Cutting Board Wedding Gift

I am about 6 months late on this wedding gift, but better late than never! I wouldn’t normally add yet another post to the internet about making a butcher block cutting board, but this one had a few noteworthy mistakes I thought I would share along with a juice groove, which is a novel endeavor for me. Isn’t it funny how cutting boards call for half the clamps in your shop?

Lesson 1: Melamine Does Not Resist Glue

I had some spare plywood with melamine face that I thought would make a good glue up surface. It is flat and strong and the wood glue will not stick to it. Imagine my surprise when the board wouldn’t come off. I employed numerous wedges and was eventually able to break it free. I don’t know what they use to hold the face down, but my glue is better. I guess you need to wax it to prevent adhesion. I will go back to using wax paper like I did before.

Lesson 2: Helical Cutters Work Wonders

On a more positive note after scraping off the glue ridges I tried to send the board through the planer. Normally using a planer on end grain like this yields poor results. I had it shoot the board out of my last planer in pieces. My new helical cutter works wonders, the top looks gorgeous now.

Lesson 3: Watch Your Glue Up

I thought I was being really careful with this build. I measured and planned everything out so there was a 1:2:3 pattern to the size of the blocks in the board. That worked out, but I failed to flip the last piece properly when gluing. The pattern repeats on that last row.

Lesson 4: Juice Groove

I cut the last row off and re-sanded the end. Despite some minor road bumps this was going well. Time to press my luck even further and add a whole new feature! There are a lot of ways of doing a juice groove. Setting up stop blocks on the router table seemed to be quick, safe, and reliable.

I used that row that was cut off to experiment. You have to use a lot of pressure up against the fence or else the bit will wonder. Ok, now on to the real thing.

It was quick, it was safe, and it is certainly a groove. Not 100% reliable though. It looks straight everywhere, but overshoot exists at some corners. I don’t know if the stops shifted, or if my measurements were just off. Maybe I won’t be using this technique any more.

The Finish

Over all I would call the board a success. It came out slightly smaller than intended and the juice groove has a little wonder to it. Otherwise the oiling process made me very happy I with my efforts.

I kept pooling mineral oil on the top surface and let it soak in. That juice groove kept the oil from spilling over the edges. Eventually it saturated through all the way to the bottom side.

Router Table Dust Collection

The next item on my dusty hit list is the router table. I have a dust port in the back of the fence, but that only really gets half the mess, and depending on what kind of operation you are doing it might get none. A lot falls down below the table and gets everywhere. The router is a high speed cutter and makes a lot of fine dust. Here is what the surface below the router often looks like.

I need some kind of box to go around the router and capture most of the dust that falls below the table. They can be bought online, but for 100+ dollars I will make my own. I made a back and bottom with dust port in the back to take a 4″ hose.

I wanted all the other sides of the box to move out of the way when I am working on the router. I attached the left and right sides with hinges so they can swing closed or wide open to let you get your hands in and work.

To hold everything closed and attach a front door, I put strips of magnets on the front edges of the side walls and the front door. It just snaps into place and keeps the side walls from swinging open.

I attached the bottom of this box directly to the toolbox base that the router table sits on. There is a small gap between the top of the box and the underside of the router table, and a large gap at the front wall. These gaps help by drawing air in and pulling the dust away. If this box was completely sealed you wouldn’t pull any dust out.

The quarters are a little tight under there, but the front door just pulls off and comes out any way you want. The sides naturally swing open a little and there is all the access you could ever want to the router for adjustments.

In the back I attached a duct splitter and have one hose going to the box and the other to the fence. Hopefully the 50/50 split will always be enough to get the job done. I wanted to add blast gates to adjust which side got more flow, but didn’t have space. Maybe a 3d printed part that acts as a flow control valve is in my future!

To test it out I routed a bunch of rabbets in some random plywood. There was a little left in the bottom, but most was removed. Any left over dust is at least confined to this box instead of in the air and all over the shop.

Vacuum Cart

I am trying to make a commitment to do better dust collection in the new shop. I want to prevent the thick layer of sawdust the was on everything in my last shop, and I want to keep my lungs healthy for another half century or so. I have a few projects coming up that are aimed at those goals. The first being a shop vacuum cart.

