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Woodworking: Router Replacement? Answered

The situation:

I (will) have a disc of plywood roughly 20cm across. I need to cut a spiral notch in the ply, from edge to centre, around 3mm wide, so that I can hold a spiral of flexible ply in place and close off the end of the spiral at the same time.

The perfect tool for the job is, of course, a router.

The problem:

I don't have a router.

Short of buying a router just for this one job, what can I do to cut the notch?


I've been saying "plywood" - is there another material that can be shaped the same way?


Can this be a fixed construction or is it one that must be able to be dissembled?


<whispers> are you building an audio related item?

Pat. Pending

It should end up glued together

If you're asking, "is it a speaker?", no it isn't. I'm interested in hi-fi projects.

I'm not sure how tight or complex your spiral would be, but could you not curve the ply by hand, and hold it while a helper hot-glues a plain end cap in place. Alternatively, draw the spiral on the end cap, drive panel pins through to form support for wrapping the ply into the spiral. Cheers, Pat. Pending

Ah-ha! So, that would make a double row of pins, 'twixt which I slot the ply for the spiral.

(See, I told you I didn't do much woodwork!)

So, no routing, no chiselling or complex sawing - just drawing the spiral (already done on the PC), nailing and gluing. I can do that - thanks, PP!

(All I need now is a UK source of plywood or similar that can be rolled into a spiral with a smallest radius of about 4-5cm...)

You should be able to get some, good quality, thin ply from your nearest model shop. Pat. Pending

Cool. I can give them more details because I don't think they're members here ;-)

Kiteman, master of intrigue;-) I still think its some sort of audio horn / musical instrument Pat. Pending

Is your "plywood" like ours in the states? Biased thin plys of wood glued together. The plywood available here would be hard to work with in the way in which you describe (and I have a router).

That's the stuff.

Do you have a better idea? The nearest I have come to proper woodwork since age 13 is chopping firewood and helping #1 son make his knitting stick instructable.

It is the bias ply that I am concerned about, since it is a bit difficult to "cut", at lest in a reasonably straight line. At the moment, I am not absolutely clear on what you are attempting to do, or it's purpose, so it is hard to make a recommendation. Most of my recent "woodworking" has involved making simple shelves for my workshop. I used a handsaw, but even that is hard to get through some plywood without it splintering and such.

Maybe I ought - as suggested elsewhere - use mdf as my end-pieces.

I'm reluctant to mention the end-use, as it's an 'ible, and a whole new direction for me if it works.

I understand (and had thought this might be the case) Um, ok I was unaware of different densities of fiberboard (that hard stuff, right?) All the prefab furniture I have ever gotten using fb has been so dense it was nearly undrillable and definitely noncuttable by normal methods. :-)

I originally avoided the idea of mdf because it's not "real" wood - plywood has a visible grain which could (in the final-if-it-works version) be varnished or polished up to look nice.

Yes, and my apologies for grouping ALL plywood together also.

The indoor type I am most familiar with is very hard to work with, not only because it is very thin, but also hard to cut well. However, I have been "introduced" to an "outdoor" version which would definitely be easier to work with, as well as thick enough to do what you want with it. Sorry I jumped on that too quick



10 years ago

I reread this, and assume the cut is a groove, and not all the way through. If the spiral isn't too complex, why not make it two-ply? That is, use a backing disc. The notch is formed by separate pieces of plywood, glued to the backing disc. Then no groove or notch needs to be cut... You've probably got a coping saw or sabre saw for general cutting.

You assume wrong! The only woodworking tools I possess are a drill, a small vice and a junior hacksaw with a wood-cutting blade. I like the two-ply idea, though. Aren't there drill-bit that can cut sideways? Could clamp the ply on edge and then basically wave the drill in a spiral? I actually need a pair of grooves, one for each end of the spiral - if I did it like this, then I'd have a matched pair of spirals. Even if the spiral ends up a little wonky, at least it will be equally wonky at both ends...

Yep, there are. They're called router bits. ;-)
Chuck a milling bit or router it in the drill, and either build a quick-and-dirty router frame, or, for something as small as 20cm, duct tape the drill to a shelf and move the workpiece underneath it.

Or, I have this one...it's a Dremel bit, almost exactly 3mm...I could try to convince my dad to part with it for a while, if you could wait a week or two for postage and promised to send it back...Sorry about the image quality, the real camera is out of town today so my webcam was called in....


Move the wood! Why didn't I think of that?? No need to send the bit (thanks for the offer, though) - I can stretch to a pound or two for a router bit for my rotary tool.

It takes a genius to think of these things...Or someone who is too lazy to buid a frame for the drill...

Seems to me I've seen drill bits that cut sideways--with alternating ridges on the shaft of the bit. I don't know if they're for wood or metal, though.

Hmmm. A jr hacksaw sounds a bit like a coping saw. A coping saw is probably cheaper than a fancy drill bit, anyway...

It's only vaguely similar (see this image)

I think I may have to invest in a router after all...

Oh, and in addition to my previous post: My material of choice would be Masonite, which you probably know as hardboard. My second choice would be, as John Smith said, MDF, which is very similar.

Dremel tool with a router attachment and base. If you don't have one, you could borrow it or maybe even rent one. MDF, I would think.