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Bushings and MDF

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ljzimmer, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. ljzimmer


    Oct 24, 2007
    Hey everyone,

    Yesterday I went and got a set of 10 bushings for my router to trace around some MDF templates. I think I've found the "right" bit for what I need to do but I'm curious how you guys do it.

    Also does anyone use other (woodworking) forums for tool specific advice or tutorials? So far I've just done what seems to make sense to me, or what I've found here.


  2. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    nope, a router and a bushing/bearing are all you need, and the templates of course
  3. yep, indeed.. I attached pics of the bits I use, one for tracing a template on top and one for tracing on below the working piece.

    For the template, I rather use hard plywood instead of MDF, 'cause it doesn't wear as easily as MDF does. But for straight lines, I use the sides of a MDF board and it works fine.

    Attached Files:

  4. Ive tried using bearing guided bits, I may have been doing it wrong but I didnt get on with them. For one thing, you cant cut the depth in several passes as the bearing must always be on the template, so this puts a lot of strain on your collet.

    Ive had better success using the template following collars and using a two flute bit suitable for plunging, then taking shallow passes. If you do this, then you need to make your template with this in mind and accept that you wont be able to get sharp corners unless you plan something clever.

    Ive also found that Ive always had worse results when rushing and not allowing enough time to take it easy and enjoy! Routers can be dangerous so now I always allow plenty of time to check and recheck my template, clamping, and the router before powering up. If I can, I'll set up Friday evening then save the routing for mid Saturday morning.
  5. Well, there are actually two solutions on the disability to plunge:

    first of all, I always use a jigsaw to do a rough cut, about 2 mm on the outside of the line. this saves the bit and gives me the ability to route only max 2 mm off and also follow the template

    secondly, I sometimes use a template guide in my router to first plunge it to the desired depth in multiple pass.. and when I'm done with that I remove the template guide and use the ball bearing to cut the hole flush with the template. i used this on my body to route the chambers and i was rather succesful, as you can see:


    To see what I did, visit my blog: http://bass.robhabraken.nl/index.php?id=9

    And as a last note: always take it easy, think steps through before you do something and enjoy !!!
  6. Ive planned a similar approach, except I use two collars and two router bits - same kind of thing tho.

    Every time you show that picture I get hungry! :bassist: Stop it! ;)
  7. Haha.. LOL.. sorry can't help it, one of my favs :D
  8. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
  9. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    yeah, i cant believe how perfect even your chambering is. its rediculous how good some people are at this kind of stuff and not even know it
  10. well.. i worked with wood before and it takes just a few ingredients:

    - CAD (or drawing precise)
    - patience
    - a template
    - patience
    - lots of research (this is where tb and the internet help alot!)
    - patience
    - a router (i never knew it could do so much)

    did i mention patience? :D :hyper:
  11. ljzimmer


    Oct 24, 2007
    If anyone is willing to dive into this kind of depth I would be extremely grateful.

    I guess I have two concepts that I need help with. First using the busing technique is going to require an offset of some sort. This is due to the fact that the bit has to spin inside the bushing. As I understand it you would have to take the difference of the outside diameter of the bushing and the diameter of the bit and compensate for the difference in your template. Do I understand that right?

    I guess the other part of this that I don't understand is the advantage of a plunge base to a "fixed base". I have a three piece dewalt kit that contains both types but the fixed base has a ring that allows for adjustment. Is the advantage of the plunge base the fact that its faster or is it just another type of control?

    Being faster to be faster would seem the opposite of Mikey's goal (and mine too ;) ):

    In my mind I think that I would like to try combining the two techniques. Getting close (within an 1/8" or so) with the bushings and then finish with the bearing.

  12. yes, you need an offset, which you can solve in two ways: enlarge the template by the difference in radius of the bushing and the bit, or do it like i said earlier in this thread: get to the desired depth with the bushing on and use the bearing to get to the edges of the template afterwards.

    basically, the thoughts are given by our answers above your post ;)

    and the advantage of a plunge router would be that you can easily plunge deeper for each pass, without setting up the tool again. my router even has a sort of steps built in, so i can set it up to the desired depth and then go back to the first 'step', route it, turn one step deeper, plunge, route .. etcetera easy does it :D
  13. ljzimmer


    Oct 24, 2007

    After rereading it carefully for the fourth time I see that you did say earlier. Sometimes it takes some time for this stuff to sink into my thick skull.

    BTW your work with that the routing is absolutely beautiful!

    Thanks again!

  14. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    If this is a problem, make your template thicker.
  15. Cheers Jazzdogg, but that causes another problem - If I want to make 6mm passes, and I have a 37mm bit, then I'll need a 31mm template, and a router bit with a REALLY long shank!

    I really must be doing something wrong here, as this just doesnt sound right :confused:
  16. Thanks :smug:! And nm.. English isn't my native language, so I'm probably not as clear as I could be, explaining these things ;)...
  17. Forgot to mention, I need to work as fast as I safely can when the tool is actually running, so that I disturb my neighbours as little as possible. So I would rather spend longer on the prep, making sure that I can actually do the cut once and that I dont have to go back and cut again.
  18. That'll give you the best result too I guess ;)...
  19. Hi Robert, Ive been thinking about this - does the template bearing cause the plywood templates to delaminate?

    When Im cutting MDF, because its quite homogeneous its quite easy to cut accurate lines, but then it frays and the lines go a little blurrey. How easy is it to cut a plywood template accurately?

    Im hating that evil MDF dust so looking for alternatives!
  20. Well, MDF is a very soft 'wood'. So I do not trust it as much as plywood, being a perfectionist. If you want to use a template more than once, I suggest using a harder kind of wood instead of MDF.

    On the other side, MDF is very easy to cut, but if you point your sand paper at it, you'd almost take off some wood, if you know what I mean :smug:. Using a harder wood, like beech plywood, I am able to shape more accurate after cutting.

    When you cut plywood with a jigsaw, make sure you use a special saw blade for cutting plywood. Because of the glue in it, it is harder on your tools. Also, you should use a very short and small blade, because this is easier when sawing and it's easier to make turns.

    One more remark: you should cut very, very.. really, very slow. Because if you put too much pressure on it while going around a corner, the blade gets forced in an angle, ruining your shape and you don't want that. Also, if you cut very slow, it's almost as easy to cut as MDF.

    Oh.. and mind the splinters :rolleyes:.. my hands are full of them :scowl:

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