Apr 20 2011

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Cutting The Opening For The Router Plate.

After cutting the two sheets of MDF to 36″by 24″, I found the best surface and made that the top. Then I made a registration mark in the lower left hand corner of each sheet so that I started measuring from the same point on both sheets and hopefully the cuts I made in each would line up.

The hole needed I to cut for the router plate was different for each sheet. The opening in the top sheet is the most critical. It needs to be as close to the size of the plate as possible so there are no big gaps. The edges of the opening in the bottom need to support the plate, while allowing the rest of lift to function.

So I began by finding the center on each sheet and then figuring out exactly where I wanted the router plate to go. I ended up centering the plate in the longest dimension, but locating the plate further towards the back of the table. My reasoning was that I wanted more area in front of the bit to support the work piece. Beisdes, how often do you move the fence more than four or five inches away from the router bit?

After I figured out where the plate was located on the top sheet, I needed to locate the hole in the bottom sheet. If you look at the picture of the router lift in my last post, you’ll see that the bottom of the lift is a stretched octagon. So I transferred the location of the plate to the lower sheet and then began to outline the bottom of the router lift. Rather than trying to calculate how to draw the clipped corners, I made a template of one of the corners and placed it inside the outline of the baseplate.

Since the bottom opening was less critical, I worked on that hole first. I used a jigsaw to cut the rough opening and a Surform file to remove the material on the waste side of the pencil line. Although the size of this opening isn’t critical, I wanted to practice my technique before I cut the hole in the top, which needs to be more precise.

Once I had the bottom hole cut, I turned my attention to the hole in the top sheet. Again, I cut out the rough opening with a jig saw and filed the waste down to the pencil line. As you can see from the picture, the router lift will fit into the top sheet and be supported by the leveling hardware mounted on the bottom sheet. With the plate measuring almost 3/8″ thick, the leveling hardware will have to make up another 3/8″


Of course, since everything had been going so well up until this point, something had to go wrong. While I was making some final adjustments to the hole with the Surform, I nicked my pinky with the edge of the file and started bleeding. I didn’t want to bleed all over the MDF, so I set down the router lift on the unstable stand supporting the MDF top sheet.

The next thing I know the top sheet and the router lift crashed down on the concrete floor. Luckily there was only some minor cosmetic damage. The corners of the MDF sheet were mushroomed slightly, but this actually didn’t matter as much because I was planning on rounding the corners anyway. The router lift also landed on edge and deformed two of the plate corners. I had to file the top surface back level.

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