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Routing System is a home or small shop version of a commercial machine
that was originally developed for high-speed mass duplication of
furniture parts and components.
In the overarm
mode of operation, a rigid arm holds a router motor securely
in a fixed position over the table surface. The arm itself has a
built-in quill-feed lever that controls the depth-of-cut.
During the duplication
process, the routing system suspends a router motor and bit above
a precisely aligned pin which protrudes up from the table surface
and rides in a precut groove in the underside of a guiding fixture.
By guiding fixture. By guiding the fixture over the pin, the operator
can cut the identical design or shape in a workpiece attached to
the top (or opposite) side of the fixture.
In the under-table
mode, the base of your router is attached to the underside of
the table. When the router is installed in this manner, the router
bit will protrude up through the table surface.
obvious time-saving benefits of high-speed duplication, the routing
system also offers certain safety advantages by providing improved
visibility and control of the work, as well as the ability to perform
operations on smaller workpieces that would be almost impossible
to grip firmly while using a hand-held router.
system will cut-out, shape, mold, mortise, duplicate and form intricate,
professional-looking joinery for a wide variety of projects.
The Shopsmith Routing System.
To set up your
routing system, follow the instructions in the Owners Manual that
came with your Routing System.
Routing System (Figure
22-1) offers a number of unique features:
- In the overarm
mode, the throat capacity of the routing system ranges from 13-5/8"
to 15-1/8" (depending upon the diameter of the router motor being
- By moving
the arm to the top of the steel column, projects up to 12" thick
can be worked in either the overarm or under-table mode with ease.
- In the overarm
mode, the arm holds any router motor from 2-1/2" to 4" in diameter
firmly in position.
- For under-table
routing, a universal table plate will accept virtually any router
base for quick, simple mounting.
- The routing
system's precision rack-and-pinion vertical feed mechanism offers
up to 3-1/2" of vertical travel to provide easy depth-of-cut control
during over-arm operations.
- A large see-through
guard keeps your hands and fingers out of the danger zone, protects
your eyes, and directs debris to a dust collection system.
- The worktable
is 30" wide by 18" deep and offers over 7" of front-to-back adjustment.
It can be locked into position at any location. Its smooth, laminated
surface offers a large number of threaded holes to enable the
convenient attachment of optional feather boards, fences and other
devices to improve workpiece control and safety during operations.
- The built-in
miter rail allows the use of the Shopsmith Miter Gauge as a guide
or safety device during operations.
table inserts provide adequate workpiece support when using a
variety of different sized router bits.
guide pins allow precision pin routing with a variety of bit sizes.
- The optional
two-piece adjustable fence is used to guide workpieces during
straight-line routing and for mounting fence ex-tensions and stop
Components of a typical router bit.
come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, each designed to preform
a specific operation. Generally speaking, most router bits have
three main components. These are the shank, the flute and the pilot
is the part of the bit that is gripped firmly by the collet (or
chuck) of the router motor. The pilot is the portion that
rides against the edge of the workpiece and controls the depth-of-cut
of the bit during operations. The flutes are the cutting
edges of the bit.
Router bits are available in piloted or unpiloted styles.
When buying router bits, you have the option of selecting either
piloted or un-piloted bits (Figure
are used when cutting a decorative profile on a straight or curved
workpiece where the entire edge of the workpiece is not to
be removed. When choosing piloted bits, you can select from bits
with solid pilots or bearing pilots. Solid pilot bits are less expensive,
but create friction that could burn your workpiece edge during cutting.
Although bearing pilot bits are slightly more expensive, they will
eliminate this friction and burning of the workpiece edge.
bits offer no edge guide and will cut all the way to the tip.
They are therefore designed for use on projects where the entire
edge of the workpiece is to be removed or a decorative cut is desired
somewhere within the perimeter of the stock. As a result, they should
always be used with a fixture, guide pin or fence.
Router bits are available in a variety of different materials, based
upon the amount of use they are expected to receive and the types
of materials they are intended to cut.
steel bits are the most commonly available type and are intended
for occasional use only, or for working with soft woods such as
pine or redwood. These are the least expensive of all bits and offer
limited use before sharpening is required.
bits generally offer high-speed steel shanks and bearing pilots
with carbide cutting flutes welded-on to provide for more extended
use before sharpening is required. Carbide-tipped bits should be
used for working with hardwoods such as oak or maple, plastic laminates
or composite materials like particleboard. These bits are slightly
more expensive than high-speed steel bits.
bits are usually only available in simple, straight profiles
and offer the same benefits of durability as carbide-tipped bits.
Just a few of the wide variety of router bits that are available.
Click to see larger view.
Router bits are available in many different shapes for a variety
of specialized jobs. Figure
22-4 shows examples of the types that are available.
Always insert the bit all the way into the router's collet and then
back it out about 1/8" before tightening to prevent the transfer
of heat and vibration from the bit to the router motor armature.
When storing router bits, never throw them carelessly into a drawer
with other tools. This could result in nicking of the edges and
necessitate costly, professional sharpening. In addition, avoid
storing them in a damp location, as this will cause rusting (and
dulling) of the edges. One suggestion is to store them in an enclosed
area with camphor tablets (which coat the bit with a thin, rust-inhibiting
Occasionally, router bits will col-lect pitch that should be removed
to prevent burning of the work-piece edges. This cleaning can be
easily performed with household oven cleaner. However, always remove
bearing pilots from bits to avoid getting solvents or oven cleaner
in the bearings. These materials will destroy the bearing lubricant
and cause premature bearing failure.
As with all cutting tools, router bits require occasional sharpening
for optimum performance. High-speed steel and carbide-tipped bits
can be easily honed in the shop. However, if carbide-tipped or high-speed
steel bits become extremely dull or nicked, they should either be
replaced or taken to a professional sharpening service.
