A router table’s versatility is limited only by your creativity and the selection of bits in your shop. Many complex shapes and profiles can be molded on a router table by using two or more cutters in succession. As shown below, you can shape a handrail using two different bits. With a panel-raising bit (page 54) and a set of cope-and-stick cutters (page 57), you can make an arched door panel on the router table, and then produce attractive joinery to hold the door frame together.
There are some limitations on the work you can do on a router table, most governed by the bit size. Some cutters are too large for smaller routers to handle safely. A horizontal panel-raising bit (page 56) that is larger than 2M inches in diameter can only be used in a router capable of generating at least 3 horsepower. Also, when using large bits, you
usually have to slow the router speed— a typical speed for large cutters is 8,000 rpm; refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. One way to achieve comparable results with a smaller bit in a low-power router is to use a vertical panel-raising bit (page 54).
Like cope-and-stick sets, the canoe bits shown above make matching cuts—in this case, flutes and beads. The canoe joint they create forms a seamless joint regardless of the angle of the boards—an essential feature in boat building.
2 Finishing the cut
When the workpiece is flush against the fence, feed it forward while pressing down toward the table and pushing against the fence. Continue the cut until the back cutting line on the workpiece aligns with the bit cutting mark on the infeed side of the fence. Pivot the trailing end of the stock away from the cutter with one hand (right), steadying the board against the table and fence with your other hand. Avoid lifting the stock until it is clear of the bit. If necessary, square the ends of the groove with a chisel.
Setting up and starting the cut
Mount your router in the table with a three-wmg slotting cutter in the tool. Align the fence with the bit’s pilot bearing and adjust the cutting height of the cutter to center the groove along the edge of the workpiece. Mark the start and end of the groove on the top face of the stock. To help you determine the location of the bit when it is hidden by the workpiece during this cut, also mark the points on the fence where the cutter starts and stops cutting. To start the cut, turn on the router with the workpiece clear of the bit. Hold the board face-down on the table and align the front cutting line on the workpiece with the bit cutting mark on the outfeed side of the fence. Holding the board flat on the table with both hands, slowly pivot it into the cutter (left). Grip the workpiece firmly to avoid kickback.
RAISING AN ARCHED PANEL WITH A VERTICAL PANEL-RAISING BIT
Cut the panel to size on your band saw, then mount your router fitted with a vertical panel-raising bit in the table. Position the fence for a shallow cut so you can reach your final depth in two passes. To raise the arched portion of the panel, prepare a feeding jig. Using the panel as a guide, outline the desired curve on one face of a 1-inch-thick board. Then cut the curve and saw the board in two at the midpoint of the arch. Sand the cut ends smooth and screw the two pieces to the fence on each side of the bit to form a cradle in which you will be able to swivel the arched portion of the panel (right). To support the panel during the cut, clamp a feath – erboard to the table, propping it on a thick shim so the featherboard presses the workpiece flush against the fence.
Holding the outside face of the panel flush against the fence, slowly lower the top end onto the cutter. Tilt the bottom of the panel toward the outfeed end of the table so the workpiece contacts the bit at the start of the arched portion. With your right hand gripping the bottom corner of the panel and your left hand pressing the face against the fence, begin rotating the workpiece in a clockwise direction, swiveling the bottom end toward you (below).
3 Finishing the cut
Continue rotating the panel toward you (above) until the arched section has been shaped from one end to the other. Then slowly lift the panel free of the cutter. Reposition the fence to the final cutting depth and repeat the cut.
Raising the sides and bottom of the panel
Unscrew the feeding jig from the fence, then position the fence to start raising the edges and straight end of the panel with a shallow pass. Feed the panel while pressing it flat against the fence (left). To reduce tearout, cut the bottom of the panel first, then the sides. Back the fence away from the bit to reach your final cutting depth and make another pass on the straight end and edges.
RAISING A CURVED PANEL WITH A HORIZONTAL PANEL-RAISING BIT
1 Setting up and starting the cut
Bandsaw the panel to size, then install a horizontal panel-raising bit in your router and mount the tool in the table. Adjust the bit for a shallow cut so you can reach the final depth in two or more passes. To raise the arched portion of the panel, clamp a freestanding bit guard with a fence to the table (page 51). Holding the panel flat on the table with the curved end flush against the fence, pivot the stock into the bit until the corner contacts the pilot bearing (right).
2 Raising the curved end of the panel
Pressing the stock against the bit’s pilot bearing, feed the curved end of the panel into the bit (below). Raise the cutter by no more than % inch and make another pass, continuing as necessary to reach your final depth.
3 Raising the straight sides of the panel
Remove the freestanding bit guard and clamp a standard fence to the table, aligning its outside face with the bit’s pilot bearing. Lower the bit to set a shallow cutting depth. To support the panel during the cut, secure a featherboard to the fence just to the infeed side of the cutter. Holding the workpiece flat on the table, feed it with your right hand and press it flat against the fence with your left (left). Cut the bottom of the panel first, then the sides. Make as many passes as necessary, raising the bit no more than % inch at a time.
2 Adjusting the sticking bit
Replace the coping bit with a piloted sticking bit—also known as a stile cutter. To set the cutting depth, butt the end of a completed rail against the bit and raise or lower the bit so that the groove-cutting teeth are level with the rail tongue (right). Align the fence with the edge of the pilot bearing.
3 Cutting the grooves
Use three featherboards to secure the workpiece during each cut. Clamp one to the table opposite the bit and the other two to the fence on either side of the cutter. (In the illustration below, the featherboard on the outfeed side of the fence has been removed for clarity). Make each cut holding the stock’s outside face down, pressing the workpiece against the fence. Use a push stick to complete the pass.
BUILD IT YOURSELF
The jig shown at right, made entirely of %-inch plywood, is simpler to build than a full-size router table and has the added benefit of holding the router horizontally—a useful feature for many operations, such as cutting joints or raising panels. Refer to the illustration for suggested dimensions.
Screw the table support to the table, forming an L, then prepare the fence. Start by cutting an opening through it with rabbets to accommodate a table insert (page 42), then drill two holes through the fence for carriage bolts, one near each end. With a straight bit in a router, lengthen the hole on the outfeed side of the fence into a curved slot. Fasten the adjustable end of the table support to the fence with a carriage bolt, washer, and a wing nut. Bolt the infeed side just loosely enough for the table to be able to pivot when the other end is raised or lowered.
To use the jig, fasten the table insert to the fence, attach the router to the insert, and secure the fence in a vise. To rout a tenon, as shown at left, make a feeding jig (page 48), using only one board to ride along the edge of the table. Then set the work – piece face down on the table, butting its edge against the bit. Loosen the wing nut and adjust the table to align the top one-third of the board with the bit, then tighten the nut. Cut the tenon as you would on a standard table (page 47), holding the work piece flush against the feeding jig and the fence. (Caution: Bit guard removed for clarity.)