Category Archives: Routers

Karen’s Inlaid Box (PartIII)

IMG_1694Yesterday was family day, so if I was going to get anything done this weekend, it would have to be in the shop today. I had a few things to catch up on, and I planned to inlay the box I’m working on. After I fixed a drop finial that was broken off my highboy and reshaped a few brass mallet inserts, I installed hinges on the clock waist doors then got to the box.

IMG_1682The first order of business was to make the fans. I decided to make and use fans with three sections instead of the four sections in my original drawings – four sections were too wide for the box front. I sand shaded the fans a little just to provide a hint of visual depth. I then laid the fans onto the box front to arrange a pleasing layout.

IMG_1683Once I had the layout set, I traced around the outside of the fans. One thing to remember is to flip the fans as you transfer the layout. Otherwise you could find yourself positioning a fan with its less-desirable face up because sometimes (most times) the fans are not perfectly symmetrical as to allow it.

IMG_1685The next step was to waste out the area where the fans fit. I worked the first fan recess by routing out the waste then setting the lines using my chisels and a #3 carving gouge. On the second recess, I struck the lines then routed away the waste. (I did the third fan recess this way as well, but as far as I can tell, there is little difference. Both methods work equally good. Cut as close to the line as you can without nicking it, then clean away the balance using the chisel.

IMG_1689The fans were glued in place using regular yellow glue just before I left for lunch. When I returned about an hour later, I first sanded the top, ends and back of the box to #180 grit. I then peeled the blue tape from each fan. As I looked at the box, I thought it looked a bit plain. Because I have no set box to create (I’m free-wheeling it), I decided to add another spot of inlay.

IMG_1691I settled on a small blackwood dot above each fan. To make the dots, I used a 3/8″ plug cutter then sliced the discs off using a handsaw – that way I could control the thickness of each disc. The recesses for the dots was nothing more than a shallow hole from a Forstner drill bit. Once the holes was cut, I dropped a bit of glue into the hole and set the disc in place. After the glue had enough time to dry and after I had cut, shaped and installed a simple handle in the lid portion of the box, I leveled the front of the box as shown in the opening photo.

I add a couple hinges during the week, and I hope to use rare-earth magnets to keep the box closed. After that, I’ll apply a few coats of my oil/varnish mixture and that should do it. If I missed anything that you’d like to know, please drop your question in the comment section below. I’ll get you a reply in short order.

Build Something Great!
Glen

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Karens Inlaid Box (Part II)

IMG_1678When I returned to the shop this week, I took the clamps off the box and checked out the assembly. Things looked good, so I moved on. Step number one was to add a lid. Because I wanted to hide the lid’s appearance, I created a lip that was slightly less in thickness than the planned corner inlay. After sizing a piece of mahogany to that of the box, I used a two-step cut at the tablesaw to rabbet the piece. The lid was ready, so I glued it to the box.

IMG_1668As the glue dried on the lid, I found a scrap of tiger maple and milled the corner inlay material to size. Off the saw, I ran the 3/16″ piece through my spindle sander to bring them to perfectly square (5/32″) and to clean up any nasty burnt areas. The next step was to rabbet the box for all the corner work. Because the box was square, I could simply use a straight bit set up in my router table. (If any of the edges were rounded or curved, I would have needed a bearing-guided bit.) Set-up of the bit height and fence is critical; if I rabbeted too deep the inlay I made was once again scrap. To dial in the exact setting, I used a piece of the inlay as a guide as shown above.

IMG_1670When the glue was dry, it was off to the router table to trim the corners. I rabbeted only the four face corners at this time. The plan was to install the corners, then when the top edges were rabbeted, the installed pieces would be cut and the those inlays would terminate into the top edge inlay. Bring on the glue and blue tape. (I find blue tape invaluable when working with inlay.) I added a bit of glue into the rabbet, slipped in a piece of corner inlay then taped the thing in place as the glue dried.

IMG_1674To separate the top from the box, I used my table saw. Before making any cuts, I sliced a couple filler strips that are equal to the blade’s kerf. At the saw after trimming any extra lengths of corner inlay flush with the box top, I made two passes along the front and back of the box cutting through its walls. The filler strips were slipped into those cuts, I then added a clamp to keep the top and base in place as the next set of cuts freed the two sections. You can see the operation at the right, but you might also notice that I positioned my clamp in the wrong orientation. I could easily make the first end cut, but I had to add a clamp then remove the first clamp in order to make the second cut. (If I had just moved the clamp, the sections would not have moved, but the filler strips could have fell out causing more work.)

