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View Full Version : Inlay Router with Bit for Under 40 Bucks



Farp
01-02-2016, 07:23 AM
Wanting to do inlays, but not enthused about spending $100 or more for the router and precision router base, I decided to see if I could build my own. I first tried to make one out of plywood. It worked okay, but it was difficult to get enough light in to see the fine lines. Still, it demonstrated that a satisfactory home-built was possible. I had started with a flex-shaft Dremel tool I had bought at an auction last summer for $12.

I purchased some .22-inch plexiglass from the local big box store and used a friend’s router base as a pattern. I drilled out a place for the -inch X 20 nut and glued it in place—see photo—on the upper brace. A -inch drill bit took out most of the area needed for the nut. Careful filing with a triangle file did the rest. I glued the nut into place with epoxy, temporarily threading a 6-inch bolt into the nut to use in seeing that the nut was set on plane properly.

For the base, I drilled a -inch hole and then halved that hole in sawing out the base. The brass screws were inset into the base from the bottom. As the plexiglass is only .22-inch, I ground off some of the screw heads so they would fit flush in the insets. Small router bits were purchased on the ‘bay.

The outcome is pretty self-explanatory in the photo. It works even better than it looks. If price has been keeping you from having a nice precision router base, build your own.

86965

sequoia
01-02-2016, 06:32 PM
Hey thanks for the post. I've been meaning to get around to making a plexi base for inlay. I have a friend that lent me his SMD precision router base so I didn't have to buy one, but eventually I have to give it back obviously. Also for inlay I found it a bit lacking that I can't see what is going on sometimes and it is awful heavy. I use it for routing in bindings (with guide attached also borrowed and expensive) and I like it and have no criticisms. It is also a well made tool in my opinion, but like I say it has to go back to its owner and I can't afford to buy my own.

One thought: One could make the base bigger and put a spring in there on the one of the posts so height is adjustable and make it do double duty as a binding router base too.

Kekani
01-02-2016, 08:25 PM
Made my own router base (even after I got the Stew Mac one) which is only used on headstock inlays that are done AFTER the fretboard is glued in, which for me, is rare.

Your first inlay should pay for the router base - its too good and easy but I avoided getting it for the longest time, along with a Foredom Flex shaft, because of? Cost.
I just couldn't see the forest through the trees.

And the reason you can't "see" with the StewMac base is probably because you don't have downcut inlay bits AND Chuck's proprietary flag attachment. Not sure if he sells them though.

maenibaeni
01-03-2016, 01:42 AM
I dont`t own a dremel but a Proxxon drill tool (which I really like). Only problem: There`s no precision router base available for it and it won`t fit into the one from Stew Mac. So I built my own some time ago out of MDF, plexi and some hardware parts I had lying around. I also built an attachment thingy to rout binding and purfling channels.
It works pretty well. Sometimes sight on the workpiece is a bit of a problem with all the thick MDF, but I was afraid that it was not going to be sturdy enough with only the Plexi. Now it`s rock solid. And a good lamp usually solves the problems with the light.

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Sven
01-04-2016, 04:40 AM
Nice! I too have a Proxxon. It would be hard to downgrade to a Dremel.

DennisK
01-04-2016, 05:15 AM
Nice work! I use a StewMac base, and although visibility isn't an issue most of the time, I have occasionally wished I could see through it. More often though, I have trouble with lighting. So I've been thinking about trying to rig up some sort of flexible arm attachment for it to hold a little LED flashlight.

Don't forget to put a little strip of masking tape on your router bit to act as a fan and blow the wood chips away :)

sequoia
01-04-2016, 03:53 PM
Don't forget to put a little strip of masking tape on your router bit to act as a fan and blow the wood chips away :)

Now that is a good tip... The SMD base does have a nipple that can be attached to an aquarium pump to blow away the dust. A simple drilled hole with a piece of copper tubing would work the same on the above design. The aquarium pump can be picked at a garage sale for pennies or a Good-Will type store. Aquarium supplies are always coming onto the market after all the fish die.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-04-2016, 03:58 PM
Anything that blows dust around is not the best idea when cutting pearl shell. Ideally you want to vacuum the dust away from you and not blow it toward you.

sequoia
01-04-2016, 04:27 PM
Yes Chuck. The aquarium pump is for wood dust only and not shell dust. Shell dust should not be breathed and should be vacuumed and not blown away. Breathing shell dust over a the long term will cause a condition known as silicosis and silicosis is not a good disease to have if you like breathing and since breathing is so important a thing to do and the absence thereof is not conducive to life, I would use a vacuum. And remember, just keep breathing about 15 times a minute and everything is going to be ok. Occasionally take a deep breath after doing something stupid. Sigh.

DennisK
01-04-2016, 04:35 PM
Now that is a good tip... The SMD base does have a nipple that can be attached to an aquarium pump to blow away the dust. A simple drilled hole with a piece of copper tubing would work the same on the above design. The aquarium pump can be picked at a garage sale for pennies or a Good-Will type store. Aquarium supplies are always coming onto the market after all the fish die.
The pump is a pain to hook up and plug in, and the tape fan works just as well or better anyway.


Anything that blows dust around is not the best idea when cutting pearl shell. Ideally you want to vacuum the dust away from you and not blow it toward you.
You cut shell with a router? I use a jeweler's saw with water to contain the dust. Router is only for the wood that I'm inlaying the shell pieces into. But that is very true that all airborne shell dust should be vacuumed (with a good filter). Otherwise the most harmful super-fine dust will continue to float around for the rest of the day.