Learning Curve #16: Router Phobia

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 10-04-2007 06:39 PM 4625 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: 6 months in and counting Part 16 of Learning Curve series Part 17: Scrollsaw Stars »

Today I decided to put new dividers in my kitchen drawer and so down to the workshop I went. Earlier this week I had purchased some 1/2” x 6” knotty pine at Rona.

I thought that the 1/2” was too narrow to use the DowelMax on and so I chose to use a different joinery technique. Using the router is out—I’ve had too many difficulties with the machine and I’m not familiar enough with the Triton router to give that a go without some assistance from Rick (who is at work.)

And so I knew that it was time to try out my new “learning curve” tool: the Veritas Router Plane from Lee Valley.

Now, I haven’t used the plane before; I haven’t used ANY plane before. It was definitely a “learning curve” experience.

First, I started with my wood (which I had to cut in half and the lengths I wanted were over my 12” limit for the mitre saw. Sigh… no problem, just cut it half way, flip it around and finish the cut. Done.

Next I had to figure out where the dividers would go and mark the slot areas. (That didn’t go TOO badly. I don’t think I got my lines lined up precisely but it works.)

Then, I knew that I had to cut the edges of the slots or the wood would probably rip (since I was going across the grain). Now.. what to use; what to use…. can’t find an exacto knife… that old rusty hand saw won’t cut butter… thinking, thinking, thinking,,, there’s another saw: well isn’t that curve in the blade cute!!... that’s out… back to cutting butter. .. I did most of the slots in this manner, thinking “new tool” the entire time. ...

Then for the last two cuts I decided to use the miter saw again and just lower it half way through the wood, cut the edges of the slot and then use the router plane for the rest of it… Now you think of it!!!

Before using the Router Plane I had to put it together (easy) and then off I went.

the process became easier as I went along; the miter saw made a big difference re: marking the slot opening. And… i now have dividers in my kitchen drawer.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

22 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4530 days

#1 posted 10-04-2007 06:46 PM

Very creative Debbie.
Where in the world did you get a hags tooth? I know LV but, how did you decide to include it in your arsenal?
I am certain that a couple of cuts witha back saw and a few swipes with the router plane is ultimately faster than setting up the router for most folks.
The best part is you thought your way through it and got it done.

Bravo !

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4670 days

#2 posted 10-04-2007 06:52 PM

how did I decide to buy the Router Plane? Well, I had given up on routers (along with the table saw) which means I was limited in my projects either in their construction or in waiting for Rick to come home to do the required tasks.
Well, I don’t mind asking for help but when I have an idea I want to run with it – now – not wait for the weekend.
Also, I want to be able to say “I made that” and I can’t do that if Rick has done part of the process.
(It’s kinda like flyfishing – I won’t use any of his flies. I have to catch the fish on something that I tied or what’s the point.)

Then, last month I received the latest catalogues from Lee Valley and I spied the router plane—aha!! A solution to my self-imposed limitations. A couple of weeks ago I was in London and so I stopped into the store and made the purchase. (The salesman thought that I should just wait for my husband to come home as this was a big investment. Men! )

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View WoodWright's profile


20 posts in 4585 days

#3 posted 10-04-2007 08:02 PM

Why have you “given up on … the table saw”? Because THAT’S the way to do what you needed to do here!

If it’s a natural dread of 30 to 60 hungry steel sharks’ teeth spinning at up to 5000 RPM, don’t let that keep you from it—anyone without a natural fear of such things belongs nowhere near any power tools!!!

All you need is a push stick, perhaps a featherboard—both come in plastic kits that work nicely—so your hands do not come within reach of that hungry blade; to keep reminding yourself that the blade cannot reach out for you, that to be in any danger you must come to it, and then don’t do that; and, of course, to be careful. In case of possible kickback, don’t stand “in the line of fire.” And remember, all those four-fingered woodshop teachers out there got that way by being distracted by students horsing around.

If you have problems with either or both fence and/or miter guage, there are precision aftermarket ones that are fantastic. Check out and and The Kreg is what I have and its “street price” is best at about US$140. If I needed a precision rip fence I’d go to for theirs—probably as good as if not better than a Beisemeyer at well under half the price. If your miter guage is okay but you just want to add a fence to it see

I guarantee Rick will just love to receive your new Kreg this Christmas…! (If not before…)


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4670 days

#4 posted 10-04-2007 08:18 PM

lol OR … I can let Rick do whatever he does and I can use my mitre saw, my DowelMax, and my router plane!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View WoodWright's profile


20 posts in 4585 days

#5 posted 10-04-2007 08:22 PM

Yes, but you didn’t answer the question…? Anyway, since you’re playing with drawers…:

BTW, my gal & I just recently saw a great idea: An in-drawer knife block, that is just a thick wide flat board with saw cuts about an inch or so apart. FYI if you’re metric up there, an inch is 25.4mm. I think it was of plywood because the ends were trimmed with solid wood, and I can’t think of any other good reason for that.

