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# Help a newbie with a hand-held router / round over plywood

#1
11-05-13, 05:03 PM
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Help a newbie with a hand-held router / round over plywood

I am using this router and can't find my arms and legs understanding the instructions. I never used a router before (did few test passes with this one, but never did an actual router job).

I need to round the edge of a 3/4" plywood for an office desk. Pretty simple and straight forward, I would think. I need it to look like this. I don't care so much about the bottom (vertical end of the round), but the top has to be a perfect continuation of the flat surface, of the 'desk'.

Can someone please tell me what kind of bit do I need and how high do I set it up? Do I lock it in place before the run or set it up based on the guide (which I have no clue) and then lower it until it stops? I would greatly appreciate any help.

Thanks.

#2
11-05-13, 05:19 PM
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The bit you need is in the link you left to illustrate the edge you wanted "Round-Over-Edging-Bit-3/4"-Radius-1/4"-Shank"

You will not use the plunge method. You'll lock it so that it doesn't move. Put the bit in and set the router on a piece of wood. Squat down and look at the alignment of the bit to the wood.

Practice first. Practice some more. Use a scrap piece of wood. Get to learn how to keep the router flat. The bearing will keep the bit aligned to the edge of the wood. Pull router slowly and smoothly.

#3
11-05-13, 05:31 PM
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Thanks PJmax.

The bit in the link is 3/4" and the wood in the image is thicker than 3/4", if I understand correctly. So if I use the this 3/4" but on a 3/4" piece of plywood, this means that the rounding will end right at the bottom, correct? It won't be like in the image where it ends before the bottom of the piece.

#4
11-05-13, 05:33 PM
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Not sure what you are having difficulty with... or what kind of roundover you would like. Hopefully you know that 3/4" plywood isn't going to make the "nicest" desk, but we will assume that this is some sort of low cost utility desk... not some nice piece of cabinetry that will be getting graded for quality by Bob Villa.

If you have 3/4" ply and are attempting to use a 3/4" radius piloted roundover bit, as pictured in your link, the pilot bearing won't have anything to ride on. If you used a 1/2" radius piloted roundover bit, the pilot bearing will be able to ride along the bottom edge (the bottom 1/4") of the 3/4" plywood. IMO, that's probably the bit you should use. A 1/2" roundover is nice.

When using a plunge router to do edge routing, you don't use the "plunge feature" of the router. You lock the router base at the correct depth so that the base of the router rides along the table top, and the bit depth is set just like in your link, in the upper left picture.

I think maybe you can picture how, as the router bit is lowered, it will begin taking out more and more material. If the bit gets TOO low, though, the square edges of the bit will start to create a notch in the wood, which you probably don't want if you want the top to be smooth, as in the picture. Your router probably has a micro-adjustment knob to slowly adjust the bit up and down.

When you put the bit into the router, have the router unplugged. Bits should usually be fully inserted into the collet, not partially inserted. Once you have the bit tightened down, plunge the router until the concave part of the bit is all below the base plate. Use a straightedge to check, and turn the micro-adjustment knob to fine tune the router bit depth. The square corner of the bit should be fractionally above the bottom of the plate so that it doesn't groove the wood. Once you get the setup done, you simply move the router over the material, in a counter clockwise direction.

For most large router bits that hog out lots of wood, you don't usually want to take all the wood out in one pass because it might chip the wood- instead you set the depth so that it's shallow, and make a pass, then set the bit a little deeper, and make another pass, and THEN for your final pass, you would set up the bit as I described earlier, and make your FINAL pass.

If anything is unclear, just ask... we have plenty of experienced woodworkers here who can offer advice.

#5
11-05-13, 05:38 PM
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Trying to round over or Ogee on plywood's not going to look to good.
Works far better on solid wood.
I would have attached a piece of 2X to the bottom of the plywood for a backer then added another to the outside edges.
Look at you kitchen counter tops to see what I'm talking about.
Then you would have real wood to round over, not have end grain showing, and the top would be stronger and it would look thicker.

#6
11-05-13, 05:46 PM
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Duh. Thanks xsleeper .... pretty hard to use a 3/4" bit on 3/4" wood.

#7
11-05-13, 05:59 PM
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He could do it, but he'd probably need to use the guide fence that the router comes with, rather than relying on the pilot bearing, wouldn't he. IMO a 3/4" roundover isn't necessary, which is why I'd suggest the 1/2"... or even 3/8". But if that's what he wants, there are ways around it.... like adding a solid wood edging, as Joe suggests.

#8
11-06-13, 02:32 AM
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May not be an earth shattering bit of information, but rout in a counterclockwise position around the table top. Not sure if it was mentioned or not. It will keep chipping down to a minimum.

#9
11-06-13, 08:03 AM
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Thank you all so much for the feedback!!

@ XSleeper:

Hopefully you know that 3/4" plywood isn't going to make the "nicest" desk, but we will assume that this is some sort of low cost utility desk...
This will be my home-office desk and will be used for typing on a keyboard all day, hence the round over edge that I am looking for for my hands. The room is very small and I also don't like the 'ready' office desks that come with filing cabinets. I don't need, and can't stand these built-in filing cabinets, so I decided to just put a float desk out of cabinet grade 3/4" plywood. I am not looking to be graded by Bob Villa. Maybe Norm Abrams , although I am sure his critics would be even harsher.

What I am having difficulty with was understanding the manual for that router and as a result, all my tests did not bring the desire results so far. I couldn't get a clear round without leaving a notch at the top, so clearly I went too low. I'll use the explanation above (I did use 1/2" bit) for more tests.

