Digging In

image of router bit

When I picked her up from work, My Darling B noticed the back seats of the car were folded down. “What were you hauling home today?” she asked. She doesn’t miss a thing.

I made an early-morning visit to the local lumber yard to bring home some plywood to start Phase II of the great big bookcase project going on in our basement, my effort to unpack and organize our insanely huge collection of books. I also managed to navigate my way through the labyrinthine aisles of the warehouse hardware store to the exact spot where I could find a router bit big enough to chew a three-quarter inch divot out of said lumber. That leaves a clean-cut groove almost wide enough to stick your thumb in, the only drawback being that it makes the router about as easy to control as a drag racer. Makes about as much noise, too.

After marking the lumber and making sure everything was lined up the way I wanted it, I chucked the bit and fired up the router to try out my new toy. It barely touched the edge of the wood when BRAAPPP! It chewed a trench almost a half-inch long through good-quality pine. Broke off a nasty sliver from the edge, too. After I took a deep breath and a tighter grip on the router, I tried again. BRAAPPP! It made another half-inch trench that I didn’t see until it was all over. This was going to take a little getting used to. The machine-gun noise was making me a little jumpy, too.

Router bits tend wander across the face of the wood I’m working on if I don’t clamp a stout piece of finished wood in place to use as a guide, and oftentimes they will even if I do. It’ll happen in spite of the fact that I’m anticipating it and think I’ve mustered as tight a grip on the router’s handles as it’s possible for a human being to have. Moving slowly and deliberately, I’ll press the bit into the edge of the wood, concentrating on the router’s path as if willing it to proceed in a straight line, and whoops! There it goes in a crazy curlicue. A router is very headstrong, the adolescent of power tools.

A router with a three-quarter inch bit chucked in the collet, though, transforms a router from a headstrong adolescent into a skinheaded rebel with homicidal tendencies. I had to keep a deathgrip on the handles at all times, press the edge of the router face against the guide fence with all my weight, and move in the tiniest of increments. In response, the bit would grab a handful, so to speak, of pine and pull, and it wasn’t playing this game of tug-of-war to merely win, it wanted to drag me into the mud, jump on my back and roll me around to get me filthy dirty from head to toe. This was not a quiet day of relaxing wood working.

I finally finished up around two o’clock in the afternoon, leaving me just enough time to clean up my mess, shower, and fry a mess of bacon so we could have BLTs when we got back. Actually, they were BLATs: bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomatoes. Bliss!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s