Before using the routing system, read and understand these important
danger zone on the routing system includes any location within 3"
of the rotating bit. Always keep hands clear of this area when working
with the machine.
Guard-Keep the seethrough guard in place and set at no more
than 1/4" above the surface of the workpiece during overarm or undertable
- Always wear
proper eye and ear protection.
- Never attempt
to clamp the overarm assembly onto any column less than 2-3/4"
in di-ameter by using bushings or adapters.
- Follow your
router manufacturer's recommendations as to replacement parts
for your router.
- Before beginning
any operation or turning on your router motor, always check to
be sure the router, overarm assembly, depth stop rod, depth control
handle, worktable, table plate, accessories, safety devices, fences
and fixtures are secured.
possible, use a push stick, push block, feather board, miter gauge
with safety grip, fixture or other safety device to maneuver a
workpiece into the rotating bit. This is especially true of small
or narrow stock.
- Always keep
a firm grip on your workpiece and never hold it with your hand
in line with the bit.
- When cross-grain
routing stock up to 10" wide, use your miter gauge with safety
grip to control the workpiece (which must extend 5-1/2" away from
the router bit).
- To prevent
the router from grabbing and throwing the workpiece, always feed
the stock against the rotation of the bit and never with it. During
overarm routing, stock being worked in front of the bit should
be moved from left to right. During under-table routing, stock
being worked in front of the bit should be moved from right to
- Always cut
with the grain of the wood and not against it for a smoother,
- To avoid
being hit by a thrown workpiece, never stand in-line with the
workpiece being fed.
- Never rout
second-hand lumber. It may contain nails or screws that could
damage your bit and cause serious injury.
- Use extra
care when work-ing stock that contains highly figured grains or
knots to avoid kickbacks.
- Do not rout
boards that are warped, bowed or cupped.
- When working
long boards or sheet materials, always sup-port them adequately
with roller stand(s) placed from 1' to 4' from the table.
- Never freehand
rout stock lessthanl2" x 12"insizeor equivalent.
- With the
exception of single-pass dovetail cuts, limit your depths-of-cut
to 1/4" for each pass when using bits up to 1/2" in diameter to
- Never exceed
depths-of-cut of 3/8" when using bits up to 1/2" in diameter to
cut soft woods.
- When using
bits over 1/2" in diameter, limit your depths-of-cut to half the
recommended depths for bits up to 1/2" diameter.
- NEVER feed
your workpiece between the rotating router bit and a fence, as
this could cause a kickback.
- When stop
routing, always use stop block(s) to control the length of cut.
Failure to use stop block(s) could cause a kickback.
- NEVER install
a router bit without first unplugging the router motor.
- Make sure
the router bit is secured firmly in the collet. Loose bits could
work free and cause serious injury.
- Insert bits
all the way into the collet and retract them about 1/8" to avoid
transferring vibrations and heat to the motor armature.
- Listen carefully
for sounds of chattering or looseness at start-up. If you hear,
see, or suspect problems, turn off the tool immediately, unplug
it and check it out thoroughly. Correct the problem before proceeding.
- NEVER try
to make your own collet adaptor to hold different sized bits.
Balance is very important at high speeds, so always use purchased
- Keep router
bits clean and sharp at all times.
- Attach the
routing system to a dust collection system . . . or wear a close-fitting
Cautions and Considerations on Materials and Techniques
are powerful, high-speed tools with unique performance characteristics,
you must pay particular attention to the materials and techniques
you are using to avoid mistakes and safety hazards.
- All hardwoods
should be worked in light, multiple passes without pausing or
dwelling to avoid burning the workpiece. Open grained hardwoods
such as oak and similar species will splinter very easily when
you reach the end of a crossgrain cut. For this reason, it's always
a good idea to either make very light passes, leave extra stock
on the width of the workpiece so the splintered area can be cut
away or backup your workpiece with a scrap block at the exit point
of the bit. Another good technique to avoid splintering is to
make all cross-grain cuts first, then make your cuts with the
- Softer woods
such as lauan, basswood, pine and willow can be worked in slightly
heavier passes but "tear" or "fuzz" easily and will require more
- Highly figured
woods such as birdseyes, crotchwoods and burls have an inconsistency
of grain that requires cautious, light passes to produce a clean
and similar composite materials contain high concentrations of
glue that can quickly dull high-speed steel bits. Therefore, it
is recommended that you always use carbide-tipped or solid carbide
bits when working these materials.
- Plastic laminates
are very hard materials that can also dull high-speed steel bits
quickly. Again, always use carbide-tipped or solid carbide bits
when working laminates.
- Avoid pressing
hard against the bearing pilots on certain bits during cuts. Since
they rotate at such high speeds, excessive friction could cause
a heat build-up that will destroy the bearings.
- Again, it's
important the stock always be fed into the rotating bit
and not with it to avoid kickbacks.
You can perform
both overarm and undertable operations with your routing system.
Overarm operations will be explained first, followed by undertable
Notice that workpiece (A) has only a portion of its edge removed,
while workpiece (B) has the entire edge removed.
is used most frequently in the construction of furniture and cabinetry.
And although the shaper is an excellent tool to use for the job,
the high operating speed of the routing system can often produce
cuts so smooth that they will seldom require sanding.
To begin, there
are two types of edging operations (Figure
Removal-First, there's the type where the entire edge of the
workpiece is removed.
