Routing on End Grain: Woodworker Wonders Where He Went Wrong from WoodCentral
This poster began a forum wondering where he went wrong. Specifically, in the case of routing some lumber -- and taking bigger hunks out of it than he wanted. - Editor
"I made a pattern for two different items, stuck to the material to be routed with double-sided tape. They had been cut off to no less than 1/4 inch. One was to be routed on 1 piece of well-figured maple, nominally 3/4 inch. The other, on two pieces of 3/4 inch figured maple that had been glued together to make nominally 6/4 stock. I have a Hitachi M12V router mounted in an extension on my table saw. Routed both of the 3/4 just fine. Picked up the first of the 6/4, thought I might increase the speed of the bit a little because of the greater depth of cut. (Using a nice sized pattern bit with a 1/2 inch shank.) Adjusted the height of the bit to just cut the 6/4 stock while following the pattern. Wham! Took a big chunk out of the wood cutting the end grain! Maybe I was a bit too casual. Picked up the other piece, stuck the pattern on and proceeded more carefully. Wham again, only worse. Both pieces of wood were ruined. What the heck did I do wrong? No hurt feeling here, I just want to learn (in case I ever want to try this again....) Nothing on me hurt either, for which I am most grateful." - Warren W.
Climb cutting was one suggested solution. - Editor
"Sometimes, when the router bit hits the end grain, it will grab the grain and BANG: instant tearout. The only cure I know of is to carefully examine the wood before cutting and mark certain areas of grain reversal for climb cutting. When routing in this direction ->, you want the grain to be \\\\\\. If you encounter grain going ////, then tearout is likely to happen. You need to have a good grip on your router (or workpiece if table-mounted) when climb cutting and take very shallow cuts on reversed grain." - Lee M.
"I don't see how it is possible to tear out end grain, for the wood fibers are well supported by the end grain beside them unless the bit is exiting an edge, in which case splitting out the end grain is to be expected." - Bill T.
Another reader noted that, when mistakes happen with routers, they happen at high speeds -- and there was a warning against climb cutting. - Editor
"The problem with routers is that, when mistakes happen, they happen at 20,000 rpm, which makes it hard to see where you went wrong. It sounds like the error was in introducing the work to the bit on end grain. I have had this problem with similar results. I get better results by introducing the work to the bit on long grain and then working around a corner to the end grain. A routing pin a few inches from the bit might also help. If there is a way to design your patterns so that you don't need to rout the end grain and register your pattern off that edge you will be way ahead, even if you can eliminate one edge of end grain." - Robin C.
"If this was a pretty tall cutter, you could have even bent the bit or collet when you have a big snag like that. If this is a piece where you plan to rout all the way around, start in a place where the grain is favorable, then go all the way around from there. Someone above suggested climb-cutting. I would advise against that, unless you are holding the router, instead of the work." - Keith N.
Other readers suggested different fasteners for attaching the templates to the workpiece, and/or different bits. - Editor
"Bigger the bite dictates lower RPM's. That, and you were unprepared for the force. Be careful climb cutting end grain. End grain is plain grabby. Confident care is required. That and sharp bits. But you knew that." - Carol R.
"One thing I would add is that using double-stick tape is not my favorite way to attach templates. I prefer to be able to clamp the piece to the template using destaco style clamps.
If the template moves on the piece of wood even a little it can cause problems, plus you can make the template longer to give yourself a starting ramp which serves a similar purpose to a pin. You can also add handles or use the clamp handles which gives you a better grip on the piece. This technique requires a bit with a bearing at the bottom and putting some sandpaper strips on the template to help keep the wood from moving." -
"On figured wood, I cut really close to the pattern. I don't want to take off more than 1/16". I've also had better luck with the Freud 1 1/4" diameter pattern bit over a standard 1/2" diameter bit." - Dick C.
"I would suggest that you get a spiral or shear bit. That is all I will use for template routing. the difference between using a spiral and a straight bit has to be experienced to be believed. Also, trying to remove 1/4" with a router on end grain is a recipe for disaster. When you rough out your stock, cut as close to the line as possible in the areas of end grain. The absolute best bit I have found for template work with a router is made by Nordic Saw. I have both a top bearing and a bottom bearing.
Most of my template work is done on a shaper now. The cutting geometry of the larger diameter cutters makes things much easier." - Steve J.
Darkening Osage Orange from WoodCentral
This poster had a question about what he could use to darken the appearance of Osage orange wood. - Editor
"Osage chemical darkening: anyone know if lye, or anything similar, will darken this wood?" - Tom D.
He heard suggestions about chemicals to apply -- and about just giving it time to naturally absorb color itself.
"Give it some time." - Alan Y.
"UV light." - John V.
"Ammonia fuming." - Don O.
"Osage darkens just fine over a fairly short period of time; similar, in my experience, to cherry. Also from my experience, cherry darkens immediately with lye. I don't have any basis for assuming that the mechanisms or the chemistry are the same. If you're curious, you're only a test sample away from finding out. Let us know." - Ellis W.
"Good guess. Two spoonfuls of dry caustic soda in a quart of water brushed onto bois d'arc instantly darkens it to a medium to med. dark chocolate brown. [Editor's Note: Bois d'arc is another name for Osage orange.] There was no sapwood on my pieces, but the sapwood edges on turnings I've seen remained creamy white after both UV and lye exposure, although a couple of the edges from another turner who used lye looked muddier and maybe a bit grey (although not unattractive), but it might've been differences in the wood or some other factor. Overall, the UV-darkened wood was perhaps a bit richer (a redder-oranger hue), clearer and prettier than the lye-darkened wood, which had more uniform, deeper A&C-style browns. Would the UV-darkened wood become darker still? That, I can't say. The lye-darkened osage has stayed the same over the years, settling into its uniform deep tone about three to six months after treatment, much as you might expect. In contrast, cherry I've darkened with lye has ended up noticeably darker and redder than cherry from the same trees that aged naturally. I prefer the latter." - David B.
"I would imagine lye or ammonia would darken it. You could also try the vinegar and iron solution I'm currently messing with, but that might turn it black - depends on the tannin content." - John