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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry for asking so many questions, but I have a couple re: routers.

1. I have a fixed router with small table that works nice for trime and stuff, but I understand that a plunge router would also sometimes come in useful. For instance, in building a wood warehouse, the sides could be routed to give the impression of vertical planking. I was thinking of mass-producing some parts for 7/8 rolling stock by designing templates or jigs. Maybe even constructing some rails for it to ride on like they do with CNS (computer controlled ones).


Has anyone tried this and what results?


2. I've been told bigger plunge routers are generally better, but that for small craft projects like we do in large scale, a smaller one, say 1 3/4 HP would work well, especially b/c they weigh less and are more maneuverable and generally, we are doing small projects. Any thoughts?


3. Would it be wise to get a varriable speed controller unit that would allow the fixed-speed router to operate at different speeds. I've heard that lower speeds might be easier on the bits and that at really low speeds you can even cut plastics. Also, the variable speed controller would let you start the unit up slower and then increase speed, saving wear and tear on the motor. Also, the variable speed controller could be used with other power tools like drill press.

4. I've heard you can cut plastic and aluminum, has anyone had success with this?


5. Has anyone made jigs or templates for doing specialized parts, say, in building rolling stock? The only templates online are for stuff for furniture joinery.


well, that's a bunch of questions. Sorry, most of what I found online had to do with making furniture, although one site showed how to make large clock gear for the chain drive types.


Thanks VERY much!
 

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We use 3HP Plunge Routers here at TAP Plastics to route mostly acrylic and polycarbonate. Hitachi, Bosch and Freud all seem to work well. We've been using Freud Routers the most lately. Fairly inexpensive and the bearings seem to last. We use sharp carbide tip router bits manufactured by Whiteside or Bosch and this combination routes the plastic easily. We cut templates out of acrylic for the bearing to ride on. Acrylic templates are easy to make and last a long time.
Russ
 

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Good Morning,


You can cut Aluminum, we mostly use a CNC unit to do the work but with a good template and lots of bees wax (this will screw up the metal for welding) a hand held unit will do it. For operations like rounding over edges standard bits work well, just keep the cuts light. If you are going to be hogging out lots of metal there are bits with special geometry available. We use the ones made by Onsrude. What ever you do the process is loud messy and the chips are hot and go every were.


Phillip 
 

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Some answers from someone who owns five routers for woodworking, but hasn't used them for modelmaking:

1. A plunge router can be useful for certain kinds of work, but generally not essential. For the occasional need, you can usually get by with tilting the router to start the cut. For your example of making siding, I can't see how a plunge router would even be a benefit.


2. Bigger is not always better. A mid-range power router will do everything you need for modelmaking, and more, especially if it has a 1/2" collet (with adapters for smaller shanks). Bigger will be heavier and harder to handle. (My "3 HP" router has spent almost its entire life upside-down under the router table; I use my smaller routers for all handheld work.) A small trim router is often the best choice for delicate work. Decide on how big of bits you want to use, then buy the router to run them. Bosch makes a real nice kit that includes a 1-3/4 HP (?) router with 1/2" collet and interchangeable fixed and plunge bases and it runs like silk. Truly a pleasure to use compared to a low-end router. Other makes in the same price range should give equal satisfaction, so it comes down to which one you like the feel of and other minor factors. I would rank quality over power - a high quality tool has good bearings, a well balanced rotor, a good collet, easy to use depth adjustments.


3. I have an add-on speed control that I use with my big router only when using large diameter bits or routing something that is prone to burning. It's not something I use for slow starts to save wear and tear - yes, the higher end routers have "soft start" built into them, but I wouldn't worry about it for hobby use. You'll be hard-pressed to wear out a pro-quality tool in you lifetime using it for hobby work. The contols only work on "universal" motors (brush type); it's unlikely that is what your drill press has on it. The drill press motor is probably an "induction" motor. You need expensive variable frequency drives to do speed control on induction motors.


4. Yes.

5. Making custom-purpose jigs for routing is a normal part of woodworking. In fact, I'm doing that right now for a table project to create details on duplicates of legs. You're only limited by your creativity. You can use flush trim bits with bearings either above or below the cutting portion, or guide bushings and bits of any shape.


