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Thread: Using a router for pattern cutting

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Using a router for pattern cutting

    This weekend I am going to be designing & building a stool for my 2 year old son. If it works out, I may be making a few for different people.

    I have 1/4 in MDF that I plan to use as a pattern for the sides of the stool.
    I plan on using a pattern bit on my router table to refine a rough cut of the sides pieces of the stool (the sides will be made of 3/4 in poplar plywood) . This way I should be able to duplicate the stool fairly easily.

    I was going to make a sample pattern and try it out before I do the real thing, just to get used to doing it.

    I have never done pattern routing before. If anyone has any tips or suggestions, it would be appreciated.
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
    www.tinyurl.com/thewoodshoppe

  2. #2
    Hi Sean, and happy snow belt to you.

    I have used the pattern idea in making some shelf supports for the shop. I found that it is just as easy as it sounds/looks. If I were doing it, I woould use at least 1/2 in. mdf for the pattern. The extra 1/4 in. gives you a little extra room for the router bit guide bearing to ride on. Also, be careful, I lost a little concentration on my last cut, and ended up pealing back the skin on the edge of my right hand. Not fun at all, but it healed up just fine and you have to look hard to see the scar.

  3. #3
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    Hey Sean,
    Here's a few tips.

    Spend a lot of time getting that pattern perfect, smoothing curves, etc. any small blemish will telegraph to the stock.

    If you have a curve, to make it perfectly symmetrical, make your pattern only 1/2 of the curve, then flip it for the symmetrical other half.

    When you have a pattern you like, use it to make more patterns. The original will eventually get nicked, worn down, etc.

    When routing a curve, be aware of grain orientation. Unless you are taking a very thin cut, going against the grain may cause tearout. When you see a grain change, just flip the piece over and attach the pattern to the other side.

    Try to make the rough cut no more than 1/16th proud of the line.

    Patterns are great, save time and ensure quality!!
    Don't believe everything you think!

  4. #4
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    "When routing a curve, be aware of grain orientation. Unless you are taking a very thin cut, going against the grain may cause tearout. When you see a grain change, just flip the piece over and attach the pattern to the other side."


    Jesse,

    I see what you are saying about the grain orientaion causing tear out on standard stock. I was going to make this particular piece out of hardwood ply. Any suggestions about pattern cutting plywood? (as the grain patterns are perpendicular to each other) Is tear out as much of a concern with plywood?

    Thanks !
    -Sean
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
    www.tinyurl.com/thewoodshoppe

  5. #5
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    Something else I wanted to run by everyone related to pattern cutting on a router table.

    I saw a wood working show on TV (can't remember which one ) , where the guy routing the pattern put a bolt or a "pin" through his router table. This "pin" was sticking up higher than the stock that was being cut. He used the it to help keep control of the stock, by giving the uncut portion something to rest against while feeding it in to the bit.

    This is kind of hard to explain, with out seeing it....

    Has anyone heard of this before, and is it necessary? My router table is in the cast iron extension of my table saw. I would prefer not to drill any more holes in it than there already are.

    -Sean
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
    www.tinyurl.com/thewoodshoppe

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Wright View Post
    Something else I wanted to run by everyone related to pattern cutting on a router table.

    I saw a wood working show on TV (can't remember which one ) , where the guy routing the pattern put a bolt or a "pin" through his router table. This "pin" was sticking up higher than the stock that was being cut. He used the it to help keep control of the stock, by giving the uncut portion something to rest against while feeding it in to the bit.

    This is kind of hard to explain, with out seeing it....

    Has anyone heard of this before, and is it necessary? My router table is in the cast iron extension of my table saw. I would prefer not to drill any more holes in it than there already are.

    -Sean
    That is a "Starter Pin", Sean, and you probably saw it used on the Router Workshop, as they use them to Start the bit into the cut which is a lot safer and keeps the bit from grabbing the piece and trying to jerk it from your grasp. I have one and use it all the time where you are free handing cuts like roundovers, etc. You can also use a straight bit or a spiral cutter bit and an insert guide in lieu of a Pattern bit with a bearing on it, but you will have to make the pattern with a setback from the actual finished edge you want, in order to take into consideration the distance from the OD of the insert guide and the OD of the straight bit. If you use this method, you should make the pattern extend past the end of the piece you are going to cut, so you have an inch or so of a straight edge for the guide to ride on "before" the bit gets to the actual start of the cut, and then you would not need the starter pin. (I'm not sure my explanation is any clearer than mud though, but hope it helps).

    As to the thickness of the pattern, 1/4 in is fine. That's what the Router Shop boys use all the time. They use 1/4 " Baltic Birch Ply, but the MDF will work also.
    Last edited by Norman Hitt; 03-25-2007 at 08:55 AM.

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