Safe free hand routing / Building a vacuum bit guard
Many years ago Wood Magazine contacted Rick Rosendahl of the Router Workshop for advice on a safe way to rout free hand with a bearing guided bit. Photo 1 shows the results of that conversation: a safety starting pin and a guard over the bit. Photo 2 shows the version of a bit guard used by the Router Workshop. This guard was removed for filming so you could see more details of the set up and process. Since then we have all learned that dust collection doesn't just simplify clean up, it is a very important health consideration. I wanted a simple device that would collect the dust, provide a guard over the bit and act as a starting pin. Photo 3 shows what I came up with, what I call the VacGuard. I used Baltic birch plywood but you can use any 1/2" material you have available. After cutting the materials to size I stacked the 3" pieces on top of each other and placed the 2-1/2" pieces along side. I used a straight edge to mark a line from the inside edge of the short piece to the long piece. This line is a reference for cutting the box at an angle after it is assembled. I set up a 1/2" bit in my table; 1/4" high with 1/4" exposed outside of the fence. I routed all four sides of the 3" square and 3 sides of the long pieces. The next step was to mark center of the 3" square and drill a hole using a 2-1/4" hole saw. I dry fit the pieces then glued them up and added pin nails so I wouldn't have to wait for the glue to dry. You could just clamp this and wait till the glue is set. Then I sawed the box off along my marked line. I used a hole saw to cut the plastic bit guard and then sanded the edges smooth. This could also be done using a band saw. You need to drill and countersink two holes for the #6 x 1/2" screws. I attached the flashlight in the center of the guard with hot melt glue. The hose from a shop vac fits securely in the 2-1/4" hole and a Quick Grip clamp is the perfect way to fasten the VacGuard to the table. The last photo shows the VacGuard set up and ready to use. Simply center the flashlight over the bit and clamp in place. The box edge works as a safety starting pin to get you safely onto the bit. This is a simple project that anyone can and should build.
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Last edited by Mike; 11-21-2011 at 07:22 PM.