Upgrades and Mods to the Torque

On Christmas Eve, the courier finally managed to locate and deliver the package from Torque Workcentre (TWC).  Inside was a shorter main beam and a few other bits n pieces.

I still have the 1300mm arm, which will prove invaluable when working with very large tops, and breaking down large sheet goods, but in a shed the size of mine, it is more suitable having a shorter arm.  To my mind, the optimum length seems to be the 900mm arm that I have now fitted, but it really does come down to your intended purpose, and the amount of space you have available.

TWC with 900mm Arm

This was the main purpose of the package – downsizing the main arm.  And rather timely as well – with my last quick project (a couple of dovetailed boxes for Xmas presents), I found I really did need easy access to my planer, and found I had to move it to a more accessible location.  With space ever-increasingly at a premium, it happened that the planer is now alongside the thicknesser, and it was overhung by the larger arm.   Dropping it back to 900mm now again provides decent access through, past both machines.

Changing over from one arm to the other obviously meant the carrier had to be removed, and that was an ideal time to add a minor upgrade that I actually suggested.  Once again, having local manufacture is worth its weight in gold – they can be responsive, and are contactable!

The suggestion I made (well, one of a list) was to do with the Y axis lock (which is the knob on the back of the Y axis carriage).  By original design, when wound in to lock on the arm, the twisting motion caused the carriage to walk along the Y axis.  What TWC came up with (and now a standard fitting for future machines) is to have a metal plate affixed to the casting, the knob can wind in against the plate, causing it to tighten on the Y axis.

Replacement Knob

Another suggestion made was to replace the 4 point knob on the plunge arm with a similar one to the Y Axis lock – I found the 4 point knob uncomfortable when a decent amount of pressure was required.  This wasn’t too difficult – the knob is restrained with Locktite which took a bit more effort to crack, but couldn’t resist the combination of a large Stillson and 24″ adjustable spanner!

I still want to do something about the plunge stop, which I’m finding slips a bit too easily, especially with multiple plunges.  It may be simply a matter of adopting more of the mechanism from the Triton router – larger post and increased area of the lock knob.  I also want to incorporate the multi-post stop that Triton uses – allowing multiple plunge heights to all be pre-set.

Possible location point for a Wixey Height Gauge

Another proposal that I’ve made is the incorporation of Wixey Digital technology into the TWC.  A combination readout for all three axis would be ideal (and further reinforce the concept of this machine closing the gap to a full CNC machine).  It wouldn’t actually take too much to turn a TWC into a CNC machine either……..

In any case, as a proof-of-concept I have been looking to fit the Wixey Planer Height Gauge to the TWC, and this looks a likely location for one.

Under-Table Router

Despite the awesome capabilities of the TWC, I still find having another router mounted in the traditional below-table position invaluable.  With the Woodpeckers Router Lift, I am no longer dependent on the plastic worm gear of the Triton itself.  I still use it during bit changing – preferring to use the Triton’s ability for rapid height change to bring it up to full height, which has a combined benefit – it means the shaft gets locked for one-handed, through table bit changing, and still uses the in-built safety mechanism of the interlock to prevent the bit being able to be changed without the router being turned off, and not allowing power to be restored until the shaft is free to rotate.  For accurate height setting though, the Woodpeckers Router Lift is second to none.  I still have to finish the install – just need to mount the remote digital readout.

Under the Router Lift

Under the table, the Router Lift in as-used condition – it may look a bit dusty, but that’s par for the course for wood working power tools!

I was going to use a spare Triton switch to start and stop the router, but the Pro Router Switch is superior.  Where you can see I have mounted it makes knocking off power with your thigh easy, so even if both hands are occupied, you can still easily stop the router.

Pro Router Switch

The deluxe version has lights under the switches – when power is available, the on button glows.  When running, this light is out, and the stop button glows instead.  It acts as an extra visual indicator to let you know whether power is being supplied to the router, or not.  It is also a no-current release switch – if power is lost (tripped circuit breaker, black-out etc) then the switch automatically turns off so the tool doesn’t immediately restart when power is restored.  The Triton switch is a lot more basic – when power is restored, the tool takes off again, with obvious safety implications.

From the two small holes you can see above the switch, I originally thought that would be a good mounting point, but then suddenly remembered that the Extension Table for the TWC slides through that RHS, and the ends of the switch mounting bolts would have impacted on that when I add one to my TWC.  Mounting the switch a little lower turned out to be better – making it easier to kick it off when both hands were busy with the workpiece.

