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Shop Tool Projects #1: A Router Table with Rack and Pinion Linear Motion DRO Fence

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Blog entry by teetomterrific posted 02-01-2020 03:47 PM 2731 reads 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop Tool Projects series Part 2: A Totally Insane, Ridiculously Over Engineered, X-Y T-Track DRO Drill Press Table »

It has been almost a year since I completed this shop tool build project so I’ve had some time to put this router table with rack and pinion linear motion DRO fence to use since I originally documented this build for posterity. It has worked out great in my shop and I’d have a tough time going backward and using my old router table now that I have this one.

Teaser Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se2wNlpWX3I

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If necessity is the mother of invention then frustration must be her whiney nagging little sister that doesn’t shut-up until her older sibling gives her what she wants. This project was not born so much by inspiration as it was frustration.

In December 2018 I took some time off for the holidays with the thought in mind of getting days on end of making sawdust, (that part was glorious). The project I planned to work on required routing channels precisely in the center of 3/4 inch stock with tennons on each end, (the stiles), and having those mate precisely with channels between mortises on legs, (the rails), for a panel insertion.
The amount of time I spent adjusting my router table fence in order to accomplish this task was so frustrating. I’d make an adjustment, run a test cut and it would be off just a hair. Rinse and repeat 10 times or so and finally more than an hour later I was able to make all the cuts on the stiles in about 5 minutes. It was less difficult setting up the Legs, (rails), than the stiles but it still took way more time than I thought it should. Consequently that whiney little voice of frustration started tickling my consciousness until it sounded like it was screaming at me “THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY”!

It wasn’t long before I determined I need a mechanism that provided precise linear movement of the fence and something that would tell me just how much movement was made. Adjusting the fence on my router table needed more than just pencil reference marks and a ruler. Thus began a search for a way to accomplish my goal. I looked at numerous ready-made linear motion devices and considered how to integrate them with a router table and fence. What I found was many of the approaches for ready-made linear actuators were quite expensive and most would be difficult to easily integrate. I divided these in to two basic categories; screw type and rack and pinion type. The screw type seemed to be more predominate, but they were bulky and would have to project quite far under the router table and might make mounting the table to the base I already had for my existing table impossible. There of course was screw type hardware and rails that I could adapt for an over the table mechanism but in examining the engineering challenges and hardware costs compared to various hardware components for rack and pinion linear motion, the latter won out and I began to formulate a design.

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That design and the entire build process is documented in PDF format and is available here: A Router Table with Rack and Pinion Linear Motion DRO Fence The document also includes a complete parts list, sourcing and costs.

There is a link for the Sketchup drawing in the document linked above but here is the direct link to view it in the 3D Warehouse

And of course here is a photo of the final result.

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Note: Not everyone that might read the build journey for this project has the means to just go out and buy all the parts at once to build something like this rack a pinion linear motion fence router table like I did. I’m posting it here primarily as a resource for others to hopefully gain the benefit of the experiences I had building this tool in any future projects the readers might tackle.

-- Tom, Adams, TN



12 comments so far

View Steve's profile

Steve

104 posts in 4049 days


#1 posted 02-01-2020 03:55 PM

Hi Tom – Smart design. Way to bring your vision (and shop needs) to life! Well done. New sub here.

-- https://www.commercialforestproducts.com/good-swamp-ash/

View 55woodbutcher's profile

55woodbutcher

80 posts in 902 days


#2 posted 02-01-2020 05:48 PM

Now that is kick-a**! I always like it when someone goes to the nth degree to make just what they need and want.

View teetomterrific's profile

teetomterrific

120 posts in 1437 days


#3 posted 02-01-2020 06:15 PM



I always like it when someone goes to the nth degree to make just what they need and want.

- 55woodbutcher

LOL! Wait until you see Shop Tool Project #2…

-- Tom, Adams, TN

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

7091 posts in 1896 days


#4 posted 02-01-2020 09:53 PM

That is neat t’t’t’... being a SketchUp tragic earns you more brownie points from me.

Have you considered extending the idea into vertical lift?

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View teetomterrific's profile

teetomterrific

120 posts in 1437 days


#5 posted 02-02-2020 03:11 AM



That is neat t t t ... being a SketchUp tragic earns you more brownie points from me.

Have you considered extending the idea into vertical lift?

- LittleBlackDuck

I really had not considered extending the idea into vertical lift for this specific router table project since I’m using a JessEm MasterLift II. That does not preclude some future rack and pinion vertical lifting mechanism project if the application makes sense. However my next Shop Tool Project blog is another horizontal linear motion tool but it uses ball screws instead of rack and pinion. Stay tuned for that in a few days.

