Bowled Over

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Routing a bowl, using the Amana Tool bowl bits from Toolstoday.com

Including rounding over the edge with about the smallest 1/4″ roundover bit there is (and the smallest bearing I think I’ve ever seen too!)

Check out the next edition of The Shed magazine for a full description and step by step for making this project.

Busy weekend

Just managed to knock off the next article for “The Shed” magazine.  This one is on using a router to make a bowl, using the Amana Tool bowl-making bit from Toolstoday.com

Haven’t tried it before, and it was a very interesting exercise.  The Amana Tool bit worked out very well  – a very nice bit that worked very well, even when shucking off a good amount of material.  There was no tendency to kick back either.

There are a couple of sizes available in 1/2″ (and a couple of 1/4″)

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I won’t pre-empt the article – you’ll just have to read the next edition of “The Shed” magazine!

 

Web broadcasting video

Received a rather interesting email tonight from Toolstoday.com.  They send out a regular email promoting their latest router bit, video, sawblade etc, (and I subscribe to it – makes a nice break from the mountain of work emails that come through!)

Tonight’s one will look rather familiar :)

FinderScreenSnapz001

(And yes, they did seek my permission to put the video on their YouTube channel – I was more than happy to allow it)

 

 

Episode 101 David and Goliath

Featuring the smallest, and largest Amana Tool router bits from Toolstoday.com (at least those that fit a standard 1/4″ and 1/2″ router).  Surfacing is done on a Torque Workcentre.

Music by Lis Viggers

3D Rounding

There are router bits, and router bits.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny and cute, to the massive and scary.  And I have router bits at both ends of that spectrum, and a fair few in between.

The router bit is the real tool after all.  The router is just a motor to spin that bit quickly.  And having the right tool for the job is the name of the game.

Having coped with the idea that some router bits can be cute, and knowing full well some are large and mean looking, I am not sure if I have ever described a router bit as “fun”.

 

Ok, yes, they are not a toy, and they can draw claret with the best of the tools in the workshop, but it is fun when a tool works so superbly, that you honestly cannot think of a way they can be improved.  Perhaps fun is not quite the right word.  Enjoyable?  A pleasure to use.

They are the descriptions I am giving to a bit that I used the first time the other day, while making the wooden toy vehicles.  It is the Amana 3D rounding over bit from Toolstoday.com, and it works brilliantly.  A normal rounding over bit can work in two dimensions – the table (or router base) runs along the side of your workpiece, and a bearing controls the depth of cut so it rounds over your square corner nicely.

But what if you have a compound curve (and quite common in wooden toys, particularly bandsawn components)?  You come across a concave section, and there is no way you can get the router bit to that section.  Out comes the sandpaper, and you try to match the curves and radius.

This is where the 3D router bit comes into its own.  Instead of having just a bearing on the end, this router bit also comes with a sleeve (that can also spin) that restricts vertical movement as well.  The benefit of this is that you can use the router bit above the table, without the need to rest the workpiece on a flat surface.  This sleeve performs that function instead.

And with an overall length of over 95mm, there is plenty of clearance to reach inside concave curves and still effect a roundover.

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You still have to keep fingers away (I don’t need my fingers rounded over!), but I found the router bit very easy to use, even when climb cutting, without any risk of a catch.  The bit is still only taking off a small amount of timber, and the double guides (sleeve and bearing) prevent any real opportunity to get a dig in, or take off more than intended.

6207_2_There is both a 1/8″ and a 1/4″ version.  I have the 1/8″ version, as I tend to like having a subtle rounding over – enough to prevent splinters, or sharp edges for the young and inquisitive, but still retain some of the crispness of a tight corner.  Having one of each would be ideal, to keep the options open.

Available from Toolstoday.com as I mentioned, this is thinking outside of the box, and is both really clever, and well executed (quality).  And yes, I’ll stick to calling them fun to use!

Recommissioning Triton History

I debated whether to use the Triton POS router bit cabinet again, (that is Point of Sale by the way!), and decided that despite it not being the most efficient storage system, it is a good display

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And maintains a little bit of Triton history. Not sure how many other copies of this cabinet still exist. Once, pretty much every Bunnings store had one.