The switch, Woodpeckers Router Lift and Wixey Digital technology are all sourced from Professional Woodworkers Supplies. The Torque Workcentre dealer I’d recommend is Lazy Larry – he has and uses one, so can also answer any question you may have from an operator’s perspective.

Episode 30 Pro Drill Press Table

Upgrade to the 3 1/4HP Triton Router

The US version at least. I hope this will become available in Australia as well, but from the horses mouth (or Amazon.com to be precise)

From the Manufacturer
World’s best router has just gotten better. Here are the new and improved features that make us #1 in the woodworking shop. Changing from free plunge to rack- and pinion mode as become even easier with just a push of a button. Our switch is now fully sealed in a rubber boot to ensure dust free operation. The plunge handle components have also been updated to metal gears for smoother operation and extended life. Our improved ¼ inch collet reducer makes changing to ¼-inch bit safer and easier……<snip>

I’ve seen the new collet, and they are great. I’ve been petitioning Triton/GMC to have them available in Australia. It will happen sometime I think. I hadn’t heard about the change from the old style of plunge selector (the mechanism on the handle you had to twist to change between height winding and free-plunge mode, which on the 1400W router became a much easier push-button). Looks like they have now changed the big router to have that same method of mode selection. Again, I guess at some stage that will become available here in Oz, but in the meantime, lucky Americans!

Unorthodox Triton Router Table Mod Part 2 (Accessories)

With the table upgrade, the table accessories also need to be adjusted to cope with the additional 3mm extra table height. This is achieved easily by adding shims made out of the offcuts from the aluminium of the new top.

Triton Finger Jointer
The finger jointer is the hardest, only because of the amount of dismantling required.
The sliding plate is removed to give access to the hold-down hardware.

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Photo 1 – Removing the Finger Jointer Plate

Next, the hardware that holds the finger jointer down is removed.

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Photo 2 – Removing the hardware

New shims are cut, and holes drilled in each.

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Photo 3 – Preparing the new shims

Click here to read full article

Unorthodox Triton Router Table Mod Part 1

I’ve had a few queries about my unusual table top in my recent post about Router Tables. So to cause a bit of controversy, here is the article I wrote at the time about the modification. To clarify however, I still use an original, unmodified Triton Router Table quite successfully, so this is another one of those “I’ll always try to modify everything kind of thing!”

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I have been using the Triton Router Table for a few years now (with the Triton Router pretty much permanently mounted), and have found it to be an excellent way of performing most router operations. In fact, other than some totally unavoidable operations where I need to do freehand routing, I wouldn’t dream of not using a router table. As things have progressed, I have been expecting more and more from my equipment, in their capabilities, and accuracies, and have been reaching a point where I needed to use bigger and bigger router bits, and/or a very high degree of accuracy. As I have written in another article, (which I’ll post here soon) the micro-adjusters for the Triton Router Table are excellent for achieving precise fence movements.

When using some very large router bits (such as for raised panel joints), I found that the Router Template Guide plate got in the way, so I wasn’t able to lower the bit far enough to achieve the cut that I wanted. To get around this, I had three options. The first was really not an option at all (lowering the router). The second was raising the work, which although ok, made it difficult to achieve the same setup every time (you don’t want each door on a raised panel cabinet looking different!) The final solution was to make the Triton Router Table top thicker. This had an added benefit of allowing a 1-piece top, which meant that there was no chance for the front edge of a piece of work to catch the top of the table at all, or worse, experience any dip or rise as it progressed past the router bit.

Photo 1 – Original Triton Router Table

There were a few things that I demanded of the upgrade.
1. Retain the ability to use the fence, perform through-table bit changing, and still be able to use the various router table jigs (finger joiner, biscuit joiner, jigsaw table).

2. The modification must be fully reversible, which adds an extra dimension to the design.

3. The table must still be able to take a full range of bit sizes, from the 3mm Triton bit, through to panel making bits, without ending up with a huge cavity when using the smaller bits.

4. Safety must not be compromised.
My solution was to attach a new single piece of aluminium sheet over the entire tabletop, while still leaving the slot for the sliding portion uncovered, and therefore usable as originally intended. After much thought, I finally clicked to the best way to do this- attach the new top to the removable router holding plate, so that it gets removed at the same time as the router is.

Click here to read full article

SSYTC002 Nostalgia – an early woodworking video!

