Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Reflecting on the World of Railways virtual exhibition




"Proper" exhibitions may be gone for a while yet, but we can have the next best thing; as witnessed during both the fantastic virtual RMweb SWAG "do" back in April, and the equally superb World of Railways Virtual Exhibition from the weekend just gone. 
We all know the far-reaching effects that lockdown has had for us in 2020, and not being able to attend model railway shows may seem like an utterly trivial matter in comparison; but the truth is, these are the only times I really get outside of the house (notwithstanding the odd shopping trip). I'm really not a social person (that much is probably obvious!), but despite that, being at shows filled with likeminded people and examples of superb modelling are probably the highlights of every year for me.

OK, so virtual exhibitions don't really give us an opportunity for face-to-face socialisation, but when you have such fantastic layouts, videos, photos, and interviews... well, it's really easy to get completely absorbed by the content and completely forget that you're missing out on socialisation.



The World of Railways Virtual Exhibition

    Where to begin? Well, the start, obviously, and what a start it was. 20 layouts of perhaps the highest calibre. In fact, they're all so good that I genuinely struggled to choose even the top 5 among them. I obviously have a soft spot for southern region layouts, but holy cow, when modelling is this good, any natural pre-judgement flies completely out of the window! The only downside is that because it's a virtual exhibition; I don't have any photos to show...

The Layouts


    I could write a very long list of things I love about all 20 layouts, but you'd never read it all, so I'll tentatively pick my personal favourites, with the disclaimer that any not mentioned need not feel any less worthy of my admiration. What's surprising is that only one I've seen in any capacity before: The Clydach Railway.
The first layout you were greeted by was Worlds End (by Pete Goss). The sheer architectural craftmanship of the buildings is pretty incredible; I do love architecture, but I don't think I'd be much less impressed if I didn't care for the subject at all. The windows alone are so well modelled, but add the colouring and complexity of the stonework on the viaduct to the mix, and it makes me wonder...just... how?! How on earth is it so near-perfect? The attention to detail is nuts; I can see why it took 18 months alone to build the viaduct.

Then there's obviously a slice of southern joy for me; Sidmouth (by Richard Harper). If the setting wasn't enough for me, like Worlds End, there's a lot of exceptional architectural work and attention to detail. The weathering is also spot on; subtle, but look from a low angle, and you'd have a hard job to tell that it was a model! The roads and groundwork are also particularly nicely observed, and the trackwork is... well, quite remarkable.

We now move on to the quite frankly jaw-droppingly complex Penmaenpool (by Geoff Taylor); a rabbit warren it may be, but I've never seen a layout so huge look this harmoniously well-modelled in my life (and that's not an exaggeration!); it's stunningly picturesque, too. I'd love to see this particular layout "in the flesh", so to speak. And as for the cab ride? Well, I was utterly spellbound the whole way through. What's more surprising is that the scenic side(s) of the layout feel so spacious, and aren't crammed with track, yet they are interlinked by an immensely complex series of non-scenic loops, storage sidings, junctions... you name it!

Being a man with 3 layouts featuring 009 (OK, so 2 are little more than baseboards, track, and basic scenery, but that's by-the-by...), I can't help but be overjoyed at the sight of the Clydach Railway (by Richard Holder). What originally drew me to the layout was the photographic backscene, and I can only imagine what a headache it must've been to get it to match the scenery so perfectly. Shots where you look dead-on at the background are especially convincing. It's the sort of layout I wish I had room to build, and I would imagine it must be a joy to be able to watch two trains traverse the various gradients, the viaduct, and then pass each other at the stations. I'm very jealous!

Finally, another "Holy cow!" goes to Bournemouth West (by Roger Sunderland). Yes, again, it's southern so of course I'm going to be slightly biased; but just look at it! The trackwork is impressive for starters. The smooth-running, smoke-emitting, nicely-weathered stock is another huge plus. The buildings are again fantastic, but it's the operation that astounds me the most; you don't see many layouts that have a station pilot, as well as a timetable so hectic that it requires absolute precision and teamwork from the operators. Oh, and then there's the beautifully bouncy signals; what a nice touch!

The Rest


You will (probably joyously) realise that this segment is short; truth be told as I was editing the whole time whilst the show was on, I didn't actually get around to watching much past the layouts; certainly none of the trade videos, and only a handful of the interviews...but...
For me, especially now that I've made 3 dioramas for BRM and know just how much time, effort, and complexity that building, filming, editing, and presenting such a project takes; the feature (or should that be 11 or 12 features!) I enjoyed most was of course Phil Parker's layout build, Ferness Quay. I genuinely doubt the vast of majority know just how much effort that project took; I can tell you, it's way more than you'd expect! Here's the thing though, not only has he made a really informative set of videos, he's ended up with a really well-modelled layout, whilst also providing plenty of humour (for starters, I hope you spotted the two Loch Ness Monsters!).

