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Anyone else discover a router to not be intuitive?

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#1 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 03:40 PM

I cut some circles in plywood. I'm glad I put scrap underneath, because I went way deeper than I thought. The noise tipped me off, but I was still surprised how deep.

My first attempt came out boogered up due to the pivot not being precise fitting. My second attempt came out 1/8" too small all around. I don't know how I did that.

I tried to hand router a hole bigger but found my glasses kept fogging up with my mask on, and the router liked to jump. It jumped far enough it almost got my neck. I turned it off and re-thought things. I grabbed more firmly and mused light pressure so the tool would do the work. It jumped some more. I put the router away and finished filing by hand.

Might be faster to learn why I cut the wrong size and just cut another circle. But the plywood still came out boogered between layers.

At least I'm getting experience. I also learned I need to designate a shop coat and stop bringing wood smell back into the living area.
 

#2 fftulip

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 04:15 PM

Yes, I bought a router for the first time last year to use with a circle cutter and made mistakes too.  It is wise to take repeated shallow cuts rather than one deep cut, especially in hard material like a laminate.  Make sure the bit is on tight because if it slips it may cut too deep.  I found the instructions for the circle cutter to be very confusing for the inside versus outside diameters (I keep getting it backwards).  Also for the circle cutter make sure that the hole for the center pivot doesn't have any slop or the diameter will vary, and make sure the pivot is attached really well.  If you're inexperienced with a router, be sure to take some practice cuts on scrap wood.


 

#3 skins

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 04:16 PM

sounds like you were trying to get it all in one go...and maybe backwards? lol

several smaller depth passes, slightly oversized, and then a final pass to clean up and size

 

i love the wood smell (except elm!!) ... ply not so much. especially burnt ply


 

#4 John Rose

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 04:23 PM

Yes you need a snug fitting center hole. Some of my early attempts were with hardwood dowels. I found their actual diameter was smaller then the stated diameter and switched to plexiglass rod.

 

When cutting to outside dimension set your jig on the large size and tweak it in as needed. The opposite for an inside cut. Especially if you are cutting end rings for concrete form tube. I have found some that are noticeably different diameter from one end to the other.

 

I will cut 1/4" plywood in one cut. Thicker needs to be cut in several passes. Three passes minimum for 3/4" plywood.

 

Make sure you have good quality sharp bits. I have seen some cheap bits that started reasonably sharp.  But lost their edge quickly.


 

#5 luxo II

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 07:08 PM

OP: please note a couple of safety hazards:

 

1. If the bit digs into the work it can grab and the wood becomes a high-speed missile, quite able to cause a serious injury to you or bystanders nearby who might be watching.

 

2. If overloaded the bit can snap, and be flung out. It's nearly as dangerous as a bullet from a gun - eye or facial injuries, sliced fingers, puncture wounds etc.

 

Better:

 

- Wear safety glasses (eye protection), heavy shirt with long sleeves; jeans are good protection for your legs. As you have already found, an apron will help.

 

- if you're going to do this often consider getting a router table - this makes it a lot easier and safer, and most have a cover around the bit with a connection for a vacuum cleaner to collect most of the dust (don't use the wife's vacuum for this, buy one for the purpose).

 

- think about how you handle the wood so it can't become a projectile;

 

- learn the forces on the bit when cutting across, with or against the grain and make sure the work and the router are firmly secured (eg a router table);

 

- several shallow cuts are far safer than one deep cut;

 

- don't choke the bit by moving the work too fast - keep the router spinning near maximum RPM for a clean cut.

 

if you want parts cut with some precision or repeatability (eg cutting several identical parts),  make a jig that precisely constraints the movement of the router bit to the required path. With some practice its possible to achieve +/- 0.1mm routinely and produce joints that are tight without breaking the wood.

 

As per above good quality bits last a lot longer than cheap ones. Diamond-impregnated sharpening stones are also available - when used properly a bit can last a very long time though learning to use one can be tricky.


Edited by luxo II, 12 May 2022 - 07:21 PM.

 

#6 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 07:44 PM

I smell like burnt plywood. I'm not even in the shop any more. Smoke was a red flag to me to turn it off before I dull the blade. The bit keeps getting loose, which is likely part of why it changes path.

I got a closer cut the 3rd time, but I have a lot of filing to do to get rid of a lip.
 

