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Thread: Simple One Axis Digital Power Tool Positioner?

  1. #1
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    Question Simple One Axis Digital Power Tool Positioner?

    Has anyone tried taking a table saw DRO and using it to accurately move a router or a tracksaw or anything else along one direction?

    I have been thinking about ways to make an MFT-like top and I think I can do it without digital assistance if I don't care how far the dog holes are apart. Really all that matters to me is getting the layout square and reproducible. But I started thinking about how I could keep the dog holes "exactly" 4 inches apart. One idea is to use a table saw DRO, like the Wixey, fixed to a rail of some sort attached to a plywood bed, with a carriage for the router.

    It seems to me that there might be some other applications and that someone has tried this in some form or other. Did a search before posting but I didn't find whatever is already posted. Any help?

  2. #2
    I'm sure it can be done, but for the amount of thinking and working I'd be much more inclined to find a local shop with a CNC to cut out my MFT top

  3. #3
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    😆 that is actually pretty expensive. And I am after bigger fish. My question is about whether someone has done this. And how.

  4. #4
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    I don't understand what you're trying to do, but "simple one-axis positioner" sure sounds like the original Incra Jig. https://www.incra.com/router_table_fences-ij32.html

  5. #5
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    Check out Woodpeckers Hole Boring Jig. They sell one for 3/4" holes and one for 20 millimeter holes; the 20mm jig will reproduce the Festool MFT layout exactly with consistent holes bored 96mm on center. I plan on getting one to make my own Festool type table top instead of getting the MFT. Unless I find some winning lottery numbers.

  6. #6
    Common drafting tools are excellent for this. I've also had to layout rather large grids of holes for modular commercial installations using nothing but identical rips of mdf and blocks made from those rips.

  7. #7
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    I appreciate your responses. Thank you!

    Lemme 'splain.

    The MFT was just a motivation for a question about an idea: using a table saw DRO for something else instead of a table saw. An MFT top is something I want precision for, on the order of a few thou. So drafting tools won't cut it. And I have considered the Woodpecker Boring Jig but I was thinking that I can do just as well on my own because I don't need an exact 96mm spacing. But then I started thinking about how to get that 96mm spacing.

    I actually thought of a way to do what I am asking about last night. So bear with me and I will share that. Some will still be left scratching their heads. I think that folks who like to DIY might be interested. (Okay, maybe not. I just thought I would see.)

    I have a table saw with the Wixey DRO installed. I find it very useful. Besides for the table saw, I use it for my router fence, which I attach to the table saw fence, and get the same functionality as the Inca Jig that Jamie mentioned. My thought is to go one step further. Take the table saw fence off and replace it with something that clamps to the table saw rail in the same way but also has a carriage for another power tool, say a router. Now I can move the router along the table saw rail with measurements accurate to a few thou. It's like a one-dimensional not-motorized CNC. Put a sacrificial board underneath the router carriage to protect the table saw top and I can rout with high precision in one direction (a single axis). That's useful for MFT dog holes and for some joinery.

    I could mount a drill on a portable drill guide instead and drill holes super accurately spaced. (I don't actually have this need but someone might. And yes, there are ways to achieve this on a drill press too.)

    I suppose I could even mount a track saw guide for a sequence of cuts, but that's getting a little silly given that the table saw is sitting right there. But if you don't have a table saw, maybe you would like this tracksaw setup on a rail you make yourself.

    That's it. I thought someone might have tried something like this already and I was fishing for examples. Or perhaps someone will be inspired to come up with something better.

  8. #8
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    A simple dro and 40" scale can be bought on ebay for under $120. or so. You can use one readout box and plug in different scales as needed. You do not need the more expensive boxes that calculate xyz positions for you.
    At that accuracy, 0.0001 or better, you must mount the scale parallel to the motion or trig errors will add up.
    Bill D

    first add I found
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/39235236664...0AAOSwbLlgCTPu

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    A simple dro and 40" scale can be bought on ebay for under $120. or so. You can use one readout box and plug in different scales as needed. You do not need the more expensive boxes that calculate xyz positions for you.
    At that accuracy, 0.0001 or better, you must mount the scale parallel to the motion or trig errors will add up.
    Bill D

    first add I found
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/39235236664...0AAOSwbLlgCTPu
    I did not understand what this was at first. Now I think I get it. I had no idea you could get something like this so inexpensively. What a great solution. Thanks Bill!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wilkins View Post
    Check out Woodpeckers Hole Boring Jig. They sell one for 3/4" holes and one for 20 millimeter holes; the 20mm jig will reproduce the Festool MFT layout exactly with consistent holes bored 96mm on center. I plan on getting one to make my own Festool type table top instead of getting the MFT. Unless I find some winning lottery numbers.
    Look at the posts about this before buying one. A caveat emptor purchase. And I know, and have one, and bought the Parf MKII Guide system. Still haven't used that, and will post on it, but I tried with the Woodpeckers and abandoned it. And I'm a loyal Woodpeckers fan. YMMV. If you'd like to buy my Woodpeckers system, PM me.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Ruud View Post
    I did not understand what this was at first. Now I think I get it. I had no idea you could get something like this so inexpensively. What a great solution. Thanks Bill!

    Best thing is the display has large numbers that are easy to read. Easy enough to mount a shorter scale on the trunnion to measure depth of cut with the same readout box. ideal for a planer or jointer.
    Check out quill dro's for even cheaper short versions. Easy to add to a drill press.
    Bill D
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 05-04-2021 at 10:49 PM.

  12. #12
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    Agreed!

    These are intended generally for the scale to move while the reader is attached to a fixed part of the machine. I suppose that doing the opposite is problematic. That is, having the scale stationary, like for the Wixey TS DRO (which has no cable going to the read-out unit). So, just asking, are there applications that have the scale fixed and the reader in motion?

  13. #13
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    A DRO is used on a lathe or milling machine. Where the tool spindle is fixed in place and the work is clamped to a moving table. This is opposite of most wood working where the work is moved freehand.
    Papa Grizzly uses a vertical milling machine to mill out guitar bodies etc. A normal vertical milling machine rpm is too low for efficient wood working. Similar to an overhead pin router or drillpress. Bridgeport is the generic name for them.
    A lathe will need readouts in two axis's while a milling machine needs three or four, possibly five if there is a rotary positioner.
    Bill D.

    https://www.shars.com/dro-quill-kit-...-with-6-travel

    https://www.steamplates.co.uk/Harris...O_Install.html

    http://www.digitalreadoutsystem.com/...nformation.htm

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