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Master The Art Of Circle Tops: Effortlessly Cut Them With A Router!

– Today we're gluing up some Peruvian Walnut, setting up a simple router jig, and cutting new tops for some old end tables. This week, my local wood supplier had this beautiful Peruvian Walnut for sale, so I thought it would be a perfect option for redoing the tops on these side tables which have been damaged from water, food, and well, just kids. Peruvian Walnut is actually easier to work with than American Black Walnut. It machines much easier, and it has this naturally shiny finish. Not to mention, a beautiful grain pattern. What they sold me is what's called S2S, which means that the lumber is only surfaced on two sides, so it needs a little more work before I can use it. It starts at the jointer, making a few passes to clean up one edge, which makes that edge square to the face. Now with three sides cleaned, it's over to the table saw to make one pass to clean up the final side. Then it's back to the jointer to clean up any table saw marks. Now, that may seem like a little bit of back and forth, but it's for good reason. The joint here is great for cleaning an edge and squaring that one edge to the face, but what it can't do is make both edges parallel to each other. That's why you need to go back to the tables saw, which is designed to make uniform cuts, so that you're guaranteed that each board you're making is exactly the same width. If you don't have these tools in your shop just yet, that's okay, you can buy lumber that is called S4S, which is surfaced on all sides, and is ready for you to use. For my tables, I will need to start with a panel that is about 20 inches by 20 inches to make a finished top of 18 and a half inches round. Because these panels are so small, I'm only going to use glue. You are more than welcome to use biscuits, or other fastener types to help align and or hold the pieces together. I'm also choosing to use a dark glue here, because I don't wanna take the chance of seeing a light-colored glue line in this dark material. After these have dried, I'll sand them smooth, and then find the center of each panel by drawing diagonal lines. Router circle jigs can either be bought, or you can make your own. This one I have here I bought with my own money. And personally, I like to buy jigs like these rather than making them, I feel like they last a little bit longer, but either way, if you decide to make your own after you see how this one works, it might be the best option for you. This jig and the one you could make, function about the same. There is a straight piece of material with holes drilled down the length, which provides different cutting diameters for different size circles. The jig then is attached to the base of the router by simply removing the factory subbase, and using the same screws. This whole jig works on a very simple principle of using a fixed point, which in this case is a metal dowel, to rotate the jig around in a perfect circle. The accuracy of this jig, and other jigs for that matter, is really dependent upon how well the jig itself is centered to the router bit. Let me explain. When you add a new base to your router, it's really important that the base itself is centered around the center of the router bit. This jig provides a centering pin, and this centering disc. With the centering pin installed in the router, and the jig attached to the base loosely, install the disc here, and lower the router so that the centering pin passes through the center hole of this centering disc. You may need to shift the base around slightly to make this happen, but once it does, you can tighten the screws that hold the jig to the router. With that complete, the jig is centered, and the numerical layout on the jig will now be accurate, and you can use this scale with confidence. For example, our project needs a finished top of 18 and a half inches. Therefore, we need to find the 18-inch hole, and then with each hole above the 18-inch mark, the scale grows by a quarter inch. This is 18, 18 and a quarter, and then 18 and a half. And that is the pivot hole we'll be using for our project. The last thing I did to our panel was to find the center by drawing diagonals. Now, with an eighth-inch drill bit, I drilled down about three eights on the underside of what will be the finished top, and right in the middle of our center mark. When it comes to router bits, any half-inch straight-cutting bit will work with this jig. However, I'm using a spiral up cut bit, which cuts in the upward direction, removing the chips upwards, which leaves the bottom side very clean. As a quick recap, we have glued up a panel, removed the factory router base, and installed our circle cutting jig, making sure, of course, that it was centered to the router bit. We then found the center of the panel, drilled an eighth-inch hole for our pivot pin, set the jig up to an 18 and a half circle size, installed a half-inch spiral up cut bit, and now all we have to do is set our jig and our eighth-inch hole, and begin routing. I would highly recommend making multiple passes in a counterclockwise direction. Here, I've set up the router so that it removes about a quarter-inch per pass. If you feel like your router is working too hard, you can slow your feed rate down, or you can simply take lighter passes. And if you're wondering about my setup, I first put down a router mat on my bench, added some scrap pieces of wood on top, and then used some double-sided tape to hold my finished work in place. This works for me, but you might need to do something a little bit different depending on your project size. With each full pass round, lower the bit a little bit more, removing more material, until you're all the way through. With that one complete, I'll reset things up for the next panel, and repeat that process all over again. From there, it's back to sanding, making sure everything is smooth and ready for the next step. Because my end tables are not very big, I'm choosing to lighten the top by rounding over both the top and the bottom edges of the table. This thins the edge down, and helps the top not to feel too thick. The last two things we need to do is select the finish, and figure out the best way to install the tops. If you like my style of teaching and you're looking to learn even more about routers, then my new beginners online routers course is now available. This course provides over three hours of video lessons, downloadable documents, buying guides, full access to me, and much more. If you're interested, follow the links below to start learning, and mastering skills that you'll be able to use the rest of your creative life. Now, when it comes to the finish for these tables, I'm choosing to use Odie's Oil. It's simple to apply, and I think it's gonna do a pretty good job for me. Now, when it comes to attaching these to the old bases, we have to do it a little bit different, because the old tabletops are actually particle board, and now the new ones are solid wood, which mea

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