by Chuck Bender
Even if modern technology frightens you, it might be worthwhile to consider the Ready 2 Rout (R2R) for your router table. This automated router fence system is as easy to use as it is to set up – it’s literally touch and go.
With less than an hour invested in unpacking, setting up and testing the fence, I was amazed at how intuitive it is to use the tool. The touch-screen menus are easy to navigate, bright and easy to read.
With the standard metal touch plate, setup is five easy steps. Put your bit into the router table, punch the bit diameter into the R2R, clip the magnetic tether to the bit, put the plate against the fence and press the “OK” button. The fence moves automatically to make contact with the bit, then calibrates the readout to zero. From there, until you change bits, you can accurately adjust the fence position from the touch screen.
The $600 system shines when you’re doing repetitive operations such as making box joints or half-blind dovetails, but it’s not limited to those tasks. In fact, there are several other joint applications. It easily plans and executes complex conversions and operations.
The pre-programmed applications are even easier to use. If you want to make evenly spaced dovetails on your drawer fronts, tap the screen and plug in the width of your board, the diameter of your bit, the number of dovetails you want and, as my old teacher Werner Duerr used to say, “Bang – got it.”
Box joints and sliding dovetails are handled the same. To make it easier, Next Wave Automation (the maker of R2R) offers an optional sled ($29.99) to make cutting those joints a snap. It works in any standard miter-gauge slot.
The machine also performs custom operations. Let’s say you’re building new shop cabinets using Baltic birch plywood, which is in metric sizes. If you need to run shelf dados but you have only Imperial-sized router bits, you can quickly tap in the bit diameter, the placement of the dado and its final width; the R2R does all the calculations necessary for a perfect fit.
When it’s time to update the applications and firmware, you’ll find the process to be quick and effortless, too. At the company’s web site, download the firmware file to a USB flash drive and head into the shop. With the power to the tool off, insert the drive into the USB port, turn on the machine and in less than minutes, the system is ready to rout using the latest operating system.
The construction of the tool is also top-notch. There’s a worm gear that moves the fence in and out – it has zero backlash. Once you have the fence zeroed in, it stays accurate. There’s no need to constantly re-calibrate. Plus, the extruded-aluminum fence has multiple grooves for T-nuts to make it nearly as versatile as the Ready 2 Rout.
A built-in dust port works reasonably well in conjunction with the optional wooden fence facings, but it’s not great. I found that when I used the fence facings pulled tight to the bit, dust collection was relatively decent. When making box joints – and other processes that use the fence as a stop – the port is fairly ineffective as the fence moves away from the bit.
If you’re looking to increase precision and bring your woodworking into the 21st century, this may be the tool for you.
— Chuck Bender
Web site: Next Wave Automation
Video: See how easy it is to calibrate the computer-guided router fence. To Come