Exploring with the new router

I almost made it to Friday.  I purchased my new router, a Porter-Cable 895PK, and it arrived Wednesday morning.  My original plan was to wait until Friday to drive across the state line to the Woodcraft franchise in Lenexa, Kansas and pick one up in the store.  However, a free shipping offer from woodcraft.com meant I could save myself the sales tax.  That, and having a need for the new tool in one of my current projects was all it took for me to talk myself into it. 

Feeling less than heroic, I told myself I could play with it after mowing the yard and getting the kids to bed.  (Bedtime was a must anyway, but throwing in the mowing made it seem like I was accomplishing something.)

the kitI unpacked the tool with a certain amount of ceremony, laying out each piece on my workbench.  It came in the fixed base, but immediately I switched to the plunge base and made sure I knew what the basic controls did.

My first impression was positive.  The controls were straight-forward and the plunge action was smooth–a concern since Fine Woodworking had faulted it for being slightly less smooth than the Bosch equivalent.

exploration 1I thought it would be interesting to try a Krenov-style through-tenon.  Using a 1/4″ spiral upcut bit in the plunge router, I cut the mortise.  Here I began to have concerns.  The router did not come with an edge guide, so I had to do some creative workpiece holding to arrange for the flat side of the router base to ride against a reference edge to get an accurate joint.  Luckily, there’s a mail-in rebate that makes the accessory free with purchase of the router.

The other thing I noticed about the tool was the absolute need to use a vacuum to keep the dust clear as I ran the machine.  The plunge base includes a built-in vacuum port, which worked beautifully once I plugged in the vacuum. 

The tenon I cut on the table saw with a tenon jig.  I rounded the tenon sides with a Nicholson No. 50 Cabinetmaker’s Rasp and sandpaper.  I used a Stanley No. 93 shoulder plane to tweak the tenon cheeks for a friction fit.  I then cut saw kerfs in the tenon to accept the walnut wedges.  Next I cut out the wedges and drove them home.  I finished off the wedges to match the profile of the tenon.

exploration 4
After sanding the test piece to 220 grit, I applied a linseed oil and beeswax finish for deep, natural color.  The maple tenon really pops in the walnut, especially with the wedges establishing a rhythm.

I can imagine this as the apron and legs of a table or the base stand of a cabinet. 

Overall, I was pleased with the router and the results I was able to achieve on the first try.  This is a significant upgrade from my first router, but more on that later.

exploration 5
The oil and wax finish gave a great depth of color to the walnut, something I was looking for. I especially like the gradient effect of the sapwood as it blends into the heartwood. 

I’m not sure where I picked it up, probably thewoodwhisperer.com, but I used a piece of scrap maple from another project as my stir stick for the finish.  It really gave depth to the figured maple in the stir stick. 

These explorations are great uses for small scrap, and they also provide fodder for design choices later on.  Nights like these are less about moving my current projects forward, and more about charging my creative batteries.  View the pictures here.

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