When removing the entire edge of a straight workpiece, use
a fence to control the depth-of-cut.
is performed with unpiloted bits and requires the use of a fence
or guide pin to limit the depth-of-cut and keep it consistent along
the entire edge.
projects with straight edges, it's best to use a two-piece fence
or a guide strip to control your depth-of-cut.
if you're using a two-piece fence for this operation, the infeed
side of the fence is adjusted to control the depth-of-cut while
the outfeed side is ad-justed to provide support for the stock after
the cut has been made (Figure
Note that during full edge removal, the outfeed side of the
two-piece fence is set forward of the infeed side to provide
support after the edge has been removed. Note: Offset is exaggerated
Keep in mind
that in order to remove the entire edge of a workpiece, the bottom
cutting edge of the bit will have to pro-trude below the workpiece.
To perform this
operation without routing into the top surface of the table, be
sure to position the table so the bit protrudes down through the
hole in the table plate or the table insert during operations.
against a fence, always make the cross-grain cuts first, followed
by the with-the-grain cuts to cut away any tearouts or splintering.
Don't try to make your cuts in a single pass. Always take multiple
passes to achieve the cleanest cuts.
Removing the entire edge on a round project is easiest by
using the guide pin or starter pin as a central pivot point
and rotating your workpiece through the cut.
an entire edge on a round project such as a plaque or wheel, you
can control the depth-of-cut by drilling a shal-low hole in the
center of your circular workpiece (on the back side) that can be
dropped over an offset guide pin or the starter pin and used as
a pivot to rotate the stock through the cut (Figure
The final way
to control the depth-of-cut when removing the entire edge of a workpiece
is with a fixture. This process will be explained later in the chapter.
Removal-This is the simplest of all edging operations since it is
usually performed with piloted bits that control the depth-of-cut
during operations on straight or irregular-shaped workpieces.
When removing the partial edge with a piloted bit, rest the
workpiece against the 1/4" starting pin and ease the stock
into the rotating bit.
If you're using
a piloted bit, fences and fixtures are not necessary. Just ease
your workpiece into the cut by resting it against the 1/4" starting
pin, then guide it against the bearing or solid pilot of the bit
When decorating the partial edge of an irregular-shaped workpiece
with an unpiloted bit, simply guide your stock against a guide
pin that's been aligned with the router bit.
If you want
to remove only part of the workpiece edge and have no piloted bits,
you will have to use fences to control your depth-of-cut on straight-edged
In those cases
where you're using unpiloted bits on circular or irregularshaped
stock, simply use an undersized guide pin to control your depth-of-cut.
The guide pin should be centered under your bit during this operation.
Then, merely press your stock firmly against the pin as you rotate
it through the cut. The depth-of-cut can be changed by altering
the size of the guide pin (Figure
Decorative surface cuts like these are made with the routing
cuts are best described as grooves or patterns formed on the surfaces
of workpieces. Some examples might be "carved" house number signs,
fancy kitchen trivets and accent cuts on cabinet doors (Figure
cuts are made with unpiloted roundnose, core box, veining or straight
bits. As a result, you will need some way to guide your workpiece
through the cuts. If your designs are straight and parallel with
the edges of the workpiece, use the two-piece routing system fence.
If they're angled across the surface like those on the trivet shown
in Figure 22-11, you will have to use a scrap piece of stock as
a guiding fixture to "carry" your workpiece through the cuts. Simply
attach your workpiece to this piece of stock with double-stick tape
or nails. Then, guide this fixture (with your workpiece attached)
against the fence to make your cuts (Figure
22-12). Warning: If you use nails to attach your stock to the
guiding fixture, be sure they are not in the path of the bit.
To make straight, diagonal cuts across the surfaces of projects,
attach your workpiece to a fixture at an angle and guide it
against the fence.
Un-piloted bits ilke this ogee bit can be used to shape both
sides of the groove when making raised panel-looking doors.
You can also
use unpiloted edging bits such as an ogee or corner rounding bit
to form fancy grooves in workpiece surfaces with shaped cuts on
both the left and right of the bit (Figure
22-13). This technique can be used quite effectively to produce
raised panel-looking cabinet doors from a solid piece of stock.
If you're cutting
grooves on the surfaces of round workpieces, you can use V-shaped
fence faces (Figure
22-14) to guide the stock or use the pivoting pin technique
described earlier under "Full Edge Removal".
(A) V-shaped fence faces can be attached to the routing system
fence and used to control your cuts when using unpiloted bits
to rout round workpieces. (B) Construction details of V-shaped
fence faces. Click on images for larger view.
free-hand decorative cuts on irregular-shaped workpieces, it's important
that you take multiple light passes to avoid grabbing and provide
The most accurate
method of forming irregular-shaped decora-tive cuts is with a guiding
fixture. Specific information about making and using fixtures can
be found later in this article.
of making moldings on the routing system is very similar to the
way it is done with the shaper. These finished moldings can be used
in many different ways to accent all types of projects (Figure
Moldings made with the routing system can be used to accent
all types of projects like these.
Construction details of the hold-down fences. Click on image
for larger view.
Begin with a
piece of stock that is large enough to handle safely. If your finished
piece of molding will be straight, simply guide your stock against
the pilot of the bit or a fence to form the edge, as you would for
edging as explained earlier in this chapter. Shop-made hold-down
fences (Figure 22-16)
will allow the use of feather boards in providing improved workpiece
control during operations (Figure
Using the hold-down fences and feather boards to control the
When making curved moldings, first cut out your desired shape
on a piece of stock with a bandsaw or scroll saw.
If your finished
molding will be curved, first cut out the curved shape on a wide
piece of stock (Figure
22-18). Then shape this curved edge on the routing system (Figure
22-19). Remember that if you're using a piloted bit, no fixtures
or fences will be required, since the pilot of the bit will control
your depth-of-cut during operations. If you're using an un-piloted
bit, you will need to use the fence when cutting straight moldings-a
fixture (details provided later in this chapter) or an undersized
guide pin (as explained under edging earlier in this chapter) when
cutting curved moldings.
