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Thread: WoodRat Mini-Mini Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    WoodRat Mini-Mini Review

    Last Thursday evening, I attended an introduction to the WoodRat seminar/demo at Lee Valley. This is an expensive (about $800 to $1,000 with extra parts and bits) router jig made in England that I have contemplated buying instead of a router table. Well, I am no longer contemplating such a purchase. The jig, although very clever, does not really make it. The problem is that they stopped after only doing about 85% of the job. The final 15% should have been to add adjustment knobs, calibration, and gears. Rather, the carriage is pulled along the track with a wire (rather like the internal workings of the old radio dialers for those of you that may have built such things) and all cuts must either be eyeballed or measured with tools provided by the user. If Veritas were to get a license on the machine and add the final 15%, it would be a real winner but I canít see that happening. There were 5 other potential customers at the demo and they all agreed with me. Here is a photo of the jig:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is link to the item in the Lee Valley catalogue: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.a...=1,43000,52709
    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
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    frank, lotsa companies make millions selling "better" lures to fishermen, ones designed to catch the fishermans hard earned money.....woodworking jig-n-fixture manufacturers are no different.........ol` dev put it very well on another forum, i believe he said;" yet another window extrusion designed to guide handheld powertools".......tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
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    Tod, those are good observations by both you and Dev.
    Cheers, Frank

  4. #4
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    Oct 2006
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    Charleston
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    Frank, thanks for the review. I have a router table, but always look for new cool stuff. This one now gets the booby prize of the day.

  5. #5
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Maybe they ought to rename it.

    WoodMouse

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    The Ocean State
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    Frank...
    There's nothing like a first hand look to help make up your mind where you want to spend your money. You looked...didn't like...walked away.

    I on the other hand had been intrigued with the Rat for awhile (sucker for window extrusions I guess... eh Tod? )...but continued to hand-cut dovetails (while dreaming about a Leigh jig)...mortice with a drill press ( finally bought a mortiser )...tenoned on a table saw..etc. Then I had a chance to get one cheaper than list. I talked to Dave Richards at great length, looked at John Lucas's review ( http://www.woodshopdemos.com/wr-1.htm ) , looked at some UK sites ( http://www.aldel.co.uk/ ) and watched the demo video a couple of times. Then I pulled the trigger...and although I haven't used it as much as I intend to...I'm only sorry it took so long and that I'm not able to get into the shop enough to work with it.

    I knew the Rat was not just a replacement for the router table...although the router in mine has not been on since I got my Rat. However, I wanted a tool/machine/jig that could produce about every cabinetmaking joint and liked not having the same "machine" look every time that you get from jigs. IMHO the Rat is a tool that gives you hand-tool look and quality. It also saves you a box joint jig, a dovetail jig, and a mortise and tenon jig...and will do more varieties than any single one of those. As an old machinist it reminds me of Machine Shop Mill, that's precise enough for woodworking. Having been in real wood/machine shops I wouldn't think of using it in a shop like Tod's though.

    The WoodRat does require some experimentation...it is upside down to what I was taught...but I kind of like that. I sometimes try to do things just to see if I can with most tools I have. I haven't thrown out the router table...and probably won't because I use it as an extension to my tablesaw...AND I'm sure somewhere along the line I'll always find something that the Rat can't do that the table can (long molding is one I can think of already).

    As always...when it comes to tools...to each their own...and I respect everyones opinion and their right to spend their money the way they choose. I love Tod's shop because I love machines and understand the economics...but mostly I drool over what he makes with them...

    Joe...Just send me the booby prize.
    14 My Choice St
    My Wallet, USA
    Last edited by Glenn Clabo; 11-13-2006 at 09:13 PM.

  7. #7
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    glen, i`ve never used or seen one in person so please take my opinion for what it`s worth .........and i too cut my dovetails by hand and cheat by using a mortiser......tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  8. #8
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    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    Looks to me that with a couple of Barry Wixeys DRO's it would be a great tool.
    Last edited by Don Baer; 11-13-2006 at 09:47 PM.
    "Thereís a lot of work being done today that doesnít have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesnít have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Location
    The Ocean State
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    170
    True Don...but you really don't need it. Even my bad eyes make a pretty joint. Besides...they have ways to use digital calipers...and even lasers!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
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    The WoodRat works great. I've had one for a few years.

    The movement method seems rather crude, but it has proven itself to be accurate, reliable and durable. And replacable by going to the hardware store if need be.

    That it isn't a turn-key system for making joints is true. But therein lies some of its flexibility. That it doesn't come with every widget or jig to extend its capibilities is not much different than if I think about the jigs and fences I have made for shapers and routers.

    There are no end to the number of machines available for purchase at lower, same and higher cost. No big deal.

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

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