Popular Woodworking 2005-02 № 146, страница 61




Popular Woodworking 2005-02 № 146, страница 61

On top of that, the machine will also create more than half a dozen other j oints without having to buy dozens of accessories.

Is it too good to be true? There are some catches. The WoodRat isn't cheap and it has a pretty steep learning curve. You'll also have to use it regularly to keep the knowledge fresh. The user's manual is 141 pages long, but I recommend watching (and re watching) the instructional DVD to really understand the tool.

The tool's originator, Martin Godfrey, is also the DVD's host. Unlike many instructional DVD's Godfrey makes this one entertaining and the production values are pretty decent.

The Jig Itself

In its heart the WoodRat is a joint maker and can also be used as a router table. So it's not really fair

to compare it to a dovetail j ig, but that's what most woodworkers will do, and so will we.

Location: Many of us have a special shelf where our dovetail jig lives when not in use. Pull it off the shelf and after 10 or 15 minutes you're ready to start setting up the jig. The WoodRat is designed to be mounted permanently to your wall. It does take up some wall space but it's always ready to use. If you don't have wall space, it can be mounted to a frame and easily attached to your bench when needed.

The manufacturer touts the space-saving benefit of the WoodRat, and initially that doesn't seem to wash. But when you consider the size of a router table and the necessary space for a dovetail jig, the assertion isn't wrong.

When using a standard dovetail jig you're presented most

commonly with templates that determine the spacing and type of dovetail created. Many woodworking purists avoid jigs because of the lack of flexibility in the spacing. The WoodRat uses no templates, so you can space the tails in any arrangement you like. That in itself is a pretty strong argument for the machine.

Add to that the special highspeed steel dovetail bits available for the WoodRat and you gain a very thin tail profile (as thin as 3/16") that's simply not possible with standard dovetail bits. This increases the nearly hand-cut effect of the jig and again earns points for the WoodRat.

Once understood and set, the WoodRat is very handy at making dovetails, both half-blind and through (though you still have to square out the corners of the half-blinds). Let's take a closer look.

How it Works

The photo below shows a plunge router mounted to the router plate. Similar to many aftermarket router table inserts, the router plate is drilled to match the mounting holes on your router.

The router plate is attached to the base plate by the two guide rails. The guide rails capture the router plate in milled rabbets and are used for straight cuts, including cutting tails for dovetails and finger joints.

With the guide rails removed, the spirals and center plate come into play for cutting the dovetail pins. The center plate serves as a carefully located pivot point (determined by the type of dovetail bit used). The spirals are eccentric stops that limit the left and right pivot of the router plate, again adjusted to match individual dovetail bits.

The router plate is guided by the guide rails across the base plate, giving one rails removed, the router plate pivots on the center plate making angled cuts. axis of movement for the router. The plunge mechanism of the router itself The left and right swing is limited by the spirals set to the appropriate angle. (assisted by the plunge bar) provides a second movement axis. With the guide

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Popular Woodworking February 2005



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