I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this whole thing since my last bloglette – I think I’ve made progress…
Firstly – I’ve been somewhat overthinking/overworrying about this.
If it were an expensive proposition – OK.
If it were going to cost megabux – OK.
If it were a one-way trip – OK.
But none of these are true.A router table is, it seems to me, two distinct bits…
- The table top, hopefully flat, with a hole in it through which the router bit sticks
- Fence-ware for running your wood along.
Well – number 1 isn’t a big challenge, which leaves us with the fence – and it seems to me this is the heart of the router table.
So I looked at a lot of fences – both commercial and home-made.
I like the look of the Incra thing, and they sent me a catalogue and a DVD and replied to an email of mine, so i started looking into how I might purchase one.
I can have it shipped from the US, but there are terrible stories of huge extra charges at this end and, if there’s going to be a huge extra charge, it will happen to me – it always does.
So I looked into sourcing it here in Europe. This was possible, but I was a bit miffed at people wanting getting on for double the US price.
And then I got thinking some more about the whole “buy it, make it” thing. And soul searching.
Now – there’s no way in the world I can make a fence as good an Incra, or any of the commercial manufacturers. This i know for sure.
But I got to thinking about why I do woodwork.
I don’t sell anything.
It it just for fun.
And I got to wondering whether I’d get the same amount of fun as I do now if I just “bought a fence”. Sure, I’d be able to make those luverly double-decker-dovetailed-splined-half-hidden-mitred joints. And I’m not saying there’s no skill involved in doing that with the jig and templates. And I’m sure my stuff would come out “better”. And no-one to whom I give a piece of my opus knows or cares whether I used a 500$ jig or just clamped a bit of MDF to the worktop.
But I woodwork for me, for my pleasure, and I just don’t think that, at this stage in my journey, that’s where I want to be.
Everytime I put away a jig that I’ve made I say “nice job mate” to it – and smile (they’re coming for me for the rubber room next year, I hear).
So that’s commercial jigs off the table.
It also occurred to me that I was allowed to have more than one fence.
Obvious, but true.
My rotating fence is great for most things that I do at the moment – angles being what they are, it’s pretty accurate at any kind of “sneak up” manoeuvre – gearing is on my side.
What it doesn’t allow me to do is any “dial-in” – I can’t “move it by exactly 6mm” (which the Incra can do, of course, but can it do 0.5mm?, this I’m not sure about).
I noticed that almost all fences are “parallel movement” rather than rotational, usually based on T-Track.
Now – here in my part of sunny Portugal I can’t get T-Track. Quite possibly you can’t get it anywhere here.
So I spent a while working on various schemes to make my own – from forging, to making with layers of ply, to all kinds of other things.
But, in fact, this doesn’t really address the primary issue – all it does is to allow parallel movement of the fence, which isn’t required anyway, and to allow the fence to be firmly held at the business end. In and of itself it doesn’t provide “dial in” – that would need to be extra.
And then I had a brainwave.
Here (and probably everywhere) one can by lengths of “bolt” – that is, 1m of bolt with no bolt head. I had some and I measured and the threads on the 6mm diameter are exactly 1mm apart. Ah ha! That’s gotta be a plan.
So, as proof of concept, I knocked this guy together…
(Yes, it’s not correctly positioned on the table – that’s for tomorrow)
The flat MDF has 2 slots underneath – and the 2 pine sliders are very snug in it. Even so, when I experimented you could push one end slightly without the other moving, so I went with 2 threaded pushers instead of one. As I’d expected they cut into the pine fence somewhat, so I put in a couple of upholstery pins to provide a solid push surface.
I made nice big handles, then discovered they couldn’t be turned because, well, it’s obvious why.
The 6mm rod I had had been used a coupla years ago for gluing together my banister, so they were caked in glue – one hour wasted trying to get the nuts along – this saved me about a euro! If it works I’ll get some new.
Total cost of this to date – a little over 2 euros – I had to buy a packet of “bash em in screw thread” of the right size.
I played with it a bit this evening before it got cold – half a turn on each handle did seem to move the thing very slightly – this was what the doctor ordered.
The test, tomorrow, will be to make a 6mm box joint just by dialing in using a 6mm bit.
Place your bets!
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