Router Sled for body blank

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by Stratified, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. Stratified

    Stratified Tele-Meister

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    I'm doing my first body from scratch. I need to take a 2" mahogany body blank down to 1 5/8" (Jaguar style body) using the router sled technique. I've read many times that taking a smaller amount with each pass is best.

    How small is safe enough? Would an eighth inch (1/8") for each pass (for 3 passes) be safe? Do I need to do even less?

    Thanks
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It depends on how big your bit is and how powerful your router is. Oddly enough, this kind of jig was a methods of work blurb in Finewoodworking Magazine in the 1980's on how to surface cypress clock slabs. All of a sudden it became a thing a few years back in general woodworking.

    Anyway, the rigidity of your jig and clamping method is really important if you want to end up with a nicely surfaced plane. The less depth you remove, the more width you can take off per pass. I'd experiment conservatively at first. Plan on some chip clean up afterward. They now sell wide bits for this purpose. Here is an example.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0006B0QXE/?tag=tdpri-20


    Some guys find that a flat bottomed bowl bit leaves a nicer surface.

    https://www.toolstoday.com/v-5664-4...MI5pu1lIvo5QIVGHiGCh0C0wHZEAQYASABEgKLFvD_BwE

    Here's an example of a jig. Google Router planer jig for more examples.
    https://www.instructables.com/id/Router-Planning-Jig/
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  3. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle Tele-Meister

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    Are you also trying to plane the faces flat as part of the router process?? If so, i'd find the low point of the wood face and work out from there. Then flip and repeat. Assess your thickness once it's flat. Then figure out how much needs to be removed and plan to not remove it all with the router. You'll need wood left to sand to get to your dimension.

    If you know it's already flat and parallel then 3/32" on each side maybe. Most routers will handle a 1/8 "pass pretty easily but the key is to leave some room for sanding but not so much that sanding takes forever.
     
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  4. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    I use a small hand held router on my sled with a half inch bit? (I think?) I do no more than 2mm increments, which is less than 1/8th. I find any more than that just too much. As gb mentioned, that could change with a more powerful router.
     
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  5. Jmwright777

    Jmwright777 TDPRI Member

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    personally I use a 1.5hp fixed based router from harbor freight and a 1" straight bit with a 1/2" shank. It takes me quite a few passes to level a board down but the method I found best for me is as follows.

    1. Place work piece on jig. secure in place
    2. Place router in jig.
    3. Lower router till tip of bit just touches highest point in workpiece.
    4. Lock router depth.
    5. Run passes over workpiece. (without router on) to make sure I actually found the highest point of workpiece. adjust as needed.
    6. Turn on router and make overlapping passes in one direction. going reasonably slow to ensure minimal movement.
    7. repeat steps 3 through 6 (making sure on step six to switch directions ever time [i.e. first time up and down, second time side to side, third up and down and so forth to minimize tool marks]) till you reach desired thickness.
    8. sand until all tool marks are gone.

    again these are just the steps that I have found work best for me and my set-up.
     
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  6. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    Just did it this week with a challenging piece of wobbly Ash.

    Key things are:
    -the sledge should be properly rigid with no flex
    this works, but leaves "deep" marks - sledge is too flexy
    IMG_20190125_120401.jpeg

    -the base and sides should be accurately level - I now use a piece of granite
    - 2mm max per pass I found even with a powerful router
    - first plane one surface level making sure your work piece is secure and doesn't wobble at all
    - it takes a lot of effort and time compared to a planer, but if it's your only choice it works
    - you will be left with marks from the passes which you'll need to sand out - keep this in mind when getting close to your final depth

    this is the setup I now use, rigid sledge, granite sides and base for thin delicate pieces like headstock thinning, otherwise the deeper base jig for body blanks
    IMG_20191114_101319.jpeg

    This is okay, not great, have done much better, but good enough for what I needed for the body, rest will be sanded out - at least the body is perfectly flat without any wobble which was the key for me
    IMG_20191114_101922.jpeg
     
  7. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My tray is made from steel, minimal flex....:D

    I push an 1 1/2" flat bit ...carefully, in small increments......:twisted:

    router sled in action.jpg
     
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  8. Meteorman

    Meteorman Tele-Holic

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    my rig is about as about simple as it gets, and has served me well - I no longer dream about owning a big planer.
    The base is 3/4" ply and I screw the workpiece to it, up thru the bottom, in the waste corners of course.
    I haven't had to deal with starting with a seriously warped/wobbly blank - not worth the hassle for me.
    Even tho you'll be sanding the final surface, I'd second what JMwright said - route in one direction only.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    route in one direction yes!;)
     
  10. erix

    erix Tele-Meister

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    I made mine out of 8020 extrusion and epoxy-covered concrete forming plywood. It is plenty stiff in all directions.
    IMG_7866.jpg

    I learned from using it to move the sled back and forth, left to right, cutting in one direction only with the grain. I used a 1/2" dia x 1" height straight bit and it left the top smooth enough to sand out any ridges. I need a fairly tall bit as the sled is made of 3/4" thick material and the slot in the sled isn't wide enough to allow the collet nut to go through. I might widen the slot so I can use one of the larger bits.
     
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  11. Stratified

    Stratified Tele-Meister

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    Wow! Thanks for all the fine points to consider. It helps a lot.

    I have a Stewmac body blank that is pretty flat, just too thick. I have a couple of older Craftsman routers, I have to check, but probably 1.5 or 1.75HP with 1/4 shank.
     
  12. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Friend of Leo's

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  13. Stratified

    Stratified Tele-Meister

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    LeftFinger, I am correct that while the router moves back and forth, the sled is stationary and the wood being surfaced is moved incrementally after each pass?
     
  14. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Friend of Leo's

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    Router moves back and forth , the sled moves to the next black line , lines are 1 1/2" apart .The router bit is 2" a little overlap is a good thing :D
    As simple a concept as I could come up with. The worst thing you can do when making tools or jigs is to over think things :twisted:
    4 pcs of aluminum , 8 screws , and a little paste wax to make it glide. Light strong and agile .
    All the qualities I wish I still possessed:oops:
     
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  15. Stratified

    Stratified Tele-Meister

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    Is there anything that secures the aluminum end pieces to the wood rails, either securing screws, or some sort of clamping. If not, is movement not an issue?
     
  16. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Friend of Leo's

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    My thumb holds it. Movement is not an issue unless you are taking heavy bites. I run the router with one hand.
     
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