From Buffalo, eh? I should be able to see you on a clear day. I'm just across the way in Oakville. If you're not familiar with Canada, (what American is?) I'm just east of Hamilton. Stand outside and wave tomorrow at 10.
Hello Jerry, I was born and raised in Lewiston and I'm familiar with the other side of the river. I especially remember going to Crystal Beach and riding the Wild Mouse when I was a kid (many years ago). Depending on your age, you may or may not be familiar with that park. I also enjoyed visiting Niagara-On-Lake. A very quaint place. Welcome to the forum!
Welcome, glad you decided to join the fun. The package Stick linked to is a series of pdfs and really covers the subject of routing, tables or freehand. I found a used copy of Bill Hylton's book, "Woodworking with the Router" that's been a great help.
With patterns, the key is to make an accurate, full sized pattern to use to guide a bearing type bit around the workpiece. Draw the pattern or transfer it onto a piece of half inch mdf (medium density fiberboard. Use a jig saw or band saw to cut out the shape, staying slightly outside the line. You then use a sander to do the final shaping exactly to the line. Double sided tape will hold the pattern on the worpiece and adjust height until the bearing is riding on the mdf pattern. The bit will reproduce the exact shape on your workpiece. It is easier to do than to describe in detail.
Top bearing bits have the bearing on the shaft end of the cutter. Bottom bearings are at the tip. So the bottom bearing in the table will actually be up above the bit's cutters. This confused me at first. The difference is whether you cut the piece with the pattern below the work piece, or above it. Either way works, but a long flush trim bit with a top mounted bearing will leave more of the cutting parts exposed. That increases any risk of injury.
Use some sort of push block to move the workpiece and pattern against the bit, it will decrease your injury risk. Table routing is far safet than freehand routing so you'll likely want to use the table as much as possible. Although he doesn't cover pattern routing, there is a set of YouTube videos by Marc Sommerfeld that I found to be very helpful in learning to get the most out of a router. Sommerfeld is a former cabinet maker who got into the bit selling business, and he plugs his own products, but he takes all the mystery out of using a router for all kinds of projects. His technique is very simple and direct, and he's not heavy handed about promoting his product line.
Do you have a shop area, or work in a garage? One thing that's helpful in responding to questions is knowing what tools you have available. Many times different people will suggest alternative methods of doing a job, other than what you're asking about. Knowing what tools you have available to you is pretty helpful. Lots of different dieas and experience levels around this joint, which is one of my favorite things about the Forum.
BTW, don't know if it's completely appropriate, but I've attached a pdf of the 18 (or so) things that helped accelerate my learning curve on woodworking. It's long and covers a lot of equipment, materials and methods, but it has pictures to help clarify. Hope it helps you avoid some of the expensive mistakes and poor purchasing choices I've made in this great process.
I haven't been in Rochester for years. It was a pretty area and I very much liked the feel of the place. My daughter and I drove there from Albany during the fall. Breathtaking.
Welcome aboard Jerry. I think you'll find all the knowledge or references to it here you'll need. As you learn and experiment don't forget to post pictures of your work so we can see better what you're doing. Since building my router table it's become indispensable and one of the more used tools in the shop behind the table saw.
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