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Author Topic: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!  (Read 7567 times)

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Effayy

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Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« on: July 29, 2005, 11:51:29 am »
I am by no means a woodworking guru at all.  I have a jig, circ saw, and as of last week, a shiny new router.

When I was cutting my MDF, I used teh circ saw for the straight edges, and I even set up a guide.  Unfortunately due to my inexperience with the tool, I was cutting crooked cuts even when the tool was following the guide nicely.  I have no idea why but I can only guess that it's because I wasn't holding the saw correctly.

Well after buying the router, I realized that if I had known better, this is what I would do in future to make perfectly straight cuts:

1. Use a circ saw to make a cut outside the line, as crooked and gross as you want, no worries.
2. Take a machine-cut peice of wood the same width or longer as the crooked cut, and line it up so the edge of the machine-cut peice is right up against the cutline on the crooked peice.
3. Clamp the 2 peices together and flip them over so the sraight-edge is on the bottom.
4. Take out your router with a Flush-trim bit.  Using th ebottom peice as a guide, you'll end up with a cut right along the original cut line!

Apologies if this is truly woodworking 101 to most of you, but it's just something that I worked out for myself last night, and if I had known before I cut my wood I'd have owned the router ages ago!  I'll probably be doing this for all future projects until I get the hang of the other tools.

- FA

Ash...Housewares

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2005, 12:00:25 pm »
Hey, that is a pretty good idea!  I'll have to store that away for further reference. 

Another good item to have is a table saw.  Straight cuts every time.  Course, for the sides of a control panel, you need a biiiiig saw table.

-Ash
"Sure, I could have stayed there.  Could have even been king.  But in my own way, I am king.  Hail to the king baby."

Lilwolf

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2005, 12:36:06 pm »
I would be worried about the price of those little bits.

But does anyone have problems cutting straight lines with a circular saw? 

Another way you can do this (but it takes some practice and knowledge of your circular saw or router and your bit your using) is to clamp down a straight edge or a straight piece of wood a few inches in from your cut.  Line it up so that when you have your saw/router touching the edge, it will be right where you want to cut... Then you have a super fast (once its lined up) cut and perfectly straight.  Also allows you to go back over it if you bump away from the board.

I have some templates I use for my circular saw to get the board placed just right.  I place it on the line I want to cut at both ends.  Then put a board on the other side, clamp it down... then make my cut.  Takes about 10 seconds when you have the templates.

Wienerdog

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2005, 12:56:33 pm »
A spiral bit is also nice.  It doesn't have a bearing to use with a template, but if you set up a straight edge to run the router against (as Lilwolf suggests for either the router or the circular saw), you get the straight line and a smooth finish on the cut.  The spiral bit will last longer than the template bit (which is a straight flute bit).
This opinion was created from 100% post consumed information.

Effayy

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2005, 01:04:46 pm »
I would be worried about the price of those little bits.

But does anyone have problems cutting straight lines with a circular saw?

Sinner

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2005, 01:07:39 pm »
I would be worried about the price of those little bits.

But does anyone have problems cutting straight lines with a circular saw?

Effayy

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2005, 01:17:29 pm »
Could be a problem with your guide moving...try using a straight piece of wood and screwing it into place...it won't move at all, and your cut will be nice and straight...

It was clamped down tightly enough that there was no movement at all.  I checked after I made the cut.  Oh, and my guide was a machine-cut peice of MDF that I had sitting around. 

I'm 100% sure it's in my technique with the tool.  I'd use 2 hands, but I wasn't sure if I should be pulling with the forward hand, pushing with the trigger-hand, or what.  I think the saw was lifting up a bit in the front from my trying to keep it flush with the guide, and as a result the saw was reaching over, cutting well inside the cut-line.  Thankfully it didn't penetrate through to the visible side of the wood (laminated side) but it was still ugly. :)

- FA

wintermute

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2005, 02:53:06 pm »
I always use my trigger hand to push, and if you have a grip in the front of your saw, hold there to keep the saw base against your guide, and down flat on your MDF.  If you have the guide set up, it should be impossible for the saw to cut too small of a cut.  You could move off your guide and cut too big, but the guide should prevent the saw from crossing your line. (your guide should be clamped to the piece you want to KEEP, not the piece that will be scrap after the cut)

