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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I'm new to the forum and looking for some help! So I'm building a French Easel for my son and for the most part am using a limited supply of repurposed wood - specifically worm wood out of an old oak farm table. Bottom line, for most of this I get one shot so am hoping to not screw it up!
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Anyway, the legs on this are adjustable length and a 1x1 leg extends and retracts from a slot cut in a 1-5/8" main leg. I have router slot and dado cutting experience, but this amount of material removal is something I've never tried to tackle. The large "slot" is 1"W x 1-1/4"D x 19" long. Then the smaller through slot is 1/4". My question is - where to start? Would you cut that 1/4" slot first or last? I'll need multiple passes for the 1"W slot, but wondering if you'd start with an upcut bit (and what size?), get it close to size and then finish with a downcut bit for a clean edge? The material is old and I believe pretty stable, but I suppose I run the risk of releasing some stresses and having it twist on me? Would you take multiple passes on the rough cuts too - rather than hogging out 1-1/4" of material in one pass? FYI - I do have a router table, but have no experience with spiral bits.

Maybe I'm overthinking this, but just looking to tap into some of your all's experience! Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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Multiple passes. On the table, with careful attention to keeping the piece against the fence. The stopped slot is pretty easy to do by pressing the piece down onto the bit, and during setup, mark the start and stop points on the fence. I'd use featherboards on the sides of the piece, and down onto it by mounting the featherboard to the fence. My own inclination is always to use a mortising bit for such cuts because it gives a nice flat bottom. With oak that's been around that long, I don't think it is going to warp.But see if you can set aside the material for an extra leg, just in case. You should probably use a forstner bit to drill into the leg to the depth you want for the groove so you don't have to press the piece onto the bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Multiple passes. On the table, with careful attention to keeping the piece against the fence. The stopped slot is pretty easy to do by pressing the piece down onto the bit, and during setup, mark the start and stop points on the fence. I'd use featherboards on the sides of the piece, and down onto it by mounting the featherboard to the fence. My own inclination is always to use a mortising bit for such cuts because it gives a nice flat bottom. With oak that's been around that long, I don't think it is going to warp.But see if you can set aside the material for an extra leg, just in case. You should probably use a forstner bit to drill into the leg to the depth you want for the groove so you don't have to press the piece onto the bit.
Thank you for the advice Tom! The forstner bit is a great idea - I was wondering how I was going to get a nice radius on the end of that slot using a 1/2" bit.
 

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The question is, do you have 1" router cutter? If so it is simply a method of cutting a slot and counter slot.

As Tom mentioned, make multiple passes.
I would make the 1/4" slot first to ensure the fence placement is correct.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks James - I do not have a 1" cutter but am happy to purchase one. Are you suggesting something like this? Or a 1" spiral cutter - haven't seen any spiral cutters that large. I appreciate your help!
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I agree with Tom and James. I made a great projectile once when trying to widen a slot so I always use featherboards when cutting slots now.
 

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if you make several passes with the cut, even a 1/2" wide cutter would do the same job.

Please share the build with us - I need an easel and this one looks pretty nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

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Thanks James - I do not have a 1" cutter but am happy to purchase one. Are you suggesting something like this? Or a 1" spiral cutter - haven't seen any spiral cutters that large. I appreciate your help!
View attachment 401887
Yes, that cutter will do for that project.
The reasion I suggested a 1" cutter, as once you have the setting for the 1/4" slot, you do not have to change the fence to make the counterslot with the 1" cutter.

I have used that method to slot and counterslot some older jigs.
 
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I agree with DesertRatTom that the narrow slot should be done first. The depth of this slot can be greater than the actual slot because the 1" wide slot will clean the bottom of the slot.

For the 1" wide slot, I have made about 10 tissue boxes that have a 1" wide through slot but stopped on both ends. I start by using a 7/8" Forstner bit to waste away as much material as possible; use a depth stop shy of the 1 1/2" depth. Next, go to the router table and use a 7/8" bit to adjust the fence position. Replace the 7/8" bit with a 1" bit with an appropriate stop and route away the remaining material. If you have a lift mechanism on your router table, the depth of cut can be easily set. The maximum depth of cut that I use is typically 1/8" or less.

The figures below show the process. Note that the router bit has a bottom cutter so that it can be used to plunge. (The router bit brand I used was Woodtek, but they are no longer available.)

I strongly recommend first making a prototype out of MDF or some inexpensive wood. It is amazing how many unexpected problems the prototype step will identify.

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
sorry, but that link seems to be defunct - is there another source that you used for the plans?
Sorry for the late reply here John - I stopped getting reply notifications for some reason. Anyway - maybe try it without the www in front? So just type blog.philsart.co.uk/?p=254 Or just search for "Phil's French Easel UK". His site should be one of the first that pop up for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I agree with DesertRatTom that the narrow slot should be done first. The depth of this slot can be greater than the actual slot because the 1" wide slot will clean the bottom of the slot.

For the 1" wide slot, I have made about 10 tissue boxes that have a 1" wide through slot but stopped on both ends. I start by using a 7/8" Forstner bit to waste away as much material as possible; use a depth stop shy of the 1 1/2" depth. Next, go to the router table and use a 7/8" bit to adjust the fence position. Replace the 7/8" bit with a 1" bit with an appropriate stop and route away the remaining material. If you have a lift mechanism on your router table, the depth of cut can be easily set. The maximum depth of cut that I use is typically 1/8" or less.

The figures below show the process. Note that the router bit has a bottom cutter so that it can be used to plunge. (The router bit brand I used was Woodtek, but they are no longer available.)

I strongly recommend first making a prototype out of MDF or some inexpensive wood. It is amazing how many unexpected problems the prototype step will identify.

View attachment 401931
View attachment 401930
Thanks for the great idea bfblack! I can see how that would help alot to get that material out of there and make it so the router bits didn't have to work quite so hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So the easel project is just about finished. Down to sanding and finishing now. There's been more thinking and head scratching than wood cutting for sure! I ended up using a 1" mortising bit in my router table and took multiple passes to get the stopped slot, then used a 1/4" compression spiral bit to cut the smaller slot. I did get some burning on the last pass - even though it was probably less than 1/8" cut. Do I just need to take a lighter final cut or? I'll sand it out the best I can and then not worry too much about it as it'll be hidden from view most of the time.

Here are a few pictures of the almost-finished project. I've never used Tung oil, but am thinking of giving it a try on this. Any thoughts one way or the other? As mentioned before I used repurposed oak of I think 3 varieties/vintages, so lots of different things going on with the grain, color, worm wood, etc. I tested a water-based poly on some scraps and it really highlighted the differences in the wood - I think I'd rather tone them down if possible.

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I am sure that your son will be happy with that result....
 
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