My router confessional

Remember when I cut that round table top? I mentioned that I was considering a new router because of ‘dust issues’, when I should have really come clean and admit that my DeWalt 618 router has bitten the dust. Seriously.

How do I come to this conclusion? Well, as I was routing, I realized that when I turned the motor off, the router bit came to a stop while the motor was winding down. Not one to take chances, I’m inclined to believe that if it isn’t broken now, it’s probably just a little bit down the road.

I am happy that I got my ten years out of this sucker, but I think I may have messed things up too much to bring it back from the dead.


The Freud Router

But, before I admit that I have only my table based router and trim router to work with, I remembered that I had picked up this Freud FT1702 router about ten years ago at Lowe’s. They were on clearance for $100 at the time – a steal over the $250 they went for normally – and it has seen some sporadic duty over the past few years. For instance, when I needed to switch between bits for my Keller dovetail jig, I would set this one up along with the DeWalt, so I wouldn’t have to switch bits mid-project.

While the router is a pretty sweet operator, it does have some serious quirks that would keep it from being my primary router for long.

Adaptor ring

First, it is unable to accept standard Porter-Cable type subbases. They built this model with some funky geometry under the proprietary subbase, which prevents the use of any aftermarket models. Normally, not a huge deal, however, if you want to use a guide bushing, you had two options with this sucker. Either use Freud’s proprietary guide bushing setup, or shell out for the heavy brass adaptor which is held in with a pair of screws.

Missing screw

Needless to say, these screws are tiny, and are pretty much guaranteed to drop to the shop floor while you are removing the guide. As you can see, I am already missing one of them – time to run to the home improvement center to pick up a replacement. They are also threaded in metric dimensions, which means I will have to cross my fingers and hope that they have the right size.

Missed it by that much

Another problem with this model is that it has guide posts which are set at a non-standard width and height from the subbase, meaning that you have to again have to get your hands on a proprietary Freud edge guide. Again, they are no longer manufactured for this out of production model.


So, while I can make do with this router for a while, I will certainly be looking for a new one in the not too distant future. With my birthday and the holidays coming up in December, I hope I won’t have long to wait.


MicroJig Art

Cut that circle

You know, there are times when I grow tired of my day job, especially when it pulls me away from the shop. Last week, I was in Orlando teaching some basic public information officer classes, and once I got back, Tropical Storm Erika decided she wanted to cause a little mischief here in the Tampa Bay area. So, my posts didn’t really happen.

The top glue up partial

However, I’m back with a vengeance building the table top for the front room. As you might have guessed, the next step with the build is to glue together the pieces that were to become the top. This was easy, because I was going to do it in stages. First, the outside parts got glued up, making it easy to break the assembly in to easy to manage pieces.

The full topåç

Once they were done, I brought the middle board and the two outside assemblies together to make the solid top. This way, I had a lot fewer joints to juggle during assembly, and allowed me to move through the assembly at my own leisurely pace.


With the pieces together, the next step was to cut the rough shape out. Since this is a bigger assembly, I opted to bring the tool to the wood and chose my jigsaw. Armed with a high-quality blade, this sucker can do a great job with the cuts and brought the piece down to rough shape.

dowel pivot

From there, I turned the assembly over face down and inserted a 1/4″ dowel into a hole I had drilled earlier squarely in the middle of the assembly. This way, I could use it as a pivot point for my router.

Round with the router

The trammel I went with was decidedly low-tech – a piece of 1/4″ plywood cut long enough to hold my router with a pivot hole drilled the radius I wanted. With a 3/8″ straight cutting bit in the router, I started it up, plunged it about 1/4″ into the board and made a pass.

cut away the excess

With a track identified, I went back to my jigsaw and cut away any excess wood outside of the router bit track. This way, the bit would simply be trimming the wood away, instead of boring into it and compacting cuttings into the groove.

The circle

With just a little bit more routing, I ended up with a pretty sweet looking circle that I had to touch up with my belt sander to ensure everything looked its best.

Now, of course, comes the unenviable task of sweeping up all of those router trimmings. Perhaps it might be time to think about getting a router with some better dust collection … you know, the holidays are coming up. Maybe I have to drop a hint to my jolly old monkey…

The weekly plan

Rick Helm’s Morris Chair

Sure, it may be summertime now, but in a few months, we’re going to be looking for a comfortable place to settle down in front of a fireplace with a few comfortable blankets as old man winter pays us a visit. Since that’s the case, why not make that comfortable place as cozy and good looking as possible?

