When setting up your router table for the first time you need to make sure you get the basics right in order to work safely and get the most out of it. Time spent on setup will pay dividends in comfort and accuracy for years to come. The most important things you need to consider are making sure the height is right, ensuring the mounting plate is flat and level and checking that the fence is flat, straight, and square to the work surface. Once it’s setup properly you need to make sure you know how to feed the stock properly for maximum safety and efficiency.
There is no limit to what a router can do. That’s why just about every woodworker has one. But if you are using your router only as a handheld tool, you’re not taking full advantage of its versatility. Mounted in a table, the router becomes a super-accurate joinery machine that can spin out perfect sliding dovetails, and tenons that fit their mortises straight from the table. And you can also rout more consistent edge profiles because the router won’t tip. But if you want get the most out of your router table you have to know what to look for because a quality router table can be a serious investment.
Bosch has had arguably the best jigsaws around since the company brought them to market in 1946. The Bosch JS470E 120-Volt 7.0-Amp Top-Handle Jigsaw is no exception. It has power to spare, smooth operation, a good line of sight, a great trigger-lock lever, and a 13-ft. cord to boot. The case is sturdy and well made with plenty of room for the saw, the cord, the blades, and any of the standard Bosch accessories. The blade is perfectly square with the base and stays fairly rigid through cuts in all different materials. The blower works well, and ramping up the orbital action to the top level lets this saw take off down the track. Bosch pioneered tool-less blade changes, and the company’s newer line of jigsaws actually ejects the blade from the armature even when held upside down, eliminating the chance of burnt fingers. The Bosch JS470E 120-Volt 7.0-Amp Top-Handle Jigsaw retails at $133
The PORTER CABLE PCC650B 20-volt MAX Lithium Bare Jigsaw is part of Porter Cable’s 20-volt MAX Lithium tool line-up. All the tools in the range come as bare tool – i.e. no battery supplied. The PCC650B jigsaw has all the features you’d expect – 3 orbital settings to adjust the cut aggressiveness across wide range of applications, a variable speed trigger (0-2,500 SPM) which provides control for clean and accurate cuts, and an integrated dust blower clears debris for better visibility. It also has a tool-free blade release that allows for quick and easy blade changes, along with a beveling shoe that provides the ability to cut 0 to 45 degree bevel cuts. Overall, the PORTER CABLE PCC650B 20-volt MAX Lithium Bare Jigsaw is an excellent professional-grade cordless jigsaw for the price.
The DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Jig Saw is a top quality, professional grade, powerful cordless jigsaw. Powered by the new DEWALT 20V MAX battery platform it’s an obvious addition to anyone’s tool box that’s switched over to the new platform. With a ton of features including a 4-position orbital action, keyless blade changes, a removable non-marring shoe plate and an adjustable dust blower, the DEWALT DCS331B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Jig Saw is a cordless jigsaw that’s on a par with many of the better quality corded versions on the market.
Jigsaws are versatile, maneuverable power tools that can make both straight and curved cuts. Like a bandsaw, a jigsaw makes a saw kerf square to the face of the work piece, making it useful for cutting notches where you don’t want the over-cut you’d see with a circular saw. Jigsaws also can make plunge cuts to start a hole in the middle of a surface — as in cutting out a countertop for a sink, for example.
There are two basic designs: barrel grip and top handle. A barrel-gripped model is grasped around the body of the tool and pushed through a cut. Slide-type on-off switches and rear-mounted speed controls on these saws may not be convenient for everyone.
Top-handle jigsaws have on-off switches within easy reach, making it easy to turn the saw off quickly, and some incorporate speed controls with the power switch. A variable-speed feature makes it easy to regulate the speed of the cut.
Saws that offer tool-free blade changes are more convenient than older designs that require an Allen wrench or other key that can easily be lost. Manufacturers have come up with a variety of approaches, some better than others. Another important feature is orbital cutting, a feature available on most jigsaws. As the name suggests, this turns the straight up-down stroke of the blade into an orbital motion. The more pronounced the orbital setting, the greater the cutting speed but the rougher the cut.
In 1999, the Router Lift was invented by JessEm Tool with the introduction of the Rout-R- Lift. This innovation created a whole new category for the woodworker, and since then other manufacturers have joined the market including Kreg, Incra, Woodpeckers and Bench Dog. A router lift is essentially a router-table mounting plate with an attached carriage that holds the router. A removable crank handle inserts into the mounting plate and turns to raise and lower the carriage with incredible precision down to a 1/64-inch adjustment.
Some router lifts will accept a wide range of different router brands and models while others will only fit a particular model, so you need to check router compatibility before you buy.
In addition to the improvements in the quality of your work this gives you, a router lift makes your life so much easier and more efficient. A router lift immediately removes the three main problems caused when you mount your router in a router table – bending down and reaching under the table, working with height-adjustment controls and locks that are upside-down and backward and having to remove the motor from the router base to change the router bit.
The Incra Mast-R-Lift II shares all of the advantages of the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II on which it is based. It’s got fast, incredibly precise height adjustments from above the table, smooth, low-friction ‘one-finger’ carriage movement and compatibility with 18 of the most popular router models out of the box to name a few. But on top of that it’s got Incra’s MagnaLOCK magnetic insert rings which give a number of real benefits compared to other brands’ phenolic inserts – in particular, the height adjustment screws in the four corner tabs. Overall, we think that gives it the edge making the Incra Mast-R-Lift II our go-to router lift.
The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II is the the latest version of JessEm’s Mast-R-Lift router lift which has kept all the great features which made the original Mast-R-Lift so popular and added some new features as well. JessEm invented the router lift back in 1999 and continues to concentrate on producing top quality, innovative router lifts which make router table work easier and more accurate than ever.
JessEm invented the router lift back in 1999 and with the introduction of the JESSEM Mast-R-Lift Excel II Router Table Top With Integral Router Lift they’ve taken it to the next level. The Mast-R-Lift Excel II is one of the very few router lifts to utilize a crank handle attached permanently to the side of the table top to make router bit height adjustments rather than the usual system of a removable crank handle inserted into the table top. With the lift mechanism attached directly to the table top rather than a separate mounting plate and with or without the optional digital gauge, the level of precision with this system is unparalleled. If you want the best, this one’s for you.