Router Accident is a Great Lesson in Climb Cutting
Here’s proof that no matter how many times you’ve done something, mistakes still happen in the workshop.
Recently I found myself reproducing a couple of replacement parts for a friend’s loom. The pieces required a 1-in. wide stopped groovet to be cut in the ends of each of two oak workpieces. OK, no problem. I began by defining the end of the grooves with a 1-in. wide Forstner bit at the drill press and then headed to the router table where I planned on taking out the rest of the waste with two passes of a 1/2-in. wide straight cutting bit.
Cut to the router table: I’ve got the bit in place, the fence is set for my first cut, and I’m feeding from right to left so no climb cut issues, right? Wrong! I forgot to remember that I wasn’t making a simple profiled cut along an edge. Rather, I was making a buried cut in two passes. As I went in for the second pass, things went awry and the workpiece nearly got away from me. Check out the zig-zaggy trail it left in my workpiece (photos above). Luckily, I use push pads at the router table to keep my hands out of the danger zone.
What Went Wrong?
I believe I made my first pass through the wood on the side of the groove that was “away” from the fence. Then–and here’s the boneheaded move–I made my second pass (right next to the first) on the side of the groove “closest” to the fence, using the portion of the bit that was spinning away from me, which produced a climb cut.
How Could it Have Been Avoided?
The first of the two passes should have been made on the side of the groove that was closest to the fence, with the second pass coming along the side of the groove further from the fence. In addition, A featherboard would have been a smart addition to this set-up.
When using a router table, a lot of folks are conditioned to think that when moving from right to left, climb cuts are avoided, but this is really only true when your making cuts along the outer edge of a workpiece. This was an exceptional situation which required additional thought–which it didn’t get. Food for thought. Hopefully, this little blog will save someone else from a ruined workpiece–or worse–a chewed up finger.
1) Ouch! While making these stopped grooves on some oak workpieces recently, I found myself staring straight down the barrel of a nasty climb cut. Read on to find out what went wrong.
2) Setting the Scene. These 1-in. wide grooves were made with 2 passes of a 1/2-in. wide straight cutting blade that was buried in the stock.
3) Although at this point, I can't recall which side of the groove I cut first--I'm guessing I began with the side that was further away from the fence, as seen here.
4) Then I went in for the second pass, along the side of the groove "closer" to the fence, with the portion of the blade spinning away from me. Instant climb cut.