Starting Block for the Router Table
Router bits that are guided by ball bearings make it possible to add a profile to a curved edge. If the entire piece is curved, it makes sense to do this shaping on the router table. The tricky part is getting the cut started. When you push the uncut edge into the spinning cutter, it takes a big bite and it’s easy to lose control of the workpiece. The solution is to give yourself some leverage, so that your hands aren’t the only things holding the work.
In the photo, I’m rounding over the edges of one of the hand mirrors I made for the February 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. In addition to using the block, I also started the cut on the wide part of the piece, not the skinny end of the handle. Many commercial router tables include a round metal pin for this purpose, but I’m using a shop-made table and decided to make my own. It’s just a block of scrap wood. I smoothed the edges and rounded over the corners, and simply screwed the block down to the tabletop.
I keep the edge in contact with the block as I make the cut, especially as I reach the narrow end of the handle where the cut reverses direction. That’s another place where the bit can grab. The location of the block isn’t critical, but I took a minute before screwing it down to go through the motions with the router turned off to make sure I had a clear path. The radius of this cut is 3/8″, and I have the lower corner of the cutting edge set flush with the tabletop. The stock I’m using is 13/16″ thick, and that leaves a flat for the bearing to ride on as I cut the second side. If I were working with thinner stock, I would lower the cutter slightly. You may also notice the state-of-the art dust collection system, complete with the Tape-O-Matic 6000 universal hose connector.