#7 qpHalcy0n

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 09:14 PM

Are you using a circle cutting jig? It's virtually impossible to get any sort of precise cut with a router without a jig or fence of some sort. They're simply too powerful.

 

Best bet is to get or make a circle jig and go only a maximum of 1/8" at a time. For 1/2" wood obviously that means 4 passes to get all the way through. I start by setting the router on the jig outside of the circle and lowering the bit until it just kisses the wood. Then bring the router in to the edge of the circle. Once it barely nips the edge of the circle I lock the jig and just make 1/8" passes at a time. Makes a razor sharp perfect cut.


 

#8 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 09:43 PM

I made a jig, and not a good one appearantly. The vertical adjustment on this router is not easy to control. And the scale has no contrast.


The shop still smells like burnt plywood.

I'll have to make a better jig.
 

#9 Bob4BVM

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 11:12 PM

OK i cannot read any more of this !

PLEASE, find an experienced woodworker who can give you some training on proper setup and procedures for a router.

CS

Bob


 

#10 qpHalcy0n

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 11:34 PM

You really shouldn't be smelling anything. You're using too much force and/or cutting *way* too deep per pass. You should use a channel bit a maximum of 1/8" at a time...some say less. Just take your time. If it doesn't have a scale, that's okay. You can roughly eyeball what 1/8" looks like approximately. It sounds like you're trying to go all the way through the wood in one pass. That just ain't gonna work. You'll burn your bit and the wood. Definitely do not try to go by hand...goodness.


 

#11 Dale Eason

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 11:46 PM

The bit should be tightened so that it does not get loose.   If you can't get that to happen you have the wrong size bit or a worn out router.  As others have said go find instruction/s.  Running a router free hand is a job for the skilled.  


 

#12 Oberon

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 05:54 AM

Never use a router free hand.
 

Always control the job and always control the tool.

 

Freehand is not control.


 

#13 kcoles

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 06:40 AM

If anyone reading this thread is, like me, only planning to build one or two telescopes, it can be worth paying someone to do the circles. I'm at the age where I don't want more stuff (power tools I've only used once) cluttering the house. And I was intimidated by the skills needed to get a good circle with a router. I don't know anyone with a wood shop, so I ordered what I needed from Woodcrafter - they cut circles or rings for you from Baltic Birch. They were exactly the size I specified and came very quickly by mail. I imagine others can do this too.

 

My hats off and great respect to those of you who do all this fabrication so expertly. I used a hand saw and lots of sandpaper on my first Dob and am simpleminded enough to be very happy with the result. Happy building and observing.


 

#14 John Rose

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 06:42 AM

I forgot to ask.  Is this a standard or plunge router?  It really needs to be a plunge router.  There will, or should be, an adjustable depth stop. This makes easier to control the depth of each pass.

 

There are places to free hand a router. Rounding over the edges of a large table top for example.

 

I have not checked but there should be plenty of information on the safe use of routers on any one of the numerous woodworking sites.  Plenty of books too.


 

#15 John Rose

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 06:47 AM

A good craftsman can do amazing work with a few hand tools. There are those who consider anyone using power tools as just another carpenter. True woodworkers do not. I personally have never had the time and patience.


 

#16 Starman47

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 08:28 AM

There are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject.


 

#17 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 09:44 AM

I forgot to ask. Is this a standard or plunge router? It really needs to be a plunge router. There will, or should be, an adjustable depth stop. This makes easier to control the depth of each pass.

There are places to free hand a router. Rounding over the edges of a large table top for example.

I have not checked but there should be plenty of information on the safe use of routers on any one of the numerous woodworking sites. Plenty of books too.


It is a plunge router, but worn out and likely cheap to begin with.
 

#18 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 01:32 PM

I just bloodied up my hand with a stupid beginner mistake. I held wood with my hand in the path of the blade while hand sawing.

The SawStop table saw would not let me raise the blade. Likely the gears are full of saw dust. So I tried finishing a cut by hand.

So now I need to wait a day for this to stop bleeding before I continue. I don't know how deep the slice is, but it is in a low tension area, so should heal without a scar.
 

#19 gregj888

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 05:27 PM

I got an old delta table saw from my father-in-law.  Cast iron beast, but it does cut nicely.  That said, no guards at all, old school.  Got the tips of a couple of his fingers before the Mother-in-law made him give it up  As I said, cuts well, but man oh man am I careful with it. 