That said, the interviews that I watched were also really interesting, and there are several more that I should probably be watching now instead of writing here! The "Highley Detailed" video was also very entertaining and filmed really well; and I think it's a really good idea to get people to take a closer at the real world around them, and give them ideas as to how they can model it.

Oh, and of course the puzzles and spot the difference images were also fun, even if I never found that missing downpipe on Worlds End! For this spot the difference, "Worlds End" may be a bit of an over-the-top name, but "Wits End" might be more suitable!

Attending as an "exhibitor"


Producing a video (or 5; OK, so only 3 got shown, but...)

Having produced a couple of videos for the SWAG virtual show in April, and three dioramas for BRM in the past year, I was asked if I could contribute a video for the show. Usually, I produce a video to go alongside each diorama build solely for BRM readers, but I hadn't quite finished the last (a farm) diorama, so it was a mad rush not only to finish the diorama, but also to film and edit the video! This actually took the best part of a week to film, despite being only 12 mins or so long; due to noisy neighbours, unexpected visitors, horrendously hot weather, and also continually cocking up lines! (Whilst I do write scripts, I never read directly from them as it will just sound unnatural; and my memory is not particularly good at the best of times!)



In any case, I decided to produce a much-extended video for the show; mostly because viewers would have absolutely no context as they won't have read the article (which will appear in the September BRM, by the way!). What I didn't realise at the time is that the video I made for the construction site diorama (appearing in the August BRM) would also be shown, but to be honest I think the farm diorama needs far more explanation due to the variety of features it has; so it worked out well in the end.

As for the 3rd video, well that was a blooper reel, which you can find here:

(You can tell that at some points I was getting pretty tired of making mistakes!)

(...the other 2 videos should be useful, and will be debuted soon!)

A couple of days before the virtual show, I realised that I could probably make a couple of videos on layout photography; I must've been crazy to attempt to in such short notice; and in the end I got 7 hours sleep in 2 nights and worked on the edits from 9am - 3am both days! Needless to say, I missed out on uploading in time for the show by a few hours, but they will be shown hopefully soon by BRM. If nothing else, I'll upload them via this blog, and/or my RMweb blog in due course.

 



 Anyway, whilst no expert on photography, I think a lot of people would find at least some of the tips useful to some degree. One video focuses on the steps from start to finish of taking photos (including useful equipment and how to get the best out of it, composition, and talking/demonstrating lighting techniques), whilst the second shows how to take these photos and perform a few very basic edits with free software. Oh, as well as how to stack these photos to form maximum depth of field; again, with free software!

So, there we have it, yet another thoroughly enjoyable virtual exhibition; especially as we get to see layouts that would never make it to any exhibitions given their size/location. The interviews and practicals were also something totally different, and very interesting indeed.
Finally, I really hope people enjoyed my videos, and if you want to find out more about those two dioramas, they will be making their appearances as "How-to" features in BRM very soon:

Construction Site Diorama - August BRM
Farm Diorama - September BRM

Got any questions/comments? - Feel free to leave them either below, or over on RMweb!

Monday, 25 May 2020

Designing a Diesel (& Why I've Never Built a Locomotive!)

Designing a narrow gauge diesel

Regular followers of my modelmaking will know that I'm not one for collecting rolling stock; especially not locomotives. Buying good quality locomotives costs a lot of money (thus I only have two!), and the thought of making my own makes me shiver with dread!

The story of my desire for a new diesel loco began as early as 2008 as I needed a loco for the second version of my first proper layout; Calshot. With some trepidation, I decided to purchase a Knightwing kit (You know; the industrial diesel shunter that seemingly everyone kit-bashed at the time). I also had a donor chassis in the form of an N gauge M7. Long story short, the kit was hacked about, never finished, and the chassis was not a good runner, so it remains abandoned to this day. Around the same time, a friend of mine kindly made not one, but two locomotives for me; a Tin Turtle on a tiny Japanese chassis, and a Decauville locomotive that ran on an N gauge Castle chassis that I also had to hand from my brief fling with N gauge. The Tin Turtle still runs well (albeit at the speed of light), but sadly, the steam loco never got fitted with couplings (see a common theme?!) and also didn't run from day one (as far as I remember, anyway). Presumably as it no longer had a tender to help with pick-ups, but I've never really given it a second look!