The Morris Chair

Enter Rick Helm’s Morris Chair plan. Built of traditional white oak, this plan maximizes the impact of the quartersawn grain, provides for comfortable seating and even offers a companion ottoman. Build one of these, and you’ll be sure to spend many comfortable nights during the frigid months to come.

The weekly plan

Lowe’s Entry Bench

The doors to your home are vital links between the indoor world and the great outdoors. While we can carefully control the indoor environment, the great outdoors requires we bring with us any number of items to keep us safe and comfortable. Umbrellas, coats, shoes, hats, gloves – the works.

Lowe's Entry bench

Now, if you live with kids in the house, you will know that keeping all of these items organized can be a real nightmare without some piece of furniture for storage, donning or doffing the gear. That’s what today’s plan is all about – building an entry bench organizer.

Made from simple materials and easily buildable in a few shop sessions, this piece can help bring order to your entryways and make them nicer places to get ready to greet the world.

Saving scraps saves the day

Now that I’m off and running with the coffee table, my first thought was to build the top of the table. After all, once I have that done, the base should be pretty straightforward.

Missed it by THAT much

The only problem is that I needed the top of the table to come out to about 36 inches around, and, well, I’m just a little shy of that magic mark. What was I going to do to make up the difference?

Since I needed the remaining boards to make up the stretchers and legs, I was going to have to figure out a way to get that extra width.

Inefficient layout

Now, normally I would just line up the boards like this and cut my circle, but as you can see, this is terribly inefficient. You end up with unusable scraps at the far ends. That dog just won’t hunt.

Beam compass

So, what I did was find the center mark of the middle board I wanted. I also used my beam compass to mark an 18 inch radius so I could gauge how far down the board I wanted to be.

One step down

Once I marked the arc on both ends of this board, I lined up the next boards but just down a little bit, so I would keep the highest edge against the top edge, I was able to swing the arc onto the second board, meaning I was able to use less of the board in the circle. By the time I got to the third boards, I was close. Real close.

Rip Away

I used my miter saw to cut the third boards as closely as possible to the line, then marked the outside edge of the circle onto the scraps. The first side used only a little of the board, so I headed to my table saw to rip that piece in half.

Just made it!

With it in place, it’s easy to see just how well this table top is going to look. Once I get it glued up, I will move on to building a router trammel to cut the perfect circle. But, that’s another post for another day.

Getting a round tuit

So, this was supposed to be the summer of coffee tables. True, it’s technically still summer, but the kids are getting ready to go back to school next week, and Rhonda is going back to work today to get her classroom in order for the big back-to-school push.

I started off so promising with the Cotterman, but the front table has languished, what with the trip to the west coast, straightening out my reference material … the works. But, I’m finally getting a round tuit.

A round tuit

No, not one of those, but they are clever. Instead, I am starting to build the front coffee table. It’s not as if Rhonda has been subtly hinting that perhaps time had come for me to actually build the table. In fact, she had our sons, nieces, nephews, friends, kids of friends – gosh, just about everyone – use her Spirograph kit to decorate the existing table in our living room.

Spirograph table

OK. I get the message. Time to move. First, I had to unpack the care package that came from my friends at Bell Forest Products. I wonder what could be in there?

Rough walnut

Hmm, some quick work with a razor knife, and my jaw just about fell to the floor. Inside the package was some of the most gorgeous, clear walnut I had ever seen. And, believe me, it was more than enough for what I wanted to build.

Hand planes

My milling plan for this lumber was pretty simple. First, I took the time to get the boards to sit flat on the workbench using some hand planes. Again, with the right appliances on my bench, some sharp irons and a whole lot of elbow grease, I was able to get this stack of lumber into condition to run through the thickness planer.

Top boards

Once through, and after straight line ripping the boards using a Bora clamp, the table top started to come into shape. Nice tight joints. Now, I have to sketch out the size of the circle I need to cut so I don’t waste too much lumber, cut the pieces to rough size and glue them up. But, this was a good stopping point for now. After all, I don’t want to get this done too fast!

The weekly plan

Fine Woodworking’s Desktop Organizer

Whatever happened to the paperless offices we were promised about 20 years ago? It seems as if there is more paper than ever in our home office areas. Bills. Insurance paperwork. Homework to sign off on.

FWW Organizer

How do you beat the paper clutter? This free plan from Fine Woodworking may be just the solution. With pockets for several different categories of paperwork and a drawer to hide stamps or pens, this organizer would be home on a desk, hallway table or just about anywhere.