WoodCraft Projects - The Bird Ornament Patterns

by Dexter Hansen

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Finger Guard

[For use if using a router in a router table to route edges of Bird Body's]

Important:  Read the Warning before even considering making this tooling!

Warning:  Using a router to radius edges of small parts is neither a good practice or recommended.  The author makes no claims concerning the design or use of this guard.  This is a design for a guard that was made and used for making the bird patterns shown on this web site.  Use of a router without extreme care can cause the router to shorten your fingers very quickly.  This guard was made after the need was made clear through actual experience.  In other words, the router took of the tip of a finger and it is not a fun experience!


Reading the warning above should be an introduction enough as to why this fixture was designed.  This fixture has worked well for radiusing the edges of the bird body's shown on this web site.  Making and using this fixture is at your own risk.  I personally recommend using a soft wood, sand paper (lots of it) and plenty of elbow grease for radiusing, however, there are people who like and use power tools.  The intent of this pattern is to provide an adequate warning of the dangers and offer a possible solution (that has worked for the author) to finger amputations.

The Concept

The concept is simple.  When trying to route the bird bodies, I found out that hard woods route fairly well, however, soft woods build up pitch on the router bit and grab the piece.  Grabbed pieces spin.  Spinning pieces are a safety hazard and can push a finger into the router bit.  Because most routers are spinning at 25,000 + revolutions per minute (RPM's), it can make short work of a finger tip.  Nothing like a trip to an emergency room to make a fun project a dumb project.

The idea is to put 2 small holes through the body of the bird in an area that will not be visible after the wings are attached.  I use 2 small wood screws that have enough clearance that the heads don't hit when both are screwed into the body.

Because working with a router on a table with small pieces is tricky, mounting the body to a clear lexan sheet allows one to route out the edges and keep the fingers well out of the reach of the bit.  It also allows one to see the piece as it is being routed, provided your router has a light and/or the bulb is not burnt out.


This fixture is made from a 6 inch by 8 inch by 1/8 inch thick piece of polycarbonate plastic.  I recommend POLYCARBONATE.  The trade name is Lexan, though there are other companies besides DuPont making the material.  I also used 4 pieces of 3/4 inch square by 6 inches long pieces of wood near placed about 1/4 inch in from the ends.  I also used 4 wood screws to attach to the sheet.  Substituting any other plastic could be a big mistake.  polycarbonate is also called burglar proof glass.  This material can take a hit on the router bit and only end up with a chew mark.  The only way it will shatter is if you soak it in liquid nitrogen and then drop it.

Plastic Sheet Dimensions

Cut out and drill per this drawing.  Your mounting screw selection will dictate the your mounting screw hole sizes and actual locations.  The mounting screw holes can be chamfered if using wood screws.

Leaxan shield dimensional drawing

Fixture Assembly

Assemble per the drawing below.  Use hardware that will not exceed the materials overall thicknesses.  Counter sinking the holes for putting the wood strips on the ends is recommended.  That way the hardware will be away from the immediate surface and less likely to scratch or catch on the router table.

The wood strips should be pulled in about 1/4 inch from the ends.  This will give an edge to be able to more easily pick up the fixture when done routing.  The strips work best when they are slightly under sized from the thickness of the work piece (the bird body).  By leaving the two sides open, there is enough space for the wood shavings to blow out.

finger guard assembly drawing

Use of the Fixture

1.  Turning the router on and off are not included in these instructions.

2.  Drill 2 each holes into the work piece (the bird body).  The hole should be large enough to accept the screw, but small enough that it won't strip out.

3.  Mount the work piece with two screws.

4.  Put on your safety glasses, start the router and route one side.  Starting from the beak is recommended as there will be less breakage that way.

5.  Remove the work piece/screws, flip 180 degrees and attach to the fixture to the work piece with the screws.

6.  Route the second side.

7.  Remove the piece.

Return to the Bird Ornament Patterns Cover/Index

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Dexter Hansen

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List of Recommended Woodcraft Books.

Scroll Saw Pattern Book by Patrick Spielman, Patricia Spielman (Contributor). Paperback (October 1986)

Scroll Saw Christmas Ornaments by Tom Zieg Paperback - 64 pages (September 2000) Fox Chapel Pub; ISBN: 1565231236 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.21 x 10.94 x 8.52

Band Saw Basics, Mark Duginske, Gene Duginske / Paperback / Published 1990

Band Saw Handbook, Mark Duginske / Paperback / Published 1989

Basic Woodworking (Sunset New Basic), Paperback / Published 1995

Basic Woodworking : Essential Woodworking Skills and Easy-To-Make Projects for the Home and Garden, James Summers, Mark Ramuz / Paperback / Published 1997

100 Keys to Preventing and Fixing Woodworking Mistakes, Alan Bridgewater, Gill Bridgewater / Hardcover / Published 1996

100 Keys to Woodshop Safety, Alan Bridgewater, Gill Bridgewater / Hardcover / Published 1996

101 Weekend Gift Projects from Wood, James A. Jacobson / Paperback / Published 1993

176 Woodworking Projects, Workbench Magazine / Paperback / Published 1987

200 Original Shop Aids and Jigs for Woodworkers, Rosario Capotosto, Michael Capotosto / Paperback / Published 1987

300 Christian and Inspirational Patterns for Scroll Saw Woodworking, Thomas L. Zieg, Tom Zieg / Paperback / Published 1995

50 Wooden Crafts to Make With Kids, Ellen J. Hobart, et al / Paperback / Published 1994

52 Weekend Woodworking Projects, John A. Nelson / Paperback / Published 1991

64 Yard & Garden Projects You Can Build Yourself, Monte Burch / Paperback / Published 1994

64 Yard and Garden Projects You Can Build Yourself,  Monte Burch / Hardcover / Published 1994

Advanced Routing (Art of Woodworking), Hardcover / Published 1995

Advanced Routing : Techniques for Better Woodworking (The Workshop Companion), Nick Engler / Hardcover / Published 1993;

Advanced Woodworking; Edited (Home Repair and Improvement), Hardcover / Published 1989

Adventures in Woodturning : Techniques and Projects, David Springett / Paperback / Published 1995

The American Country Woodworker : 50 Country Accents You Can Build in a Weekend, Michael Dunbar / Hardcover / Published 1993

Applying Finishes : Techniques, Tips, and Problem-Solving Tricks (Woodworking Series , No 3) Vol 1, Bob Flexner / Hardcover / Published 1996

Beds and Bedroom Furniture : The Best of Fine Woodworking (The Best of Fine Woodworking), Paperback / Published 1997

Best of Fine Woodworking : Bench Tools,  Paperback / Published 1990

The Best of Fine Woodworking : Modern Furniture Projects (Best of Fine Woodworking), Dick Burrows (Editor) / Paperback / Published 1991

Didn't find your book? Type in the name of the title or subject to search the Amazon.com selections.


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