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View Full Version : Router, dremel, laminate trimmer for trimming tops and cutting binding channels



Matt Clara
10-08-2009, 03:10 AM
Most of the videos I've seen of people trimming tops or otherwise working directly on the body of the instrument involved the use of laminate trimmers or dremel tools with router adapters attached to them--essentially something small, easily hand held and with good visibility. Do people also use plain old routers, or are those too big / indelicate for the job?

Matt Clara
10-08-2009, 05:45 AM
And what would be the old fashioned way of trimming top and bottom? Sanding? Saw? Plane? Thanks!

Milla
10-08-2009, 06:12 AM
I saw a video of a guy using a router mounted upside down and with a spacer to trim his top after he joined it to the body.

DaveVisi
10-08-2009, 06:45 AM
I think the problem is that standard table routers work from the bottom up, and hand held routers are too big to navigate around body parts such as the neck. Smaller, hand held tools seem to do better.

I didn't have much luck with the Stew Mac Dremel binding attachment though. I couldn't hold it steady enough by hand to insure a perfectly vertical cut as I went around the body.

ksquine
10-08-2009, 07:44 AM
I'm a big fan of the laminate trimmer. I can use it with one hand while holding the body steady and it has enough power to cut the channel in one pass. Making new base plates is easy so you have alot of options for edge guides.
I find dremmels just don't have the power to do the whole channel in one pass. More passes is just more ways to screw up.
You can certainly use a full size router....I've done it on guitar bodies before Holding the uke is harder because you need two hands on the router and there's not much body that isn't covered by the base plate. Solve that problem and its fine.

Matt Clara
10-08-2009, 07:45 AM
I think the problem is that standard table routers work from the bottom up, and hand held routers are too big to navigate around body parts such as the neck. Smaller, hand held tools seem to do better.

I didn't have much luck with the Stew Mac Dremel binding attachment though. I couldn't hold it steady enough by hand to insure a perfectly vertical cut as I went around the body.

Did you have the StewMac precision routing base (http://www.stewmac.com/shopby/item/5260), too? Shtuff get's spendy, quick.

thistle3585
10-08-2009, 09:04 AM
I mount my laminate trimmer upside down in my parrot vise if just trimming the top flush with the side along with trimming the headstock overlay and fretboard flush with the neck. I use it freehand if doing a binding channel. I also made an overhead router mount when I first started building but haven't used it much. I just got a balance arm and am going to set it up with a laminate trimmer to do my binding channels.

sweets
10-08-2009, 09:07 AM
All of these extra attachments come out of the need to keep the channel square with the side, but not necessarily square with the top/back (because the top and especially the back of an instrument aren't flat or square with the side). There are two main methods for doing this, both involving a sled for the instrument and a special base for the router:

One involves keeping the router stationary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve_PmQMSnQQ

And the other keeps the instrument stationary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lan2pKWE1Do

But it's the same idea. If you're building a cigar box instrument that has a flat top and bottom, it's unnecessary - a router table is probably the best tool for the job.

Matt Clara
10-08-2009, 09:09 AM
I mount my laminate trimmer upside down in my parrot vise if just trimming the top flush with the side along with trimming the headstock overlay and fretboard flush with the neck. I use it freehand if doing a binding channel. I also made an overhead router mount when I first started building but haven't used it much. I just got a balance arm and am going to set it up with a laminate trimmer to do my binding channels.

I'm probably either going to get a router, or just get routing accessories to go with my dremel. Given those two choices, what would you go with?

thistle3585
10-08-2009, 09:22 AM
I'm probably either going to get a router, or just get routing accessories to go with my dremel. Given those two choices, what would you go with?

I bought a cheap laminate trimmer at Menards for no more than $35. It has worked flawlessly through 40+ instruments and several home remodeling projects. If you buy a Dremel you can get a tap and make your own routing bases using thick plexiglass. I made a duplicarver for my Dremel, which is a knockoff brand, thinking I'd use it for inlay but only used it once. You can remove the protector on the end and thread it into the base.

I have a woodworking business, so I have my fair share of routers, but when building instruments I reach for this one the most. You can see the simple adjustment.

thomas
10-08-2009, 09:28 AM
My very humble advice is to skip the binding on your first few ukuleles. Concentrate on making them sound good. Then make them pretty later.

And the hand tool method to trimming the top and back. Yes to all three, saw, then plane, then sand. At least that is how I did my first few.

Take care, and good luck,
Thomas

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 10:15 AM
I have about 5 laminate trimmers all dedicated to specific binding tasks and 2 dedicated to trimming. Chuck out any idea of getting a dremmel unless you are considering doing inlay. The only other thing I use my dremel for is notching the linings for the braces.

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 10:33 AM
You might try using a Schneider gramil...

mpatton
10-08-2009, 10:49 AM
I've had good luck with a Bosch Colt router, plenty of power but still small and easy to work with with one or two hands. I only use my Dremel for inlays, even with a router base it just doesn't seem solid enough.

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 11:56 AM
The bearings are shot on my dremel so it shakes like mad when I use it but I AM STRONGER AND IT DOES MY WILL! :cool:

Matt Clara
10-08-2009, 12:17 PM
I have about 5 laminate trimmers all dedicated to specific binding tasks and 2 dedicated to trimming. Chuck out any idea of getting a dremmel unless you are considering doing inlay. The only other thing I use my dremel for is notching the linings for the braces.

