Jan 30 2011

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Notes from the Workshop: 20110128

Yesterday, I tried making another pencil box, but before I could get started on that project, I needed to figure out how to fix a high spot on my router table.

Rocking Router Table

Check out the gap between the straightedge and the router table

When I removed the fence from my router table the other day to route yet another section of special wooden train track, I noticed a straight edge wasn’t sitting flat on the table, it would rock from side to side. The center was higher than the edges and it seemed to be worse on the front side than the back.

The feet of the router table are mounted to a sheet of plywood so I can easily clamp the table down to my bench. My first thought was that I had screwed the feet into the plywood so they were applying a torque to the table top, causing it to warp. So, I removed all the screws holding the feet to the plywood and moved the table slightly on the plywood so I could re-fasten the feet so the legs were free from tension.

Now the gap is between the table and the angle iron

That didn’t do much, so I turned my attention to the angle iron mounted to the bottom of the front side of the table. When I loosened the screw on one side the table popped back to flat. I unscrewed off the three screws holding the angle iron to the bottom of the table and discovered the middle screw kept a washer in place between the angle iron and the table. I don’t think I’ve ever touched this part of the table since I put it together. I can’t think of why I would have put it there, so it must have been in the instructions.  I screwed the angle iron back onto the underside of the table and the surface was reasonably flat.

The culprit

A New Pencil Box

The completed maple pencil box

I was a bit disappointed in how my first pencil box turned out, so I decided to try building one again. I also wanted to try a different wood, one that was maybe softer than red oak. At the store, they had two choices red oak or a bin marked aspen.  What they stocked in 1/4″ by 2″ strips didn’t look or feel like aspen. The sticker on the wood said it was white hobby wood, but I suspected that it was maple. If you can even find it, maple is usually 1.5x to 2x more expensive than red oak where I live, so paying 89 cents a stick (vs a $1.30 for the red oak) was a deal I couldn’t refuse, so I grabbed a handful of the best looking sticks.

This time I measured the stock before I started. I averaged about .255″ plus or minus .005″. Since the thickness was pretty even, i didn’t want to try to cut it down by sanding or hand planing, I probably would have only made it more uneven, which would probably be worse than slightly too thick. I also measured the width of the groove my 1/8″ router bit cut at 0.110″ which would explain why I was having problems getting the other box to fit together well.

The correct way to join the sides

With that knowledge in mind. I set about making another pencil box with better joints.  It took me a little longer, but I’m very pleased with the results. 

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