  One other tip that sometimes helps, spray the base of the saw with some silicon spray (NOT WD 40 etc..).  Wipe off any excess with a paper towel.  You'll be amazed how easy it is to push the saw, most of the effort of cutting is the friction between the circ saw base and your workpiece.  Just be careful sometimes the silicon spray can leave some marks on the wood/mdf.  If you're painting it though this won't be an issue.

good luck

wm

javeryh

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2005, 03:33:24 pm »
The router method is the exact method I use (I don't have a table saw).  The problem I have is finding clamps that actually hold the guide down tight - no matter how tight I think the clamps are the board always moves.  Now I just screw the boards together and use the piece with the hole as the inside to the cab...

wj2k3

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2005, 03:46:46 pm »
This is what I use with my circular saw.  It should work with a routers and jig saws too.

This guide can be built out of some scrap 1/4-inch paneling.  The images below are from this website.

Basically you cut a piece of 1/4-paneling about  4-inches wide on the table saw to get your straight edge.



You glue this to another piece that is about  12-inches wide.  This second piece doesnt need to be exactly straight because you then run your circular saw down the straight edge to finish the saw board.


Now you just clamp the sawboard to your board aligning your marks to the edge of the saw board and cut away.

Lilwolf

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2005, 03:50:47 pm »
btw, I stopped using a flat metal ruler a bit ago because it wasn't deep enough... And the edge of my circular saw is slightly rounded.  So if I put a little pressure against the ruler, it would hop up a bit and move in.  I've been using the edge of a 2x4.  Assuming that I have a flat 2x4.  Or I use my level because its long and thick enough... I hope I'm not destroying it though with all the vibrations :)

Avery

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2005, 04:07:52 pm »
You can get the bestest pattern copying bit you could want for about $30.  Most are much cheaper.

Also, there are two flavors - one with the bearing on top and one on the bottom.  If you used the one with the bearing on top you put your pattern on top and can at least see what you are doing.
Avery

Effayy

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2005, 10:08:31 pm »
I was chatting with a co-worker today who has some skill in cabinetry, and from our conversation I found out exactly what I was doing wrong... Just for future reference for people here, this is what NOT to do:

1. I was correct in setting up my guide on the peice I want to keep, but I made the mistake of standing and setting up my circ on the "keep" side, as well. Which meant that as I progressed across the 25" peice, I wasn't able to follow the circ, and in the end was reaching, which meant no pressure on the grip-hand, only the trigger-hand.  That's not only incredibly bad form, but it's dangerous as well.  If the tool were to snag and pop out, it could've caused some serious damage because there I wasn't in control of the tool.

2. I didn't have the cut-line hanging over the edge of my table (my table is just a scrap MDF peice on 2 workhorses.  That was causing unnecessary friction and making it that much harder to cut

3. Because I had a peice of MDF laminated on one side, I was using the higher tooth-count blade that's specially used for laminate.  While this is good if laminate is ALL you're cutting, it's wrong to use when it's already cemented to the MDF.

So with that one cut, there's 3 lessons learned! :)  That's good news, imo.  The more I can learn from all this, the better off I am when it's time to build the second cabinet!

- FA

ScoopKW

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2005, 11:49:34 pm »
I would be worried about the price of those little bits.

But does anyone have problems cutting straight lines with a circular saw? 


That's simple -- get a speed square. Use the square as a guide to make your cuts. I get 100% perfect cuts every time. They cost about $5. Don't buy a cheap plastic speed square -- aluminum only.

If you use a piece of sacrificial wood clamped to your stock, you won't get any tear-out.  Make sure the depth of your cut is the same as the thickness of your stock, plus 1/8".  If your blade is all the way out, you'll get more tear out.

Naturally, use sharp blades, designed for the material you're cutting. The blades that come with your tools are usually low quality. I call them "cardboard blades" because that's all they're good for. A good carbide-tipped blade will last longer and cut cleaner than steel. Dull cutters lead to (possibly VERY dangerous) problems.

ScoopKW

PS -- Wear eye protection for ALL power tools, or risk playing Pac Man while blind. Think a sander or drill is safe? Think again. Eye protection for EVERYTHING that has an on switch.

