Monday, September 1, 2008

Access Plates on the Feet

Check this ILM R2 picture: Here's the biggest challenge I have for the last couple of weeks. On all of the feet, there are access panels cut out in trapezoids on the sides.

Some people cut these out with Dremel tools, I guess. I tried and tried but could not find a reliable, or effective way to do this with a Dremel. I guarantee that if you try to freehand this channel, you will not be able to stay in the lines and you'll end up with a butchered piece. So I have been puzzling over how to set up some kind of jig to do this cleanly.

My other challenge was that I don't want to cut all the way through on this. I don't see the need, and too many of these doors look like crap when people try to get them fastened back on. Even the ILM R2 looks like hell.

And while I'm on the subject, have you noticed how completely beat to shit all of these real R2s are? What did they do, kick them down the stairs? I guess that's just the wear and tear of 25 years in some cases and the abuses of a movie set, but jeez. It's making me cringe looking at the chipped paint job, dents, and all. And it kind of seems like they did a crumby job on the paint. I guess there aren't any shots in the movies that scrutinize them as closely as we're doing here.

So here's my clever ( or at least I think it is clever) solution. I carefully drew up the foot side wall on a piece of 1/4" hard board. When the 1/8" bit is in there, the edge of the my router plate is 2.82 inches out. So to rout the channel, I needed a template that was 2.82 inches bigger in all dimensions than the actual size of the channel. So I drew that onto the hardboard around the drawing of the side. Then I cut that out. And notice in this picture that to get the router bit to turn the .625 " radius curve in the corners of the channel, I had to draw a .625 + 2.82" radius curve.

Once I had that bigger trapezoid with curved corners drawn, I cut it out on the bandsaw (to cut an interior piece out like this I just cut through the edge--it won't matter on the finished template. Then I glued that cut out piece onto another piece of hardboard. So there's a lip for the router plate to rest against and when you run the router around it, the cut comes out to be exactly the shape of the channel. Cool huh?

I carefully screwed the template directly onto the sides of the center foot, took a deep breath and checked everything again, and then router out the channel. I'm pretty happy with the results:

There's one flat spot on the lower right corner, but I think I know how to fix that by smoothing out the curve on the template. Given how hard this cut is, I am happy with the results. Now that I know how to do it, I'll cut out a similar template for the channel on the outsides of the outer feet. Once the hole is cut, but before I attach it to another piece of hardboard, I can run a file around the inside edge and make a nice smooth surface for the router plate to glide along. Once these surfaces are sanded, primed, and painted, I think the results will be really nice.

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