Jim McKim
 

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The cnc is defetnately the best way to go, they can do very small cuts with very small bits, you can use a small router because you can make the router go down just a few thousanths at a time, which allows cutting some real small parts.
Another router great for jig work is the Onsrud inverted pin router, it is 2nd best to a cnc router, they are both expensive, I know where there is a used inverted pin router,
Good luck
Dennis
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the tips! Now I am going to order a smaller router that takes 1/2" bit and smaller collets and try out some projects. Eventually, I'll post a few and if I screw up, I'll post that too.
 

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I have a PC 3 1/4 hp with variable speed. I made a jig to do clapboards. Too hard to explain but its like a rip fence. The concept is similair to making box joints. You pass a 2 1/2 inch wide board over the jig clamped to the router table, then set it on the jig again but it is now moved to the left one increment. Once all the cuts are made rip the board to 1/16 thick. It kind of worked. Needed to buy a bottom cleaning mortising bit.
 

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This is the latest and greatest router in my aresenal: http://tinyurl.com/dfje8s
(Bosch 1617EVSPKBP 2.25 Combination Plunge and Fixed Base Router with Bonus Pack)
It's got yer variable speed, yer plunge base, yer 1/2" collet with adapters for 1/4" and 3/8" bits, yer dust collector port, yer edge guide, . . .


The strongest contender (in my mind) in the competition when I was buying was this one: http://tinyurl.com/ddcca5 (Porter-Cable 693LRPK 1-3/4 HP Fixed Router and Plunge Base Kit)

One advantage of the P-C is that it takes the near-"industry-standard" excellent P-C guide bushings directly. With the Bosch, you can buy an adapter that allows you to use P-C guide bushings on it.


The irony of my posts is that I actually dislike using routers. I was going to write "hate", but my feelings diminished somewhat after getting the Bosch, which is so much better than my old 1 HP Craftsman routers. So much smoother and quieter, it almost makes the operation a pleasure. I much prefer working with hand tools when I can to get the job done. By the time I put on a dust mask, safety glasses and ear muffs for the router, I feel quite disconnected from the wood.

Jim McKim
 

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I'll second the Bosch 1617EVS. Very smooth operation/plunging. VERY accurate plunge depth adjustment. The company used to run an ad (may still for all I know) where they show the router cutting through a sheet of paper on top of a table. I've actually done something similar (cutting through the paper on a piece of acrylic just to see if I could.... I did !
)

Last time I checked the kit (plunge and fixed base) was around $185USD mail-order from various places.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks for routing me in the right direction.

Jim,

I wear earplugs and take my fixed router outside.

Bill,

that's absolutely nuts; paper!
 

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To answer question 5, absolutely. A while back I made a fleet of narrow gauge rolling stock using jigs.

http://www.mylargescale.com/Community/ForumArchives/tabid/100/Default.aspx?TOPIC_ID=46852

I did not use a router for any of this, but I imagine a jig on a router table would serve the same function as the planer I used to smooth the stock.

The same kind of feather boards used on a table saw work great on the router table.


I rarely use the plunge router, except for mortise and tenon on furniture. For our kind of work, they are not worth the investment.
 

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If you were to use alot of a particular sized doors or windows, like a Grandt Line product, a router is handy. A pattern for the openning is made then clamped to the plywood, by usinga bushing guide or
pattern makers bit, consistant opennings can be cut. I've also done this type of stuff with a flsh cutting bit but the bearing is at the bottom if the bit instead of the top like a pattern bit.
 

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With the exception of the keyed dove tail top, I cut all these joints (its mortised and tendoned) with 2 different routers. One was an old craftsman 1 1/2 hp router fixed to a table top with a bearing on it for the cloud detail on the rails, and the other was a 2 1/4 Hitachi plunge router for the mortise and tendons. The keys for the dove tails and the dovetails were cut on a table saw.
I also rounded all the edges with an 1/8" round over mounted on the craftsman, because it was smaller and easier to handle for that operation, although I admit it would have been easier to set the depth if it was a plunge rounter.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Bob, I've gone thru your photos and indeed that looks like a good candidate; interestingly, a round tank car could even be made using a router (vice a lathe).

Also, nice work, RK

Anyway, I did purchase a plunge router but ironically, found another use for it. I've put train projects on hold while installing a wood floor. I made a mistake on one of the pieces and routed around the L-cleat (nail) that was sunken in in order to extract it.

Rather than spending money/time to take a class, I'm going thru some helpful videos: http://www.woodworkingonline.com/category/podcast/

Again, it will be a while, but once I get going on projects, similar to RK's mass production assembly of tank cars (what a great idea!), I'll post. I'm working in 7/8 scale.
 
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