By now you're probably getting the picture that I avoid anything to do with locomotive building/fiddling!

The story doesn't stop there though. Back in May 2015, as per usual, we held our annual model railway and steam show in our village. I took along Old AGWI Rd, which was in very early stages (just a baseboard and track, with paper mock-ups; so actually the same as today!). The show went well, until my prized Lilliput HOe diesel shunter suddenly stopped working; never to work again. Surprise, surprise, it still sits to this day; abandoned in the same box as the steam loco.

Fast forward to December of last year, and I found my Kato chassis that I had stashed away, and found myself dreaming of a diesel loco. I doubt it will even run as nicely as the Lilliput one did, but something is better than nothing! Anyway, I guessed dimensions, and after a pleasant evening of 3D modelling I came up with a Mk1 version:

MkI


Inspiration was garnered from multiple places, although I suspect mostly from the broken bits of the Knightwing kit that I still had lying around. That gave me some basic dimensions to work from at least, although obviously it would need to be narrower compared to the standard kit. I suppose it's almost a little Ruston-esque, too.

MkII


The MkII version soon followed, with multiple changes apparent. The most obvious one is the extra "wings" on the front, which I had seen on a locomotive somewhere and really liked the look of it. Alas I cannot remember what it was on or where I found it as that was 5 months ago now! In any case, other changes are the reduction of height of the main windows to keep it in better proportion, and the replacement of the engine doors with louvred panels.

MkIII


The MkIII version was due to be the final design, but as with all "final designs"... it wasn't final! Changes from the MkII version are that the window surrounds are now painted in a dark grey to match the running plate, and the cabside porthole windows replaced with more utilitarian square windows. And as for why it was not to be the final version, take a look at the image above again; see the black line on the right hand side? That's how long the Kato chassis is; I can only assume that I never thought to measure it before for some reason!


MkIV


Which brings us onto the MkIV version, designed today. Note how upon realising I had seriously misjudged the length of the chassis, I opted for an off-centre cab design to accomodate an extra rear bonnet. This actually isn't far from the original diesel that I had tried to kitbash from the Knightwing kit!


Aside from being that bit longer, the engine bay doors have also been redesigned. I went through about four versions before settling on these really simple ones. I initially used the same louvres as on MkIII; but even if I could physically produce such louvres, the thought of making 12 panels really put me off! Having searched the internet, I found a nice and simple design based on a diesel that once worked Java's Sugar Mills (see the penultimate photo on that page); simply 6 holes on the covers. Assuming I can find some fine enough, I'll be adding mesh behind them as I would for the radiator covers.



The question now is; Will it ever get built?!
I can't possibly answer that, but I have at least got the running plate cut and fitted...

...but before I go, here's a final image of the four versions:


Strictly speaking, there have been more than these 4 variations shown, but it gives a good overview of the design process I think. I'd love to know your thoughts on the design, and what you would change, add, or otherwise improve upon. I'm very much new to this!

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Tiny Houses, Magazine Features, & Fun in Lockdown!

You could easily be forgiven for thinking that I haven't done anything since I disappeared back in January! That's not actually the case, although personal modelmaking has taken a complete backseat. As such, this will be a very rare occassion where I give a general update post. Usually I don't post unless I have something to show about a layout, but after 5 months of silence, I think it's about time I showed something off!

Tiny Houses

First up, I'm going to briefly introduce you all to another one of my hobbies/interests; designing tiny houses.

To cut a long story short, I'm absolutely enthralled with the idea of living in a tiny house. Perhaps that's due to me not earning a living wage, or having a love for small rooms with low ceilings (I've no idea why!), or wanting to build my own place, or likely a combination of all those factors! I also quite enjoy architecture, so I guess it all adds up to the perfect solution to me. The only problem are the strict planning rules which practically prohibit tiny houses in the UK. But if you really want an in-depth article about this, there's this one on my website!

In any case, I produced two tiny house designs purely built with my needs and desires in mind. If that sounds like something you'd be intrigued about, it's all on my website: Tiny House 1 | Tiny House 2
Here's a preview of the 2nd (which I feel is pretty close to my dream!):


My blog used to have over a dozen tiny house designs, but I decided to code my own website from scatch as I couldn't get Squarespace (my old website host/template service) to play ball in the way that I wanted. As such, every single entry needs not only to be added, but coded; this takes a hell of a long time, as you'd imagine! That said, feel free to pop by my website every few months.

