Right up front I have to say that this idea wasn't an original one of mine. The key piece of information came courtesy of a guy named Derek over at the Making Splinters blog. Without his discovery of the cast iron surface none of what follows would have been possible! So mahalos to you bigtime, Derek! :)
Somewhere in the house I have the plans for a custom router station designed and built by Norm Abrams of the old New Yankee Workshop program many years ago. It was always my idea to build that station, but over the years as my garage-slash-woodworking shop got filled with more and more cabinets, benches, lumber storage, and equipment, not to mention my pickup truck, it became clear that there just wasn't going to be room out there for Norm's station without something else being sacrificed. And my truck stays inside at night!
Tools-Plus out of Waterbury, CT. Shipping via UPS was quick.
The first task was to get the old cast iron wing off and the new one on. I usually work by myself so most builds and customizations have to factor in how to get the work done, pieces moved around, and completed with minimal or no help. Since I don't have the angle iron handy that Derek had I decided to build a set of custom bench beams with a length suitable for a "scaffold" system.
For most of their life in the shop these will be used as supports for work pieces during assembly or finishing, but their first job will stand them on end so they act as my third hand during wing removal and installation. And they earned their pay. Dis-assembly of the old wing was easy. Putting the new one on was a little difficult to get lined up and all the bolts - which had to be new and a little longer - threaded in. Eventually it all went back on perfectly.
To connect the new surface I had to get new bolts because the new wing was a little thicker in the mating surface. I got stainless steel bolts about 1/2" longer and fit them with washers because the holes in the new wing were oversized to accommodate various installations. In the end all of the new hardware I got was stainless for both strength and corrosion protection. I prefer stainless.
With the old wing was off and the new one installed one last detail had to be taken care of; holes needed to be drilled in the front and rear of the new section to reattach the fence sections. Drilling cast iron is easy... but you need to do it in stages and keep oiling the bit to control heat. So by the end of the first night the new surface was on and the front and rear fence sections reinstalled. Everything lined up quite nicely too.
If I follow up with the manufacturer of this surface it will be worth mentioning that it doesn't
But that wouldn't help me so I secured the new plate with stainless steel fender washers, lock washers and bolts. This worked perfectly as seen below.
|Custom Jessem insert plates for different bit sizes and HDMW guide bearing|
A revised, nu-narrated video of the fence design is available for a look. SketchUp is like Halloween candy... once you start with it you just can't put it away. It's far too easy to use and way too much fun!
I'll post a quick shot of the fence once it's done. This system will honestly up my routing game, and I can't wait to start using it. The solution was a little more expensive than building a custom router station, but much quicker, and most importantly won't take up any more space in a limited workshop.