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Thread: Betterley Router Dust Collection: Comments

  1. #1
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    Betterley Router Dust Collection: Comments

    Betterley Industries manufacturers and sells a wide variety of products, primarily targeted at solid-surface countertop fabricators and installers.

    A week ago, I purchased their STACC-VAC product, and thought I'd pass along my thoughts.

    Background/Disclaimers:
    1) I have never had any contact with them before asking questions related to my purchase - I only called to be sure I understood what I needed.
    2) I am not a countertop guy. Never have been. Never will be.
    3) I don't consider this a legitimate "product review", because there are folks here who do a great job of those, and I ain't doing THAT much work on this comment.
    3) I don't even consider myself a "router guy." I own 2 PC 690xx, all the bases for them, and a Makita lam trimmer. I don't have a router table, and doubt I ever will. I don't use routers enough to warrant the investment in a good table, a really good fence, and a great lift [the only setup I would be happy with]. I had to struggle a bit to come up with a "plausible excuse" to buy my 2d 690 from a fellow Creeker - forget where I landed on that one - probably involved beer.

    SO: If you conclude I don't know much about routers, good for you - I already know that. If you think I should have taken a different approach - good for you - I don't care .

    Their website has info on the product, of course. Not a bulletproof source for Q+A, I thought, but enough for me to get a good feel.

    BOTTOM LINE: I evaluate products, restaurants, airlines, etc on (a) how well they perform what they say they will do [the famous Varsity in Atlanta, and the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, both rank at the top of this criteria in my book, but you would never confuse the two], and (2) did I get my money's worth, based on where I thought I was going on the price-performace curve [repeat previous example].

    Betterley's product outperformed what I expected. Their website says it will capture over 95% of the dust. My unscientific, anectdotal, look-around-the-workbench-and-floor evaluation puts it at 98%+. Seriously. The product performed better than they said, and better than I expected. Also, their customer service was excellent. On the price-performance curve, I got more than my money's worth, IMO, but it ain't cheap.

    VERY BRIEF description:

    1) The product's "guts" is a machined aluminum base, that screws to the cast base of the router. Don't know all the hole patterns, but the 690 bolts right on. Very well machined.
    2) It has a dust port that is 1-1/2" OD by 1-3/8" ID. My Fein T-III accessory hose fits inside perfectly.
    3) There is a clear plastic dust guard that snaps into the main base [takes a bit of figuring out] to keep the dust below the base.
    4) There is a sub-base that screws onto the main base. I also got an accessory sub-base designed for use with plunge operations.
    5) There is a plastic curved block ["dust deflector body"] to which you attach a couple of brushes, and a lower dust guard that attaches to the plastic block. The point here is this: with the standard sub-base and the block/brushes attached, you are riding against the edge of a countertop for roundover/chamfering. The block w/brushes is 1-1/4" tall to account for the countertop thickness, and the lower dust guard rides under the overhanging countertop edge.
    6) The optional plunge sub-base I got has a center hole sized to accept templet guides.

    OBSERVATIONS:
    I have used this for three different tasks [all with WRC]. I have it hooked up to the older model Fein T-III, with a filter [not HEPA] and bag, and a 16' x 1-1/4" accessory flex hose that runs from the vac up to the ceiling, across the joists, and down to the workbench.
    1) 1/2" x 5" x 1" deep mortises. About 200 of these so far. 1/2" upcut spiral bit, cutting in 4 passes. Marvelous. The only issue I have seen is that the WRC has long, stringy fibers. Pretty much everything that escapes the dust collection are stray, long fibers - and there is very little of that. These fibers also mean that I have developed the habit of making a couple "repeat passes" during the plunge cycles, to clear the fibers that jam into the mortise. Probably need to do this only 25% of the time, but since I can't tell until I have pulled the router off-station, I just do it every time. I am sure this is due to the characteristics of the WCR, and would not expect to see it in hardwood.
    2) Using a 1/4" upcut spiral bit, routing 2" x 6" rectangular cutouts in 3/4" WRC in 3 passes. Done about 100 of these so far. Same performance as with the mortises, except that the narrow routed slot means the long stringy fibers jam up more in the bottom of the slot. Just a couple of "clean out" passes to dislodge and send them up the chute.
    3) Using a 5/16" radius bit, round over about 700 lineal feet of edge. So far. This presented an intellectual challenge. The standard product's roundover design is for overhanging countertops. Not my application - no overhang. For this type of router work, I slap some 80g adhesive-backed sandpaper on the bench for a friction surface, and go to town. I was not about to "perch' the workpiece on something. I thought it through, emailed Betterley with my situaiton and thoughts. Got into a good email-conversation about "this-then-that-did-you-think-of-no-good-point-how-about-yes-fine-but-maybe...." So, I made a reasonable facsimile of their block, but no brushes and about 5/8" thick - so it ride just above the ench surface. 2" diameter hole, then cut back to an arc of about 60% of that circumference. It sits about 1/2" off the workpiece. I rotate the leading edge against the workpiece. Now that I made one, I can see "how I shoulda done it", but - It works great. Absolutely great. Doubt I will take the time to fab V2.0 Anyone ever use a hand-held to roundover 700 lf? and then shovel your way out of the shop?

