Fun with routers

Today I got to play with my new Dremel router attachment. This turns your Dremel tool into a basic plunge router, capable of cutting grooves, edges and various other neat things. While I could of course have just bought a basic router, this course appealed to me, and a small router will come in very handy when I’m making the panels later on.

I got started later than I had hoped, so didn’t get as much done as planned. After finishing off the right-hand side post adjustment begun yesterday, I did a small amount of interior detailing and then moved directly on to the routing. Unpacking the box I found the plunge jig itself, a guide for following straight edges, and the bits necessary to rout a circle (if I so wish). Very nice. No unboxing pictures, this isn’t a review šŸ™‚

The hideously useful Dremel plunge router attachment

A few months back I bought a set of router bits for the Dremel especially for this day, which I knew would be upcoming. I fetched these out from storage and tried out one of the pilots bits, for cutting a curved edge. Setting the Dremel to 20K rpm, I ran this along the edge of a scrap piece of wood and the results were quite nice, if not perfect – I suspect it does better with slightly harder wood than the pine I’m using. Nonetheless, with a small amount of detail sanding, it cut a very nice curved edge.

I removed one of the window posts, split it back into its two pieces, and did each of these individally, rounding off the edge facing the pilot. So far, so good. But I also needed to cut a groove into each side of the post to accomodate the perspex of the windows. I set up the piece in the workmate, with the right amount sticking out above the surface so that the router with edge guide would sit directly on top of it. I adjusted the edge guide to cut about 9mm inwards, and set the router stop to cut a maximum of 3mm downwards, locking the bit in this position. With the router jig lined up and the bit just off the side of the wood, I turned it on and – holding my breath – ran it along the piece. For quite a deep cut (by Dremel standards), it ran very smoothly, and at the end – barring a slight accident first time round where I managed to dig the bit in – I had a nice, smooth groove. The second piece went even better.

My first attempt at routing a straight groove

With these done, I ran out of time for the day and decided to leave the rest until later.

Two halves of a window post, with grooves for the perspex

I also made a decision which will add a bit of work to my schedule, but which I think is worthwhile, which is to cut new frames for the top and bottom of the windows. The existing ones were cut based on CAD drawings, but as with all things in life the reality turned out to be slightly different – or more specifically my measurements were slightly off – and so there’s a bit of mis-fitting in both frames, and some incorrect angles. Also, with the high degree of trial and error I’ve gone through in that part of the build, the frames are full of old screw holes and splits where things went wrong. I will regard this as my prototype, and, armed with a list of adjustments, measure up and cut new frames which I will pre-assemble and then mount back on the remainder of the frame.

This is a job for tomorrow, or the weekend, depending on how much I get done and how early I need to stop. I will also order some more ply sheet for delivery on Saturday so I can continue with the interior skinning.