IMG_1677Once the top was off, I returned to the router set-up to run the rabbets for the four top edges and fit corner inlay to the cuts. These pieces required miters at the corners. I used my bench hook and my Dozuki saw to make the small miters. Once cut and fit, it’s back to the glue and blue tape. As the glue on the box top dried, I milled and installed bands around the base of the box – these piece were the same thickness as the corner inlay. I also fit and installed a band around the top edge of the box – these pieces were half the thickness of the corner inlay and a second band was applied to the bottom edge of the top. (When the box was joined and closed, the total thickness of the middle banding would equal that of the corner inlay thickness.) Each of these pieces were mitered at the corners. Everything was set aside to fully dry.

What’s left are the three fan inlays and to sand and finish the box. Oh yeah. I need hardware and a handle, too. Got to get creative for that.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Different Blade Connection

6-Dr_Chest_Complete-1Wonder what blades are? It’s simple. In furniture speak, blades are another name for drawer dividers. As you probably know, there are many techniques and joinery methods to attach drawer blades to the case. The technique shown here is one that is not all that common, but it is found in antique furniture, namely the Moses Bayley high chest of drawers from Newberryport, Mass. (There is a fascinating bit of history surrounding the highboy; read more about it here.)

In the first issue of American Woodworker magazine under the complete guidance of F+W with me as the content director, I built a chest of drawers (shown above) using this blade connection technique – the issue should be available sometime in early June. (You and 100,000 of your closet friends should pick up a copy!)

B_SlotThe process is easy. While the connection could be done without plowing an 1/8″-deep groove, it’s easier to do so and the groove adds another detail to your work. Step #1 is to rout the groove – align a straightedge to your project, then run a router and 3/4″ top-mount bearing router bit along its length as the bearing rides your straightedge. The width of the groove has to match the thickness of your drawer blades.

Step #2 is to form the dovetail on the ends of your blades. The length of the dovetail – how high you need to raise your router bit – is equal to the thickness of the material remaining after the groove is cut. A_DovetailIf you’re using 3/4″-thick material, after the 1/8″ groove you have 5/8″ of thickness remaining. For me this is a bit of work completed at the router table. Set the height of the bit then adjust the fence so its aligned with the router bit exactly at the table’s top edge. This takes advantage of the entire thickness of your blade – if you’re slightly thinner after your cut, that’s OK, but do not leave a flat on the edge of the dovetail. (Notice the solid push block used to guide the tall drawer divider through the cut.) After you have the dovetail ends created, cut away the back edge leaving a 1″-wide dovetail – trim the dovetail away flush with the square shoulder on your blade.

C_LayoutStep#3 is to transfer the dovetail profile onto your case side. As you can see in the photo, the blade slips into the groove and the trimmed dovetail sits tight to the case side. Using a sharp pencil, transfer the profile. Nothing fancy here. No special details to share. Simply install the blades into position then draw the lines. Bingo.

Step #4 is to square the layout lines down the case side 1″ (matching the dovetail width), then draw a straight line setting the bottom of the socket. D_SawIt’s time to define the socket. This is where your ability to saw comes into play. Cut the two sides of your layout down to the inch mark. Follow both lines as you saw. After you’ve established the socket’s outer edges, make a few additional saw cuts between the lines – the more kerfs you have, the easier the next couple steps become and the cleaner your socket will be to work.

Step#5 is to break out the thin pieces of wood that fill your socket. E_PareYou can jam a chisel into the slots, or if they’re thin enough, you can break the pieces out with your fingers. The neat things is that when they break – due to the grain orientation – the slivers break flush with the bottom edge of the socket. (Sometimes they do break slightly above the line.) With the pieces out of the way, pare the socket bottom so it’s smooth and level. Make sure the socket is level from outside to inside. And it wouldn’t hurt to slope a bit toward the inside – that guarantees you’ll have a tight fit on the exterior of your case.

The last step is to fit the blade’s dovetail into the socket. F_FitIf you’ve sawn to the layout lines and trimmed the socket even at the bottom, your blades should fit easily. Brush glue onto the dovetail and into the socket (the best glue surface is the flat-grain to flat-grain connection at the bottom of the socket), then drive the workpiece home. By the way, don’t forget to repeat these steps twice for each drawer blade or divider. Test-fits are terrible with only one socket cut.

I’m not going to show you a finished shot of the chest of drawers – for that you’re going to have to wait until the issue is sent – but I will show you a photo of the highboy mentioned above. In fact, if you’re so inclined to want to see this process in action, I have a full-length DVD on building the Moses Bayley chest. You can purchase a copy here.

Build Something Great!

