Item Duplication on the Torque

There are a number of different ways of duplicating a pattern or item in woodworking.  A common method is to screw a pattern to the timber, use a jigsaw, scrollsaw or bandsaw to rough it out, then revert to a pattern copying bit on the router table.  This technique works well, but does have its difficulties, including keeping the template attached to the workpiece (or separating it afterwards, depending on just how strong the carpet tape is!)

The Torque Workcentre offers a couple of unique techniques and solutions to the problem.  The one addressed here is using a pre-cut track to follow a captive pin.  It has consistent results, and is difficult to get wrong.

Step one is to produce the desired track.  You could cut it freehand (and in some cases that would work), but here we want an exact replica of an existing component – in the case a racing kangaroo.

Mount the item to be copied to the underside of the (blank) pattern

Take the object you want to duplicate and fix it to a board.  This may be an existing item, or one you have made up for the task out of MDF for example.  Add a couple of equally thick boards on either side so the pattern has no tendency to rock.  Flip the board over so the original is to the bottom.

Mounting the router

Mount a router bit of equal diameter to the captive pin diameter (which can be seen in the first photo, already mounted in the table)

It is worth noting here the ease for removing and replacing the router, including in this case a Triton 2400W.  The mount is different to that for Makita and Hitashi, but the actual attachment method is the same.  The router plunge base is removed (which is very easy), and the router mounts directly onto the Torque by using the plunge mount shafts.  It was one of the first things that made me sit up and pay attention to the whole Torque Workcentre – using the plunge mount, and especially using the plunge lock to secure the router onto the Torque was such a simple and clever solution that I was suitably impressed (not always an easy thing), and wondered what other clever ingenious things went into the TWC.  I’m a sucker for good engineering.

The router is mounted back into the Torque, and set so the router bit is directly above the copy pin in the table, and its position fixed (there is a lock for both the X and Y axis).

Creating the track

Plunge the router lightly into the surface of the blank pattern, and by holding the original (underneath) directly up against the pin carefully create a channel all the way around.  When you have gotten around first time it gets a lot easier, as you then know where the pattern is as you rout deeper.  Repeat until you have a track that is deeper than the length of the copy pin.  This is the captive track that will allow copy after copy of the part.

Depth Setting

Once you are ready to start creating copies, attach the blank on the top side of the pattern (you can screw it down, or use clamps (I use the Walko clamps on the jig))  With the router mounted directly above the copy pin and a router bit that matches the pin diameter (and the width of the track), plunge the router (turned off) so it goes deep enough to pass all the way through the blank and just into the top of the pattern.  Set the plunge lock to this depth.

First pass

Mount the pattern onto the pin, turn on the router and lightly plunge into the blank.  Run the pattern all the way around (you can see here that I’ve take the photo before completing the kangaroo tail).  This gives you a track to be able to follow visually when you plunge the router deeper for subsequent passes.  Plunge the router deeper and run around the pattern again.  Rinse and repeat until you are almost all the way through.

Completed part copy

With the final pass, the new part can be lifted free – a perfect copy of the original.  Repeat the steps to create part after identical part.  The track can be kept so the part can be made any time in the future.  This technique can be used for all sorts of things, including furniture, inlays, and definitely toys!  You could easily set up a little production run in your workshop to create toy after toy (wooden toys are some of the best presents – how many times have you seen an antique plastic toy?! (yeah, I know I’m being a bit facetious, but you know what I mean – plastic toys just don’t last, wooden toys get handed down from generation to generation)).  Fighting back against the plastic toy generation(s)!!

Some Torque Functions

Getting ready for the jaunt across to the US in a week’s time, I put some time running through some of the basic Torque functions.

Firstly, I wanted to do some refinements to the overall setup – getting the centreline of the router as perpendicular to the workcentre top as possible.  I’ve touched on this recently, using a dial gauge mounted directly to the router collet.  That provides a significant level of accuracy, perhaps beyond that which is required.  I’ve also been using the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge directly onto a rod mounted in the collet, and that is a pretty simple system to use.

First step is getting the main arm parallel to the table.  Using the Wixey is the best way to achieve that – zero off the table (with the gauge parallel in alignment to the arm) then place it on the arm itself, and get it level.

Zeroing the Wixey

Next, repeat the process, this time zeroing the gauge then check the rod is at 90 degrees.  Repeat the process for the other axis of the router.

Aligning the Router

(You can see in this photo the router is out a significant 1.4 degrees around the Y axis).

I’ve also tried using the simplest technology – a square, and that is also quite successful.

Using a Square

The use of a straight rod in the router collet is so successful, I’d almost suggest it would be a useful inclusion in the Torque Workcentre package, and later it could become one of the set of copying attachments (although the copy attachments would need to be increased in size from 12mm to 12.4mm, but I’d see that as an advantage).

First job I did was finishing off the downsizing of the 4″ pre-separator bin.  It needed a new base, and although I’ve cut circles by other methods in the past, the TWC is by far the easiest method.  There are justifiable times that the bandsaw will still be better (thin kerf of the blade vs router bit width), but if that is not a consideration, then the TWC wins.

Circle Cutting

A circle is cut by placing the workpiece on the TWC pin (by drilling a pilot hole in the underside of the material), offsetting the router by the radius of the required circle and locking it’s X and Y axis.while rotating the workpiece, slowly plunge the router into the work, cut a circle, increase the depth, rotate again, rinse and repeat until the circle comes free.

New Base for Dust Bin (Pre-separator)

Next, I wanted to try some of the pin-routing technique.  This is a 2 stage process.  First you need to create the path that the pin is going to follow.  In this case, I have secured down the body of the racing kangaroo.  A couple of extra supports are added so there is no issue with the panel rocking on a too small-a pattern being duplicated.

Setting up the item to be duplicated

This is flipped over and run against the pin, with the router directly over the top of the pin, a channel is cut.

The path created for the pin

This is the path that the pin will fit into for the actual duplications.

All the parts for the racing kangaroo

Flip the pattern over, mounting it on the pin, and attach the blank board on top.  With the pattern captive on the pin, a perfect copy is made, and this can be repeated as many times as is desired.  The only thing I need to do is get a better match in size between the pin diameter and router bit diameter – they need to be a matched pair.

Pattern Copying

The other method is using the copying attachment.  This has a pin that follows the original path, and moves the router over the workpiece, rather than moving the workpiece relative to the router as happens with pin copying.

Resulting sign

In this case I used a router bit larger than the pin, so the thickness of the letters were increased.  Signwriting is only one use of this technique.  The ability to easily and accurately duplicate an object or pattern is a very powerful tool.  (As you can see, I was using the same workpiece to test this technique as I did for the pin routing)

Producing raised (bas-relief) lettering is as easy (if not easier!)

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