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Mounting the Woodrat

In my workshop (garage) I am extremely short of room, in fact every inch of space has been utilized. For this reason I have tried a number of ways of mounting the Woodrat. I am now firmly of the opinion that there is only one satisfactory way,--- on the wall. If something else has to give way to provide wall space then so be it. To enable this I have mounted my other machinery on heavy duty castors and have lost count of the number of times that that I have played musical chairs in that elusive quest to gain space. The 'Rat is still wall mounted! If you mount it on a board and hold with some power jaws or Workmate, you still have to find somewhere to store it when finished.

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         Sorry, low resolution photos to keep file size down!

Mr. Burglar -This workshop has a number of protective measures.

Jack Loganbill has posted a unique method of fixing his Woodrat to a ceiling! mount. The details with some diagrams can be found on his website  here.


You may have noticed that I have used various colours of acrylic plastic in my experiments. Here in the UK new sheets are impossibly expensive but I have acquired a reasonable stock of both clear and coloured in various thicknesses for very little outlay. How? Well, I visit various sign writing businesses and ask if I can purchase any old recovered signs. Often they are pleased to sell what would otherwise be scrap for a nominal fee. Its worth a try.

Spiral Cutters

I have now had a fair bit of experience with the use of spiral cutters and found the following:-

High speed steel up-cut:    Super cut, clear well, can dull quickly if used on abrasive woods like teak or MDF, plywood or chipboard. Not too expensive.

High speed steel down-cut:  Same as above but even better finish. Needs care on mortises as can easily clog.

Combined up and down cut: Combine the best features of the two above. Very limited in available sizes and you need a lottery win to pay for these.

Solid carbide: Very expensive and can last a long time. Suitable for all materials but are very brittle. Need extreme care with the 'Rat. It is very easy to apply too high a feed rate with the 'Rat crank, and if you encounter a hard knot etc, bang . Oh b****r!!  Half inch shaft bits are generally fine though. I have already broken three 6mm and do not plan to replace them.

Extra high speed steel: These are designed for the alloy window industry to cope with abrasive anodized alloys. Slightly more expensive than HSS,  much cheaper than solid carbide, are tough, cut well and I have found them to work on all materials. In general they seem to be longer than other types of spiral bit which is a big advantage. I have never had to re-sharpen mine and choose them in preference to the others.

Milling bits: I have successfully used 1/4 inch end and profiling HSS metal milling bits on alloy and Tufnell in the Woodrat. I set the router to its slowest speed, clamped the work well and proceeded slowly. The risk is yours.

Accuracy of manufacture

I have read a number of posts on the Woodrat forums regarding the fact that some people have found that their 'Rat is not perfectly at 90 degrees between the face and router-plate. Martin Godfrey's response is that to accurately machine the alloy extrusion would considerably increase the cost of production.

Well, I have had my Woodrat now for seven years, and when I first got it I also found that mine was out of square. Not a lot but enough to bother me and I too spent time with shims etc to get things 'just right'. I always spend time to double check my saw fences, router table, band saw etc are setup correctly and assumed that it was essential to do that for the WoodRat also.
Well after about a year I became more immersed in just getting the job done on the 'Rat and realized that I was no longer fussing about perfect square-ness and do you know what?!! It didn't seem to make a jot of difference to the finished work!!
I found that a degree or so off 90 degrees between the router plate and face made no noticeable difference to the fit of my finished tenons or other joints. If you start with the work cut at a right angle and a very slight amount of play in the carriage, then when placed against the face and tight up under the plate, all becomes square when locked. I do say that it is essential that the fences are set at 90 degrees to the top face of the channel however. This only requires a very quick screw adjustment.
A saw cut one degree out over a distance of three feet is very noticeable but over two inches isn't. The WoodRat just does not work in the same way as other dedicated machines, and mainly uses short distance cuts.
I know the errors can be there but no longer worry too much about them. (I try to console myself that I need a gluing gap and that the wood is going to move any way!)
When I have disassembled some beautiful antique furniture for repair and seen the relatively poor fit of some of the joints I came to realize that a perfectly machined and accurate joint doesn't necessarily mean a superb piece of furniture.
I guess what I am saying is just try to enjoy the machine and don't worry unduly about super accuracy. Somehow that seems to come with practice.


John Bailey, a Forum member and long term Woodrat owner recently sent me a copy of the September 2000, no.28 ROUTER magazine in which he had published an article on how he created a turning attachment and mounted it onto his 'Rat. Essentially it consists of a drill powered lathe mounted onto an MDF assembly which in turn is bolted onto the Rat travelling carriage after first unbolting the fences. With further modifications he shows how to turn tapered table legs, taper and copy turning and demonstrates  examples of very curvaceous table lamps. Dig through your archives, it makes inspirational reading.

      John has now kindly sent me some slides and I include some of these on the feedback page. There is no narrative but I think the photos demonstrate just what can be done with a little thought and a Woodrat!

 This is the very same John Bailey that has written a review of the Little Rat for the new American router magazine. The Woodrat site have a down-loadable copy in PDF format here.

There has been a long and  interesting discussion going with regard to the merits of the Leigh Jig versus the WoodRat going on !! Follow this link

Burr Puzzles        

   Had a long chat with John Bailey the other evening and he casually mentioned "Burr Puzzles". What are they I hear you ask? Well it seems that they are little wooden puzzles made of interlocking pieces that are just perfect for making on the Woodrat. Go to this link The burr puzzles site for all the information. Alternatively type "burr puzzles" into your favourite search engine.