SSYTC002 Nostalgia

Going though some old files, and came across this 7 second clip of a modification I made to the GMC thicknesser. Guess this actually qualifies as my first woodworking video (despite its short length).I’d forgotten the clip even existed!

Not sure of its vintage – probably 2004 – 2005. Not that long ago, and look how online video quality has improved

Episode 23 Wixey Digital Planer Height Gauge

Episode 23 Wixey Digital Planer Height Gauge.
Turning the planer/thicknesser into a precision tool.Available from Professional Woodworker Supplies.More detail in this blog entry Wixey Digital Planer Height Gauge.

Update: Since making this video, Wixey have updated their Height Guide, and it now presents the LCD panel at a better viewing angle.

A Router Table Tale

A friend of mine over in Japan asked today about the story behind my router table, and although its history is covered (and spread) over many posts both here and on the Australian Woodwork Forum, I haven’t ever really bought it all together into one consolidated tale. So here goes.

When the whole Triton thing exploded for me back in about 2002, one of the items I really became interested in was the router. It seemed to be a more versatile machine than just a bit of a roundover of edges, and the Triton video made that very clear. So the idea of a table-mounted router came into my awareness, and shortly thereafter, I was the proud owner of a Triton Router table, and 2400W Triton router.

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And it was on this table that I learned a huge amount about routing, and about woodworking. It is a very versatile form of a router table, and despite all my various upgrades, it still gets a regular use (particularly on site – good portability) It has an excellent fence, hold-downs, dust extraction, microadjusters etc. If you are looking into woodworking, this is an excellent point to start.

After a number of years, I started pushing the tolerance limits of the Triton, so started to seek ways of improving it. (Remember here, I still fully believe in the Triton tools as excellent products – I could not demonstrate them if I didn’t. I just got to the point that I was looking for greater and greater accuracy, and as I’ve said before, I rarely own something that I don’t try to fix/improve/modify and or rebuild!)

My next iteration was adding a single-piece top to the Triton, and a number of people have since copied my design (with my blessing).

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This was a very successful upgrade, as it retained all the functionality of the original table, could still fit all the commercial jigs, and still allowed the full use of the Triton fence. It is removed along with the router holder, and the entire process can be easily reversed. Constructed from 6mm structural grade aluminium, it is attached to the router mounting plate, so is lifted off at the same time as the mounting plate if you need to remove the router. Small shims of the same plate are added to each jig so all the Triton jigs still work.

The beginning of the end happened when I discovered a little thing called Incra. The sort of accuracy that owners can enjoy for years. I originally spent quite a bit of time trying to work out how the Incra system could be adapted to fit directly onto the Triton, but kept finding there were more compromises than I was prepared to make. I am a bit of a strange bird where it comes to accuracy, but this path is not a logical progression for everyone. I have made (and continue to make) quality items on the Triton router table, and where it comes to something like dovetailing, a Triton router table coupled with something like a Gifkins Dovetail Jig is a powerful combination. In all likelihood, I may not have progressed much further anyway if I hadn’t become a Triton Demonstrator. I know that seems strange, but I really do like the Triton Router Table, and didn’t want to loose having one. Once I had my demonstration gear, I was assured of not being without the Triton Router Table, so was free to indulge in this process.

Be assured too, we are not comparing apples with apples here. The Triton Router table is around $200 and for that price is a brilliant addition to the workshop (in fact, once I discovered table-mounting routing, I was absolutely sold). By the end of the journey, (which I haven’t reached as yet), we will be talking of a router table costing around 5 times that of the Triton.

So let me take you on the path that I took.

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My first test iteration was a combination of parallel decisions. Firstly, that the Triton table and the Incra was not going to be combinable without costing functionality. There was going to be no advantage to maintaining the original table, so it was best to start from scratch, than adapt. I got this router table top from Professional Woodworker Supplies, designed for the Incra positioning system. There is a lot of table behind where the router sits, and you will soon see why.

This was the original Incra positioner, and it did two things. Convinced me of the concept of fence positioning, and convinced me (personally) that I wanted more!

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To start using the router table, it was precariously balanced on two Triton multistands (well not unsafely, but not exactly a router table to speak of!) It was only a temporary arrangement, so I could test out concepts.

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I caught up with a mate and once seeing what was available from Incra, I couldn’t resist. (The mate was Steve Bisson, who sadly passed away earlier last year).

