Way back in the day when I first got a router it was as a gift from work. I didn’t really have the cash available to buy a router table for it so I did the next best thing… I made one for myself. Between an article talking about how to make your own router plates to memories of Dad’s router set up I figured I could give it a go. The result wasn’t pretty, not by a long shot, but it was reasonably functional. When I used it there was initially a sense of pride in using my own creation to create other things…
After a while it transformed into frustration over the imperfections caused by the flaws of my design. It wasn’t easy to set up and adjust. The screws weren’t perfectly flush which led to scratching on the surface which in turn caused more sanding. The lines and angles were close, but needed a lot of love from my sander to get them looking balanced. Heck, the lack of safety features even caused the worst woodworking injury I’ve ever had. If you ever need to measure something to see if it is truly 3/8″ just use the palm of my right hand to see if the scar is the same size.
The situation I was in forced me to improvise and use ingenuity to figure out how to create a workable router table. In doing so I learned several new skills I may not have picked up before. There were many lessons in how a router works as well which has helped me use this tool in different ways.
Fast forward to tonight. I had some work to do on a few projects and the next steps involved the router. From past experience I was looking at 45-60 minutes per item based on what I needed to do with each, a total of approximately two and a half hours. After a bit of hesitation I ran to Menards and finally bought myself a router table. I cringed at the price and almost changed my mind, but in the end I ended up with something like this in my workshop:
Gavin came upstairs to help me set it up and make sure it was ready. We then proceeded to finish all three projects within 15 minutes! How wild is that? From two and a half hours to 15 minutes – all thanks to using the right tool for the job.
This interesting dichotomy wasn’t lost on me as I wrapped up my work on the projects tonight. The forced ingenuity helped me find my own way, to learn more about the process, and led to one sense of accomplishment. Using the right tool made life so much easier and helped me get more of the one resource I can never replace – time. There was a different sense of accomplishment in knowing I would be able to produce so much more thanks to the time savings and my work would look so much better.
Today I’m grateful for both sides of the coin – forced ingenuity AND the right tool for the job.