Author Topic: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT  (Read 13026 times)

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Offline Dan Clark

  • Posts: 545
    • talkFestool
Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« on: June 15, 2007, 12:06 PM »
Hi.  One of the things that has always interested me is a Horizontal Router Table.  I.e., a router table that mounts a router horizontally.  This allows you to easily cut sliding dovetails and other joints that might be difficult to cut with a hand-held router or a traditional router table.

While looking through Jerry Work's excellent manual - Advanced Cutting and Routing Techniques Using the Festool MFS Fence System - I happened to notice Appendix A.   Appendix A is a hidden gem.  It is entitled "Appendix A: Horizontal router jig for the Festool Multi-function table".

Appendix A describes how to construct a relatively simple MFT jig that allows to mount and adjust a Festool router for horizontal routing.   Because the jig uses the MFT and can be mounted in any side of the MFT, it looks like you can safely route edges in large boards and sheet goods that would be otherwise difficult or impossible.

It looks like two major advantages of this approach are that it leverages your investment in the Festool MFT, CT, and router, and it's easily portable and storable.   I haven't built this yet, but I'm thinking about it.

Take a look and tell what you think.

Regards,

Dan.


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Offline John Stevens

  • Posts: 806
  • Ardmore, PA
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2007, 12:19 PM »
The horizontal router table has been discussed on the old forum and here:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/index.php?topic=221.0

As far as I know, Jesse Cloud and Jerry Work have the only two working models.  It wouldn't work with my MFT because the top and side rails aren't at 90 degrees.  Well, maybe it would work after shimming, but for me it's not worth giving it a try.

Regards,

John
What this world needs is a good retreat.
--Captain Beefheart

Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2619
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2007, 01:16 PM »
Dan,
Building a horizontal router table has been one of my great endeavors in the past couple of years!  I've sketched out numerous designs, built rough attempts, purchased (and returned) a couple of commercial products, and read up on various plans in books.  For a brief time, I was even working with a designer over at Woodpeck to create one.  In short, it's something I really want to have.

If there could be a reliable way to mount something like this on the MFT, I'd pursue it.

Matthew
FOG Designer and Creator

Offline Dan Clark

  • Posts: 545
    • talkFestool
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2007, 02:13 PM »
John, Matthew,

Good feedback and thanks for the link to the thread.   Like many things, the devil is in the details. 

One of the nice things about using the top of the MFT is 1) it's there, 2) it's big, and 3) it's got a nice built-in rail for attaching things.   So the question is, how to make it work?

It occurs to me that referencing off of the MFT's side rail would work if it was 90 degrees to the top.  But even if it was, you could easily warp it while using the side rail for some other project.  It seems to me that you need to have the router shaft exactly parallel with and referenced to the MFT top.   

I think that Jerry's design would work if you had an adjustable support beam that went UNDER the rail and adjusted against the MFT's bottom.  This would keep the adjustor out of the way and allow you to adjust for age, warpage, etc.

Another alternative would be to buy the MCLS horizontal router table and clamp it to your MFT.  But then you loose all that valuable MFT acreage.

Stuff to ponder.

Regards,

Dan.

Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2619
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2007, 02:40 PM »
Dan,
I bought, and returned, the MLCS table.  I've purchased several router bits from them, and they are pretty good, but this table is not up to par.  The crank mechanism is very rough, and it is not sturdy enough to hold the router and remain at a reliable setting (the weight of the router pulls the vertical part out of alignment).

But the concept of the MLCS table got me thinking of how I could build something like this myself.

Some elements I considered...
- The Incra router lifts have a very solid threaded rod and router support system.  Along with some proper extrusions, I can imagine making a really sturdy and very precise horizontal router table setup with their materials.  This is what got me wanting to work with Woodpeck.  Check their site to see what I mean -- http://www.woodpeck.com/
- One could purchase threaded rods and cranks from other sources and then construct a solid table to mount the router.

Matthew
FOG Designer and Creator

Offline Jerry Work

  • Posts: 307
    • The Dovetail Joint
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2007, 12:48 AM »
Hi all,

This is one of those non-intuitive things where it just works independent of whether or not you think it should.  The reason you want to use a horizontal router is for work pieces that are too big to be safely cut upright on a conventional router table (router inverted under the table top).  If you are cutting the male dovetail for a sliding dovetail on such a large work piece you likely do not want it to be too tight or the joint will be hard to make.  As a result, the "error" induced by the table sides not being perfectly 90 degrees to the table top turns out not to be much of an issue.  It means that your male will have ramp angles that are not exactly the same as the ramp angle on the female slot that you cut with the guided rail router held on top of the work pieces.  Net result, about the same as if you cut the work piece held upright on a conventional router table with enough slop to allow the long sliding dovetail to make.  I know it doesn't sound right, but I have cut many, many such male dovetails using this method and have yet to find one that did not fit up satisfactorily.  Even if you get it a bit too loose upon initial examination, wait a couple of days and I think you will find the two work pieces move enough to create a very tight fit.  The apparent difference in ramp angles gets swamped out by all the other variables in the real world.  Now, if you are cutting something other than a male sliding dovetail, the difference between the top to side angle on the MFT could become an issue I suppose, but not for sliding dovetails.  My two bits worth anyway.....  Cheers.