Magazine Features

So aside from that, what have I been up to? Well, mainly working on a second diorama commission for BRM. The issue is that it takes me at least twice as long to do something, as it does anyone else; not helped by my desire to always go the extra mile. I suppose each diorama should only take a solid week of work, but this turns into months with me! That's not to say I don't enjoy building them, quite the opposite in fact. Though it does make me wonder if I should make them simpler, and thus easier to boil down to 30 steps when it comes to writing the article...

...anyway, the diorama is pencilled in for the August edition of BRM; so keep your eyes open! I'd love to hear what you all think of it when the article is published, and I'm always happy to answer any questions.

Currently, I've moved onto the third diorama for BRM; although I "only" have until the end of June with this one, so I'm hoping it'll motivate me to be a bit quicker! I'll likely post about both dioramas when each article is released, so until then, I'm afraid I'll have to be a tease...


That said, one article that has made it onto the shelves as of Thursday was Sandy Shores' appearance in Railway Modeller. Two double-page spreads were dedicated to the layout, and despite being called James a couple of times (fun fact - I was apparently originally going to be called James!), I think its been really well presented; so kudos to Andrew Burnham for the excellent photos (which he took at ExpoNG last year), and the rest of the Peco team! Compared to the how-to style of Sandy Shores' first appearance (in Aug '19 BRM), this is a more traditional layout article; so if you want a brief synopsis of the layout along with some lovely photos, do grab yourself a copy!

As far as I can work out, it's only available in newsagents/some supermarkets. There is of course the digital version for those that don't mind not having a physical copy!

Fun in Lockdown

It's not easy to gloss over the ongoing pandemic and it's effects. Even the comparatively minor knockback of every exhibition being cancelled seems like a huge blow. But there is a way to help fill the void, and the community of RMweb stepped up to the plate on the 26th April. This is traditionally a small member's day held near Taunton, and is always a high-quality and friendly event; in fact, the most laid-back and enjoyable one you could ever hope to go to.

Anyway, Andy, Phil, and Stu put a huge amount of effort into setting up the virtual event, with money raised from a raffle and virtual cake sale going to NHS Charities Together. It was a total success, raising over £7500; an incredible result!

The virtual show featured:


As well as a few other threads, all of which can be found here.

I spent a few days preparing for the virtual exhibition, and produced a 5 minute parody look at what it's like to set-up for the show. It's even been called "really funny", which is great; because we all need a little comic relief right now!


It would probably be best to watch it directly on Youtube!

I then set about producing a poem against some of Andy York's photos, as well as a video of the layout working. All of which can be found in this post. Here's a taster:


There we have it; a catch up from the last few months. Hopefully you enjoyed this update format, even if I don't plan on doing it very often! If anyone has any comments or questions; do post them below.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Sandy Shores - Layout Box Construction (5)


The layout box is now pretty much complete (excluding something to help keep the layout in place, and maybe some sort of latch to ensure the lid doesn't lift unintentionally). Let's jump straight to it...



Above: The final bit of painting was completed yesterday; all exterior faces had their 2nd coat of paint on (1), which enabled me to start gluing it all together. Unfortunately, things didn't out to be so simple, and as photo (2) shows, my Dad kindly planed 6mm of paint off of the edges; as the paint added enough thickness to stop the components sitting in their rebates. Eventually, the main shell and shelf was glued in place, and clamped up overnight (3). We initially had a little trouble lining up the rebates for the shelf to sit into; however, once the rear was clamped, it pulled everything into place nicely.


Above: This mornings first job was to glue and screw the castor wheels and associated blocks onto the bottom. Photo (1) shows as I line up the castors so that they lie flush on one edge. Holes were then drilled, 4 of which were also countersunk so that the screws don't interfere with the castor wheel base (2). It was then glued in place (3)...


...before being screwed as well (1). The castor wheels could then be screwed on; due to the screws being thin enough to fit entirely through the holes, washers were used to enable it to be screwed in place (2).


Above: Attention then turned to the sliding handle. In order to keep it relatively smooth in operation, I decided to fabricate some simple spacers (1) (just plasticard with holes drilled in them) to fit under the crossbars (2).


Above: The handle itself could then be assembled (I can't remember if I showed it, but the sides have circular rebates, into which the handle (part of an old outdoor chair saved from the offcut bin!) sits), and the handle itself was glued and also screwed in place (1). Note that the screw has been countersunk so that it doesn't stick out and catch on the sides. The other end of the handle had its PSE bar also glued and screwed in (again countersunk) (2).


