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How much work can a 1/2" router actually do before you need to invest in spindle moulder

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Antho

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Am I pushing it to run off 400lm of 30mm thick tongue and groove boards on a good quality 1/2 router table mounted?
 

custard

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That's well within the capacity of a decent router. The spindle moulder would have the advantage if it had a power feed, but without a power feed it's six of one, half a dozen of the other.
 

custard

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Yes, should be fine. You may want to touch up the edge of your bits a few times during the job, one of those credit card sized diamond hones would be ideal.
 

Spectric

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Hi

You don't say what wood, makes a difference and why 30mm thick. I have just run 12 meters of 50 by 60mm sapele through an infinity 19-130 cutter using Triton 2400watt router in a table with Jessem guides, just taking small nibbles in each pass and no problems so straight T&G using decent cutters such as Heavy Duty should be no issue. The T11 is only 2000 watt but should be ok, if you don't own the T11 then buy a Dewalt 625 as its the same router just in yellow and cheaper or the Triton which is great in the table, just accept its bright orange but powerfull and cheaper.
 

Spectric

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Hi there

If you take lighter cuts with a decent cutter then the finish should be the same, the spindle molder if industrial could take heavier cuts and so fewer to do the job quicker. I also think you need to feed the router at the right speed, not slow or too fast wheras a spindle molder with power feed just does it.
 

Antho

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Hi

You don't say what wood, makes a difference and why 30mm thick. I have just run 12 meters of 50 by 60mm sapele through an infinity 19-130 cutter using Triton 2400watt router in a table with Jessem guides, just taking small nibbles in each pass and no problems so straight T&G using decent cutters such as Heavy Duty should be no issue. The T11 is only 2000 watt but should be ok, if you don't own the T11 then buy a Dewalt 625 as its the same router just in yellow and cheaper or the Triton which is great in the table, just accept its bright orange but powerfull and cheaper.
Douglas fir its 30mm as it’s an exterior cladding and due to the extreme temperature and humidity changes between day and night we need to use much heavier pieces of timber here in Morocco. 12-27 degrees . Does the Dewalt 625 have the same height adjustment system?
 

Eric The Viking

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Below are some thoughts about doing this task on a router table, which I will leave in place, BUT...

... after thinking more about it I would get the machining done by a sawmill, and not try to DIY this myself at all. It's Douglas Fir, which means it is very resinous, and probably has other issues such as wind and bowing (unless it has been extremely well seasoned/kilned, and even then...). It is hard to machine (on a router table) without doing a lot of prep first, and a T+G joint is really a big ask, unless you have good stock to start with, well prepared. If your cutters hit a "live" knot it will, at best make a resiny mess everywhere, and possibly disintegrate. At worst it will split the board.

If a yard does the job, they take the risk on the stock, and you should get to reject poor results.

. . .

No. The 625 does have strong similarities, but the T11 is designed to work in a table. I take the plunge depth gauge and stops off my T11 when it is in the table (easy to put back), which gives a bit of extra room to lift the spindle, meaning above-table adjustment is do-able.

Evergreens (including Douglas Fir) have resinous sap, that gums up tooling and burns. The popular way to clean them is spray oven cleaner (which is usually a strong alkali, such as caustic soda). The resin also dissolves in organic solvents - acetone, ethanol/meths, and xylene, but some of these, too, can be nasty. I would recommend coating the clean (new) cutters with PTFE spray - Freud and others do an aerosol with PTFE dissolved in lacquer, so it sticks to the cutters/sawblades - I bet others on here have their own favourites. So stop to clean, touch-up and re-coat the tooling regularly.

Fir for cladding will also gum up the table and is unlikely to be straight. Obviously you won't want to put it through a planer/thicknesser too, so look at roller hold-downs, and something to push it towards the fence, for a consistent result.

Dust extraction will also help a lot - the faster you remove chips from round the cutter, the cleaner it stays, which is better all round! It's tempting not to bother on-site, but it will really help the process, even if it's only a vacuum cleaner sucking from the back of the fence.

Also consider the cost of the tooling: Kitchen worktop cutters are the most common 1/2" ones available - straight two-edged cutters, up to 75mm long (you don't need anything this long!). If you consider doing half-lap instead of tongue and groove for your joint, it will be faster and a lot cheaper overall, and possibly quicker, as setup is much easier.

You will also need a small roundover bit (whichever joint you use), to take the arrises (sharp corners) off the boards. This makes splintering a lot less of a problem (better for fingers when handling, and probably causing fewer boards to be damaged during machining and fitting), and ensures any coating you apply goes on the corners effectively, as well as the flat parts of the board.