-- Tom, Adams, TN

View AutomaterArtist's profile

AutomaterArtist

4 posts in 88 days


#6 posted 02-08-2021 02:45 AM

Tom,

i am new to posr here, but saw your projrct and loved it. i have the jessm lift as well and used a ballscrew and arduino with a nextion HMI to automate the lift. fun project, andmits been great, turned my router table into a plunge router. if your interested, i can take some pics and share the wiring, code for the arduino.


the based on your post, extended the progran to use a ball screw to manage the fence as well.

View teetomterrific's profile

teetomterrific

120 posts in 1437 days


#7 posted 02-09-2021 03:41 AM



Tom,

i am new to posr here, but saw your projrct and loved it. i have the jessm lift as well and used a ballscrew and arduino with a nextion HMI to automate the lift. fun project, andmits been great, turned my router table into a plunge router. if your interested, i can take some pics and share the wiring, code for the arduino.

based on your post, extended the progran to use a ball screw to manage the fence as well.

- AutomaterArtist

Very cool use of a ball screw. What diameter and pitch did you use? What kind of stepper motor? I’d love to see more pics and or diagrams if you want to share. You should probably do an in depth blog on it. I haven’t programed an Arduino yet but it’s on my to do list. I write some code for work now and then so I don’t think the learning curve will be steep.

Are you able to control the depth to a fine degree? 1/32 or 1mm at a time? I’d love to see more about all the steps it took for you to do these things.

-- Tom, Adams, TN

View AutomaterArtist's profile

AutomaterArtist

4 posts in 88 days


#8 posted 02-09-2021 04:45 AM

1610 with a nema23 ck out fuyu linear motion set up on amazon, i used a 150 mm travel, and had to build a mounting block out of aluminum that i put in between the 2 collars in the master lift. was thinking about the blocg, and just need to find the time to write it up. as far as control, yes, down to 1/100 of an inch. because i am using a 1600 steps per rev, its really easy to move very small increments

i am not a programmer, but the arduino is really easy to learn if u know c or c++. combine that with enent base programming, and wala… u have an HMI interface with all the control u need. give me couple days, and i will detail this a bit

View teetomterrific's profile

teetomterrific

120 posts in 1437 days


#9 posted 02-10-2021 02:18 AM

AutomaterArtist The Fuyu FSL40 Linear Guide Slide looks like the one you used. I probably have to buy one and an Arduino and play with it now. I write code mostly using a cross platform dev environment called Xojo or sometimes VB.Net, but the Arduino IDE looks easy enough to learn.

I anxiously await your detailed blog!

-- Tom, Adams, TN

View AutomaterArtist's profile

AutomaterArtist

4 posts in 88 days


#10 posted 02-10-2021 06:08 PM

Teetomterric—
Yup, the FSL40 is the 1 I used, in the 150mm travel. It’s just a bit long for my router table, but the 100mm was too short. If you go down the Arduino path, I warn you…. it’s addicting…

Here is a quick list of pieces to start wiring together and playing with
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077Q7QGF6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E6RMASC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PQ5KNKR/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EWNUUUA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

once you figure out the stepper motor drivers… the rest is easy. (kind of)

I used this HMI interface, which required a windows PC for the IDE.. but it was fun building the UI from scratch as well.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DXN9WMS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

but for prototyping – I used this 1, as it didn’t need a protective case
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0825MWPGP/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

lead time on some of this stuff is a bit longer, so planning is so very important.

Am looking to start the blog tonight, will see how far I get

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2621 posts in 1664 days


#11 posted 02-10-2021 06:31 PM

Betcha its more than an Incra! lol

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View AutomaterArtist's profile

AutomaterArtist

4 posts in 88 days


#12 posted 02-10-2021 07:16 PM

Madmark2,

I am guessing yes – especially as this was built from scratch (kinda).
I will probably also do a blog on the dust collection automation I did with the Arduino. Can be plugged into any shop, as everything is late bound configured through text files on a SD card. I read the current through the outlet the machine is plugged into, and instruct servo’s to open or close dust gates to have a direct path to the machine.

But – just the ball screw, HMI, and power to productionalize this on my machine is more than an Incra. But, that wasn’t the point- I am kind of at the same point in my financial life as teetomterrific…. I can impulsively start a project like this and see where it takes me and not have to worry about groceries.

If I was to do it again, It’s probably $400 all in to get the automated lift start to finish (plus my programming time)

The automation of the fence was about $160 start to finish, and only because I had to get a 250mm ball screw and a piece of 4×4 aluminum angle

the fun part of these projects is the engineering to make it work and not have the commercial solution. Does my router table look as good as teetomteriffic…. hell no! :-). but, I had fun figuring out my table, was able to use the table and router I had, and it does what I want it to do. :-)

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