Rockler's Ready2Rout "Smart" Fence
Issue: Issue 337
Posted Date: 10/22/2013
With the rise of more affordable small shop CNC machines and better design software for woodworkers, Rockler is bringing the benefits of both technologies together to build a better "mousetrap" for your router table with its new Ready2Rout Router Table Fence
. It's the first-ever electronic router table fence that enables you to cut dadoes, box joints, half-blind dovetails and more with CNC precision by selecting the joint from the fence's onboard memory, using a touch-screen interface. Then, a tight-tolerance lead screw with anti-backlash positions the fence in relation to the bit, and repositions it for each subsequent cut, to mill the desired joint. The user still feeds the workpiece along the multi-track extruded aluminum fence to make each pass, similar to a conventional router table fence. But Ready2Rout eliminates the tedious setting, re-setting and adjusting process involved with positioning a fence the traditional way.
An enclosed controller box attached to the back of the fence houses the touch screen, mechanicals and a USB port for updating the firmware and installing more joinery apps. Since the unit is self-contained, it does not need to be connected to a computer for use. You must supply your own router table, insert plate and router for use. A starter suite of three apps is preinstalled for making box joints, dadoes and half-blind dovetails. More apps will be made available. The fence can also be programmed for step-and-repeat functions, such as when cutting repetitive beading or flutes for columns.
Rockler reports that the Ready2Rout fence system is accurate to within .001-in., and it will store up to six custom fence positions you program yourself in the system's memory, so you can repeat them at a later time by a push of a button. It is possible to rout joinery using fractions of an inch, decimal equivalents or in metric — all with conventional, Imperial-sized router bits. Setting up for a joinery cut is as easy as zeroing out the bit and the fence, then entering the bit's diameter and workpiece width; the system automatically positions the fence to make all the necessary cuts. However, Ready2Rout does not control the router, so bit height must still be set manually.
The sophisticated electronics and automated nature of Ready2Rout should make joinery operations faster, easier, more accurate and repeatable. To view a Ready2Rout video or to learn more, click here. Ready2Rout is available from Rockler now, and it sells for $599.99.