I have used a small shop vac for specific applications, but never had a general one to use at different places around the shop. My portable sanders, router, miter saw, and other dust generating tools often went un-vacuumed.

I picked out a decent sized vacuum that had good specs but wasn’t the highest end you could get. It seems like for another 100 bucks you got a few features and a marginal increase in performance. The next level above that would go to the pro-sumer version at 5x the price. Not gonna happen on my current budget. I took some of the old counter top material left over from the previous owner and routed a nice radius on the front.

I picked up the milescraft circle cutting jig for an upcoming project, but decided to give it a test run here. What a great jig! Well worth 40 bucks. There is going to be a 5 gallon bucket pre-separator before the main vacuum. I screwed a bucket to the base to hold the separator bucket and built up a platform to get the shop vac higher.

I did a lot of positioning and found that moving the bucket to the right side and rotating the vacuum to the left let the inlet hose clear more easily. I screwed the shop vac down through the base into the platform. Hopefully these screws don’t rip out. If they do I will lose a lot of vacuum pressure.

I got a dust deputy brand cyclone separator. It is supposed to spin the dust out to remove most of it before it gets to your filter. The hose port situation is a little awkward. The port up top goes to the shop vac. Even with elevating the vacuum it is an odd stretch. The hose wants to kink in on itself.

I took kind of a step back and had a think. This calls for some 3D printing. The top of the dust deputy has a tapered shape to it. I printed a matching ring that fits into a 2″ PVC elbow. The printed part got epoxied into the elbow and fits on the top of the dust deputy. The friction fit holds it well and makes a good seal, but lets it be removable.

With the elbow taken care of I created another fitting to push onto the end of the corrugated vacuum hose. This one works a bit like the fitting that comes with the vacuum. It slips over the outside and locks into the ridges. They are a 1/4″ pitch. I made a fitting with ramped one way rings inside. It pushes on easily, but is tough to remove. That should form a decent seal as well.

I might bond this part in eventually, but for now, the hose can be removed, and so can the elbow. It makes taking the bucket lid off and dumping the dust easier.

All assembled, I wanted to perform a test. I dumped out the main vacuum body and the removable bucket. I then went around and vacuumed a section of the shop floor around my miter saw and where I had been working on this project. I came up with a few cups of dust, a bunch of leaves and some chunks of stuff. The vacuum chamber was basically empty.

This is great news. Now I can easily empty the smaller bucket instead of the big vacuum. Instead of running a standard pleated filter I can use a bag. The bags get disposed of, but have a finer filtration level. With 99% of the junk getting caught in the vortex, the bags will last a long time. Plus, anything that might puncture a bag will get filtered out.

I have been using this a lot with my router for a really big dust job and everything has been working wonderfully. If you are thinking about adding a dust deputy to your shop vac, do it!

Corner Chamfer Router Template

I have gotten some good use out of my router radius templates. I saw an interchangeable jig system that did a similar job and included chamfers in addition to the radii. First a reminder of how they work. You sit the template on top of the wood and use a special router bit that is a cutter with a matched diameter bearing on top. The bearing follows the template and removes any wood that protrudes beyond it. Ideally you cut off as much waste as you can on the bandsaw or elsewhere. Routers don’t remove a lot of material well.

I modeled a variety of them from 0.5″ to 1.25″. The length given is a leg of the isosceles triangle that will get removed, not the hypotenuse. See the diagram below.

I printed a stack of them in case the need arises, and uploaded the design to thingiverse. If they look odd compared to my normal prints, it is because I used some cheap translucent filament I had lying around. I figure they will get torn up eventually, so no need to use the good stuff.

Table Saw Inserts

Professionally made zero clearance table saw inserts are an important add-on for any table saw.  They make the cuts come out cleaner and ensure small scraps don’t get lodged inside the throat.  They are quite expensive though.  They run over 30 bucks a piece for my saw.  No more, time to make my own.  I bought a smallish piece of phenolic coated plywood for 40 dollars.  It has enough material to make at least 8 inserts.

I started off trying to make a jig that would hold the plywood and make all the blade relief undercuts and slots for the riving knife behind the blade.  It was difficult to hold everything and produced mixed results.