Glen

G_MA High Chest

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Filed under Antique Pieces, Hand Tools, Joinery, Methods of Work, Power Tools, Routers

One Becomes Three

Photo courtesy of H. L. Chalfant Antiques in Wets Chester, PA

Photo courtesy of H. L. Chalfant Antiques in Wets Chester, PA

When talking about antique chest of drawers, “chest speak” often mentions drawer layout to describe a piece. You’ll read in a magazine advertisement, in an auction catalog or on a web site that it’s a three-over-five design, or a two-over-three-over four design. What is being described is the number of drawers stacked over the next bank of drawers. The first example would be three drawers set in the top row with five full-width drawers set below. The second example would have two drawer in the top row, and three drawers that make up the second row, with four full-width drawers stacked below. (The top rows are often reversed as shown in the opening photo.) Combinations are endless, but you don’t often see numbers get out of hand.

There is something to keep in mind as you look at drawer layout. Is the bank of drawers actually divided into two or three drawers, or is that a single-width drawer made to look like it’s divided? If it’s a single drawer made to look like three, what’s an easy way to duplicate that if you were building the chest? One way is to use an ovolo router bit.

An ovolo bit is similar to a roundover router bit, but there is nothing attached IMG_1599to the bit to guide it path – no pilot (that’s a throw-back design) or bearing such as what we have on most roundover bits. In the right-hand photo you can see the difference between the two different bits that basically cut the same profiles. Both router bits shown have a 1/4″ roundover profile. (Click the photo to enlarge the image.)

The way to use an ovolo bit is to first profile the edge of your drawer front using a roundover bit. Next, chuck the ovolo bit into your router, set the depth of cut to match the roundover profile, clamp a straightedge to the workpiece and run test cut. Measure the distance from your straightedge to the exact center of your ovolo profile. You’ll need that as you layout for the cut in your drawer front. (With my ovolo bit the width of the completed profile is 1″.) Layout work can be tricky. If you don’t pay attention, it’s easy to get the faux fronts a bit off in width.

IMG_1602

Once the layout work is done, measure from the layout line to where you need to set your straightedge, clamp it in position and you’re ready to divide your drawer front. Work slow as you rout, it’s easy to flip out the profile as the router bit enters the cut.

How can you tell the drawer front is not really three individual drawers? Look closely at the vertical divider areas. You’ll see a small gap at the top of each divider if the drawer front is a single-width front and the furnituremaker was attempting to fool your eye.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Door Frame Fix

When I began building the Egerton tall clock, I built one base, waist and door before deciding to build a second clock. As I completed the door on the second clock, I moved to the hoods without fitting the door to its opening. Mistake. Big mistake.

Nearing completion of the two clocks, the time arrived to fit the door. No worries. I setup my router with a rabbeting bit, IMG_1501ran the bottom, left side and top, leaving the right side for the hinges – that side has only an 1/8″ rabbet. I carried the door to the case, but it didn’t fit. The arch at the door’s top wouldn’t fit into the opening when the balance of the door was in place. I remembered that the arch pattern I used was off center – a design feature specifically chosen to keep the arch centered in the waist when rabbeted to fit. If I would have made the rabbet cuts so the door hinged on the left side instead of the right, my work would have been done. Crap.

After thinking about possible fixes for the week, yesterday I headed to the shop with a plan: Cut away the current piece from the door frame, then install a new section that was cut to fit and laid out using the door itself. To attach the new piece, I had a long-grain connection at the top edge. The ends, however, needed something for hold. I decided a half-lap at each end would be perfect.

To make this happen, I setup my router and grabbed a piece of plywood scrap that IMG_1502had a perfect 90° corner intact. The distance from the edge of the router’s base and the far edge of the straight bit I loaded was found. I then added another 1/2″ to allow for the half-lapped ledge. I positioned the makeshift, plywood fence that distance from where the rail and stile met on the door frame and was ready to cut.

I set the depth of cut to just remove the entire thickness of the rail, and made the cut. IMG_1505The fence was then reversed to work on the other side where I followed the same process. With those two cuts made, I adjusted the depth of cut so half the total thickness of the rail was removed, positioned the fence so the router bit cut exactly at the rail/stile intersection and trimmed away the material as shown in the left-hand photo. The center section was simply free-hand cut once the fence was removed. All that was left to waste away was the top edge.

I set the fence in place to work the same magic along the top edge, then made a shallow test cut so I could dial-in the exact setting. IMG_1506It took a couple of tweaks because I wanted to remove the rail without cutting away any of the tri-colored stringing just above. Once I had the fence just where I wanted it, I adjusted the bit depth and made the last pass. As I reached the end of the cut, the old rail fell away. Perfect. I grabbed a chisel to clean up the corners and square any rounded portions left from the router bit. Time to fit a replacement.

