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Is It Possible To Cut Out An Entire Body Using A Router?


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Is it Possible to cut out an entire body using a router? reason im asking is im onto my secound guitar project (the last one i just used a jigsaw and sander) and there didn't seem to be any readily available answer so i thought i'd give it a go using my table router but once i got in to the wood a little ways i got some pretty bad kickback that nearly ruined the piece of wood i was using and gave me a hand full of nasty splinters :D . i assume its possible in theory but is this common or practical or do most people just use a saw?

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i used a plunge router and a router guide. I didn't have a template bit so what i did was undersize my ply template a bit (offset was equal to the router template guide plate so the end result was accurate) and i went slowly and didn't hog much wood every pass.

Then i reached the limit of the bit so i flipped the body the other way around (i had it roughly jigsawed first btw, VERY roughly) and then used a long bit with a bearing at the end and used the routed circumference as a guide for this bit (i am not sure i explained it well so feel free to ask). The end result was pretty accurate and needed very minor sanding.

Basically, i rough cut the body out of the blank, stuck the template i made of the body, routed about a bit over half the thickness of the body on one side (the top first) and then flipped the body and changed the bit so the bearing would be guided by the cleanly router side.

I think a lot of ppl do the same as well, but only their posts shall tell!

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The answer with standard router technology is no. I've seen CNC pictures where body blanks have been placed on the table and routed into a body, but that's different. With a table router or plunge router you're going to have to take multiple passes to avoid blow outs and burns. Why would you do that when you could take all that excess away with a single pass of a bandsaw or jigsaw?

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What do you mean cut out an entire body?

As in cut from a body blank?

Well yes you can if you make a template from say 15mm MDF then use a 1/2" or 3/4" length template tracing bit and make shallow cuts over numerous passes . . you wil eventual make it through.

HOWEVER

The one thing which you should really abide by when doing any wood working is use the right tool for the job and for cutting wood .. .. a saw is the way to go. You say you have a jigsaw so if I was you I'd cut a rough shape of the body with the jigsaw (remember to watch for dreaded blade bend) then use a router with a template bit to trim the body to temple.

Of course the best tool for rough cutting a body is a bandsaw but if you ain't got one the jigsaw will do the job. :D

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If I were you, I would just cut a rough shape with the jigsaw then route out a clean shape with a router and a template. That way you won't be digging through the wood and the router will work more like how it's supposed to.

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Anyway, see my 'Time for a new router' thread to understand what happens when you push a router to do things it's not supposed to.... :D

While that is good advice, it [collet issues] doesn't apply to this particular router issue.

If your router has enough HP or you're making a bunch of passes, then it IS something a router is designed to do, just not the easiest/best way for most situations.

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One thing also to bear in mind when discussing this kind of thing is the density of the wood you are attempting to cut.

The soft and lighter hardwoods like say Alder would be pretty easy to cut with router - quite possible even with a single pass with a decent router and most importantly a razor sharp high quality carbide bit.

However denser timber you wouldn't have a hope of cutting a body in a single pass - some of the timbers I use (ironwoods) would break your blades. I tried using a solid carbide upward twist bit when I made my first guitar for the humbucker pockets in Burmese Ironwood and tried to plunge the bit straight into the wood - end result one of the teeth from the tip of the bit sheared off. At that time I didn't fully appreciate the types of wood I was working with, plenty of reading later and I am far far more savvy on the timber over here.

Oh also no router is designed to cut wood! Shape and form wood yes - higher hp routers are designed for working with large diameter shaping bits not to cut timber. You want to cut wood use a saw!

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Yeah...I would not say it is a good idea...You put alot of stress on a router bit when 75% of the cutting surface of the bit is making full contact...

I have had a bit bind up in such a situation and bent the bit shaft,sending the router kicking out and throwing the wood out of the clamps...Luckily I had a good hold

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but once i got in to the wood a little ways i got some pretty bad kickback that nearly ruined the piece of wood i was using and gave me a hand full of nasty splinters :D

Whoa, you're lucky that was all that happened. What others have said is the way to go: cut close to your template and then route. A router table is the best way to go since you can control it so much better.

Here is a pic showing how I do it (my router table has a bigger surface these days):

05.jpg

This is same bit that Chris is talking about. It has a 1/2" shaft and is about as sturdy as you can get. Stay away from 1/4" shaft bits for cuts this big. You can take it all in one pass as long as you trim to within 1/16" of your template shape. You can get away with 1/8" but it doesn't take much more effort to get better with a bandsaw.

Oh, and a bandsaw is easier to get better results than a jigsaw. I used my Delta 10" benchtop bandsaw for years and they are about $120 new.

~David

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