Tool Reviews (+Hot New Tools): Routed joinery made quick and easy

Routed joinery made quick and easy

PantoRouter ALL-IN Woodworking Machine Package

PRICE: $2,185, pantorouter.com

CUTS:

  •  1⁄8-1" mortise and tenons
  • Fixed and variable-spaced dovetails
  •  1⁄4 and 1⁄2" box joints
  • Dowel joints
  • Other specialty shapes

OTHER FEATURES:

  • Built-in dust collection port
  • Tilting table

See it in action. Click here to watch a short video of the PantoRouter in use

Last summer I succumbed to a barrage of internet advertising and acquired a PantoRouter. I’d seen other horizontally-mounted routers before, but those were essentially just slot mortisers—a tool I already have access to. The PantoRouter promised to be a much more versatile joint-cutting machine capable not only of cutting mortises, but the matching tenons as well, along with through dovetails, box joints, dowel joints, and more. The way the machine works is clever. The included Bosch router is mounted to an articulated arm which is, in turn, attached to a sliding carriage. Two handles control the router’s movement: one advances and retracts the carriage while the other moves the router from side-to-side and up-and-down. Above the router there is an aluminum extrusion where you mount the template(s) for the joint you’re cutting. Various sizes of guide bearings inserted through the arm follow the template and control the router’s path. 

To cut a mortise and tenon joint, for example, start by cutting the mortise. Mount the appropriate length template on the extrusion and chuck a straight bit sized to match your mortise width (from 1/8-1" dia.) in the router. Position your workpiece on the table and clamp it down. Set the depth stop and move the router back and forth to cut the mortise with the smallest of the guide bearings running inside the template. To cut the matching tenon, switch to a 1/2" straight bit (appropriate for all tenon sizes) and choose the appropriate-sized guide bearing for the thickness of the tenon you need. Clamp your workpiece in place, set the depth, and run the bearing around the outside of the template to cut the tenon. To fine tune the fit, the outside of the template is tapered. Start with the guide bearing running around the fattest part then move to the thinner parts until you get the fit you want. While it may sound complicated, in practice it works quite well and is fairly intuitive to set up. For more photos of the tool in use, see page 48 where I use the PantoRouter to cut face frame joinery. Dovetails and other joints are cut with a similar process, making use of the appropriate templates and bits (all supplied with the All-In package).

In all, I’m pleased with the machine and am looking forward to exploring more of its capabilities in the coming months. A few things to note as you get started: There are a lot of loose pieces. You’re going to want some way to keep them organized. A cart similar to the one on page 48 may be in order. The PantoRouter website offers similar plans (as well as an extensive library of how-to videos). Also, the dust extraction system is excellent, but after a few uses the detachable brush kept falling off. The company’s tech support was great, but I still think I may need to add a more positive latch. And finally, while the instruction manual is comprehensive, I found its organization a little spotty. It definitely pays to go through it several times to familiarize yourself with everything before plugging in.

—Tester, Ken Burton

Oneida Air Systems

Super Dust Deputy Deluxe Cyclone

Turn your single-stage collector into a two-stage system removing 99% of dust and debris. Includes a 15-gallon dust collection bin, anti-static resin cyclone, and adapters for 4 or 5" inlet and 4 or 6" outlet hoses. 
#184393, $269.99

JessEm

Pow-R-Tek SR

The Canadian toolmaker added a 3 1⁄4 hp router motor to its lineup. Standard 4.2" diameter motor fits Jess-Em and most other router lifts. Features redesigned spindle bearings, redirected air exhaust, and remote motor control speed switch. Includes 1⁄4 and 1⁄2" collets and spare brushes.

jessem.com, $499.99

Festool

CTC-SYS Cordless Extractor

This 36-volt turbine dry extractor packed into a T-LOC Systainer provides portable dust suction. Runs on dual 18-volt batteries and includes a remote control and shoulder strap. Features a HEPA filter and three suction levels. 

#576941, $399.00

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