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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I'm relatively new to working with a router table. I wanted to make some box joints. I made a jig after watching a bunch of videos. My plan was to use a 1/2" straight bit on 1/2" maple and walnut. I've been trying to test the jig - things don't line up yet but I'm close - the real problem though is that routing a 1/2" joint all at once is generating a lot of smoke and some burning. I'm not going super slow, and if I try to speed it up, the whole pin breaks off or starts to break. I've read that normally you'd make shallow passes of say 1/8"...but with the box joint jig, I'm using a 1/2" key. You can't really do a shallow pass. In the videos I've seen, people don't seem to have an issue doing it all in one pass. Can anyone give me some tips on what I might be doing wrong??

(My router is a new Ryobi - not variable speed if that matters. The bit was a new Ryobi straight bit...seemed sharp enough). Thanks in advance.)

Larry
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ok thanks for the response. The shank was 1/4". Those bits you mentioned are pricey - at least $50 each. In the short run, I decided to step down a little to 3/8" from 1/2", and I ordered a Yonico up spiral bit on Amazon. I just realized I bought a CNC router bit - I don't know if that's different than a regular bit - hopefully will work...
 

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Stick's given you good advice. Cheap bits are taking a chance. There's a reason that better bits are more expensive. You don't mention the bit specifics but sounds like maybe a HSS (high speed steel) where better quality bits are carbide. You also didn't mention if new or used for the bit you used. You can sharpen them but best to investigate how before trying. I always use carbide when possible and 1/2" shanks if your router will accept them. On the smaller cutters the shank won't make as much difference but sharpness will always. Check and make sure you're using the proper speed for the bits being used. Larger diameter = slower speeds. On the 1/2" bit full speed should be fine. If it's burning you may be moving the router to slowly and or the bit is also dull. Do read the links in Stick's message. You'll learn a good deal and have more confidence not to mention work safer.
 

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Do you have a table saw? If so use that instead. Maple is hard and trying to take off 1/2 inch no matter what bit you are using is asking a lot. Does your router take 1/2" shanked bits? if so use them and if not it may be under powered. One other thing is to be sure that you have a backer board in front and behind the wood to prevent chipping.
 

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Do you have a table saw? If so use that instead. Maple is hard and trying to take off 1/2 inch no matter what bit you are using is asking a lot.
This is why new members are encouraged to fill out their profile. We can look at it and get an idea of what you are capable of. A table saw is the best tool for doing finger joints in the opinion of quite a few of us and the jig is basically the same. For example, the Incra Ibox jig can be used on a saw or router table. A router produces blowout force on one tooth going in and the opposite tooth when you exit. The TS force is straight back so the backerboard takes care of that with no issue. The router does leave a better finish as a rule and the gullets of the fingers are guaranteed to be flat. One thing you could do, provided you have a table saw, would be to cut most of the waste between the fingers out with a saw and then (trim) finish the cuts with a router. That would mean a lot less work for the router bit plus it would run cooler and stay sharper longer.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the responses.

What I didn't know was that an up spiral bit was better. I also didn't realize that if you have a 1/4" collet, you are pretty much in a position where 1/4" joints are the best you will do on a router table - at least I haven't seen an up-spiral bit with a size bigger than the collet size. So mistake number one was buying a cheaper router that only had a 1/4" collet.

That said, I bought a 1/4" up-spiral at lowes - not the best brand maybe but....it's an Irwin Marples. I tested it out yesterday in 1/2" pine to test the joint size on my jig...it wasn't precise enough, but I can figure that out. My biggest issue is to spend the up-front time to be precise...patience isn't always my best attribute. Anyway, the cutting was much easier and no more burning/smoking.

The other pain in the $#% things is that unlike most of you with a "shop", I don't have a basement, garage or shed to use - even though I have a house! So everytime I want to try something, I have to move all the equipment, jigs, electricity etc outside and set it all up - every time. And being in New England, this time of year is tough. Rain, snow and temperature don't give me a lot of options in addition to the time to set anything up. Oh well....I gotta figure out how to make best use of the time I get...sounds like life!

(and yes, buying an Incra jig would be great....if I were rich. I would think that most of us non-pros can't go out and buy all Dewalt and Festool tools with Incra jigs and bits by Whiteside and Freud etc. Not that I wouldn't love to, but just sayin'.....)
 
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