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WoodRat's Revised Channel

Some time ago I published some pictures of a revised channel which were taken at one of their open days. I was impressed with the extra number of T-slots that I thought would be really useful for mounting extra travel stops and jigs etc. Following a shift of extrusion manufacturing to Italy these new channels are now filtering through to purchasers. Martin Godfrey has chosen not to give them a new model number and in the short term it remains pot luck which version new 'Ratters will receive. All prices and operating principles remain the same. In my opinion the older and newer versions each have their advantages and  so the version type is not too significant.

In order to have a good play I have purchased my second WoodRat and so here follows a report on my first impressions.

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Well here we are. As soon as the package was delivered it was into the workshop to eagerly open the box and pull out the contents. It was all very well packed and included the MR3 mortise rail which I also ordered.

Nothing was missing and the little spares pack also included an extra pawl which I have never had to replace. The white bottle contains some silicone lubricating fluid. The kit still includes plastic fences. I had rather hoped that WoodRat would return to alloy ones as I find them superior.

Martin thoughtfully also includes a couple of acrylic pieces in the kit.

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The plate, router plate and rails were all immaculate and flat. Even the packing plates were beautifully machined with good smooth edges.
This was a little annoying and caused by the carriers but will be fixed by some gentle filing. Fortunately no real damage done. border="0"
border="0" In this end-on view you will notice that the top of the channel is no longer flat but has two raised ribs running along either edge. The plate sits on these raised sections now and I queried Martin about this. The explanation is that it stiffens the structure as it is being extruded. In the past, with the earlier version, potential for some sag could occur during the extrusion process. I must say this one is very flat and square even though it is of much lighter construction. I weighed my early one and was surprised to note that it was 10.85kg against 8.25Kg of the revised one. 2.6Kg lighter! Apart from materials and transportation saving it does make it easier carry and mount.

 

There are now four extra T-slots, one on the top of the channel, one on the bottom channel face and two in the carriage. These are smaller than before but I quickly discovered that the sliding alloy section designed for the plate rails fits the slots and makes an excellent  adjustable stop.

The slot under the channel remains but is now of similar  cross section to the others.

This stop is fitted to the top and could be rotated to give more protrusion.

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This time it is fixed to the lower carriage slot and serves not only as a stop but as an anti-rattle device as well.

I can see that I am going to have a great time building some new jigs for this.

 

I did discover that my centre finders which were made to be a good fit on the older router plate won't fit the new one being about 2mm too wide. No problem as they are easy to make and ideally need custom fitting to the router and plate combination anyway.

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Here is a comparison of the new section on the left to the old on the right. The most striking difference is the thickness of the walls. The revised extrusion is much thinner and has curved rather than angled fillets. Notice the much larger T-slot on the base of the older channel. The over all sizes remain the same.

Fortunately the top right mounting flange is the same thickness and so the mounting rails should be compatible. The curved edge will ease the settling of the channel into its mount. The little internal tongues on the internal top face and rear edge are good engineering design and act as stiffeners.

The Craftsman Gallery alloy mounting flanges can still be used.

There is more "meat" on the upper front face which is good news if you plan to drill and tap it for any gadgets. Time will tell if the thinner walls remain as stiff as the earlier version.

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