Power Tools – Router

One of the first handheld power tools that I bought was a router.  Probably the first portable power tool was probably a sander to better finish the surfaces of the pieces I did.

My first router was a Dewalt DW616 combo kit, which included both the fixed base and plunge base which made it a great combo kit.   I made good use of this kit but 2 things made it somewhat inconvenient.  No variable speed and had pretty bad dust collection, as for many routers of the time 

Hunt for the upgraded router

With these 2 things to try to upgrade, I went hunting for the the best that could be afforded and covered the variable speed and better dust collection as some of the cuts generated lots of dust. 

About 7 years ago, I settled on the Festool OF1400

Festool OF 1400EQ

Festool OF 1400 EQ (USA version)

I also wanted an edge guide that was pretty good and after seeing a demo in a road show, this is what I got.  At the time, 7 years ago, my opinion and my use, this was one if not the best router out there for what I was looking for. 

it has variable speed and what I taught on the of the best dust collecting system that could be offered at the time.  The clear dust shroud and the below the base chip catcher for edge treatment would do one for the best job I saw.  I was pretty much on a mission at that road show and many of the dealers were represented so I had the chance to see pretty much all that had routers to present. 

To this date, I had nothing to complain at this router and had been running flawlessly for the past 7 years.  OK granted, I am not in the shop day in day out, but it still tackles the main criteria that I still hold true since then.  I do not regret my decision and I even dove into more and more into the festool system since then.  I bought the track adapter for the router, that uses the same rods as the edge guide so that you can leverage the festool track for straight cuts

Now Today

The question bears to ask, would I choose the same model as about 7 years ago ?  well, maybe, maybe not.  The router market is not the same and new model has come a long way since then. 

Quite frankly, I have looked a little bit about 3 years back at the market and same changes were already noticeable which would make my decision more difficult today if I had to select a router for my shop.  I might still choose the Festool line of product.  Does it bear the price now as it did then, don’t really know.  Until I really need to change, I guess I will not know until then….  

Cutting boards commission

I’ve been lucky enough to get a second commission of cutting boards from a returning customer.  Here they are still in the rough state 

Cutting boards still in the rough state

Some cutting boards that are waiting to be rejointed, thickness planned and dimensioned.

Cutting boards still in the rough state

Some cutting boards that are waiting to be rejointed, thickness planned and dimensioned.

Cutting boards still in the rough state

Some cutting boards that are waiting to be rejointed, thickness planned and dimensioned.

Cutting boards still in the rough state

Some cutting boards that are waiting to be rejointed, thickness planned and dimensioned. Still need to be glued.

They are from hard maple and an insert of black walnut.  Nothing too fancy but times 100, it becomes a pretty interesting order.  Yeah Yeah some might say, 100 is not too much but for my perspective, 100 is pretty tall order when completing from evenings.  I am not a production shop, although the second time around, it is starting to be pretty interesting on optimizing some steps. 

Some process taughts

I don’t own a table saw, although, right now, I wish I would for the repetitive rip cuts for when dimensioning some of the parts of the cutting boards.  Specially to bring to width the components.  

Few years ago, I decided to got the plunge saw and a nice band saw.  The bandsaw blade that I got in there right now is not the smoothest.  I don’t expect perfect cuts but the blade is for resaw and not for finish cuts.

This became fun the first time around was how could I efficiently get the edges true.  Well the key here was a sharp blade to minimise the drift and a good setup jointer to make sure the edges were good. A good jack plane helped here too.  

But I do miss the table saw here.  

Optimise 

So the second time around, it is better and ultimately, will take less time to produce the same amount of cutting boards.  The choice of the lumber and the thickness helps here to reduce the time processing the lumber and getting the pieces glued, thicknessed and sanded/rounded over.  

I’m still not production shop but I was able to shave off a few hours for the same amount of product delivered to the end user.  

Please see my cutting board page here for more details  

Sharpness

It never miss, when I change for new cutters or use freshly sharpen tools, it always amuse me how easy the fresh sharpness gets the job done so much easier it really makes you wonder how you got so long with dull cutters or knives.