Most of the big suppliers offer the T11 and its close relatives with a 1/4" collet as well as 1/2" This is good and I use mine a lot with the 1/4" one fitted, BUT try to get the collet nut too, so you don't have to keep snapping-out the collets when you need to change (each size keeps its own collet nut). I would also get a much smaller "palm" router for doing the roundovers by hand, so it's not multiple runs through the router table.

Finally, whichever you do, buy at least four sets of cutters here, of good quality, before you try to do the job in Morocco! I'd recommend Wealden in the UK, but have had excellent worktop cutters from Freud in the past, also Axminster (good, but not quite as good as Wealden).
 
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Antho

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Below are some thoughts about doing this task on a router table, which I will leave in place, BUT...

... after thinking more about it I would get the machining done by a sawmill, and not try to DIY this myself at all. It's Douglas Fir, which means it is very resinous, and probably has other issues such as wind and bowing (unless it has been extremely well seasoned/kilned, and even then...). It is hard to machine (on a router table) without doing a lot of prep first, and a T+G joint is really a big ask, unless you have good stock to start with, well prepared. If your cutters hit a "live" knot it will, at best make a resiny mess everywhere, and possibly disintegrate. At worst it will split the board.

If a yard does the job, they take the risk on the stock, and you should get to reject poor results.

. . .

No. The 625 does have strong similarities, but the T11 is designed to work in a table. I take the plunge depth gauge and stops off my T11 when it is in the table (easy to put back), which gives a bit of extra room to lift the spindle, meaning above-table adjustment is do-able.

Evergreens (including Douglas Fir) have resinous sap, that gums up tooling and burns. The popular way to clean them is spray oven cleaner (which is usually a strong alkali, such as caustic soda). The resin also dissolves in organic solvents - acetone, ethanol/meths, and xylene, but some of these, too, can be nasty. I would recommend coating the clean (new) cutters with PTFE spray - Freud and others do an aerosol with PTFE dissolved in lacquer, so it sticks to the cutters/sawblades - I bet others on here have their own favourites. So stop to clean, touch-up and re-coat the tooling regularly.

Fir for cladding will also gum up the table and is unlikely to be straight. Obviously you won't want to put it through a planer/thicknesser too, so look at roller hold-downs, and something to push it towards the fence, for a consistent result.

Dust extraction will also help a lot - the faster you remove chips from round the cutter, the cleaner it stays, which is better all round! It's tempting not to bother on-site, but it will really help the process, even if it's only a vacuum cleaner sucking from the back of the fence.

Also consider the cost of the tooling: Kitchen worktop cutters are the most common 1/2" ones available - straight two-edged cutters, up to 75mm long (you don't need anything this long!). If you consider doing half-lap instead of tongue and groove for your joint, it will be faster and a lot cheaper overall, and possibly quicker, as setup is much easier.

You will also need a small roundover bit (whichever joint you use), to take the arrises (sharp corners) off the boards. This makes splintering a lot less of a problem (better for fingers when handling, and probably causing fewer boards to be damaged during machining and fitting), and ensures any coating you apply goes on the corners effectively, as well as the flat parts of the board.

Most of the big suppliers offer the T11 and its close relatives with a 1/4" collet as well as 1/2" This is good and I use mine a lot with the 1/4" one fitted, BUT try to get the collet nut too, so you don't have to keep snapping-out the collets when you need to change (each size keeps its own collet nut). I would also get a much smaller "palm" router for doing the roundovers by hand, so it's not multiple runs through the router table.

Finally, whichever you do, buy at least four sets of cutters here, of good quality, before you try to do the job in Morocco! I'd recommend Wealden in the UK, but have had excellent worktop cutters from Freud in the past, also Axminster (good, but not quite as good as Wealden).
Wow what more can I ask from a reply thanks so much.... theres a lot here I had not considered. Im slowing filling up various blogs with these types of questions ha ha. I have tried the local saw mill route but its not consistent and accurate, they get the job done but thats about as much praise as I could give so I'm having to take on a lot more of the project myself such as milling all the timber onsite from rough sawn 3.5m3 packs onsite. At first I was going to try to build with some standard chippy tools and my ltd site knowledge from UK but location and availability of resources is making this much bigger than I expected so im investing in a workshop. Im really in the middle of nowhere here and don't have access to the materials, tradesmen or tools that I would accustomed to in the UK or EU so everything has to be carefully organised. That being said I don't have building control breathing down my neck or a strict planning dept so luckily this gives us some leeway in the overall project..... thats a blessing.

