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Safely cut shaker slot without a router table?

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seanf

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I am wanting to make some shaker style doors using 22mm MDF with a 6mm panel inside. I have a small slotting cutter (will cut 6mm into the workpiece) but no router table. Is there a way to safely cut the shaker slots using my router handheld with the guide fence or is a table definitely needed?

As background, I did buy a beginner tabletop type table to attach my router to for this but was not happy with the quality and sent it back. Looking around it seems if I want something reliably decent off-the-shelf then I need to be paying a good few hundred and I’m only just starting out really

Many thanks

Sean
 

Dee J

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If you have the workpiece adequately supported and clamped then there's no reason why a hand held router with a fence shouldn't do the job.
 

sometimewoodworker

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When all is said and done there is not much to a router table.
The easiest ROUTER Table in the world! - YouTube
That will get your job done. I got by with something similar for a few years. Made all the doors for a kitchen makeover with it.
Regards
John
Also if you watch that video you may get the impression that the router needs to be placed symmetrically in the top that is far from required and towards one side, often used as the back, is much better.

if you want to go up a step then a router plate Is a worthwhile addition, though it means setting that into a surface, which needs a little skill.
 

seanf

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Thank you very much for your comments all. Being new to routing I have probably been overthinking things here and will give this a go with the guide fence and see how I get on

Sean
 

xy mosian

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Some years ago I had a similar problem. My solution turned out to be a B&D workmate. Basically clamp the rail into the workmate with the edge to be grooved flush with the top surface. Then you have plenty of options for clamping guides etc, to the edges of the 'top.
HTH, geoff
 

Sideways

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If you are using a bearing guided, wing type slotting cutter like this
1634030000616.jpg

Then it's a trivial job to do this handheld without a table. It is a nice example of a job where a good 1/4" router is far easier to use than a heavier 1/2" machine.

If you are using a 6mm straight bit and would have to balance the router on the edge of the board, then just don't. You could get away with it using double side fences on the router or using a table, but neither is the the best method. Buy a wing style cutter for modest cost and do the job easily and more accurately.
 

sometimewoodworker

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Thank you very much for your comments all. Being new to routing I have probably been overthinking things here and will give this a go with the guide fence and see how I get on

Sean
You will probably do very well. I strongly suggest going to YouTube and watching episodes of “the router workshop” you will soon realise that the essentials for table routing are;
1) a router mounted in a flat surface, often on a box.
2) a fence, that can be a simple 25mm x 50mm strip of wood held by a couple of ”C” clamps.

Beyond that everything else can make setup faster or easier but not necessarily better.

As you progress you will probably find that a single router will breed, as having 1 router set for a particular cut and another for a different cut is much easier than having to reset a single router.
For the drawers I’m making I have 2 routers in tables, 1 has a round over bit & the other a slot cutting bit being used as a rabbiting bit and a 3rd with a flush trim bit
 

sometimewoodworker

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If you are using a bearing guided, wing type slotting cutter like this
View attachment 119561
Then it's a trivial job to do this handheld without a table. It is a nice example of a job where a good 1/4" router is far easier to use than a heavier 1/2" machine.

If you are using a 6mm straight bit and would have to balance the router on the edge of the board, then just don't. You could get away with it using double side fences on the router or using a table, but neither is the the best method. Buy a wing style cutter for modest cost and do the job easily and more accurately.
I agree it is possible to do that handheld. I disagree that in thin stock like the rails and styles that it is trivial handheld. It’s way too easy to tip the base. Those are ideal for a table where you can use 2 feather boards to eliminate miss cutting, specially if there are quite a few doors to make, where the setup time is worth it.
 

recipio

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Even a cheap router table will be better than doing it with a handheld router. Cuts with the slotting bit should be done in two steps to ease stress on the router and that's far easier with a table. Ideally you should mount a beefy 1100 watt router instead of a 600 watt trimmer and don't forget dust extraction as well. I make a variety of furniture and find I use a dedicated 1/4" router table 90% of the time so its a worthwhile investment.
 