Guide the stock against the piloted bit to shape the curved
Use a bandsaw or scroll saw to cut the shaped edge away from
formed the shaped edge (curved or straight), simply cut it away
from your workpiece using a bandsaw or scroll saw (Figure
22-20) and complete the operation by sanding the edges.
Construction details of special fence extensions and stops
that can be attached to the routing system fence to help limit
and control stopped cuts. Click on image for larger view.
most commonly used for joinery in cabinet projects. However, there
are other applications such as hinge mortises, inlay work and hollowed-out
boxes of all types.
As a rule, most hinge mortising is performed with a chisel. And,
if you're mortising for hinges on the edges of wide or large doors,
this is still the best method because workpieces that are wider
(or thicker) than 12" will not fit between the table surface and
the router bit. However, if you have a lot of mortises to cut in
the surfaces of cabinet doors or similar projects, the routing system
can make them quickly and accurately.
When working large doors or box lids, clamp the stops directly
to the door or lid to limit your cuts.
the positions of the hinges on the door surfaces and mark them very
carefully. If you're working with small doors or box lids, simple
shop-made fence ex-tensions and stops can be attached to the routing
system fence to limit your cuts in both directions. Make the fence
extensions and stops as shown in Figure
22-21. When working with larger doors or lids that extend beyond
the edges of the table, simply clamp the stops to the door or lid
itself (Figure 22-22).
thickness of the hinge very carefully. Make your initial cuts with
the smallest diameter straight bit you have so the corners will
be as close to square as possible. Set the depth-of-cut of your
bit to match the thickness of your hinge and make a test pass on
a piece of scrap to verify the proper depth-of-cut.
First, cut around the edges of your mortise with a small diameter
straight bit. Then remove the remainder of the stock with
a larger diameter straight bit.
Make all the
cuts around the outer edges of your mortise (full depth) with the
small bit (Figure
22-23). Then, remove the remain-der of the stock from your mortise
by changing to a larger diameter bit or by rocking your workpiece
back and forth against the small diameter bit, using the stops and
the fence extensions to limit your cuts. When you've finished, square
all corners with a chisel and insert your hinges.
If you're cutting
mortises for odd-shaped hinges or hardware, it's often best to do
this free hand. First, trace the outline of the hinge onto your
workpiece. Then, carefully rout away the stock in the center of
your mortise, being sure to stay about 1/16" to 1/8" away from the
outer cutline. Finally, rout away the remainder of the stock to
complete your mortise. Note: Trace the profile of the mortise onto
your workpiece with a razor knife. Then, darken the line with a
pencil. As you make your final cuts to the profiled edge of the
mortise, the router bit will turn up a fuzzy wood burr at the edge
of the cut that will fall off as the bit reaches the line.
Mortised-out boxes like these are easy to make witn me rowing.
When a great deal of stock must be removed from a mortise,
begin by drilling over-lapping holes on the drill press.
Boxes The routing system is perfect for making all types of mortised-out
boxes for jewelry, pencils, etc. (Figure
used here are very similar to those used for mortising hinges. However,
since boxes usually require that a lot of stock be removed, it is
suggested that you start by doing this with brad-point bits or forstner
bits on the drill press (Figure
Once the stock has been removed from the center of the box,
clean-up the edges with a router.
When you have
finished this process, cut out the scrap with a bench chisel and
clean-up the edges and bottom with a router bit (Figure
For this job,
you can use either a straight bit or a special 3-in-1 bit, which
forms a flat bottom, straight sides and a coved edge where the bottom
and sides meet.
the cuts, use the fence extensions and stops, much as you would
with hinge mortises.
Some of the structural joints that can be formed with the
routing system. Click on image for larger view.
mode of the routing system is an excellent way to make a wide variety
of structural joints for cabinets and furniture projects of all
types (Figure 22-27).
The router bit's
high operating speed allows it to make cuts that are cleaner than
those produced by a table saw. And in some cases (like the mortise
for a mortise and tenon), it will perform operations that simply
cannot be done on the table saw.
joints are formed by using un-piloted straight bits with the workpiece
being guided by a fence, miter gauge and/or stops to control and
limit the depths-of-cut. This capability provides the advantage
of repetition, ensuring that every cut will be identical to the
As with other
routing system operations, it's often best to back up the exit sides
of through cross-grain cuts with scrap blocks (or to allow sufficient
extra stock so that some can be removed after the initial cuts are
made) to prevent unsightly tear-outs.
In some cases
(such as square-cornered mortise and tenons), the corners of the
joints will require squaring with a chisel after they've been cut.
However, if you're producing a rounded mortise (which is perfectly
acceptable in most cases), you'll have to round the ends of the
matching tenon with a file or pocketknife to match the mortise.
Another option is to cut the tenon shorter so its square corners
will slip inside the rounded ends of the mortise.
Notice how the guide pin rides in a groove on the underside
of the fixture to control the cutting of a matching profile
in the workpiece attached to the top of the fixture. Click
on image for larger view.
Of all the unique
capabilities provided by the overarm mode of the routing system,
high-speed duplication of complete projects or project components
is the most interesting and challenging.
use of shop-made guiding fixtures, you will be able to make an unlimited
number of identical pieces, quickly and accurately.
As we explained
briefly in the beginning of this chapter, the process works by guiding
a pre-cut fixture over a pin which protrudes up from the routing
system table surface. When a bit is installed directly above the
pin (and in perfect alignment with it), a matching pattern is cut
into a workpiece attached to the opposite side of the fixture (Figure
Styles of Fixtures
There are two types of fixtures that can be used with the routing
system: permanent and temporary.
Fixtures are more complicated in their design and allow for
rapid attachment and removal of workpieces in a repetitive fashion.
