I was able to spend a good amount of time working on this project on 4/9/2011. I’d even got off work early the afternoon before and hoped to make some progress but ended up breaking a router bit so had to change my plans.
I’ve never broken a router bit before and it was strange. I probably lucked out. I was trying out a cut, just to get the measurements. I was cutting in pine with a 1/2” shank 1/4” straight cut, 2 flute, MLCS Carbide tipped bit. I don’t know why but I got some kick back about a 1/2” into the cut. I restarted the cut and after about 2” the sound changed. I pulled the piece off and there was no cutter! I shut the router off and eventually found the bit laying on the floor by my feet.
I decided to stop for the night…
On Saturday, 4/9/2011 I got started about 8AM, working on more of the unit.
I had thought that I’d use french dovetail joints for the box parts that mount to the frame. I ended up cutting all of the 6 box ends and 6 box sides. I cut the male dovetail sections of all of the ends. Then I started the female cuts on the bottom sides, using a test piece to get the position set. After getting the test cut done I was doing a test fit and all of the end grain just split off.
I realized then that the end grain of the side pieces wasn’t going to be sufficient. There’s going to be quite a bit of strain on those joints. I decided I’d probably be better off just using box joints for all of the box sections so switched back to that mode.
That meant all of the box ends I’d already cut were wasted – they were too short to use for much. I’m glad I was using pine and glad I was doing the prototype! It is a bit of money (I think we spent about $60 for the wood) to do a prototype but if I’d made these mistakes on more expensive material it would probably have cost the same or more anyway.
Of course, I’d thought I was done making the box joints and had removed the jig from the table saw. I still had the dado blade installed – I was using it to remove the tops of the dovetail on the end pieces. Someone commented on my review of the Woodhaven 4555 Box Joint Jig that it might not be easy to get the set up done when you remove and replace the jig, so this was going to be a test.
It was actually painless! The key is I didn’t move the sub fence on the jig. The jig ended up fitting back into the same place it was on the miter. I adjusted the dado blade height and did a test corner (both pieces) and it was as if the jig had never been removed! Cool!
Another first for me was that I also had to cut the dovetail female slots with the router some how. I hadn’t used a miter on the router table yet, and that was the only way I could see to do it (without doing it hand held).
I haven’t used a miter in the Bosch table because the miter/T-slot has play with my little Grizzly miter (I didn’t try the Craftsman miter – it just seemed too long.
I put 5 layers of masking tape around both ends of the miter bar to tighten it up in the slot.
I tried making some sort of stop to set the location of the cut from the end of the piece but had a number of issues. First, the table is fairly small so the fence won’t work for more than about a 1-1/2” stop behind the bit. I had to remove the fence. But, the back of the table doesn’t have enough lip to clamp to very well. I tried using a piece that I could get multiple clamps on but the piece still moved. I put some adhesive sand paper on the bottom of the piece to hopefully eliminate the movement but it wasn’t enough. I now know why I was told it’s an okay table for some stuff but as your projects get bigger you’ll want a bigger table!
Then I realized that I could just use the markings on the insert. It has measurements marked, supposedly from the center of the bit and parallel to the miter. I marked the centerline of my cut on the workpiece, lined it up with the zero on the insert, and made the cut. It turned out great!.
The only other issue was stopping the cut at the proper place. I was able to just stop the cut when I saw the opening of the plastic insert appear.
Finally, I’d bought a new Freud LU88 60 tooth ATB Thin Kerf Crosscut blade (from Eagle America through Amazon, $49.73, free shipping) and hadn’t tried it out yet. Once I was done with all the box cuts I installed the new blade to rip the slats for the caddy section. I had some prying to do to get the dado blade off – it was really tight on the arbor. I’d only been able to seat it by tightening the arbor bolt to force the blade up against the inside flange.
I got the new blade on and ripped the slats. It is almost a glue ready cut! I love it! I’d read of others using it for some ripping and I had great results too – although I was only ripping 3/4 pine so it’s not really that much of a stress test. But, I enjoyed having a brand new blade.
Here’s a pic of the results from the day:
It was a productive day and a lot of good lessons learned. Be careful of flying router bits. The box joint jig is easy to install multiple times if you’re not changing the cut width. The Freud blade is great. The miter isn’t too hard to use on the little router table. Oh – my wife picked up a replacement Freud router bit from Woodcraft for me (and I had her get a couple of Borla 6” quick grip clamps as well – they were on sale for $7.99 each!).
-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