Sideways

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I agree it is possible to do that handheld. I disagree that in thin stock like the rails and styles that it is trivial handheld. It’s way too easy to tip the base. Those are ideal for a table where you can use 2 feather boards to eliminate miss cutting, specially if there are quite a few doors to make, where the setup time is worth it.
Rails and stiles at least (say) 50mm wide for the router to rest on, we'll just have to agree to disagree.
Very easy job with a decent traditional 1/4" router so no need for a newcomer to spend money on a table because of this job,. It's a basic handling skill that ought to be developed. Spend your money buying good quality cutters according to each new project you undertake. Don't waste too much buying sets that will turn out to have everything except the cutter you really need.
If the tool of choice is one of those round base trim routers or it's a big half inch machine, I'll agree with sometimewoodworker. One has too small a base, the other too large a base to be stable on this size stock. For a classic ELU MOF96 derived machine, this is an easy job.
 

sometimewoodworker

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Very easy job with a decent traditional 1/4" router so no need for a newcomer to spend money on a table because of this job
If you notice the previous posts there is a general dissuasion showing that buying a table isn’t necessary or value for money initially as a beginner. And while an experienced user can freehand that kind of cut it’s far easier done on a table. EDIT to be clear I don’t mean on a purpose built bought table, but a home made one

Could I do it? Absolutely.
Would I do it? If it were only a single door, if it were a few I would set up a flat surface and screw a router to it as a table mounted router.

Once you’re experienced as a router table user, you will generally know if a purpose built table will help your work. For me it did, but then I have access to much less expensive equipment.

 
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rs6mra

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I am currently looking into doing the same thing as you for the first time.
From my findings which include a Peter Millard video, I believe a 6.35mm cutter is what you are going to need for the 6mm panel.
 

seanf

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Thank you for the continued advice all. Very helpful as I continue to plan out my design

I believe a 6.35mm cutter is what you are going to need for the 6mm panel.
Thank you for the tip, I do have a 6.35mm cutter for this

Sean
 

Sgian Dubh

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I am wanting to make some shaker style doors using 22mm MDF with a 6mm panel inside. I have a small slotting cutter (will cut 6mm into the workpiece) but no router table. Is there a way to safely cut the shaker slots using my router handheld with the guide fence or is a table definitely needed?
If I've understood you correctly you're wanting to cut a groove in the edge of MDF rails and stiles, and I'm guessing you plan to use a straight router bit. The technique there would be to run the base of the router along the 22mm narrow edge and use a side fence to set the groove position in relation to both edges. That can certainly be challenging because of the lack of support for the router base, and doing the job with a router table would obviously be a better technique.

There is, however, a trick that can be used with hand held router operations of that sort if a router table really isn't to hand. The trick is to simply gang together three or four rails or stiles of the same width wide face to wide face on a flat surface and run the router over the created wider surface. You can even slide a couple of the additional support pieces lengthways, one one way and the other the other to provide support at each end of the cut. You cycle the support pieces as needed to work a groove on each part. If you're only making one door you might have a limited number of parts to gang together, and the solution then is to saw out two or three additional (dummy) pieces of MDF at the same width as the parts you're grooving to act as support. The additional dummy pieces can pretty much be cut out of anything to hand that's straight and true. Slainte.
 

HamsterJam

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As Sgian Dibh suggested, to route on thin edges, I have clamped the workpiece between thicker pieces of wood so the router base is better supported.
To get a straight cut, it is important the piece the fence runs against is an even thickness.
 

Sgian Dubh

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No guessing needed. It’s a slot cutting bit.
True. That's what he said. But then seanf went on to ask about using a side fence as well and that caused me to think his intention might be to use a straight router bit, which can also cut a slot, groove or housing. Hence my opening by setting out of a potential router set-up based on the possibility that seanf may be an inexperienced woodworker and may not be completely familiar with router bit terminology.

Well, if I read it wrong I guess it's not the end of the world, but the mention of the fence (generally superfluous with slotters) led me along those thought processes. Slainte.
 

sometimewoodworker

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Well, if I read it wrong I guess it's not the end of the world, but the mention of the fence (generally superfluous with slotters) led me along those thought processes. Slainte.
I will usually use a fence on my router table unless I need to cut a curve, when the fence can’t be used, as the fence has dust collection in it. I’m currently using a slot cutting bit with a fence. So superfluous? Not so much IMHO
 

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