@ joecaption1:

The problem I might have with adding 2X to the bottom is that it will take away from my leg space underneath and if I raise the desk to compensate, it will be too high for full day sitting and typing.

@ Larry - yes, XSleeper did mention to go counterclockwise. Thanks.

Now, the desk not being the nicest one - is it because of the plywood, or is because the router won't do a nice job on the plywood? If it's the latter, maybe I will skip the router after all and use a 3/4" quarter round trip with glue and nail gun.

#10
11-06-13, 09:17 AM
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I wouldn't try to use a router on plywood - too hard to get a nice detail. Usually what's done when using plywood for a top is to add a 'butter board' along the perimeter. On my desk I ripped down some oak flooring and nailed/glued it to the edge of my plywood. I also ripped some wood to attach under the edge of the plywood to both stiffen it up and give the oak more area to be nailed too. Most any wood that you can securely attach to the plywood will work.

#11
11-06-13, 09:36 AM
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It's the wood, not the router - plywood just isn't designed to have part of the layering removed. I would do as Mark suggested and put a small real board on the front and rout your profile into that instead.

#12
11-06-13, 04:09 PM
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It's the wood, not the router - plywood just isn't designed to have part of the layering removed.
Exactly... I'd probably attach a 3/4 x 3/4 piece under the plywood, then attach a solid 1x2 to the plywood (glue the heck out of it). Then belt sand the top so that it's perfectly flush with the top of the plywood. (if you do it right, the joint will almost disappear) And then router your edge in that. And then since the face with be a 1x2, you could use a 3/4 roundover bit if you wanted. The 1x2 will also strengthen the front edge and help prevent it from bowing when you put your weight on the edge of the desk.

#13
11-06-13, 04:20 PM
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What is 3/4 x 3/4? I mean, is it something I need to strip out of something? I am kind'a limited in the tools that I have (I don't have a table saw).

#14
11-06-13, 05:06 PM
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Yes, it's basically a 1x2 cut in half lengthwise, to make it 3/4" x 3/4". Having it be 3/4 x 3/4 isn't critical... it is just a backer for the face. You could also lay a 1x2 flat. Or if you think you can skilsaw a 1x2 in half lengthwise, do that. It's needed as a backer because when you put the 1x2 face on the plywood, you will need to nail LOW (into the 3/4 x 3/4 backer... not into the plywood), since you probably don't want your router to plow through any finish nails. After you have routered the profile, you could pop a few nails into the plywood as well. Just be careful that none of the nails come blowing up through the top of the plywood!

You could certainly skip all this and glue and nail a 3/4 round onto the edge of the plywood, like you suggested earlier. But the 1x2 will certainly give you more strength, no matter what size roundover you choose.

#15
11-06-13, 05:22 PM
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Thank you very much XSleeper!!

#16
11-13-13, 07:00 AM
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After giving a thought, not having a table saw and trying to make this desk as simple as possible, I think I would end up adding a quarter round molding, and I will use 28" SpeedBrace every 16". So with the 28" long braces on a 30" deep 3/4" plywood I hope there will be now bowing.

#17
11-13-13, 10:20 AM
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I think Home Depot and Lowes both sell nice poplar 1x2s so you wouldn't necessarily need a table saw.

#18
11-13-13, 04:57 PM
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Thanks. I'll look into that.

#19
11-14-13, 08:14 AM
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But how hard is poplar for the edge support, if I use it?

#20
11-14-13, 10:18 AM
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Poplar is pretty soft and easy to router. It has enough strength for rigidity esp when glued. You could also use oak.

#21
11-15-13, 06:47 AM
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XSleeper - OK, I am starting to second-guess the SpeedBrace every 16", they aren't that nice after all and I am afraid that they will 'hit' my legs all the time. I might use only one on the side where the cleat will be short, not the entire depth of the desk, because it's a short wall and the desk will extend into a window opening (very low, won't be an issue).
SO, I am thinking of doing what you and others have suggested with a 1X2 underneath for strength and another piece in the front. I don't think polar will be strong enough for support and I saw this morning at the big orange box cherry and oak. Both seems much stronger than poplar, oak looks nicer and the it probably matches the plywood grain/texture better than the cherry.

My questions are:

Is any of these two stronger/better for the edge support?
How are they with router?

I am actually thinking of 1X3 underneath and 1X2 for the nosing.

Thanks!

#22
11-15-13, 10:42 AM
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I'd use pine for the support underneath the plywood edge since it's cheaper and does offer enough support. Pine would also be strong enough for the edge of the plywood although it might dent or scar easier than hardwood. Oak does fine with a router and would suspect cherry would too but I don't think I've ever routed any cherry.

#23
11-15-13, 12:23 PM
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Thanks marksr. Cost is not an issue, it is minimal material (talking about 5-6 ft. at the most), under \$10 if I go with oak, and I am looking for whatever will be the best in eliminating any bowing at the edge while I use it

#24
11-15-13, 01:29 PM
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My desk is L shaped with a cabinet on each end. The desk is about 80" x 66" and 22" deep. The cabinets on each end are 17" wide. I have a cleat along the 2 walls and some 1x braces under the plywood to support the two 10" wall brackets. At the edge of the plywood there is a 1x under the ply and some ripped down oak flooring on the edge. All the hidden 1x were ripped out of 2x pine. The top consists of 1/2 cdx with 1/4" finish plywood stapled on top. My desk easily supports my weight [210 lbs] and was built 8-10 yrs ago.

I don't think the species of wood will make a lot of difference in supporting the plywood. Just adding any dimensional lumber to the edge adds a lot of strength. I'd choose the lumber based on what will look best with your finished product.

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