A couple of weeks ago I was browsing Woodhaven's online catalogue and
came across a circle cutting jig kit for a router ($75 plus $20
shipping) which appeared to overcome the two short comings of my
homemade $2 nail and hardboard set up. Another $23 (CDN this time) and I
had it out of customs and assembled even though it arrived with a few
The first thing I noticed was that I needed to use a straight cutting
bit that was about 1 1/8" longer than the ones I normally used. No
problem. But how do you start the cut. With my hardboard set up I
lifted the router a bit while flexing the hardboard to start the router
and then lowered it to start the cut. The arm on the Woodhaven unit
allowed for no flex. Checked the picture in the catalogue again and yes
they were using a fixed base router very similar to mine. So I emailed
them. It bounced back as my sender was in their "bad mail file",
whatever that means. So I called them on my nickel again as their 1-800
number does not work in Canada.
A couple on calls later I got their "technical" guy. His reply was that
I needed to buy a plunge router. His other suggestion was to start the
router and lower it into the base while RUNNING. I called back and
spoke to a very nice lady at the sales desk who said she would check to
see if they would pay the postage if I returned the unit.
When she called back a couple of hours later to say they would pay the
postage both ways I asked about the customs fees. We talked for a minute
or so and it became obvious that this was a lose-lose situation. If they
paid the shipping and customs it would cost them about $56 to retrieve
an item they retail for $75. It would have been cheaper for them to make
another one, I think. On my part I would be out about 6 or 7 long
distance calls plus packaging costs, travel into town, ect. I asked
that before she got back to me about the customs cost they consider
another possible solution. Simply put, I would pay the original shipping
costs plus the customs fee and they would credit my account with the
purchase price. They reduce their loss and I get $75 back to be used
toward the purchase of a plunge router. They responded yesterday, No,
send it back with no mention of the customs cost.
They are the ones who misrepresented their product and are now failing
to make it right. Not exactly the Lee Valley experience. Rant off, JG
Well, starting in a hole you make with your drill might work.
To avoid customs with things router-dedicated, try:
Though rumor has it, purchases from there can cause growths on the head....
I have done this with my homemade circle jig since I don't have a plunge
type router either. With the router running just above the surface, twist
the base to plunge it into the workpiece. What's the big deal?
That does sound a bit wrong on the way they handled things. I was curious
to see what the jig looked like and pulled up their website. Is this item #
415? Listed at $69.99 US?
Anyway, that tech guys suggestion about lowering it while running is
actually perfectly reasonable, now that I see the picture. The router plate
that it comes with appears to be secured to the pivoting arm. If you simply
rotate the router motor in its base so the bit isn't touching the material
and then turn it on and rotate it slowly to the depth you need, it really
isn't unsafe at all and seems like it will work fine. In fact, that seems
to be exactly how you have to use it (with a fixed base router).
My point is, unless you already sent it back, you should give it a try and I
bet you'll see it works just fine.
I agree. Before ranting that a product does not work, you should see if it
does. Sometimes, we have preconceived notions of how a tool works. The
Woodhaven people really know routers.
Lowering a spinning router with a fixed base into a large board is probably not
dangerous, just different and awkward. Remember, a plunge bit is designed to
plunge into wood. Or use an upcut spiral bit. Both are MEANT to be used that
If you are using routers, I would think it makes more sense to spend the bucks
on a plunge base as accessory number one before getting anything else (except
maybe a fence).
Yes it is item 415K. The pivot pin on their unit is too short to allow you to
raise the router at all. The arm has zero flex, so you cannot twist it. That is
how I started the cut with my $2 hardboard jig.
As to removing (or almost removing) the motor from the router base (PC690),
starting the motor and then reinserting it back into the router base while
plunging it through some material, in addition to being scary would require two
hands, therefore I would need someone else to hold the pivot pin and the jig's
base plate. However, as it is such a PITA to return it maybe I'll give it
another look the next time someone drops by. Cheers, JG
Mike in Mystic wrote:
Maybe I'm missing something, I don't know.
I didn't ever mean to try to raise the whole router, with the baseplate,
with the motor locked into the router housing.
I mean you should unlock the motor, rotate the motor upwards so the bit is
above the work. If you have to use a shorter bit to start off, then so be
it, but you shouldn't have to "almost remove" the motor at all.
As far as needing two hands, I don't agree. You just hold onto the
baseplate with one hand and rotate the motor with the other, when you reach
the depth you want, hold the motor stationary and then lock it down with
your other hand. I'm not sure what you mean by needing to hold the pivot
pin, does it not have means to lock it down? The way I'm thinking of it,
the only thing that would move is the router motor, not the base and no
flexion should result on the pivot arm. I've done similar things to make
stopped dadoes for shelving. I had guide fences sete up on both sides of
the router base, set the router down on the material with the bit retracted,
lowered the motor after turning it on until I hit the depth I needed (using
the depth ring, which I had set to zero earlier with the bit on the surface
of the material), and locked it down and made my cut.
Anyway, it sounds to me like you might have simply misunderstood the tech
guy from Woodhaven (or maybe he didn't really make it clear, I don't know)
and/or you just don't want to make the cut this way, which is fair, I
suppose. I think we're all (those you responded telling you to try it this
way) just trying to allay your fears and ensure you that if you just take
your time this type of cut isn't really difficult, nor dangerous.
Hi Again Mike,
Thanks for the in-depth description. I think I should explain what I had in
mind for the jig. The intended use of this jig is to help me make round table
tops ranging in size from 24-42 inches. They are up to 2" thick. This means I
would have to raise the motor at least the 2". I start by making a rough cut to
within 1/16 - 1/8" of the intended circumference with a saw and then switch to
the router. Maybe I am being just a big chicken. Now if I was cutting shallow
groves in a piece that would be a different story.
Others have suggested drilling a hole to start. I know this could work with
some trial and error (the hole has to be in exactly the right place) but the
jig was suppose to make the operation simpler with less chance of error and to
stream line the operation. Cheers, JG
Mike in Mystic wrote:
Trial and what? Draw the circle you're going to cut and bore the hole
(larger than your bit) tangent.
Before I got a plunge I used it often, and it was a piece of cake.
Second method is the one often used for bandsaw jigs, where one side of the
wood is tangent to the circumference, providing a starting point. You place
the center point of your router jig by dragging the bit up to the edge.
Also works fine, though with either method you are best advised to have a
firm grip on the router as you start.
Use the nifty jig to make a template for the table out of 1/2" MDF or
similar. Screw or tape the template to the table blank, and use a flush
trim bit to cut your tabletop. Save the templates, and label them for
You have a legitimate gripe there no doubt but on the other hand depending
on how your raise/lower works on your router (usually turning the
motor/ring) this is not a big deal to do on a non plunge. Think about it, if
it were a plunge you would still lower the bit down with it running. Now I
do realize that the plunging action is a lot smoother and easier but all the
same this action can be done on a non plunge router too. Just thought Id
throw that in.
You did mention Lee Valley at the end of your post. I did see LV
selling what you are looking for and it would have been much easier to
deal with them. You wouldn't have customs to deal with.
As a Canadian I see no advantage of buying American unless it's a
product that we do not have here locally.
I have bought quite a few things from Woodhaven and found their products to
be of very high quality. The one time I had a problem, they provided
outstanding customer service.
I rank them with the best in the industry.
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