Yesterday, I made a start on my side table and I’m still aiming to have this one complete by the end of the month. If you want any more detail on the build, I’ve started a thread on an all-new UK woodworking forum – The Wood Haven. I decided I would start by shaping the legs on my router table which, to me, makes cutting the mortises much easier. I’ve seen some pretty horrific accidents in my time on UKworkshop so, I’m always wary of performing “dangerous” operations like this – especially when your trimming cutter has 55mm of sharp blades! That’s why I made a simple modification to my leg templates, which should keep both hands and all my digits out of harm’s way:
When a Template becomes a Jig!
I first saw this idea in a recent issue of Good Woodworking magazine, where it was adopted in an article on a the winning entry from Warwickshire College at the Get Woodworking Live show (Alexandra Palace), earlier this year. I’d not seen this before but, it looked quite reasonable. With these legs being 38mm thick, I decided it was worth a try…
It felt reassuring all throughout the shaping process of all four legs. At no point, did I feel my digits were in any serious danger. I would liked to have had a setup where the cutter was better-guarded when I took the jig away from the table but, with the wooden handles on top, it was hardly practical. Dust extraction worked very well though, catching just about every last chip and shaving. Having a brand-new, sharp cutter always helps as well. Those two ‘finger guards’ are basically large scraps of 6mm acrylic – something shatter-resistant, like HDPE might be even better but, this is all I had to hand. These are secured to the MDF template with double-sided tape (to stop them rotating) and screws, which are driven directly in to the wooden knobs on top (larger, taller handles would be better). The MDF is fixed to the timber blank with nothing more complicated than double-sided tape.
I should also add that I left only 1mm of waste on the timber, which reduces the amount of work the cutter has to do and reduces the risk of kickback. I later realised that the guards would foul the bearing on top of the cutter so, I had to insert a shim (6mm ply) in between the acrylic guard and the template.
By far, the biggest challenge of the day came next, when I needed to get to my mortiser:
It's in there somewhere...
It took nearly ten-minutes to clear a path without blocking off my escape route from the workshop but, I eventually got in there, got the work done and I’m not expecting to have to go back to this machine until I’ve sorted out all the tenons.
As much time and space as a Festool Domino jointer would undoubtedly saved me here, it is nice to have a dedicated machine that is solid and works well.
Next on the agenda are the tenons – but, before I can do that, I need to make a new jig for my router table that’ll allow me to use one of Wealden’s excellent tenon cutters. Unfortunately, my current jig (with its 18mm base) means I cannot raise this cutter high enough and it is not recommended to fit such larger bits in to a collet extender. Also, I can’t afford a Trend T11 router right now (where the collet plunges through the base, I believe) so, for me at least, this is the cheaper option! 🙂 This jig is likely to be a much simpler affair than the one I got from Steve Maskery’s excellent DVDs.
Thanks for reading.