I'm not the Mike you asked, but that's never stopped me. :-)
One issue is sawdust falling down into the router. I have a vac port
down there, so I don't worry about it, but it might be a problem for
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
I don't wish to overstate the problem, and mention it only because it's a
tough problem to solve. If you might need inserts, you're almost certainly
better off buying the plate at the start. How big a hole is too large? I
dunno. It's the perennial problem with flatness and support. You want good
solid support under the piece right at the cutter. If the gap is large
enough, the wood bendy enough, or the piece just too small, you might have
problems. I think you're mostly OK if the work piece is wide enough to span
the uncovered opening. A skinny stick can have problems catching on the far
lip if you press down on it hard enough. The remaining concerns are with
dangling fingertips, but that's a personal comfort issue.
For a plate with inserts, a mill drill at minimum to fly cut the surface
flat; mill and bore a stepped throat hole to take the insert; cut insert
rings to fit. You could scrape the plate flat by hand with common
woodworking tools (although this level of Neandering is somewhat at odds
with the intended use). You could also try cutting the stepped throat with
the router. I don't see the point, though, since really good store bought
plates don't cost all that much.
I caught your other post. There's no reason that can't be made to work if
you don't mind changing plates when you turn a larger cutter. With the
Incra, I just stick a different insert onto the magnet that holds it down.
The inserts and the blanchard ground surface are the major differences. This
isn't at odds with my rant about gadgetizing and gimmickry. Some things are
real tools, and bargains if you have the need they fill.
Fly cut the plates? No reason to! Unless it is bent, 1/4" aluminum plate is
more than flat enough for wood working.
I agree that store bought plates are cheap enough, unless you get the
aluminum plate for free! If you have to buy the aluminum plate, it probably
is not worth making you own plates. Certainly when you consider the options
that store bought plates have.
Just a single nit. It comes with an eccentric cam hold down in one corner,
which probably fits into their table top somehow. I use a plunge router
under the table, and needed hold downs in all 4 corners. It was no big deal
to drill and countersink 3 more holes.
The problem with flat is that it's flatter than the formica laminate table
surface. What I thought initially were plate problems turned out to be a
slightly wavy surface on the laminate, not enough to interfere with the
work, but enough to feel when I go hunting around the edge. Who would've
thought... I probably got careless spreading the glue under the laminate.
The plate itself is very close to dead flat under a Starrett straightedge. I
could shim just a bit of the corner of a cigarette rolling paper under it at
a few spots. The insert levelers are pretty good also, and consistent from
insert to insert. I didn't run the dial indicator over it, but the
fingertips were happy with what they found.
It's not exactly a bargain at $80, but if flat is the only thing you'll
settle for, this one will do. I'm happy with mine.
For shimming under straightedges, of course. I think I got that from a
Charlesworth video. Rolling papers mic out to about 1 thousandth. 20 lb bond
paper about 3 thousandths. We're not medicinally qualified in this
That is what I use.
I have two router plates, one with a smaller hole, and one with a huge hole
that I use a raised panel bit in. Both plates I made myself from some scrape
aluminum I got real cheap. I cut them to size with my table saw and a
carbide blade, and used a hole saw to bore the holes in the center.
My router table is a box built out of 3/4 MDF with a piece of scrap counter
top for the work surface. I edge banded the counter top with strips of oak,
and cut a 4" hole in the side of the box for my dust collector. I built a
fence from 3/4" melamine and use a couple c-clamps to hold it in place. I
put a door in the front so I can adjust the router, and the top just sits in
place, guided with some scraps to keep it in place. I probably have $5 in
the whole thing and see no reason for anything different.
Awesome, Greg. Would you mind providing the dimensions of the plate you
made? The aluminum you used didn't harm the TS blade or router bit after
Viewing the McMaster Carr site, I can purchase a 1/4" thick 12" x 10" 6061
aluminum plate for under $19.00 but not sure if this would be too big and I
will also make my own fence and accessories.
I am too lazy to go measure, but I built the plates just large enough to
drop the router through the opening in the table. Maybe 12" x 8". the 12" x
10" would work fine. Just make sure it is a couple inches wider than the
widest part of your router, (across the handles).
I have cut a fair amount of aluminum with my TS and router. I will not say
it is not hard on cutters or blades, but nothing excessive. Cutting out one
or two plates will not do any noticeable wear on your blades. Keep in mind
for cutting aluminum with a router you want a variable speed router, maybe
10,000 RPM. Any old carbide blade for the TS will work, fine tooth is
better. You will need to wear safety gasses!! Both tools throw aluminum
shavings that are hot and sharp! Not a real big deal but be careful!
I cut the recess in the router table top to match the plate. I left a step
that the plate sits on. This is the only thing I may change and that is to
just cut straight through the top, and add plates underneath, one in each
corner, with a set screw to adjust the height
of the plate.
My biggest beef with commercial router plates is that most of them don't
have a large enough opening to swing some of the big panel raiser bits.
If you buy a plate try to find one with an opening that's at least
3-1/2" to 3-5/8" wide.
I made my own plate from 1/4" aluminum (got it at McMaster-Carr), and I
even anodized it myself to a pretty blue color. :-) Made my inserts
from that slick white (UHMW) plastic, though I'd really like to make
them from phenolic instead. Actually, I'd recommend making the plate
out of phenolic as well unless you have access to the right tools to
machine the aluminum...
"Our beer goes through thousands of quality Czechs every day."
(From a Shiner Bock billboard I saw in Austin some years ago)
I got 1/2 Phenolic at Woodcraft for $24 couple years ago.
I think my piece was 18x18.
I think you would regret not going with the best material (or your first
choice) and doing it right the first time.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
I bought the 1/4" Rocker aluminum plate a number of years ago. Was/am
extremely happy with the flatness/rigidity. About a year ago I
upgraded to the Rockler/Jessem Lift--again very happy. The BIG PLUS
was it was the exact same size as my original plate. Dropped it in
and of the races.
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