by Yun-Han Lin
A sneak peek of the procedure before we get started!
Over the past six months, there have been quite a few woodworking projects at our studio. Yet, there are only certain tools that we can use, such as a circular saw and a trimming machine. We have to go to other woodworking workshops where there are tools for us to smooth out the surface of our works. One day, we read about ways to smooth out the wooden work using a trimming machine, so we decided to give it a try.
We tried to build a track that can allow the trimming machine to go back and forth at a fixed height right above the table, so that wood pieces can be smoothed out evenly. The underlay woodblocks were fixed with screws, but they are replaceable, as the wood pieces to be smoothed out come in different thicknesses. With this flexibility, we could adjust the height of the track to our liking based on the number of blocks required. To make it easier for disassembly and assembly, we used bigger screws, coupled with wing nuts, so that we can tear it down and put it back together with bare hands.
As for materials, we turned to the recycled plywood sheets found in our studio, which were about 17 or 18mm thick. There were also two thinner sheets, about 6mm thick, to be placed in the middle.
After a few trials, it seemed that this jig could only serve as a really basic tool for smoothing out the works. Due to its simple structure, there were a few things to keep in mind if we wanted the smoothing to turn out well. The following are some tips for your reference.
1. The table must be very flat so that smoothing can turn out better, or you could place a piece of core plywood or thicker plywood on the table and simply work on that surface.
2. This method is more suitable for smoothing out rectangular wood blocks as users can keep the movement of the trimming machine in one direction If you are working on a pressed wood block that is octagonal like the one in the film, you will need to trim the piece from four different directions. Also, the base surface for smoothing could vary a bit as you work from different directions before the whole surface is completely smoothed out. Because of this, the entire surface could end up a bit uneven. To solve this problem, our last resort was to fix the wood block onto a flat board that remained stable through a fixture at its bottom. In this way, the wood block could stay leveled when we worked on the surface from any direction.
3. The cutter-head for the trimming machine can be a 12mm straight knife or a milling cutter. Cutters in a larger size are also optional if you want to speed up the operation.
4. Milling at the depth of 1 to 2mm at a time will do. If you want it to go deeper and still turn out nice, it is better to take it really slow.
There are also many videos on Youtube that show the production of jigs similar to this design. Find the links below to find out more! As shown in the latter half of the video, the design this time was not strong enough and it can bend and be deformed a little during usage. Therefore, we may try using metal for our next design to strengthen the structure.