Machines

So most of my machines all use some sort of metallic cutter that at one point needs sharpening.  Either blades, knives or cutter have the effect of shaping the wood that it is presented and does it with more or less ease depending if the sharpness of the cutter is fresh or not….  Relatively speaking.   Get many blades, knives and get them sharpen.  Have a Sharp set on hand, send the dull to the sharpener… 

Hand Tools

These aren’t better compared to there machine counter parts.  Hand tools all have blades of some sort (well most of them) and needs regularly sharpening.  In most case, you will be able to sharpen these irons on your own.  No need for a professional service for these.  Sharpen often, more often then you think you need, a quick touch up will amaze you how far you’ll go. 

The jointer…   

The whole story that got me into this are the jointer’s knives.  

Delta DJ20 8

Delta DJ20 8″ Jointer

I had knives for a while sitting on  shelf waiting to replace the old knives that were really due for a replacement.  Sharpness what? So I had a project that needed to do some serial batching of processing rough lumber and well it was the time to replace those knives.  There are many options here.  But same goes as above, have multiple sets of knives if that is the route you keep

I succeeded without too much fussing but don’t get me wrong, the original head will eventually be replaced by a Shelix Head instead of replacing the 3 knives every time.  Just did not have the money on hand and needed to proceed with the project.  Read on to this system with inserts that rotate to reveal an edge that is sharp. 

The planer…  

The dealt DW735 have easy access to the straight knives through the top panel and are way more easy to replace then any jointer straight knives for sure.  In my experience so far anyway.  This is another good candidate for the replacement head for the planer.  If I ever change to a floor standing model, for sure, I will opt to replace the straight knives…  Worth the expense. 

Router table – Storage and dust management

I have equipped my shop with a router table for quite some time now and had set my target on the Jessem router table combo.  My local dealer had combos with the table top, stand and 3HP router.  Had my eyes on the standard kit with the white top, fence, lift and open base.  

The router table Kit

Finally had the chance to get one, in an local auction but nailed the Mast-R-Excel kit with a Milwaukee 3 hp router for about 1/2 price of what new would of costed at the time.  

Have been really satisfied with the table and router so far and have used for many tasks.  Dust collection is pretty good with the fence, but….    but the dust collection below the table is, as with other opened base router table, pretty bad.   Even with the below the table port of the Mast-R-Excel.  

Big chips never gets properly collected by the port below.  So doing so raised panel operation is pretty much a no dust collection, really.  For finer dust, it does an ok job but still having a lot more escaping below. 

Storage and dust collection Below

So began the search for storage and dust collection for the below portion of the router table to capture as much dust as possible.  It is not the number of examples that are missing and paralysis by analysis was pretty much going for a little while.  

I wanted and still want to gather all the router accessories within the organization that would be build in this cabinet, serving the double duty of storage (bits and other accessories) and with the dust collection aspects of things.  

And I did want to work within the confines of the opened base.  Did not want to change that as it still had the advantage of costing zero and had adjustable feet making it easy to change place and making it level with the uneven floor of the garage. 

The end result

As mentioned, just too much good ideas available and all very functional.  I wanted to minimise the amount of material that I wanted to buy to retrofit the base and deal with the different issues I mentioned  above. 

Some Material I had : 

  • Plywood, different dimensions and thickness that I could play around with
  • some hard wood that I could leverage for bit holders and incorporate within the table to store them
    • dealing with some bits that are pretty tall (molding bits for Ogee) and large diameter for raise panels make it some odd storage options
Router table storage

This is my router table with some storage in the rough below the table

Here is the big picture of the table with rough frame work of the storage. 

So you can see that the router and lift is enclosed in a compartment.  There will be some piece of plywood in the back with a hole for dust collection.  I will put in another piece in front that will be removable.  Here is a close up shot of the compartment : 

Enclosed router lift

Enclosed router lift

There is a bigger compartment at the bottom that will be used for storage of the bits and other router related accessories.  It will be sealed in the back with a piece of plywood and in the front, doors will be installed. 

Storage compartment from my router table

Here are some other pictures of the router table 

Shop Update – Cutting boards and Tool Cabinet

It was a pretty slow week from a shop time perspective but still had time to accomplish some work and contribute to a cause for kids illness. Some tool cabinet updates and cutting boards information on the way… 

Tool Cabinet

The tool cabinet has progress somewhat and represent my shop time, advancing the dovetails for the sides.  Both sides are cut and trimmed, ready to be transferred to the top and bottom of the cabinet

I also cut the rabbet in the sides, according to plan.  I originally did not cut them with the original build and can’t really remember why I did not cut them, but when I assembled the original carcase, I pretty much found why the rabbet exists…   Solidify the carcase itself when the back is put in place.  It is progressing but not as quickly as I would like.  This one is purely my fault… 

Cutting boards

I made some cutting boards a little while ago and decided to do a page dedicated to these projects as I build them, how I built them and if anyone is interested in the any of them, give me a shout.  Here is the link to see what I’ve done so far. 