I already have a dremel is all, and there are a ton of little accessories for this kind of work, but I don't want to use it if it's not the right tool for the job, and I especially don't want to spend money on accessories if they won't help me get it done.

Thanks, I'm looking at laminate trimmers.
Matt

and no, I don't intend to do binding for my first couple ukes, but I'd rather get one tool to do both jobs, than to find I have to buy something later when it could have done everything if only I'd gotten it first.

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 12:33 PM
Cheap and cheerful for occasional use eBay bargains:

140350504227 - I have these and they are good
380165389748 - the chinese copy of the above?
200390622288 - another Makita
150378188782 - DeWalt - always a good buy
300354170220 - Don't know this product but I want one!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-08-2009, 12:35 PM
Don't listen to those Dremel-phobes. I couldn't build without my Dremels. It has it's place. I use it probably 10 to 20 times a day. The cordless one rocks.
And I agree with Thomas; skip the binding and concentrate on the sound until you get a better handle on it. Pretty should never upstage function.

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 01:01 PM
Tell the truth Chuck - you use it for inlay work exclusively don't you? None of us could do without one for this work but anything else it really struggles with. I'm not a dremel-phobe - it's a one trick pony like a lot of our tools.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-08-2009, 01:43 PM
Inlay work? I never thought of using it for that! Sounds like you're accusing me of being less than truthful Pete.
It's indispensable for little jobs like drilling holes for tuners, polishing frets, installing pickups, drilling holes for bridge location, trimming binding and purfling, cutting side sound ports, cutting the binding channel on the heel end of a cutaway, cutting a .004" rosette channel (try that with a router!) and dozens of other tasks. Like admitting to watch reality TV shows, it's fashionable to put down the Dremel as rubbish. I'm a fan of both!
The Dremel I really like is the pistol grip cordless one. And they're total junk! I've gone through three of them within the past two years but they get used a lot. (The transformers go out because of my solar power system.)
I've got usual dozen odd routers and trimmers that everyone else has that do some jobs like no other tool can, but the portable Dremel is always close by.
The bottom line is, in order to be efficient, you need every kind of rotary tool available.

RonS
10-08-2009, 01:59 PM
The bottom line is, in order to be efficient, you need every kind of rotary tool available.

I'll up the ante, how about this High Speed Carver (http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/Carving___Pyrography___Carving___NSK_Presto_High_S peed_Carver___nsk_carver?Args=) (320,000 rpms) :D

http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/woodturners/Images/products/main/nsk-carver.jpg

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 02:19 PM
It took hard talking for you to reveal your methods Chuck you willey old bean :)

And hey I would never accuse anyone of being untruthful unless I knew they were lying - just joshing you :). It's that old language barrier/figure of speech.

I've looked at that tool - Wow - what would you do with that?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-08-2009, 02:28 PM
I've looked at that tool - Wow - what would you do with that?

Uh, screw up something real quick?

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 03:05 PM
Why would you want 320k revs? You're right Chuck - there could only be one outcome for me with that in my hand. Routed a load of uklectic bodies with endgrain for at least 40% of the cut - requires nerves and a steady hand with 2 explosions and some after repairs. Even with old technology there is always opportunity ofr disater to strike :((

RonS
10-08-2009, 03:39 PM
Why would you want 320k revs?


Have you ever tried to engrave with a rotary tool like a Dremel? Sometimes the tip will try to follow the grain. At 320k revs you have more control.

This was cut free hand
http://simplyturning.com/gallery/albums/Boxes/walnut_potpourri_box_open.thumb.jpg

Below is what can be done by a expert.

Pete Howlett
10-08-2009, 03:41 PM
Ooooh - lovely.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-08-2009, 03:55 PM
When I'm routing an inlay cavity, my speed is so slow I can almost see the bit rotating. Maybe a couple of hundred RPM. The fits are perfect. When it comes to tools neither bigger nor faster necessarily does the job better.

RonS
10-09-2009, 03:27 AM
Chuck

The tool I posted is more for sculpting then inlay work.
You can use this tool and have control similar to a 00 artist's paint brush

Matt Clara
10-09-2009, 07:04 AM
Are there any standard bits people use with routers, etc. to cut binding channels? What about for trimming? There must be something standard for trimming... Other than that, I see StewMac has all kinds of specialized bits for just these kind of jobs.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-09-2009, 07:34 AM
For cutting binding channels I prefer the LMI bit and bearing set because of it's greater choice of sizes. Most laminate trimmers have a 1/4" collect and will accept all the common router/trimmer bits available. For the smallest bits, fit a Dremel with the adjustable finger chuck.

thistle3585
10-09-2009, 07:41 AM
Are there any standard bits people use with routers, etc. to cut binding channels? What about for trimming? There must be something standard for trimming... Other than that, I see StewMac has all kinds of specialized bits for just these kind of jobs.

Get one of each of these or you can get one that has a bearing on top and bottom. For binding channels, I use the Stew-Mac bits because they are already sized to the binding I use. You can source different size bearings for over the counter bits but it was just easier to buy them from SM.