Routers for the shop

For my first blog post I should at least say HI, I am Matt at sage that works on the boats. My intention is to share some knowledge with anyone that is interested in working on boats, woodworking, or just using tools around the house to fix something.  Both Dave and I will be posting regularly and my posts will deal with tools and techniques and specifics of what I am doing and how I do it.

Yesterday I pulled in a hull and deck, and while it looks like a boat to some, there is much to do to turn her into a finished product that can be sailed and admired.  Now I am not a sailor, I met Jerry and this crew 3.5 years ago as a woodworker, furniture maker to be specific, and they thought I knew enough to do the job of assembling the parts and having it turn out nice.  Turning out nice is where things can go south quickly if you are not careful.

I grew up on a small Pennsylvania dairy farm that my great grandfather started after coming to America from Austria early 1900’s.  My grandfather was born on the farm and died there also and my dad was also a life long farmer, now retired.  I learned a lot about how to work and using tools to get the job done right the first time in an old school kind of way and so that is where I am coming from with my opinions on this blog.

One of the first things I need to do is cut out pans and windows on the deck, all the excess fiberglass.  A router is the necessary tool used to do that.  I like porter cable 8902.  I’ve used it for years and is a good size with the right amount of weight to control easily.  Cutting fiberglass and carbon makes a lot of dust that can damage a cheaper router but a really fancy one has too much extra for dirty boatbuilding purposes.

Porter Cable router with diamond coated mushroom bit

Porter Cable router with diamond coated mushroom bit

The key features are variable speed, micro adjust depth stop and easy to hold on to.  Changeable base is nice also.  I am using a diamond coated mushroom bit to cut out locker pans and hatches.  This bit is 2″ diameter so it is important to use at low speed because of the speed at the edge is faster than the speed at the shaft and lots of force can be generated making control difficult.

speed dial marked at lowest speed, 10,000 rpm

speed dial marked at lowest speed, 10,000 rpm

I tried this theory out by having it set at 20,000 rpm instead of 10,000 and the bit actually tore out of the collet and went across the room after slapping me on the wrist.  For a second I wondered if I had a bad cut that would require stitching but was lucky and just had a big bruise to remind me.  Now I mark the dial where I need it to be set for this bit.  The lesson is that the larger the diameter of the bit, the lower speed you use because of the force created at the edge of the bit.  Variable speed is important.

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