So the Incra LS Positioner was added to the lineup. As has been gone into in quite a bit of detail already in other posts I won’t talk about the fence, but as you can see here, I have the materials laid out for construction. Also too, the base has been improved (but sadly, is still in that sorry state, and will be the subject of a complete rebuild at some stage soon. There is some advantage in staging a project – you work out exactly you want in the final design!)

In the end, I was enticed by this, (from www.incra.com)

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and if there was a router table that could do that, I wanted it!

As detailed in an earlier post, I had the LS positioner with a home-made fence, and finally, the current version is thus:

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Now I think you can appreciate why I needed such a large top, with a significant area behind the router, and why I couldn’t adapt the Triton enough to take this monster. I have a whole set of the templates for the Incra, but the secret, if you can call it that is simple. Incredible, repeatable accuracy. Because of this accuracy, you can precisely position, say, a dovetail bit and make accurate joints. The templates are nothing more than a standard ruler with the lines you don’t need for the current job removed.

This is why I don’t consider the Incra system to be a dovetail ‘jig’. It isn’t. The fact that I can precisely position the dovetail bit where I need it means I can make dovetails, but I see the Incra as an accurate fence system, and not a jig (by my definition). (Accuracy to 1/1000th of an inch)

So that’s my router table tale. Even so, I still have a long way to go before this tool will be considered “complete”.

New Incra Rail

We are getting very close to being able to purchase the new rail that Incra have come up with to add to their build-it concept for jig creation.

This rail is what I have been waiting for to be able to (hopefully!) easily fit the Incra 1000SE Miter Gauge to the Triton Workcentre.

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It may not be obvious how this will help, but if you consider that it will become part of a jig placed on top of the tablesaw (as a replacement for the crosscut sled concept) then you might see where I’m heading.  All in all, if it means that we will be able to get Incra accuracy out of a Triton Workcentre, then that is worth pursuing!

Wixey Digital Planer Height Gauge

I managed to finish fitting the digital height gauge to the thicknesser today, and it is quite impressive.

As mentioned a few posts ago, I attached the main portion of the gauge using double-sided tape (which is the standard method, although there is provision for using self-taping screws as well). Given where I placed the gauge, the standard brackets were not long enough, so I ended up adding an extension to the bracket.

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The concept is pretty straightforward – the ruler gauge (seen right) remains fixed to the casing of the planer/thicknesser. The bracket (to the left), and the gauge itself moves up and down with the planer head. Once it is calibrated (which is simplicity itself), then you can set the planer height to a particular reading, and when the material is passed through, it comes out the desired thickness. It sure beats doing a pass, measuring the result, then deciding how much to turn the handle and hoping that you don’t go too far!

The accuracy I was getting with the first couple of test passes was between 0.02mm and 0.25mm of the actual thickness I wanted. I didn’t try calibrating it again to get rid of the little error that remained, but will do that during the video.

The extension to the bracket was actually made from the metal bar that is part of a magnet door clasp. It just happened to just the right gauge that I was looking for, so got sacrificed to the cause. I drilled a hole so the 2 bolts were the right distance apart to bridge the gap, then a cut-off disk on a rotary (dremel-like) tool. I then used the disk sander to round off the end, and clean up the swarf from the drilling, using a pair of pliers as a heat-sink. It just goes to show that it is still useful having a few basic metal-working tools, even in a woodworking shop. You never know when you want to make a jig, or modify a tool or whatever!

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The gauge in its final home. The nice thing about it, (obviously other than the accuracy, which is amazing), is you can remove it without having caused any damage to the tool itself (other than getting some double-sided tape off). Where the bracket is connected to the planer head, is where the original pointer was screwed on. For some planers, you might have to drill and tap some new holes, but most benchtop planers will fit to the original pointer location.

So my final verdict on this upgrade is simple – if you have a planer/thicknesser, you will definitely want to add this digital gauge! In the past, I’ve used a 1/4 turn of the handle (which equates to 0.4mm) as the amount I change the height of the planer head, and after fitting the gauge, I found myself winding the handle slowly watching 1/100mm positions ticking past until the exact height I wanted came up. This will completely revolutionise how I use the thicknesser. Instead of running a pass, then use a digital caliper to see how thick the timber is, then decide how many 1/4 turns of the handle to go, I can get the height close (safely), then run a final light pass to nail the thickness I want. I was very surprised when the number (ie height) on the thicknesser came out the same as the number on the digital caliper after doing the pass. I was sold on the gadget in an instant!

The Wixey digital planer height gauge is available from, and generously provided by Professional Woodworker Supplies.

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