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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Default Template safety

I am relatively new to woodworking and I try to be very safe.

I have routed on the table using a fence with no complications. I have routed with a plunge and not had crazy kickback issues.

Now I am trying my hand at using an MDF template for the first time with a top bearing straight router bit on the table. I thought that you just feed the piece of wood secured to the mdf underneath, the bearing rolls along the mdf as the cutter cuts the wood. I started feeding the piece and it was real jerky and started ripping and pulling the wood. Needless to say I quickly stopped and turned the router off. I was feeding against the rotation. I know I was. I have done it with a piece pushed up against the fence and it goes through nice and smooth. Freehand on a table is different and before I continue I want to get safe. I eased into the cut with only the mdf running along the bearing then gradually contacting the wood. I am trying to rout a piece that is 7/8" thick. Is this normal? What am I doing wrong? Is this a case of a dog sensing fear?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 06:15 PM
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Should you cry "uncle", then consider the templet studies.
Have made this a life time past time.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 09:40 PM
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Default Good Doggie!!


If it's truly a case of "a dog sensing fear" you're one smart pup. Anytime you're working with machinery and things aren't going the way you think they should backing off and shutting down is the only smart thing to do. Do-overs are easy and cheap, ER visits aren't and missing body parts don't grow back. So kudos on knowing when to stop.

You don't offer a lot of info in your post but I'd guess your problem is trying to take off too much stock in a single pass. Whether it's too much for the router or the bit or the stock or the holding capacity of the template or your ability to control the process is open to question but you're definitely overloading something in the chain.

From your post I can assume you're taking a full cut on 7/8" stock, that's a lot of material to remove. You didn't specify the stock but I'd suggest limiting the cut at that thickness to no more than 1/16" in most hardwoods, maybe 1/8" in MDF or softwood. You've got some experience in the feel and sound of the cut when hand-held or routing against a fence, if the cutter is talking to you listen and change your procedure if it sounds stressed. Bandsaw, jigsaw, drum sand or just gnaw it down, whatever you need to do to keep that final pass on the router within the capabilities of the whole system.

A couple of oversize bearings are great to have, a 1/4-over bearing gets you to an 1/8 of your final cut, swap for an 1/8-over and you're within a 1/16, then use the bearing that came with the bit for a final pass. You'll get a cleaner cut as a bonus, less sanding. Bearings are cheap and there's almost always a local source, use your Yellow Pages.

Bits: for that kind of cut you'll want one with a 1/2" shank. 1/4-shank straight bits in 1/2" flush-trimmers don't have a lot of metal left after grinding and are subject to deflection and chattering under load. That ain't a Good Thing.

The stock needs to be held securely to the template, that means clamped or screwed. Arnold S. his honorable self isn't strong enough to hold down a piece of wood when a bit revolving at 20,000+ RPM grabs it and decides to fling it across the room, I doubt you are either. Double-faced tape works great on carpet and that's about all...(ducking and covering ). If you don't want screw holes in your work that pretty much leaves clamps. DeStaCo 225 toggles are good for 500 lbs of pressure, a couple of those mounted on your template will pretty much ensure your workpiece stays where it should. Since what goes up must come down(and vice versa) that means your template has to be strong enough to hold those clamps down without bending.... Whole 'nother topic.

Finally, lets talk about control: You mentioned you had no problems with hand-held plunge routing, think about it. The average plunge router weighs about 8-9 or more pounds, that's a decent amount of mass. You hold it firmly with two hands on knobs that allow you to apply a decent amount of pressure straight down on the stock. What does your template/stock combination weigh? Can you apply pressure as close to the bit as you can with the router base without risking loss of flesh if something goes wrong? And things do go wrong, Murphy is an a-hole but his law is inviolable.

Template routing on the table can be easy and safe if you think about what you're doing, what can go wrong and how to deal with it before it does. You're right to be afraid, these machines can hurt you badly in a fraction of a second and never miss a beat. Just ask Darryl. But if you understand how they operate, their limitations and what you can safely do they're amazing.


Last edited by billg71; 09-12-2012 at 09:43 PM.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 09:54 PM
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Just a P.S.:

Quillman knows this stuff forwards, backwards, right-side-up and upside-down. Taught it, wrote it, made it, lived it. He's a bit brief when it comes to communication but he knows whereof he speaks.

You could do a lot worse than spend some time on his site.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 06:51 AM
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Do as Bill has said, The most important thing is be sure that you have rough cut your wood first. In other words don't try to route the shape of a dog out of a square piece of wood. Cut the shape out to almost the finished shape (I like to make it 1/2" or closer) then finish up with the bit to get it perfect.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 10:01 AM
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Also make sure the bit you use is sharp could be what the problem is also
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 12:46 PM
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When working with guide bushings or bearing guided bits in a table you need a safety starting pin to help you get onto the turning bit. There are several ways to go about this. Some people place the end of their material against the fence and slowly feed the other end against the bushing or bit. Installing a safety pin is not rocket science; some are just a pin inserted in a hole in the mounting plate, others are threaded into the plate. I did not get a pin with the Rockler plate shown so I made this one from a carriage bolt, a short length of PVC water supply hose and a cut out from a hole saw. I sprayed it with some red rubber grip material in an aerosol can. Another option is to use the VacGuard I designed.(watch the video and build one yourself from the free plans in our member video section) The edge of the VacGuard acts as a starting pin and lets you tilt onto the bushing/bit.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 03:48 AM
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Midtone, others have covered some of the options that might help, but I have one question to throw at you about the task.

You were template routing with a top bearing bit on the table, but were you routing externally to the template or internally? If internal, the feed direction would be reversed to that for external routing. So routing an internal opening in the direction that you normally use for external routing against a fence is in efectback routing, with its attendant issues.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-15-2012, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Ok. After trial and error I think I figured it out. Coming from a point of view of roughing things out like I have been doing it is taking some time to see that making chairs and things like that, which is new to me, involves more finesse sometimes.

Slowing down, feeding less, etc. These are things that finer woodworking is teaching me.

I indeed was trying to feed too much at once. I was shaping some legs for a chair and was trying to hog off a 1/2" to 3/4" material. I know I should have thought this through, but like I said it is taking time to adjust to working with wood this way when you are used to ripping and cutting 2x4's and plywood.

The smarter thing to do is to take off as much as I can with the B saw THEN use the router to smooth the edge. Duh I know. I am getting there though. Thanks.

Last edited by Midtone; 09-15-2012 at 05:10 PM.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 04:01 PM
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I'm very new to this myself and had the same thing happen on my first go. I quickly realised I should have been paying better attention to wheter the curve of the template is convex or concave and to only cut downwards into the concave bottom. I read in the past this had to be done but for some reason I forgot.

I have a double bearing cutter so im able to have switch the template over to ensure im only cutting in the way I said about above.

Also for me the slowest router speed setting you can get away with the easier I find things.
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