Making Perfectly Squared Pieces - Router Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Default Making Perfectly Squared Pieces

Hi:

I am starting on a series of telescope building projects and am still getting my tool and skill set together. Telescope bodies are made from top quality plywood, and because it is a precisely aligned piece of optical equipment the pieces must be squared up accurately as well.

I have limited space for tools (no permanent set-up table, and my tools are all stored on shelves, the heaviest ones like my disk sander on the bottom shelf).

Currently I have been cutting square pieces using a portable router and top or bottom bearing bits. I just finished cutting 8 pieces, being as precise as I could manage, and I did a pretty darn good job. But - it was painstaking to do and the pieces weren't perfect (though only a close inspection with a square on the stacked boards reveals that)

Looking through box-making forums and websites I see that the use of a jointer and a table saw together is accepted standard practice for doing this - neither of which I own, would have trouble finding space for even in smaller bench-top versions, and would prefer not spending the money on if I can avoid it. Also I would rather not use a table saw for safety reasons.

I am thinking that a table router set-up will allow me to make the straight square cuts I need quickly and efficiently.

Does anyone have any advice about the best way to do get a set-up that will do this?

Since my needs are somewhat specialized I am thinking a custom built rig is the best way to go. I am looking at getting a router plate and installing it on a sheet of MDF or melamine particle board (for the nice slick surface); getting a length of large (3"?) aluminum angle and facing it with melamine board for an accurate straight and vertical movable fence, and making a small separate zero-clearance fence for safety so that only the cutting edge is exposed on one side.

Not sure how to mount the movable fence however, and while this will get me straight parallel edges, I am not sure how to make the pairs of parallel sides an accurate 90 degrees.

Any advice is appreciated.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Careysub View Post
Hi:

I am starting on a series of telescope building projects and am still getting my tool and skill set together. Telescope bodies are made from top quality plywood, and because it is a precisely aligned piece of optical equipment the pieces must be squared up accurately as well.

I have limited space for tools (no permanent set-up table, and my tools are all stored on shelves, the heaviest ones like my disk sander on the bottom shelf).

Currently I have been cutting square pieces using a portable router and top or bottom bearing bits. I just finished cutting 8 pieces, being as precise as I could manage, and I did a pretty darn good job. But - it was painstaking to do and the pieces weren't perfect (though only a close inspection with a square on the stacked boards reveals that)

Looking through box-making forums and websites I see that the use of a jointer and a table saw together is accepted standard practice for doing this - neither of which I own, would have trouble finding space for even in smaller bench-top versions, and would prefer not spending the money on if I can avoid it. Also I would rather not use a table saw for safety reasons.

I am thinking that a table router set-up will allow me to make the straight square cuts I need quickly and efficiently.

Does anyone have any advice about the best way to do get a set-up that will do this?

Since my needs are somewhat specialized I am thinking a custom built rig is the best way to go. I am looking at getting a router plate and installing it on a sheet of MDF or melamine particle board (for the nice slick surface); getting a length of large (3"?) aluminum angle and facing it with melamine board for an accurate straight and vertical movable fence, and making a small separate zero-clearance fence for safety so that only the cutting edge is exposed on one side.

Not sure how to mount the movable fence however, and while this will get me straight parallel edges, I am not sure how to make the pairs of parallel sides an accurate 90 degrees.

Any advice is appreciated.
There are a number of ways to achieve what you require, but with your limited resources, the method shown is probably the simplest. Make an accurate sample of what you want out of 3/8" MDF or whatever material you have on hand,then rough cut as many pieces of your chosen material, slightly bigger than the sample, which is in fact a male template. Pin or stick using double sided tape, one at a time the pieces to the template and, using a starting pin or better still the fence, guide the assembly over the straight bearing bit from right to left, this is VERY important.
I realise that the photograph shows a round template stuck to a piece of Acrylic but the principle is as outlined above and because it's 10.00pm here and cold out, it's saved me from going into my shed to take some photographs. By the way, welcome to routerforums, where all your questions will be answered by many knowledgeable members.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 10:24 AM
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This is the answer (A & B) but it is not trivial, an all router table approach. The sled slides against a special pivot fence (somewhat viisible in A). The 10 pound aluminum sled holds work in such a way that it cannot move. Nothing deflects.The fence on the sled is calibrated to 90.000 and indicated. Provision is made for blowout prevention on every cut, and ply splinters as bad as any wood product. Does it cut square? It does and consistantly. I cut wood, plastic and metal to ~+ or - .001 in width and length. Fast? Maybe 2 or 3 seconds/slice and a few seconds to reload the work. So expect a couple samples/minute.
Plans and support for such a thing exist? Nope, just a few ideas for you.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 10:37 AM
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Hi Pat