Its great as my skills and knowledge of real carpentry and workshop work are improving massively with no fall back you just solve the problems by tapping knowledge from the internet.... thanks again.

By the way I think were now going two boards per rough sawn 200 x 60 so Ill arrive somewhere around 25mm thickness per board depending on how much they all deflect whilst acclimatising onsite..... a little less wood to remove.
 

Antho

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One more question on routers im thinking to build a table here using T track components, stops, dogs, hold downs etc etc. Will this be robust enough for the above work? The table and top will be solid with a Kreg insert plate.
 

Trevanion

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I'd say if you can do it Anthony, get a spindle moulder.

A router table is good but once you start talking of doing more than a few meters of timber here and there and larger cuts than a router can comfortably handle for long durations you really need to consider a spindle moulder. Doing that level of cutting in a router table would drive me insane, the feed speed would be less than half of a decent spindle moulder, the noise would be extreme and you'll be wearing out the tooling fairly quickly. With spindle tooling you have a larger diameter cutter which would just breeze through that kind of work, with a better finish with no burning whatsoever and the tooling will last a very long time before sharpening/replacement cutters, with a power feeding unit the job would practically be effortless compared to a RT and you would do the job in half the time with twice as good as a result.

Once you start going down the path of an over-built router table with all the gizmos you may as well opt for a decent spindle moulder with a power feed and be happier with the more versatile tool for the large-scale work you're undertaking even if it costs a little more.
 

owen

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One more question on routers im thinking to build a table here using T track components, stops, dogs, hold downs etc etc. Will this be robust enough for the above work? The table and top will be solid with a Kreg insert plate.
Yes, aslong as you keep the top and fence very flat, and have good support under it, it will be fine. I can recommend the big triton router if you haven't already bought one, mines been faultless the last couple of years and you can adjust height from above the table with them too. The hardest bit is going to be the length of the boards, you'll need a workshop atleast twice the length of the boards so you can feed them over the table. They'll also need good support all the way through.
 

Spectric

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Douglas fir its 30mm as it’s an exterior cladding and due to the extreme temperature and humidity changes between day and night we need to use much heavier pieces of timber here in Morocco. 12-27 degrees . Does the Dewalt 625 have the same height adjustment system?
Hi thats some temperature, the 625 can be retro fitted with the same height system as the T11, Dewalt manufacture both the T11 and T5 for Trend but for table work the big orange Triton is the way to go, plenty of power but no good out of the table thats where the 625 comes into it's own. You are aiming for 30mm T&G but have you thought of other options for clading/siding such as where the boards almost butt together and a cover strip goes over the joint, not sure if it has a technical name. With 30mm boards using the cutters I mentioned from Wealdon will allow you to set the tongue and grove sizes to what you want but limited to a depth of 22mm. These three wing cutters work very well and give you several options on performing the task you face, and if cutting the tongue with two cutters seems a struggle with the resinous pine then use a single cutter and run it through twice having flipped the board over, then once you have the tongue cut the corresponding grooves.
 

johnnyb

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if I was doing this I would use a handheld 1/2 router and make shiplap ie only rebate one side of each board. I'd use a fence to ride over the imperfections in the edge and put mastic on the joint if i needed it windproof(also a small 3 wing cutter) of course I would use a spindle and power feed if one was available though. (handheld to even the imperfections again)
 

Eric The Viking

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if I was doing this I would use a handheld 1/2 router and make shiplap ie only rebate one side of each board. I'd use a fence to ride over the imperfections in the edge and put mastic on the joint if i needed it windproof
Those are both good ideas. Messy and probably would take a while, but do-able.
 

Doug71

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I had a little old Elektra Beckum spindle moulder for a couple of years as below, it performed well beyond it's size. I bought it second hand for less then the price of a decent router and sold it on again for the same. Might be handy if you could get your hands on one, you can just chuck them in the back of most cars. Spindle moulder over router table whenever possible for me.


 

Antho

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I had a little old Elektra Beckum spindle moulder for a couple of years as below, it performed well beyond it's size. I bought it second hand for less then the price of a decent router and sold it on again for the same. Might be handy if you could get your hands on one, you can just chuck them in the back of most cars. Spindle moulder over router table whenever possible for me.


Looks like the perfect machine....
 

Antho

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if I was doing this I would use a handheld 1/2 router and make shiplap ie only rebate one side of each board. I'd use a fence to ride over the imperfections in the edge and put mastic on the joint if i needed it windproof(also a small 3 wing cutter) of course I would use a spindle and power feed if one was available though. (handheld to even the imperfections again)
Definitely easier than tonge and groove, we may opt of this plus cover strip in the end
 
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