Also, the router is a fantastic tool! You might also want to give Rick a good book on the use of routers…! Check out for a wealth of ideas and accessories.


View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4050 posts in 4573 days

#6 posted 10-04-2007 08:58 PM

Proud of you, Debbie.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View mot's profile


4926 posts in 4545 days

#7 posted 10-04-2007 09:25 PM

Debbie, were you aware that the Dowelmax has a kit for using 1/4” dowels? Anway, nice use of that plane.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4670 days

#8 posted 10-05-2007 12:27 AM

the question: why don’t I use the table saw?
I value my body parts too much and so I work around it. So far, so good! I relate it to “touching a snake” – I don’t have to so I’m not going to! There’s absolutely no reason that I need to overcome my fear of snakes and at this point in time there is absolutely no reason that I need to overcome my fear of the table saw. As long as I’m building “small” I’m happy :D

re: router. Rick gets along fine with his old router that he’s had for decades and the new Triton router we have. Unfortunately inbetween those are a couple routers that ate stuff they weren’t supposed to. (Scott had the same difficulties that we did with one of our routers). Too much trouble for me. I don’t have the patience.
Keith from Ridgid tools (see interview) informed me of a router workshop he is offering in November at a Home Depot about an hour away. Perhaps if he gets to the store closer to me I’ll consider it. It’s not using the tool that is the problem (I can handle learning curves).. it’s just those darned bad experiences we had with a couple bad routers.

dowelmax: yes, I have the 1/4” kit but since the 1/2” wood that I got isn’t really 1/2” and it is “just pine” I figured that the dowels would be too close to the edge and make the pine too weak. (gosh, I almost sound like I know what I’m talking about there!) ha.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4606 days

#9 posted 10-05-2007 01:44 AM

Congratulations on the plane and welcome to the slippery slope. Sounds like you need to get a combination plane next. Totally eliminate the need for a router.

or a plough plane,41182

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4488 days

#10 posted 10-05-2007 04:58 AM

Hi Debbie;

I commend you for having the gumption to do as you are doing. I have to applaud you for this. The very idea that you are willing to test your abilities out, armed only with your wits, meaning no past experience with these tools, is really grreat!

In no time you’ll be promoted to Boss.

Great job.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4603 days

#11 posted 10-05-2007 07:11 AM

Very creative solution! Well done, Debbie.

I’m envious of all Veritas planes. Drool….

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View GaryCN's profile


425 posts in 4443 days

#12 posted 10-05-2007 07:34 AM

I view the bandsaw as the safest saw in my shop especially when working with small pieces
My bandsaw is an inexpensive benchtop Skil 10” HD3640 , The almost identical saw is sold by other companies. I’ve upgraded the guides “cool blocks I think” but that’s about it. I cut the dormer roof
with it on John’s extreme Cape Cod birdhouse, using simular material to your drawer divider.
I have a 10” Delta Radial Arm saw and I think that I would use any other available option before
rotating the blade to the rip position. I’ve done the cut 1/2 way flip on a mitre saw. also. I’m not
sure how safe that is. On a mitre saw the stock it being pulled against the fence if the open curf
was th catch the blade it could ricochet. Use caution and a holddown. I agree with you…..
“I value my body parts” eyes included. My last shop injury occured when installing a fostner bit in
my drill press. The chuck key slipped and my hand came in contact with the cutting edge of
the drill bit. A nice gash on my finger. A simple operation with no power to the machine or
moving blades.. My finger still has a mark and it’s been about 30 days but it’s OK. Just a reminder
anything sharp will cut you.. I now shield the bit when I inslall in in my drill press. One leather glove
on my hand with the chuck key and the other glove on the bit,. It’s OK to be afraid of your tools,
Expect the uninspected. If you think it’s not safe it probably is not safe..

Stay Safe

-- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4670 days

#13 posted 10-05-2007 11:25 AM

thanks everyone :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View shaun's profile


360 posts in 4414 days

#14 posted 10-05-2007 01:32 PM

Alright Ms Deb! There’s one of the greatest pleasure I get out of anything. Thinking your way through a challenge, ending up where you want to be, and being happy with the results.

So…. let’s see the drawers!

-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4670 days

#15 posted 10-05-2007 01:35 PM

thanks Shaun.
The drawers are already full of “junk” – all divided up nicely but still full of junk :)
No pix coming.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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