I also decided to give out some of my cutting boards to a foundation that some friends are involved in for one of there Kids which suffers from the Rett Syndrom.  You can find more details here on there web site. You can also find more information on there facebook page.  Search for the “Jade la Peanut” keywords and you will find some publication there. 

Web Site

I’ve also spent some time to get the web site/blog site more up to date from a web perspective and getting some content up and running.  Got some ideas from both shop updates and projects that are coming soon.   Should be a pretty busy time. 

Stay Tune

Tool Cabinet – Outer Shell Redo

Here is the outer shell after the first glue up

Outer shell of the Tool Cabinet on edge

Tool Cabinet on edge

Well it is not anymore.  I was able to salvage the sides and top/bottom for different parts but for the outer shell, I had to mill more lumber to be able to redo it.

Why Redo the Outer Shell

There are multiple reason to have done this.

  • Not square from the get go
    • When I originally glued up the outer shell , it was not square although I did a dry run
    • the shelf was cut too long and not properly fitted in length when glued the outer shell together
  • Crappy dovetail
    • Personally, there gaps that I am willing to tolerate, but not that much.  I should of not glued it up like that from the get go and should of cut the strip to redo them

So back to square 1.5…. Not quite from scratch but pretty close.  But I am not really discouraged by this, just doing what I should of done from poor job and maybe trying to go too fast or too tired when cutting the joints or what ever the reason.

Even though this is shop furniture, I still like them too look good and don’t want to redo it in whatever time because I did a not so good job.  It does practice and shop time and good organisation of tools.

The lumber is now dimensioned for the outer shell and the dovetails are layout on the main vertical members and now time for sawing to perfection.

Enough writing, lets go woodworking.

Simple is better

Some times, simple is better.  Trying to overcomplicate things is where you loose time for something that is not really worth it.

Sometimes it is worth it to try a new technique or something that you are learning, but not this time for me.

Around Christmas time, I received some gift certificates for a local tool shop (Outils Pierre Berger) and had spotted some sets of screwdrivers that I had been looking for a while.  They are Wera screwdrivers set.  I had tried these screwdrivers and felt good in my hand and was the occasion to pull the trigger on them.

Installed the screwdrivers near the workbench

Installed the screwdrivers near the workbench

They came with sets of hangers that you can hand in different places.  Until I started redoing my tool cabinet to store the different tool set, I found that I did not really have a good place to fit it in.  Did not really want to make new tool holders to fit in the cabinet.

They have since been lying on my workbench without a proper place to hold them and when I was reaching for one of the screwdrivers, I always reminded myself that I had to do something to hold them properly.

So I started with French cleats and tried to arrange something with some scrap wood lying in the shop to construct the assembly and would be long enough to span between the studs.

Well I tried and failed with the french cleat.  I will not go into the details of the assembly that I tried but finally decided to abandoned this install and just found 2 pieces of wood that was big enough to screw 2 screws in the stud (so tall enough) so it would not move and have enough width so that the holder would fit on each of the piece of wood.

All that to say that it was a simple install, just procrastinated long enough and ultimately took about 5 minutes to install and 8 screws and now they are accessible and and I am very happy.

Shop Update – Hosting and projects

Changes in the hosting

This might be boring but I’ve changed my hosting company to support a local business.  I won’t go into the details of the what’s and why other then the fact that I was more or less happy with the provider that I had and was on the looks for changing company and decided to support a local business of the area.  If you are interested and are in the Montreal, Quebec area, give a shout to techno24 for all your needs.  The migration has been painless and could not have been any happier so far.

So most of my time lately has been on the task of moving my stuff over.

Projects

I was still able to fit in some projects, mainly some cutting boards for gifts that came by around easter time.  Some request from friends requested some specific dimensions and was pretty easy to get out the shop and customer was pretty happy with the end results.

It is amazing how much oil can bring the grain out.  I had some walnut that had pretty good grain figure and popped up with the oil was put on the cutting board.  I hope that the end customer is happy.

