Route cutouts, mortises, and inlay QUICK with this FLEXIBLE jig! Modeled after Festool’s MFS Multi-Routing Template System. (edit: Festool’s MFS system was discontinued effective April 1, 2016 – all the more reason to make your own now)
I wanted an adjustable routing template, so I came up with this design modeled closely after the Festool MFS multi-routing template system. It’s loaded with T-tracks. It fits clamps from either side, and is infinitely adjustable with these pocket screw bolts.
Now is the perfect time to sand the surface. Yes, it will keep our hands free of splinters, but the main reason to sand now is because if we wait until after we’ve cut out the profiles, the surface becomes much more intricate and it’s more difficult to sand without breaking any of the fine edges. If you have a linear sander this is the perfect time to use it. Unlike an orbital sander, a linear sander – when sanding with the grain, there will be virtually no chance of tear-out or breakage on the edges – something that could be an issue with an orbital sander on narrow stock like this. Now if you don’t have a linear sander, I’d recommend just standing gently by hand. Use some fairly fine sandpaper as both linear sanding and hand sanding can leave fairly coarse scratch marks so I’m using 320 grit.
For the first routing operation I’m using this Whiteside keyhole bit. There will be more information in the description, but it’s a 1/2″ diameter and is the size for our clamps slot. To make the clamp slot, the bit is set 5/8″ from the fence and 1/8″ above the table. This bit is actually only 3/16″ tall, but I need a slot that’s 1/4″ high. So this will be the first pass, the next pass I’ll add this extra 1/16″ here, and that will bring the total height of the cutout (of the track) to 1/4″. Off camera, I cut the original piece of material in half – just so it’s easier to manage on the router table.
Time for a test fit… works great! So we now have the two T-tracks for our clamp slots. We still need two T-tracks on the side to allow the profiles to connect to each other using the pocket hole (pocket screw) that will go through the middle. The pocket hole is actually a 15-degree angle, so we need these T-tracks on the sides to also match that 15-degree angle. In order to do that safely and precisely at the router table, I’m here at the miter saw to make a 15-degree fence. Let’s take a look at how that’s done.
I’ll tilt the head 15-degrees. Note, if I make a cut now with the head off 90-degrees I’ll ruin my zero clearance insert. Because I don’t want to swap this in and out every time, what I like to do in this situation is use the depth limit and a sacrificial piece of material, so that now the blade will not hit the bottom of the table, but it will still function because it will reach the sacrificial material. So I’ll clamp this down. Grab the material for our router fence, and cut two pieces in half. So we’ll use this to make our 15-degree fence for the router.
And here’s that 15-degree fence contraption all set up. I used some two-by-two material to raise the height of this second level so that there is full support of the work piece on infeed and outfeed sides. Safaty first: if you don’t feel safe making this cut, please don’t do it. If you do decide to try, make sure you’re using some kind of router push block.
This is now the smaller keyhole bit, again I’ll have details in the description. The bit height and fence location was just a matter of trial and error – made some test cuts until I was happy with the result. But, for reference (I measured after the fact), this is about 3/16″ from the fence, and the height is just under 1/4″.
And the workpiece is cut to length at the mitre saw.
Well I just finished this first piece of the guide, but I realized that I made a mistake. This pocket hole should have been drilled on the other face. That’s because when this is put together I want all the pocket holes to be on the top, but it won’t work out because these T-tracks needed to be this way in order for the pocket screw to go in like that. And, on this piece pocket screw will be going up rather than down (the wrong way, basically). So what I think I can do is drill another pocket hole on the other side, and just ignore the first one.
And there are the profiles: 2x 400mm length and 2x 200mm length. Now I’m just going to install these machine screws, and there’s a little nut for each one.
So how this will work now, is the nut slides into this T-track, just like that.
As you can imagine these profiles can be cut to any length, so the possibilities really are limitless. You can join them on together make a very intricate template.