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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I haven't been on here for a while....quite a while.
I decided to take my router skills to another level, and have made repeated attempts to try to get acceptable results in template routing. I'm trying to mount an aluminum car club plaque, approx 5" x 7", 1/4" thick, into a 2" x (?) board in a picnic table top. Please critique my steps, and make suggestions to make this go easier.

First off, I needed a inlay set with the correct size bushing and bit. I couldn't bring myself to spend $40 at a big name woodworking supplier, so I settled on the Harbor Freight set, #99552 for $8.99. Only 22.5% of the specialty store. Made of brass, and mates perfectly with my router template set. I'm using 1/4" hardboard, and I wasn't happy with the supplied spiral up bit as it didn't clear the sawdust very well. Changed to a 1/8" 2 flute CMT carbide #81103211 with much better results. The instructions with the kit outlined steps to make the recess first, then the inlay. Backwards for me, so I used this tutorial that I found online. https://www.busybeetools.com/pages/Perfect-inlays-with-your-Router.html Exactly what I needed, and the pictured kit has pieces that look identical to the HF one.

I followed the outlined steps with pretty good results; the plaque fits OK. The trouble I'm having should be the easiest part of the process; cleaning out the recess. Since the bit only leaves a 1/8" outline, extreme care must be used to clean out the recess near the edge. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about using the template, modifying a template bushing and use a narrow diameter bit to stay away from the edge until I get a some of the edge cleared away, then freehand. Or simply use a fence, and guide on the router base. Which leaves only the round corners to freehand. I know that somebody here has done this before, and has some tips. Thanks.
 

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I have the same set from Busy Bee and have used it with a 1/8 bit without any problems. The only tips I can give you is to have lots of light on the workpiece and use a lightweight router like a Colt and go slow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply Mark. One of my issues is the router. The only plunge router I have is the Freud FT3000VCE monster. It was a ridiculous Black Friday deal at Woodcraft a bunch of years ago, and I just had to have it, and unfortunately it's my one and only plunge router. I have wrecked a couple of plastic templates with my fixed base Craftsman routers, so I mostly use this one for template routing with larger and heavier custom made templates.

My biggest issue is cleaning out the recess, and the small 1/8" groove doesn't leave much room around the edge. I've got 2 ideas to solve that. Simply clamp a guide for the router base to guide on, and carefully freehand the round corners. Or modify a large router bushing, (shorten the bottom to 1/4" for the thickness of the template) use a smaller bit, and use the inlay template to get a larger margin before freehanding the middle portion. I'm guessing that router choice isn't critical for that step, but like you said, smaller and lighter is better. We all know that the outside edge of the recess has to be perfect, and you only get one shot at achieving that.
 

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The first thing to do is select the size of bit and dia of template guide that you intend to use. The simple formula for making the template is; template guide dia. minus bit dia. plus the size of the inlay.
Let us say you intend using a 1/2" bit and a 3/4" template guide, then we have:
3/4"-1/2"+5"=5.5".......by: 3/4"-1/2"+7" =7.5". That is a template with a rectangular opening measuring 5.5" x 7.5"
The simple way to make such a template that is accurate is shown in the photograph, four pieces cut so as to leave a cut-out of appropriate size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the suggestion Harry. I tried that method first with not so perfect results. That's why I switched to a different way that used the approx 5" x 7" & 1/4" thick inlay to create the template, and that resulted in a near perfect sized recess.
 

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Frank I think your main problem is the router. I know there is no way I could handle a large router like that to do fine work like you are trying to do. I have a hard enough time staying within the 1/8" cut with my small trim router.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have a much smaller Craftsman fixed base I'll try, and I'll start away from the edge where the plunge would be so critical. I'll just try to tell myself concentrate and control. Thanks for the replies. F
 

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Mike
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Did you make your template to fit the aluminum plaque or did you allow for the bushings and bit when you made your template?
 

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I would have made a template, as shown by Harry, the exact size of the plaque, then used a bottom bearing bit. I don't envision any issues doing it that way. Or, mark it out, then use a mallet and chisel. Just depends on the mood at the time. I'd also make a practice run or two first.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Did you make your template to fit the aluminum plaque or did you allow for the bushings and bit when you made your template?
I followed the instructions I found online, and used the bushing, so the template is slightly larger than the plaque. After some thought, to do what I wanted, I'd have to fabricate a slightly larger bushing to to put on the insert to push the bit a little farther away from the template. If that makes any sense. Thanks for the reply.
 

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Mike
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Frank here is a picture of how the inlay kit works.

If you make the template based on this you should have no problem clearing the pocket because the collar gives you correct offset for the template to cut the outside edge of the pocket. Just remove the rest of the material in the pocket.
Remove the collar and using the same template you cut the inlay. you do need to make sure you stay against the temple because if you get off of the template you will be cutting into the inlay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all of the replies. I think I've finally got the basics figured out. I made the first perimeter cut in the recess with the supplied bushing, then made a 2nd pass with a little larger bushing I fabbed up which increases the groove to about 3/16". I nicked the outside of the recess with the surfacing bit (bad eyes), so tomorrow I'll make another practice run and set up a fence to keep me away from that outside edge. I'm finding new ways to make sawdust.
 

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If i understand correctly, you're trying to inlay a rectangle (5"x7") that's 1/4" thick into a picnic table. Is this correct?

Personally I'd not make a stencil because you'll likely never need that exact size inlay again, plus... it's a rectangle. I'd just clamp a fence to the table and run the router along the fence for each edge. Then chisel out the corners of the recess if needed.

To me the hardest part (which shouldn't be incredibly difficult) will be setting the bit depth. I could be wrong but I'm gonna assume this picnic table isn't perfectly flat on top because most of them aren't. So I'd definitely fix that if it isn't. Make the area where you want your inlay as flat as possible plus a few extra inches on each side. If you feel the table is flat then you shouldn't have many issues.

The plaque is aluminum so sanding it flush won't be an option. That's why i said a flat surface is a must. Once the surface is flat, carefully set your bit depth to the thickness of the plaque so it ends up perfectly flush.
If anything, going deeper than the plaque thickness might be an option, and you can always use shims of some sort under the plaque to level it off before you glue it.

Tapping holes into the back of the plaque and screwing it in from under the table could be an option for holding it secure as well.

Another idea is to inlay the plaque some amount below the surface of the table and cover with an epoxy of some sort.

I feel like I've said a lot, and a lot of it based on assumptions. I apologize if i misunderstood what you're trying to do.




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the reply Mickeyfolse. You've got the plan correct. I'm planning to mount the plaque in a wider 2 x 8 center board. I'd have to go look, but I picked up a tube of some heavy duty exterior construction adhesive that should work with both metal and wood. I planned to make the recess about 1/16" or so deeper than the plaque and use the adhesive to level it, and cleaning out what might be forced out the sides. So the bottom finish isn't critical. Then leveling and clamping it flush with the top surface until the adhesive sets up.

I did try your method without the template first, but had an issue with the round corners. I even tried establishing the corners with a forstner bit first, but after many failures, I moved up to the template idea thinking I could get an exact copy much easier. If I got paid by the hour, I might be up to a quarter. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My thanks to all who volunteered their opinions on my template question. I have played with this long enough to find the system that works for me, and I managed to rout a recess that I am happy with and claim as mine. Thanks again everybody.
 
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