Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When Is 2.5-Inches Not 2.5-Inches

When you are working on a low end Craftsman Router Table.

99.9% of the time when I am working on the router table I am routering (Is that a word?) on the edge of the piece of wood so I’m not really paying close attention to the exact off-set of the fence to the center of the router bit. In the case of the face frame under the sink I needed to mill a groove in the center of the 5-inch wide board. Fortunately, or so I thought, the fence has a maximum depth of 2.5-inches. Perfect, right? 2.5-inches is exactly in the center of a 5-inch board. Well, it isn’t. At least not on my router table. When the fence is set at 2.5-inches it is more like 2.4-inches.

Problem number 2. Earlier in the day I had been doing some edge joining on the router table. To do this you set one side of the fence at the front edge of the router bit and off-set the other side by an eight of an inch or so. (This must be like Greek to some. I’m sorry) Well, wouldn’t you just know it, I never reset the fence. What all this means is that I could have made the most accurate measurements in the world and that groove would have never been centered on the board.

I started to redo the face frame board today and after I got a fresh piece of wood (Long process: See yesterday’s post) I made the center cut after careful measurement and it was off again. I couldn’t believe it. This is how I discovered the problem with the fence. Very frustrating. I decided I would try once again.

Failure No. 2

This time in order to get the groove centered in the board I had to run it once and then flip the board around and run it again. This gave me a centered groove but it is about 1/4-inch wider then it should be. A little disappointing. However, now that I had a centered groove I could reset the fence and do the outside grooves and they would be equal distance from the outside of the board and the middle groove. Symmetry at long last.

I then decided, though, that having the center groove so much wider than the outside grooves was less than aesthetically pleasing. I reset the fence once more by about an 1/8-inch and ran the outside grooves again, thus widening them just a hair. All around it is a less than perfect solution, but at this point I am willing to settle for less than perfect. Not something I’m proud of, but something I’m finding I must do more and more due to both my skill level and my tool selection.

Finished Product

Even more troubling is that after I removed the old board and nailed the new board on to the cabinets I came up with a solution to center the groove on the board. I could take off the stupid fence all together and just clamp on a scrap piece of wood that is exactly 2.5-inches off-set from the center of the router bit. I would need to get a board that is very, very straight, which is easier said than done, but it is doable. At this point, though, I’m not going to tempt fate. After one test cut and three actual cuts, if I did it again and it didn’t come out right the router table might just end up in the bay swimming with the fishies. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Blog Entry Addendum

I was just about to post the above entry when I decided it was getting late and I wanted to rent a movie and go to the store. I figured I run some errands and post when I got back. As I was driving around I couldn’t help thinking about the board. I also thought about something Patricia W from The Folksy Lady had said. She mentioned that maybe it wouldn’t be noticeable once the counter top was on. It is true, it might not be to some, but it would be to me. It would drive me nuts for ever.

However, Patricia did hit on something. The difference between the center long groove and the two shorter ones would be noticeable. I don’t think, though, that the overall symmetry of the three grooves on the board will be noticeable when the counter top is on. In other words, the middle groove does not need to be centered, but the relationship of the two outer grooves to the middle groove is what is important.

When I got back home I went back out to the shop and grabbed my second attempt (Failure No. 2 above). On this board I stopped after I discovered the middle groove was not centered. I never milled the two outer grooves. I went ahead and milled the two short grooves. This time however, I did not concentrate on their relationship to the outside edge of the board, but rather their relationship to the middle groove.

What I ended up with was 3 grooves spaced evenly from each other but off-set by ¼-inch from the top of the board. They are shifted slightly towards the bottom of the board, but all three are shifted the same. Once the countertop is on, not only will you not notice the off-set, but it might actually look better because you will no longer see all of the top of the face frame board.

Success at last!


Gary said...

See, where there's Greg, there's a way!

Shawn said...

Looks great! I definitely know how it feels to have to do something over again...and then over again...and then still not have it be quite right. It's the details like that which count, though.

Anonymous said...

ddGlad to see that you "re-did" it. It looks great and I'm sure won't be driving you nuts any longer.

Neil said...

Looks great! Congratulations.

On the bright side, you are now at least 4 times better with a router than you were before!

JLynnette said...

Looks marvelous!