Hand router one side

Hand router one side

I found some tempered frosted glass panes and they sparked me to make a light box out of a piece of it.

Long time ago, when I was drawing cartoons, I have made a simple light box for tracing. At that time, I had used an incandescent light bulb for the lighting source. It gave out a lot of heat and I had to make some ventilation holes to allow the hot air to go out. It was useful at that time, but it was not easy to keep, so I had thrown it away.

Checking the eyebolt center of hand router

Checking the eyebolt center of hand router

Remember the artist table that I made? The frosted glass pan was 450 mm x 355 mm and I planned to insert it into the table top. But first, I needed a router so that I can cut out a rabbet to rest the glass on. I planned on cutting a groove of the thickness of the glass pane and then followed by cutting out the center portion of the table, so that I would be left with an empty center where I could rest my glass pane. In this way, the table top would act like a frame for the glass pane.

Gouging a groove for the eyebolt of hand router

Gouging a groove for the eyebolt of hand router

At first, I thought of using the spindle of my cnc machine for cutting out the groove, because I did not want to purchase a power router. My cnc machine was way too small for cutting the table top. Then I found that craftsmen had been using hand router for ages. I looked through some of the designs for hand router, and I felt that I could also make one of these.

Allen key clamped by eyebolt

Allen key clamped by eyebolt

I found a piece of wood of the required dimensions and cut it to the required shape. There were some drilling, and gouging to be done. I found an old allen key (hexagon key) and ground it to the required shape with the cutting edge at one end to be used as the cutting tool. I did some hardening and tempering of the cutting tool by heat treatment and quenching.

Added in vertical piece for hand router

Added in vertical piece for hand router

After a preliminary test, I found that the right angled tool needed to be expanded slightly, perhaps to 100 degrees angle, so that the cutting edge could catch on to the wood to be shaved. I heated the tool to red hot in order to soften it sufficiently so that I could bend it to the required angle and then followed by hardening again. I also glued a piece of wood above the router, so that the tool could be clamped firmer in position with an eye-bolt.

Finished hand router

Finished hand router

Then I tried out my new hand router tool. Here again, I learnt from the experts on the internet, cutting the edges of the work piece with a penknife, shaving thin layers of wood for the groove progressively, adjusting the cutting depth and then shaving again until I obtained the required depth of cut that I was happy with.

Using cardboard thickness to set the cutting depth of the router knife

Using cardboard thickness to set the cutting depth of the router knife

I must say that the hand router was better than the powered router in some ways. The corners could be cut very sharp. I don’t think a power router could produce such sharp angles unless the diameter of the router bits were small. Furthermore, because no motor was running, the cutting was relatively slow, and I had time to examine and correct any mistakes while cutting. I think this was necessary because it was critical that I did not make any mistakes when cutting – I have only one table top and it must be cut perfectly.

The fabrication of the light box will continue on another blog…