail Jigs and Templates
Dovetail Jigs and Templates
Router Templates and Jigs
Router Templates and Jigs

Leigh Dovetail Jigs and Accessories

Router Accessories
Router Accessories
Bushing and Edge Guides
Bushing and Edge Guides
Router Lifts
Router Lifts
Router Plates and Bases
Router Plates and Bases
Sign Making with Routers
Sign Making with Routers

Copyright - Colin Knecht
woodworkweb

 

Freud Quadra-Cut Round Over Bits

 Any ROUTER with a ROUND OVER BIT is probably one of the most used combinations in woodworking. Virtually every woodworker has at least one router and one of the first and most useful bits they will ever purchase is the round over bit. If you are like me, you problably have a few different sizes of these too.

Round over bits are great ... MOST of the time, but sometimes with the direction the grain runs on some wood that round over bit you love so much will actually tear out or rip the grain of that wood you are trying to round over. Very often the tear-out is hard to see, but run your hand over it and sure enough, it's rough. There is nothing left to do except hopefully sand the rough part down, and hope it doesn't have to be sanded down so far that it starts to become an obvious flaw in the piece.

Does this sound familiar to you ... you bet it does, has happened to all of us. But no worries, Feud to the rescue with their introduction of Quadra Cut bits. The difference with these bits is they now have 4 cutter heads in stead of 2 like most other router bits. So why 4 cutters instead of 2, well the answer is a few reasons.     

First of all a bit with 4 cutters, especially when using a roundover bit, the cut will be smoother with much less chance of any wood tearout.This is especially true on cross grain. Tearour or rough cutting can still happen, but IF it happens at all it will be minimized. the second advantabe to 4 cutters instead of 2 is that the bit will tend to last longer, or at least stay sharper longer as each of the 4 cutters is doing less work. This means the carbide is less suseptible to wear.

Woodworking Clamps Reviewed ... Bar Clamps, Pipe Clamps, Quick Clamps and the list goes on.

 Have you ever stopped to think about woodworking clamps? Do you have any idea how many different kinds there are, not to mention their uses? ... We were absolutely blown away when we started to investigate the different types of clamps, uses and brands. Long gone are the days when some a few simple clamps would do the trick for you. Now we need to have all sorts of different types, different sizes and in some cases specialty clamps are needed.

But it's ALL GOOD!! ... because clamps make our lives much easier. They speed up project times and ease and contribute to making complex woodworking project easier to do. Take a moment and see what we discovered about clamps.

The history of clamps appears somewhat vague, depending on who you listen to, but whats really important is what selection of clamps we have now and how they are used.

 The most common clamps in use today are used for glueing boards together or for glueing projects together. These clamps are normally long clamps and use steel pipe or bar material as the medium to pull and hold parts together.

 Pony Pipe Clamps

Pony Pipe Clamps   

 Heavy Duty "F" Clamps

Heavy Duty "F" Clamps 

 

"New" Bessey Revo  "K" Clamps 

  Irwin Parallel Clamps

Irwin Parallel Clamps 

Somewaht new to the market are the quick release variety of clamps. These come from a variety of manufacturers and some are good while others are not as smooth to use and can be frustrating and cumbersome to use. These are among the most popular and widely used clamps as the design is so quick and handy to use ... AND they come in a variety of sizes. We prefer Irwin clamps based on their higher quality of manufacture. They work smoothly and well constructed .... to last !!.

  Irwin 6" Quick Grip Clamps

Irwin 6" Quick Grip Clamps 

  Irwin 12" Quick Grip Bar Clamp / Spreader

Irwin 12" Quick Grip Bar Clamp / Spreader 

  Irwin 6" Quick Grip 6" Minin Bar Clamps

Irwin 6" Quick Grip 6" Minin Bar Clamps 

 Irwin Quick Grip Micro Clamp Set

Irwin Quick Grip Micro Clamp Set 

Then there is the whole world of speciaty clamps that seem to come in an ever widening assortment of types, angles and sizes. The purpose of these is to help woodworkers who are engaged in special projects that traditional clamps are akward to use or take too much time to set up, and risk having glue start to set before the project is securely clamped.

Here are some Bessey Specialty Clamps.