I don't have the time just now to make one, but if you do, please let us all know how you got on.


Well, we went from that terrible feeling of having no forum when WoodRat's 'official' one went down for what felt like an eternity to now having at least three available to us. As a forum matures, it becomes a repository for all manner of useful information that can easily be accessed at will. In fact so much information that until some of it is permanently lost as is the case with WoodRat's down time that I feel that there is a genuine case to support more than one forum. This of course is likely to dilute and disseminate any postings but does offer some safeguards of data. There is now a choice which to me is not a clear-cut one and so I list some of the pros and cons as I personally view them.

WoodRat's forum: This is the 'official' and original one and is under the control of Woodrat. For me this remains my prime choice. Although not entirely banned I would feel uncomfortable placing other woodworking topics here. However, I do feel that it requires more organisation with regard to thread categories and the inability to directly post pictures is a pain. I understand that this is due to the restraints of web space and bandwidth. Long down times are damaging and not acceptable.

The Craftsman Gallery forum: I like this forum, it is smart, professional, easy on the eye and has a broader range of topics. You can also post pictures there. We Europeans are at a disadvantage insomuch as your American  machinery is different and very much cheaper than here, as is your timber. The time difference is an irritant over which we have no control and our tighter safety regulations prevent us from using some of your attachments. e.g. wobble saws (stack dado?) as favoured by Norm Abram. I will probably post other woodworking topics here. The WoodRat posts need to toe the party line!!

Conclusion: I will follow, respond  and support both. I will place new WoodRat posts on the 'official' site with other woodworking topics on the other two.

UKworkshop Don't forget to visit this excellent  general woodworking forum here. I have now had time to have a good ferret around in this very large general woodworking forum and discovered that there are a number of 'Ratters living in there. I award this site five stars. (not because they liked this site of course!!)

A quick reference - a light hearted translation

The English language is a complex composition of Scandinavian/Latin/German/Dutch/French and Celtic decent and is generally understood  by all English speaking countries. 'American', however has become very devolved and causes the most confusion to other English speakers.

 It is often said that the British and Americans are separated by a common language and this appears to be more so as each year goes by. There is a short list (which is quaint and not entirely correct) to be found here.

I have listed some words which are vaguely related to woodworking here.

                        English                                                        American Dutch
trench/slot/groove/housing Dado keep
Dado (rail) mid way up a wall ? lambrisering
rebate (in wood) Rabbet rabat
finger/combe joint Box Joint tandverbinding, vinerverbining
mitre Miter verstek
centre Center midden
Skirting (board around the bottom of a wall Baseboard plint
Worktop (Normally for kitchens) Counter aanrechtblad
Counter (serving area or table in a shop/store) ? toonbank
Pavement Sidewalk stoep
Tarmac (road surface) Pavement wegdek
Cupboard Closet kast
Tap (for fluids) Faucet kraan
Autumn Fall herfst
Billion = million,million  1000,000,1000,000 Billion =Thousand,million  1000,000,000 miljard
Plaster (for covering cuts and abrasions) Band Aid pleister
Tyre Tire band
Timber Lumber timmerhout
4" by 2" piece of wood 2" by 4" piece of wood ( makes a difference grain wise) 10 bij 5 (10 bij 5)
flex/lead/cable cord/wire (stroom)kabel verlengkabel
Connect Hook up aansluiten
Workshop Shop werkplaats
Shop Store winkel
Store = a very large multi-story shop Store warenhuis supermarkt
Drawer in furniture Draw   **  
Plough Plow ploeg
Coach Bolt Lag Bolt slotbout
Metric Unknown !? metrisch
Alumnium Aluminum aluminium
Planer Jointer vlakbank
Thicknesser Planer vandiktebank
Axe Ax bijl
Methylated spirit De-Natured alchol spiritus

 *Not true, actually the same spelling but due to the tremendous influence of Norm Abram, draw has fallen into common use. Thanks to Gil Varney of Alaska for the info.

Please feel free to email more that I have missed



For encouragement and helpful feedback to:- Mathew Yates, Henry Godfrey, Phil & Michele Stacey, Lrs, Weekender410, Terry, Afterglow, John Bailey, Andrew McKechnie, Hip Dog, Nick Cumber, Tony Spear, Rolf Schmid, John Lucas of, Colin Liddle, John.jt Pontop, Uwe Linke 


Information on what Router you are using on your woodrat. I have created a new router page where I would very much like to place your  comments for reference. If you could include a photo then it would be even better.

The sort of information needed would be:- Little or big 'rat, make and model, ease of mounting, plunge depth, cutter visibility, cost, dust extraction, plunge bar suitability, your impressions etc.

Email me here

For example:- I use an Elu MOF96E 900w (no longer in production but similar to the DeWalt version) It fits on my full woodrat with no modification and takes standard plunge bars, It accepts 1/4" and 8mm collets, has good plunge depth and cutter visibility. Basic sliding bar depth setting. It is light and easy to use. Twist handle to plunge lock. Still working well after 6 years. No dust extraction. Can't use 1/2 inch cutters and a bit noisy in use.

A Question?

 border="0"TV star and the World's greatest table saw expert. He uses all the latest (non European) machinery but does this man own any hand tools or a Woodrat ?  If not, why not?

Did you see my name on the photo?! On 10Jan 2005 Norm was seen to use a  --- Chisel !!



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