Big Feet

Recently, when writing (or filming) info on the Torque Workcentre, I have been hearing one of 2 responses.  Either a. where do I get one, or b. wish I had room to fit one.

I’ve been thinking about that second response, and like many of us, space limitations play a huge part in the choices we make about shop machinery.  Fitting in a unit with a footprint of around 900mm x 2500mm is a huge chunk of the available space, and becomes a show stopper for a number of people.

Where it comes to the functionality of the Torque Workcentre, there is another option: The Torque Router Master (or as I prefer to think of it, the Torque Workcentre with a contractor’s base).

Router Master

The more I thought about this unit, and how it has some performance limitations compared to a full 2.5m TWC, the less it seemed like a real problem.  The primary difference is the arm cannot travel along the length of the base, but if space is an issue, you can’t afford that length anyway.

So what is it that this unit cannot do (functionally) compared to its big brother, and how do we get around that?  I probably won’t pick up on all of them, but let’s see how we go.

Task Torque Workcentre Router Master
Ripping a large sheet With a circular saw mounted for ripping, the X Axis travel carries the saw to the fully supported sheet, ripping it down The saw can still be mounted, but instead the sheet is pushed past the stationary saw. Some infeed and outfeed support required
Crosscutting a large sheet Circular saw mounted for crosscut, saw and carriage travel along the Y Axis, crosscutting the sheet As for TWC
Surfacing a slab Secure the slab to the surface of the TWC, and with a router mounted with a surfacing bit, pass it back and forth across the surface incrementing it along the Y Axis unit the slab is level Secure the slab to a sled that can travel evenly left to right (such as on tracks, or something like the Triton Extension Table) and pass it back and forth under the stationary router, then increment the router position along the Y Axis
Circle Cutting With the pin mounted in the table, and a partial-depth hole in the workpiece, offset the router from the pin to the desired radius then carefully spin the workpiece beneath the router. Radius of circle limited to the length of the TWC. As for TWC, although you may need a combination of rotation of the arm to get the router out to the desired radius. Radius of circle limited to the distance between the pin and the upright
Pin Routing Using a track cut into the underside of the pattern to engage the pin, and the workpiece fixed/clamped to the upper surface, router mounted overhead, guide the assembly along the track, creating a duplicate. As for TWC
Copy attachment
(eg raised letter sign writing)
Secure the workpiece and the pattern separately to the TWC, use the copy attachment pin to engage the pattern, controlling where the router cuts, duplicate the pattern in the workpiece Secure the workpiece to a board, and mount the pattern on the underside, reversed. Add extra supports so the pattern does not rock, and with the router mounted directly above the table pin, guide the pattern around the pin creating a duplicate in the workpiece. Movement can be restrained by boxing the pattern in and this boxing will be duplicated in the result.

That are just some ideas I’ve been having, and will see if I can’t put them into a video in the near future.  It goes to show for me at least, that with a bit of thought, the router master is not that much more limited than the TWC after all: it may not be convenient to handle the large sheets, but still it can do a lot of the same functions with some extra jigs, a sled arrangement (such as the Triton Extension Table), and a bit of ingenuity.  It still has 5 degrees of freedom – you only loose 1 by not having the X Axis travel, and there are definitely ways around that to replace the functionality of that lost degree 😉

If you wanted to go one step further, mounting a second router underneath the table and you end up with a router table with both an under-table mount, and an overhead mount.  Best of both worlds.

And after all, if you can’t fit a TWC into the workshop, in many cases you could still fit one of these!

(And because they don’t have the large base and the extra required for the X Axis travel, they are quite a bit cheaper too) If you do decide to investigate this further with Torque Workcentres, don’t forget to mention Stu’s Shed!!

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