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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Default Router Plate Installation

I've completed my shop-built router table to the point that I am ready to install my router plate. The plate is a Pinnacle model purchased from Woodcraft and manufactured by Woodpeckers. Not wanting to pay for the installation template, router bit, and shipping from the manufacturer (nearly 50% the cost of the plate), I decided to forgo the template and use the carpet tape (double-sided tape) method with MDF scrap serving as straight edges. I used this method successfully when installing a Bench Dog plate into my previous router table.

One difference between this installation and that of the Bench Dog was the dimensions of the corner radii. The Bench Dog has a radius dimension of 3/8” which allowed the use of a commonly available pattern bit with a diameter of ¾”. This enabled me to simply rout along the inside openings of the MDF square taped to the table.

I won’t get off so easily this time. The Pinnacle plate has ¾” radii. This would require a 1 ½” diameter bit. This meant that I would need a different approach than that described above. My planned approach would be to use a 1 ½” drill bit to radius the corners. I would then use the carpet tape/MDF method to “connect the dots” of the outer most point of each hole. Honestly, I was a bit leery of this method. Bits can sometimes wonder when starting a cut, etc, resulting in a inaccuracies. So I decided to test this method first on the through hole opening (inner opening). If all went smoothly, I would repeat this method for the plate opening (outer opening). If not, I would make a template to rout the plate opening.

The first step was layout. Below is the layout of the plate opening (1), the through hole opening (2) and the centers for the holes of the through hole opening radii (3).

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-1p.jpg

I didn’t have a forstner bit large enough so I used a spade bit. The bit was new and very sharp. First, I tested its ability to drill a clean shoulder on scrap and was satisfied so I drilled my first hole in the router table top. Here is the result.

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-2.jpg

As you can imagine, drilling a 1 ½” hole through 1 ½” of MDF makes quite a mess.

All four holes . . .

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-3p.jpg

Note that the bit did wander when drilling the right front hole (as from the viewer’s perspective), resulting in a shift to the right – good thing this is only the through hole opening and not the plate opening. This misdrilled hole guided my decision to make my own template for the two reasons. The first and obvious reason is fit and appearance issues with the plate. The second and not so obvious reason is that the misdrilled hole prevented me from getting a solid center point for the radius hole for the plate opening. The actual center point was only about 1/16” from the edge of the hole.

But before I start to make a template I had to finish the through hole opening. I used a jig saw to cut about 1/16” from the line. I held my shop vac hose near the cut to both enable me to see the cut line and collect most of the dust at the source.

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-4.jpg

You could stop here with the through hole opening but I decided to make it cleaner by routing to the lines with an MDF “square” taped to the table. I was careful to stop routing when I reached the beginning of each corner hole because the smaller diameter of the router bit will cut into the larger radius of the drilled hole if you rout all the way into the corners of the square. A simple box fan is a very effective means of getting most of the dust out of the shop.

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-9.jpg

The pattern bit I used has a cutting length of only 1”, resulting in a ½” shoulder of unrouted material.

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-7.jpg


Router Plate Installation-router-plate-10p.jpg


No problem. Just remove the template and use the routed edge as a guide for the bearing to finish the cut. No bit height adjustment required in this case.

Router Plate Installation-router-plate-11p.jpg

You can see from the photo above that several of the corner holes breached the layout lines – not just the right front as originally thought. However, this won't affect form, fit or function.

More to come on building the template and routing the plate opening when time permits.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 12:12 PM
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I have found that a pilot hole helps to keep spade bits from wandering. I make it as big as possible.

I also use drill guides made from scrap phenolic or micarta to keep spade (and Forstner) bits in place. I dull the sides of a spade bit to minimize hole wear on the guide. For only a few holes, hardwood is good with a Forstner bit. Or, MDF if you soak a little thin CA into the inside of the hole. Kind of like making your own phenolic.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 01:19 PM
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I routinely make thin 9mm Saw tooth/Forstner bit guides from MDF. Accuracy is everything.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Bill and Mike,
Thanks for the replies. I thought of the drill guide approach but was unsure of how to attach them. On the one hand, the attachment has to be strong enough to withstand the force of a very wide bit. On the other hand, it has to be removable. I suppose I could have made a guide large enough to attach with screws to the sacrifical area in the center of the table.

