3-D Router Pantograph (A Matthias Wandel Design)

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Project by William posted 04-22-2012 10:48 PM 72023 views 31 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have wanted to build this project for some time now. I guess my wife got tired of hearing me talk about it, because she offered to purchase the plans for me. Then after getting the plans, I realized that it was designed to be used with a palm router, which I didn’t have. I was determined to build it though and had plans on using a full size router. Looking back, that may have been a dangerous decision. One of my sons though, heard me talking about it, and before I could get started on the build, he bought me a Ridgid palm router.
This is a Matthias Wandel design. This is not the first thing I have ever built of his design. He has some amazing designs. They are always well thought out and presented well. If you order a plan for one of his many designs, you get written instructions, plenty of photos, a sketchup drawing of it all, and always enough information that anyone with even limited wood working knowledge could follow the build if they have the patience to do so. The only complaint I have ever had with Mr. Wandel’s plans is that they’re all in metric. That isn’t his fault. Where he lives, that’s the measuring system they use. The more I build of his projects though, I am getting more used to using metric.
Mr. Wandel’s website can be seen here. You can read more about his pantograph design and purchase the plans here. While you’re on his site though, be sure to check out all that he offers. Even if you’re not interested in a pantograph, he has a lot of other machines you can buy plans for that are well thought out and usually superior to factory made tools.
Now on to the one I built. Wait, I built two of them. I will explain that.

To start with I built the pantograph according to Mr. Wandel’s plans. The only change I made you can see in this photo. According to the plans, the router is held in this carrier with some wood that is supposed to be screwed down. I wanted the ability to easily remove the router to use elswhere, either on other tools I may build for it or attached to it’s base that came with it. It really isn’t no big change at all. I just replaced two screws with two bolts and knobs.
If you build this design, Mr. Wandel’s plans were built around a Bosch Colt palm router. If you use any other type of router, as I did, all you have to do is keep the same center point for the router, which is clearly laid out in the 1:1 drawings that come with the plans, and resize this part to fit the router you are using.

I was sure that, being what looks like a complicated piece of machinery, that this would be a long build that would take a week or two. I was so wrong. This is one of the simplest designs in the world. After you get the part built that holds your router, the rest of it can be done in no time with basic shop tools. From start to finish, I built this one in less than ten hours total.
Then I tested the pantograph to see how well it worked. It works great, but more on that later.
My intention with this machine it to cut wooden signs. Yes, I could have just bought a Milescraft Sign Crafter, but I wanted something with more flexibility. I want to be able to design different size and styles of fonts and be able to use them over and over. After building this, I noticed that it has a reach of about two feet long for a sign. This is not a problem. All you’d have to do is move your material over, reset, and you could potentially make a sign as long as you want. However, since the build was so easy, I started thinking about the phrase, go big or go home. So I decided to build a bigger one.

Here are all the parts for the larger one. That is all there is to it. The trick of it all is to get the holes for the steele shafts lined up properly. As long as you do that, it all fits together so easily it almost seems too simple. All I done to make a larger one was to make all the parts twice as long, out of pecan for strength, and adjusted the measurements for the holes accordingly. I guess it was because I had already built one and knew how everything went, I built the larger pantograph in about five hours.

This pantograph desing cuts everything on a one half scale. So with this larger one, I can cut signs now up to four foot long.
That means the follower that you trace your templates with stretches out eight feet.
As you can see from this photo, the follower goes from one side of my seven foot long work table….....

All the way to the other end, without being stretched out al the way to it’s limit.

The plans give instructions for building various styles of followers that can be easily interchanged on the tools to more accurately follow different types of patterns and templates using different types of router bits.

The pantograph is supposed to be attached to a board that serves as a work surface. I decided not to mount mine. I left it so I can clamp the base to my work table when I use it. I think this will work out just fine. However, just in case, I did drill and countersink holes in the base so I can attach it to a large board at a later date if I see this is necessary.

Now, I have not built proper templates for this yet. That’s another future project. I did need to test it out though. So I just wrote my name on a piece of paper and used the follower that is just a rod polished on the end to slide easily and tried following my name, basically free hand.