Bessey Angle Clamp

Bessey Angle Clamp 

  Bessey 90 Degree Angle Clamp

Bessey 90 Degree Angle Clamp 

  Bessey One-Hand Edge Clamp

Bessey One-Hand Edge Clamp 

  Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp

Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp 

 
 We can't forget about all those old tradional clamp and hand clamps that all STILL have multitudes of use in the workshop, hand clamps, "C" Clamps and Deep Throat bar clamps ... all are still very usefull, needed and as popular as ever.

  "C" Clamps

"C" Clamps 

  Quick Grip Handi Clamps

Quick Grip Handi Clamps 

  Spring Clamps

Spring Clamps 

  Joprgensen Hand Screw Clamps
Joprgensen Hand Screw Clamps

 And now for two of my all time favorite clamps, picked because they make my life easier, are quick and handy to use and produce remarkable results ... that make ME look good ... The Assembly Square Clamp is one of the most useful tools I own. I squares up and holds onto the sides of my projects at the same time ... I cannont speak highly enoug of this incredible invention. 

  Assembly Square Clamps

Assembly Square Clamps  

  Mini Clamp Assembly Clamps

 

Mini Clamp Assembly Clamps 

 

The Jimmy Jig for Table Saws

Seumas McCombie has invented a innovative sliding table top jig for table saws that makes cutting safer and more accurate. By simply clamping this jig to your standard table saw you can make single person cuts to material up to 30 feet long while keeping the material 100% pallerall to the saw blade.

 The concept of the Original Jimmy Jig is a new saw fence technology. It stands out in the crowd and has the simple answer for the table saw's short comings because this technology is the only concept that has the rip fence as an integral part of the platform which simply makes more sense. This concept will simplify the handling and cutting of sheet material, at the same time eliminates the need for these large and permanently mounted side and out feed tables. It will retrofit any table saw large or small and with many other cutting tools, like a router, attached to a spare insert and placed inside the aperture for your router operations , it doubles as a router table, it also has a unique splitter that is 4 ins long. On the fence up front of the blade the automatic hold-down and hold-in will adjust automatically to changes in material width and height up to 8ins in width and 4 ins in height.

 The apertured platform; 5ft.long by 2ft. 6ins. wide, which allows the passage of the jig to bypass the cutting tool and also expands the support area on all sides of the blade and the tabletop's envelope, weighing approximately 30lbs. It is portable, removable and can be hung on the wall allowing the floor space to be used for other woodworking operations. This platform concept will also accommodate a router or any other cutting tool with a blade protruding through a table top The router can be placed any distance along the said aperture being utilized as a vertical jointer using a large straight cutter.The fixed 3in.high by 5/8in.thick fence is ideal for the attachment of other shop built jigs, and extends beyond the front and back of the jig enhancing the control of the the material being cut

“I have gone to great depths to eliminate the dangers on a table saw, in particular the dangerous kick-back, with all my safety devices placed up front of the cutting tool or blade, infact every thing is up front excepting the splitter which is 4 in long , not a slim 3/4 in and it is the only table saw fence system that uses the only true fixed fence technology , copied my many but never utilized to the full extent of the original , only on the original , Seumas is a Carpenter, joiner and cabinetmaker to trade , learning his trade the old fashioned way, with hand tools, thank you for your interest” Writes Seumas

For more information on the Jimmy Jig or to order plans to make your own you can visits Seumas McCombie website: http://www.island.net/~macduff2/

A Revolution in Paint Removal - The Silent Paint Remover

Sometimes I buy tools to do jobs that I hate doing, then I find out that the job wasn't so bad after all when I had the right tool. The feature tool for his issue is something called the "Silent Paint Remover" (SPR). Around our house the paint stripper is my wife, and depending on the project she is working on, she is anything but silent, so this tool intrigued me. This tool incorporated a new technology, Infrared. Now infrared on it'sown is not a revolution but basically it means that when you apply heat to many painted surfaces, it softens the paint enough to scrape it off.

  The idea behind the SPR is that in order to remove old paint from surfaces it needs to be modified in some way that makes it malleable and therefore easy to scrape off. Anyone who has scraped paint of old furniture will understand that the words "easy" and "remove paint" are seldom used in the same sentence. Removing paint from old wooden objects can be real tough. .

