Sunday, July 05, 2015

Making a good router table better...

Every year, I try to upgrade at least one tool in the shop. I mean - are we ever completely satisfied with everything in our workspace? So this year, I knew my router table situation needed an overall. After much research, I ended up with this beast from MLCS - it is heavy and quite durable, perfect for holding up in the worst of situations. Which often happens in my shop!

And... it came with free shipping, and a discount "Spring Sale!" coupon - hard to argue with that! 

But as you will often find - when a tool seems perfect, there are often a few shortcomings as well. 

The handles that lock the fence in place might be one of the worst engineered aspects of this router table! 

My hands are pretty small, and even I can't fit them into that tight spot, to loosen them. 

Who engineered this mess? 

Well, that's where woodworking buddies come to the rescue! My buddy John has a new addiction - lathe turning. 

He's been studying with Jimmy Clewes and making amazing pieces.

John stopped by the shop, and I asked him about new handles for the router table. He took a few measurements, and BAM!

New LONGER handles! 

Here are the old ones, barely peeking above the fence, 

and here are John's new handles - with MUCH easier access for everyone's paws... 

These handles have a threaded rod running completely though them, with a T-nut at the top, so that they can't strip out. Thanks so much John! 

In the week we've been using these, they have made adjusting that fence SO much easier. They make all the difference in the world! 

(Note to MLCS... contact John immediately for some advice and to place an order...)

Next - the inserts for the MLCS table were kind of lame, and needed an upgrade. The table only came with two sizes.

Depending on the bit installed, the gap around the insert was just a little too wide for my safety comfort zone.

So - again - it's one of those situations of "I know a guy who knows a guy...." 

and we had some new inserts made. Six, to be exact - in just about every size imaginable.  

Now our bits have perfectly sized openings - how great is that? 

But the bigger question is - why doesn't MLCS just do the right thing and make longer handles, and better inserts?

Regardless - thanks to John and to Chief's Job Shop for the custom parts. They're perfect!


Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Very cool adaptations! I often say that people who design most of our tools, appliances, whatever, can't be using (or cleaning) them.

Wood It Is! said...

Isn't that the truth, Julie! There should be a mandatory testing period.

Vegas Lupe said...

Awesome improvements! Way to go, Big John!!! I never thought about having the inserts machined... The router table I have also brought two inserts as well. I think you might have found a new gizmo to sell to fellow woodworkers. ;)