It isn’t pretty, but I think it’s pretty good for my first time using this. With some proper templates, I can see a world of possibilities for this machine.
As soon as my kids seen this though, two of them just had to have their names in wood, so I done that real quick for them before moving on to some more playing.

J.C. insisted to let him write his own name and have me cut it.

While James wanted me to do his.
Then I wanted to cut something 3-D. This is where I figure this machine would really shine. So I looked around the shop for something to do. I remembered seeing a crescent wrench that Mr. Wandel had cut on his, so I decided to do the same with mine.

The smallest bit I had was a quarter inch, which didn’t allow me to get most of the finer details, but I was happy with the results. With some smaller bits, I can really see the potential here for some cool future projects.

So now I have two pantographs, a large and a small. I still have to make templates and get some better bits. I am excited about the potential this contraption introduces though.


50 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27710 posts in 4566 days

#1 posted 04-22-2012 10:52 PM

Very cool pantograph.Nice build job. I love it. That sure has a large range, too….................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 4136 days

#2 posted 04-22-2012 11:26 PM

Great job. Looks very impressive. You do realize that you keep raising the bar, as far as what we now EXPECT from your little projects!!!
Just like a “Lay’s” potato chip; You can’t have just one!!!
A 3-D Router Pantograph & a Mega 3-D Router Pantograph!!!
Would this count towards two entries into the Stumpy Jig Contest???

We demend big things from you now!!!

I commend you on a job well done. Two jobs actually!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4301 days

#3 posted 04-22-2012 11:27 PM

Outstanding William. Now with your scroll work. A 3d touch to the projects leave the sky as the limit. Now I am interested in seeing what you come up with.
Now I think you understand the infatuation I have with making my own tools.
Cool build.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View William's profile


9950 posts in 4303 days

#4 posted 04-22-2012 11:36 PM

Thank ya’ll very much.

It does have a large range. At first, when thinking of going bigger, I was going to go even bigger than this. However, I considered stability and weight and decided that 2X the original design was plenty large enough. I think it’ll do anything I want to do now.

Never expect too much. At some point I must stop this and get back to basics. I think someday soon I’ll just make some woodene nickels and and some round tuits.

I am very excited about this one. You are thinking along the same lines as me. Some of my scroll projects are nice, but how would some of them look carved, using this pantograph, into a solid piece of wood?
Yes, I understand completely your fascination with building your own tools. Have you noticed most of what I’ve done so far for all of 2012? The bad thing is that as soon as I finish one, I start thinking about what other tools I could build myself.

One of my sons suggested I build my own table saw.


View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3767 days

#5 posted 04-22-2012 11:51 PM

Hi William, that’s a great build, I know usually whenever I am building a jig, I think of another 5 or 6 I want to build afterwards. I am constantly trying to build things out of wood that are typically not made of wood like my Cyclone DC. I can’t wait to see so more of the projects you make with this pantograph.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 4075 days

#6 posted 04-22-2012 11:54 PM

amazing tool build William .and to have a loving family with you, you are truly a blessed and talented man.

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4265 days

#7 posted 04-23-2012 12:02 AM

This is so way kool. Wow! Very kool

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View StumpyNubs's profile


7854 posts in 4261 days

#8 posted 04-23-2012 12:28 AM

Looks great!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View boxcarmarty's profile


17506 posts in 3821 days

#9 posted 04-23-2012 12:52 AM

The perfect test and your next project can be a 4 foot wooden nickle…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4802 days

#10 posted 04-23-2012 01:29 AM

sweet tool build william

now the sky
is not the limit

well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8640 posts in 4814 days

#11 posted 04-23-2012 01:41 AM

I wish you lived next door to me!!!! Nice work! And thank for taking the time to put this presentation together!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4479 days

#12 posted 04-23-2012 01:56 AM

I’m impressed, This looks really good.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View William's profile


9950 posts in 4303 days

#13 posted 04-23-2012 01:57 AM

Thank you all.
Once again, it makes me proud when the Lumberjocks community seems to enjoy my work.


View scrimman's profile


87 posts in 3687 days

#14 posted 04-23-2012 02:11 AM

That is wicked cool…I hope you post a few items you’ve panographed later…

-- No matter where you go, there you are!

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4896 days

#15 posted 04-23-2012 02:27 AM

Another winner from the jigoholic. Great job William :-)

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

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