New and Improved Precision Router/Planer Jig

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by old wrench, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I finally got around to assembling my new router/planer jig.

    The plan was floating around in my head for awhile and I began buying the parts I needed a couple of months ago.

    My old jig, which was a pretty simple design, actually nothing more than a couple of aluminum straight-edges fastened to a base with a sliding carrier to hold the router, worked OK, but it wasn't all that accurate since it relied more or less on gravity to hold all of the components together.

    So one of my aims with this version was to couple all of the parts solidly together so there wouldn't be any un-wanted motion in either the horizontal axis, or more importantly, the vertical axis.

    I figured if I could limit all undesired vertical motion it would go a long ways towards helping me to get the flat and smooth finished surfaces that I was looking for.



    IMG_1147.JPG




    IMG_1144.JPG



    In my hunt for suitable components I ended up buy some of the surprisingly inexpensive linear rails and carrier bearings sold on ebay.

    Even though the rails and carriers were relatively cheap (about $50 bucks for a pair of rails and 4 carrier bearing blocks) the quality is pretty darn good. The rails are hardened and tempered 1045 steel and hard-chrome plated and the bearing carrier blocks are solid and smooth running.

    The bottom or "X" rails are 20mm diameter and supported by aluminum extrusions - very stiff. The top or "Y" rails are 16mm and very stiff as well.

    I fabricated the plate that carries the router out of some 3/16" aluminum plate I had kicking around.



    The base is just a piece of 3/4" MDF with T-nuts inserted to bolt the rails down. The only thing to note about the base is the current crazy price of of a sheet of 3/4" x 4 x 8 MDF - it's now up to $30 bucks a sheet; a year ago I was paying $20 bucks for the exact same stuff - a 50% increase over the last 12 months.


    IMG_1145.JPG




    IMG_1146.JPG



    The Wen router is kind of an odd choice for me. Most of my tools are good quality older U.S.A. made items. I was going to put my old Porter-Cable Speed-Matic production router on the jig, but then I started thinking it might be handy to use a dedicated router that I could just keep bolted on and in place without messing around and pulling it off and putting it back on.

    I found the Wen router on the local CraigsList. It was brand new and the guy wanted $50 bucks for it. I tested it out at his place and the motor ran super-smooth, so it was a deal. I'm actually pretty impressed with the router - 15 amp, soft start, variable speed, and very little shaft runout. It really runs smooth and has more than enough power to spin the 2" diameter planing router bit that I'm running with it.



    IMG_1148.JPG



    To test out the jig I trued-up a couple of one piece air dried blanks I've had drying for about 3 years. Even though the ends were sealed and the blanks were stickered and rotated every couple of months, they still ended up with some cupping and twisting. One is Noble Fir and the other is Western Red Alder, so they aren't very tough to rout flat, but I think they'll work pretty good for guitar bodies :).

    It planes dead-flat with no perceptible bit tracks which I think is pretty good for 2" wide pass.




    If the jig looks a little weird - like it's off-center or something, that's because it is ;).

    It's winter time so most of my work takes place indoors and I'm running out of room to set up my equipment, especially this rig which is 40" wide X 48" long.

    That's why I have the right "X" rail mounted towards the center of the jig instead of all the way to the right of the base where I already have a line of T-nuts installed ready to receive the right "X" rail in order to take advantage of the full working width of the jig.

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  2. carpenter

    carpenter Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Sweet nice, where did you get the 2inch bit?
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  3. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks!

    It's an Amana 2" surfacing bit that I bought from a guy on ebay that never used it.

    It's the same one that ToolsToday sells.
    .
     
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  4. carpenter

    carpenter Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Thanks looking for it now.
     
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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I' ve been sitting on 6 linear rails like that for about 10 years now. ( VXB.com) I was going to make yet another cnc router but lost the oomph to do it so far. I've thought about doing what you did, but that would kind of make little sense for me since I have the two cnc's in the shed now and occasionally will "plane" wood with them. Your's looks great though.
     
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  6. Mr. Neutron

    Mr. Neutron Tele-Meister

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    Really Nice Setup, George!!! Great Job on that!!! :cool:

    How much Z-axis travel do you have with the router? How thick of a chunk of wood are you able to do? Would it be easy to just stick some wood, alum, or steel "spacers" under the X rails to accommodate taller lumber?

