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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I’m using a mini router table with Makita trim router. I’ve made a box joint jig but the cutters I have are going to be too short.

What type of cutters are best for cutting the fingers, upcut or downcut or straight cutters.

Where can I get longer cutters than the standard ones?

Thanks
 

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What thickness of material are you planning on using?
 
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Down cut router bits usually produce less chip-out. With that small router, 1/4" bits will likely be the largest that you can run, because larger cutters in a 1/4" router tend to flex the shanks excessively when you try to cut with them, producing variation in the widths of the cuts. Since the rotation of router bits causes them to cut in both directions at the same time, a sacrificial piece of wood clamped to both sides of your work will help reduce chip-out (works like a zero clearance insert in a table saw). You can buy bit extensions, but using one in such a small router will likely destroy the bearings in the router fairly quickly, since the leverage of the longer bit will be greater.

I make a lot of boxes using box joints, but learned many years ago that my table saw and a box joint blade set, like the Freud SBOX8 or at least a blade that has a FTG (Flat Tooth Grind), will produce the best flat bottomed box joint cuts with little to no chip-out and superior to those made by a router. Since a saw blade only cuts in one direction, a sacrificial piece is only needed on the blade exit side of the work as well. I now also have an Incra I-Box jig that makes it very easy to set up and cut box joints in any width from 1/8" to 1". It has a sacrificial strip included in it's design, and you can change the position of this strip for each new joint set-up, so it can be used many times before it needs replacing. The I-Box jig will work on a router table as well as a table saw, if the router table has a miter slot, but your work will need an added sacrificial strip behind it to prevent chipping of the back side of the work, and this sacrificial strip will require replacement in order to work well for each new piece of work that is cut.

There are box joint router bits that are a stack of slot cutters. With these, you will be limited in box height to the height of the cutters, or you will need to do some tricky set-ups in order to be able to cut half of the joint and then flip the work over to cut the other half of the joint and get both cuts to join in the middle correctly. It can be done, but I prefer making one cut at a time and incrementing the work each time to make the next cut. Doing it this way lets you make a box of any height without the complicated set-ups that would be required for a joint only 2X the height of one of those bits.

Charley
 

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Everything CharleyL said applies to me. Same setup, same jig, same blade set. It is far easier to make box joints on a table saw with the ibox jig, than messing with a router jig. The ibox jig adjusts to whatever blade stack you decide to use, thick or thin, so you can use a dado set to match the thickness of the wood, which gives a really nice look on smaller boxes. I have no idea what happened to my commercial box joint jig for the router table because it just never worked right for me. The slightest error, or flex or loss of grip on the workpiece, failure to put sacrificial pieces front and back and the piece was useless. Very hard to mess up box joints on the Incra ibox jig on the table saw. If you make boxes and have a decent saw, the ibox jig is the way to go. The blade set cuts either 3/16ths, quarter inch and 3/8ths--very convenient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your reply. The material thickness is between 12mm and 18mm. Thicker material may be used but I don’t really want to do this on such a small trim router.

Most of the boxes tend to be 15mm which I find is a good size. Some are ash, mahogany possibly a maple if it will cut.

I’m using the trim router on a small table as short of space, and it’s only a way of producing nicer joints occasionally.

Hope this helps!
 

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That's pretty thick material for a router that small and I wholly agree with Charley that they are best made with a table saw but since you didn't fill out your bio I don't know if that is an option for you. The table saw is faster and less prone to chipping the fingers during machining. Saw blades are also cheaper in the long run than router bits are. If a table saw is not an option then use a spiral bit. It's less likely to chip the fingers as it makes more of a shearing cut than a straight bit does and they come with cutting lengths of up to 1" but shorter might be stiffer. If the bit flexes while cutting it is far more likely to chip the fingers, never mind causing poorly fitting ones.
 