Bones

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2005, 08:09:00 am »
I am so over my circular saw. It doesn't happen for me either.

I think a lot of the problem is having the confidence to just rip through it. Forceful but controlled. Unfortunately I seem to have neither of these.

I agree, the router is easier for somebody with limited woodworking experience.

Living the delusional lifestyle.

Crazy Cooter

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2005, 10:25:24 am »
Effayy's method works well as does using a guide.  After you get one side of the cabinet done, clamp it down to the other side and "trace" it.  That gives you a perfect match.

For a straight edge, stop by a local metal fabrication shop.  They might have a nice aluminum piece or two that are perfectly straight and have an edge that the router won't "jump" over.

rdagger

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2005, 11:18:37 am »
I was disappointed when I first bought a circular saw, but now I use it all the time.  It's like soldering, it just takes practice and a few good tips (no pun intended).   Just try to find a pile of unwanted wood and experiment.

A few problems with using a router for cuts:
1.  It takes longer.
2.  It wastes wood.
3.  It produces much more dust.  (MDF dust is very unhealthy)
4.  You are shortening the life of an expensive bit.

tivogre

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2005, 02:05:16 pm »
I am so over my circular saw. It doesn't happen for me either.

I think a lot of the problem is having the confidence to just rip through it. Forceful but controlled. Unfortunately I seem to have neither of these.

I agree, the router is easier for somebody with limited woodworking experience.

I have LOTs of woodworking experience;  I still used the rough cut / router approach.  It gives you a cut that's a s perfect as your guide strip.

You'll see dozens of examples on my site of "screwing down a jig" or "screwing down a guide strip" and using the flush trimming bit / router.

Since I'm laminating my cabinet, I have no concerns about the extra screw holes;  screwing down the guide is a guaranteed no slip / no flex method.

Even if you were painting, a bit of Bondo in the screw holes sanded smooth won't be noticed.

tcheat

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Get the laser guide equipped circular saw
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2005, 05:07:17 pm »
I agree with the router approach.  But I had to buy a new circular saw (mine is in long-term storage along while the new house is under construction) so I got one from Sears.  It has a laser guide, and may be the best purchase I've made in a long time.  I was able to make great circular saw cuts with it.  It was especially helpful on mitered cuts. 

MonitorGuru

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2005, 05:52:06 pm »
Router bits don't have to be expensive.

Check out Menards or Harbor Freight or Homier if you have them in your area.

At menards you can get, when on sale, a 6 piece straight bit router set for $4.99 !  Yes, they're CARBIDE not the crappy HSS ones. Unfortunately that set doesn't have any edge trimming ones.

But all 3 places, PLUS eBay have larger sets that cost between $1 and $2 per bit total that do have the trim bits that last just as long as the $15 a bit ones individually from Home Depot and Lowes.

On eBay I got a 50 piece bit set with 5 different sizes of edge trimming bits (length/diameters varied) for about $45 shipped. Plus all the other bits that I may use sometime.


DrewKaree

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Re: Get the laser guide equipped circular saw
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2005, 06:16:04 pm »

I was able to make great circular saw cuts with it. 


I'd have to say that's about all you'll be able to make with it, since it IS a circular saw.  If you were able to make great router cuts with it, you'd be a god among men! ;D 

That reminds me of the announcers saying "now that's a great golf shot".  As if any other time, he's attempting a three pointer or kicking a field goal ::)


Router bits don't have to be expensive.

Check out Menards or Harbor Freight or Homier if you have them in your area.

At menards you can get, when on sale, a 6 piece straight bit router set for $4.99 ! Yes, they're CARBIDE not the crappy HSS ones. Unfortunately that set doesn't have any edge trimming ones.

But all 3 places, PLUS eBay have larger sets that cost between $1 and $2 per bit total that do have the trim bits that last just as long as the $15 a bit ones individually from Home Depot and Lowes.

On eBay I got a 50 piece bit set with 5 different sizes of edge trimming bits (length/diameters varied) for about $45 shipped. Plus all the other bits that I may use sometime.