They are generally used when making five or more of the same project
Fixtures are usually nothing more than a wooden template of
a simple design that is merely screwed to your workpiece. Temporary
fixtures often require more time to attach and remove the workpieces
than permanent fixtures. This is perfectly acceptable since it makes
little sense to spend a lot of time building a complicated fixture
that will be used to produce less than five identical projects or
fixtures, it's important to think about how many times they will
be used before deciding how the workpiece will be held in position.
If you're planning to make a large number of the same piece, you
will want a fixture that allows the rapid attachment and removal
of stock. If you're only making one or a few of the same piece,
this is less important.
A typical screw-on fixture.
There are a
number of different styles of fixtures, determined by the
way the stock is held in position and whether you are cutting on
the outside, inside or both edges of your workpiece:
22-29) are among the simplest in design. With this style, screws
are driven up from the underside of the fixture and into the workpiece
to hold it firmly in position during operations. If you have a power
screwdriver or variable-speed reversible drill with screwdriver
bits, this attachment style works equally well for both temporary
and permanent fixtures and is a "must" if you are removing the outside
edge of your workpiece.
A typical drive-on fixture.
22-30) feature screws driven up through the bottom of the fixture
so they protrude 1/8" to 1/4" above the top surface. The work-piece
is positioned on top of the fixture and struck with a hammer or
your hand to temporarily "impale" it on the protruding screw points.
This attachment style is also ideal for either permanent or temporary
fixtures and is a good option when removing the outside edge of
your workpiece. Always use sheet metal screws for these fixtures,
since they have threads all the way down the shank. Once you've
driven the screws through the fixture, sharpen the protruding points
with a file.
Two typical clamp-in fixtures: (A) floating bar and(B) cam
22-31) are the most complicated style, yet offer the distinct
advantage of quick workpiece attachment and removal. Since they
require more time to build than any of the other types, they are
usually reserved for situations where you will be cutting-out large
numbers of the same item. With these fixtures, the stock is clamped
firmly in position during operations by a "floating" bar or cam
clamp. Since the workpiece is gripped by the edge, this style of
fixture will not allow full-depth cuts around the outside perimeter
of the stock.
are made the same way as clamp-in fixtures, but have no bar or clamps
to hold the workpiece in position. Instead, the stock is merely
dropped into the frame and cut as it would be
with a clamp-in
fixture. Warning: A tight fit of the workpiece is critical to
keep it from moving during operations. Again, these fixtures are
recommended for high-volume situations and not for projects where
full-depth cuts around the perimeter of the stock are required.
A typical drop-in fixture. Click on image for larger view.
A typical profile fixture. Click on image for larger view.
are usually a combination of drive-on and drop-in styles (Figure
22-33). The most common application for these is the making
of fence post tops and similar projects. They usually contain sides
to help position the workpiece and protruding screw points to keep
it from moving during operations. However, they can also be made
with floating clamp bars or eccentric clamps, if you like. If the
profile is identical on both sides of the workpiece, the fixture
can be profiled on one side only and the stock flipped over to cut
the second side.
A typical double-stick tape fixture. Click on image for larger
Tape Fixtures (Figure
22-34) are very simple to make and work very well when the workpiece
must be cut around the perimeter and is too thin to grip from below
with screws. They can be made with readily available double-stick
tape and should only be used when the stock is large enough to hold
firmly in position with your hands a safe distance from the rotating
bit. They are intended primarily for low-volume production jobs.
Warning: Change tape frequently, since wood dust and repeated
use will cause its adhesive qualities to fail after a few uses.
of durability, most fixtures are made from particleboard or other
similar materials that are covered with plastic laminate. These
materials will withstand long periods of continuous use without
wearing down and changing the profile of your pattern. This type
of material is readily available from cabinet shops and hardware
stores as cut-outs for sinks from countertops and is usually very
covered particle-board is not available in your area, it is suggested
that you use hardwoods such as oak, maple or cherry. . . or a high-quality
plywood without any voids or holes in the edge grain.
Remember, the key to building a long-lasting fixture is to make
it with durable materials that will withstand long periods of continuous
use without wearing and altering your desired profile.
There are two
basic ways to build routing system fixtures: us-ing an existing
product or using a template.
Use screws or nails to attach the item to be dupilcated to
the particleboard side of your fixture blank.
Existing Product-The first and easiest way to do this is to
start with an existing product and use it as a template to guide
your bit through the process of cutting the grooves in your fixture
To begin, cut
out a fixture blank that is 1" to 2" larger than the dimensions
of your item. Start by drilling countersunk pilot holes for the
holding screws in the existing item. Then, attach the item to be
duplicated to the particleboard side of your fixture blank with
screws or nails (Figure
22-35). Be sure to position the attaching screws or nails in
a location where they will not be seen or be in the path of the
router bit when you make your cuts.
Use the base of a combination square to check bit-to-pin alignment
at three points 90-degrees apart.
the size straight bit you will be using to make your profile cuts
(usually a 3/8" straight carbide bit) and thread the matching pin
into the center hole of the pin insert in the table. Align the pin
and bit perfectly by using the base of a combination square
or a guide block with a same size (3/8" in this case) through-hole
Once the machine
is aligned properly, set the depth-stop rod to make a cut about
3/8" deep in the surface of the fixture.
Make a 3/4" thick guide block with a through hole of the same
diameter as the bit and pin you will be using. Use this block
to align the bit and pin. Click on image for larger view.
Turn the fixture
over with the product to be duplicated on the bottom and start your
router motor. Slide the fixture forward until the guide pin touches
the edge of the product and lower the rotating bit into the laminate
material about 1/8". Twist the quill feed handle to lock it into
Guide the product
around its profile (against the rotation of the bit), being sure
to always maintain contact with the guide pin during operations
Repeat this process two more times until you have cut your groove
in the laminate surface of your fixture to a depth of about 7/16"
to 1/2". Remove the existing product from the fixture. To make dupli-cates
of this product, simply screw a blank workpiece to the particleboard
side of the fixture, drop the groove in the laminate side of the
fixture over the protruding table pin, and make your profile cuts.
