Router table decision


Last September 16, Hurricane Ivan pushed five feet of salt water through my shop. For various reasons, it was about two weeks before I could get in to sort out the tumbled sheets of plywood and dig for tools. Most of them, including the Jet cabinet saw with the Jessem router lift, had rusted beyond repair. Since then I've been working to restore the house. (SWMBO: "Now that we're down to the studs we should invite everyone to an open house.") I'm retired, and the time I spend working on the house is saving enough of the flood insurance that I can put the shop back even better than it was.
Because I needed to get started on the kitchen cabinets, I decided to buy a router table rather than make one. So, I got: - a Bench Dog 40-037 Complete Router Table System - a Bench Dog 40-016 ProLift Max Router Top-Adjustment System - a Bench Dog 40-025 Panel Hold Down and Safety Accessory - a Porter-Cable 7518 3-1/4 HP Speedmatic 5-Speed Router
So, here's the problem: I watched a Wood Rat video and read a lot of reviews and comments by owners. The things listed above are still in the original boxes, though I've had them past Amazon's 30-day return policy. I think I'd be better off with the Wood Rat because it would take up less space in my 17x17 shop, and I wouldn't have to buy dovetail or mortising tools.
I could use advice from anyone who's actually used a Wood Rat on whether or not I should swap out for it, and I could use advice on the best way to sell what I have. (I have a Bosch plunge router to use with the Wood Rat.) The insurance money is not infinite, and we just had to replace SWMBO's '94 Escort.
The other morning SWMBO wakes up and says, "In the middle of the night I realized that if we don't use the furring strips to shim the drywall out to where the plaster was, the old crown molding that we saved will be too short."
Thanks for any help, and thanks for everything I've learned from you when I DAGS.
Lionel Pensacola, FL
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Lionel wrote:

man, that sucks.

I like her sense of humor.

silver lining....

I'll be following this thread.

she's a keeper.
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I've got the WoodRat, the full-sized version. I've had it since April, but it sits unused in a box until my new home and shop are constructed.
In that period, I've had time to read through the manual 4 times, to watch the DVD demo 2 or 3 times, and have asked (pestered) people on the 3 WoodRat chatrooms.
So while I'm not an experienced woodworker, or truly a WoodRat user, here's what I've learned.
For joints of any kind, the WR can't be matched. In particular, dovetails coming out looking hand cut. On these joints, set-up might be painful, so WR experts tell me the machine is superior to repetative operations. By gang cutting, you could make 10 drawer pieces at a time. For making one-of-a kind pieces, other methods might excel.
And, with a WR, you can use a straight bit just like a Milling Machine does, to bore holes, cut rabbets, mortise, cut tenons, chamfer, do a raised panel. That's a lot of multi-functionality from just a single bit.
The DVD (for $5 from CHIPSFLY.COM) is a complete education in jointery. It is amazing. There is a bit of a learning curve to the WR, but once you get used to manipulating the router and wood in 3-dimensions, you'll never want to go back.
I also plan to buy the benchtop BenchDog router table for those jobs where the WR is useless such as very long edge forming, routing with templates, or routing inside a cut-out (such as a drawer bottom groove). Very large cutters, such as Panel Raisers or Rail/Stile, are safer on a table
Be advised the WR will cost you $700. Tooling and accessories will nearly double that figure. But there are some advantages here. I've got the digitized depth scale. And the Laser Guide. Both give you machinist precision. Especially good for dovetails and dowel drilling and such.
And, the dovetail cutters are made of High Speed Steel, so they are far more delicate than Carbide, but they allow for narrower profile that gives a handmade look to your furniture. Carbide gives that King Kong clutsiness to woodworking that you find in Singapore shipping crates.
The pricing at the Craftsman Gallery (chipsfly.com) is quite fair. And the way they treat customers is the best. Call them with questions, and you'll find the most experienced woodworker you've met on the other end of the line.
Here's the three WR websites. Look for the FORUM button at the bottom of the screen.
chipsfly.com woodrat.com ukworkshop.co.uk (look under power tools)
Gary Curtis Los Angeles 310 478-4139
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< I also plan to buy the benchtop BenchDog router table for those jobs < where the WR is useless such as very long edge forming, routing with < templates, or routing inside a cut-out (such as a drawer bottom < groove). Very large cutters, such as Panel Raisers or Rail/Stile, are < safer on a table
< Gary Curtis < Los Angeles
Other than the potential problem with large bits, I thought I could do these things with a hand-held router. Am I missing something? And how about vertical bits for raised panels?
Lionel
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One WoodRat owner in England says he uses his machine with Vertical Panel bits.There is a limit to the side clearance on the WR router table. The bit must extend down and through the aperture. Shoot a question to the guys at Craftsman Gallery about that.
Your issue about saving space is a vital one. I've seen dozens of shops, mostly garages, where the owner has to wiggle through stored junk and machines just to maneuver from front to back. Absolutely crazy, and dangerous. Being mounted on the wall, the WR is a dream.
And you don't need the following jigs, so more space is saved: Mortise jig Tenon jig Miter jig Dovetail jig Dowel jig
Not to mention all the crazy bits and pieces that go with these. That get lost.
My WoodRat came with a DeWalt 625 Router. I don't know why your Bosch would present a problem. With the machine sitting directly ahead of you at nearly eye-level, depth adjustment seems easy.
As accessories, WoodRat makes and sells these jigs: Mortise Clamping Box Multi-Angle Clamping Mitre
But they openly tell you to make your own, except for the Multi-Angle. That one is machined by a CNC and requires great precision.
And you're right about some things best done with a hand router. I'm not buying the BenchDog until I actually have a need. I'm only repeating what several WR owners have told me about needing a table.
I just want to avoid $400-600, not to mention the valuable floor space.
Gary
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One WoodRat owner in England says he uses his machine with Vertical Panel bits.There is a limit to the side clearance on the WR router table. The bit must extend down and through the aperture. Shoot a question to the guys at Craftsman Gallery about that.
Your issue about saving space is a vital one. I've seen dozens of shops, mostly garages, where the owner has to wiggle through stored junk and machines just to maneuver from front to back. Absolutely crazy, and dangerous. Being mounted on the wall, the WR is a dream.
And you don't need the following jigs, so more space is saved: Mortise jig Tenon jig Miter jig Dovetail jig Dowel jig
Not to mention all the crazy bits and pieces that go with these. That get lost.
My WoodRat came with a DeWalt 625 Router. I don't know why your Bosch would present a problem. With the machine sitting directly ahead of you at nearly eye-level, depth adjustment seems easy.
As accessories, WoodRat makes and sells these jigs: Mortise Clamping Box Multi-Angle Clamping Mitre
But they openly tell you to make your own, except for the Multi-Angle. That one is machined by a CNC and requires great precision.
And you're right about some things best done with a hand router. I'm not buying the BenchDog until I actually have a need. I'm only repeating what several WR owners have told me about needing a table.
I just want to avoid $400-600, not to mention the valuable floor space.
Gary
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