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Today is one of those bad days that we all suffer from time to time. Mrs aldel and myself have a bad head cold donated by my daughter. The computer engine management in the car has died and is likely to cost an arm and a leg. To cap it all I have toothache so a costly trip to the torture chamber is on the cards. Time is passing by and I must get The Craftsman Gallery Precision Stop reviewed, sniffle, snuffle, so I am claiming sanctuary in the workshop, cough, splutter.
This is an inexpensive little gadget and is designed to be used with WoodRat's new alloy rails. "Ah yes, but what's it for?" the man at the front shouts. (There's always someone to ask an awkward question) Well its just the same as an ordinary sliding stop except that it has an adjustable bit on a bar that replaces the angled face of the normal stop OK!
I am just going to get some more tissues, whilst I am out, refer to your latest version 9 WoodRat manual on page 61 and read about Inch-worming. You can see that when using that method a block or gauge bar is used to set distance of cut. The object of the precision stop is to allow, in effect, small adjustments to the block or gauge bar width which modifies the fit of the joint. Great for micro-adjustment of tenons or reducing joint sizes by a set amount to allow for glue lines.
In the kit are a 3/8" steel bar, a spare thumb screw to fit the DeWalt 625 ( used to lock the bar) and the adjustable stop assembly. The screw is a standard 6mm and should fit a whole range of routers. All the steel parts of the stop have a machined finish and a black anti-rust treatment. The knurled and adjustable cylinder sits over an "O" ring and screws in and out very smoothly with no slop or play at all.
Equally spaced around the cylinder are marked four dots. The space between each dot representing one quarter turn. In use I lost track of how many quarters I had actually turned and so lightly filed a groove next to one of the dots as a reference point. You could perhaps place a dab of white paint in the dot instead. Choose and stick to one edge of the machined flat section to align the dot with.
The thread inside the cylinder is 1/32" pitch which apparently is common in the States but is alien to the rest of the world. Alright settle down everybody and stop the groaning please! One quarter turn, i.e. dot to dot = 1/128" or ~0.008" or ~0.2mm. Therefore one full turn = 1/32" or near as dammit 0.8mm. So for all the confirmed metrifieds, mid-way between each dot is ~0.1mm. so no problems. I grew up with inches and later had to convert, so I have no problems with either unit and actually prefer imperial.
Lets not lose sight of the fact that we are working with wood here and not a high precision milling machine. For our purposes each division could just as easily be termed a knat's eyeball. ( A British term for not very big at all!)
I suspect that most people will work with the precision stop in the left hand rail in which case the 3/8" bar is just fine since it is held down in the V-groove of the router body by the screw. However, if you are using a DeWalt 625, and the stop is set in the right side rail, there is a problem. There is no lock down screw on that side since the space is occupied by the revolving depth turret. No matter how tight you set the locking screw there remains side to side play of the bar in the V-groove. Don't panic!! The simple solution is to use a 10mm bar. Use one of the fence rods supplied with the router or buy a length and cut to size. Available in most of the DIY sheds at a very cheap price. 10mm sits it the groove with no play when locked down on the other side.
Above left, is the 3/8" bar and a small gap between the router body and bar can just be seen. On the right is the 10mm bar with no gap. I suspect that the smaller bar is sold to keep costs down.
Just to make things difficult for myself and to give the precision stop a good test I decided to employ a variation of the inch-worm method to cut some box joints with a glue line space. I would normally cut these joints by WoodRat's standard East/West method. I like to make the fingers the same width as the box sides stock. I had to take care to size the stock a little larger than a multiple of the fingers in order to allow for the extra glue gap spaces.
I must say it did seem strange to deliberately create joints with spaces, but the good thing is that those spaces are controlled. With a mortise and tenon joint the adjustments wouldn't be seen. I also used the precision stop to set varying sized gaps to prove a point. Well, OK I accept the test piece doesn't look pretty but it works, it works!!
I suspect that those immersed in metrication may find the thread pitch irksome, but I am content that it is of no consequence. I have proven to myself and hopefully to you that that it does exactly what it says on the tin so to speak. I would prefer to see a 10mm bar included with the kit for a DeWalt625 to award a full 100% but there is little to find fault with.
Please note Lewis that many smaller routers require an 8mm bar so perhaps the purchaser should have the choice when ordering.
I accept that this is not a gadget that you would use every day but like all good tools indispensable when you need it. Like all things 'Rat orientated I expect there are numerous other uses that it could be put to so at only $24 it won't break the bank to buy one.
For more information on The Craftsman Gallery products visit their web site www.chipsfly.com
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