If your overarm is aluminum, you can still drill it with the router,
just slow the router down (I'd use a variac, but light bulbs
in series with the AC would work, too). Use a metal drill, of course
(in fact, use two, one undersize and another to
finish it; or use a drill and a reamer if you can get one).
Keep the metal bits out of the router motor, of course.
Clamping a dowel in an aluminum-member hole is relatively
easy, make a second parallel hole and connect 'em with a saw cut,
then use bolt/nut to squeeze the cut closed.
or Robertson), and that the head would be on the bottom. A steel
dowel pin sounds good to as long as there's a good way to fasten it to
your overhead board so that it doesn't have any play. (Inserting a
shank through a 1/4" hole without nuts to secure it seems a bit flimsy
*There are ways to secure the pin without nuts, several ways. That isn't a
great problem for me.
makes it much more accurate -- so my question on that is, if I had a
piece of aluminum, and a so good router bit, and a router where I
can't adjust the speed... Ok, you know where this is going...
*Well, actually, I had thought of using some aluminum, as I have several
longer pieces of 1/2" by 6' bar stock (6061). But my routers (690's) aren't
variable speed so I am getting a visual on heat, a dull or broken bit, lotsa
noise, jumping back, calling 911, etc. I could use a HSS jobber bit
instead, but I haven't tried that either at such speeds. I thought of using
a router bit to "mark" the aluminum, then hogging it out with a regular
drill press, then going back to plan A. I am not afraid of this procedure,
but I respect it alot! I kinda like dpb's idea of hardwood for now.
Thanks for the ideas.
Works well; your note earlier about needing to be really strong I'd say
really "not so much" -- the guide pin/holder doesn't see much real
force; simply that required to follow the pattern. If you push too hard
you just make it more difficult to follow the pattern smoothly.
The thing you need more than pure strength is inflexible which a chunk
of maple or white oak or other dense hardwood gives. I don't recall the
characteristics to Al alloys by number otomh; if go that route be sure
that 1/2" Al is rigid enough it doesn't vibrate--the wood solution is
good about absorbing that.
The last comment I intended to add earlier on pin selection -- the drill
rod has the advantage you can get any diameter you want for special
offsets from the template. Generally the 1/16 difference between the
common rod stock is good enough but every once't in a great while
there's a reason for something more precise.
Again, the key is to ensure the mounting hole is sized for a
press/interference fit. I make and center them by drilling the hole
first, use a longer pin initially to locate relative to the
spindle/collet then cut the pin to length and polish ends.
You'll like using it much better if you add a starting pin to the router
table, too, if you don't already have provisions for one.
So I built one this weekend, just for the fun of it. It's a 17" MDF
arm type (it only fastens to one side of the table). The arm itself
is a 3" piece of MDF which is vertical, glued to 4" piece of MDF which
is horizontal. I made the pin holder detachable so I could swap out
1/2" and 1/4" pins. I took two pieces of 2.5" x 2.5" x 3/4" oak,
clamped them together, and drilled a 1/4" hole between them to hold
the pin. I sanded the inside of one piece slightly (to make the hole
just slightly smaller than 1/4"), and attached the piece to the MDF
using two bolts with wing-nuts on either side of the pin hole.
Because I can tighten/loosen the wing-nuts easily, I can easily adjust
the height of the pin. I had planned to bolt the whole thing to the
router table, but it seems to hold quite well with just a couple of
I tested it, and it has less than 1/2 mm give for about 1 pound of
pressure in one direction, and 1/4 mm in the other...
So, now I have a pin-router! Now I just have to think of a good
project I can use it on....
Now you are entering my favorite territory of woodworking, pattern
making. The pattern maker is the top guy in the shop. I love laying
out and making patterns. I prefer perfect arcs as opposed to close
arcs cut on a bandsaw sanded to near perfect.
Mission oak end tables and coffee table. They have long upswing arcs
cut into the underside of some of the aprons. Make the patterns using
a router as a compass by mounting it to a thin plank of plywood to use
as a trammel. Make sense? Then cut the patterns from MDF using few
passes of increasing depth.
I've cut some items like this with 15' radii (sp) and had to do the
layout on the floor with chalk lines, very cool.
I'm kind of toying with the idea of doing inlay... My thought is
this: I can buy some cheap plastic letters over at the dollar store,
glue them (backwards of course) and a border onto the back of my
workpiece with some sort of removable glue. I then set the router to
1/4" above the table, and route those carefully into the workpiece
(maybe two passes to reduce resistance). I then spray the back of the
worksheet (letters and all) with PAM, or other non-sticky stuff. I
take some sort of clay / epoxy (still working out what would work good
here), and mold that around my letters. Let it dry, so it's hard,
remove it, and now I have an inverse pattern! Stick that to my inlay
material, and make an exact copy of that, which should theoretically
fit exactly into my pattern out front.
Remove the letters, sand off the PAM, glue and anything else, touch up
the inlay a bit with a file so it actually fits, and voila!
I'll let you all know how (if) it works! (Wish me luck)
A little hard to follow all of that. I think for this type of
operation what might be easier is an actual "overarm pin router" where
the router is above the table and the pin is on the table. You are
blind in one way or the other you either can't see the pattern or you
can't see the cutter but with an overarm pin router you can at least
see the bit so you can tell if how the cutting is going.