It's that simple! Note: By cutting another groove (shown with broken
lines in Figure 22-29)
in the fixture, you can also cut out a plaque-shaped picture frame,
as well as a smaller plaque, all at once.
Run the edge of the product against the guide pin to cut a
matching groove in the laminate side of your fixture.
Using A Template-A
template is a wood or plastic shape that is mounted to the fixture
blank and used as a guide to cut the grooves in the fixture blank
when making a fixture.
To make a template,
first trace the desired shape onto a piece of stiff paper or cardboard
to create a pattern (a pattern is the paper or cardboard master
of your shape that is then traced or glued onto the template blank).
Then, cut out
the shape of the design and trace the pattern onto a 1/2" thick
piece of plywood or plastic. Once the pattern is traced onto the
template blank, cut out the shape with a scroll saw, bandsaw or
sabre saw. Remember that the grooves in your fixture will only be
as smooth and perfect as the template you use to cut them with .
. . so take extra care in cutting out and sanding the template so
that it's as perfect as possible. Note: When building or working
with intricate-shaped projects, it's a good idea to use the original
template to trace the pattern of your project on your workpiece
(or, when making your fixture, on the top side of the fixture) so
you can clearly see each area as it is being cut.
Next, use screws
or nails to affix the completed template to the particleboard side
of a fixture blank that is slightly larger than the design. Warning:
Be careful not to locate screws or nails in the path of your bit.
Insert and align
the matching bit and guide pin. When cutting out designs with tight
curves, you may have to use a bit and pin combination that is smaller
Turn your fixture
over with the template on the bottom, set the depth-of-cut as described
earlier and turn on the router motor.
Ease your pattern
towards the pin until it makes contact, lower the rotating bit into
the laminate side of the fixture and cut the grooves to a depth
of about 7/16", as described previously for making a fixture from
an existing product.
If your template
is intricate with lots of cut-outs, you will have to move your bit
from cut-out to cut-out, raising and lowering the bit for each one.
Note: If a cut-out is wider than the diameter of the pin and bit
you are using, you must always maintain firm pres-sure against the
pin while you guide the template through the cuts. If you allow
the fixture to switch from one side of the cut-out to the other
during operations, your fixture groove will become wider than the
bit and could cause a loss of precision and a rough cut when duplicating
Tips on Building Fixtures
Screw-on Fixtures-Caution: Be sure to countersink al/screw
heads on the laminate side of your fixture soit will glide smoothly
across the routing system table without marring the table surface.
Be certain all hold-down screws are located in areas that are not
in the path of the router bit.
Fixtures-Once the screws are positioned in the fixture, sharpen
the points with a file to make it easier for them to grip your workpiece.
To ease insertion
and removal of workpieces, drill a 1" diameter hole in the fixture
bottom (away from the path of the router bit during cutting) to
allow you to push the workpiece out after it is cut.
Use T-Nuts and thumbscrews to apply pressure against the floating
bar which secures your workpiece in the clamp-in fixtures.
Fixtures-After you have cut the guiding grooves in the fixture
base, attach 3/4" thick side and end rails to the base with screws
and glue. Be sure the sides stick up above the base the same distance
as the thickness of your project workpiece.
If your fixture
has a floating bar to hold your workpiece, use T-nuts set into counterbored
recesses and thumbscrews to apply adequate pressure against the
floating clamp bar to hold the workpiece during operations (Figure
Using eccentric cams to hold a workpiece in a fixture. Click
to see larger view.
to the floating bar clamping system is eccentric cams that can be
rotated 1/2 turn or less to grip the workpiece tirmly (Figure
extra holding power, you can add protruding drive-on screw points
to drop-in fixtures.
To ease insertion
and removal of workpieces, drill a 1" diameter hole in the fixture
bottom (away from the path of the router bit during cutting) to
allow you to push the workpiece out after it is cut.
making a fixture that contains small areas where all stock is to
be removed (and the scrap will not be held in position by screws),
remove all stock from this area on the fixture, as well. This will
allow you to rout out the entire area in shallow passes and prevent
the scrap from grabbing when you cut out your workpiece.
Tips for Working with Fixtures
- Wax the laminate
side of fixtures frequently to help them glide smoothly over the
- Clean the
sawdust and debris out of the pattern grooves of your fixture
occasionally to prevent jamming and help keep the fixture operating
- If a fixture
is expected to be used in a production environment for making
a large number of the same item, use your original "master" fixture
to make one or two more fixtures before it has a chance to wear
out and lose its accuracy.
- When cutting
out workpieces with a fixture, never allow your bit to cut into
the particleboard side of the fixture more than 1/32" to 1/16".
- If you occasionally
need to reduce the size of a project made on a fixture by a small
amount, this can be done by using a smaller guide pin and a larger
bit when cutting out your workpiece. Remember to work carefully
and always guide your stock against the outside edges of your
fixture grooves when doing this.
If the edges
of your project must be shaped after the profile is cut out, this
can be done with the workpiece still attached to the fixture by
merely switching bits (Figure
22-41). By changing to a smaller guide pin, you can alter
the profile of your decorative cut...but remember to always guide
your fixture against either the outside or the inside edges of
the grooves during this entire operation. If you switch groove
sides in mid-cut, you will change the shape of your decorative
By changing to an edge cutting bit, you can use your fixture
to shape the edges of a workpiece after it is cut out.
