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I have two wrought iron benches which use wooden slats to make up the seat and back support. These slats are about 3/4 inch thick by 1.5 inches wide and 4 ft long. I'd like to rout a round edge on the top front of each board to make it more comfy when sitting (instead of a sharp hard 90 that's on the boards now.) I'm new to wood working and have never used a router. I have a hand held 1964 Stanley router (from my dad) and have been watching some you tube videos on "how to" router. So as I stated in the title… how can a safely do this work? What's the best way to clamp down or otherwise hold in place such a small piece of wood?

Thank you - Harold
 

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Yeah, using a router table if you have one would be the easiest way to run the pieces instead of trying to run the router over these narrow pieces. If you don't have a router table, I would suggest clamping a wider board the same length or longer to your bench and then butt the edge of your narrow strips up against the wider board and clamp it down so your router has more surface to stay flat on. Hope that helps.
 

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build a jig. take some pieces of 3/4 ply or other 3/4 material and screw them down to a work table / saw horse set up so they will surround your work piece and still allow for the bit to pass through on one edge each direction. guessing that you are using a bottom bearing pattern bit. cut a wedge to lock it in place and now your work piece is secure, and the base of your router is supported. rotate the piece until all sides are routed.

and make sure you drive the screws through the face of the ply so they don't catch the router base.
 

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If you have a wider piece of 3/4 stock lay the narrow piece and the wider board next to each other (side by side) and lay both on a router matt. The matt should keep the boards from sliding. The wider board will act as a platform or base for your router. You could clamp the wider board to you bench if you want, but you should be able to route the edge of the narrow board if its on the matt without it moving.
 

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I would suggest doing all the edges, not just one, with a 1/4" round over bit (with a bearing, not those old type ones with a steel knob that went with your 1964 router).

Make a cradle with a piece of ply longer and wider (maybe about 8" wide) than the sticks you are going to route. Screw or nail a cleat on it the same thickness as the sticks and about the same width parallel to the edge about the distance from the edge that the sticks are wide. Nail a little stop on the right end, also the same thickness or thinner than your sticks.

Here's my "sketch up"
Photobucket

Hold the base down to something with screws or clamps. Lay the stick to route in it so it's against the cleat and end stop. Route left to right at a steady pace(that's right isn't it, bit spins clockwise from the top?), try to avoid stopping as some woods will burn a bit. Maybe practice on the back or bottom edges or some scrap first until you get a feel for it. Just be careful on the starting end. With a small bit like that you should be fine.

With that cradle held down and the right router bit, you'll be a pro in no time. Good luck

Or build a table to hold your router and use a fence and hold downs.
 
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