Time and chance happen to all woodworkers — sometimes to tragic ends, sometimes to the good, and, sometimes, just to the bizarre.
One such bizarre event happened to me many years ago when I was working in my father and uncle’s woodworking shop. In addition to custom cabinetry, we did a fair amount of production woodworking — pattern-routed items like round picture frames, fish filleting boards and other items that would now be cut on a CNC router. Not so then. Instead, we had a huge (six feet tall, eight feet front to back, and easily five feet across) 20hp over-head automated router that had a pneumatic infeed table and a couple of hard rubber drive rollers that propelled awkward-looking patterns. This setup was state-of-the-art at the time, but if you were to look at it now and compared it to today’s CNC systems, it would be evocative of the steam era of auto transportation, compared to today’s Lamborghinis.
One afternoon, I was working my way through an interminable stack of red oak blanks, routing a full 1-1/2″ roundover on a circular plate holder. That is a mighty big router bit and a monstrous cut — but this machine could handle both with ease. Or, at least, that is what I thought.