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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 681 reads 1 time favorited 5 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



5 comments so far

View Steve's profile

Steve

100 posts in 3605 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.

-- Free Wood Videos Here: https://bit.ly/2s0LyPT"

View 55woodbutcher's profile

55woodbutcher

48 posts in 458 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

89 posts in 993 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 (online now)

LittleBlackDuck

3670 posts in 1452 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

89 posts in 993 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

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