Tool Reviews (+Hot New Tools): Precision routing at the touch of a button

Precision routing at the touch of a button

Shark RS1000 Pro

PRICE: $1,699.99, #184575


  • 3-1/2" vertical travel
  • Up to 12" fence travel
  • Programmed for popular router tasks
  • Adjusts by as little as .001"
  • Runs on 115v power

Next Wave—maker of a full line of three- and even four-axis CNC machines —has gone two-dimensional, adapting their computer-controlled positioning systems for router table use. The RS1000 Pro is Next Wave’s innovative two-axis CNC router control system that makes precise, complicated, or repetitive router table operations simple and accurate.

At the heart of the system is a computer-controlled router lift coupled with a servo-motorized fence. Like traditional CNC machines, the RS1000 includes a touchplate that tells the computer the bit’s location in relation to both the table and the fence. After locating the bit, the included pendant allows precise movement in both axes—raising or lowering the bit and moving the fence in or out by as little as .001" at the press of a button.

The extruded aluminum fence is stout and square, and faced with replaceable MDF faces. T-track on the fence’s face and top provide mounting points for jigs and clamps, while an optional swivel miter gauge rides atop the fence, rather than on the table.

The fence armature includes a 2-1/4" dust port and provides 6" of travel on a standard 24"-deep router table, or up to 12" of travel on a deeper table. And while the router lift is attached to a standard 9-1/4 × 11-3/4" plate, I found that its mounting holes don’t line up with pre-drilled holes in the ledges of some pre-fab tabletops. Next Wave gets around this by including a set of Kreg router table plate levelers, but you could also modify your existing tabletop. The lift, however, is compatible with any standard 3-1/2"-diameter router motor. It provides up to 3-1/2 inches of up-and-down travel at the touch of a button.

Where the machine truly separates itself from standard router lifts, though, is in its functionality. The pendant comes pre-programmed with over a dozen common router applications—box joints, half-blind dovetails (both pins and tails), lock miters, biscuit slots, flutes, and dadoes among them. With the touch of a few buttons, the router system can be set up to cut complex joinery without the need for special jigs.

I quickly cut box joints by selecting the included app on the pendant. I punched in my bit diameter, zeroed the height and fence with the touchplate, then told the system my board dimensions. The computer did the math and adjusted the fence and bit accordingly. After one pass, I tapped the screen and the fence moved precisely in preparation for the next pass. With all the fingers of one board cut, a tap reset the fence to cut the mating fingers. While I used the optional miter gauge to guide my piece along the fence, you could easily employ a follower block instead. Other apps were equally user-friendly. In addition to the included apps, the pendant includes programmable memory locations for commonly used settings.

The interface quickly become intuitive, displayed on a clear and responsive 4" color LCD touchscreen. And manufacturer’s videos are available online to walk you through each app step-by-step. For simple routing operations, both fence and bit can be moved incrementally or by inputting a specific dimension, either as fractions or decimals so there’s no need to convert, or switch to metric input.

My only qualm is that the unit does not include a remote motor start, so you need to ether turn on the router beneath your table or install a third-party remote switch. Aside from that, the level of precision this machine has brought to my shop is well worth the admittedly significant investment.

—Tester, Derek Richmond



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Designed specifically for CNC work, this 14-bit set includes upcut and compression spirals, two v-groove, two liners, and two ball-nose bits, plus a surfacing bit. Designed to cut wood, composites, plastic, and even aluminum., $472.00
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