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N/a, do you own a larger router? If so, please consider using it. The cuts ideally are equal to the thickness of the wood you are cutting. Solid carbide bits are normally used, at least by those of us who learned from the Router Workshop.
What @Cherryville Chuck saiid about Table Saws is certainly true if that is an option.=
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Many thanks everyone for the replies and advise. Unfortunately I don’t have a table saw so I’m stuck with the router option. I do have a full size router but it has handle switch on/off (a present) and I haven’t tried to fit it into a mini table top table, I thought it may be a bit heavy or too powerful for a bench top hence the Makita. The stock thickness I can reduce to 12 mm which may be ok for the Makita? The next option is buy a new full size router and try it in a mini table (Veritas type of size home build). My boxes vary around 12” x 8” x 5”

Any suggestion on a recommended suitable router for such a build?

I’ll have to stay away from finger joints until I get the tools sorted although th3 thinner stock may help.
 

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Bosch Colt at a bare minimum...
Bosch 1617 for sure...
 
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I occasionally use my big 3+ hp plungers in my Veritas benchtop table.
 

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Another complication to consider. The sled needed to make box joints on a router run in parallel
miter tracks so you can make at cut exactly 90 degrees to the workpiece. So if your table doesn't have them already, you will neeto to cut them yourself. Note, miter track is not the same as T Track.

Second picture is of the Bosch 1617 with the fixed base and key that allows you to make height adjustments from above the table. You make a coarse adjustment first, the fine adjustments with the key. Hard to beat the 1617 EVSPK kit with both fixed and plunge bases. The key is a bit extra.
 

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Another complication to consider. The sled needed to make box joints on a router run in parallel
miter tracks so you can make at cut exactly 90 degrees to the workpiece. So if your table doesn't have them already, you will neeto to cut them yourself. Note, miter track is not the same as T Track.

Second picture is of the Bosch 1617 with the fixed base and key that allows you to make height adjustments from above the table. You make a coarse adjustment first, the fine adjustments with the key. Hard to beat the 1617 EVSPK kit with both fixed and plunge bases. The key is a bit extra.

Actually there are box joint jigs available that do not use miter tracks. https://www.routerworkshop.com/boxjoints.html

Indeed there are many router users who have no need for miter tracks on router tables
 
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That link to the Router Workshop was a blast from the past. After looking at the site it reminded me of the Father and Son team. Cant remember if they are Canadian or just from the northern US. They always had good projects that you could do on a shoestring budget.

So you can make box joints on a trim router but it is not ideal. On cutting box joints you should only make a depth per pass of half the diameter of the bit. So if you have a 1/4 inch bit you should make 1/8 inch passes. That means using your jig over and over to make multiple passes to get the full depth of 15MM. Because 15MM is over half an inch you will need to make 4-5 passes to get the full depth. You can make deeper passes but because you are using a 1-1.25 HP router (trim router) you would be putting a strain on the router with deeper passes. Plus if your rpm drops you will get poor cut quality.

So if all you have is a trim router you can make box joints but it is not ideal. If you have a larger router then I would suggest you use it.

You can weld a trailer hitch on the back of a Volkswagen beetle and hook up a 10,000 pound trailer to it. You wont pull the trailer very far and you wont be able to stop it after getting it where you pull it. The reason is the Volkswagen beetle was not designed and built to carry heavy loads. As a grocery getter it is a very good car but as a trailer hauler it is very poor. So just because you CAN do something does not mean it is a very good idea.
 

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That link to the Router Workshop was a blast from the past. After looking at the site it reminded me of the Father and Son team. Cant remember if they are Canadian or just from the northern US. They always had good projects that you could do on a shoestring budget.
That was Bob and Rick Rosendahl from Ontario, Canada. Their son/grandson Mark was who started this forum. Bob unfortunately passed away last year. They managed to inspire a lot of people to use a router to a higher potential.
 

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That was Bob and Rick Rosendahl from Ontario, Canada. Their son/grandson Mark was who started this forum. Bob unfortunately passed away last year. They managed to inspire a lot of people to use a router to a higher potential.
The RouterWorkshop showed me that I did not need to become a better woodworker in order to justify having and using a router; rather learning to use a router would make me a better woodworker.
Bob certainly embraced the KIS(S) approach, as exemplified by among many other things, their box joint jigs.
 
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