So, New Saw, New Zero Clearance Inserts are due!
Actually I was planning on working my the Bead Box, but wanted to fine tune the table saw, and ‘get it done’ first, and so, the plan was to use the 5/8” phenolic (not phenolic plywood) panel that I got (I got a 1-3/8” phenolic panel to use as a router table top, and while at it, picked up some ‘lighter’ thinner panels as well, for inserts, plates, etc). I figured – I already have it, and might as well use it for the faces of the table saw fence as it comes faceless from the factory, and the size of my panel was adequate and “in-stock” beats buying something from the store (the other option was UHMW).
I have never worked with this material before, and aside from knowing that it’s hard on tools, I knew little of what to expect so I stopped at Lowes on the way home from work last week and picked up a Dewalt 7-1/4” plywood/laminate/plastics saw blade (100teeth) – this thing is useless, and was a waste of $9 (kinda ironic as I was undecided between that one and a $5 blade from another brand – which should have worked better since the dewalt blade is beveled in, and proved to be a disaster).
I cut the panel into a 35” (length of fence) piece, and from that, I stripped 2×2-1/2” long faces. The dewalt blade is angled out (exterior diameter of blade is thinner than interior of blade) making it extremely hard to push the blade through the material as the blade seems to bind against the material trying to “expand it away from the blade”. and because of this difference in thickness, it is impossible to make several passes without screwing up the cut line – luckily, the material does plane nicely – something that ended doing on all cut edges to clean it up.
I drilled the holes in the fence faces, and counterbored them for the screws and nuts – and… countered bored them on the wrong SIDE – oh well, I guess I’ll have to use the nicer piece on the opposite side … sucks, but no biggy.
Phenolic Mess: At this point I’d like to stress that I highly recommend to STAY AWAY from working with phenolic in a woodworking shop! this thing produces fine (yellow) dust that is similar to MDF dust, gets on EVERYTHING and smells like burnt rubber (I’m going to carry that smell with me psychologically for the next couple of days) even with dust control at the source (it did reduce the amount, but still couldn’t completely eliminate it).
And so, I had my 2 fence faces cut. I would have liked to have them at 3/4” so that I could route a T-slot on the top edge, but I’ll compromise on the 5/8” thickness and maybe route a T-slot on the front face of them (for attachments) – as this is a material that I already have at hand and dont need to shell out another $50 for UHMW faces (another material I have not worked with as of yet)
At this point, I really wanted to quit working this material, but since the area is already covered with a yellow layer of this stuff, as I am, and I already am in the “phenolic work” way of things -I figured, I’m gonna go all the way, and finish as many zero clearance inserts out of the material as I can – 6 of them.
I opted to try using a ‘regular’ circ-saw blade (I put on the factory supplied porter cable blade that came with my saw) and although it is not labeled “laminate/plastics” it cut so much better… if only I had used that on my first long cuts…. oh well. live and learn.
so I cut 6 blocks for pattern-routing the insert plates. Next: routing! I clean the circular saw and put it away… the amount of yellow dust around is unbelievable.
I first used the actual factory insert plate to make a template out of 3/4” plywood which would be easier to follow around for the actual work, and if I make a mistake I don’t sacrifice phenolic, but just a plywood scrap piece.
while routing the inserts, apparently the screws holding my router to the (rockler) plate lost hold, and the router fell down on the floor (router plate was clamped between 2 tables – ghetto I know, but I dont have a router table at the moment, and this is the best and safest I could do), so now I think my router base got bent/out of shape, and is useless as it’s hard as hell to change height, and the get the router in and out (it also scratches the router base), I’m gonna check it out when I have more time – for now , it just sucks!
anyways, fixed that by using longer screws, and back to business…
Phenolic Hardness: So I guess thats what they meant when they said this is a hard material on tools – it completely chipped the Carbide on this Freud bit off:
Oh Well, add the the “sucks” list that seems to grow today.
in the end when all was done. here is what I got (finally some pictures…lol):
OK, so, it’s 7pm, the day is GONE, DONE, BURNT (with smell to prove it) – haven’t had a chance to do ANYTHING on the beads box… mmmm, quickly I fumble through scrap pieces, pick up a 1/2” plywood cut off (even had a handle cutout already..NICE!) screw a once-bought-cause-I-though-I-Needed-it Incra 18” miter bar (I guess I DID need it after all – it IS a nice adjustable miter bar) and a clamp-down, put it all together, and got this cutoff sled that helped me make 1 straight cut on my rough cut glueup panels, which then I could cut the other side using the table saw fence.:
At least I was able to start using the saw, and make SOME progress on the box.
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.