Above: The three crossbars were then screwed in place. I actually diverted from my original design where the handle was pegged into its two positions. Instead, I've simplified it by locating the crossbars in specific places, which automatically lock the handle in its two positions. Hard to explain, easy to look at how it's done in the photo! The two crossbars screwed to the main box act as the limits of travel for the centre crossbar, which is screwed to the handle.


Above: All that was left to do was to secure the life-up lid in place. Here's a before (1), and an after (2). Nothing complicated, just two standard hinges screwed in place. In hindsight, it might be better to have two strips of wood to locate the hinges on top of, as I had to use some really short screws; so the strength may not be up to required standards...


Above: Which leaves us with just one more thing to do; test it out! To do that, it was time to fit the 4 mini castors onto the bottom of the layout, and put the box to use. As you can see, both parts fit in with millimetres to spare - perfect! All that's left is to find something to secure the layout to.

The box weighs a staggering 34.9kg, and with the layout and trolley etc in, it probably is approaching 60kg (a few kg more than my weight!). As such, the MDF obviously wasn't the right choice here, but it is what it is, and I have a very cunning plan of how to get the box in the car... more on that in the next blog entry!

Friday, 3 January 2020

Sandy Shores - Layout Box Construction (4)

After a helpful suggestion on NGRM by Michael Campbell, todays first task was to cut out some of the shelf, to help keep what will be a rather heavy box a little bit lighter! I suspect most people would expect me to have cut out a large number of circles, but now that I have the router bug, I figured it would be quicker and more effective to cut out large rectangular holes. I was a little worried whether I had taken off too much, but it still seems to have maintained structural integrity.

The outer holes are 150mm in from the end, and each hole is 100mm wide (excluding the centre one which is only 30mm wide). They are mostly spaced 100mm apart, aside from the centre one, but are all 300mm long. If I made them any longer, the castor wheels on the narrow end of the trolley (that will slide in on top) would fall in the holes!


Above: The method or cutting them out was simple. Photo (1) shows each long side of the holes having been routered out (using the yellow spirit level as a guide for the router). Photos (2) and (3) show that I clamped a long spirit level so that I could do all the short ends in one go. This bit was done in a matter of about 5 mins or less. Photo (4) obviously shows the end result.

Amazingly, the weather stayed dry all day, which meant I could crack on with painting the MDF box components in primer... and crack on I did! I actually managed to get almost all of it done; two coats on one side of every component, and one coat on the other. Some edges also had two coats on, and the rest had one. This means that theoretically I could finish the whole thing by the end of tomorrow.



Above: Believe it or not, I had never used a paint roller before; quite sad given that I'm in my mid 20s! Still, it was very easy, and ideal for these large components; I certainly wouldn't want to do all this with just a brush - I did that with the trolley and that took 8 hours!


Above: By 7pm (after an hour break for dinner), I had got about as far as I possibly could; the holes in the shelf will need another layer of primer, but as mentioned earlier, the vast majority of the painting is now done.

I did plan on building the handle assembly, but I didn't quite get around to it; that's what happens when you more or less spend from midday to 7pm painting!

And there we have it, ready for some more painting, and hopefully final assembly tomorrow!

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Sandy Shores - Layout Box Construction (3)


Just a short one for today; as due to the inclement weather, I was unable to make a start on priming the MDF. That said, I did make some progress, including some minor adjustments to the box for Sandy Shores. The first thing to do today was a dry-run of the box assembly:


Above: To my surprise, almost everything fit as it should; the two exceptions being the bottom, and the shelf as shown here. The former was 4mm too long (it's actually made of two parts to save cutting into a 3rd full sheet; the second bit can be seen in the foreground), and the shelf was only 2mm out. Both were attacked with the Skilsaw, and their edges trimmed to size.


Above: The test fit of the lift-up lid shows that it fits perfectly; all 4 parts interlock as they should, and they sit squarely in the rebate on the side panel.


Above: After a brief discussion with my Dad, we came to the conclusion that it would make more sense to assemble the lid, and a few other parts, before priming. Here, the lid is being glued, and clamps are being put on. It was important to make sure it clamped square, so every joint was checked.


Above: I also glued the handle supports onto the side panels, and clamped them up to cure.


Above
: You may remember that the original design had the castor wheels attached to an angled cut of two PSE softwood lengths. I decided to simplify this by instead cutting out four MDF risers for them to be screwed to instead. These were glued, and have also been left to cure overnight.

