Home-Grown Multi-Router #1: In the begin, there was design

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Blog entry by Jim posted 12-28-2010 12:03 AM 8489 reads 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Home-Grown Multi-Router series no next part

I’ve really been wanting a JDS Multi-Router since I used one while taking a class with David Marks (at William Ng’s school in Anaheim). We used the JDS to make loose M&T joints for our coffee table project and it works REALLY nicely. However, the price tag for a home shop is WAY outside my spending limits (starts at $2,600). So, I’ve made the decision to try and build my own version. I’ve looked all over the web and found a few examples of other brave adventures who’ve headed down this same path. I’ve picked up a few pointers and tips from those attempts and I am ready to start my own design.

Design Goals:
1) Operate in essentially the same manner as the JDS (I like how it works and no need to change it)
2) Precision is key so I’m building to pretty fine tolerances.
3) Keep the price under $500 (not including the router)
4) at least 4” of range in Z dimension (height of work piece)
5) at least 6” of range in Y dimension (length of mortise or slot)
6) at least 4” of range in X dimension (depth of mortise)

Key Issues:
1) For a Multi-Router, precision = linear bearings + very good stops
2) No Flex – the unit must be solid enough to take the weight of work pieces without flexing or warping.

First Parts:
1) THK FBW/FBW2560R Linear Bearing Guide Slide Rail 4-Pack (ebay, $88) – support table in X & Y dimensions
2) SBR20uu 20mm Router Linear Ball Bearing Blocks (ebay, $38) – Router mounting plate Z dimension
3) 20mm Diameter Steel Round Bar/Rod Solid Shaft 13” x2 (ebay, $60) – Linear bearing rods for Z dimension

Given these starter parts, it’s time to get to detailed design. My intention is to keep this blog updated as I make headway. I will certainly post any design materials once there ready and look for feedback.

-- Jim, Now in Nashville, TN

9 comments so far

View TMcG's profile


191 posts in 3023 days

#1 posted 12-28-2010 12:54 AM

Have you checked out Matthias’s site ?

He has a Multirouter and a new invention, the panto router, very cool.


View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3033 days

#2 posted 12-28-2010 12:55 AM

Jim, I will be keeping a close eye on your project. I’ve been wanting to build a multi-router for a few months now. I had initially just decided to use Bill Hylton’s plans for the horizontal slot mortiser setup but I shelved that project for the time being. Yours is obviously going to be much more precise and more capable if you are able to build it to your design goals.

Good news is we’re in the same part of the state so I can come by and stea….er, I mean, take a look at yours. :)

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3311 days

#3 posted 12-28-2010 01:58 AM

cool i will keep up with the postes an hope to see a finnished machine like the JDM model but cheaper cuz i wouldn’t mind a fancy machine like that.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3905 days

#4 posted 12-28-2010 03:57 AM

Hey Jim, a man after my heart. Sounds like a really cool project.
You done good by realizing the the LBearings are key, and you bought well.
Are you planning aluminum for the main plate and verticals etc, or are you allowing some wood components?
I have found that baltic birch ply with both sides Formica laminated yields a very strong panel for things like this.

And think about a zero back-lash solution to raising and lowering your Z. Such that 2 turns up followed by 2 turns down puts you right back in the same place. But I bet you already have :)


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Jim's profile


54 posts in 3276 days

#5 posted 01-04-2011 05:13 AM

Well, after some more searching, I turned up this article by Dan Barber. Looks like he already designed this project and built it almost 8 years ago (I found a link dating to 2004). The article includes a link to a full set of plans in either dxf (AutoCad) or pdf format. They are a great starting point for me. I’ll need to adjust for the different guides I’ll be using and I’m planning to use screw type adjustment on the Z axis like Matt Wandel built into his slot mortiser design. BTW, if you haven’t seen Matt’s new “PantoRouter”, you should take a look. It’s pretty amazing, but in the end, much more complex than I need. At this point, I’m waiting for my guides and bearings to arrive before I start tweeking Dan’s design.

-- Jim, Now in Nashville, TN

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3905 days

#6 posted 01-04-2011 04:06 PM

Dan’s machine looks really nice. Oldie but goodie. The tilt is cool.

Matt’s Z looks a little hokey, but it seems to work for him. Drilling two shaft holes in perfect alignment is tough, so he goes with one, a wrap around wooden bracket, and a lock knob. What seems cheesy is his router mount – band clamps, and counting on routing a perfect cove in the holder. Again, seems to work for him. I like Blake's router plate concept better, but it costs more (and it is not my money).

For the lead nut (the threaded hole though the top bar on Blake’s) I would recommend tapping your own through a bar of plastic. You can then screw this plastic bar to the horizontal wooden bar for mounting. It you make it, say, 1.5 inches deep, it will be much tighter than Tnuts or even standard nuts, and not lead to the backlash slop I was talking about before. Seems like a crank handle instead of a knob would be easier to turn and control.

I will get off my horse now,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Jim's profile


54 posts in 3276 days

#7 posted 08-30-2012 11:48 PM

Well, after over a 600 day delay, I’m finally back on this project. I just spent another week at William Ng’s school and found myself really jealous of the Multi-Router again. So, I was inspired to get it done. I’ve started construction now. I’ll post some pictures later tonight. I’ve decided to go whole hog with it. In addition to the basic 3-axis paths, I’m adding in pneumatic clamps. I’ve hunted all over to get the piece-parts in order and I’ll keep you all posted on the progress. My plan is to have it completely done prior to Thanksgiving day weekend. I think my final cost will be around $400 not including the router.


-- Jim, Now in Nashville, TN

View Jim's profile


54 posts in 3276 days

#8 posted 09-17-2012 03:43 AM

I’ve uploaded some pictures and notes on my multi-router to my projects. It works pretty well, but I may need to do some fine tuning as I test it out more fully.

-- Jim, Now in Nashville, TN

View MJCD's profile


542 posts in 2394 days

#9 posted 10-28-2012 05:48 PM

I’m committed to this.

The Linear Bearings are expensive; though, I’m sure I’ll find a reasonable cost after sufficient research. I have not ruled-out the possibility of using precision drawer slides; however, I’d rather build it properly, and I believe the LB are the way to go.

I prefer Matt’s template system, relative to JDS’: the placement seems more functional, as you can introduce angles; also, the 2-1 reduction provides some opportunities. One set of variables for me is alignment – Vertical-to-Horizontal Tables; front-to-back: square and level. i’m thinking of a rack & pinion fine adjustment, perhaps using something from Incra.

I e-mailed Jim last night, prior to seeing this post – to determine if he has any additional thoughts since his last post. A $400 limit (Jim’s note, above) seems aggressive – I’m just not that efficient: good luck, Jim.


-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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