Last semester in Intro to Fabrication, I used the hand router only once, albeit as a table router rather than a free moving hand tool. It was a somewhat harrowing experience (detailed here), but it afforded me a comfortability with the tool I previously did not possess. After this first foray into use of the tool, I told myself I would find an occasion to use it without the table; little did I know that my first Subtraction assignment would require it.
For this project, I found a spare piece of MDF in the scrap pile outside of the shop. It was too long, so I marked a 1’x1′ corner piece and turned to my favorite tool -the circular saw- to cut it down to size.
With my work piece ready to go, I marked my guidelines for the project.
I secured my piece to the work surface with screws, but quickly realized that I made a tactical error: I didn’t leave enough excess material to secure the piece without drilling through what would be the final product. -___-
Next, I drilled the dowel hole that would serve as the pivot point for the router into the center of the piece. This was my first time working with MDF and I noted how easily it broke apart as I drilled through. The resulting hole was messy where the bit exited the piece. Noted for future projects.
Finally ready to start cutting, I mounted the hand router to the piece using the dowel as a pivot point for the router guide.
MDF is crazy dusty…
The finished circular cut took three passes to complete.
For the straight edge of the piece, I used a long metal ruler as a guide for the router, clamping it to the piece and table to secure it.
At first I didn’t use the circle guide, thinking the ruler and standard router shield were enough. They weren’t, and the resulting cut was distressingly wobbly.
I attached the circle guide and continued cutting. It was marginally better, but still not perfect. The ruler was a much more effective straight-line guide with it though.
The straight line took another three passes to complete, but eventually I ended up with something close to what I was supposed to make.
I sanded the interior straight edge to smooth it out more. I’ll have to keep practicing making straight cuts with the hand router…