- If you will
be making a large number of the same project with shaped edges,
it's a good idea to make several identical fixtures so you won't
have to keep changing from a straight bit (for making cut-outs)
to a profiled bit (for shaping the edges).
Furniture and Veneers
Damaged furniture or veneers such as this can be easily repaired
on the routing system.
system is the ideal tool for repairing damaged furniture and veneers
if the damaged piece is small enough to work on the surface of the
this task, first rout out the area to be repaired by guiding the
damaged piece against a fence. Be sure to use a straight bit large
enough to remove an area slightly larger than the damage (Figure
Using a fence or guide strip, rout out an area slightly larger
than the damage.
If you're working
with a solid wood piece, cut all the way through the stock to form
an elongated hole in the wood. If you're repairing a veneered area,
be careful to cut no deeper than the veneer.
If you have
cut a through-hole in the piece to be repaired, position a piece
of wood of approximately the same grain pattern under the hole and
trace the shape onto it.
If you have
cut only to the depth of the veneer, lay a piece of tracing paper
over the cut-out area and trace the shape onto it. Then, using carbon
paper, trace the shape onto the piece of stock you plan to use as
a plug...being careful to make this tracing about 1/32" to 1/16"
larger than the actual cut-out.
Make a plug of matching wood to drop into the routed-out area
on your damaged piece.
a scroll saw or bandsaw, cut the plug out of your workpiece (Figure
Using a disc
sander with the table tilted about 5°, carefully sand around the
edges of your plug. By tilting the table, your plug should be slightly
smaller at the bottom than it is at the top. This will allow the
plug to drop into the damaged cut-out easily.
Now, test the
plug for fit. If it is too large, keep sanding around the edges
until it drops into the routed-out area snugly. Once the piece fits,
glue it into position.
Drop your plug into position, glue and sand off flush with
the surface. Stain to match.
After the glue
has dried, sand off any protruding stock (on both sides) and stain
the plug to match (Figure
22-45). If there are any voids left by the taper of the plug
on the back side, fill them in with wood putty or plastic wood before
Fluting adds an attractive accent to legs or posts.
Fluting is a
series of decorative cuts that are made with a core box or veining
bit to enhance flat-sided or cylindrical posts and legs (Figure
of flat-sided (square, hexagonal, octagonal, etc.) legs and posts
is a fairly simple matter.
Begin by setting
up the fence and the fence extensions (Figure
22-21) to control the location of the flute. Then, firmly attach
the stops to the extension fences to limit the length of the flutes
Fluting of workpieces with flat surfaces is accomplished by
guiding the workpiece against the fence. Use stops to limit
the length of the flutes.
bit and set the depth stop rod to the depth-of-cut you desire.
workpiece at one end of its intended travel and turn on your router
motor. Slowly lower the bit into the stock and slide the workpiece
against the fence extensions until the stop stops it. Raise the
bit and turn off the router motor. Do not dwell or pause at either
end of the cut or you will burn your workpiece.
When fluting tapered workpieces, cut a wedge to make the top
side of your workpiece parallel with the table surface during
operations. Click on image to see larger view.
with Taper-Fluting flat-sided legs or posts with a taper is
slightly more involved. Begin by cutting a tapered wedge
to make the top (or working) side of the leg or post parallel to
the table surface during operations (Figure
22-48). Temporarily affix the wedge to the flat on the opposite
(or bottom) side of the stock that you plan to flute with masking
tape or double-sided tape. Place the stops in position and proceed
as you would for fluting flat-sided projects.
Construction details of a special indexing fixture that is
used for fluting cylindrical legs or posts. Click on image
to see larger view.
you are planning to flute cylindrical legs or posts, you will need
to build a special indexing fixture to hold the work-piece during
the cuts (Figure 22-49).
Begin by inserting
the workpiece between the two centers of the fixture. The top of
the workpiece must be parallel to the table surface. Attach stops
to the routing system fence and/or the bottom or sides of the indexing
fixture to limit the length of your cuts as described under fluting
how many flutes you want around the circumference of your workpiece.
The indexing head is set up to cut up to 24 flutes, 150 apart. If
you want eight flutes, simply index the head three holes for each
flute, insert the nail, and make your cut. If you want six flutes,
index the head four holes for each cut, etc.
Flute cylindrical legs and posts by guiding the fixture through
the cuts with the workpiece mounted firmly between the two
Make your passes
just as described earlier for fluting flat-sided legs or posts,
guiding the fixture with the workpiece in position through each
cut (Figure 22-50).
with Taper-If your cylindrical legs or posts ar tapered, use
a wedge between the bottom of the fixture and the table
surface, just as you would for fluting flat-sided workpieces with
A Drill Press Vise To Hold Workpieces
A drill press vise is used for gripping workpieces.
In some cases,
you may have a workpiece that cannot be held properly for making
cuts on a flat table surface or against a fence. An example of this
could be cutting a mortise in a leg using a drill press vise (Figure
this task, make a sliding table to hold your vise like the one shown
in Figure 22-52.
Also use the fence extensions and stops (Figure
22-21) to control the length of the cut.
