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).
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.
As you can imagine, drilling a 1 ½” hole through 1 ½” of MDF makes quite a mess.
All four holes . . .
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.
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.
The pattern bit I used has a cutting length of only 1”, resulting in a ½” shoulder of unrouted material.
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.
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.