In this issue, we're announcing the availability of our newly redesigned Standard Ellipse Jig, the new capabilities we have for fitting the Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact router in our Original Plunge Base, and a new Sub-Base Assembly for mounting our Edge Guide directly on the Milwaukee factory fixed base.
Like many other woodworking friends, I've been trying to utilize my social distancing over the last couple of months to do something productive. Hours spent in the shop not only make staying home more enjoyable, but they also seem to have their own 'healing' effect while we wait for this coronavirus to run its course.
You'll see the results of my efforts in the Woodshop Project below. It's a free-standing audio gear and storage chest made of cherry, redwood burl, soft maple, and ebony, designed in a melding of Santa Fe and Green & Greene influences. Using hours after Micro Fence closed each day and weekend, the piece evolved slowly but surely to its completion just a few weeks ago.
The project made me appreciate how lucky we all are to feel a passion for creating things with wood. This piece was particularly rewarding because it was made for an old friend and musical bandmate who shares a similar passion for his music.
I'm always gratified to find customers that have found our tools helpful in their work, and in our next newsletter, we'll bring back our "Spotlight" feature. You'll meet Mats Fogelvik, a furniture maker from Hawaii who's shared some of his work with us and has made impressive use of some of our tools in his artwork.
I'm frequently amazed by the craftsmanship and creativity that so obviously shines through when we devote ourselves to our best efforts. Hopefully we will all be able to find some solace in our workshops while we pass through these bizarre and unsettling times.
What's New at Micro Fence
New Router Fitting: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Router
We're excited to announce that we've recently designed an adapter ring to allow the new Milwaukee M18 Fuel (Cat.#2723-20) Cordless trimmer to fit into our original Plunge Base. The combination brings together the high precision of the Plunge Base, the most powerful cordless motor on the market, and a completely untethered approach to routing. A range of battery choices can provide anywhere from two to ten amp hours of service.
You can find more specifics on the M18 in the latest issue of Fine Woodworking magazine (May/June), which featured a full page, glowing review. The last paragraph of that review states: "The only place the Milwaukee loses points is its lack of a separate plunge base, which other competitors offer as an accessory."
Not only did we design the Plunge Base adapter, but we've also made a Sub-Base Assembly for mounting our Edge Guide on the Milwaukee factory (fixed) base.
Ellipse Jig Revision: A Redesigned Accessory To Our Circle Jig
Our newly redesigned Standard Ellipse Jig features a central axes plate made of cast aluminum tooling plate that will undoubtedly introduce a new level of flatness to the kit. Not only will it improve the smoothness of the jig's travel, but it will also ensure that over time, the flatness and smooth performance will remain unchanged. The new design allows for vacuum hold-down regardless of the size of the ellipse being cut. Options include the Micro Fence Vacuum Center Assembly or the user's own vacuum pump.
The standard package allows a range of major diameters from approx. 2' to 6'. Differentials (the difference between major and minor axes) can be varied from as small as 2" up to 12". Our upgrade package will accommodate larger projects up to 12' in diameter and differentials from 3" up to 34".
Coupled with Micro Fence's fine-adjustment capability, this jig eliminates all the math that's involved in cutting an ellipse and reduces it to two dimensions: the radius of the major diameter and the distance between the two centers. The actual cutting becomes an exercise in simplicity that produces the smoothest, cleanest cuts imaginable.
A set-up gauge/tool is included with each kit to aid in squaring the four axes tracks. It makes quick work of the set-up procedure when changing tracks.
Track sets (four segments each) are available in 6" (shown in these pictures), 12", 22.25", and 34.25" lengths to provide major axes dimensions from approx. 24" to 12'.
Our upgrade package includes two pairs of stainless guide shafts (2' and 3'), a pair of longer T-slot slides, and your choice of four 22.25" T-slot tracks, four 34.25" T-slot tracks, or both.
A Vacuum Block is available that can connect to our Vacuum Center Assembly or your own vacuum pump to hold the Ellipse Axes Plate to the surface of your work to eliminate damage to the work piece.
Shown here powered by our Vacuum Center Assembly, a gasket kit is utilized to create an air plenum under the axes plate.
Cherry, Redwood Burl, White Maple, and Ebony Chest
Here's the finished piece in its new home, where it seemed to fit in like it belonged.
Two sliding doors run in a track with bearing wheels on the bottom and retractable tabs at the top. They move smoothly with light, finger-tip effort.
Fifty-year-old redwood burl made a complimentary choice for the cherry door frames. I found the burl in the early '80s at a custom plywood manufacturer's plant when I was looking for materials for another commission. There were six sequence-matched panels that had been glued up for someone who never came back to purchase them. I think I paid something like $20 per panel. Then they sat for nearly 40 years in three different lofts, in three different shops, in one of my 'someday I'll use 'em' piles. It was nice to get to someday.
On the bench with initial coats of satin Varathane finish, the piece awaits its final steel wool and wax rub-out.
Ebony pegs and splines are used to lock mortise and tenon joints together and accent the natural cherry (from traditional Greene & Greene style).
The stepped rails of the doors continue the detail established in the end panels and tie the design together nicely.
The end pieces of the casework feature a Santa Fe rail detail that seemed to complement the cabinet's general personality. Plus, the milling challenge they presented was fun to work out.
The flush pulls in the drawer fronts were through-milled with a 1" router bit, then milled from the top side to create the radius finger pull and the 1/8" cherry cover plate. The backs were milled before drawer assembly to provide the rabbet for a 3/32" thick back plate of ebony.
The completed milling of the drawer-pull recess with square-chiseled corners is ready for interior finishing before it's ebony back plate, cherry front cover plate and mahogany inlay are installed.
The bank of drawer fronts is set back so that the sliding doors (fit into tracks in the top and bottom) can pass in front to access the adjustable shelving in the outer compartments of the case.
I was excited to see that Sugatsune made a cabinet lid-stay and hinge combination for kitchen cabinets that could be adapted to a drawer front. Once opened, the faux drawer front slides back into the chest and disappears. This provided visual access to the cable box and A/V equipment that were operated by the client's remote control.
The 78" long cherry top was made from four pieces of 7/8" thick planks gradually milled down in steps from 5/4 stock. In between jointer and planer operations, the planks were stored on stickers with air flow all around. After a month or so of settling, the final dimension was milled and the ends capped with floating bread-board ends.
Loose tenons were glued into mortises in the ends of the six foot planks and elongated peg holes cut through the ends of the tenons that were to draw-fit the end cap pieces toward the planks. Square ebony pegs were made to hold the caps firmly and one of the four was glued permanently to it's tenon (the third from the left). The other three pegs were left to float in their elongated holes to allow for expansion and contraction.
Next Time... In the Micro Fence Spotlight
In our next newsletter, we'll be spotlighting a brilliant woodworker named Mats Fogelvik, who utilizes native Hawaiian koa wood in much of his furniture-building. We're looking forward to showing off some of his work. Stay tuned!
Here are two elliptical coffee tables that Mats made using our ellipse jig.