Construction details of a sliding table for a drill press
Many of the
operations that have been explained in the overarm operations section
of this chapter can be performed with equal ease in the under-table
the rotating bit is not always in plain view during under-table
routing, extra care should be taken at all times when in the under-table
Whenever possible, use piloted bits, fence, fence extensions, miter
gauge or other guiding devices during under-table routing. NEVER
press directly down on top of your workpiece during under-table
routing. If your workpiece should break, your hand could slip into
the rotating bit, causing serious injury. ALWAYS use a push block,
push stick, feather board or other safety device to exert downward
pressure on the workpiece during operations. The bit is often not
visible during under-table operations, therefore extreme caution
Although most of the same rules apply to both overarm and under-table
edging, the bit is often not visible during under-table routing
and therefore, it's even more important that you always use the
fence, fence extensions, miter gauge and/or guiding device during
keep in mind that during under-table routing, the bit is rotating
in the opposite direction as during overarm operations. Warning:
The stock must always be fed from right-to-left during under-table
Removal-Since full edge removal requires the use of an unpiloted
bit, under-table edging should be restricted to straight-edged or
round workpieces. Either of these can be handled safely with the
aid of a fence, miter gauge, or other guiding device.
odd-shaped workpieces cannot be controlled with fences or other
devices and the operator cannot always see the cut as it's being
made, full edge removal on odd-shaped workpieces should be performed
only in the overarm mode and with a proper guiding device. Warning:
Do not use the under-table mode to remove the full edge from an
Removal-Because of limited bit visibility during operations,
partial edge removal in the under-table mode should always be performed
with piloted bits or with the aid of a fence, miter gauge, or other
guiding device to control the depth-of-cut.
operations on straight-edged or round work-pieces, use a fence,
V-shaped fence faces or piloted bits. When working with odd-shaped
project components, always use piloted bits to control your depth-of-cut.
If your decorative surface cuts are to be made in a straight line
and will go all the way across a work-piece from one side to the
other (no stopped cuts), they can be performed in the under-table
mode with the
aid of a fence, miter gauge or other guiding device.
Because of limited
visibility, making decorative stopped cuts in the surfaces of workpieces
is not advised in the under-table mode of operation. These cuts
are best performed in the overarm mode, where the workpiece and
bit can both be kept in plain view at all times.
For maximum safely, use a setup like this when making small
moldings in the under-table mode.
The process of making moldings in the under-table mode is very similar
to that discussed earlier in this chapter for the overarm mode,
with a couple of important exceptions:
that with under-table operations, the bit pushes up on the workpiece
instead of down. Therefore, when cutting straight moldings, the
use of feather boards is essential (Figure
22-53). To use feather boards, you will have to construct hold-down
fences (Figure 22-16).
Warning: Be sure your stock is held firmly down against the table
surface and inward, against the hold-down fences. With small work-pieces,
be sure to use shop-made wooden push sticks for added safety. Because
the bit is not always in plain view, when making Irregular-shaped
curved moldings in the under-table mode, always use piloted bits.
If your curved
moldings are round, use V-shaped fence faces like those shown in
curved moldings, proceed as you would for overarm routing. First,
form the edges on an oversized piece of stock. Then, cut your molding
away with a scroll saw or bandsaw and sand the sawn edges smooth.
With the exception of mortise and tenon joints, virtually all of
the structural joints shown in Figure
22-27 can be formed with the routing system in the under-table
mode. In fact, some of these joints (such as tongue and groove and
splined joints) are actually easier and safer to form in the under-table
mode than they are in the overarm mode.
Construction details of a false dovetail fixture that is used
to cut either false dovetails or false finger-lap joints.
Beyond the basic
joints, under-table routing provides the ability to form two very
unique joints that would be difficult (if not almost impossible)
to form with any other machine. These joints are the false dovetail
and the false finger-lap.
Both of these
joints are formed by gluing your project together, cutting grooves
for contrasting wood keys in the corners and gluing
the keys into position. Once completed, the corners of your project
have the look of dovetails or finger-lap joints.
To cut these
unique joints, begin by building a false dovetail fixture like the
one shown in Figure
22-54. Note that the dimensions for this fixture are based on
1/2" dovetails spaced 1" apart. If your dovetails will be larger,
smaller, and/or spaced differently, you will have to adjust your
Start by placing one corner of your project in the fixture
with its right side against the spacer bar. Make your first
Before you can
cut the dovetail slots (or square slots, if you're making finger-lap
joints), you must first assemble your project with 45° mitered corners
and glue it together. Warning: Clamp and let glued-up stock dry
for at least 24 hours prior to routing.
After the glue
has dried, begin by positioning your project in the fixture with
its side against the spacer bar. Turn on the router. Move the miter
gauge (with fixture attached and project in position) into the bit
to make the first cut (Figure
22-55). Turn off the router.
Return the miter
gauge to its starting position. Move the project to the right in
the fixture and drop the slot you just cut over the spacer bar (Figure
22-56). Move the miter gauge into the bit again to make the
second cut. Repeat the above procedure for all subsequent slots
on each corner of your project (Figure
Drop the slot you just cut over the spacer bar in the fixture
and make your next cut.
Finish by cutting slots in all four corners of the project.
Next, make the
dovetail keys that will slip into the grooves you've
cut. Begin by choosing a piece of contrasting stock, approximately
3/4" thick x 3" wide.
Set up the hold-down
fences (Figure 22-16)
and feather boards, and adjust the bit's depth-of-cut equal to the
depth you cut in your project. Begin by making the first pass on
one side of your key stock (Figure
22-58). Now, flip the stock over and make the second pass on
the other side (Figure
Guide your key stock along the fences to make your first cut
for the keys.
Flip the stock over and make the second pass to finish cutting
the key shape in your workpiece.
Check to see
if the key fits into the slot you've cut in the corners of your
project. If it's too snug, adjust your fence to make a slightly
deeper cut in your key stock (which will create a narrower key).
Keep working with this until the key fits snugly in the slots you
Next, saw the
full-length keys off your key stock, and discard the scrap in the
center. Then, cut the keys to about 1" to 1-1/4" long.
Glue the keys into the slots in the corners of your project.
on each side of the keys and insert them into the slots in the corners
of your project (Figure
22-60). After they have dried, sand the keys flush with the
project (Figure 22-61).
This same process
will work for finger-lap joints. Instead of using a dovetail cutter,
use a straight 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2" un-piloted bit.
Sand the keys flush with the project.