 

The chuck of my old router just doesn't hold well any more, but it's small so fits a lot of places better.  I find a drop of  blue Loctite on the shaft of the bit helps a lot.  Don't get it on the chuck threads and don't use the forever stuff, but may help. 

 

I don't consider it a project unless there's blood but try to limit it to a drop or two and stitches are way too far.

 

Stay safe...


 

#20 Garyth64

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 07:15 PM

I know seasoned journeymen carpenters, who have done stupid mistakes, and have lost their fingers.  Just a lapse in judgement, and then there's an accident.  Always be fearful, always be careful, always double think what you are doing.

I'd advise anyone wanting to use a powertool that can harm you to get good advice and instructions.  Maybe take a class or two.

 

On the comment on the table saw guards.  I hate the saw guards.  For most of the work I did at GM it was impossible to use the guards.  Every so often the safety man would come around, and then the foreman would come into the shop.    They wanted me to put the guards back in place.  Neither one is a carpenter. I said I will when I'm done with this project.  I held an informal class with the foreman and the safety man on the pros and cons of having a guard in place.

I understand completely the reason for the guards, and for general purposes it keeps a person safe.  For example, we had an apprentice, who was a very good carpenter.  He was cutting a sheet of plywood on the table saw.  The plywood bowed in the middle and rose up over the blade.  The apprentice forgot where the blade was, and yep, he pushed his hand down on the plywood almost cutting his thumb completely off!

 

So I'm here shaking my head.  This thread about routers being intuitive.  Oh, c'mon really, and then the next day the guy cuts his finger.  That is nuts.  

 

After 47 years, I still have all my fingers and finger nails.


Edited by Garyth64, 13 May 2022 - 07:23 PM.

 

#21 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 08:56 PM

A huge part of getting injured is not paying attention. And we all do that. We can't stay focused for 8 hours every day. There are techniques though that are much less likely to lead to injury.

I was afraid of the table saw and avoided injury. I was not afraid of the hand saw, and that is what cut me.
 

#22 WillR

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 09:03 PM

I make a plywood plate for the router. There should be some threaded holes in the router base and I screw the plate on with countersunk machine screws. Then I plunge or screw the bit through the plywood. It is then an easy matter to measure and mark the new base plate and drill a hole for the pin. Make your plate wide enough for the largest radius you will need. I use a  large 10 penny nail with the head cut off for the pin, and I can lift the router off and use a different hole if I want to rout a ring.

 

I always take small bites, no more than 1/8" at a time. And use a small bit- say 1/4". Less wood to cut through. Assuming the bit is carbide and sharp, there should be no burning. If you still have the center hole, you can make a jig and turn the circle against a belt sander and get a very smooth curve.

 

I have never seen a professional woodworker use a table saw guard. I removed mine 40 years ago and still have all my fingers. You need to see the blade ( I was a pro cabinetmaker for a few decades)


Edited by WillR, 13 May 2022 - 09:09 PM.

 

#23 WillR

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 09:07 PM

A good craftsman can do amazing work with a few hand tools. There are those who consider anyone using power tools as just another carpenter. True woodworkers do not. I personally have never had the time and patience.

Sorry, that is not true- a myth. You mean a hobbyist. All pro cabinetmakers/furniture makers use power tools. This is not a purity test.

 

Would a mechanic not use a torque wrench? Most good cabinetmakers can hand cut a dovetail or shape a table leg. But not have a table saw or band saw? You wouldn't be in business long.


Edited by WillR, 13 May 2022 - 10:15 PM.

 

#24 WillR

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 09:12 PM

I forgot to ask.  Is this a standard or plunge router?  It really needs to be a plunge router.  There will, or should be, an adjustable depth stop. This makes easier to control the depth of each pass.

 

There are places to free hand a router. Rounding over the edges of a large table top for example.

 

I have not checked but there should be plenty of information on the safe use of routers on any one of the numerous woodworking sites.  Plenty of books too.

Or you can use a regular router and screw the bit down some more for each pass. 


 

#25 Visit-the-Moon

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Posted 14 May 2022 - 09:24 AM

OK i cannot read any more of this !

PLEASE, find an experienced woodworker who can give you some training on proper setup and procedures for a router.

CS

Bob

Please accept this good advice. A router or any power tool for that matter should not jump into your face nor burn what you are making. Used correctly you can do very precise and reproducible work, incorrectly and you can suffer a life-changing injury.


 


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