I suppose the question has to be what amount of investment is that? On installs I typically saw or rout a straight edge by holding/clamping a Speed Square (7in or 12in) with the lip against the straight edge furthest away from me. This technique is shown in this YouTube video at about 0:37 (with a circular saw, router works in a similar way). The technique works acceptably on thinner Corian (which requires really tight joints) but you do need to buy a good quality Speed Square and make sure that it's absolutely square first, and it helps if your router can be used single handed. Fortunately I have a Festool router which fits the bill, although I imagine a D-handle or body grip router such as those by Porter-Cable or Milwaukee would do just as well

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Last edited by Phil P; 06-29-2011 at 10:47 AM.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 11:39 AM
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Hi Phil

Are Speed Squares available in the UK?

Cheers

Peter
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 12:27 PM
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Coincidentally I am also starting a telescope, an 11.5" truss-tube dob. You can make a straight edge for cutting with a circular saw. I have a 5' one that I use for cutting sheet goods. This one How to Build a Simple Circular Saw Guide for Straighter Cuts - Popular Mechanics is very similar to the ones I use, except that I used plywood for the guide edge and clamp them in place after drawing my cut line. If you put a cleat on as shown in the pictures, that will square up your cut automatically. I used plywood for the guide edge as a 1x4 is not guaranteed straight, as the cut edge of plywood or MDF always is.

Let us know how your telescope progresses.

Cheers,
Roger


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Isaiah 44:13 Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line, he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass...

Usual kit: Table saw, band saw, dual base router and table, lathe, various saws, planer, sanders, and a multitude of hand tools.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by istracpsboss View Post
Are Speed Squares available in the UK?
Hi Peter

Yes they are. Even B&Q do a cheap one. I got a 7inch one there for 3, which I now use for rough framing (with a Makita cordless saw - no need to drag a chop saw about), but for a decent one (e.g. a Swanson) you'll need to go to Tool Venture, although they do cost a bit more

I might as well mention in passing that for truly straight edges on long edges of sheet material you can't do much better than a Festool TS55 plunge saw and one of their guide rails. I use just such a set-up regularly and it really is worth its' weight in gold to me. Although as BobJ might say, "Whew! What a price!"

Regards

Phil

Last edited by Phil P; 06-29-2011 at 12:45 PM.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 12:40 PM
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Hi Phil

I bet you wish you could buy tools from the USA.

http://www.amazon.com/Swanson-SO101-...9365451&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...TF8&s=hi&psc=1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil P View Post
Hi Peter

Yes they are. Even B&Q do a cheap one. I got a 7inch one there for 3, which I now use for rough framing (with a Makita cordless saw - no need to drag a chop saw about), but for a decent one (e.g. a Swanson) you'll need to go to Tool Venture, although they do cost a bit more

Regards

Phil



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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobj3 View Post
I bet you wish you could buy tools from the USA.
Well Bob, I suppose that's the price of living in a more socialist society with free health care, etc.

Regards

Phil
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 02:19 PM
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Well, Phil, come to Canada, it is a more socialist and therefore freer society, and you can buy all the stuff the Americans can, except guns.

Cheers,
Roger


I'm not slow, I'm pacing myself!

Isaiah 44:13 Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line, he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass...

Usual kit: Table saw, band saw, dual base router and table, lathe, various saws, planer, sanders, and a multitude of hand tools.
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