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Eventually I just used carpet tape to tape down one of my old store bought inserts.  A guide bushing on my plunge router let me remove all the area where the riving knife should be.

From there I printed a 7/16″ radius template for the tracing router bit.  I could have used the already taped on insert as a template, but it had a few weird features I didn’t want copied.  With a finger hole drilled in, things were starting to look right.

I need a way to level out the insert.  The pocket they go in is always deeper than a 1/2″ sheet of plywood so you can raise it up to be flush with the top.  I used brass threaded inserts for #6 set screws to give each one leveling feet.  The set screws can be adjust from above with the insert in place.

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The surface coating on this plywood is hard and very slick.  A great material for fences or inserts like this.  The phenolic chips like mad though.  I will stick with these and have left over material, but probably not buy it again.  A few coats of polyurethane and wax would be easier to work with and also reasonably slick.

Because of how high the 10″ saw blade is in the housing I had to use a 8″ dado blade to start the cut before switching back to the full sized blade.  I made 4 total, and once I got the swing of things they came pretty quickly.  Two will be for dado cuts, so they don’t need the riving knife slot.  Hopefully this batch lasts me a few years.

iPad Stand

I recently bought an iPad for use during travel and for things around the house.  One such thing is for use as a recipe holder while I cook.  I have slowly been collecting my various scraps of paper and bookmarks into an organized google drive collection.  Most fit nicely on a single page in portrait mode.  I needed a way to prop it upright and started with a nice swoopy 3D printed part.  I liked the shape, but it was a little too light and the color clashed with my kitchen.

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Unusual for me, I built a test piece first.  Typically I just launch into this sort of thing head first and start making mistakes.  The pine shape was made using the green 3D print as a tracing template.  I liked how it came out and proceeded with maple.

As I was cutting the groove on my router I made a huge mistake.  I wanted to rout the groove a little wider, and moved the fence closer to the bit to make a second pass.  CHOMP!

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I forgot, when I moved the fence closer I used the wrong side of the bit.  When pinched between the fence and bit, the bit bites in and drags everything forward.  I made a little graphic below to show the issue.  The bit rotates counter-clockwise.  Keep out of the red zone and use the green side.

I recovered by starting over and moving on to a new piece of wood.  This time without any issues.  20171013_121914

Once I got the groove completed I tapered the back a little.  It doesn’t need to be 3/4″ thick all the way across, so I thinned the back end down.  I like the effect a lot, but in retrospect I could have gotten a lot more aggressive.

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With the tapering done I used the green printed part as a template to lay out the two curved cutouts of this part.  I made the center cut wide enough to help lighten the look, and provide a cutout around the speaker ports at the bottom edge of the iPad.  I was able to orient the front to show off some lovely rays (little speckles in right hand picture) in the maple.

I am really happy with this, a past version of me would have cut the groove and called it good.  The block would have been functional, but chunky and brutal.  This is lighter and more elegant.  Truth be told I could have done more lightening and still had a functional part, but as always it is a learning-by-doing experience.  A spray coat of lacquer sealed the deal.

Corner Radius Routing Jig

Two hobbies collide as I print something super nifty for my wood habits.  A cool thing you can do with router tables is apply a template onto wood, and use a templating bit to match cut.  The bit has a bearing of the same diameter as the cutting edges.  It rides against your template and cuts away any underlying wood that isn’t shaped like your template.  Super handy, but you need a good template to start with.  Enter the 3D printer.

I modeled up this little jig so that it hooks onto the edges of a board and gives an exact radius.  It is hard to see given the color, but I printed a 1″ text in the bottom to note the size of the radius.

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Here is a picture of the jig fully seated, and what the resulting cut looks like.  Very clean and smooth.  The large circular cutout gives a lot of finger purchase so you can hold it tight and far away from the spinning bit.

One concern I had was with the material.  Would the cutting friction heat up enough to melt the plastic.  I did 4 cuts on a 3/4″ bit of plywood and everything looked good.  If I had a hundred corners to do, I would worry.  I could always upgrade to PETG.

The part is available in multiple sizes on thingiverse