ROUTER TABLE ON STERIODS
A creative solution for using router bits in a shaper.
SHOP OWNER: Dev Emch
LOCATION: Estes Park, CO
The problem with many router tables is that they attempt to mimic wood shapers. There are many features of a true wood shaper that would be of use to a router table and vice versa. Recently, several companies have introduced router lifting systems to allow router tables to function with the precision of a wood shaper. When I looked at this problem, it occurred to me that maybe this approach is backwards. Why not use a wood shaper as a router table?
Looking into this, I found two unpleasant issues. First, my General SS-032 heavy-duty wood shaper did not have a router bit spindle available for it; and second, those spindles I was able to find tended to be a bit cheesy. Having worked in the metalworking industry, I decided to take the Swiss-made Rego-Fix collet system, which is popular on some CNC VMC tooling applications, and adapt it to my wood shaper. Anything that can take the abuse of high speed CNC tooling applications for metalworking should surely have an easy time with wee tiny router bits.
Therefore, I came up with a new router spindle design and made it from 4140 chrome molly steel. I was supposed to make a shaper spindle for a guy in Wisconsin but he backed out of the deal and left me with this wonderful chunk of steel for my own use. After a few hours of lathe time, out pops the new spindle. The photos show the actual spindle installed in my SS-032 wood shaper and the rest of the photos illustrate the details of this novel new router spindle design. The SS-032 uses a #4 taper to force alignment of the spindle and that is why this thing appears to be this long. The wood samples show what is possible. I have used router tables before and now I have used router bits on shapers.
At first, I thought that the 9500-RPM of the SS-032 may be a little slow, but, as it turns out, my fear was not justified. The cutters worked just fine. The only issue I had was that the coping cuts have to be backed up to prevent blow-out and you have to complete the cut using several passes, just like on a router table. What is truly exciting is that I can use vertical bits like straight cutters or dovetail bits to make things like finger joints and dovetail drawers using my shaper!
In fact, the Incra fence works awesome on a shaper. Another thing to keep in mind is that the actual Rego-Fix portion of this design can be ported to virtually every shaper ever made. Only the bottom half of the design changes according to which shaper you're trying to adapt this to. So now, I can use my dovetail and finger joint tooling system on either one of my two shapers. All I need to do is swap out the spindles for the particular shaper that I need to use. If anyone has any further questions about these collets or this approach, email me on the back channel and we will talk router bits on the shaper.. . . Dev Emch
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