Still, loaded up, it doesn’t make too bad a router bit storage. I still have to fit another dozen or so bits in (not to mention the bit sets that will be stored separately).

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Groovin’ on the Dancefloor

A CNC machine may be capable of placing a router in precisely the right place, and follow an exact path, but still a router is just a motor.

The real tool is the router bit – it does the real work.  If you were hand carving an intricate pattern, you’d want your tools to be razor sharp, and have the variety of profiles that you need. Just because a router is a powered version of a chisel, it doesn’t stop the need to have sharp bits and correct profiles.

This is where the Amana Tool In-Groove Engraving bits from Toolstoday.com come into their own.

Normally, if you want a really fine tipped engraving router bit, you either have to go with tool-steel, or a particularly expensive solid carbide bit.  The In-Groove bits have a real point of difference (pun intended).  They have replaceable carbide tips.  And not only that, but a variety of profiles that fit the same router bit body.

Toolstoday.com In-Groove

Toolstoday.com In-Groove

You choose either the 1/2″ or 1/4″ shank, and either just get the components you require, or get the 8 piece set which gives a good sample to start with, that you can then grow as required.  If a tip becomes blunt or is broken, it is a low-cost replacement and not the entire router bit being written off.

There are also a surprising variety of each profile, with different tip widths, allowing you to precisely choose a profile to match the job you are doing.

Profiles

Profiles

There is another real benefit to the In-Groove system that is not immediately apparent.  You can change profile (effectively the same as changing router bits) without removing the bit from the router, or even having to disturb the current location of the CNC machine.

So you can set up a job with multiple paths, and like really expensive CNC machines that can change tools partway through a job, start with one profile to define edges, switch to a second for bulk clearing, then finish with a third profile that refines the design.  All by undoing a single hex bolt on the router bit itself.

Changing tips

Changing tips

As a bit of a test (and only in pine), I quickly threw together a design to test the different profiles out.  It really was simple changing tips on the fly, and matching design to bit.

Different profiles

Different profiles

As much as a V groove bit is the most commonly one used, I really liked the result of the cove tip

Cove Tip

Cove Tip

I also gave a more complicated design a try, with a bit of a Celtic knot, a photo of a saw blade turned into a path, and some text on a curve.

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_DSC2486

This was done with a 30 degree V groove tip mounted.  Forgot to mention, I normally choose 1/2″ shank router bits, but knowing the CNC shark router is 1/4″, that is the way I went here.  The bits don’t get heavily loaded up – it is not bulk material removal after all.

The In-Groove router bits do sound like they are not running true (you develop quite an ear for that sort of thing after a while), but I didn’t see any particular problem at the router bit tip, so I suspect it is more because of some asymmetry caused by the tip retaining plate rather than the bit not running true.  For any bit mounted in the CNC, I made sure they were fully inserted into the collet.  No matter what the size, the router is single speed, and kicking along at 33000RPM.

Finally, I ran the same design onto the laminated board that I did the Mayan calendar and Japanese dragon, to see how well it came out.  I could have refined it further by choosing different bits (and depth of cut) for different portions of the design, but took the simplest option – letting it run from start to finish.

Stu's Shed design

Stu’s Shed design

This isn’t some new design for a Stu’s Shed logo, although I don’t mind the saw blade and text layout, but I’d want to replace the Celtic design with something more applicable.  Perhaps the outline of a Festool Domino, or something!

If you are so inclined, see what you can come up with (Illustrator format preferred!)

So that is the Amana Tool In-Groove CNC Router Bits, from Toolstoday.com.  If you have a CNC router, these are definitely worth some attention.

The Dado Blade of the Router Bit World

The router table has always been particularly good for cutting a groove, particularly in smaller items (such as making boxes).  The orientation of the blade to the timber for one, the diameter of the blade (vs a tablesaw), the speed of the cutter, the accuracy in setup.

The one frustration I have found is having to accept the width of the groove is limited to the width of the cutter of the router bit, or having to take multiple passes.  Unlike a tablesaw, the concept of a dado blade is foreign to the router table.

Well until now that is.

