Woodcraft Hybrid PantoRouter - Hybrid PantoRouter (Rating: 4)

Gas Machine Engineering Auto part Household appliance accessory

I have had my PantoRouter, "All In One Panto Package" for two weeks. Four packages are offered from $1095 to $1849. The newest rendition has the one piece cast aluminum base with partial assembly of some of the parts. They are constantly improving them and coming up with new applications. The finishing of the assembly was easy and it went together without a hitch. I have been practicing and testing it for a couple of hours almost every day so I decided I had enough to blog my findings.

My over all evaluation of the PantoRouter is that it is a well made device that is capable of making unlimited accurate, repetitive, and precise joinery cuts. It also lends itself to other uses that I'm sure creative minds will come up with as it gets more exposure.
I think it would be a great addition for a small commercial shop or a "hobbyist" who needs to make a lot of repetitive joinery. For instance a hobbyist who sells items at craft fairs.
For those woodworkers who don't do a lot of this type of repetitive work the devise is a rather expensive indulgence to their need for more tools. I have to admit that I fall in the latter category. As we all know, "He with the most tools when he dies wins". However the setup and use for even a single project is easy enough to make using it regularly fun and worth while.

I first came across the tool when LumberJock, a1Jim, mentioned it in one of his posts. I was checking it out the wood version when I came across the metal version on the internet and my wife saw me looking at it. She had been trying to come up with a gift idea for my upcoming birthday and asked if that is what I wanted. I bit on the bait. We have reached the stage where it is difficult to find gifts for each other.
First of was making box joints and I found that the PantoRouter makes very clean precise 1/4" and 1/2" box joints right out of the box using the metal template. There is very little fussing with adjustments. The same template makes both size cuts. The finished joints are very tight and I had no chip out, even on soft wood. It is much more accurate and easy than cutting them with a jig on my table saw or on the router table.

I did not get the fixed spacing metal template for dovetails (I will soon) so I tried the variable spaced plastic templates and like most dovetail making devices it takes some patients to get the adjustments for the pins cuts set correctly and if you use a variable setting for the cuts you have to reverse the setup for the pins on one end of each board. That requires set up time and a test cut to make sure you got it correctly lined up but that is the same as when I used a Leigh D-4 to do the same thing. You can get some very tight dove tails but with accessories included in the "all in one" package you are limited to one size for tail cuts. With custom made templates for other size dovetail bits you could vary the size too. The web site is suggesting they will soon have a way to make half blind dovetails. None of the various videos I found for making dovetails on the PantoRouter showed the use of a backer board to reduce chip out. I found when cutting hard wood you can get away with this but I tried on some soft Redwood and there was a little chip out so I used a 1'4" piece of plywood and that eliminated the problem.

Another basic cut is the mortise and tenon. Here the PantoRouter excels. There are three basic sizes, 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" based on the router bits included in my package. My test cuts came out precise with only minor adjustments needed. Also the size and combinations of multi Tenon joints are only limited by the type of templates and guide pin combinations.
Additionally loose tenons can be created quickly and easily. Along the same line there are templates for making dowel type joints or loose custom sized dowels if needed. Angled mortise and tenon joints look to be equally as easy to make although I haven't tried one yet.

The PantoRouter recently added a dust collector and I have mixed results with it. It does work but has some limitations. As I was getting familiar with using the machine I found taking the skirt on and of, which is easy, was non the less a bit of a nuisance. I wanted to be able to see the cutting bit and the skirt blocked my vision. Once you have the system down and are cutting multiple duplicate pieces it will probably help a lot. Next I found that when cutting tenons with the long 1/2" bit the cutting area was not within the skirt and the shavings collected inside the skirt without being vacuumed away. If you don't need the extra length you can set the bit deeper in the collet to resolve most of this problem. I also ran into the opposite problem of getting too close some of the filaments of the skirt folded back and got tangled in the dovetail bit I was using. My mistake.

My recommendation is to spend some time viewing all the videos that are available on the PantoRouter Woodcraft web site and other sites for both the metal version and original wooden model designed by Matthias Wandel. By the way Matthias is a consultant for the metal one and he tested the two versions and said the metal one was more accurate.