    I hear you about the MDF prices. Sigh...... The prices of literally EVERYTHING I've needed to make a jig or tool have scared me poopy pants lately.....:eek: :D
     
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  7. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice i use the same rails with radius sleds attached to the blocks very accurate for putting radius on necks or fingerboards
    i got mine from Banggood £30.00 for 2 rails and 4 bearing blocks can't remember the length of the rails but long enough to radius a bass neck
     
  8. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks Jimmie!

    The router has 2-1/2" of vertical travel using the plunge feature.

    As the jig sits right now I can work with any slab that's 2-1/2" thick or less. That is the distance between the bottom of router carrier plate and the surface of the base.

    I can safely drop the the bit 1-1/2" below the bottom of the router carrier plate and still have the bit's shank embedded in the collet up to the manufacturer's recommended depth.

    So, that gives it a thickness working range from 1" to 2-1/2" by using just the plunge feature on the router.

    Most of the raw stock I use for guitar bodies is right around 2" thick or a little less. Depending on the body style, whether it's a solid body or a semi-hollow, the usual thickness of the body components before sanding might range from an 1-3/8" or so, to 1-13/16", so I'm pretty much covered for most of my work.

    For thinner stuff like tops or backs for semi-hollows I plan on using an auxiliary carrier board to raise the work piece up. I've got a variety material (MDF and PVC board) in different thicknesses I can utilize for this purpose.

    If I need to plane down any thing thicker than 2-1/2" I plan on using spacer strips inserted between the base and the bottoms of the "X" rails. All I have to do is use longer 1/4" bolts for the connection.





    Another function of this jig that I plan on using is for copying. It has very smooth and precise travel in the X and Y axes.

    All I need to do is connect a rigid arm to the router carrier base that will extend out past the limits of the jig. By connecting a pointer to the outboard end of that arm and utilizing the proper router bit, I can then trace the outline of a pattern or a body shape and replicate that pattern or shape with the router.

    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  9. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Here is a random ebay listing for the bit I'm using. I bought mine from a guy that never got around to using it for $45 bucks including shipping.

    Amana 45527 Carbide Tipped 2 Dia x 1/2 Cut Height x 1/2 Shank x 2-1/2" | eBay

    I was on a kind of limited budget with this project, otherwise I would have bought a bit that takes the replaceable carbide inserts, but those are close to $200 bucks for a 2" diameter with 3 or 4 cutters.

    I use lathe tooling that takes the replaceable carbide inserts and they perform really good.




    Counting every thing up - rails, carriers, lumber, hardware and fasteners, router and bit, I have about $230 or $235 bucks into it.

    My time I don't count - it's a relatively cheap way for me to stay out of trouble :)!!!
    .
     
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  10. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That is impressive, thanks for sharing!
     
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  11. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Nice looking jig Old Wrench, but how do you adjust the height if you need to plane thicker timber?



    DC
     
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  12. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, they are perfect for that.

    I pioneered a design for compound radiusing fret boards a while back. I used 30mm rails, but no carriers. Here's a link to the thread and some pics -

    And, Yet Another Radius Jig . . . . | Telecaster Guitar Forum (tdpri.com)


    Eric (@eallen) built his own version (I show a picture of Eric's jig below), but he utilized linear rails and carriers, which I think is a real improvement.



    [​IMG]


    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
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  13. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks Dave!

    I explain the thicknessing as best I can in post #8 :).
    .
     
  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Quadruple like!

    Can you post a link to the $50 rails & blocks set?
    I need to do this sort of thing and have been debating buying a thickness planer or making a primitive router planer.
    This looks really good!
     
  15. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Would you mind sharing eBay links for the rails and carriers? I have been wanting to build a similar jig, and have been looking at a lot of different designs online, but most seem to be less true and accurate than what you've got going on here. Then again, many are built to be non-permanent and for working unusually large pieces of lumber...
     
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  16. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Amen to all that. What a brilliant router/planer jig. I’ll definitely keep something like this in mind for when I (one day) get to set up a proper shop.
     
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  17. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Here are links to the two sets I purchased -

    CNC SBR 20-1200mm 20MM LINEAR SLIDE GUIDE SHAFT 2 RAIL+4SBR20UU Bearing Block 800995743230 | eBay


    Optical Axis 16mm 1000mm Linear Rail Shaft Rod w/ Bearing Block Support | eBay



    I was thinking about buying a thickness planer, too. I went back and forth about it for a year or so :).