    I.....have....NEVER....filled up a Fein bag that fast. True story - the fiber quit clearing. I tried more clean-out passes. Nope. I took out the hose to see if the base or hose connection had clogged. Nope. Ran through the usual litany of cusswords. Nope - these never work - I need some new ones, I guess. Finally considered that maybe the Fein bag was full. Bingo. Thankfully, I have 'Zon Prime, and got some more right away.

    [Side note: with the plunge at "home", you can sit the router down, turn it on to activate the Fein remote, pull the vac hose, and vacuum up stuff on the table. . Don't start on me guys. As I said - I don't care.]

    I'm a fan. They hit the gong at the top of the tower on delivered v promised, customer service, and sitting on the right spot of the price-performance curve.

    If you think this would be something that fits your needs, you will not be disappointed, IMO. Solid product. Solid company.

  2. #2
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    May I ask what the price point is?

  3. #3
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    Good to have another input for a router dust shroud or hood . I'm of the opinion that emphasis on good dust shrouds is probably worth much more than all the time we spend discussing cyclone CFM differences.
    Thanks for the review!
    Thread on "How do I pickup/move XXX Saw?" http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=597898

    Compilation of "Which Band Saw to buy?" threads http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...028#post692028

  4. #4
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    My total cost was about $150. This included shipping, the second sub-base to accept templet guides, about $25 IIRC, and an accessory adjustable post set that is used to attach an edge guide, about $10 - $15 IIRC [these extend the length of the std edge guide posts to clear the base]. So, I think the base package is around a hundred bucks, plus or minus, plus shipping.

    ADDITIONAL NOTE:
    The standard base plate on my PC690 is 1/4" thick. The Betterley main base is 1/2" and the sub-base is 1/4", for a total of 3/4". This can affect your choice of bits:

    I made my templates out of 1/4" MDF. When I set up to run the 1/4" spiral bit, I found that the 2" total length of the bit was not sufficient to get through 3/4" of base, 1/4" of template, and 3/4" of workpiece. Not surprising when you do the math ahead of time, which I did not do.

    The good news/bad news of living in the actual city of Atlanta, is that Highland Woodworking is 10 minutes away. This time good news - I got out of there with ONLY the 2 @ 1/4" x 2-1/2" bits I went to get. Trips to that store virtually never work out that way [the bad news part].

    Also, if you want to plunge a very deep [>1-1/4"] slot, the combination of base, template, and plunge travel capacity would keep you from doing it easily. The Betterley people were careful to explain this to me before I placed my order, so there was no surprise - I got what I was expecting to get. I could invent a scenario where this would get in my way, but nothing I would expect to see in actual practice. I made my mortises 1" deep because I could - I would have been fine at 3/4".

    Side note: Believe it or not, this is the first time I have ever used a router for mortises [I warned you I'm not a "router guy"]. I usually fire up the PM719 - but the quantity was too big on this project. I was way ahead of the game to take the time to make router templates, with the added benefit that there is no way to effectively capture chips at the source with the mortiser.

  5. #5
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    Hey Kent,

    You still like this unit?

    Has it held up?
    David
    Confidence: That feeling you get before fully understanding a situation (Anonymous)

  6. #6
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    David, I see this is an old tread, but I can add that I have quite a few Betterly pieces from when I was doing counter work and the stuff is always top notch.

  7. #7
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    I have one router on std PC base permanently mounted; I have a 2d Betterley base that goes on/off the router w/ plunge base as needed.

    I think it is great. It really is a part of their countertop products - which are really good.

  8. #8
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    Thanks guys,

    am considering them for upcoming overage of shop cash
    David
    Confidence: That feeling you get before fully understanding a situation (Anonymous)

  9. #9
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    The total cost for my 100% dust collection with a router "table" cost was zero. Scroll down on the "windows" page on my website and you will see them. They are single purpose, and the fence was run at the same time as the stock to run through it. The added benefit is the vac suction holds the piece in tight against the fence. The PVC pipe riser is the air intake that provides safety for fingers, and keeps chunks from getting thrown out.

    I made the tops out of discarded leftovers of synthetic bowling alley flooring.

    www.HistoricHousePreservation.com I've used them for other things since then, and it's always my first choice. I could run something in someone's living room, and no dust or shavings would go anywhere except into the Shop Vac.

  10. #10
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    Makes sense, Tom, for situations where a router "table" is a workable solution.

    When I use a router, 90%+ of the tasks are handheld tasks, not router table tasks - different critter.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    The total cost for my 100% dust collection with a router "table" cost was zero. Scroll down on the "windows" page on my website and you will see them. They are single purpose, and the fence was run at the same time as the stock to run through it. The added benefit is the vac suction holds the piece in tight against the fence. The PVC pipe riser is the air intake that provides safety for fingers, and keeps chunks from getting thrown out.

    I made the tops out of discarded leftovers of synthetic bowling alley flooring.

    www.HistoricHousePreservation.com I've used them for other things since then, and it's always my first choice. I could run something in someone's living room, and no dust or shavings would go anywhere except into the Shop Vac.
    Great set-up.

    What a bunch of worK!
    David
    Confidence: That feeling you get before fully understanding a situation (Anonymous)

  12. #12
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    Sweet setup Kent. The Betterley stuff all seems well thought out and top notch in materials and finish. Its nice when some "pro" stuff plays well in our own shops.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


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