I did start late today, so I didn't get much else done, but I did cut out some other components; I decided that the handle would need additional supports and crossmembers, so these were cut out of PSE/6mm plywood. This means the handle assembly can be glued/screwed tomorrow (once I've checked I've got all the dimensions right).

I'm planning to prime all the interior faces first, then glue the main shell together, before priming the outside faces after the whole lot has been assembled. Whilst the paint is quick dry, and the weather looks decent(ish) tomorrow, I don't know if I'll get it all done in one day... we'll see!

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Sandy Shores - Layout Box Construction (2)

Yesterday, I showed how using a Skilsaw, whilst taking time to set up, saves a lot more time and effort when you need to cut out components. Well today, it was time to machine the components; and this is another case where one tool makes this easy-peasy (with a bit of practice, of course). The router takes about the same amount of set-up as the Skilsaw, and indeed much of the process is the same. I'll be honest and say that this would be much easier to show in a video, than it is to explain it; so I hope you can all follow along!


Above: An annotated montage of the front and back of the router, highlighting the various parts that will be referenced throughout this post


AboveDepending on the size of the shank of the router bit, you might need to exchange collets. (I realise at the time of writing this that showing step 3 first would make more sense, sorry!) This is done by pulling out the collet (1), and popping the correct sized one in its place. It'll click into position when it is in correctly. Then go ahead and insert the router bit into the collet (2), and then screw the whole assembly onto the router itself. Hold down the button that locks the spindle in place, and use the appropriate sized spanner to fasten (3). Note that when screwing/unscrewing the nut, it will appear to initially tighten, before loosening, then tightening fully. I believe this is due to the way the collet clamps onto the router bit; so make sure you have tightened it fully before using the router.


Above: For machining rebates that are reasonably close to the edge of components, it's easier to use the guide that should come with the router. Follow the instructions to put it together, then inset it into the router frame as the photo shows.

Above: I've annotated a couple notes to help you identify the parts to the guide. The screws (all 5 of them) hold the guide together, but I only adjust the 3 on the router itself. You can also use the wheel on the left to make minor adjustments, but I don't bother using it, as it's just as easy to undo the three screws and nudge the guide by hand.



Above: If you're not using the guide (i.e. for rebates far from the edge), you'll need to measure the distance from the closest point of the cutting bit, to the flat edge of the router base, so that you can use it to clamp a straight edge to use as a guide (as we did with the Skilsaw yesterday).


 Above: This photo shows how careful you need to be when measuring; router bits like this will have only two points where it is at its widest. Rotate the bit by hand (making sure your hand is nowhere near the on switch (or be safe, and unplug it!)), until the cutting edge is against the waste side of the line.

 Above: Now we can set the depth of the cutter. On the left you'll see the mark which dictates the depth of the rebate required. Lock the router height at this point (see "depth locking lever" on the first photo), then set the depth limiter. This is done by undoing the knob (in front of the measure on the router, right photo), then rotating the wheel where my hand is, which will drop the metal stopper (under the measure) until it hits the base plate. Fasten the black knob, and your max depth will be set. Don't forget to unlock the depth locking lever on the other side to raise the router back up; ready for use!



Above: As with the Skilsaw, it's a good idea to do a quick test "plunge". Again, I am half a millimetre out here, so the guide will need to be slightly adjusted.


Above: We can now go ahead and clamp the component down (with a spare bit of wood underneath, to keep the router guide from hitting the trestles). Routering is best done in 2mm or so depth increments; especially for materials like plywood, you will not want to try and take the full depth out in one go. You'll potentially damage the bit, plywood, or router if you do! Don't forget that you can use the locking lever to set the depth of the cut at the various heights; I always use it for the final full-depth pass, but I don't often bother in the interim increments. This only slows me down (and the lever can be difficult to release without accidentally moving the router mid-cut). Usually it's not too difficult to maintain an even enough pressure to keep the cutter at a set depth.


Above & below: It wasn't just straight cutters that I used for the box; I also used this rounding cutter. This will enable the lid to drop down without binding on the box itself. The result is shown below.


And there we have it; another 5 hours total for all the machining. You'll get quicker and quicker as you get used to routing; I haven't done a lot, which is why it took so long. By the end, I was getting a lot faster. It helps that all the cuts are at 6mm depth, so I only had to adjust this when changing bits.

Anyway, tomorrow will see my doing a test fit, and weather depending, I will try and apply some MDF primer to all of the components. Another couple of days and we should have our finished box!

Oh, and before I forget; Happy New Year to all readers!