Joe
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 05:12 PM
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Joe, for future reference the new Ridgid hole saws make very clean holes and could be used for your corners.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 07:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Mike. Funny you should mention that. I was sooooo close to buying that very hole saw for the job. I'll definitely keep that in mind for the future.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Default Making the Template and Routing the Opening

Making the template:

Making a template for the plate opening appealed to me for several reasons:
  1. I could verify the plate’s fit to the template opening before doing any routing to the router table top. If I made a mistake, I could simply make modifications or build another template instead of the table top.
  2. I could use the drill press for drilling the radius holes.
  3. I could use the oscillating spindle sander to dimension the radius holes to final dimensions. I can’t take the work (router table) to the tool in this case.
  4. I would have a template for future use if I ever decided to make another table for bench top or portable use.

The method of creating the plate opening in the template was basically the same as that for the through hole opening in the router table top:
  1. drill radius holes in each corner
  2. rough out the opening with at jigsaw
  3. rout the finished dimensions of the opening with a pattern bit guided against the inside edges of an MDF square
However, there was one notable exception. I positioned the center points 1/16” in from their required locations. This allowed leeway in case the drill bit wandered off line. I then used the oscillating spindle sander with a 1 ½” diameter sanding to sand the radii to their final dimensions. MDF sands easily and accurately with this tool.

Layout

Router Plate Installation-template-layout.jpg

Finished Template

Router Plate Installation-finished-template.jpg


Now it’s time to verify the plate fit. . .

Router Plate Installation-template-fit-ver.jpg

That'll do.

Machining the opening:

Now all the machining that remained was to rout the plate opening the top. First I had to set the bit depth. This is normally critical. However, part of the reason I chose this plate was because it has 8 leveling screws.

Router Plate Installation-adj-screw.jpg

The leveling screws are about 3/8” long. This would allow at least 3/16” adjustment, assuming you would want ½ of the threads to remain engaged with the plate.

In order to take advantage of the leveling system, I set the bit depth approximately 1/32” deeper than required. I simply used the router plate and template to set the bit depth as shown below.

Router Plate Installation-bit-depth-adj.jpg

I attached the template to the table with double-sided tape and routed the opening . . .

Router Plate Installation-template-top.jpg

Finished plate opening . . .

Router Plate Installation-plate-opening.jpg

The router plate was recessed by about 3/64”.

Router Plate Installation-pinnacle-plate.jpg

I installed the router base and router to the plate and installed this assembly in the table. Then, following the manufacturer’s instructions, I started the leveling process by using only 4 of the 8 screws. This simplified the process. I checked the fit with a piece of scrap MDF with a square edge.

Router Plate Installation-plate-adjustment.jpg

Once level I set the remaining screws to just contact the shoulder. I was pleasantly surprised by just how fast and simple the leveling process was.

By the way, the Porter Cable bit (made in Taiwan) I bought at the Rockler clearance sale for $5 didn’t make it through the process unscathed. After just a few feet of routing through MDF, a large piece of carbide broke off!

Router Plate Installation-broken-bit.jpg
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-03-2009, 08:47 AM
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Nice work, Joe: Very nice presentation. How thick it the table top, and if you gave a size, i missed it. I made one also, but i didn't make a good effort on presenting it. Good job.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-03-2009, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutchman 46 View Post
Nice work, Joe: Very nice presentation. How thick it the table top, and if you gave a size, i missed it. I made one also, but i didn't make a good effort on presenting it. Good job.
Howard,
Thanks for the compliment! My top is 1 1/2" thick (two pieces of 3/4" MDF sandwiched).

Joe
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-29-2009, 07:05 PM
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Rutabagared Thank you, this info is very helpful for a newbie like me

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