These units are big behemoths that can weight tons (literally) but you
can get them second hand really cheap sometimes because they have
fallen a bit out of favor.
On ebay an expensive one:
On Amazon a new cheaper one. (Amazon.com product link shortened)
I have seen the big ones for a few hundred bucks.
My pin router, including everything was $25... It might not be
ideal, but I think it will get the job done... (if I did have that
sort of money, I think I'd be saving up for a decent CNC router....
ahhh, the dreams....). Anyways, I'm going to try to do some house
number inlays, but it will likely have to wait until the weekend at
Woodstuff -- thanks for starting this thread. How's your setup going?
screw and some nuts'. Most importantly, you first mount the overarm
firmly, then drill the socket for the dowel by raising your router into the
arm. That's to ensure centering and keep the hole aimed on axis.
Good method, Thanks.
*Not a bad idea. I don't have a proper router table, but I have had (since
'87) a router base mounted under an extension of the left wing of my table
saw. I use it mostly for grooves with the fence with a mortising bit. I
also use it without the fence for detail bits with bearings.
*Where I am going is that you have a good idea of attaching the "arm" to the
fence (I had not thought of this). Thanks for the input. This may happen,
but I am not sure yet.
Again, thanks for the input.
Putting the arm on something that has to be relocated every time it is set
up sounds like the sort of nightmare I avoid like the plague. Every setup I
use gets designed so the whole thing is set up as soon as I place it. Add
to that the fact that the fence may have some play in it makes another
reason why I would not like it.
Some have said that there is no force on the pin. I disagree. It is
correct to say that ideally, there is no force on the pin, but you all know
the difference between theory and reality. (there is a joke in there,
The idea is that you control the movement of the workpiece precisely, and
only lightly touch the pin to the template. In my experience, the router
will sometimes grab some grain and slam the workpiece into the pin. If the
pin gives, you just messed up your workpiece. I say make the arm and pin
hell for stout.
I have a setup like the one in the link that is homemade. The big
difference is that I have my arm mounted to the saw table with the location
fixed through drilled and tapped holes in the saw table. My hardwood arm
has steel bushed holes undersized for 5/16" bolts, then I drilled a snug
5/16 hole with the drillpress, then used that as a guide to drill and tap
the cast iron table saw surface, after I located the pin in the arm by
chucking it in the router, then clamped the arm to the table. When I
drilled the saw, I knew that the pin was in the right place, and the arm
would be in the right place every time I mounted the arm.
I welded some 1/4" rod on the top of the bolts (fine thread) to use the
bolts as wing nuts, and still be able to put a wrench to the bolt head to
torque it down. The pin is a cut off bolt, threaded into the arm, with a
nut on each side to keep it rigid. I can turn the bolt to set the height
(flat ground into the pin threads on the top side of the arm) then tighten
the nuts to keep it where I want it.
I enjoy using my setup, and find it has many more uses than making signs.
*Yes, I thought about the possible play and having to set it up again.
Indeed, I need this table saw for other uses and don't want to tie it up for
long a period. My fence is stronger than the beismeyer, and doesn't have
but the setup problem is still there, or the re-setup problem. Time is of
as I have several hundred pieces to cut.
*There isn't much force on the pin, but there is some, as I had some
with doing some samples with a router and bearing when the bit pulled it
toward the workpiece.
**One of the reasons I don't want to do this with a bearing is because I
want to be able to take partial cuts to prevent shearing on end-grain areas.
(I have a pile of messed up ones already, don't need more). The other
reason for the pin router is that bearings don't hold up to production very
well. But yes, there is some force, for sure.
*Thanks for your post, and I may do just that, but on another place, as I
have an old shaper that has a wind that I don't use much. (darn, a few years
ago I scrapped out an old delta table saw and now wish I hadn't). surely
mounting onto cast iron or steel would be much better. My workpieces are
6"x12", so I don't need much room.
*Tomorrow AM, I will start to work on making this and we'll see what
By the way, I have plenty of scrap steel and I can cut, drill, tap, and
weld, so something somehow will happen.
I did _NOT_ say there was "no force", I did say there is not a great
deal of force. I also suggested that the pin should be steel and
If it grabs and pulls, that means you're cutting downhill -- as the
doctor said when told "it hurts when I do that", "Don't do that!"
_ALWAYS_ use a climb cut. It's hard enough to control a router and a
fixed workpiece in downhill fashion; it's seriously dangerous w/ a hand
As noted, use a starting pin (or pins for multiple locations) and feed
in the proper direction and you'll always be against the cutting
direction and the work will be pushed away from the pin instead of
pulled into it.
Put the pin at the end of a short-stroke pneumatic piston controlled
by a two-way foot pedal.
People, somehow, never seem to think how they are going to get the
work on and off.
Onsrud makes a few beauties can can give you some inspirational clues.
Delta made one, years ago, where you could have the motor either
overhead or below the table. IOW it doubled as a shaper. Induction
Then there is the venerable RU50, can be had used cheaply. Voltage and
phase can be a bit of a prob.
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