Jerry
The Dovetail Joint
Fine furniture designed and hand crafted by Jerry Work
in the 1907 former Masonic Temple building
in historic Kerby, OR. 
26 mi SW of Grants Pass on US 199, The Redwood Highway
Visitors always welcome!
http://jerrywork.com
glwork@mac.com

Offline Dan Clark

  • Posts: 545
    • talkFestool
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2007, 10:42 AM »
Jerry,

I thought the horizontral jig to be a brilliant use of the MFT.   However, it occurred to me that a router hanging off the rail could cause the rail to bend slightly.   Using a heavier router like the OF1400 (my router) or OF2000 could increase the potential for bending.   When having the router bit axis coplanar with the MFT top is critical, this bending could be an issue (but a resolvable one) for some people. 

I think it should be relatively simple to remove the potential for this bending.   Why not add a simple adjustable support bar running from the lower support plywood (between the two vertical rails) diagonally up to the bottom of the MFT.   

Using a square laid on top of the MFT and against the vertical aluminum router jig, adjustment to get the router perfectly coplanar should take only a minute of so.   

What do you think?

Regards,

Dan.   

Offline Jerry Work

  • Posts: 307
    • The Dovetail Joint
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2007, 12:22 PM »
Hi Dan,

That would work well and is somewhat like what I originally thought I would do with this jig.  As I started using it I found the lack of perpendicularity to be a non issue as described in the previous post.  But, for those who need/want the router bit to be exactly on plane with the table top such an adjustable diagonal brace would be ideal.  And, as you say, would be easy to do.

Jerry

Jerry,

I thought the horizontral jig to be a brilliant use of the MFT.   However, it occurred to me that a router hanging off the rail could cause the rail to bend slightly.   Using a heavier router like the OF1400 (my router) or OF2000 could increase the potential for bending.   When having the router bit axis coplanar with the MFT top is critical, this bending could be an issue (but a resolvable one) for some people. 

I think it should be relatively simple to remove the potential for this bending.   Why not add a simple adjustable support bar running from the lower support plywood (between the two vertical rails) diagonally up to the bottom of the MFT.   

Using a square laid on top of the MFT and against the vertical aluminum router jig, adjustment to get the router perfectly coplanar should take only a minute of so.   

What do you think?

Regards,

Dan.   
The Dovetail Joint
Fine furniture designed and hand crafted by Jerry Work
in the 1907 former Masonic Temple building
in historic Kerby, OR. 
26 mi SW of Grants Pass on US 199, The Redwood Highway
Visitors always welcome!
http://jerrywork.com
glwork@mac.com

Offline John Stevens

  • Posts: 806
  • Ardmore, PA
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2007, 10:47 PM »
If you are cutting the male dovetail for a sliding dovetail on such a large work piece you likely do not want it to be too tight or the joint will be hard to make.  As a result, the "error" induced by the table sides not being perfectly 90 degrees to the table top turns out not to be much of an issue.  [snip]  Even if you get it a bit too loose upon initial examination, wait a couple of days and I think you will find the two work pieces move enough to create a very tight fit.  The apparent difference in ramp angles gets swamped out by all the other variables in the real world.

This has also been true in my limited experience (a nightstand made from solid wood with sliding dovetails).  If the ends of the DTs are to be visible, then you want them appear gapless--you need a very precise jig that will get the angles, widths and depths exactly the same on the male and female pieces...and then you need to spend a little time creating some slop in the non-visible parts of the male piece.  If then ends are not to be visible, then there are other methods of joining wood that will be sufficiently strong, and will allow for cross-grain movement, but take less time and effort to make.  For example, I'm not offended by the use of pan-head screws through elongated holes to join a solid wood top to a sub-top, frame or stringer...and the Domino makes elongated holes a breeze.

Regards,

John
What this world needs is a good retreat.
--Captain Beefheart

Offline Jesse Cloud

  • Posts: 1714
  • Festooling at the end of a dirt road in New Mexico
Re: Horizontal Router Table with Festool Router & MFT
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2007, 10:59 AM »
I agree with Jerry on this one.  The perpendicularity is just not an issue.  Though I see what John means about visible DTs.  All mine were buried.

The weight of the OF1400 also would seem to be a problem, but isn't really.  The jig is held onto the rails with about a foot of plywood altogether - plenty to support the weight of the router.

One of those great little jigs that I haven't used very often, but its just right when you need it.

Thanks Jerry!