Alaska Jim's Comments of the Day #14: Plunge Routing the Sled T-Track Slots......OCD in ACTION!

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 02-08-2010 01:29 AM 3155 reads 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Tool stuff, jointer and router............... Part 14 of Alaska Jim's Comments of the Day series Part 15: Valentine's Day Rescue.........a solution from the man-cave »

Yesterday I promised DennisGrosen that I would have pictures of what I was doing, a picture book, as it were.

So this is the story of today in the shop, nothing momentous, but it was the first time I had used a plunge router. It is only a couple of weeks old, a Bosch 1617 EVSPK fixed and plunge kit. It works very well, and allows above table bit change and height adjustment, using the fixed base in the router table.

So I took the motor out of the table, and put it in the plunge base. I experimented with it, and figured out how to precisely set the depth. As I said previously, I decided I would really hem this thing in because I didn’t want it going astray on the only decent piece of plywood I had. So I made a setup using some metal guides I use for the circular saw, and some very carefully measured, cut, and marked pieces of wood, effectively a jig, to set up the position of the cut.

Here is the router set in position, hemmed in by the metal guides, and the wood blocks front and back:

I digress: This is a very large sled, because it is meant to be used for items my radial arm saw can’t handle. The RAS is so quick, accurate, and easy, there is no way for the TS to compete with it for ordinary crosscut, but the RAS has a 15” limit.

So back to the story, let me explain what I did to get to this point:

First I scribed the exact position of the T-track slots on the sled base board. Meaning, the center of the initial and end position of the router bit. I used a 3/4” straight bit, 1/4” shank, carbide teeth from a set built by Hickory I bought some time ago, months before I bought this router. They were purchased for my ancient Skil, that subsequently decided to retire on disability. I outlined the edges of the slots also, as a reality check.

I digress again: Now you oldtimers and pros are saying, ‘I would just put a couple of marks there, clamp down a straight edge, and go for it’. It is kinda like I do surgery, which is part of my day job. I don’t even bother to mark the skin, I just whip out the scalpel and I can make the exact cut I need without even thinking about it. Never crooked, never too short or too long, curved just right….............but I wouldn’t take that kinda chance with my wood!

Now I have the start and end points, here is how I made sure the router started where I wanted it to, made the perfect groove, and ended where I wanted it to…........OCD in action.

There are two items of interest in the above picture. First, the board under the clamp. It is the exact width of the router in its normal position, left to right, with the flat part in the back. This is important, because it makes the router symmetrical, left to right when held in this way. This board also has an exact center mark on the front of it, you can’t see it in the photo. I made two of these boards. So they separate the metal guides the exact width of the router. The first thing I do is set those boards on the beginning and ending center marks (the odd board with the hole in it has a mark on its side right next to one of those center marks) and then clamp the metal guides against them. Now I have a channel that will guide the router exactly in the right to left dimension.

I then made the third board, the one with a hole in it, by clamping the router to it, and plunging the bit (any bit with a known diameter will do)to make the hole. The router was clamped so that its flat back side was at the top of the board, as centered as I could make it, and then I drew a line around the rounded part of the plate in front. And then I cut the board down to that circular line. And then I bisected the hole with crosshair lines, easy to do because we know that is exactly a 3/4 inch hole. And I drew them down onto the sides of the board. So now I have a board that when the mark on its side is at the center of the beginning or ending point of the slot, determines where the router should start and stop. The top end is used for the start position of the cut, and bottom end is used for the end position. And so I moved the two exact width boards to those positions. Hard to explain, but once you have these boards, you can set the track and the beginning and end boards in a few seconds.

So here is the first slot I made, with the T-track sitting in it:

For the next slot I removed the middle clamp that held the width boards on each end. Just loosened the clamps on the metal guides, and slid the whole mess over to the next slot position and set them up in a few seconds.

Here are all the slots, with the little boards that I have carefully marked and stored with router, the heros of the story….....(-:

And here is a mockup of the sled, still missing some pieces, but coming along fine….......

........and that Dennis, is the end of the picture book, time to go to sleep…...........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

18 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#1 posted 02-08-2010 01:32 AM

Thats some sled cool

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3723 days

#2 posted 02-08-2010 02:24 AM

Now I understand the penchants for perfection and preparation. This should be the king of crosscut sleds!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View bigike's profile


4050 posts in 3256 days

#3 posted 02-08-2010 02:29 AM

nice work

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#4 posted 02-08-2010 03:26 AM

Thanks Jim, it is a very large and unwieldly sled, not to be used all the time. But I thought, with a lot of prompting from people like Timbo and Patron, that I would go the whole enchilada and make a super sled. I have really been slow to get at this thing, but now it is going.

This is kinda one super jig. Way beyond anything I have attempted before. I was prompted to add features by LJ’s, and I think it was good advice. It wasn’t designed for routine crosscuts, because my RAS does that to perfection, and it does them fast. So, I might as well put in some special features and quality to give it some use as a jig platform as well.

Its size will have one virtue, it may hold some jigs for ripping smaller items since it has 25 inches of usable depth. Since I ended up with 3/4 inch ply for the base, due to quality issues, I was able to put T-track in the base. That should make more permanent and precise fixation points. I might cut off some corners to save weight and such, not sure yet.

The miter arms will be outsized also, because there is room. Spent way too much time thinking about this thing, and finally just dove in. It did give me the chance to use a jointer for the first time (even if it is a midget), and fortunately it did the job. And now I got to use a plunge router for the first time. This Bosch has done nothing but impress me.

Fun weekend. Did a bunch of shop organization, even finding room for the jointer, and space for the still unused planer. Sherie and I started uncrating a gift I gave her, for Christmas, Christmas 2008! It is a large climate controlled, let’s see…we’ll call it a terrarium for orchids. She wanted to get a base for it first, A&C style. So that finally got done, and now we started working on assembling it. She has orchids all over the house, but there are some types that need more exacting conditions. That is what this is for. Sherie should probably be named the Plant Whisperer. She can make anything grow!