I spent a little time getting the new rail sized and tightly fit to the existing framework. The ends of the new rail were easily rabbeted using my table saw. IMG_1509With the replacement in position, I put the door in place then drew a pencil line around the rabbeted arch of the door. The rail was pulled from the clock waist, a cut at the pencil line was made using my band saw, the raw edge was sanded at my spindle sander and the replacement was then glued into position. The long-grain edges mated up and the half-laps worked great. When the glue was dry, I sanded the surfaces flush and called it done. Everything went according to plan and much quicker than expected. I call that a great day in the shop.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Don’t Have a Large Router Bushing? Make One – It’s Easy

IMG_1488This week there came a need to rout an oval that matched a smaller oval, and we needed to make the new pattern 1-1/4″ wider all around. A new design could have been made, but that’s a lot of extra work to layout, cut and shape. And getting the oval as an exact match would be difficult at best.

In the past (especially when working on goose-neck molding layout), I’ve made a wooden circle with a center hole just sized to allow a pencil to pass through to accurately draw around a pattern, providing a perfect over-sized pattern. As we discussed this technique, Dave (friend and fellow woodworker) suggested we bypass the pencil and use a router bit instead. Great idea.

IMG_1485To make it happen, you need to size the needed bushing. To add 1-1/4″ when using a 1/4″ spiral-upcut router bit, you need a 2-9/16″ outside diameter bushing – you cannot find that in the router accessories department of any store. So step one is to make a plywood disc to that size. If you do the layout work with a compass, you get the size and you mark the center of your disc, which is a good thing. Cut the rough shape at your band saw then smooth the edges using a disc sander. (You could set up a band saw jig to make the disc, but that’s way to involved when a single disc is needed.)

IMG_1486With the wooden disc in hand, drill a hole in its center that is perfectly sized for a standard bushing you have in the shop; in this case, we used a 3/4″-outside diameter bushing. Make sure you accurately center the hole in the disc – that’s where the prick from the compass leg comes into play. When you’ve drilled the hole, the disc should fit snug on your bushing. Load the over-sized guide bushing into your favorite router and your set to work.

With this arrangement, the bushing offsets the router as the cut is made. A good practice is to step your way through these cuts, making several passes while dropping the cutting depth with each step. The photo below shows the first light pass, which also confirmed the offset cut.

IMG_1490

Router bushings are a great asset to have in the shop. In most available kits, the largest outside diameter is 51/64″. You can find odd bushings sized as large as 1-3/16″, but if you need something larger, turn to plywood and make the bushing in your shop.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Jigs, Methods of Work, Routers, Shop Tips

Router-made Columns

IMG_1410Last week I finished the work on the goose-neck mouldings and the carved rosettes. At the left, you can see the mouldings and rosettes in place (click the photo to make it larger). This week I turned my attention to the columns that flank each side of the hood at the front and back.

These columns are reeded and need to fit a 3/4″ opening in the brass capitals. To make things work, I need to make the columns a larger diameter, then create the reeds, which extend beyond the 3/4″ diameter. I decided to make the columns 1″ round and to scratch in the reeds. The extra diameter allows for the reeds and provides a bit more material if needed.

My first thought was to turn the columns at my lathe. Even with a copy lathe, the process is slow and laborious – I need eight columns, four for each clock (I’m building two). IMG_1411There is no shape to these columns. No undulating whatsoever. They are straight from top to bottom.

After the first column, I remembered a technique to produce round dowels using a router table setup. It’s way faster. All you need is the correct router bit and material that is about 4″ (2″ extra at each end of the column) longer than the final length of the dowels. The router bit is a round-over bit that is half the total diameter of your dowel. IMG_1414In this case I am making 1″-diameter dowels, so I need a 1/2″ round-over bit. (If your dowels were 3/4″, you would need a 3/8″ round-over bit.)

I needed 16″-long columns. To work this technique with the added 4″ of material, I needed a minimum table length of 34″ (twice the column plus 2″). My router table top is nowhere near that length, so I whipped up an auxiliary top made from a piece of 1/2″ Baltic birch plywood. I positioned the router bit so the bearing was flush with my fence, and set the height just even with the top edge of the plywood.

You need to pivot the material into the cut so you leave a short section of square material at the leading end. As the material contacts the fence, cut the profile just as you would normally do, but do not run through the entire length. IMG_1416At the trailing end, stop short, leaving 2″ or less of square material. It’s those square sections that keep the dowel from turning as you make the last pass.

After you complete one pass, rotate the material 90° and make another pass. Four passes later you have a rounded dowel that rolls across your bench.

I completed all eight dowels (plus an extra just in case) in about 15 minutes after I had the setup ready to go. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.

IMG_1417

Now to come up with a way to hold the dowels as I scratch the small reeds. I remember seeing a setup that Jeff Headley concocted for a similar purpose. Think I’ll dig that up.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Methods of Work, Power Tools, Routers, Shop Tips, Tall Clock