For a better buy, shop at www.grizzly.com

The reason those are so cheap is that you'll never be able to resharpen them.  The reason you want carbide is it holds its edge WAY longer than HSS, but you ALSO want to be able to have 'em resharpened when they finally DO lose their edge.  There's also different "grades" of carbide, differences in finish, bearings, angle of cutting surface, etc.

There's MANY different reasons for the price of a bit (and its cutting edge) and price alone will never tell you the reason for the differences.

I'd take my CMT bits every day over the $5 Menards specials.
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MonitorGuru

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2005, 06:54:17 pm »
The problem is most users here are relatively new to the routering scene and will likely break multiple bits until they get the hang of it.

Start with a cheap $5 6 piece set, try em out, then once you know what ones you use a lot of, spend extra and get the ones that are higher grade.

TimmyB

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2005, 09:38:32 pm »
Router question for all of you seasoned woodworkers.  I am shopping for a router and have seen most recommend getting one that has a 1/2" collet, etc.  What if you are only ever going to work on MDF?  Just seems that any router would tear through MDF pretty easy, not like a hard wood.  If all I wanted to do was make a cabinet, and a couple of shelving units out of MDF wouldn't a cheaper router suffuce?

DrewKaree

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2005, 10:02:52 pm »
The larger collet allows you to use bits that might not even be avaliable in the smaller shank size.  The short and dirty answer is YES, a cheap router WILL suffice, but having a larger collet (or an adaptor to allow both sizes) will give you a wider range, potentially, in the future.

Let me put it this way.  Let's say you buy the cheap router for (example's sake here) $50.  NOW let's say 2 years down the road, you're digging your router, and you think of a use for it on a project, only to find out that they EITHER don't make the bit you'll require in that size shank, or they DO make it in that size, but due to the smaller shank, you end up breaking it, most likely in the middle of your most important cut on the last side that needs to be done.  Now you've got to buy another bit, another piece of material, and I'd bet you dollars to donuts that the smaller shanked bit of the size you need will cost MORE than the larger shanked bit, AND your router will thank you when you aren't bogging it down with a larger bit than it SHOULD be powering.

YES, you can do it....and YES you should invest the few extra bucks to get a larger collet if at all possible.  (so NO, don't do it....but it's your decision :D )
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wintermute

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2005, 09:35:56 am »
I try never to get 1/4 shank router bits if possible.  Using the reducing collet is a hassle, but more importantly the 1/2" shank bits are much stiffer, especially when you use things like flush-trimming bits, you want that extra stiffness to give you a smooth cut (regardless of the hardness of your material).  Having a collet that will accept 1/2" bits seems pretty much standard to me for any normal router.  I wouldn't even look at a router that wouldn't take 1/2" bits.  There are plenty that aren't super expensive but still good value.  Check out Porter Cable 690, Hitachi M12VC, etc.. They are a little over $100.  Just my opinion but I think you'll thank yourself in the long run.

DrewKaree

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Re: Woodworking Tip - Routers rule!
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2005, 02:21:49 pm »
There ARE some good manufacturers out there that make the larger-collet routers for a fairly inexpensive price.  Craftsman, Ryobi, Skil, B&D....there's nothing wrong with them, in fact, B&D and DeWalt are like the Nissan and Infiniti of tools....same car, different badges (with some minor improvements here and there to increase value in the customer's mind)

The mid-range priced routers from PC, DeWalt, Milwaukee or Bosch are very good examples of compromises on either end (quality vs price) that result in excellent all-around routers.  Compromising on the price end almost always ends up costing you more in the long run, but I PROMISE you I understand why this question always comes up - I've still got my original POS Craftsman circ saw that DOES still come in handy....and at the time, it was the best I was willing to afford.  Most people will tell you that whenever they settle, they end up hosing themselves somewhere down the line.  Buying a mid-range decent router will end up paying you back in all of the ways others and myself have mentioned here, and even if you decide to buy a better quality (and higher price, usually) router down the road, I PROMISE you that you'll always find a need for that old "starter" router you bought.  PROMISE!  In fact, checking out the shop of an experienced woodworker will often turn up 3+ routers, and each set up for a specific purpose to make work easier....something that going cheap in the beginning oftentimes doesn't allow for.

 :)
Youíre always in control of your behavior. Sometimes you just control yourself
in ways that you later wish you hadnít

  
 

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