Shop updates

Been having some issues with the jointer.  I believe that I found the fix but will still call Delta for some confirmation on what could be the issue.  Been passing some time around the jointer for it’s tune up and can’t wait to put a Shelix head on this one.  Will be less maintenance then the straight knifes that came with the original head.  Will try to wait to replace the knives.  They are not due yet but If I can tough it until the replacement, that would be great.

Tool Cabinet

Updates on this one has been a bit slow with the above mentioned updated.  Will also  probably redo some of the carcase as I did not pay enough attention to the squareness of the overall case and now pay for it.  Not major expense in wood, but in time it will take up some redo.  But will need to slow down I guess, better joinery and taking time for the glue ups.

Also came up with some ideas for the internal guts of the cabinet to store the tools into the main cabinet and some other ideas for some of the other smaller tools that don’t belong in this main tool cabinet.

More to come.

Tool Cabinet – More Dovetails

I now have the main carcase done and can now have the official measures for the rest of the components of the tool cabinet and one main component that I wanted to address was the 2 main doors.

They are composed of 2 boxes with a frame and panel top that goes on top of the frame.  The joints for the boxe portion are through dovetails at the 4 corners.

Although I like to report on the progress of the build, I want to the the opportunity to discuss other relating topics to the build itself.

Sharpening

Well to cut proper joints, having the cutting portion sharp is pretty much essential and less dangerous.  This means that sharpening needs to become a habit for hand tools that are being used.

I Can only say to make it a habit to sharpen often, really.  To me, it makes it some much more enjoyable to work with sharp tools.  If you even doubt, go and hit whatever the media you use to sharpen and make it convenient to sharpen.

Same goes to the blades for power tools…  Although sharpening might be not convenient, make sure that you have sharp blades and can replace them when possible.

Dovetails Tutorial

I did follow a woodworking class a little while ago at the Rosewood Studio and we did touch cutting dovetail within the hand tool class, it’s always been a little bit of a challenge, for whatever the reason.  This is not the fault of the class that was taken, just not enough time practicing and making the muscle memory….

I lately looked at the online class at Finewoodworking about building the North Bennett street School in Boston and although I am still catching up, cutting the main carcase dovetails were pretty instructive and I believe I might pickup a few tricks. As with many things, stick with a method and keep at it for a while before changing anything.

So the case is progressing, not as fast as I would prefer, but still moving forward and I am woodworking.  And learning to practice and slow down from the fast pace of the other life.

 

Tool Cabinet – Structure

The tool cabinet structure is now finally built and glued up.  All 4 corners and the shelf that serves as the support for the plane till is all up and assembled.  Like many assemblies, some fun always arise close to the end and this is why dry assemblies are always necessary to find issues before applying the glue.

Shelf

The structure has a shelf at about 1/3 from the bottom of the cabinet that also serves to support the plane till.  The joint are through tenons and was pretty easy to fit and drive within the sides.

Square through tenons that will hold a shelf for the tool cabinet

Once the mortises were cut, I was able to derive the tenons through the shelf.  Yes yes normally, you would do the other way around.  It did not happen this way for this assembly and it still worked.

For the mortises, they are a little shallower then the thickness of the shelf by a total of 1/8″.  I chose to trim the tenons with a rabbeting block place with an edge guide and made sure that both side received an equal amount of shaving not to take too much from one side of the tenons.  Same amount of shavings were taken on both sides of the shelf so that side to side so that when the case would be assembled, the shelf would be level from side to side.

Piece of Walnut used as a edge stop for a rabbeting plane to trim the tenons

Piece of Walnut used as a edge stop for a rabbeting plane to trim the tenons

Assembly

After a first dry fit, I found out that the shelf was too long in between the tenons edge and made the side bow and the dovetails would not close together.  So back to measure the side and indeed, a 1/4″ was too much. So no wonder that the case would not come together.

Back to the bench and was able to trim  the extra material and on to another dry fit and this time was perfect.

So came time to glue up and took my time and worked with the PVA open time so the dry fitting got my clamps all ready to the glue up time.  Applied the glue and measured the different dimensions and all was good.  Left it to glue for all night and here it is….

Tool Cabinet on edge

Tool Cabinet on edge

Tool Cabinet on edge

Tool Cabinet on edge

Tool Cabinet on edge

Now on to the other components where the dimensions can be derived from the tool cabinet structure itself.  The dimensions that are stated in the plan are pretty good reference and some parts were cut to rough lengths. Knowingly that they were to be adjusted once the structure was all assembled.