cutting out shapes with a router


I would like to cut numerous wood pieces that are identical in shape and about 6" long 3 inches wide. I want to cut them out of 3/4" hard maple. I made myself a template from 1/4" plywood and tacked it to a piece of the 3/4" maple. I then trying using a cutting bit on my router table to cut out the shape. On the top of the bit is a small wheel that I used to roll along the edge of my template. The whole idea sounded easy enough to me until I tried it. The bit would periodically grab really hard and sometimes it would break chunks of the maple off...scary! I tried going slower, faster, etc., but could never get it to work. My Craftsman router table and router only run on one speed so I can't adjust it. I am guessing that the problem is in the blade. Does anyone have a suggestion for me as to how to make this work? Please keep the response at a "novice" level...I am most certainly a beginner.
Thank you!
II
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Since nobody else has thrown out an answer, I'll throw in my $0.02...
I suspect what your problem is that the router bit is catching in areas of wood-grain change, and pulling off chunks of your hard-earned wood. Your solutions to the problem would be: 1) Cut out the rough shape using a jig saw or bandsaw. Try to stay within 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch of the shape. This will help prevent the bit from getting too much material to grab onto. 2) In areas of grain change, be prepared to move the router the opposite way around the pattern. If you look at the way the router bit turns, the direction you're moving the router, and the grain of the wood, you'll see that there are probably areas that you're going against the grain, and the router bit will basically pry up chunks of wood, ruining your pieces and leaving you with splinters. Having said that, routing with the grain ("climb cutting") can be dangerous, as it may cause the router to move in an unexpectedly quick manner, as the bit basically accelerates the router in the direction of travel.
Here's an article that may help: http://www.newwoodworker.com/clmbcuttng.html (found with a google search). Have fun, and be safe. If something makes you feel uncomfortably unsafe, there's probably a reason for it, and you should stop and see if there's another way. There's almost always multiple ways to accomplish something, and sometimes the scary ways outnumber the safe ways.
Clint

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You probably tried to remove too much with the original procedure. by the way work against the cutter not with it [which will throw the piece across the shop...
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On 4 Nov 2005 21:50:10 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

that method is great for final trimming of the parts to shape, but you have to get them close first. you don't say if your parts are curved, but I'm going to guess that they are. depending on your definition of numerous, a bandsaw would be a good investment. there is an excellent technique for roughing with a bandsaw and following with a trim bit in a router in the currenf Fine Woodworking Magazine in this article: http://taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/fw_180_054.asp basically set up a follower on the band saw to have the bandsaw cut an eighth of an inch or so outside of your hardboard template.
if your pieces are all straight lines you'll be better off with table saw jigs.
your pieces are verging on too small to be safely handled on the router table. doing a lot of them is courting disaster. do something to get your fingers further from the cutter and give you a firm grip. prolly add a big handle to your hardboard template.
if you continue with woodworking you're going to want a better router and table. build the table yourself. don't go for fancy, especially for the first one- it's all about learning. read this: http://patwarner.com/router_table.html
the grabbyness and busting out chunks is from trying to take too much off at one time, from having a dull cutter, from having insufficient control of the part or from a problem with the router.
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You need a starting pin to brace against as you snuggle into the bearing.
Library or used book shop text on basic routing would describe it best, though in essence it's a pin close in toward the bit, against which you place your piece, using it as a fulcrum to move into the bit and bearing. http://www.patwarner.com/ for a good bunch of routing information.
Even better is to use the starting pin and a holding jig. Can be just handles on a sturdier template, or a commercial one like http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&cat=1,43000,41780&pA780
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You guys are awesome! I have never been around someone that worked with wood in my life and all I have learned by trail and error on my own time. I will investigate all the links you guys have provided, thank you very much for your time!!
II
George wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in

The other posters suggested some important things, especially the importance of a starting pin and very light cuts.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that you always want to feed the against the cutting direction of the bit. For example, the bit in the table spins counterclockwise as viewed from top, so you want to push the edge of the workpiece against the bottom or left side of the bit -- that way the edge of the bit is pushing against the workpiece. Feeding it from front to back against the right side of the bit is pretty dangerous because you are feeding with the direction the bit is turning, and the bit can grab the piece and pull it away from you.
It's best to have two router bits of the same diameter ... one with bearing at the top of the cutting edge, and a second one with the bearing at the bottom of the cutting edge. Having these two bits permits you to use the same single template and flip your workpiece over so you can rout all the curves with the grain (prevents tearout).
Having a jig to hold your workpiece is an excellent suggestion. You don't want your hands anywhere near that cutting action.
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Great advice. I have cut out hundreds of pieces with the bandsaw in the last couple years and run them through the router. For months I ran the pieces in all directions on the router because I didn't know better. After some reading though I realized just what you wrote above Nate...to only go against the bit. I worry about the router everytime I use it though, it's a dangerous tool. I intend to buy some push pads right away after reading the info that Clint posted.
I think at this point I will try and cut out most of the shape with a bandsaw and then take it to the router to see if that works. I will be very careful!
thanks again!
II
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Make your next bit a spiral solid carbide, and begin using collars for pattern work. The shear they provide makes direction almost meaningless.
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Really? I'll have to give that a try. A assume for a bit mounted in the table you'd want to use a spiral up-cut and not a spiral down-cut, right?
Thanks
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in
...

...
Yeah, it is heresy to say this in this newsgroup, but I hate routers too. I avoid using them whenever possible. I just don't like them. They are loud, they are a pain to collect the dust from, and they are easy to make a mistake on.
You are right that you'll want push pads at a minimum. There are also some good sleds described for routing shaped parts in the books by Lonnie Bird, either "Period Furniture Details" or "Shaping Wood."
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I use the right hand thumb and curled fingers as a mnemonic for feeding into a rotating bit. Thumb represents the router bit projecting out of the base/table. Thumb pointed up means counterclockwise bit rotation therefore stock is passed in front of the bit from right to left INTO rotating bit cutters. Handheld with thumb pointing down cutting edges are clockwise rotation and router is passed in front of the wood from left to right. When table is used for edging long and end grain the end grain edges are cut using a climb cut with stock held FIRMLY to avoid be torn out of my hands, for about 1" or 2" then conventional direction for balance of that edge.
On 5 Nov 2005 21:54:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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