I needed to take a fun break from worrying about the Federal Reserve
System. : )
I placed a drawing of a pencil holder (feature) of something I am
designing. Please take a look on my web site if you care to:
I am curious how the "craftman" might approach this problem. I think
it's interesting. Intuitively, it seems to me that one would build
"ramps" to raise the router bit away from the wood near the end of the
cut. What do you think (maybe you can you refer me to an example)?
By saying, "Stick to designing, don't tell me what tools to use,
ignorant would-be designer." ...while on his/her way out the door.
The radius on the end is the radius of the sawblade or shaper cutter
used to cut the slot. Go back before circular saws and you'll find these
holes carved in various ways suitable for carving. You're copying a
detail that's made for a particular sort of spinny round tool, but you
want to cut it with a different spinny round tool - not well thought
out. Try your ramps. Make the cut - don't waste good lumber on it. See
the problems for yourself. Become educated.
Even programming a CNC router (which is about as close as you'll come on
a router to this) is not going to leave a decent finish cutting this
from the flat surface with that edge detail (long edges vertical).
Biscuit bit might give the radius on a router, but you've got a lot of
stick-out to the edge of the piece, so it will make a crappy cut even if
you can stick it out that far. Close to the edge of the piece you might
be able to use a biscuit bit for this effect.
You can cut perfectly nice pencil holders with a router, but this won't
be the shape they come out (or even a shape they can come out, other
than "crudely approximated if you have a CNC router, and even then the
corners won't look right due to bit radius.")
You make some very good points. That's why I posed the question--so
that I might learn the craftsman's point of view. I could actually see
some of the issues--even without the cut. If I didn't, I would not have
brought it up. With a slight modification, I thought I might be able to
do a passable job on the ends with a chisel, maybe not. I'm quite sure
that the problem of cutting a pencil holder still has something left to
teach me. A round-nosed bit, as has been suggested, would probably yield
acceptable results for my application, but I'll keep thinking on it.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. :)
Try your ramps. Make the cut - don't waste good lumber on it. See
Do you just want a pencil slot the easiest way or do you want a specific
shape of pencil slot? And what do you have now for tools?
The easy way to get the cut you described, if a 5 inch radius is OK on
the ends, would be a radial arm saw and a dado set. Getting it with a
router and having it look good would be a pain. There's probably a way
to do it on a table saw safely, but I can't think of a setup that
doesn't scare the crap out of me.
I actually want a pencil "tray" wide enough for 4 or 5 pencils and pens.
It's actually going to sit in the bottom of a "keyboard stand" (I've
been relying on 2 Amazon book boxes, sitting side-by-side, for over 5
years). Before I started cutting, it occurred to me I might as well add
a pencil tray. The rest is negotiable. I was hoping that sharing my
problem might stimulate an interesting discussion and result in learning
new things, and I haven't been disappointed. I don't have many tools
(I have a router but no TS), and this no doubt has something to do with
my choosing a project which, on the surface at least, looks like a very
simple project---basically a box laying on it's side! : )
As I understand it, you want a piece of wood partially hollowed out
lengthwise; the bottom is to be flat but curve upward at the ends; the sides
are to be vertical. Is that it? If so, you cannot make it with a router as
long as the plane of the router bit shank is perpendicular to the bottom
because the bit will be crosscutting which means their will be a radius
where the ends and sides meet.
As someone suggested, you could do it with a slot cutting bit if you arrange
router and wood so that the bit is ripping.
The easy way is with a RAS as someone also said. Since you have neither TS
nor RAS, the simplest thing is cut the future sides off the piece of wood,
rout out the remainder with a core box or similar bit then glue the sides
Skew the piece and cut a cove on the table saw, Bill.
If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying?
If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?
That's what I used when routing groves in a piece of MDF to accommodate my
A single flat piece of MDF which forms a tray, which slides into the
milling machine stand like a draw. Grooves were basically semi-circular in
section though in some cases, for the larger diameter cutters I had to
make two passes to increase the width.
I put up two SketchUp pictures of the keyboard tray I designed
on my web site in case anyone wants to see where the pencil holder ended up.
I plan to use yellow poplar, a wood I basically like the natural
appearance of. Is there a simple finish I might consider, compared to
just leave it unfinished? I don't wish to polyurethane it to
a shiny finish.
Thank you again for the help I received regarding the implementation of
the pencil holder feature.
of. Is there a simple finish I might consider, compared to just leave it
unfinished? I don't wish to
1) Your previous sketches have a vertical edge at the front of the pencil slot.
I cannot tell if that is still true in your current version. If so then it would
be easier to get your pencils out of the slot if the edge had a slope to it.
2) I think that your keyboard shelf design will result in the keyboard being
too high. Obviously you will want your legs to fit under the shelf. So the
keyboard will have to be several inches above your legs. So you will have to
have your arms bent upward at your elbows instead of having your fore arms
You are right (about the previous version and this version being the
same). The "track" is 3/8" deep. The way I"m going, I may be doing some
chiseling along that front edge--depends on the way the tip of my router
bit leaves that front edge. I haven't used my router before so this
feature will probably be interesting. If history is any indication, I
should probably buy enough wood to do that cut twice...
The configuration I described works with respect to me and my desk. The
desk's keyboard holder is a little low for me, but the tray will make it
work okay. I'm currently using propped up cardboard boxes yielding
identical keyboard placement so I know what I'm getting, fit-wise.
Without the props, my hands are so low I get a sore neck.
Thank you for your interest!
This might work with ramps. There was a thread a while back when a guy
was doing flutes and I recommended feathering the ends by using ramps
and he did a big write-up on it. Same technique would probably work.
Depending on how big this piece is and how important, I would buy a
dedicated cutter for the router that is the righ width (or less) and
plung cut it face in.
Or, if the vertical walls are essentially to your design, try a slot
cutter. This would require a router table, I imagine.
Turn the work piece on its side. Using stop blocks on a fence to define
the beginning and end points of the cut, make your first pass. Raise
the cutter the requisite amount, make another pass. Rinse, lather, and
repeat. A router lift would make this less tedious.
This would also be a good application for a milling machine.... Time to
buy another tool, Bill!
If the vertical wall isn't important, then use a core box bit. Just
think of it as a very wide flute!
Another approach: Rip the piece along a line that coincides with
one of the vertical walls of the pencil holder slot. Then use a long straight
bit, with the router held horizontally and the bit at right angle to the
rip. Afterwards, glue the 2 pieces back together.
There are no stupid questions, but there are lots of stupid answers.
Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar. org
Beautiful idea! I just happen to have a 2" plunge router bit too.
Several other excellent ideas proposed too, but yours seems very
consistent with the original problem spec. I'll either do this or go
with the core box bit (or maybe try both eventually...)
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