    I finally decided to go ahead and build this rig instead, which fits my needs a little better, and put my focus on acquiring a thickness sander instead. The one I like for my purposes is the SuperMax 16-32, but it's pretty expensive. I've been considering building one, but I haven't finalized on a design yet.


    edit: I messed up posting the links the first time, but I think I've finally got it right ;).

    There is way too much insanity going on right now.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
  18. Mr. Neutron

    Mr. Neutron Tele-Meister

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    I really, REALLY like the way you've done this tool, George!!!

    So many folks get great results with their router sleds, but I don't think a lot of folks realize that without a good base, nice precise rails and carrier brgs. like you've found, the results can be sketchy. "Cutter Ledges" on the surface finish usually indicate the router isn't exactly perpendicular to the table's base, or uneveness, lumps, and bumps in the X or Y rails. You've pretty much killed most of these problems here, and it should net ya some consistent, really flat, even thickness guitars.

    Man, I wish you'd posted this sooner and before I made mine, hee hee.......
     
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  19. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    That radius jig you made is quality !
     
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  20. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I thought it might be helpful to show a detailed pic or two and explain how I coupled some of the parts together :).

    As far as the jig assembly goes, most everything is pretty straight forward, except for the connection between the X axis (lower) bearing carrier blocks and the Y axis (upper) linear shaft end supports. The Y shaft end supports are the "T" shaped aluminum extrusions that are perched on top of the lower X bearing blocks.

    Like in this pic:



    IMG_1149.JPG



    In this picture (above) looking at it from the side, you can see the more or less square piece of 3/16" aluminum plate sandwiched between the top of the lower bearing block and the bottom of the upper shaft support. That is an adapter plate that I needed to fabricate because the bolt pattern (and bolt size) is different between the two components.

    Each adapter plate has 6 holes.

    There are 2 drilled and counter-sunk holes with 2 flat-head 5mm allen screws that come up from the bottom of the plate and fasten to the "T" shaped end support with lock washers and nuts.

    Then, there are 4 6mm allen head screws that fasten the adapter plate to the lower bearing block. I used button head screws on the in-board side so the router carriage plate would clear them, and regular allen head screws and lock washers on the out-board side. The out-board screws are a little longer because they also connect the piece of aluminum angle (1/8"X3/4"X3/4") that ties the two linear shafts together for structural integrity.



    IMG_1151.JPG



    Here is another picture (above) showing the same connection. Although it doesn't look like it because of the perspective of the picture, the bolt pattern on the "T" shaped end support is closer together than the bolt pattern on the lower bearing block. That's why I had to make the adapter plates.

    I'm not sure, but I think that if I'd stuck to the same size diameter linear shafts I wouldn't have run into this problem. I used 20mm rails on the bottom and 16mm rails on the top. I sized the shafts based on the anticipated loads and the roles the shafts play in stiffening the design.

    I'm thinking that if I'd used 20mm shafts on top, their end supports would have bolted right up to the 20mm lower bearing blocks. I don't know it for a fact, but I think these parts are built to some international standard, so different parts from different manufacturers should be somewhat interchangeable.

    I think that anyone who is going to build a similar jig might consider this and possibly save themselves some time and materials by staying with one consistent shaft diameter.



    IMG_1150.JPG



    You might also consider how you want to fasten the router to the router carriage plate. The first inclination might be to use the already drilled and tapped holes in the bottom of the routers base plate which are used to attached the plastic base, but that will make it more difficult to attach and de-tach the router if you want to use it for another purpose.

    I decided to attach the router from the top to make it easy to remove and re-attach if necessary.

    In the picture above, you can see how I used existing holes in the router base for the connection. With this particular router, there were existing holes for mounting the router's accessory guide rails and I decided to utilize them instead of drilling new ones. The holes were already drilled and tapped for 6mm lock-down bolts and I was able to slip 5mm bolts through the holes and screw them into drilled and tapped holes I made in the router carriage plate.

    I utilized my regular workshop tools to do all the cutting and drilling and was glad to have them, but all you really need to build yours is a hacksaw and a drill motor. The bearing blocks already have drilled and tapped holes built right into them.

    .
     
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