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The Skill Builder

The art of fabrication is like any other; repetition, technique and hard work are essential, not magic inspiration.

I have always been fascinated by the action of creating things. The conversion of raw material to another is fascinating to me, and this is the main reason why I enrolled in this class.

I decided to follow the skill builder to get more confortable with the Hand Router.

I'll describe my experience with it and illustrate the process in parallel.


First things first, I gathered the materials necessary. You'll see i'm missing some key items in there, but I learned that along the process. (more on that further down)

I started by securing the piece of wood to the work table. For some reason, I couldn't get the big screws to puncture the wood so I grabbed smaller yet sharper ones to carve a small opening first, and screw the right ones in after.

Once the wood was secure, I measured the main sections.

I continued by preparing the hand router with the right jig. The pin used (the only one I could find around the shop) was a bit narrower than the 1/4" drill bit, so I used some cardboard to make a snug fit.

After several passes, I noticed that making any significant progress was taking too long. I'd forgotten to tighten the router bit with the wrench...

I added a third screw to the piece of wood to ensure the same surface contact around the piece I was cutting.

These changes in the process sped everything up, started getting better results and gained more control over the situation.

Next, it was time to make the first straight cut. After measuring incorrectly the distance between the bit and the jig's end, I corrected the measurement by measuring against the flat jig's end.

Grabbed that offset and drew a follower line for the jig. After that, I clamped a ruler against the wood, providing a nice and firm guiding path for the router.

The final pair of cuts were the trickiest ones. It became hard to position the wood in a way so that the ruler was reachable by the clamps. I had to improvise and make a clamp of my own with some scrap wood (image on the left).

Not sure if this was the right thing to do, but it worked pretty nicely.


Final result

While its not perfect (and just realized that the image is focused on the background), the final result turn out pretty great.

What worked

  • Found a nice scrap of wood instantly.

  • Process in the assignment was very clear and easy to follow.

  • The shop was empty when I got there.

  • My bits are on their way. Emily was very kind and lend me hers (didn't break them).

  • I learned a lot about the hand router and I feel very confortable with it now.

  • First time spending that long of a stretch in the shop. Learned a lot about it.

  • It took me a long time to make this thing (~2 hrs), but i'm confident I'll get better gradually.

What didn't

  • The router's cable kept getting in the way, no matter where I put it.

  • Since I'm very new at this, I kept repeating simple stuff like screwing the table in different ways until I was confortable with its position.

  • There is no real feedback on if you're doing things the right way. This might be intrinsic to this type of work, and it's going to take some getting used to it.

In conclusion, I'm pretty happy with the end result. Yes, some mistakes were made but nothing to crucial and everything taught me more about this process.


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