Tag Archives: router setup

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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Filed under Hand Tools, Methods of Work, Routers

Tall Clock Oval Inlay

The Egerton tall clock I’m working on has two small oval inlays set into the waist-section face frame, so this is a perfect time to discuss and evaluate ovals.

In the period, channels for inlay were scratched into the surface using a compass, or something similar tool. Today we can work with a variety of tools, both hand and powered, to plow our grooves – hand work with a compass or inlay tools available from LeeValley & Veritas or Lie-Nielsen, and, of course, a router if you wish to power-up the process. But before you actually get to that step, you have to design your oval.

For me, ovals have been pulled from some type of computer drawing program, such as SketchUp. In the August 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, Freddy Roman (periodcraftsman.com) wrote an article about the ellipse. More to the point, about false ellipses. What is the difference and why should you choose one method over the other? Here is my take on this. If you plan to scratch in your oval pattern, or to use a router attached to a trammel to swing an oval, You better understand and use false ellipses. If, on the other hand, you plan to make a pattern to guide your router setup, any old ellipse will do.

Which technique do I choose? That’s not as easily answered as you may think. Because I have my clock waist assembled just as shown in the opening drawing, I would be unable to scratch my ovals into position – in order to draw the flat arcs necessary to create the long sides of my ovals require that I set my compass point more than 5″ from the center of my oval and that area is not available. That, however, does not keep me from using Freddy’s method to develop my pattern which would guide my router. Another option would be to create a piece of veneer with the string inlay in place, then glue that veneer to my clock.

Let’s begin with a comparison of the two ovals. Above you can see a distinct difference in the two drawing methods. A false ellipse, shown on the left, has ends that are more rounded because a compass or inlay tool works on a radius. The oval on the right is drawn in SketchUp. It’s ends are more pointed and could not be grooved using hand tools alone.

I will refer you to Freddy’s article for the steps necessary to produce a false ellipse. (I worked through the layout for my ovals.) Here, I’ll share how I use SketchUp and Preview (a MAC program) to produce an oval. (Before MAC, I worked in Microsoft Publisher for similar results.)

The first step is to layout the perimeter of the oval you wish to draw, then use the Circle tool centered at the middle of your proposed finished oval. Pull the radius out to the long end of your oval – here that is the top and bottom of the oval.

Next, use the Scale tool to pull in one side of your oval. Repeat the step to pull in the second side, as well.

The last step in SketchUp is to export your drawing. (This process is shown with the drop-down menu.) The image is saved in a file on your computer.

Open your file in Preview or another similar program, then set the parameters to crop the image touching all four sides as shown.

Under the Tools menu in Preview, select “Adjust Size”, enter in your required size then click OK. (Note that the size shown is not the actual size I needed for my clock.)

After the size is established, click print. As the menu to print opens, you’ll notice there is an option that allows you to print to scale. Set the scale at 100 percent before you print.

You now should have an oval that fits to your required layout size. I take that print-out into my shop, cut it free then transfer the pattern to a piece of plywood to use with my router. Which design do I plan to use on my clock? I believe that when you are working with small or narrow ovals, your design should be a false ellipse because the other drawing process produces ends that are too pointed, almost unbelievable. However, when I work with larger ovals, I prefer the ends be not so rounded. What do you think?

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Design, Inlay, Shop Tips