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Routing the base of the Do-Nothing Machine


Picture 1 – Setting the router depth.

I managed to route the grooves for the do-nothing machine this weekend.  This post is the step-by-step description of the process; including the “stupid” things I did.  We have all been told experience is the best teacher, but as my father used to say: “It is a whole lot easier if it is someone else’s experience.”  I am going to describe the whole process, including the mistakes.  If nothing else hopefully it will encourage others to try some things.

A router bit in the USA has a 1/4″ (6.35mm) smooth shaft called the shank. This s gripped in the router by means of a collet. The collet is simply a tube with a 1/4″ inner diameter that has been partially split. A tapered nut is threaded on the outside of the collet and squeezes it tightly to the bit.   The reason for this explanation is to point out that every time the bit is placed in the router, the depth will be different.  This requires setting the zero reference for the depth.  The way this was done on my router was to first have the router resting on a soft work piece with the bit above the work piece.  The bit is then gradually lowered until the bit just touches the work piece.  This is done by turning the red ring.  Next, the white ring is set to zero.  Once all that is done, I turned the red ring 1 full revolution (1/4″) and an addition amount for a 1/8″ more as shown in the picture to obtain the desired depth of 3/8″

Picture 2 – A freehand test cut

I have used the router a significant amount in the past but it has been a long time.  I would not describe myself as experienced with it and needed to do some re-learning.   Next I did a freehand cut to check the depth and to make sure I was correct that the router would want to pull to the left.  It did pull to the left, much more that what I expected.  I had to make several freehand cuts  to check the depth.

Picture 3 – Checking the Depth of the Cut.

While I checked the depth of the cut I inspected the shape of the groove to make sure it was what I expected.




Picture 4: My edge guide fixture.


Picture 5: The first and second attempts at routing the groove.

I then put a scrap board next to the work piece and clamped another straight edged board on top of the work piece to act as a guide.  This created my first minor problem.  As you can see in the picture the clamps interfered with the router handles.  Although it was unexpected, it really was not a serious problem because the router base is a circle and I can easily turn the router 90 degrees  and operate it the same way.
I completed the first cut and did my first stupid of the day.  I lifted the router out of the hole.  Since the bottom of the bit is larger than the top of the bit, I created the wide spot at the end of that groove.  The edge guide was long enough to continue the groove for a second base and I did a better job on that one.


Picture 6 – the first cross-grain routed groove

If you look closely at picture 6, near the top of the picture you will see two lines.  The top line was to be my saw cut, the bottom line was where I positioned the edge guide.  I did the second cut from left to the right of this picture. THIS SHOWS THE 2ND PROBLEM.  It would have been much better to have done this cut first.  As the bit started to cross the first groove and was cutting the end grain, it pulled a sliver of wood loose.

Back in Episode 39 I talked about how wood is actually a composite material made up of fibers glued together with a natural glue.  By cutting across the grain, it was easier for the bit to split the little sliver of wood loose than it was to cut the fibers of the wood.  In the middle of the wood piece, large hunks of wood would have to be pulled loose so it is easier to shear the fibers.   It does not seem to be as much of a problem at the final edge.  My guess is that at that point, I am moving the router at a faster speed because it is not cutting as much wood because it has already “cut through” at the face of the bit  ALWAYS DO THE END GRAIN CUT FIRST!  LESSON LEARNED!

Picture 7: Preparing to make a square cut.

In picture 7 I was preparing to use the circular saw to cut off the 1st base.  I wanted to support both sides of the board to make sure I did not have the wood split.   After all that worry and concern, I cut the wood on the wrong line!  Ooops!   I did much better on the second base.  (Picture 8)


As you can tell, the actual building is a lot less forgiving that the designing.  But, it is when things start actually come to life.

The next step is to cut the shuttles.  I will plan that for a future post.  I will also talk about alternative ways to do this part of it.

I am in the process of changing the categories.  At the current time that is all I am changing.  All of the CAD posts are under the CAD category.  I am working back in time and  have changed the categories for all from July 13 until the present.   Please bear with me until I get it completed.

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