If it’s time to purge the scrap bin or you’re just looking for a way to turn your router into Santa’s mechanical elf, here’s a clever little project to try this holiday season. You may have seen “waffle” style trivets before, but we’re giving ours a twist by milling them with a router mounted on a pivoting trammel jig. Stopping the swooping cuts short of the edges of the trivets creates a “captured” one-piece design, or you can rout right through the edges of the blanks and wrap a frame around the routed core as seen on the facing page. I used a 1/2″-diameter spiral bit and 3/4″-wide spacers to form this pattern, but you could certainly experiment with other bits and spacer sizes to produce more unique styles. The only requirement is that the bit be set slightly deeper than half the thickness of the trivet. That way, a series of cuts on both faces opens up the lattice pattern. Once you have the jig built and your blanks made, these trivets are perfect for production-style gift making.
Building the Trammel Jig
The jig is really simple to build. Start with a 22″-square scrap of 3/4″ plywood or MDF, and draw a diagonal line connecting two corners. Cut a 6″-square trammel support from 1/2″ scrap and bisect it with a pencil line. Fasten it to the base with glue and brads so the outermost corners of the support align with the edges of the base and the pencil marks of the two jig parts line up. Now rip a pair of 1/2″ by 2″ fences, cut them to an overall length of 15-5⁄8″ and miter-cut one end of each to 45°.
Butt the fences against the support piece so the tips of the miters touch. Make sure they form a square “pocket” for the trivet blanks to register against before nailing the fences to the jig base.
Line the “field” area inside the fences with sandpaper attached with spray adhesive. Later, this will hold the trivets stationary as you rout them. I left the base’s outer corner bare where the trivets and spacers don’t reach it.