The SPR uses a newer technology, Infrared heat, to warm the paint up, making it much easier to remove than traditional methods. I know a bit about Infrared as one of the heaters in my workshop uses this same technology. It produces a very even heat that is almost like the heat given off by the element on an electric stove. If heat can be called "soft" that is what Infrared heat is like. It is much harder to burn anything with Infrared heat which is why it is such and ideal element for removing paint.

The problems of removing old paint are many and the first one is safety. Traditionally the instrument used to strip paint is a heat gun, which works like a hair dryer on 'extra-burn'. It is easy to burn the paint, scorch the wood, burn your hands and more (I know all this first hand). Fire is always a concern with heat guns and they can ignite chips of paint and wood. The second problem is dust and particles being blown off with the heat gun as you scrape. If you are working with paint that has lead in it, this can be extremely dangerous, especially around children and should be avoided at ALL costs. The problem is, most people have no idea which paints contain lead. The other alternative to removing paint is one of chemical removers. I don't know about you but my luck with these is less than with the heat gun and I am always offended by the smell and just working with such a caustic solution.

The Silent Paint Remover solves all these problems by introducing a more efficient method of removing paint and cleaning up after, but the greatest asset to this tool is that it makes the tedious job of removing paint far more bearable ... even enjoyable. The fact that it is environmentally friendly, inexpensive to operate and silent are just bonuses to getting the job done right.

Silent Paint Remover available here ... 

Copyright Colin Knecht - woodworkweb.com

Freud RTS5300 Router/Table Combo Package Review

 WOW ... That is probably the best word I can use to describe the Freud Router Table package, and that word might be an understatement. This package includes the FT3000VCE Router and SH-5 Micro-Adjustable Fence.
Anyone who is serious about using any router knows that over 80% of router projects require the use of a router table. With this in mind, and based on the price of this tool we decided to give this a good run for it’s money. The Freud router table is not like many of the inexpensive tables you can purchase from your local hardware store. This table can easily be considered a main tool to your existing stable of equipment ... click below to see how

Lets start at the beginning. The Freud Router Table comes complete in a cardboard box with all the parts you will need (except the router, which you will need to purchase separately if you don’t already have one). The legs, like the rest of the table are well made and all the holes for the screws line up like they should. We did have one complaint, there were no instructions on how the legs went together. Now this may seem trivial, but after you spend 5 minutes figuring out what you have and deciding how it should go together you realize that the wasted 5 minutes could be spared with a simple photocopied diagram to let the constructor know which lengths of bracing should go on which sides, and whether they go up or down.

Once we got the legs together the rest of the table was easy to finish up. For our testing we used the Freud Router (which we will evaluate in another article as this tool alone requires special attention). As we put the table together we were encouraged that all the parts lined up where they were supposed to and the entire table, including attaching the router to the table was quick and easy.

We were told that because the Freud router was a plunge router, taking the springs out of the legs would make it easier to move the router up and down in the table. We decided not to take the springs out of the legs as this was only for testing purposes and we would need the router, complete with legs for test without the table. We found the router quite easy to use even with the springs in place.

The main feature of the Freud table is the adjustable fence (which can also be purchase separately). The fence has a very nice wide in-feed and out-feed fence that is long enough to accommodate even longer boards. One of the most appealing advantages of the fence is that both the in-feed and out-feed work independently on one another and they are micro adjustable, which means ...... wait for it ...... you can actually use this router table as a JOINTER. That’s right folks, we ran a couple of small boards just to test this out and were amazed at the results. If you don’t already have a jointer, this router table will easily do double duty by routing and jointing.

To test the table we decided to use Freuds raise panel door bits. We used the combo bit that produces both the rails AND the styles with the same bit and were VERY impressed with the accuracy and ease of use. Cutting the panel for the inside of the door was equally easy althought we decided to make a couple of passes as we were whacking off quite a bit of wood.

The results of our routing test was a fantastic raised panel door cut in only a few minutes that was precision through and through. The Freud router and table made this not only and easy job but something enjoyable to do as well. The table was smooth and easy to use. The micro adjustments work easily and can be locked in place so that the entire set up is firm for continuous use. All in all this tool was a joy to use and something we would highly recommend to any woodworker. It will open up a whole new perspective of woodworking for you.

Copyright Colin Knecht woodworkweb.com

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