This will be very close to the sled you made. I am going to make a blade safety block, and maybe a plexiglas guard. We are obviously following the same general layout. My sled has a little more depth, I think, the reason being that it is primarily for large panels that my RAS won’t handle.

Hope my sled looks, and works, as good as yours….......thanks for commenting.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3723 days

#5 posted 02-08-2010 04:02 AM

Sherie sounds like my Mom- she, too, has a green thumb. She always has another order for a shelf/bench (for me to make) for plants she has “adopted”. Nothing as exotic as orchids, though.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3142 days

#6 posted 02-08-2010 04:25 AM

1) Watching with awe, admiration, and rapt attention;

2) Did you/will you have to pull permits for that thing, at any point?

3) I thoroughly enjoy the OCD aspects of it. Kudos!!

-- -- Neil

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#7 posted 02-08-2010 04:58 AM

You’re lucky, the orchids are way too finicky…......(-:

I have been thinking about a pulley arrangement, perhaps with power assist…........(-:

I think the dust from the routing exceeded EPA limits for the area, I’m waiting for the wrath of the neighbors….....(-:

You know, if you are OCD, just submerge yourself in the environment, enjoy it, because there are no choices….....OCD does not allow choices…......(-:

I suspect a majority of structures in this area are built without permits…...........but….........I….........wouldn’t do something like that….........government is pretty thin up here….......and that is the way we like it….......

.......leads to innovation…........and super sleds unparalleled….......and Sarah Palin


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3790 days

#8 posted 02-08-2010 01:47 PM

Jim, the sled is coming along nicely. It is going to be a challenge to move and store it but it will help augment your daily workout when you carry it around the shop. :)

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#9 posted 02-08-2010 05:24 PM

This project has been set aside more than once for some little shop thing. Partly because I couldn’t decide what to do. Finally it seems pretty clear in my brain, so the end is in sight. Next I have to make the guides for the miter slots, and I haven’t decided for sure how to do them. Have a pretty good idea though.

Yah, it will be a bruiser. I hope to store it in a permanent outfeed table , it would fit in a position just like it sits on the saw. Maybe I can motorize the shelf and bring it up to the flight deck, you know, like in an aircraft carrier…......(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3083 days

#10 posted 02-08-2010 07:34 PM

I love it Jim that´s a picturebook even I can understand not that I need a supersled now
but it have convinst me if I ever wood have a Ts then I promise you I will copy yours and
name it after you
it´s a great looking sled you make. impressive how fast you have addapted the plungerouter
I said to you that you will be happy with it
I wish we had the oppetunity of above table height adjustment
but if we have it here in Denmark they don´t say it in the advetising for bosch
and now I understand what you need that troley for :—-))
great toturial Jim and I´m looking forward to the next book of yours …LoL
Hmmmm that elevatorthing you need I wont be surprized if the next thing you build will be a aircraftcarier like
USS Nemitz or something similar
say hello to Sherie and wish her good luck with the new terrarium from Ærø

have a great day both of you


View Woodwrecker's profile


4137 posts in 3543 days

#11 posted 02-09-2010 12:36 AM

Some sled you’re making there Jim.

Over kill on accuracy isn’t a bad thing, that’s for sure.

I think a little structural reinforcement for the Table Saw may be in order though ! :)

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#12 posted 02-09-2010 04:27 AM

Actually I was thinking about rounding the corners, probably all around. They are just going to get banged up any way. Also angling the front fence corners is normal. Also cut out some handholds, but I think I’ll forego waffling it…....(-:

I am glad you enjoyed your picture book…......(-: The terrarium has been uncrated and the parts brought up stairs to my office. Except for the glass. That we will uncrate in the office. It is quite large and heavy. And the router real is easy to use, fortunately. Will work on the elevator off and on until I know exactly what to do….......(-: Actually I may really look into doing that! You know, never give me a challenge, because then I will try to do it.

Putting heavier gauge legs on the table saw….....steel reinforcing rods between them…..(-: Actually I am going to build a wood cabinet for the saw, and a large outfeed table with miter guide clearances. I saw a good article in FWW for 2009 (found it on my FWW DVD, actually), but I would do things differently to fit my situation. I really am thinking of a way to drop that sled down into it. Hmmmmmmmm.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3302 days

#13 posted 02-09-2010 11:47 AM

While you may not be using that sled a lot, I’m sure it will be very useful for the occasional large projects. I am very impressed with your methodical approach to building it Jim and the fine results so far. I especially liked your approach with the spacers between the guide fences. I have seen jigs with various sized spacers before, but I like yours because nothing has to be constructed, and only requires accurate cutting of the spacers and router mount.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#14 posted 02-09-2010 05:28 PM

This was just a logical approach to making sure the router started and stopped where I wanted it to and couldn’t wander side to side. I haven’t seen jigs for this before, and in fact didnt’ go looking for them. I just did it the most efficient way I could that gave me a very predictable result.

One possible caveat about this, your router bottom plate needs to be accurately centered on the bit. Bosch made this claim in their literature that came with the router, and that tipped me off as to how to do it. That way I could just hold the router in a symmetrical way, not with the flat part next to a straight edge, and then just center everything. I suspect the average router comes centered, but if someone is using a custom plate, it might not be, I suppose. This is just a theoretical consideration, I am not sure it is a problem in the real world of routers.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#15 posted 02-09-2010 05:50 PM

The other thing this jig depends on is a lot of clamps! But I notice some router experts have very simple tables, and just clamp a fence whereever they need it. Of course in this case, I was clamping to the work piece itself.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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