Toolstoday.com have available a really interesting router bit indeed from Amana Tool.  It is an EZ Dial Slot Cutter, and unlike a tablesaw dado blade stack, this router bit does not have shims, or even need to be taken apart and reassembled.

EZ Dial Router Bit

EZ Dial Router Bit

Looking at the anatomy of the router bit, from the top-down.  The top threaded section is the range of adjustment of the router bit, and there are two types available – a 1/8″ – 1/4″, and a 1/4″ – 1/2″.  Next is the locking nut – once the width of the slot is set.  The knurled knob is the adjustment for the router bit, and is then locked in position with the locking nut.

The blade is next – it is a four-flute router bit, but because of the adjustment, each side of the trench is cut with two of the flutes.  As the knurled adjustment knob is turned, two of the flutes move with the knob, and the other two remain fixed.

A bearing then sits under the flutes – useful when following curves, and other times a router fence is not in use.  Just below that is a section with two flats – this is useful if the locking nut is too tight – a spanner can be fit on this section so it can be undone without having to risk damage to the router chuck or shaft lock.

Finally, the shaft is a finely finished, accurate 1/2″ shaft.  (An inaccurate shaft is either difficult to fit the router collet if too large, or at risk of slipping if too small).

Variable slots

Variable slots

I was working with the 1/8-1/4″ router bit, but the concept is the same.  In the above image, the two opposite flutes move, the other two are fixed.  That dial-in adjustment is remarkably liberating.  Being able to set the width of the resulting slot to accurately match the material that will fit in it (whether that be another piece of timber, a sheet of glass etc), and also easy to add an accurate amount of clearance if required.

The quality of the router bit is obvious, as is the finish that is achieved.

55500-cNot only can the width of the slot be set, but it can be adjusted with the router bit fixed in the router. (So long as you intend to remove more material – too hard to put material back!) Rather than trying to work out the range to move the router up and down again, a test cut or two, a dial-in of width, and your accuracy and flexibility of the table is increased dramatically.

Once you experience the convenience of a shim-less, dial in width of slot for a router bit, you’ll be wishing a tablesaw dado blade was as easy, as infinitely adjustable, and as accurate.

Available from Toolstoday.com

 

Router Bit Storage

This is a screenshot from a Highland Woodworker video that the Roving Reporter suggested I look at – given my collection of router bits (and the ever increasing number of Amana Tool bits I have been adding from Toolstoday.com), my original router bit storage is groaning under the load.

A cabinet along the lines of this one seems would be an ideal solution – like a large version of my Triton Routerbit POS display I have been using, this not only openly displays the bits, but also protects them from having too much dust build up.

Seems like a great project for the new woodshop!

Router Bit Storage

Barley Twist

After finding a natural barley twist while holidaying in Queensland, Geoff has sent a couple of photos in of a barley twist lathe that he has acquired (but yet to use).

It is interesting to study, just to see how simple an arrangement it is, and with a little bit of work, pretty easy to duplicate – especially (but not limited to) those with Torque Workcentres.

It would be pretty easy to add this functionality to a real lathe (but NOT switching the lathe on!!!) A lathe with an indexing ring would be excellent for this

Barley Twist Lathe

Barley Twist Lathe

Barley Twist Lathe detail

Barley Twist Lathe detail

I’m not sure the drive mechanism for this lathe – it may be from pushing the router sideways, but I suspect you manually turn the black winder in the second photo.  In that photo, you can also see an indexing ring, which is essential for setting the workpiece to the next start location.  Depending on the combination of how far around the workpiece is indexed, the router bit chosen, and the setting for how fast the router moves relative to each rotation of the workpiece will dictate resulting effect.

A barley twist lathe can be regarded as a glorified Beall Pen Wizard (or is it the other way around – the Beall is a miniature barley twist lathe?!)

Beall Pen Wizard

Beall Pen Wizard

Back to Geoff’s lathe – I can’t see how the gearing is regulated, but I assume it can be changed.

So that is a barley twist lathe.  Do an image-search on Google for Barley Twist will reveal over a million examples of this ornamental feature being used in different projects, with varying degrees of success!  In some instances it is beautifully complementary to the overall object.  In some other cases, it has obviously been included without any understanding of how such an ornate feature should be used.

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